No, nothing like that....
Some kid at school reckoned you could shave the heads off matches, wrap them in tinfoil [there being no alfoil when I was about ten] hit it with a hammer and it would make a very satisfactory bang.
|The real thing! Oz-made.|
Our house, as were most Queensland farmhouses, was on stilts about two metres above the ground. I went downstairs, got out my trusty pocket-knife last used for making arrows, and carefully shaved off the matchheads one by one.
I buried the matchsticks under the old slightly raised floor in the centre of the space downstairs amongst the ant-lions' funnel-shaped traps. I then wrapped a pleasing quantity of the match-heads [i.e., the lot] tightly in the tin-foil I had commandeered from the second kitchen cupboard drawer.
I got the big claw hammer from the bench next to the rifles and ammo, placed my small foil package on the disc, and struck it tentatively.
Nothing. It just flattened it a bit.
I wasn't that surprised. I struck it again, a good bit harder.
Nothing again. I guessed it needed more force than I thought.
Third time lucky? I gave it a good wallop, and I can tell you, years of driving three inch nails into hardwood made me no slouch with any sort of hammer.
Nada. Nix. The package was holding up well, but looking more like one of those little Dutch pikelets in size and shape – maybe a bit flatter. What are they? That's right – poffertjes. One of those.
What a waste of time and effort, I thought, now thoroughly cranky. I picked up the hammer intending to smash that stupid poffertje to bits.
Bang. It flattened a bit more. I raised the hammer and hit it full force. Twice, in quick succession.
It wasn't so much the god-almighty bang that made me fall backwards, it was those ringing waves of sound in my ears. My head was an echo chamber. I felt like my now-entirely-successful experiment had been performed right inside my head. Not even the loudest bunger I had ever lit had achieved such distinction.
Fortunately for me, my sisters were playing with our cousins at their house across the creek, and Mum and Dad were both at the dairy. Had either of my parents heard it they would have been certain I'd fired a cartridge from the double-barrelled shotgun, with unimaginable consequences. I'd cocked and fired that empty gun a thousand times, but would never have dared put a shell in the breech.
Anyway, I had proved the point. For half an hour afterwards, my ears were still ringing, but I had made a glorious bang that I'd have enjoyed much more if I were expecting it.
My ears are ringing now. Not from the memory, but from my permanent state of tinnitus.
People speak so softly these days, don't you reckon? What? Speak up dammit, can't you?