NEWS AND COMMENT: The Times has an article today May 23, 2022, which makes my blood boil. Rowan Atkinson is famous for his character Mr Bean, a bumbling catastrophe-making individual who was extremely successful and highly amusing. But this story is not highly amusing and neither was the firework display successful.
He decided to have a massive firework display as part of a party for his girlfriend, Louise Ward. It was her 40th birthday. It was going to be a spectacular and it probably was but it was also bloody noisy. It took place at Luckman Park Hotel and spa in Wiltshire. It is a Palladian mansion near Chippenham which has a stable of 30 horses whose purpose is to provide equine therapy.
The management of the hotel had warned people about the event and posted it on Facebook. The warning wasn’t enough because neighbours far and wide have complained. And initially I’m thinking of those horses living in stables nearby. How did they respond to this massive and over-the-top firework display?
We are told that it began at 10 PM. Terri Freeland, 66, lives 4 miles from the hotel. She said: “On bonfire night and New Year’s Eve you expect fireworks and loud music and take care of your dogs. On Saturday evening in May when I’m watching Top Gun on the telly totally engrossed, I can most certainly say you absolutely do not expect it. I’m not even a local resident. I live on Box Hill and there is a huge valley in front of us where their hotel is. It completely startled me and was horrible. I just didn’t know what to do.”
Both her 18-month-old collie, Bobby, and her 14-year-old collie, Megan, was so startled that they went missing. Fortunately, they returned in the early hours of Sunday but Freeland described the experience as extremely distressing.
A nearby village, Colerne, hosts the 21st Signal Regiment at Azimghur, Barracks. Local residents thought that the barracks was under bombardment from an enemy. Perhaps the Russians had turned their attentions to Britain because of the country’s support for Ukraine?
One resident called for the RSPCA to investigate because of the fireworks’ potential impact on the horses. They said: “It sounded like we were under attack from Russia. You deserve to be shut down.”
They were that annoyed that they wanted the hotel to be shut down for hosting the firework display. Another resident said that her dogs were petrified and said: “I don’t want to be a party pooper but a bit of noise consideration wouldn’t go amiss.”
There were other complaints obviously and I don’t want to bore readers. They make a very strong point. I detest firework displays because they terrify my cat. And they simply aren’t viable in my opinion. A firework display such as the one hosted by this hotel would have pleased Rowan Atkinson and his girlfriend and perhaps other guests who might have numbered around 50 individuals. But hundreds of people were affected negatively by the display. You can’t have a small number of people taking pleasure from an event which at the same time causes displeasure to many more people and terror to their companion animals.