For the benefit for folks in my parts, November 5, 1605 is a national holiday in the U.K. celebrating the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot, the conspiracy to assassinate King James I by blowing up the Parliament building. Even though Guy Fawkes was the one discovered guarding the explosives, the mastermind behind the whole plot was one Robert Catesby. It’s a shame he never got the festival named after him, since it was his idea.
For the most part, when I was living there 20 years ago, it was always an innocuous holiday full of fireworks and fun, although there was a question about the effigies. It is traditional to burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on the town’s bonfire. Understood. Cool. Even before I came over, sometimes towns would throw in a likeness of someone who is persona non grata like the late Margaret Thatcher. However, what made me squicky, were the pope effigies in a few isolated areas. Now, you crossed the line into religion. I understood that the whole point of the celebration was the thwarting of a Catholic conspiracy against the Protestant king, but I grew up Catholic. How was this OK? Were these people saying people like me were not wanted?
Of course, now, I realize my fears were unfounded. The U.K. is a much more religiously tolerant place than the actions of Bonfire Night would make out to be. The pope effigies are gone, and there is some debate about whether the effigies are appropriate for the modern age. That is not for me to say, since I am on this side of the Pond.
While the Britons are deciding on what they want, this year, in Lewes, the targets are David Cameron with his friend, the pig’s head, and Sepp Blatter, the currently suspended and disgraced FIFA president. That should make for quite a blaze.
The smell of bacon should mix well with the consequences of gunpowder, treason, and plot.