Remember, remember... Although it's not a public holiday 'Bonfire Night' or 'Guy Fawkes Night' is a big celebration in the UK. It marks the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 which was a failed attempt by a group of provincial English Catholics to kill King James I of England along with his family, and most of the Protestant aristocracy in a single attack by blowing up the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening. Although this celebration is synonymous with the name of Guy Fawkes the plot was in fact led by a man called Robert Catesby. Fawkes notoriety is likely due to his being placed in charge of executing the plot because of his military and explosives experience.
- Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
- The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
- I know of no reason
- Why Gunpowder Treason
- Should ever be forgot.
- Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
- To blow up King and Parliament.
- Three-score barrels of powder below
- To prove old England's overthrow;
- By God's providence he was catch'd
- With a dark lantern and burning match.
- Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
- Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Traditionally 'Guys' which are effigies of Guy Fawkes are burned on bonfires and fireworks are let off to mark this date. Children would often make a 'Guy' and then ask for a 'Penny for the guy' in order to raise money for fireworks. However, it is rare to see this anymore, and I suspect with inflation being what it is, the entreaty is probably nearer to ten quid for the guy.
I was hoping to go to a fireworks display this year as I have never outgrown 'ooh-ing' and 'ah-ing' at them as they bang and crackle and light up the sky like an exploding rainbow, but I ended up working late instead. I can still remember my first Bonfire Night. I was very young so as it is cold this time of the year, mum watched with me from the warmth of the bedroom. We had the lights off and waited for my poor father, wrapped up in a big coat, to light the fireworks. I remember him running around the garden like an erstwhile pyromaniac, lighting fireworks and then retiring to a safe distance before the rocket would whoosh into the air. I thought it was magical. I still do.