For safety’s sake, stick to proper fireworks displays – Lesley Keating

Guy Fawkes is arrested at the Houses of Parliament.
Guy Fawkes is arrested at the Houses of Parliament.
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Fireworks’ night is upon us and everyone seems hell-bent on setting fire to things that explode, commemorating a 17th century plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament.  Expensive exploding stuff too!  Can you tell, I’m not a massive fan?

Don’t get me wrong. I think fireworks are great but they’re also dangerous and I think they should be confined to organised displays only. 

At the time of writing we were set for a weekend of what sounded like Armageddon, which is also truly terrifying for animals. 

As an animal lover, I hate having to try to console my furious dog, who goes into a complete meltdown panting and barking non-stop when she hears anything high-pitched. 

Last year we thought we’d found the answer by drowning them out with the TV at a level suitable only for a deaf uncle with an ear trumpet… until all the soaps decided to screen a fireworks display too! Trust me, fireworks in 65in HD surround-sound is not what you want when dealing with a terrified animal.

When my daughter lived at home, we used to all get wrapped up warmly and then trudge across the countryside to a big, charity bonfire where about 20 minutes of amazing fireworks would light up the sky.  Afterwards we’d walk back by torchlight, the smell of phosphorus pervading the air. 

It was a truly magical and exciting time, far better than corralling the kids on the patio, trying to ‘light the blue touch-paper’ then running for your life…only to discover the damn thing hadn’t actually gone off, or it had somehow flipped over the neighbour’s fence and ignited their prize rose bush.

It’s also not all that fun when a molten-hot sparkler burns your fingers or sets fire to your gloves, or, in my case once, your hair.

So, save the rockets for somewhere more appropriate.

Let’s be honest, what you can achieve in your own back garden is nothing like the impact of a stunning professional pyrotechnic show.

Stick to the safety of organised shows where you can enjoy the smell of bonfire smoke instead of the smell of singed hair.

A nation bitterly divided but at least we get a new 50p...​​​​​​​

The Chancellor has announced a commemorative coin will be released to commemorate Brexit. The 50p piece – to launch on Brexit Day, March 29 next year – will be engraved with the words Friendship for all Nations. Isn’t that nice. 

We can’t reach a decision on Brexit. We have no proper agreements that work in our favour and a country divided over the prospect. Our political leadership is ineffective at best. But, hey, let’s look on the bright side. We have a lovely, shiny new coin to look forward to. What more could we Brits want?

Is it just me who finds this utterly ridiculous? More proof our government is totally out of touch with the real world.

Dated Debenhams must wake up and smell the perfume 

Sad to see yet another department store in trouble as Debenhams announced a £492m loss, one of the biggest in retail history.

I grew up with Debenhams as a High Street cornerstone. Everyone went there for the full department store experience. I worked in the Southsea branch selling cosmetics for Clinique. It was a vibrant and active environment. Now it’s uninspiring and dated. 

The Southsea store is a shell of what it was and the once-thriving cosmetics hall, bustling with consultants, is filled mainly with self-selection gondolas of perfume. Time to wake up and reinvent yourself Debenhams. This isn’t the ’90s. People do have a choice.

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