Monday, November 06, 2006

I don't think Martine Martin gets the 5th of November...

Martine Martin has a post discussing Guy Fawkes featuring this remarkable section:

And that's why I'll always celebrate the 5th November, even if Guy Fawkes was really nothing more than a terrorist; because the spirit to fight back against corruption amongst the ruling elite, no matter what the cost, still exists in all of us. We only need look at the proliferation of blogs holding the government to account for proof of that.


The "celebration" of the 5th of November isn't a celebration of Guy Fawkes. Why do you think it is traditional to burn an effigy of him? It's an English Protestant hate-in against Catholics who tried to blow up their monarch and parliament from back when we were a rather more bolshy people.

In the, truly atrocious, film Ms. Martin appears to be such a fan of the Guy Fawkes wannabee succeeds in blowing up parliament with his bomb on the tube (classy) and then his faceless horde overwhelms the evil regime. The real Guy Fawkes failed to blow up parliament, was hung, drawn and quartered and the English responded with a celebration of his failure and brutal death. Real life is so much more sound than the movies.

In fact, I'm going to quote Wikipedia at length with the full rhyme, the beginning of which Martin quotes so approvingly:

"The night is closely associated with the popular rhyme:

Remember remember the 5th of November,
The Gunpowder, Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

The full rhyme, rarely used, continues:

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'twas his intent
to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!

The following verses, though originally part of the rhyme, are usually left out of modern day recitations for the inflammatory anti-Catholic remarks:

A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o' cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead.

Hip hip huzzah!
Hip hip huzzah!"


The truth of what Guy Fawkes night means is brutal, ethnic and far from anti-establishment; a reminder of a less polished age. It also pisses off the Health and Safety bores which makes it pretty much the perfect Tory day. A day to indulge your inner Saxon, get drunk and break something; savage.

4 comments:

El Dave. said...

On Primrose Hill last night, someone asked why Parliament didn't send up fireworks. We had to explain that there was an unfortunate history there...

MJ Martin said...

Hey, that's a great movie!!

Mmm, okay it's a bit cheesy in places. I love it all the same.

Oh I'm under no illusions that bonfire night is a "celebration" of Guy Fawkes at all. That would be pretty stupid! I'm just saying that it's the reason why I celebrate it, rather than just let it pass by as I do many other seasonal holidays.

Even if he was a terrorist and hired due to sectarian religious tensions, at the core of the story is the notion of taking action to overthrow a corrupt Parliament. That idea of doing something, not just sitting back and accepting the corruption, is what I celebrate. That's what the holiday signifies to me and why it's important to me personally.

Hope that's a little clearer.

Matthew Sinclair said...

Okay, fair enough... V for Vendetta was awful though...

I'd have thought that if you saw Guy Fawkes as a hero you would have sounded a little more bitter at the popular response though. :)

MJ Martin said...

Naah, I'm perfectly happy to burn his effigy along with everybody else!