Remember, remember the 5th of November.
Well, it seemed only fitting to commence this blog with a significant bang, considering the fact that tonight is the night traditionally associated with bonfires and all that explodes; including poor Guy Fawkes.
I have personally always felt a little sorry for old guy, it was merely a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for him. I imagine him raising his arms in surrender when he was caught in the basement of the houses of Parliament surrounded by 36 barrels of gunpowder, imploring ‘It’s not what it looks like. I can explain.’
Only he really couldn’t explain. All the evidence did, albeit rather unfairly, undoubtedly point to him.
However he was not solely responsible for the plot, yet he is the one we reconstruct out of old tights and t-shirts and chuck on top of the bonfire every year. We seem to forget about Robert Catesby, the real conspirator against James 1, who was dispatched whilst running from his capture. Instead we focus our attention on the more interestingly named Guido. The man who was relentlessly tortured for two days, infact James 1 actually made torture temporarily legal so that Guy could be punished horrifically, because quite honestly being hung, drawn and quartered just isn’t punishment enough.
But despite being ripped into four and sent to the four corners of the country Guy is put back together again like a human Humpty Dumpty, resurrected every year and thrown on a fire where he is licked by scorching tongues, collapsing into a pile of acrylic ash.
And as I stood in Sanderstead wreck with my friends, our faces sticky from the bargain toffee apples (15p for 7! ‘What?!’, I hear you cry) I had secured from Waitrose earlier that day, gazing up at the plump Guy – stuffed with who knows what, resting his laurels on an initially warm wooden crate only to be engulfed by the ferocious fire beneath him, a huge crowd speculating how long it would take for his head to fall off – I couldn’t help but feel a little cruel.
Now, I’m fully aware that Guy Fawkes is long dead and he was a bit of an idiot, but it’s a bizarre tradition indeed. And if the gunpowder plot had been successful would we be burning James 1 every November the 5th?
Still it’s an excuse to ‘ooooh’ and ‘ahhhh’ over some colourful pyrotechnics and indulge in fruit impailed with a sharp, wooden stick; all the healthy potential eradicated by a thick coating of burnt sugar. But everyone loves playing Russian roulette with their teeth don’t they?