Our columnist Mark Murphy MBE asks if it is time to let Bonfire Night splutter into the history books

This weekend will see fireworks set off up and down the land as part of our Guy Fawkes celebrations, but I wonder these days how many of us really know the reason for it.

When I was young, we were taught about it in schools and lots of TV shows used it as a storyline.

Can you remember Crossroads Motel going up in smoke because of a stray firework?

East Anglian Daily Times: Remember when a stray firework burnt down the Crossroads motel, says MarkRemember when a stray firework burnt down the Crossroads motel, says Mark (Image: PA Archive/PA Images)

With the popularity of Halloween, I personally think Bonfire Night could soon be consigned to the history books like Guy himself.

We’re seeing fewer and fewer back garden displays and fewer organised events too.

Displays in back gardens used to be the thing when I was growing up.

It was a major event in my calendar and something we prepared for weeks in advance.

We’d start collecting old clothes and newspapers in September ready to make our Guy.

It was a joint effort between me and my mates.

We spent ages getting him ready for our Penny for the Guy evenings.

We even sat and worked out the best route and the most generous households to go for.

Next would be a trip to Sneezums in Ipswich to select my fireworks.

It was so exciting.

East Anglian Daily Times: Mark Murphy MBE Mark Murphy MBE (Image: Charlotte Bond)

Down the staircase to the basement to be confronted by glass cases full of wonderful fireworks of all shapes and sizes.

I would take an age to select which ones to buy, dreaming of what they would look like on the night.

The truth is most of them just fizzled and after a few seconds went out, not like the giant display ones we have today.

But that didn’t matter as we knew no different.

Once selected, I’d take them home and place them carefully in metal biscuit tin for safekeeping and put them under the stairs.

I was allowed on occasions to get them out and look at them in wonderment.

As well as fireworks, I was also allowed sparklers and coloured matches!

East Anglian Daily Times: Got to love a sparklerGot to love a sparkler

A few days before the big night we’d take our Guy around the streets collecting cash by knocking on people’s doors.

We weren’t escorted by adults in the way trick or treaters are today - we just went for it.

I do wonder if some of those people moaning about trick or treaters coming around these days did Penny for the Guy when they were younger!

Anyway, we managed to get a few pennies, enough to buy some sweets or a few bangers to let off.

Thankfully, for all sorts of reasons, I’m glad that doesn’t happen today.

The big night would arrive, and the expectation was immense.

Bonfires were lit, jacket potatoes were put in the oven and hot dogs were handed out.

It was a real family affair which I don’t think we’ll see the likes of again.

Guy Fawkes was ceremoniously burnt, and the fireworks were lit.

East Anglian Daily Times: Mark used to love Bonfire NightMark used to love Bonfire Night

Milk bottles used as receptacles for the rockets to launch from and Catherine Wheels were nailed to a post and invariably didn’t spin.

Jumping Jacks would have us running for cover.

The sky was illuminated everywhere you looked by fireworks and the glow of bonfires.

The smell of sulphur lingered in the air long after we’d finished.

It was always cold and frosty as we warmed our hands around the fire or cuddled our hot food.

Then the next day the hunt for dead rockets began.

It was like a treasure hunt trying to find them.

Lots of people will let off fireworks this evening as this year November 5th is tomorrow - a Sunday.

Back in the day no fireworks were let off on the sabbath as it was deemed inappropriate. I wonder if that will be observed tomorrow.

It’s a shame in many ways that these traditions are dying out but the world around us is changing.

Nowadays, the fireworks no longer just fizzle; they’re like mortars going off and scare not only animals but some humans as well.

Even though you can now buy silent fireworks, I think it’s time to call a halt to back garden displays and leave it to organisers who put on big displays to do it safely.

A shame, but I think it’s inevitable that the 5th of November will fizzle out like the fireworks I bought as a kid.