November 6th, 2005

Gunpowder, Treason And Plot

In ye olden days I swear the leaves were mostly gone from the trees by November 5. I asked Ailz if I were making this up and she said, "No, it's official. It's got something to do with the climate getting warmer and wetter."

Also in ye olden days it was the custom for kids to make nasty scarecrow figures and trundle them round in wheel-barrows, door to door, chanting, "Penny for the guy" or, "Please to Remember/The Fifth of November/ Gunpowder, treason and plot..." This seems to have entirely died out. Today's kids go trick or treating instead.

But bonfire night is still a goer. I was lying in bed last night wondering how many thousands of pounds it was taking to make the night go fizzle, pop, krump around me. The noise started early and ended late and there'll almost certainly be a repeat performance tonight.

This year is the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot. Parallels are being drawn between the gunpowder conspirators and Al Quaeda, but there's a difference; Guy Fawkes wasn't just a terrorist, he was a revolutionary. If the plot had succeeded it would have been followed by a coup d'etat. This, of course, is supposing that it ever had a chance of succeeding and wasn't, as some historians allege, a government conspiracy designed to make everybody hate the catholics and ease the passage of repressive, "anti-terror" legislation.