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Robber Rabbit : The Scaryduck Brain Dump

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bottle of Fire

A 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.

posted by Alistair Coleman at 11:59 AM

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