Bonfire Night by Roy Davies

The Garw Valley Heritage Society are proud to present a story by Roy Davies, remembering his early days in the Garw.

In the weeks leading up to Bonfire Night, we are printing one part per week.

The following is an account of the author’s boyhood in the Garw Valley when gangs of boys collected anything and everything months in advance to build their bonfires for November 5th.

Part 1

The Boys

“Sshh……” the voice hissed in the darkness.

The boys stopped talking and lay still.  They listened. The soft breeze played around the wall of the shed and then stopped.   One of the boys shifted his position and rustled the paper on which he was lying.

“Shush a minute, can’t you?”  The voice was irritable this time.   “Be quiet mun.  I’m sure I ‘eard something.”

They all listened hard.  No one even breathed.

The breeze bent itself around the corner of the shed and ran along the corner of the rusty zinc near the roof.

“I can’t ‘ear nothing,” a thin voice said, hopefully.

“Nor me.  I can’t ‘ear nothing neither,” rasped another.

They all breathed out slowly each boy using the special method they had seen Tarzan use in a picture where he had had to hold his breath under water until his enemies had passed by.  To avoid making a noise and to control his breathing out, Tarzan had forced himself to take in a tiny extra breath before exhaling.  This allowed him to relax his chest muscles slowly so that he could breath out quietly.   They had all been very impressed and realised it would come in handy for them sometime.   No one made a sound as they resumed normal breathing.   They were silently pleased with their training.

“Duw, I was worried that time,” said the boy who had shushed them the first time.   “I thought it was the Brynroaders.”

It could have been the Glannanters,” said another, “with Jacko and Snitch.”

“Oh don’ say tha’,came a tiny voice from the darkness on one side of the shed where they had piled all the cardboard and paper for the bonfire.   “I don’ like that old Jacko, he’s always pushing people around.”

“Worrabout Slavo then?  Worr’if it was the Cwmroaders with Slavo, Nipper and Brodie,” said the boy who had first mentioned Jacko.  “Worr’d you do then?”

“Never mind all those,” a really frightened voice from the back of the shed began, “who’d want to be here if Spikey and Morpho and the twins came down from the Top End?”

There were several gasps of fear as the thought struck home.

“Not Morpho and the twins,” someone said.  “I hope its not Morpho,” and the mere thought made several of them push themselves further down into the soft mass of ferns and paper and rags and rafia packaging and cardboard boxes and old pillows they had collected over the weeks since the end of the Summer holidays in preparation for Bonfire night.

They searched the silence in between the soft murmurings of the breeze outside the zinc shed and then one by one lay back and stretched out in confidence that no one would be coming raiding that night to take away their precious possessions or to burn down the shed with the Bonfire collection in it which was not unknown when the gangs further up the valley decided to get really rough as November the fifth approached each year.

To be continued…..

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