View From The Glen

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

Remember remember the 5th of November
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

On the drive back from Ottawa last Saturday morning, the kids hyper in the back seat from the Hallowe’en candy-laced breakfast they had, they wanted me to tell stories. Now I know Little Red Riding Hood, and The Emperor’s New Clothes, and The Three Billy Goats Gruff, but today they wanted true stories.

So we went through Mom’s greatest true story bank. Everything from the time Uncle Barry got a nosebleed and bled all over the bathroom, to King Richard II and the War of the Roses. But finally they clamoured for something new.

So I did what any good mother would do. I told them something new. And this time as my subject I chose Guy Fawkes, and told them how (back when I was a kid…) we celebrated Hallowe’en and then immediately began preparations for the even bigger event of November 5th: Guy Fawkes or Bonfire night. I told them about how in 1605 a group of men under the guidance of the luckless Guy Fawkes tried to blow up parliament, but how Fawkes, standing guard over the gunpowder was instead caught and charged with treason.

And how we English subsequently used to commemorate the night by building great big bonfires in tiny back yards, where, with much joie-de vivre and frivolity, we would bake potatoes in the fire, set off fireworks, and burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes. Even as I was telling them the tradition, it sounded somewhat sordid. Surely there is something wrong in pretending to burn a human on a huge bonfire..?

The kids of course loved the story in all its gruesomeness. And in their enthusiasm, I found myself agreeing that it would be a great idea to have a bonfire tonight, November 5th. After all the yard clearing we did last weekend, I have a nice big pile of leaves to burn.

I hope the kids aren’t too disappointed that we won’t have a “guy” to burn!

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