British veteran Mark Taylor was interviewed on BBC Breakfast this morning about his struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Like many who have experienced active service, the traumas of war persisted long after returning home. A study by King's College, London found that up to 17% of veterans are afflicted with PTSD; as with many mental injuries where the instinct to hide personal struggles from loved ones is a symptom in itself, the true figure is probably higher.
Mark mentioned Firework Night is always a particularly fraught time. Presently, in Portobello in Edinburgh, there's a constant stream of what sounds uncannily like small arms fire rattling, punctuated intermittently by louder bangs of more powerful fireworks. Most are used to this background cacophony round about this time of year, even if few are aware of the intricacies of 17th century history that led Guido Fawkes to the gallows for High Treason in 1605. 'Guy' was part of the so-called Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and assassinate King James VI of Scotland and I of England, son of Mary Queen of Scots, the first joint monarch of the two kingdoms. Although the plot failed, this has led to over four hundred years of celebratory explosions lighting up the night skies over the British Isles.
Families with kids love the lurid displays. Families with pets who can become terrified by the noise tend to anticipate November 6th with far more enthusiasm. Families of veterans suffering from PTSD will be only too aware of the terrible memories that can be invoked.
Link to powerful 2019 BBC iPlayer documentary: