For Fawkes’ Sake

On 5th November 1605 a group of Catholics planned to blow up the House of Lords.

On 1st November 2014 I went to see the fireworks at my local park. This was mostly an excuse to wear my winter hat and eat fresh doughnuts. However, this time of year does always make me remember the Gunpowder Plot.

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Bear models winter hat

When I was at Junior School we studied the Gunpowder Plot as part of a series called Landmarks. Does anyone else remember that? Does anyone else remember the episode were you actually heard Guy Fawke’s get tortured? I was practically considered a grown up at ten, but I was still the only one of my class who had to ask to leave the room. Worse, for some reason we ended up watching it again and I had to sit outside the TV room reading as I refused to go back in.

My mum says I have an over active imagination. She wouldn’t let me watch Ghost Busters at a friend’s house once in case it gave me nightmares. I think most people just called me a ‘fraidy cat which is why I remember the embarrassment that came after ‘The Landmarks Episode’ rather than whatever else it was I felt when I originally asked to leave the room.

So, apologies to James I. I do not necessarily remember Parliament being delivered by a righteous God, I remember that picture you have of Guy Fawke’s signature before and after the racking and how that second attempt sprawls loosely across the page, twice the size of it’s original.

It still makes me feel queasy, but it also fascinates me. From the safety of the present (and my now advanced years) I’ve read books on the conspirators and I’ve studied the wood cuts. I always glance covertly at that picture in Charing Cross Underground Station, and have spent a long time staring at the names carved into the stone of the Tower of London.

Crispijn van de Passe the Elder’s engraving of the plotters used at Charring Cross Station

I did all those things because I wanted to understand why the Plot happened, and feel it’s important to remember that. But, oh, there is always a but, although the thought of Guy Fawkes and his death still makes me shiver, it is a very Gothic kind of shivering cut through with a pinch of unhealthy fascination.

That was a somewhat disconcerting realisation for me, and not at all where this blog post was going to originally end up.

I think that how we remember changes as events fade further into the past, and that what we choose to remember says a lot about the sort of people we are.

Does anyone else feel a similar way about something? And how did you all remember November 5th ?

 

 

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5 thoughts on “For Fawkes’ Sake

  1. Ooh, that macabre side of history that makes you shudder and feel like crying for those on the receiving end, yet still holds an intense (macabre as you say) fascination! We didn’t do anything to celebrate Nov 5th due to having the dog now (Dora) and not knowing whether or not she would be scared of fireworks. She isn’t, but a few people have said to me that their dog wasn’t afraid until they hit about 4 years old, so we’ll see. Great post!

    • Hi Deborah – Dora didn’t seem bothered by the fireworks at all – but maybe she’s too young and stupid to be afraid this year! Mind you, my cat isn’t scared of them either!

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