I once set fire to my house with a box of fireworks. David Mitchell’s team. Ah, was this on purpose? LAUGHTER It was… It was done out of ignorance. LAUGHTER What age were you? I was somewhere round about seven. I want to know where you grew up where a seven-year-old can buy – a box of fireworks.
– I bought them in the shop where, near where I lived in Middlesbrough, it was a box for 2/6 of Standard Fireworks, that was the brand. Standard brand! That sounds exciting, Standard Fireworks. – Yeah.
– A normal level of excitement will be engendered. For a Bonfire Night you WILL forget! But, but it says Standard but then it’s, pch! Pch! Pch! That IS standard for a firework! So you’re in your home? – Yeah.
– And you are seven or eight years old. – I’m seven and I’m on my own, yeah.
– On your own.
– What happens? On one of the fireworks, I think it was the sparklers, it said “not suitable for indoor use,” which, at that age, makes you think, “Ah, that means they’re OK.” Could you just not read the word “not” when you were a bairn? Did you think “not” was the brand? You go, “Oh, lovely I like that “not” brand food. “It’s “not” – for human consumption.” LAUGHTER You know that logic that says, well, people have obviously tried them indoors. And discovered they’re not suitable. – Yeah.
– So, therefore, I won’t use them indoors because I want to live. But if you look on a big firework, it won’t say not suitable – for indoor… It’s obvious.
– Well, not to everybody. But on the sparklers they chose to put it on. So what happened? I lit the sparkler, the sparks went into the box of fireworks – the Standard box – and set THEM off and I carried the box of fireworks, now beginning to light into the kitchen and I threw them into the kitchen. I thought it would be more suitable. I think you’re right, the kitchen of all the rooms is the most suitable for fireworks, isn’t it? – It is.
– Because of the oven, the gas, the stove – there is fire naturally in the kitchen. Yeah. There’s a lot of…and there’s more… It’s more wipe-down. Less cloth. So what happened then? They went off in the, um… What was the sound like? Was it bing! Wheee! Pssh-pssh-pssh? No, these were only Standard. Phoo! Phoo! LAUGHTER And er… No, I can’t remember…I remember, as I’m sat here now, wiping the scorch marks off the floor and thinking that my mum’s going to kill me… – Yeah.
– ..and so I’m going to be in big trouble, then I went back into the living room. Unbeknownst to me… – Yeah.
– ..I’d dropped one. And it just… The living room was completely engulfed in flames. It sounds to me that if you’re on your own at home at seven, your mum’s pretty laid-back anyway. She said, “Son, will you sit here “and look after these fireworks whilst I go out to the bingo.” So you lit the sparkler, a spark went into the Standard box. – Yes.
– The box started to go… You go, “Uh-oh, I must get them into the most suitable room for fireworks.” – Yeah.
– That’s the kitchen, no need to go beyond the kitchen to the outdoors. Yeah. Mum said, “Don’t go out.” LAUGHTER APPLAUSE No, it’s good to know that there was at least one rule in your house. What time of day did all this happen? This happened mid-afternoon. – Oh, dear. So you didn’t really get the benefit of the fireworks?
– No. Who put the fire out? I went to next door where Miss Best lived. Bless her, she was about 80 and I knocked on her door and said, “My house is on fire,” and she said, “Do you know, I thought it was.” So what happened then? She called the fire brigade. They fired their water hoses throughout the house. – Ruining it.
– Even the rooms where there was no fire. – Not ruining it?
– Yeah. You do know that before they put out the fire, it was already ruined, don’t you? You’re making this house all wet, it was lovely and warm before. Lee, it’s the water damage that knackers the house. – Is it? Not the fire?
– Not the fire. If they would use their boots to put it out… I must say, the entire house was…that’s it. I was in a family of four children and we had… we were homeless. – Keep it light.
– I’m just saying.
– Where were all the other kids while you were alone with the fire? Why did she take three children out and leave you? They were looking after fireworks in other people’s houses. So, you say you were homeless – how much of the house did the inferno claim? – It had gone, the entire house.
– The whole house? – The whole house burnt down?
– The whole house burnt down. So how much did you leave in the living room? The fireworks in the kitchen have only caused a few scorches! – Yeah.
– What did you leave in the living room? And now, and now don’t you feel stupid for saying Standard fireworks? – Yeah.
– I’ll tell you… Not really. I think you were stupid for lighting a sparkler indoors. If you don’t know what you dropped in the living room is there a chance that it’s just a coincidence? – No, it could be.
– That it might not have been your fault? – That’s what I said to the press.
– It’s not your fault. Press? What, what press, who, who, who did you speak to? – Local press.
– They… Cos they came to the house while it was burning? Yeah. You know, with their hats on, trilbies, sniffing around. LAUGHTER With those little bits of paper in the hat. – Typewriters and everything?
– Were they called things like Scoop McLean? I believe he was called Ron Waffle. Sorry, Ron Waffle? It was either him or the other ace reporter on the Gazette was John Caramel. It was one of them two. Caramel and Waffle! Honestly. The question is whether you think Bob has been telling the truth. Well, I was… I thought it seemed very plausible until we heard about Caramel and Waffle. I think he thinks he’s telling the truth, but I think what’s happened, at some point, he’s seen a film in which this has happened. – He saw Backdraft.
– And is now convinced that it happened to him. I think it’s a lie. Sarah? I, ah, I sort of… I was going to say I want it to be true, but that sounds really horrible. I think… I don’t… I think it might be true. Well, I think it’s true. I think it’s true. – So you’re going to go for true?
– Yeah. OK. Bob, were you telling the truth or were you telling a lie? I was telling the truth. APPLAUSE Yes, it’s true, Bob once set fire to his house with a box of fireworks.