We are now in my personal least favourite time of the year. I don't like being outside in the dark very much anyway but I really hate it at this time of the year. I hope this blog post will make you laugh as well as making you think about how the most dangerous situations may not be the most obvious ones.
I would like to start this blog post a little bit differently if I may. I have decided to do a bit of a quiz for you (just for fun).
When attending a Firework display what are people advised to do?
(a) Walk directly through the area where the fireworks have been assembled as they go off - as well as walking directly through any associated bonfires which have been lit?
(b) Stand well clear of the display and view it from a safe distance (a couple of miles away should be clear enough)?
You have purchased some outdoor fireworks and are wondering where to place them for maximum effect during your display (which is to be held in your back garden) - Should you attach them directly to the walls of your house???
(A) Of course not - unless you want to burn the place down???
(B) It is a free country and you can do whatever you want with your fireworks???
(C) Don't know???
For best enjoyment - Fireworks displays should be held continuously during the weeks leading up to Guy Fawkes Night (or Oudjaarsavond - New Years Eve in Holland)???
(a) Of course - we would like as many people as possible to share our joy???
(b) Are you out of your mind??? There is such a crime as Creating a Public Nuisance you know! Not everybody enjoys fireworks as much as some people do???
I admit the answers to the above questions should be obvious to most people. However, there is a very serious point to them - which is totally unconnected with Fireworks, Firework Displays, or Bonfires.
Imagine for a minute that - instead of being about Firework Displays - those questions were about outdoor Christmas Lights???
I am sure you would automatically give the opposite answers. After all - outdoor Christmas Lights are less dangerous than your average Firework Display, aren't they???
Not in my world they aren't.
I have been asked how I cope with Firework Displays (I make sure that I have access to either a well lit place from where I can view them or to a light switch) but I have never been asked how I cope with Outdoor Christmas Lights.
Of course - there is one major difference between a Firework Display and Outdoor Christmas lights. I can avoid the Firework Display quite easily- the Outside Christmas lights are not so easy to avoid.
Using the house from the above questions as an example;
A Firework Display does indeed pose some potentially lifethreatening dangers. However, unless you are planning on using an Army-issue Rocket Launcher to blast your Fireworks over a wide radius, the chances of me being injured by the Fireworks are slim to non-existent. I live in an area where I can view displays from the privacy of my own home (or from the main road near where I live).
Outdoor Christmas Lights - on the other hand - are an evil from which I cannot easily escape.
I am seriously shortsighted but, if you insist on lighting your house up like the proverbial Chrismas Tree, I can guarantee that I will see it - even if it is miles away. Call it one of the "benefits" of Photophobia if you want to.
I have said before that bright lights disorient me (particularly at night). However, there are two additional complications when it comes to Outdoor Christmas lights.
The first is a small word called "context" and the second is those flickering and flashing Christmas lights you sometimes see on the outside of houses but usually see on "Civic" Displays (ie, in Town Centres, etc).
The flashing Christmas lights don't just cause problems for someone with my eyesight - I have a friend who has epilepsy and some frequencies of flashing lights can cause him to have an epileptic fit.
But what has "context" got to do with it???
I blame Leicester City Council for this one. (I asked one of the Twittercops if there is a law against a certain colour of Christmas light - but they were not sure.)
If you were to go to Town Hall Square, in Leicester, during daylight hours you would see a fountain. If you were to go to the Fountain in Town Hall Square, in Leicester, during the hours of darkness you might be forgiven for thinking there has been a major pileup of Emergency Service Vehicles. Especially if you have my sight. You see, the Christmas Lights which the Council have strung up around it are the exact colour (and flash rate) of Emergency Service Vehicles. I suppose they are legal until such a time as someone decides to drive the Fountain away???
If thar isn't bad enough - Leicester City Council appear to be piloting a new type of indicator - which can be fitted to the underside of passing aircraft - so that people on the ground can know if the aircraft is turning left or right. Trouble is - the indicators seem to be permanently stuck on the "Hazard Warnng" option. Yes - they have managed to source some lights the exact coour of indicators you see on road vehicles.
I don't want to spoil anybody's enjoyment of Outdoor Christmas lights but - please remember that "Less is More" and people can end up feeling disoriented (or even poorly) due to them.
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