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Remember, remember

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot

Interesting how the significance of those words changed over the years to be less about the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605, and more about attitudes towards contemporary politics.

More about notions like “V” than the actual historical Guy Fawkes.

11 comments to Remember, remember

  • WindyPants

    The original purpose of celebrating the 5th November was, of course, to celebrate the failure of a catholic assassination attempt upon our protestant King James I. In our more secular age, this nuance has been lost.

    Were there a modern gunpowder plot to destroy Parliament, foiled in a similar manner, I suspect the sympathies of the people may well rest with the plotters who came so close to ridding the nation of the parasites that currently infest Westminster.

  • Paul Marks

    Would blowing up Parliament make any difference?

    Are decisions made there by elected people after free debate?

    I do not know. I am unsure. Although there are certainly some Members of Parliament who speak openly and from the heart.

  • Give historians and the media a decade or two, and the January 6th “riot” at the Capitol will be yet another Gunpowder Plot. Unless, of course, the worm turns and the current trials end up beong the “worst” Kangaroo Court ever.

    Being in the SCA, I hang around with a fair number of enthusiastic historians, most amateur and some professional. At least two of them think Guy Fawkes was framed. It would take a large bunch of gunpowder to blow up Parliament, and gunpowder was expensive. The government surely wouldn’t have thrown away that much just because it had been touched by Catholics! No, they’d send it to an arsenal to be used when needed, But arsenals keep good records – and my friends were unable to find a ton of gunpowder showing up on any records. Amateur history, but still …

  • Steven R

    In another life I was a grad student in history. Records disappear all the time. Floods, fires, wars, riots, a box of records mistakenly gets tossed, record books get misfiled so no one knows where they went, a clerk doesn’t log in a couple of barrels of gunpowder and sells them to a friend of a friend, etc. Stuff just disappears sometimes. I’m working on an article right now where I have most of a complete trial transcript, except for the most important part. Now, I can find references to that part in the rest of the transcript and in newspapers and in books, but the part I am looking for is gone. The county courthouse has flooded a couple of time, the state archive only has an incomplete copy, a few other archives and special collections in libraries (both public and university) have only the partial copies, and short of a copy that was held on to by a family member just popping up, that section of the transcript might as well have fallen off the face of the Earth, and it was only a century ago and was a major trial covered by major newspapers of the day like the New York Times.

    Lost documentation and an allergy of dust are the twin banes of historians.

  • I am so sorry to have to inform you all that I have reason to believe there has been a dreadful outbreak of lawlessness in Scotland this Guy Fawkes day. Shamelessly ignoring the new laws put in place this year by our oh-so-wise First Minister for our safety, and despite the strong statements made by Police Scotland assuring us they would enforce them sternly, I have auditory reason to suspect that her law requiring that ‘no fireworks be let off before 18:00’ (fine £5k) has been flouted by persons not in the very restricted categories allowed to do so. I also find myself wondering whether the law forbidding people to buy fireworks for the use of under-eighteens (6 months jail plus £5k fine) has been strictly observed.

    Further laws will come into force by Guy Fawkes night 2023 – but you will be glad to hear that the First Minister, in her wise moderation, has exempted party poppers, sparklers and Christmas crackers from the licensing scheme that will then otherwise apply – on specified periods related to Guy Fawkes Day, Hogmanay, Diwali, the Chinese New Year and the Sikh New Year of Vaisakhi (it will be an offence to supply fireworks on days other than those specified even to the licensed).

    I suspect the natz are happy to forget a historical event that reminds them of the parliament down south. After all, no-one has ever attempted to blow up their parliament

  • Fraser Orr

    @Niall Kilmartin
    I suspect the natz are happy to forget a historical event that reminds them of the parliament down south. After all, no-one has ever attempted to blow up their parliament

    Not to mention the rather embarrassing fact that when James VI became King of England also, he abandoned Auld Reekie and scarpered off down to London.

    (Sorry, international audience, Auld Reekie is a nickname for Edinburgh. So called because of all the breweries that make the place really smelly in parts. Whenever I smell a brewery I get a wee bit homesick.)

  • Steven R

    I homebrew and left a batch to bottle condition while I went out of town once. At some point most of the bottles built up enough pressure to blow their caps off. My apartment smelled like a brewery until I moved out.

  • Sorry, international audience, Auld Reekie is a nickname for Edinburgh. So called because of all the breweries that make the place really smelly in parts. Whenever I smell a brewery I get a wee bit homesick. (Fraser Orr, November 6, 2022 at 1:50 am)

    The nickname of the city where I grew up has a less elevated origin, Fraser. In renaissance times (speaking in terms of European history – much of the renaissance came late to Scotland), servants in the tall tenements of Edinburgh’s old town used to cry “gardeyloo” before emptying the night soil into the street. The word is a Scotticisation of “gardez l’eau” and the servants began doing this at the orders of their embarrassed mistresses after the latter endured bitter complaints from visiting French officers in the days of the ‘Auld Alliance’ (of Scotland with France against the common enemy England) about the frequency with which they were suddenly hit without warning by falling human waste as they walked the streets. You will thus understand whence came the main part of the ‘reek’. Breweries were the least of it till the draining of the Norloch, the commencement of the new town and later developments.

    It could appear that when ‘gardeyloo’ came in, there was no older Edinburgh term in use that their hostesses could have told their French guests to listen out for.

  • Steven R
    November 6, 2022 at 2:47 am

    I homebrew and left a batch to bottle condition while I went out of town once. At some point most of the bottles built up enough pressure to blow their caps off. My apartment smelled like a brewery until I moved out.

    That once happened to me. I had several cases of homebrew root-beer in the back of my station wagon. The party had been late, and I went to bed figuring to straighten things out next morning. But the sun came up, the bottles got warm, the yeast got busy, and the back of my car smelled of root-beer for quite some time.

    That was when I decided others could brew perfectly well, with a lot less work for me, and moved on to other things.

  • Paul Marks

    The author of “V for Vendetta” lives a few miles away from me – over in Northampton.

    If he was in charge, things would not be better – if anything they would be even worse.

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