Wednesday 6 November 2013

Urban Diary

The cloudless night lit by scarlet, glowing, flying embers. The smoke being pushed by a south-westerly wind into our back garden. The shattering noise of yet more fireworks going off.

It is Guy Fawkes Night.

Bonfire night eluded me by twelve days when I came to live in London in ‘97. It took me a whole calendar year to catch up with the costume of celebrating (or mourning, take your pick) the failed Gunpowder Plot concocted by Guy Fawkes and his Catholic compadres in 1605. The story goes that Guy was arrested on the night of 5th November of the same year, whilst looking after the explosives that his fellow collaborators had put beneath the House of Lords. King James I survived the attempt on his life and from then on bonfires have been lit in London as an act of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.

In previous years it was normal to see fireworks displays much earlier. In fact, there was almost a seamless segue from Halloween to Guy Fawkes Night. The rich, golden colours of pumpkins are a perfect prologue to the blue and yellowish arcs exploding in the dark sky. This is followed the morning after by the customary foggy weather to dull our senses and make my cycling experience that little more perilous.

This year it has been different. Tonight there is only a twenty- or twenty-five minute spell during which the autumnal night resembles a summer carnival... in Rio de Janeiro, but minus the floats. Have we called time on marshmallow on sticks and potatoes wrapped in foil? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I go back to the kitchen window hoping to catch the last sight of an errant firework before I go to bed.

© 2013

Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music”, to be published on Sunday 10th November at 10am (GMT)


  1. You paint a lovely image. I wonder how many people who shoot off those fireworks for Guy Fawkes Day understand the meaning behind them. I'll a lot of them just enjoy the show.

  2. Only a year?
    It took me decades to get into the mood for the Christmas onslaught here in the States.

  3. I am always in two (at least) minds about fire works. My inner child loves them, and oohs and ahhs. I worry about animals who are often distressed by them.
    And I suspect the reason for them is usually obscured by the bling and the bang...
    I loved this post though. And no animals were distressed by its making...

  4. Can't say many of them thrill me now a days, and then they just pollute and scare animals, so hmmm

  5. smiles...i am intrigued by the guy story you know...would be interesting to see how this is interpretted in the celebrations...

  6. Thanks for your kind comments. I thin that people have lost interest in Guy Fawkes night. Usually fireworks start a week before. This time even our borough's firework display took place on a weeknight, Tuesday. It usually takes place at weekends.

    Greetings from London.

  7. Oh, how I miss Guy Fawkes' Night. I used to go to the big parade in Lewes!

    Lovely descriptive writing.

  8. oh i love fireworks...can i join you at the kitchen window for a bit..? smiles

  9. One of the more interesting things to life and living, I think (well, sort of think), are the celebrated events unique to a particular country. Obviously, other than students of history, no one in the U.S. has heard of Guy Fawkes.

    I have mixed feelings about fireworks, but I enjoy "holidays" which actually have historical relevance, as opposed to those designed largely for commercial gain.

    No matter how old I grow or how wise I become, a part of me will always be an anarchist, so I will lift a glass to celebrate the audacity of Mr. Fawkes while others commemorate his demise.

  10. Oh, Guy Fawkes night is not what it used to be, sadly. Insurance worries, believe it or not. Miserable and killjoy!!

  11. Fireworks - seems an appropriate way to celebrate someone's attempt to blow something (or someone) up.

    Our Halloween is not what it used to be either. Thanks for your continuing comments on my blog :)

  12. Fireworks lighting up the fog is a really beautiful image.
    I know of Guy Fawkes but I did not know that Halloween was in any way celebrated in London. That seems like toooo many nights of fireworks in a row!

  13. As a child, I found the lead-up to Guy Fawkes night almost unbearable...the anticipation and excitement.
    These days, though, fireworks begin going off at least a week before, and continue for at least another week the magic is lost.
    After having said that, my inner child still can't help feeling that same thrill when I see those gorgeous colours rising up into the night sky!
    I have always tried not to think of the significance behind this particular celebration...that poor man burned to death...:(

  14. I love the fireworks in London image!
    Guy Fawkes! That seems so long ago when I was a child in England!
    Thank you for your visit and comments to reflections and nature!
    Greetings from Switzerland.

  15. I love it. However, somehow this year -for the first time ever- I missed it all! I'll have to make up for it next year.

    Our cats hate it and much as this distresses me I'm still all for "bonfire night" (I know it's contradictory but then some things are - life's like a Rubik's Cube with 7 colours on it and all that). There's nothing wrong with celebrating life and, actually, we don't do enough of it in the UK!



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