REPORTER: THE LEGENDARY GRAHAM (TLG) PICTURES: TLG,
MARY BURRIDGE, ROCKET
Uuurrgghh! Morning time! Eyes working but head still
fuzzy: Too much beer the night before. Fumble around a bit, grab
my water bottle, have a swig and go back to sleep, or so I thought.
WHAM! The bliss of the morning's first thoughts,
nothing to do but laze about in bed all happy without a care in
the world were shoved aside rather rudely. "GET UP!" my brain shouted
to me. "Gren is coming for you". Aww it's too early it's like stone
age getting up at 6am. "GET UP!" the brain shouted again. "You have
fireworks to see - BIG fireworks". And with that I jumped out of
bed, stumbled around doing my usual morning routine with one eye
shut, grabbed a quick bacon sarnie which I finished off just as
Gren pulled up ready to take me away.
We arrived at the workshop and started loading gear
into the trailer for the show. "Pass me a six inch tube and another
and another and another". This went on for ages. Now the eight inchers
next the tens then the twelves. "Come on pass me the four inch racks".
"How many?" I queried. "All of them!" came the reply! Then
a load of three inch racks went in along with plenty of splayed
four, five and six inch racks. Whoa!!! There was going to be plenty
going on here and we hadn't even started on the cakes and candles!
It took four of us working at warp speed nearly three hours to get
all the gear loaded. MWHA HAA HAA HAAAAA - this was going to be
Next up came breakfast at Big Dave's. I had been
looking forward to this for a long time I had always wanted a cooked
breakfast on a farm having heard fables of what to expect, and what
a feast lay before us. Now this is the bit where I decided to be
a fat b*****d. I ate everything: Four rashers of bacon, five pieces
of white pudding, two fried eggs, four slices of fried bread, two
slices of buttered bread, beans, tomatoes and four sausages. After
everything was washed down with a very large mug of tea it was time
to make a move and just as I was going out of the door Dave tempted
me with the last sausage. Hehe big mistake I ate half and gave half
to the dog and on the way out of the house I just wanted to crawl
under a bush and go to sleep. I swear I have stretch marks from
that feast. I was a walking cholesterol time bomb, well you have
to live a little now and again.
We arrived at the venue where a marquee was already
set up for the grub and beer; also a huge screen was being erected
on the side of the pub ready for the music videos. We had a full
compliment: Me, Gren, Pete, Mick, Ian and Dave all ready to get
things ready. We moved out into the field and we were met with a
mine field of cow crap. Not too bad I thought though at least we
can see it all and it will be easy to dodge.
Setting up time next. All the cakes were unloaded
and put into a really obscene pile. They were big, they were heavy
and they would have made for a couple of excellent displays on their
own. But this was the big one so they were all gathered here
in a mean bunch ready to be put into their places to give the audience
a display they wouldn't forget. That done Pete and I got on with
setting up all of the candle racks and the mines for the start of
The pile of candle racks were slowly but surely
being staked out in the field. In fact there were so many it looked
like we were erecting a new fence, the huge Sky Blitz candles along
with Crown brand Special Willow in a fan of five were spread out
and those evil nasty Blockbusters that always blow up when I'm near
them had extra stakes front and back when I'd finished with them.
If they tried to kill me this time they would be met with a forest
of stakes to contain the explosion; "Aah yes one up to me this
time" I thought. In the end there were around fifteen racks
of meaty candles ready to compliment the cakes.
Next came the mine sequences for the start of the
show. Each set consisted of three mines with a shell and this was
repeated three times with the mines and the shells getting bigger
with each sequence. CRUNCH! came the sickening sound - a sound that
sounded a bit wrong - kind of like it hurt, must have been someone
meeting one of those piles of cow poo that were a bit dried out
I thought. I looked back and no it wasn't a cow poo CRUNCH! it was
the safety disaster of the day. Pete had whacked his thumb with
a lump hammer as he reeled back and forth inconsolable at the pain
he was enduring. Big Dave came over to do the father thing and see
to him. "Come on Pete lets have a look" he said as Pete
offered a shy and swollen thumb whilst rolling back and forth. All
I could think was "OUCH!". However the highlight of the
day was when he ran around the back of the van and yawned in Technicolor
at the pain. Remember folks, thumbs, looking away, and huge hammer
swings don't mix very well, neither did the carrots Pete ate along
with the Stella. (Hehe sorry Pete, revenge for the ground maroon
at Lightcliffe me thinks!).
- Click on
any thumbnail image to see a larger version -
Time for me to organise a tea break I thought and
headed off to the establishment to get a tray full of refreshments,
which took forever (were they growing the tea and coffee out back?).
Whilst I was waiting though the phone was ringing constantly and
it was the same call from different people every time. "Is
the display on up there tonight?" or "Is it tonight?"
etc, there were going to be a lot of people here tonight I thought.
I wandered back through the cow poo minefield with the tray and
after staggering about dodging all the crap the cups were only half
full by the time I reached everyone.
Everyone had been busy whilst I had been away.
All the shells were loaded into the racks, which were secured and
ready to go, the twelve inchers looked really formidable standing
almost as tall as me and nearby were loads of ten and eight inchers
ready to bring the sky to its knees. Big plain box time, boxes that
were plain and boring except for the description on the sides of
them: Poisonous Spider, Spectacle 3, Multicoloured Palm Tree, Devil's
Flute, Super Mantronix, Waterfall Cake, Cenxi Surprise, Kaleidoscope,
And the really evil stuff, the sort of things Oppenheimer
would have created: SPRING WIND and 100 TITANIUM SALUTES amongst
lots of others (I said it was the big one didn't I?). The latter
two cakes were placed well apart from everyone and everything. Why?
Because they are the kind of cakes that make you reflect on life
as you are watching them. These cakes do nothing but convey scary
power. The makers of these must have tapped into that primal nature
of man to run with fear when you hear something this bad, they conjure
up feelings of earthquakes, volcanoes and land slides. They are
loud, they are relentless, they hate you and everything around them,
and when they get going you either stare in awe or bloody leg it.
"Hey where is Ian going?" I shouted in
protest. Turns out he was going home for a rest; no big deal except
my camera was in his car! I grumbled to myself for a while. All
I could think was that half of my write-up was going out of the
window without a camera. In stepped Big Dave telling me to get his
from the car. Phew! Catastrophe averted, I chuckled to myself as
I could hear him saying let him have a play with that it will keep
him happy for a while. Which it did as I managed to get plenty of
set up shots, the ones I was denied a year earlier thanks to a thief
who stole my camera.
All the fusing was now complete. Some fantastic
sequences of shells were ready to go and the bigger ones were all
wired up to the technology box as no one fancied lighting the twelve
inchers with a portfire (I will I thought to myself! I can light
it and lay under it filming it as it goes skyward. Yeah and HSE
would have a field day! Oh well wishful thinking for a truly astounding
ground zero shot). Nothing to do now but leave someone baby-sitting
whilst we go back to the establishment for some grub and a well
earned rest, and the phone was still ringing constantly with people
asking about the show.
Then Pete's phone rang this time it was from the
guy who was paying for this lot - he wanted more fireworks! What
more? Haven't you been out there and had a look at what is
already going up? Well actually I didn't think that I just thought
yeah bring it on! Let's blow half the world's stash in one go! I
was buzzing more on top of that lot - have I died and gone to heaven
or what? Heads went together for some fast thinking as to what could
be put in and where without drastically changing the firing plan
in the short space of time we had to do this. Within moments Gren
and Pete's pyrotechnical genius had it sorted out perfectly. It
was time to go get some more kit. Pete and I plumped for going to
the workshop and store to collect the extra items while the rest
of the crew stayed behind getting things ready for the extras we
were going to fetch. The sun was getting low on the horizon as we
were heading away and I though to myself that's it the Rocket Rev
has been detained - he is going to miss one hell of a show. Shame.
Just as we were approaching the workshop my phone
rang. It was Mick on site with some UKFR nut had just turned up
armed with a serious camera asking for me. Sod's law or what the
Rev had arrived, nothing I can do about it now so Mick gave him
a very detailed tour of the site and some insight into what was
going to be happening and what effect certain items would have on
the crowd. The van was reloaded with some quite serious items, one
of them being another monster cake - the four minute spectacular.
As we heaved it into the van I was grinning away. This was absurd!
We could create a wormhole to another galaxy with this lot.
We returned to the site with the extra gear and
this is the point where all that cow crap had gone into stealth
mode. It seemed to have multiplied, you couldn't stand anywhere
without standing in the bloody stuff. Cows? Gits! Only good for
one thing: Burgers. Everything was now ready over twenty BIG cakes,
over a dozen candle racks ranging from 28mm up to plenty of hefty
60mm ones and well over two hundred shells ranging from three inches
right up to twelve; this was going to be awesome.
Now where has the Rev gone? A quick phone call and
I found out he was just parking his car in a better spot for filming
the show so I decided to wander off and meet up with him. The fire
had already been lit and lots of people were arriving. Up the hill
I walked and was met by a jolly chap armed with a camera and tripod
and a huge smile that went from ear to ear. We introduced ourselves
"Ah the elusive Rocket Rev I believe" and walked back
to the venue, which was now packed out and people were still arriving
in droves. We chatted for a good hour about all things pyro related
and what to expect from the show. Basically I said hold on to your
hat this is going to be something else, oh and watch out at the
start of the show there is going to be a surprise! (One which shocked
even me the hardened ground zero nut) and with that he said his
farewell to take up position on the hill.
Urgh! Nerves. Don't you just hate them? About half
an hour before the start of the show I got the worst case of them
ever. Was it because of the thousands of people at the venue and
covering the surrounding hills all staring at me? Or was it that
mass of explosives just a few yards away from me? Ill settle on
the latter. I just wanted this feeling to go away now! Thankfully
they settled after a while and it was time to remove plastic and
Everything was ready. The Shellinator was up and
active with his grand supply of bombs, Mick and Pete were on cakes
and I had the job of the candle man whilst Dave and Ian were to
keep a good eye on things. The final count down started and portfires
were lit. The crowd were counting back from twenty they soon reached
ten then five (take your protein pills and put your helmet on),
four, three, two, one (and may God's love be with you).
The row of strobes were lit and everyone moved on
to their positions as the strobes flickered away for a while. Pete
lit a rack of noise to get everyone's attention, this was met with
a cheer that was only rivalled at a premiership football match,
a cheer that didn't stop until the show finished. Next Pete fired
up his first mine and shell sequence. Huge silver spinners that
ended in a report along with a blue brocade shell. A few moments
later the next set fired up, top class very vivid blue mines with
a silver brocade shell above them.
Next the sneaky surprise was fired. "Whudump"
- a twelve inch shell launched into the heavens as the final sequence
of mines blew into the sky along with a thundering five inch maroon.
Suddenly, just as the lovely red crossettes from the mines were
breaking, I was hit with a sound that made me think the world had
come to an end. It wasn't a boom or a kaboom it was just one God
almighty BANG!!! I have never heard anything so loud in my entire
life the ground literally shook! I looked up and saw an ominous
grey cloud where a twelve inch shell had once been. That wasn't
a shell I thought to myself that was more like a twelve inch maroon.
I grinned to myself as I pictured the label on the side of it: "Warning
will induce a heart attack in all cattle instantly within a 10 mile
radius". Early shock out of the way the rest of the show steadily
started to take place.
Time for a crowd favourite. Pete put his portfire
to the fuse of the helicopter wheel, it slowly started to spin and
lift off from its launch pad and rather than go straight up it decided
to go sideways for a while chasing Mick along the field. Now here's
where it gets hard to explain things as while I was trying to watch
the all-powerful beauty above my head there was a strict game plan
I had to adhere to. A few three inch shells started to fill the
sky and then onto the angled candle pots, streams of coloured stars
flew left and right whilst various shells popped every few seconds.
A crackling crossettes cake started making its noise next, as Pete
and I lit the Vulcan Crackling Bombard crossover the whole place
was going crackle mad. Another cake awoke followed by one of the
many various willow shell sequences that would pop up throughout
The cakes and shells continued rocking on. A large
Dragons Eggs shell broke to a huge cloud of golden crackles as the
blue tipped golden willow comets were spreading across the field.
Things were really hotting up now this was going fast and furious.
What was happening above my head right now would have been passed
off as a finale to most shows, even more so as the multicoloured
palm tree showed just what a two inch bore cake can really do. This
was an outstanding piece of pyro kit, comet tails rose high into
the sky followed by massive breaks of sky filling brocades.
Now all hell was breaking loose. Loads of kit was
erupting above my head in what was about forty seconds of pure madness.
The crowd must have thought this was the finale, how wrong they
were! Everything fell silent. A lone Supermantronix was lit to start
the second stage of the show which contained quite a few varieties
of willow sequences interspersed with large special shells and more
cakes; all fired at a steady pace this time so as everyone could
appreciate the effects. The familiar sound of a volley of shells
launching caught my attention above all the other noise so I looked
up and my eyes were met with the most amazing willow sequence I
have ever seen. Around four huge golden willows with an eight inch
crackling octopus shell. I thought I'd seen all that willows could
offer until this one broke, it was huge, hung for ages then each
of the shimmering tips broke crossette style filling the sky even
more and all along crackling away. This has to rate as one of the
best shells I have ever seen.
A few more large shells went up and the Dragons
Eggs was fired into life on its own, this was the precursor to the
finale. As the cake sped up we all got ready to fire our finale
pieces. Shells launched and a Poisonous Spider started whirling
in the sky filling it with coloured stars.
Then it came: "LIGHT EVERYTHING". Hehe
what a thing to say! "Light everything!". I still chuckle
about it now, so we all got started on our respective pieces of
pyro, and then it started. "The day the Earth stood still".
Two maroon cakes launched an assault; they were relentless raw power.
The sound from the display had now taken a new turn this would have
made a battle field seem tame. Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Lots of shells
were blazing away, lots of cakes and lots of candles - it was sheer
madness - unbelievable madness. Every effect in the book was now
wowing the audience, fast-paced and absolutely mental. As I looked
on in awe I just couldn't help myself and started cheering as loud
as I could, this to me was my ultimate pyro moment it was absolutely
astounding and my words cannot do it any justice. The kaleidoscope
fan cake was spreading out across the field now as the maroon cakes
fired their final deafening volley only to be followed by an assault
of very large shells filling the sky.
Gren had disappeared inside the van now to press
the detonator on the last of the shells. Up went the first set of
tens and eights followed by a large volley of four inch peanut shells
and a new galaxy was born as the sky was completely filled with
colour and willows. Utterly stunning, and as this was all hanging
in the sky the final twelve inch shell went up and up and up and
broke big time to a colossal sphere that changed colour four
times and filled more sky than even the biggest of the shell volleys
that had gone before it. I don't know how they did it but the crowd
let out an even louder cheer than the one that they had been doing
throughout the entire show, and I just couldn't help myself - portfire
still burning in hand - I just broke out into a dance right in front
of thousands of them. I had died and gone to heaven that was absolutely
We all gathered together to congratulate each other
on a sterling show. The lovely man who pays cracked open the beers
as we all just hung around for a while chatting about the show,
it was at this point I decided to wander off and start taking the
candle racks down as my eyes were filling I just couldn't help it.
Yes it's sad but I just cried that's how much passion I really have
for this game. Crying done I finished all the racks off as everyone
else got on with their jobs, what had taken the best part of a day
to set up was cleared away in a little over an hour and it was time
to go home and get plenty of rest as we had three shows to do the
next day. Hehe I must have been bad in a past life to be lumbered
with doing all these displays ;-)
MATERIAL ©TLG, MARY BURRIDGE AND ROCKET REV AS NOTED.
THIS PRESENTATION ©2005 UK FIREWORK REVIEW. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.