Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Remember, remember

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
I doubt there is a person in the land above the age of about four who does not know that 5th November is Bonfire Night, otherwise known as Guy Fawkes Day.  This is the day when bonfires are lit, effigies of Guy Fawkes are burned and fireworks light up the evening sky.

As the Gunpowder Plot Society tells us,
"On November 5, 1605, a solitary figure is arrested in the cellars of Parliament House. Although he first gives his name as John Johnson, a startling series of events begins to unfold under torture. Guy Fawkes, as he is really called, is one of thirteen who have conspired to blow up the parliament, the King, and his Lords, thereby throwing the whole country into turmoil, out of which these traitors hoped to raise a new monarch who was sympathetic to their cause, and return England to its Catholic past."
So religious fighting is nothing new.

The sale of fireworks is strictly regulated these days but it was not always so.  I well recall that as Bonfire Night approached each year, my brother and I would visit the local stationer's shop.  As well as stationery, books and a few toys, this shop was the local supplier of fireworks during October each year.  These magical incendiary devices were stored in a glass-fronted, glass-topped counter and my brother and I, with our pocket money either clutched in our hands or lying red-hot in the pockets of our trousers, would spend an age deciding just which ones to buy.  There were none of the large fireworks we see in supermarkets these days.  Rockets shot into the sky on sticks about a foot long, if that, and the ground-based fireworks would generally stand only two or three inches tall.  What should we buy next?  The Emerald Fire, perhaps?  Or a couple of bangers?  The thing with bangers was that they just blew up, usually with a disappointingly quiet "bang", whereas the "pretty" fireworks could generally be trusted to burn for a minute or two.  Catherine wheels were pretty much always a calamity, possibly because my father never fastened them to a post so that they would spin as they were meant to do.  Jumping crackers were another type that we learned not to bother with; they had a hrrible habit of going under plants in the garden and staying there.

It's many years now since we had fireworks in the garden and I am always involved with the Lions fireworks display.  We don't have a bonfire - that would be most unpopular with the cricket club whose ground we use - but we do have some pretty spectacular fireworks with plenty of bangs and stars.  Here's a promotional video we put together.

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