Friday, August 10, 2007

A Plot of Another Kind

As a child in England, we used to celebrate/commemorate Guy Fawkes night on 5th November. A rather macabre festival that recognised the foiled plot by said Fawkes and his fellow Catholics to blow up the houses of parliament. And you thought the IRA were the first English speaking terrorists! Guy Fawkes fate was to be tortured and executed for his troubles – yes, this delightful event has become a children’s celebration.

We used to make a faux ‘Guy’ out of old clothing and stockings, stuff him full of whatever we could, plonk on one of my Dad’s favourite hats and parade him around the neighbourhood in a wheelbarrow. He resembled a well dressed golfer (or is that an oxymoron) – this all happened about a week or so before the event in order to raise much needed funds for fireworks.

That same week, we’d build a bonfire and being lucky enough to live on half an acre of land adjacent to Romiley Golf Course as a child, we had plenty of room to build a pyre that would do a wicker man proud. By the end of the week, the guy was unceremoniously affixed to the pinnacle of the pyre and set alight to squeals and cheers from the adoring crowd.

There were other accoutrements associated with the night, fireworks of course – a big bag bought from the local corner shop was always better quality than the cheap Chinese alternatives available at supermarkets, although the Catherine Wheel’s rarely spun (or when they did, they catapulted off their nail and decapitated two year olds) and the rockets were unpredictable. The Dads took over “move away now or one of these will poke your eye out”, which invariably it almost did despite parental supervision.

One of the few times my health conscious mother would have something sweet and sticky in the house was before Bonfire Night. There was a sticky treacly cake called Parkin, I’ve always remembered making it although I haven’t tasted it since I was young. We were also allowed to make toffee apples and treacle toffee. The dental fraternity must have loved that tradition. I remember dancing dangerously around the fire, sparkler in hand with dribbly bits of home made toffee gluing my teeth together to the point where I couldn’t ‘schpleach, ploprerly” without a sticky drizzle escaping. Ah the joys of being a child, you simply don’t mind sharing your bodily fluids at 8 years of age.

Buster, our rather large labrador at the time thought less of the night and spent most of it digging its way underneath the carpet, visible only as a large grey swirly lump in the centre of the dining room.

Here in the antipodes the tradition lives on but for a different reason. June is the beginning of an 8 week winter (you heard me – by the end of August it’s all over bar the windy bits). The second weekend of June is traditionally a public holiday to celebrate the life and times of Queen Victoria. In the past, we’ve bought fireworks but these days you require a license, (unless I can cajole ThePlumber into having a clandestine meeting with ‘Thunder’, in the carpark behind the pub where he procures his illegal stash!).

We at number 25 build a huge bonfire throughout the year. It isn’t difficult with bits constantly falling off gum trees and five acres of scavenging grounds with which to compile the mighty heap. This year it was wet so we didn’t light the monster and thought nothing of it until . . .ClareBear asked if we could light the big fire before the fire bans kick in. Sure . . . why not, I like a toasty posterior and always up for a few friends sharing a glass of Mulled Wine and a sausage sizzle. Anyone who wants to stay can pitch a tent rather than trapseing charcoal through the house.

So, tomorrow, we light the demon in some innovative way yet to be devised by DrummerBoy. Probably involving something swinging from a tree and highly flammable or many rolls of toilet paper being utilised for a fiery fuse. I was a little concerned however when I asked for a final head count in order to appropriate the correct amount of snags and buns . . . “Awww not too many,” says he very casually . “ about 40 . . but only 30 for the BBQ!” Thank God sausages are cheap . . . I should have learned my lesson by now.

5 comments:

Grannymar said...

Make it 41. You forgot to count me.

Jefferson Davis said...

You best make it 42. :-)

Will there be S'more's?

Daz said...

Pigeon, rat, magpie, the crap parts of the edible animals ...

Mmm ... hot dogs. Offal-rific!

Baino said...

You're all full of poo . . but welcome any time. Yes there will be Smores but I agree with Daz, snags are nothin but lips and arseholes but since when has a rat been an edible animal?

It was very last night, so the fire might be in doubt!

b3n said...

I love the way Dads are always taking over and saying that you could loose an eye. It's a real Dad thing to say!