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U3A Writing: My Bag Of Crackers - The Noise And The Dogs

Brian Scammell enters the mind of an 11-year-old boy to tell of an exciting day and a terrible event.

November 5 1959. Iím eleven now and have been for three weeks or so, give or take a day. Its cracker night tonight, and dad isnít home yet and I donít have any crackers. Itís getting dark and theyíll be lighting the Scoutsí bonfire soon. I can hear some crackers going off already. And dogs. Listen to the dogs!

I suppose dad isnít going make it home in time now and I figure he had to work late. I might as well head off to bed. I am just getting in, when Ė hey! Thatís dadís car pulling into the drive. Quickly I get out of bed and dress again. I meet him coming in the front door. ďThe crackersĒ I exclaim, looking at the bag of crackers he has. Quickly! I run down to the bonfire. Look at the crowd. Mums and dads, other kids, Alan, Ken and George.

The fireís just getting going. Iím not too late. Look! Thereís a sky rocket in a bottle. Oops! Itís fallen over! Whoosh! Itís off, straight at the crowd, but it didnít get anybody, because they parted like a hairdo. Sky rockets donít go very well along the ground but it was fun to watch anyway. Hereís another sky rocket but the stickís broken and fixed with a bent stick from a little tree. There are spinning-wheels, jumping-jacks, watch them! and Roman candles. Lights, colours, sounds and the skyrockets high in the air! But the bent stick skyrocket went everywhere except the sky. Listen to the noise, and the dogs.

The fire is really crackling now. Hot, canít get too close. Guy Faux is about to go. There he goes with a shower of sparks swirling up after the skyrockets. Iím wondering about the tunnels that George and I made in the pile during the week. George was spiked by some palm leaves and had to go to the doctor.

Itís not so noisy now, just the occasional cracker going off, but still, listen to the dogs. Iím out of crackers now, so Iíll go home. Thereíll be heaps to find in the morning, if Iím early enough. Dad will wake me in the morning.

ďOK dad Iím awakeĒ With a bag and a box matches, I head down to the smouldering bonfire. Look, there are live crackers dropped everywhere. Hey! A penny banger, but the wick s damp. It lights and fizzles slowly along, then a half inch to go- FIZZ! Quick throw, hand back- BANG! That hurt. Tom thumbs donít do that. And listen to the dogs again. The bagís nearly full, so I have to get home to show dad the crackers Iíve found, before he goes to work.

Iím in the front door but something is wrong. Dad is pacing the house. The pain! He is holding his chest. I showed dad my bag of crackers. ďYesĒ he says, with a little smile.

I didnít know what to do then, but I do now. Donít pace! Donít pace! Lay down! Rest! Dad finally did lie on his bed, and mom rubbed his back. Georgesí dad called the doctor but none could come.

Dad didnít make it. Mom, hysterical and traumatised was sedated. I was taken next door to be with George. I later saw dad on the stretcher being passed through the bedroom window because the stretcher was too long to be carried through the house.

I canít hear the dogs any more.


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