Thursday, November 5, 2020

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Well, it's one of my blog traditions to mark neglected traditions like Guy Fawkes Day, so here goes.

As you know, Guy Fawkes was a (Catholic) conspirator who tried to blow up the British parliament in 1605.

For many years the foiling of the plot was commemorated in Britain. Wikipedia says it was "the predominant English state commemoration" in the early 1620s. But even when I was a kid, I remember the English comics used to print Guy Fawkes masks which you were supposed to cut out and attach to a cardboard base.

Now, of course, although commemoration of the day (or even the night) seems to have almost disappeared, Guy Fawkes is an icon of the radical left, a fact which occasioned this rather funny meme:

 Looking for "Guy Fawkes" poems, I came across this piece of folk doggerel which is not exactly polished, but rather charming:

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot ;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
'Twas his intent.
To blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below.
Poor old England to overthrow.
By God's providence he was catch'd,
With a dark lantern and burning match

Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let the bells ring
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, God save the King!

Hip hip Hoorah !
Hip hip Hoorah !

A penny loaf to feed ol'Pope,
A farthing cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down,
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar,'
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head,
Then we'll say: ol'Pope is dead


  1. In Lewes, East Sussex, they really go for it, originally because of the seventeen Protestants burned there during Queen Mary's reign. So they still actually burn the Pope in effigy, along with more contemporary political figures. Any serious sectarianism in it must be negligible these days, but the festivities themselves do get lively enough that, for example, the trains don't stop at any stations in the surrounding area after 5 p.m. on the 5th. In fact, this measure has been taken this year, even though the Bonfire Night parade has been officially cancelled. So unofficial revellings are obviously considered at least a possibility!

    1. That makes me glad to hear. I love trains, but I love festivities and traditions even more!