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Remember, Remember
the 5th November

Right about now, there are armies of children around Britain foraging for wood and other combustible material (also known as "chumping") in order to stack bonfires for the annual ritual which occurs on the 5th November. Part of the getting ready to set light to Britain also includes making a Guy Fawkes look-a-like, which gets dragged around and used as an excuse to demand money from passers-by with the cry of "penny for the Guy". Then when the big day finally arrives, it gets shoved on the bonfire as the final salute and it's big send off in glory.

This has been going on now, for 399 years, ever since the first thwarted "terrorist" plot by religious zealots attempting to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

Back then, it was catholic zealots who wanted to change their world using violent and explosive means and the orders for this treasonous act apparently went all the way up the chain of religious command, some suggesting even to the top of the Catholic tree. Guy Fawkes was the man with the match, who was discovered in the basement of the Parliament buildings in a rather too compromising situation along with a large quantity of explosives. Needless to say there were other co-conspirators, all of whom were executed. But, Fawkes is the guy (sorry!) that people remember and who gets the roasting every year.

Nowadays, the religious zealots may be wearing a different mantle, but the methodology for enacting change hasn't itself changed much in the last 400 years! Some people still think that the way to solve society's problems involves pyrotechnic statements of a terminal kind. And just as religious leaders then were implicated in the dark deeds down in the dungeons, the supposedly spiritual leaders of some communities now still believe that the road to God should be a bloody one.

It's interesting to note that the backlash from the gunpowder plot had the opposite effect to that which the conspirators desired and resulted in tighter controls on their brand of religion with apparently public support. Spot any parallels here?

Isn't it now time we climbed out of that particular groove of cultural consciousness and started playing life to a better tune?

Perhaps we could try the ancient and wise maxim - LIVE AND LET LIVE?

Footnote: for all the bonfire night revellers - the law of 1605, which compelled the population to celebrate the thwarted plot, by lighting bonfires every 5th of November, was repealed in 1859 - so you can stop now!

Go to TOP of page(J Hargreaves 31st October 2004)

Remember, remember the 5th November -










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