"Remember, remember the 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot;
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot."
Traditional English rhyme
I have mixed feelings about Bonfire Night. On the one hand I love this traditional British festival occasion. I like a good bonfire, I watch fireworks from a safe distance and with a healthy respect for the powers of fire and I enjoy bonfire food such as roasted chestnuts and hot mulled wine.
Yet at the back of my mind I can't shake off an uncomfortable feeling, for we are after all, celebrating someone being burnt at the stake and public execution. This doesn't really sit well with me. I find the concept of it rather unnerving and I often wish I could go back to a state of childish ignorance, when I could enjoy the party with no knowledge of it's origin and therefore with a clear conscience.
When I was a little girl there was a huge bill poster of Guy Fawkes, similar to the image above, pasted onto the bricks of the local corner shop where they sold fireworks. It was there for years and years, until eventually the rain washed it away. I would walk past this poster everyday on my way to and from school. So in a way, you could say that I grew up with Guy Fawkes and I think this might be the reason I feel some empathy and sympathy towards Guy and his pals. Plotting to blow up the Houses of Parliament wasn't the greatest plan and he paid the ultimate price for it, largely because he came so very close to succeeding!
But every year on November the 5th, as I watch the flames I think of how he and his friends must have suffered, so very long ago. I will always be a fan of Bonfire Night and the gatherings that go on; it is one of our best loved autumn festivals. And I can't help thinking old Guy Fawkes might be dancing a spirit-jig that his famous name and thereby, his cause, is now the origin of a great British tradition.
Whatever you are doing tonight, spare a kind thought for Guy Fawkes and his friends, and enjoy a safe Bonfire Night.