November 4th 1972

“City 4 County 0” / “didn’t do much all today except went over field for bonfire evening”

Bonfire night – or Guy Fawkes night – or Fireworks night- is a peculiarly British (and colonies) tradition

Somewhat weirdly, the fifth of November each year is awash with fireworks and bonfires to celebrate the anniversary of the foiling of the so-called Gunpowder Plot in 1605. This was a plot hatched by Guy Fawkes and a group of catholic co-conspirators to blow up the Houses of Parliament, the seat of British government.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot

So, in essence, the British public continue to celebrate a failed terrorist attack.

(If America set off fireworks every time there was an unsuccesful terrorist attack against it – at least according to what we are led to believe by the NSA – there wouldn’t be a dark night any day of the year!!)

The bonfire on the field would have been carefully built by the farmer and residents over a series of weeks, then topped with an effigy of Mr Fawkes – usually constructed from a pile of old clothes stuffed with straw and finished off with a paper bag upon which a face was badly drawn. Hats and other accessories were added before the effigy was carried to the top of the bonfire to ceremoniously burn.

It all sounds rather anarchistic doesn’t it?

In the ‘olde days’ children would build themselves Guy Fawkes effigies and then sit next to them on busy street corners, requesting cash from passers-by under the quaint auspice of “Penny for the Guy”

So, to sum up then….. political terrorism, anarchy and begging.

These days Bonfire night is still celebrated in Britain, but appears to have stretched itself to a full week or more of letting off fireworks in the street – or through your letterbox! Usually by ignorant teen morons with nothing better to do. That carefully constructed bonfire of yore would have been burned down early by the same morons and all attempts to have a gentle party on the field would have been disrupted similarly.

Having lived in the USA for the past decade I think I can safely state that the Americans (for all their other myriad of faults) definitely know how to celebrate things properly, and often with a sense of ‘wonderment’ for young kids.


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