Celebrate your cultural heritage: Burn a Catholic

Paying attention to the date can often prove a rewarding pastime and never more so than at this time of year. Tomorrow is the 5th of November and if you are British this means spending a jolly few hours of your evening setting light to things. Many of us these days are so keen on this leisure time activity we don’t bother to wait for its designated day instead flicking our lighters in the direction of any recently abandoned car or house occupied by people we don’t like very much.
Apart from burning things, November 5th offers unparallel opportunities for eating sausage sandwiches and making loud noises. Even the elitist intellectual class can join in the fun, reciting poetry to incite the rest of us to violence.

Guy Fawkes night is the British celebration of the foiling of a terrorist plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. It is marked by setting off fireworks and burning an effigy of a Catholic on the largest bonfire your local Chavs can manage to build for you. It also serves as a useful cull on the especially stupid who, having failed to pay proper attention during their chemistry lessons, do not realise what happens when a flame is applied to gunpowder and the inadvisability of throwing such lit devices at each other.

Back in my youth as well as in Enid Blyton novels, children were actively encouraged to build their own Guy and parade it about the town begging for money from strangers with an aim to purchasing explosive devices. It is how we got rid of our old clothes before we became obliged to donate them to afghani prostitutes.
These days such activities are banned by the Gods of Health and Safety and instead stern warnings are repeated in an emphatic manner; Do Not pick up sparklers in un-gloved hands; Do Not go near a firework once it has been lit; Keep pets indoors; Ensure you only have fun in the designated manner.
My Mammy, knowing my penchant for sitting upon lit barbeques and spending large segments of time wrapped in bandages and Clingfilm, always took such warnings to heart. We attended the IBM Hursley fireworks display with each of our feet carefully inserted in 2 pairs of socks, a black bin bag and a Wellington boot. I’m not sure what the bin bags were expected to achieve (except protect Strider from the snails which mysteriously made their home inside her pair of boots alone) but my Mammy remained convinced they would prevent our feet from growing cold and falling off in an untimely manner. To this day she will look anxiously out of the window and attempt to convince me they are a necessary aspect of my wardrobe.

In Ireland, of course, they do not have such things. They have bonfires on Halloween instead, annoying the fire brigade. I am told that bonfires are illegal and that should I even begin to think of lighting one, the environmental helicopter will swoop down on me from a great height and I will be thrown in prison more or less forever.

I do not care for such warnings and as the vicious Garda wolfhounds yank me to the ground will continue to insist it is only right and fair that I am allowed to observe the cultural traditions of my nation.
On the other hand the nights are pretty chilly and Silent Witness is on. Maybe just a Sausage sandwich and mug of tea instead.

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