Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Time to burn Catholiks...

...while America sleeps or indeed parties in a frenzy and Republicans wearily shake their heads and wonder how they lost having McCain and Sarah Palin on the combined ticket...that part of Great Britain called England is gearing up to that other party held on that island's shores each 5th November...Guy Fawkes Night.

"Remember, remember, the fifth o' November!" went the rhyme I would as a kid chant without ever really knowing or wondering where it came from.

Much later having moved to France and living amongst Catholics as if it makes any difference at all on a day-by-day basis which of course it does not; I encountered an English woman who had with her husband and large brood of kids moved to this same area. She happily announced to a bunch of immigrants to France from eastern Europe, South America and North Africa gathered to learn French in a rundown Collège, that she and her family celebrated Guy Fawkes Night with fireworks and a bonfire.

I distinctly recall the sight of their faces. Some just thought she was stupid. Others were quite horrified that their beloved religion was the subject of such mockery, and even others thought the savagery of the English and their ignorant celebration of that memory quite odd. She was oblivious to those others.

She made an effigy of Mr Fawkes, a Guy; which would be made of old clothes; paper stuffed down an unwanted pair of hubby's jeans, a threadbare pullover stuffed likewise and tied to the "legs". A mask depicting the cartoon face of poor old Mr Fawkes would adorn the apology for a head and the finished item placed atop the bonfire to burn - as Catholics were burned, centuries ago in Merry Olde Englande.

And as the whoosh of the rockets, the cracks and bangs of the fireworks, children's delighted shouts and the crackling roar of the bonfire drew the attention of her neighbours and they peered from the nearby chalets to find out the reasons for this unknown celebration; she could tell them in her gutteral estuary tones...

"It's Guy Fawkes Night innit? We 'ave a bonfire, fireworks and the kids hold sparklers and we 'ave baked beans and sausages, and sometimes spuds cooked in the coals of the bonfire! What?
'ho's 'e? He's the Guy. He's the guy what tried to blow up Parliament...'oh long time ago, now..."

Yeah! 'eesa Cafolik, innee? Yeah, I know you are too...but that's different, innit?"

Yes. 2008; we celebrate the burning to death of a Catholic in 1605 in what is called the Gunpowder Plot.
...and here's a nice picture of Mr Fawkes and his mates shown with the kind permission of the artist Mr Crispijn van de Passe of the Netherlands.

We've moved on haven't we, we English?

1 comment:

Steve said...

I was trying to explain the religious aspect of Bonfire Night to a work colleague and she looked at me as if I eas mad. She just didn't believe me and thought it was something to do with the Civil War.

Can you imagine what would happen if it was the burning of an Islamic effigy?