Duncan Barkes: ban the sale of ‘wretched’ fireworks

WHY anyone spends silly money on fireworks to set off in their own back garden is beyond me.

There are many safe, well-organised displays to attend, so why let off explosives on estates such as the one I live on, where the houses snuggle up to each other with scarcely enough room to squeeze a sparkler between them? My intolerance of such people has peaked recently, and I believe that fireworks should no longer be available for personal use.

I am not a killjoy or a curmudgeon. Attendance figures at A&E departments should be enough to persuade you that selling fireworks to the public is a disaster.

But my new-found opposition is mostly due to a small black Labrador called Kibble. While dogs are in training to assist a disabled partner at the excellent Canine Partners charity, near Midhurst, weekend foster parents provide them with a family home.

We currently provide a weekend pad for Kibble.

The noise of nearby fireworks over the past few weeks has terrified Kibble.

He hides under the dining room table or skulks by my chair. We are advised to tell him calmly that there is nothing to worry about and to turn up the television or radio up to provide a distraction. But when you get lunatics letting off rockets almost directly outside your front garden, it’s no wonder he cries and trembles.

I know other pet owners also despise this time of year.

In my experience there are two types of culprit, both of whom are male – I have never known a woman keen to muck about with fireworks.

There is the typical bored teenager. They amuse themselves by chucking fireworks at their mates or seeing how many they can set off at the same time. A highly dangerous example of the stupidity of youth.

Then, there’s perfectly well-meaning but dim-witted fathers who invite their chums and offspring for a firework soirée. Such numpties then get their rocks off by showing other dads how big their firework collection is. Dad then gets trollied on cheap, strong lager or nice Chardonnay (depending on their bank balance), before detonating them. The stupidity of these men is potentially life threatening.

Buying fireworks for personal use is selfish, irresponsible and dangerous.

In a world of many pointless health and safety rules, it is astounding that using fireworks at home is still legal.

For the sake of every doctor and nurse who has had their workload further taxed by firework-related injuries, and for the sake of pets and their owners, I believe that the time has come for the wretched things to be available only for authorised displays.

• Agree or disagree with columnist Duncan Barkes’ views on fireworks? Email your views to letters@worthingherald.co.uk, letters@shorehamherald.co.uk or letters@littlehamptongazette.co.uk, or comment below.

For more information about Canine Partners visit www.caninepartners.org.uk