When I’m in the UK I live in Salford, a fairly depressed urban, inner-city area. There are bits of it (a few hundred yards from my flat) that are like the wild west. Boarded up streets, smashed up shops, precincts with only one or two shops still open. I often wonder what Hildah, my beautiful Ugandan wife, will make of it when we eventually get her visa. Like all Ugandans she believes that every street in the UK is paved with gold! I live here because I want to spend as little money as possible while I’m in the UK so that I can use as much of the money that I earn for our work (God’s work) in Uganda. Poverty, bad diet, addiction and desperation are written on many of the faces that I see on Salford’s streets. Frankly, it can be pretty depressing.

Which is why tonight, Bonfire Night, I am sitting in my flat in total bemusement. I have been irritated by the nightly sound of fireworks for about three weeks. But tonight it is a cacophany of sound. Since I arrived back here at 6.45pm I would guess that I have eard in excess of 2,000 fireworks exploding. WHERE does the money to buy them come from? WHY do people living beneath the poverty line in the UK choose to spend money on fireworks? Has the world gone COMPLETELY mad? I checked Google and it appears that it has. Tonight we will burn about £55m on fireworks – enough to build 1,571 ‘Hospitals in the Hills’. And it gets worse – which festival is the third most popular after Christmas and Easter? From The Telegraph………….

The decline of Bonfire Night is often blamed on overzealous health and safety regulations. In fact, the real culprit is the rise of Hallowe’en, celebrated five days earlier. Hallowe’en is now the UK’s third most lucrative festival, outstripping Valentine’s Day and gaining rapidly on Easter. In 2011 the total UK spend was estimated at £315 million. This is more than three times the annual spend on fireworks.

I never found Halloween scary until now. Read again – apparently we would rather buy a pumpkin and a scary outfit rather than roses for our life partner. Now THAT’S frightening.

So, whilst the poor people of Salford burn money they can’t afford on fireworks, the poor people of Uganda see us spend 17% of their annual Gross Domestic Product (the whole country’s whole annual income) on pumpkins, monster outfits and trick or treating.

A pretty crappy trick. A pretty crappy world. Isn’t it? And we dare to blame God?