They gathered on Princes Street, pressed against the barricades. Up on The Mound, hundreds sat in the road, locals and tourists intermingling with couples and families dressed in matching parkas. On Calton Hill, on Arthur’s Seat and on every other elevated spot within a five-mile radius, they turned out in their droves: men, women and children, craning to glimpse the action unfolding above the treetops. Edinburgh’s inaugural curtain-closer that heralds the end of the festival is nothing if not a family event.
Who doesn’t like fireworks? They’re big and bright and spectacular – so big, bright and spectacular that they make us go ‘Oooh’ and ‘Ahhh’. Fireworks are the celestial equivalent of the Batman movies, a universal franchise that everyone can enjoy.
Beware the Light
Of course, while it’s easy to be wowed by the pretty lights and big explosions, there’s also an underlying theme to fireworks that ought to render them unsuitable for anyone under the age of virgin. The extravaganza may appeal to impressionable young eyes, but that’s because they have no idea what they’re metaphorically staring at. Us cherry-popped grown-ups know the uncomfortable truth however:
Fireworks displays are nothing more than a giant dick-waving contest.
Let’s be honest, it doesn’t take Sigmund Freud to appreciate that the Virgin Money Shot Fireworks Concert – just like every firework display – is a paean to the awesomeness of the male dick. That’s right: not the female dick but the male one. Think about it; all those junk-related attributes so faithfully recreated in firework form, with each thrust going higher, bigger, larger, louder, wider and for longer. Fireworks that touch the clouds like overarching jism; small bursts of light that dart this way and that, quivering like sperm racing through the stomach. Ah, the sperm. Fireworks are all about sex and sex is all about sperm and thus fireworks are about gallons of the stuff being jettisoned into the sky like a giant bukkake, spraying the atmosphere with evanescent luminescence. Coruscating and incandescent. Priapic and prurient. Huge and throbbing.
Wait, what the hell am I reading?
This year’s Virgin Money Shot Fireworks Concert was “a feast of pageantry and patriotism, celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and also echoing the Festival’s Shakespearean offerings.” Only it wasn’t, as we’ve already established. For those privileged enough to have a seat in Princes Street Gardens, there was indeed the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to savour. For the majority however, gathered at vantage points across the city, the musicians were destined to be overshadowed by the smorgasbord exploding overhead. To perform at a firework concert is like having a birthday on Christmas Day, always overshadowed, forever the balls and never the cock. This is fireworks with a concert thrown in, in the same way that you might throw a stick of chewing gum in with your shopping at the checkout.
Hang on, here comes the review
As the crowds gather in Edinburgh, Instagram fires up servers in Stockholm to handle the strain of half a million Burgh residents sharing their dick pics with the world. As the seconds tick closer to 9pm, there’s a palpable sense of excitement in the air. Shit is about to get real.
Good night to be a grown-up. Bad night to be a dog.
For the next 30 minutes, a heavenly orgy of shooting stars pulses and bursts overhead. Light erupts, cascading in neon sparks that fizz with hues of electric red and green. Fireworks soar majestically before plummeting earthward like fallen angels. An almighty bang sprays arcs that glimmer across the expectant faces and then there’s a lull. A pause. A mid-coital cigarette break.
OK, now back to the phallicism
We catch our breath, glowing as that first orgasmic rush dissipates through our extremities. Take out the phone. Tweet a few pics of the eyegasm we’ve just witnessed. We share it about as a brag to humanity; we share it to make others envy our collective dick.
From the Pyramids to The Cerne Abbas Giant, man’s mission has always been to worship the cock, the source of all life, its lifeblood delivered to the face in vast quantities. Men used to go to war over who had the biggest knobs. Then, between battles, they would rebuild their charred cities, incorporating increasingly vertiginous monuments to replace the ones that had been razed. Bow down before these phallic memorials, built to commemorate phallistic generals who died in their quest to determine whose nation had the biggest phallus. These days, war’s kind of frowned upon, and without the spoils of war, who can afford to erect giant edifices as testaments to testicles and the hulking great cocks that they’re strapped to like nuclear warheads, which are in themselves contemporary examples of man’s penile obsession? You can read that last sentence again if you like, but it won’t make any more sense the second time round I assure you.
Thankfully, even in an era of government cuts and economic austerity, there’s still scope for unleashing a fat wad of fireworks to keep the masses entertained on a Sunday night. Treat them to over 9,000 rockets and sonic booms that will obliterate all memory of how we fucked up the trams. For 30 minutes, let them eat cake. And then, when the last spermatic explosion has reverberated against the castle walls, we can all trundle home with our partners to make love in the missionary position for precisely 30 minutes – with a short fag-break in the middle. Oh yes, there will be fireworks.
£80,000 worth of fireworks, up in smoke. Through the haze, the castle reappears. A shiver runs through your body as you ask yourself ‘Was it worth it?’ and you smile. From the tip of your toes to the hairs on your neck, you smile. Of course it was. It always is, when the money shot arrives.
Tonight was the Virgin Money Shot Fireworks Concert. Tonight, shit was cash.