Kage Baker liked the idea of Guy Fawkes Day.
Not the original, mind you. The murderous plot to blow up Parliament with a super-bomb of gunpowder, so as to restore a Catholic government to England – that, Kage found both abhorrent and stupid. She didn’t favour any Christian sect over another, but she was well-informed about the Catholic vs Protestant controversy in England; and by 1605 (the date of the Gunpowder Plot), a return to Catholicism would have damaged the country badly. Read her analysis of the very same problem, a generation earlier, in Garden of Iden, and you’ll see.
Nor did she like the 2005 Guy Fawkes meets Winston Smith parable, V for Vendetta. Quite aside from the fact that at that point it was hard for Kage to imagine Elrond Half-Elven as a political terrorist, she thought it was … well, cheesy. She thought 1984 had done a better job. And the identical masks offended her. “Like the government’s not gonna notice all these freaks in plastic masks!” she said in scorn.
No, what Kage liked about Guy Fawkes was quite simply the traditional British celebration: to wit, bonfires, fireworks, and running about in the dark on an autumn night. “English Halloween, and it has fires!” Kage would exult. “Now, that’s a holiday!”
I think she considered it could only have been improved if old Guido (his nom de guerre, you know) had actually succeeded in eliminating the more useless members of Parliament. She used to comment wistfully that it was still a workable solution, if applied to Congress … this year would have convinced her even more.
Today, Dear Readers, is of course Guy Fawkes Day. All over England – or at least in any community not too overtaken by the Nanny Government – children have run about all afternoon collecting “Pennies for the Guy!”, building bonfires and effigies and setting fire to both. These days, the Guy effigies are often currently unpopular politicians, and their immolation doubtless lets off a good deal of steam among the members of the public. People celebrate history. Youngsters of various assimilated cultures enthusiastically begin their awareness of British politics by setting fire to straw men.
On second thought, maybe America would profit by the tradition.
In any event, there’s bonfires and rockets and squibs and crackers, and hopefully no one will catch themselves on fire or set the Council office or the local off-license shop ablaze. And the population in general will remind themselves that blowing up the authorities is not necessarily the best way to effect a regime change. That’s surely a worthwhile lesson.
So, Happy Guy Fawkes Day, Dear Readers. I am going to at least light a candle and murmur the old rhyme I learned from my Welsh Grandad, right along with my Mother Goose:
Remember, remember the Fifth of November:
Gunpowder Treason and plot.
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
With, as Kage always added, a hey nonny nonny and a hotch cha cha!
I once told an English friend that the only thing that would improve Guy Fawkes day was importing the American tradition of anvil shooting…. After he saw his first shoot, he agreed.
There’s absolutely no way anyone who tries this could end up pinned under the anvil like Wile E. Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon. Absolutely. No. Way.
Good old Guy, my favorite terrorist.