Today is Guy Fawkes' Night in the UK. We commemorate the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot with parties, fireworks displays, and bonfires on which we burn Guy Fawkes in effigy.
Our family went to the local park for the celebration there last night (Saturday must be more convenient than Sunday for a big organised display). We bundled up in scarves and hats and assembled in the car park of the civic hall. From there we followed a marching band in procession to the bonfire site, where a huge pile of wooden pallets and tree prunings were waiting to be lit. There were also fairground rides and stalls selling hot dogs and doughnuts, a first-aid ambulance and a fire engine. Most of the town seemed to be there and we chatted to friends when we bumped into them. At 7pm the fire was lit and we watched as it gradually changed from a smoky flickering pile into an impressive conflagration which scorched our faces even from a distance. Then at 7.30pm the children's firework display began, featuring colourful but quiet fireworks. I appreciate this because our children don't like loud noises and won't stay for the traditional firework display which commenced at 8pm. I love fireworks (even noisy ones) and would be sorry to miss them. After the children's display we left to go and buy fish and chips and return home.
I love Bonfire Night. I love gathering in the dark and cold with friends and neighbours and watching the fire, it's exciting and primal. I love the Britishness of it, I like feeling connected to all the other British people celebrating in the same way on the same night, and the people who have celebrated on this night in the past . I love the way it forms a landmark in the year, everything feels different after November 5th as we enter the very last slice of the year. I love the treacle toffee and parkin and toffee apples and hot chocolate with a generous slug of booze for mum and dad. I'm so full of joie-de-vivre I even gave a pound to a couple of kids collecting a "penny for the guy" today (looked like a leftover shop-bought hallowe'en costume stuffed with newspapers to me).