Friday 5 November 2010

Gunpowder, treason and plot

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot
I see no reason that gunpowder and treason
Should ever be forgot.

It's that time of year again. It sounds as though heavy mortar fire is raining down on South East London. No - war hasn't broken out, it is just the most pointless 'celebration' in the English calendar.

I'm a bit of a grouch when it comes to fireworks night. I've never much liked fireworks, they cost a lot of money and go bang, and I have to deal year on year with frightened pets. It wouldn't be so bad if the fireworks were restricted to one night but they started round here at the beginning of the week and will probably carry on all weekend - Bonfire Night and Diwali fall at the same time.

The problem with bonfire night isn't so much the spectacle of it - it is the utter pointlessness of the 'celebration'. How many people queueing up to buy fireworks can actually tell you what is being commemorated. Gunpowder plot 101: Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were a bunch of disenchanted Catholics fed up with the the Protestant King James and planned to assassinate him and replace him with a Catholic monarch. They rented a cellar underneath Parliament and filled it with gunpowder, the idea being to rid the country of the King and his government. The plot was discovered and Fawkes was tortured and executed.

The question is - what are we celebrating, here in the 21st century? Certainly no longer the deliverance of King James, maybe that the monarchy was saved? Certainly not that a bunch of terrorists tried to blow up Parliament, so maybe that the plot was foiled? Or maybe just because it is the only time, apart from New Year, that there is an excuse to set off fireworks.

They are pretty, it's true, if only they didn't have to go bang.

For those dealing with frightened pets the Dogs Trust have a leaflet - advice which can be adopted for all animals.