Remember, remember the Fifth of November
Today in 1605, Sir Thomas Knyvet, a justice of the peace, found Guy Fawkes in a cellar below the English Parliament building, involved in a plot to blow up Parliament itself. The day was later known as "Guy Fawkes Day" and served as an inspiration for Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s graphic novel, V for Vendetta.
Yes, today the folks across the pond remember, remember the fifth of November in honor of a sense of independence and a shaking of fists at British authority. While we reserve fireworks for summery July 4th, today is their excuse to blow things up and set things on fire. Really, every country should follow some such tradition of blowing things up in good spirits, but in light of recent world politics, let’s not go there.
Or if we do, let’s wear an awesome mask while we’re at it.
Neil Gaiman, an ex-pat Brit, held an annual Guy Fawkes party at his home for many years. John M. Ford, Neil’s favorite writer and good friend, once decided to write directions to that party, with great wit and style.
While we must omit the verse that actually gives directions to Neil’s house, I see no reason the fifth of November (or John M. Ford) ever should be forgot:
(C’mon. You know the tune, whether or not you remember all the words.)
A long, long time ago
But it should be remembered
How it fell out on November five
Some nobles and a guy named Guy
Thought they’d make their oppressors fly
And there’d be revolution, by and by . . .
The commissary must have shivered
When all those herrings were delivered
Barrels in the basement
For Parliament’s effacement
It was a bold, quixotic dream
(Though some say Salisbury’s scheme)
Explosive treason was the theme
The day the fuse went out
They started singing:
Remember, remember, the fifth of November
It was a night full of gunpowder, treason and plot
I see no reason
Why a gunpowder treason
Ever, ever should be forgot
Ever, ever should be forgot
One day with Lord Monteagle’s bacon
A note says, bangers have been laid on
Take a powder, signed, A Friend
The sort of hint that starts you thinking
With leaks like this, we’ll soon be sinking
Knot the rope that marks the end
They thought rebellion had a chance
But no one got up for the dance
Guy bent but didn’t break
Until Salisbury’s stake
The bottom line could not be plainer
A round of trials and attainder
Divide by four with no remainder
The day the fuse went out
They started singing. . . .
I met a girl who fiddled fine
And she handed me some sparkling wine
(Outside, the champagne’s always chilled)
Upon the kindling, Guy stands straight
As annually he meets his fate
The host ignites the fire, we watch it build
And in the yard we take our stations
Awaiting the illuminations
Then colored conflagrations
And the words we most admire to say
Light Blue Touchpaper, Get Away
They’ll get a workout on the day
The night we light the fuse
And we’ll be singing. . . .
— John M. Ford
If you don’t like that music, you can try listening to Shadow Gallery, a band who took their name from V’s hideout. Shadow Gallery even has an album entitled Room V, after where V was kept at Larkhill.
There is another connection between the 5th of November and the American Revolution. In Colonial Boston, the holiday was called Pope's Day and it was an effigy of the Pope that was carried through the streets and burned in effigy. Since there were traditionally parades and demonstrations that day, early revolutionary leaders James Otis and Sam Adams used the day as an excuse to hold protests against the Crown. In doing so, they were linking the Tyranny of Rome (which all good Puritains abhorred) with the Tyranny of the British Government. (Whether Sam Adams was aware of the irony that he was attacking the same Parliment the Guy Fawkes tried to blow up, I don't know)–kurt wilcken
And in 1975 my mother gave birth to her only child.I've always appreciated being born on Guy Fawkes Day.
In one of the "Tommy Hambledon" spy stories by "Manning Coles" (some of the wittiest espionage/crime fiction ever from England – one story was klnocked off for a Steed/Peel "Avengers" episode which Steranko subsequently knocked off for a "SHIELD" story), Hambledon kakes the remark that Guy Fawkes was the only person who ever thought of a truly funny joke about Parliament, and it didn't come off.
I didn't know you knew Mike Ford! We have an index to all his funny and thoughtful writing on Making Light. Hmmm, I suppose that's "Patrick and Teresa" have, although it was Jim who put it together. I hear they're still working out literary rights. He didn't leave a will.So all you authors and artists out there, make sure you leave a literary will! Neil has a post with sample will.
Oh pooh. It looks like they're fixing the "comment box leaving up" but now the html isn't working. Mike's index is: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009…Neil's post with with sample will is: http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2006/10/importa…
Know him? I appeared in his revue "Another Part Of The Trilogy" at World Fantasy in Providence. And you might have come across this that I did a few years back, http://www.110stories.us.
Mike was a wonderful guy. His brain was always going and you never knew in what direction. He used to tell me to insist on peritoneal dialysis and I plan to never have dialysis.I knew the day he wrote 110 Stories and reread it every year. Your link has the end html but not the begininng, so it doesn't work. Here's the real link: http://www.110stories.usDid you know a Memorial Fund was started for him at the Mpls Library? Every $500 dollars in donations buys a book a year. We were up to $13K last I heard.And Andrew Plotkin, who wins awards for interactive text adventures, did a Concordance for The Dragon Waiting.
Argh. Memorial Fund: http://www.friendsofmpl.org/Friends_member2005.ht…Concordance: http://eblong.com/draconc/I don't know why the embedded link for 110 Stories worked and the others don't.
We're checking why some of the links aren't working ourselves.
Yeah, I emailed Brian about it. I used to break software for a living.
My husband's old hometown is said to have the best Bonfire Night in the UK. So much so that they now actively discourage non-locals from attending because it gets so crowded.