Le Matire Pyros …

So, I’ve posted previously posts pertaining to be nothing but faffing …. This one however pretends to be nothing more than some thinly veiled reminiscing of years gone by, the actual physical embodiment of stupidity (thought I’d get that in there prior to you Dave) and how to receive the quickest haircut in the world <hair removal jokes permitted here> …

Many years ago, whilst living in the furthest edges of civilisation (ergo Pembrokeshire, South West Wales), I fell into a bar job at a music venue // pub that seemed to be in permanent receivership (The Nash Rectory).  From this meagre role, it somehow transpired that I would go from bar person (with hair) to freelance pyro bloke for one of the (and I apologise here in advance for this phrase Richie) “rockiness(!?)” bands that came through the Rectory’s door “Frostbite”.

It was during this time in the 90’s that I was also enrolled on a computer technical college(?) course at the local iTec and it’s here from an electronics course that a twin output transformer was borrowed with nefarious plans in mind.   For as my involvement in the music scene was incredibly short lived, I had discovered a musical instruments shop in Haverfordwest that stocked and sold Le Maitre pyrotechnics.

Now being the curious sort that I was, I had opened one of these little silverstar pyros and discovered just how easy it was to set these things off.  Apply a voltage here and boom, off it goes.  Silver stars everywhere.  With freshly purchased pyros in hand (and the odd smoke pellet) and dual output transformer tucked neatly under my arm I ventured out to create pyro holders and cables aplenty.  The holders were literally blocks of wood drilled for the pyro pins to sit into, and various lengths of cable to run back to the firing position (generally on a small table under a staircase – dependent on venue).

At the time and much like nowadays, an official ticket was not actually required.  All that was needed was a keen eye to ensure nobody was within the firing range.  Anyway, this setup of loading the pyro, placing in position and firing was all well and good for many events.

Until …

Frostbite had been booked to play a small venue pub on Broad Haven, Pembrokeshire.  A regular for the band and a great curry to boot too.  I setup the pyros in the usual position, the band professionally cowed behind them until I was given the count in from the drummer and boom!  I check the connections are good, prepare to power the transformer on.  And off they went, and in came the band, tight as ever.

Job done.  Smoke clearing. I totter off to the bar.

I’ll pause here for a second for fear that your reading this drivel now with slack jaw, and wide eye and let that sink in for a moment.  Yup.

Anyway, I go to the bar.  And I have a pint.

A really good pint.

Bit of a chat with the landlords daughter.

Another pint, why not.

It really is a REALLY good pint.

Bit more of a chat.

And possibly another pint.

And then for some unexplained reason I decide (the band are about two thirds through their first set now) to go and reset the pyro.  I totter of towards the firing position, drag in the two now spent pyro cartridges and remove the first empty pyro from the holder.  Holding the new pyro face down in the palm of my left hand I put on the + terminal and as I am about to connect the – terminal a flash of brilliance hits me.  Check you’ve turned off the power it says to me, so I trace the lead back to the transformer and realise just how close I was to letting the thing go off.

I turn off the power and connect the remaining terminal, place the pyro back into it’s holder and place it out of harms way.  The second cartridge is removed from it’s holder and I connect the fresh pyro to it’s + terminal.  Almost instantaneously I check the transformer and see that it’s thankfully already in the off position.

I then set the – terminal to the device and it’s in that moment, the last drum beat of the first song of the first set that there is a brilliant white flash followed by a loud crack and a plume of smoke that I become the receiver of the quickest haircut in my own personal history.

Left eyebrow?  Left eyelashes?  Who needs them?

From the centre of my gloriously long hair <insert hair related quip here by all means> directly down to just above my left elbow (in length), the receiver of the quickest, 2 inch haircut.

As the acrid smoke clears all that remains is myself standing, pyro in hand, repeating the words “Oh fuck!” numerous times.

Amusingly as it was perfectly timed to the last song, the band pretty much thought “oh great!  Another pyro.  Brilliant!”.  Anyway, smoke clears.  I’m bundled into a car and driven around 15(?) miles to the nearest hospital with my hand out the window, whereby on my return to the pub with eyepatch on left eye and hand securely packaged in a clear polythene bag (rapidly filling up with condensation) I packed the lot of kit away and went back to the bar.


Before and after the event.  I’ll admit it could have gone a whole hell of a load worse.  I got off lightly (no pun intended), and once I’d returned home I was fortunate enough not to have been grounded (ha!) and my father then actually built me a blue box to fire them with (you know the key lock and push button dead mans switch combination kind of thing) – Thanks dad!

So why this post?  More of a reflection really, and once that coincides with my recent ticketing to use pyro in a safe // controlled manner.  Not that it wasn’t a learning curve way back in the 90’s (?).

Remember kittens, safety first eh!