November 5: Guy Fawkes

Am I proud that Guy Fawkes has recently become a world-wide media star? The embodiment of rebellion against the controls of the state, following a film made ten or fifteen years ago where a mask of his face was used by the protagonist. He certainly had a good face for it, and a good name. Guido Fawkes. Though it is ironic that the more the Guy Fawkes mask becomes a commodity around the world to represent the struggle against oppressive state, the less the feast that commemorates his act four hundred and odd years ago is celebrated. Bonfire Night has mostly been superceded by Halloween in the UK now. I suppose witches and ghosts and vampires are more user-friendly. There’s a wider stock of merchandise to flog. The business of buring a body on a bonfire was also properly scarey. And it is also a celebration that can set Catholics against Protestants. I remember as a Catholic child having ambivalent feelings about it. Wasn’t I supposed to be on Guy Fawkes’s side? Still, I liked the treacles toffee and the jacket potatoes and the parkin. It’s probably time the date was relaunched as Global Anti-State Interference Day. And we’d probably put what’s his name the guy with the white hair living in that embassy in London somewhere on the bonfire.

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