Ah, how seasonal is the sound of exploding fireworks in close proximity to where to your child is innocently playing outside!
You know that bonfire night must be an imminent FIFTY days away when you hear that first whizz-bang of the year, right outside your house; a sound which will feature throughout the remainder of the entire year in urban areas like mine, reaching a pinnacle of noise pollution on New Year’s Eve and continuing to pop into your every night right through to March when you may be affored a six-month break due to most of the fireworks shops running out of stock and switching back to dealing drugs.
In the streets around my new home, the random whistle-crack of an exploding firework plays alongside a more consistent and deafening drone of illegal off-road motorbikes. The youth in this area clearly have a need to make noise and to be as dangerous and law-breaky about it as possible.
I get the motorbike thing. As a teenager I’d straddle the backseat of any willing boy’s motorbike and tear around the village lanes at night with no helmet on. The thrill was layered and went in order of importance for me, beginning with: 1. The speed, the way it pinned your hair back and made you fight for breath; 2. The boy, the way you’d tighten your thighs around him and grab onto his chest; 3. The danger, that you might not make that corner, that stop sign; 4. The risk of getting caught, by the police or (worse) your parents.
That last one meant that we mostly left the village for the empty lanes. Unlike the bikers around here, we absolutely did not want to be caught or even seen. We didn’t want to attract the attention of Mrs Knight or old Mr Oliver; our only interest was in getting the attention of each other and seeking our own exhilarating pleasure.
The lads on bikes round here are different. They zig-zag on and off the pavements at high-speed in daylight, dodging prams and kids and middle-aged bloggers staggering out to buy fags from the local shop.
If you’re driving, they seem to fill-up your rear-view mirror in a nano-second, their faces concealed in burka-esque scarves, before tilting round the inside or outside of you and breaking out into oncoming traffic.
And every night they race each other, kinda like the drag-race scene in Grease but one where the characters are much less well-groomed and the race-track is not a disused underpass, but the street outside your home.
I don’t know if it’s those same biker kids who are letting off fireworks in our wheelie bins, but it seems to me that their motive, however unconscious, is the same; to feel like they exist, to announce themselves to the world as evidently alive and significant and unignorable.
Graffiti is the same I EXIST. Me dicking about on stages as a kid (and still now) is the same I EXIST.
It’s the very opposite of getting off your nuts on skunk or booze or pills, all of which are surely an endeavour to exist LESS, to disappear and become invisible to yourself and the world. At least the kids on bikes with bangers are displaying some desire to be significant; to not give up on existing.
The worst dynamic is the kid who swings between both fatal desires. And that used to be me. Never to an extreme; I wasn’t nearly ripping my face of with explosives and then whacking out on Ketamine, more desperately seeking proof of my existence via the medium of performing in stage musicals and then dealing with the attention by drinking too much Malibu and coke and going to sleep on a stranger’s face.
I still have a need to prove to myself that I exist. Perhaps we all do, a bit.
You might post a thing on Facebook which interprets the meaning of your name and how it reveals you to be ‘deeply loyal’ to those who deserve your time but ‘fiercely protective’ of your soul if others seek to dismantle it. And I might see that pop up on my news feed and think: ohforfuckssake you utterly rancid prick, stop infecting my life with your attention-seeking bullshit. Just as I yell fuckoffyoudicks to the biker kids when it’s 12am and they’re revving it up on my driveway.
Because witnessing other humans shouting about their pointless existence all over the place is unpleasant and anti-social and selfish.
Unless they’re making beautiful music about it. Or writing insightful blogs about it. But we can’t all turn our deepest insecurities into works of art.
Some of us can only deal with the pain of barely existing by letting off a firework every day for the next six months in the hope that one day, one of them might ignite some meaning into our life.