Home Fire

It’s very bright in my flat – in direct contrast to how it is in the world. Over the years loads of candles have found their way into here. I always load up whenever I go to Ikea, tons of them tend to just miraculously appear here after Christmas Carol runs are over, and they are generally one of the things that my magpie instinct latches onto. TK Maxx is another repository of waxy columns.

I’ve started to think of my rooms as elementally themed and the living room is certainly fire tonight. I’ve put them everywhere and I’m basking in their glow. I even put them into some antique glass things that look like they’re supposed to hold candles but that explode from heat when the flame gets close to the bottom. Dammit.

They’re terrifically atmospheric as well – like the best budget world-build you can possibly get. Despite what they put on the risk assessment, it’s pretty hard to burn the house down with candles in proper candle holders. I was sad when we weren’t allowed them last time we did Christmas Carol because somebody was frightened of their potential for havok. There’s always a potential for havok in theatre. It just depends which head you put on.

We forget history. They’ve been around for as long as they have because they’re less likely to set fire to the theatre than a birdie with a gel on it is. But you have to have a bucket of sand and all sorts of shenanigans. Usually we do, but last year we had to choose our battles. Even The Globe, when it burnt down it was because of a bit of wadding from a cannon blast getting into the thatch. Using pyrotechnics to wake up the audience during Henry VIII – a pageant. Very much not Shakespeare at his finest.

They get away with candles at the Sam Wanamaker playhouse. (That’s the indoor arm of The Globe). Tickets are like gold dust and so they should be. I’ve only ever managed to get a restricted view seat. Inside the place is swimming in tallow, a true testament to artisanal passion and a faith in old ways. It’s astonishing in there, and they do good work.

God I can’t wait for the theatres to open. Fuck I’d literally chew your arm off for the chance to do a run in that woodysmelling space with all the candles lit.

For now though, I’ll just have to pretend to be other people in my flat, for the fish.

The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. Essential trades in an earlier society. Little portable localised flames that don’t poison you and aren’t likely to torch the house. We are clever little monkeys, making such things.

I’ve always been drawn to fire. It’s a human instinct, perhaps. We are the firekeepers. It’s a remarkable thing how we are the only animal that understands it and harnesses it for warmth, for cooking, for light. Sure occasionally we do stupid crap like blow up a load of gunpowder in the dry season for a momentary effect that ends up killing loads of people and wiping out huge portions of ancient woodland. But we are also the only species that thinks we’re clever when we aren’t. It’s fascinating as well as dangerous, this thing that Prometheus stole for us. I can spend hours just staring at it…

As a kid I probably spent more time gazing at sparks as they went up the chimney than I did goggling at the telly. My parents caught on and made it my job to lay and light the fire so the morning room was warm before they woke up. And yes, we had a morning room. I loved that fireplace. I want one in my home. Not a woodburner. An open fire.

It’s joys like that which help make this period bearable, as we work our way through these wintry feardays that I hope will be remembered with a kind of mystified incomprehension a decade from now. “Oh fuck yeah, you remember lockdown…?”

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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