October 31, 2007

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Bonfire Night For Beginners

Here in Britain, we celebrate Halloween.

I just thought I should point that out to all the American's I've met over the years who somehow felt the need to explain to me what Halloween is.

We know. We invented it.

What probably does require some explanation is Bonfire Night. Every year in the UK, we celebrate the capture and gruesome execution of some bloke - who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament (yes, these days we'd be cheering him on) - by setting fire to stuff, eating apples covered in sticky toffee and sticking high explosives through old ladies' letterboxes.

The fellow who inspired this madness went by the name of Guy Fawkes. Fawkes was a Roman Catholic who plotted to kill the Protestent King James I of England by blowing up the Houses of Parliament on November 5th 1605. Fawkes and his co-conspirators (Fox News would probably call them a "terrorist network" these days) were caught putting barrels of gunpowder in the cellars of the House of Lords, and the assassination was averted.

After his trial, Fawkes was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered - a punishment reserved for that most hideous of crimes, treason - but he escaped the worst part of this vile process (in which the condemned is hung by the neck until almost dead, then has his entrails and genitalia removed and burned in front of him, before being decapitated and his body torn into four pieces) by leaping from the hangman's scaffold and breaking his neck, killing him instantly.

All jolly, child-friendly fun...
Posted 13 years, 8 months ago on October 31, 2007