reflections on a British Pyro-manic Holiday

When I first came to this country, I naively thought Guy Fawkes Night was, like, a night.  I had a very unformed and vague impression that it had something to do with burning and rebellion, and anarchy.  This is entirely based on my watching V For Vendetta.

Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night) actually goes on for several nights.  Random fireworks are popping outside my window as I type.  They go on for days and days.  Then on 5th of November (Remember, remember) people will gather in parks and burn things.  We made the mistake of going to one of these gatherings last year.  I think it was in the Battersea area.  We spent 2 hours – I kid not – in the food queue for a hamburger, and missed the lighting of the bonfire.  We ate our crappy, overpriced hamburgers as people were leaving, the fire slowly dying with our spirits in the cold, pointless night.

Friday we attended a gorgeous fireworks display at Brockwell Park in Southeast London.  A British friend explained her people’s strange need to burn something in November to me as fireworks shook her apartment.

“It’s about that bloke who tried to burn down Parliament,” she said, “and we were so glad he got caught and was executed that we have bonfires and light fireworks every bloody night to celebrate.”

So break out your best effigy, grab a match or something explosive, and get ready to celebrate the execution of a 1600’s traitor!  Happy Guy Fawkes Night, everyone!


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