Bottle of FireA shameless cut-and-paste for b3ta readers
The Summer of ‘76 was a scorcher. It didn’t rain for months, and water was rationed as reservoirs ran dry. Instead of a beautiful lush green, England was brown, withered and fit to burst into flames.
Which is probably a very bad thing if you’re a ten-year-old pyromaniac.
I just couldn’t help it. I had a thing for fire. My parents didn’t help much by putting me in the cub scouts, which was rubbing sticks together and camp fires all the way. My grandfather had a bonfire almost every weekend, we’d pile anything flammable on top and watch the flames scorch the feathers off birds in a hundred yard radius.
I had a perfectly natural urge to burn things, and that is how I found myself on the wasteland behind Twyford Youth Club with a packet of Swan Vestas rattling in my pocket, looking for flammable materials. I didn't have to look far. That summer, everything from little old ladies to white dog turds was flammable.
A hedge ran along one side the youth club from the park, and that’s where I found the empty glass coke bottle.
It was no good. I had one of those inevitable lightbulb-over-your-head moments.
“Wouldn’t it be great", I thought to myself, "if I could light a fire in this coke bottle and carry it around with me?”
To a ten year old son of the television, this genie in a bottle stuff was pretty sound logic, but on reflection, nigh on impossible. I stuffed the bottle with scraps of paper and tinder-dry sticks, of which there were a plentiful supply. I struck my first match and put it in. Nothing. As soon as it passed the lip of the bottle it went out. I tried it again and again with less paper and sticks in the bottle. Clearly this was one bright idea that wasn’t going to work.
My second lightbulb moment.
“What if I lit the fire outside the bottle, and put it in?”
Genius. I set about building a small fire out of the materials to hand. One match, and up it went like Mount Vesuvius. Within approximately five seconds, my small fire had become a raging inferno. There was no way on God's Earth I was going to pick it up and shove it in a bottle.
In fact, the fire was spreading at such an alarming rate over the sun-darkened grass and into the bushes that all thoughts of fire-in-a-bottle were forgotten and replaced by an overwhelming urge to run away from the conflagration I had started as fast as I could and hide under my bed.
So I did.
I only lived a few hundred yards away, and my feet barely touched the ground. A glance over my shoulder confirmed the worst - the entire hedgerow was aflame in biblical proportions. I bet Moses shat his pants in the same circumstances. At least he had a convincing cover story. I ran upstairs and dived under the bunkbed.
By the light of a blazing match, I could see that I was barely singed and clearly hadn’t been followed by the forces of law and order.
After a decent interval, I went downstairs. My mother was standing at the kitchen window watching a column of thick black smoke rising into the sky, punctuated by the odd lick of flame. The sound of sirens could be heard.
“Ooh. I wonder what happened there then?”
I wouldn’t know, mother, I wouldn’t know. I just hoped my eyebrows would grow back before she noticed. I vowed there and then never to play with fire again. For at least three weeks, anyway.More of this lunacy here, if you like stuff about dog's bottoms.