To keep us warm as we approach Winter, The Joy Club member Sandra Falconer harks back to this month’s Bonfire Night, evoking cosy autumnal evenings in her piece on ‘Bonfire spuds’…
Remember remember …
The air was thick with smoke from a dozen bonfires lighting up the neighbourhood. Every street had one. Cracks and bangs and whizzes resounded, and the sky was resplendent with sparkling stars and fiery rockets. Children made figures of eight with sparklers and the canine population was safely locked inside.
As the smoke spiralled into the November night, our thoughts turned to one of the pleasures of the evening.
“Where did you put the spuds?” Colin shouted over.
The fire was well and truly alight. In the flickering flames we could see the outline of old chairs and pallets of wood so meticulously collected over the last few weeks. The Guy, perched on top, had long since perished to the cheers of the onlookers.
I searched high and low but at last, they were discovered underneath a pile of coats. Our parents had insisted on the full regalia to keep out the elements but who needed more than a bobbly scarf on this most magical of nights. The discarded coats had hidden the Corden Bleu speciality of the evening.
We took our time to find the hottest part of the fire.
“It’s where it burns white.”
Johnny Taylor spoke with authority. He was 2 years older than me so I believed him
Then we left the inferno to do its work. We whooped and screamed and feigned fright at the fireworks that had been bought from the money earned by the hapless Guy. We weren’t really allowed to do that.
“It’s begging,” said my mother.
But we did it anyway.
“Penny for the Guy, Mister.”
Every now and then one of us would return to the potatoes to check on their progress.
“Still rock hard.”
“Will they ever be ready?”
“A bit crunchy.”
Eventually the pile of fresh fuel was almost exhausted. We would have to have those spuds, ready or not. Carefully, we extricated them from the glowing embers. They certainly looked the part. Crispy, charcoal grey skin hinted at white fluffiness inside. Rita had brought out knives and some butter.
Ignoring the lack of evidence for fluffiness, her sister, Rose, took the first bite. The eyes that had been wide in anticipation, now registered revulsion. Her nose crinkled as she spat out the offending morsel.
“Yuck!” she yelled, “that’s revolting! It’s like trying to eat concrete.”
Her upper lip curled in disgust. We inspected the others. She was right. The fire had done nothing to soften the inside of those potatoes. They were inedible.
Then Mrs Harker appeared with a tray of perfectly cooked jacket potatoes, oozing with butter.
“I put a few in the oven, just in case.”
I reckon she had prior experience of baking potatoes in a bonfire.
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