tger greenhaddock: Fire

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Last week during the good weather we finally got round to having another barbeque. I have always had fun with fire, as the photo shows I still like to have a bit of fun when grilling. At a young age my brother and I were always setting fire to things. A few fires got out of control and on one occasion the fire engines and police turned up. We weren’t caught and only a few trees were damaged (they carried on growing).

In my early twenties I had a close brush with a major fire in my hometown of Ilfracombe. The fire burned down several shops (in one of which the fire was reputedly to have started), several apartments and a hotel. I was the last person out of the apartment building, and the only one to get dressed. Before leaving my flat the lights went out and so I had to navigate the smoke filled corridors in the dark. I wasn’t scared, I just knew I had to vacate the building quickly, and chose to use the front exit which I had previously never used. With hindsight if I had used the other exit which I would have normally used I would have ended up as toast. So I exited into the street wearing a Mötorhead t-shirt, black bikers jacket, scruffy jeans, trainers and no socks. Apart from my portable TV and guitar that I grabbed at the last minute, these were the only possessions I had in the world, and guess who had no fire insurance.

Later that night I saw a person die at my feet and it didn’t upset me. He had foolishly re-entered the building to search for survivors. This was how it was portrayed by the media. In reality he went in to loot the place. The gas main exploded and he turned into meat. Before the ambulance arrived he was dead. There was nothing we could do, his face was gone, but we could still see he was still breathing by the blood bubbles.

But the fire was a turning point in my life. Within 9 months I was living and working in Hong Kong and my life had completely changed. It was almost as if losing everything had wiped the slate clean ready for a new start. I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out if the fire had never happened.

So now as the nights draw in, it will be soon be time once again to fire up the wood burner in the evenings. I then get to play with fire every evening, and it’s usually more entertaining than the TV.

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Anonymous matt said...

What's up with them pants dude :)

September 27, 2006 3:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's up with them pants dude :)

Maybe it's an English thing?

September 27, 2006 3:47 AM  
Blogger Haddock said...

Matt - Pirate length trousers are big in Germany this year :)

Grant - Brits do tend wear these silly things. I guess we have no fashion sense really! :)

September 27, 2006 9:18 AM  
Blogger Maribeth said...

First, nice legs, Haddock, so don't let Matt harrass you!

Yes, it is amazing how an event like that can change ones life. I have often thought about my car accident. It changed everything. Some for the worse, but all in all it was for the better.

September 27, 2006 1:36 PM  
Blogger heza said...

what a story. one could say it was karma.

obviously you aren't using the wimpy german 'earth friendly' fire starting sticks. I prefer a fiery inferno while grilling as well :-)

September 27, 2006 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

That was quite a story. First off, congratulations Mr. Haddock on having the good sense (or luck?) to pick the right exit. Without which we all wouldn't be here enjoying this lovely blog today. I'm sure Mrs. Haddock and the Juniorette join me heartily in that sentiment. Whenever I hear a story like this I can't help but believe a little in fate.

Secondly, I can't believe everyone got this far and no one mentioned the faceless looter blowing blood bubbles! Makes me wonder what y'all are watching on television these days.

And third, those are some cool pants. I stand firmly in the girl camp and throw you another w00t! for fashion.

September 27, 2006 5:32 PM  
Blogger The Naked Nerd said...

Dude on that fire in the photo you could cook brontosaurus burgers. LOL I have to admit as a kid I was a fire bug. In the immortal words of Beavis and Butthead fire is cool haha haha. ;)

September 28, 2006 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Deepblue said...

I'm shocked again about the fire-and-death-story ... Didn't know, your're an guitar-player?! As we had a fire-accident with three kids and a drunken friend I'm very carefull while barbecuing and we never again take spiritus for any kind of fire! I did not realize, what the guy was doing, but he and everything burned and I shurely think, god and the angel of my grandma or so must have saved the children - and boy blue made the right decision as you with your exit: he made himself and the other children run off in the right direction. We were shocked for about a year.

September 28, 2006 10:13 AM  
Blogger Nan said...

Hey - those pants are great. One of our neighbours is always walking around in these ultra short shorties - he looks rediculous. I like those pants - they would be considered perfect for the danish weather.. cloudy and unpredictable.

My dad set fire on a church then he was a kid. He was spanked badly and I am sure he wont ever do it again.

Magnus (the hubby) worked as a firefighter back in the days - he is great at telling moron fire stories and everyone think it is great when he attends their not so secure barbeque feasts.

September 28, 2006 1:41 PM  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

Hello mate!

Thnaks for visitng my blog, I thought of you the other day and said to myself I must visit your blog to see what you have been up to. Sorry but I have been so busy recently.

A big hotel burnt down in Ilfracombe a few weeks back in Fore Street (you have not been back have you?)

Hope you are keeping well!

Bye for now!

September 29, 2006 12:42 AM  
Blogger Haddock said...

Maribeth - You'll make me blush saying things like that! :)

Heza - fiery inferno grilling is the only way to go! :)

Lisa - I'm not sure if it was luck or instinct to pick the right exit. Thanks for the thumbs up for the pants! :)

Naked Nerd - Fire is cool!....oh yes! Just got to hunt me down a Brontosurus now! :)

Deepblue - Fire is a dangerous thing and should always be repected. Messing with when drunk is never a good idea. I can play guitar, but only very badly! :)

Nan - The pants are practicle for changeable weather. Your dad sounds like he had a fun childhood! and I bet Magnus's fire stories are fun to hear :)

Martin - Ilfracombe seems to be becoming famous for the ammount of hotel fires. One day the insurance companies are going to get suspicious :)

September 29, 2006 1:00 AM  
Blogger christina said...

Wow, Haddock, I guess that's one of the things we didn't know about you. Pretty life changing event, I'd say. I'm sure glad you came out of it in one piece.

I've gotten so used to men wearing those pirate pants around here that I didn't even notice. ;-)

September 29, 2006 12:29 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Your comment about how life would have been different... reminded me of a talk I heard by artist Makoto Fujimura, called "Fire by Fire." Sometimes it is only by fire that things are clarified, redeemed or renewed in a sense.

And, back to Fujimura, he has done some incredible paintings in a series based on fire (he and his family lived right next to the world trade center, so you can guess where the original impetus for that series came from). The paintings are hauntingly beautiful... fire is like that... beautiful and dangerous at the same time.

September 29, 2006 2:53 PM  
Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

I think going through an adventure like that would change my life, too. You were very lucky.

I wonder why fire attracts men that much. ;-)

September 30, 2006 11:16 AM  
Blogger Haddock said...

Christina - I never knew pirate pants would be so controversal! :)

I.I. Barkat - Thanks for stopping by. You have a nice blog. I checked out Makoto Fujimura and he has some interesting stuff there.

CanadianSwiss - "I wonder why fire attracts men that much" - It's probably a caveman hangover! :)

October 01, 2006 9:31 AM  

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