Boney advice is so much hot air

By Squinter

T AKE a look at this thing on the right. It’s got to be 80 feet high and its core is full of tyres and sofas that, when burnt, give off the kind of toxic fumes that have been outlawed by the Geneva Convention. It’s at Lanark Way, and this year the Shankill has gone all out to ensure that they take first place in the annual Belfast Battle of the Boneys.
The Andersonstown News, like every other business in Belfast and beyond, receives occasional visits from the Fire Service. An examiner will wander through the building checking fire escape protocols and fire extinguishers. If there’s a trip hazard near a fire door or restricted access to an extinguisher, we’ll be told about it and then be expected not only to put it right, but of course not to repeat the mistake.
The Fire Service don’t say so because they, like everybody else in this chronically dysfunctional little statelet, are constrained by political considerations, but this thing is madness, total madness. The Fire Service can’t say what it should say: that this is health and safety nightmare, a lethal abomination and anyone who goes within half a mile of it on the Eleventh Night needs their head examined. But they don’t say that because the PUL community (where on earth did that horrible phrase come from?) wouldn’t like it; they don’t say that because it would make it more likely that attending crews, already liable to be attacked by drunken loyalists, would be considered even more of a target.
And so the Fire Service instead issues a set of Eleventh Night bonfire guidelines that might keep you safe if you were burning hedging in your back garden, but when applied to constructions like this monster are about as effective as sending a rubber dinghy to save the Titanic. Here are the main recommendations of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
Bonfires should be kept to a manageable size
See picture, right.
The distance of the bonfire from the bonfire to the nearest property should be five times the height of the bonfire
In the case of the Lanark Way boney pictured, that means that spectators should stand in Bangor. The redbrick things to the left are houses.
Build the stack so that it is stable and will not fall
This thing is made out of loose pallets with a higgledy-piggledy pile of cancer-causing combustibles in the middle; it’s about as stable as NI21.
Never build a hut or a den inside the bonfire
Inside that hulking leviathan is a room like an ante-chamber in an Egyptian pyramid, except it is furnished not with precious things, but with flea-bitten sofas and pishy mattresses.
Do not burn foam-filled furniture or tyres
LOL.
Responsible adults should look after lighting the bonfire
Responsible adults? At a boney? At 11.30 on the Eleventh Night? The people ranged around the base of this thing will all be so drunk that any one of them would be able to light it just by breathing on it.
Never use petrol or paraffin to light the fire – use domestic firelighters
Boneys are lit by buckin’ petrol bombs at them. That’s it. Any loyalist getting out a Bic lighter and a box of Sunny Jims while being watched by 2,000 roaring drunks would find himself up on top of the boney with the Polish flegs and the Sinn Féin posters.
Keep everyone away from the fire – especially children
Talk about missing the point. Loyalists get as close to the boney as they possibly can and stop only when their faces begin to blister. It’s called the Taughmonagh Tan. It’s why all the women look like Ruth Patterson the next day and all the men like Dale Winton. As for the children, they’re left with the Eleventh Night babysitter, the Mothercare stroller.
For an emergency keep buckets of water, a garden hose and a fire extinguisher nearby
Yeah, good luck with those if on the night this thing goes timmmbbbeeeerrrrrr!
Meanwhile, any loyalists who want to get away from it all and head to Shankill-on-Sea, aka Ballywalter, hoping for long walks on the beach or a glass of wine while watching the moonlight on the sea out the caravan window might have to reconsider.
At Ballywalter (below left) they’ve got a beach boney which is nowhere near the size of the Lanark Way job, but at least the town can boast a beach that has an EU (Red, White and) Blue Flag.

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