Remember Remember the 5th of November


It’s the 5th November, a day when we, in the UK, celebrate by going to watch things burn and explode.

Some of us call it Bonfire Night, which makes sense because there’s often a bonfire. A bonfire, for those of you that don’t know, is a controlled outdoor fire, often but not exclusively used for the disposal of burnable waste. However, we aren’t all amusing ourselves with the burning of waste on the 5th November, though if you have any burnable waste to dispose of, it can be quite a convenient occurrence.

No, Bonfire-Night bonfires are a kind of celebration.

We’re celebrating someone called Guy Fawkes. That’s why it’s also sometimes called Guy Fawkes night. But we aren’t celebrating his massive achievements. We’re celebrating his failure. Which I quite like. It’s nice that history isn’t always about the winners.

Actually, Guy Fawkes is kind of a winner because even though he was part of a failed terrorist plot, he wasn’t really the mastermind behind the whole thing, yet it’s his name that history remembers. He’s way more famous than Robert Catesby who was the actual architect of the foiled plot.

Although to be fair, even though most people know the name Guy Fawkes, I doubt that many people know much about the actual gunpowder plot. I vaguely remember being taught a bit about it in primary school, but it hasn’t come up much in recent years. There was a BBC drama about it this year starring the bloke who plays Jon Snow on Game of Thrones. He was playing Robert Catesby rather than Guy Fawkes. I don’t know who was playing Guy Fawkes. I expect if I had watched it I would know. I would also know more about the Gunpowder Plot and why we have Bonfire Night. But I didn’t watch it. I might see if it’s still on the BBC iPlayer. But I probably won’t.

Anyway, I don’t really know much about the history of Bonfire Night, but I do know we have bonfires. And fireworks. And for some reason treacle toffee. I have no idea why we have treacle toffee – maybe Guy Fawkes really liked it. Probably not. I like it though, so I’m not complaining.

I always used to go and watch fireworks as a kid. I always think of it as the first sign that ‘Winter Is Coming’ (sorry couldn’t resist the obvious Game of Thrones reference) because it was always really cold on Bonfire Night and it was probably the time when the gloves and scarves came out for the first time.

I don’t tend to go as much to firework displays these days. I’m not especially avoiding them, but I don’t find them as compelling as I did as a youngster. I don’t think it’s particularly a sign that I’m getting old, I think the novelty of fireworks had worn off by the time I hit secondary school in truth.

I still like the toffee though.

If you find it hard to remember when Bonfire Night is, there’s a handy rhyme that can help to remind you.

It goes like this:

Remember remember the 5th of November…

Actually, that’s all of the rhyme that I can recall, which is perhaps ironic. Nonetheless it’s the only line you really need to remember the date.

I’m sure I could have googled the rest of it, but I couldn’t really be bothered. It didn’t seem that important.