When I was little, for fireworks night we occasionally used to buy things like `volcanoes' and `traffic lights' and - if we were feeling extravagant - a `roman candle' which produced half a dozen balls of light and sent them about 3 metres into the air. Small catherine-wheels made a fairly regular appearance. However, we never had more than about half a dozen fireworks, and certainly never any rockets as they were too expensive (and in any case, the rockets that you could buy then for any reasonable amount of cash did no more than fizzle into a tiny shower of light once they were up in the air). We would take them out on to the field outside our house, have 5-10 minutes of fun watching them one by one, and then go in again. (On just one occasion I was invited to a friend's house where we had a small fireworks party in their ample back garden.) For proper fireworks we would always go to a professional display - it was more important to us (and better value for money) than lighting our own fireworks.
These days, fireworks are still pretty expensive but they seem to be a lot beefier. You seem to be able to go into almost any shop and buy a box of `comet storm' or `meteor shower' rockets which produce huge inflorescences of pretty lights and wake up half the estate in the process. I have mixed feelings about this (given that these were used to great effect in the gathering described below). But what I don't like is the type of firework that seems designed to make nothing except a very loud noise (and a very short but very bright flash of white light). Maybe I'm viewing from afar wearing my rose-tinted spectacles, but I don't remember nearly as much of that going on when I were a lad. It wouldn't be so bad if it were all confined to a few hours on the 5th of November; but as we all know, it starts up in earnest a week or so in advance and continues until a few days after the 5th. On our estate we've been having the occasional day on which several very loud bangs were heard since August or September. In fact I don't know for certain that those are fireworks, because they have been going on during the daytime too. The bangs could be heard pretty much throughout the estate, as a couple of them happened while I was out walking and it wasn't at all possible to tell where they were coming from.
On November 8th (because it was a Saturday) while we were busy not achieving much, we went to various places in search of fireworks and eventually found some at a local newsagent's. Thus armed, we got ready and went out to Witney where various people in the cul-de-sac where bopeepsheep's parents live were continuing the tradition of having a fireworks party and barbecue. No black peas <g> but we did take a bit of parkin to eat later. The weather also continued the tradition by not raining.
Now when there are almost 50 people (including the children), you can make a pretty impressive display if several people contribute fireworks. We actually had enough fireworks to last about 70 minutes when skillfully arranged by the local pyrotechnic bods. bopeepsheep carried smallclanger out in the baby-sling in the forward-facing position for pretty much the first time to see the fireworks. The loud noises didn't seem to faze him at all. He saw a few of the pretty lights, but seemed more interested by a coke bottle on a nearby table. However, after 10 minutes or so he went inside and demanded some food. When smallclanger and his mum finally emerged, he was cocooned under her wrap and was quite interested in going to sleep - which he did, despite the continuing loud bangs around him! Instead, when the display finished, the cheer and applause woke him up - but only for a few seconds.
And so that was the baby's first fireworks night.