Monday, November 4, 2013
A Lament for Guy Fawkes Day
Alas it's a day not celebrated here and in any case, how could it compete with Halloween? No ghouls, or witches or inflatable ghosts, or wacky costumes or hoovering up sacks of sweets, courtesy of your terrorised neighbours, just some interesting history and good old-fashioned fun.
I look back with nostalgia to childhood Guy Fawkes nights at my friend's house, when pyrotechnics were still something reserved for November 5th; the frosty night air, dads lighting modest, sputtering fireworks, "Stand back everyone!" making shapes with whirling sparklers held in woollen mitts, the badly secured Catherine wheels that spun off their posts and shot, sparks flying, into the crowd, the Jumping Jacks (probably banned now) chucked around by naughty little brothers, making us run screaming, grownups starting the bonfire with a Woosh, the misshapen, stuffed Guy going up in flames wearing dad's old pyjamas.
Here in Western New York, one of the few local British families - well the only one at the time, attempted a couple of years ago to throw a Guy Fawkes party, bonfire and all and recapture all that lost innocence. The kids patiently handed out leaflets saying, "Remember Remember the Fifth of November" and telling the Americans all about why the British eccentrically celebrated the Gunpowder Plotters trying to blow up Parliament in 1605. The Americans just looked bemused and sidled towards the buffet.