Monday 5 November 2018

Happy Bonfire Night!

Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November
Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot

Or that's how I thought it went. Today I learnt that there's loads of version of it, icluding one that's significantly longer and includes a lot more details about Guy Fawkes and the plot and how he was caught.
I love bonfire night. As a child, we'd have a big bonfire in our back garden, on the veg patch (good for fertilising the soil). The next door neighbours and the neighbours over the road, who both had children around our age, would come over with food and fireworks and sparklers, and Dad would make mulled wine, carefully boiling off all the alcohol so we could have some too. Some years we went next door while the adults were prepping, and watched The BFG.

I remember one year waiting in the front garden for other guests to arrive by car, and they were taking so long, but then we saw shooting stars so started making wishes on those - eventually realising they were rockets.

We'd bring in the guinea pig and rabbit, and make sure the cat was in too, but they never seemed fussed by the noises. (Our current feline cohabitee seems to actively enjoy fireworks: if she can, she'll sit on the window cill or in the back garden to watch them, coming back if she hears more after she's moved away. If she can't see anything, she'll sit in one of her usual spots and never flinch when the bangs occur.)

The only bit I didn't like was burning the guy: Dad would make it out of his old clothes stuffed with newspaper, and I didn't mind helping with that (though I'd sometimes get upset if he was intending to use a jumper I particularly liked), but when it was burnt I always felt like we were burning him, somehow, so I'd go inside and put underpants on my toys heads (ears through the leg holes; no idea why I did this!) and re-enact displays by drawing fireworks and mimicking the noises.

Screaming rockets have always been my favourite fireworks.

(I love Hallowe'en too. Dad used to be annoyed by trick-or-treaters that have grown in number in the UK over my lifetime, until he connected it with the old "penny for the guy" that he'd done as a child. Started out by saying that at least his showed some skill, before realising that we and most of our friends were putting together our own costumers and also that he was begging for money, while we were after sweets.)

Anyway, this year is our first in this neighbourhood. We were very impressed with the amount of young, polite trick-or-treaters we saw out last week, and this week I've been impressed by the amount of firework displays going off - and especially that they're done by about 9.30! Lots of young families and older people around here.

They were talking on the news last week about how some older people find fireworks very stressful, especially those with dementia and memories of the war. That hadn't occurred to me before, but reiterates to me how important it is to check on your elderly neighbours. There's what we think is an old people's residential unit over the road from us, and they had a lovely display Saturday evening, so I think they were probably well supported.

It seems funny to continue to celebrate a failed attempt to kill a king over 400 years ago. Dad told me it was a way to fold in pre-Christian rituals that continued to hang around in a way that was acceptable to the Church at the time, and that presumably there's something in the human psyche wanting a celebration with lots of fire and things to ward off evil spirits (the masks of Hallowe'en and the fireworks of tonight) about now. The onset of winter (in the northern hemisphere), one imagines. Reminds me of a post I read on another blog recently, about encorporating holidays into RPG's.

Anyway, if you're celebrating, have fun tonight, and don't forget to check for hedgehogs before lighting your bonfire!