Sunday 6 November 2011

Bonfire Night

Ok. So actually that was yesterday. I missed quite a lot of the local noise due to the fact that I had a nap between 6 and 9. I'm also far to lazy to make my way all the way to Blackheath for the municipal fireworks...

Not that, if you live in South East London, you'd be sure when Bonfire Night was... they started on Friday and they're still going on tonight. 

What annoys me every year is the fact that I'm pretty certain that most people have no idea what they are 'celebrating' on Bonfire Night.

In 1605 on the night of 4th November Guy Fawkes was discovered in an undercroft guarding barrels of gunpowder. The plot that was uncovered was to blow up the Houses of Parliament, and more to the point the King (James I). Fawkes and his 12 co-conspirators wanted to rid England of the Protestant James I and replace him with a Catholic monarch.

On the 5th November the citizens of London were encouraged to light bonfires to celebrate the deliverance of the King. In January 1606 an Act of Parliament 'Observance of 5th November Act 1605' was passed and not repealed until 1859.

There seems to be a great deal of confusion with people thinking that there is a revolutionary or anarchic undertone to Bonfire Night; probably due to the movie (and comic book series) V for Vendetta where the protagonist is an anarchist wearing a Guy Fawkes mask working to bring down the government. The Guy Fawkes part might be accurate but the celebration part is upside down in this case.

I'm not a huge fan of Bonfire Night. I didn't like fireworks as a small child (although I've grown out of that!) - I think generally the night puts a strain on the Fire Brigade, upsets pets (and small children), and (honestly) is a terrible waste of money.

I support municipal displays... at least then they'd only happen on one night - well, apart from all the religious festivals and New Year!