ST JOHN’S EVE by Maura Flynn
Weeks of gathering would finally bring its reward as the huge pile was lit on bonfire night. The flames created long shadows as we sat around, our faces black with the smoke that reached into the night sky and could be seen for miles. Maggie Ferris’s old mattress fizzled as the flames caught it, and Ned Gibbon’s rickety old table groaned in protest as the flames licked around its legs. An odd tin of beans had found its way into the fire and everybody jumped when it exploded.
All the villagers used the bonfire as an excuse to have a good clear out. Elegant shoes from American parcels rubbed heels with worn out wellingtons and hobnail boots as they made their final journey heavenwards. Yellowing papers sent their ancient news sparkling into the June sky. Old blankets and feather pillows added to the blaze, and Maura Heneghan shed a little tear when young Tommy’s pram took its last walk to the waiting flames.
Our mothers made buns and cakes which we downed with mugs of orange squash and cocoa. This was in days before coke and crisps, and a hot dog was when spot got too close to the fire and the sparks got his tail. As the night wore on and the fire died down, old tyres were added and our mothers rushed to take the clothes off the washing line before they were ruined by the thick black smoke.
Tom Staunton would arrive with his accordion and the dancing would start. It was the adults’ night now and the children sat back and listened to the music. Someone would produce a bottle of whiskey and it would be passed around in old chipped mugs. Soon a singsong would start and we would all join in the chorus. Patrick Bourke would give the rendition of the thirty two counties of Ireland and seen as each county was painstakingly gone through, people would yawn and look at their watches. Our eyes started to close, and our parents would carry us home to bed, the music wafting along behind us.
Off to school next morning, the fire would still be smoking and we would imagine we could hear the protests of all the items that had met their fate the night before.
By Maura Flynn
Taken from: Inspirations of a curious kind by Ward9writers