I’m watching the fireworks from the balloon festival on my balcony: giant blooms that live for a second, fading as gravity claims them and the points of light fall towards the dark. The smoke drifts across south Bristol in a long snake, reminding me of old oil paintings of battles fought with guns and confusion, and it occurs to me that it’s travelling in time as well as space. At the snake’s mouth, the first red flower still lives; halfway along are the tiny sparkling golden canapes that accompanied the huge green and purple courses; hovering over the old warehouses I can still see the final barrage of the huge spirals that ended the display. The explosion lasts for a brief moment, leaping and falling in an eyeblink: the smoke lit by the city lights spreads this compressed time into something more manageable. Totterdown is the beginning of the first burst, Bedminster the point where the stars fell to earth. Mapping time with wind and light.
I’m thirty in a few days time. I’d love to see my lifesmoke: the last decade’s passed in the time it takes a firework to live and die, and I would appeciate the chance to see my actions spread out into something more comprehensible, something I could walk back and forth along, something I could use to digest what’s happened and understand it better. Perhaps, though, I ought not to dwell on the smoke. Perhaps I should concentrate more on the firework, and start thinking less about the echo it leaves.