Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bonfire Night - get your effigies ready to burn

Today is Bonfire Night in the UK (and other parts of the Commonwealth), a celebration of how Guy Fawkes' 1605 plot to blow up Parlaiment was foiled. Folks in Blighty will build huge bonfires, shoot off fireworks, and drink too much. All in all, it's simply an outstanding holiday.

As a service to both my (American) readers, here's a quick Yank's Guide to Bonfire Night:

So who the heck was Guy Fawkes? He was a catholic who didn't like the protestant Church of England. He took a bunch of barrels of gunpowder into the basement of the houses of Parlaiment.

Blowing up the government seems to be a popular pastime. How'd that work out for him? Not so great, actually. His plot was discovered, he was caught, and met a rather gruesome fate (hung, drawn, and quartered).

The holiday seems rather boisterous for english people. It's the one day that they can act like rednecks. Burning things, exploding things, lots of beer while you're doing it. Quite fun, really.

Redneck? Really? Well, no, not really. The food is pretty miserable. Instead of pan-fried chicken and BBQ ribs, they have Black Peas with Vinegar. The beer's good, though.

Anything else I should know? Well, everyone's supposed to make an effigy of Guy Fawkes, and burn it in the bonfire. It's a bit strange if you're catholic, since sometimes they make an effigy of Pope Paul V and burn him, too. If you want to understand why the First Amendment starts out talking about ixnay on establishing an eligeon-ray, look here.

Wow! This is cool! Should I book a flight now? Well, for next year, perhaps. Just remember - November, cold, probably rainy. I remember sitting in the rain, in the grandstands at the Weston-super-Mare Rugby Football Stadium, watching them launch fireworks up into the cloud deck. But the beer was good.

Americans, here's your chance to burn a politician at the stake (well, in effigy, at least). No, it's not bloodthirsty! Haven't folks been saying that we need to be more like europe? Whether it's a GWB effigy or a he-who-must-not-be-named effigy, show your internationalism! Say it loud! Say it proud:
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I can think of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

UPDATE 5 November 2008 08:05: Whoops! I was joking. Seems like I didn't get the memo:

U.S. Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's effigy will be loaded with explosives and torched at the site of the Battle of Hastings in East Sussex when Britons celebrate the Bonfire Night.

According to reports, the 'hockey mom' Alaska Governor has been made into a giant effigy dressed as Rambo, complete with bulging muscles, a machine gun and with bullets draped over her neck.

Redneck, indeed. Stay classy, UK.

UPDATE 5 November 2008 11:55: Welcome UK readers searching for "weston super mare bonfire night". Take a look around - we focus on Internet Security and firearms, mostly. The Best Post category is about the best I can do for you. If you like it, stop back sometime. Also, if you're near Boston, Massachusetts tonight, stop by and have a beer. I promise that it will be BBQ, not black peas with vinegar. Nice English bitter, though.

UPDATE 5 November 2008 14:00: Whoo whee, this is fun. Seems a Junior Transport Minister has a whole Guy Fawkes themed brouhaha going on up in Glasgow. Seems George Orwell was invited to accompany Guy in giving the rt. hon. MP a freshly opened can of whoop-ass. UK readers are invited to pull up a chair, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the show!

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