Gunpowder, treason and plot…
On Independence Day our friends across the pond celebrate rip-roaring success with fireworks.
In Britain, Guy Fawkes Day on the 5th November celebrates failure, also with fireworks.
There's a message here I'm sure...
We love the underdog.
We love him so much that every year for the past four centuries we’ve made a sort of scarecrow version of Mr Fawkes, popped him on a bonfire and incinerated the lot whilst drinking warm wine and remarking that ‘yes the fireworks this year are jolly good and do you need any more wine righto I’ll pop inside it’s bloody freezing out here…”.
You might well wonder how all this started. Not the plot: that started because some Catholics got a bit grumpy. Rather, the annual remembrance of the plot, or the ‘observance’ as it was referred to in Parliament when it was proposed by Edward, the First Baron Montagu of Boughton.
The plan to turn Parliament into a crater by the Thames was hatched all over the country by grumpy Catholics. An awful lot of the plotting happened in the Midlands uncomfortably near Baron Edward’s pile. To make matters worse, our friend Ed was a Catholic and rather too chummy with a couple of the plotters. So his idea of introducing a bill to Parliament to observe the foiling of the dastardly deed may well have been a means of self-preservation, rather than the fulfilment of a lifelong dream to, say, increase the sales of sparklers and ruin the homes of hibernating hedgehogs.
Whatever his motivations (and we can’t rule out the Hedgehog Hypothesis), the act was passed and we’ve remembered (remembered) the fifth of November ever since.
Why am I telling you this? Why am I not telling you about razors or oils or that sort of thing?
Well first off, it’s quite interesting that one chap has been responsible for so much fun. He’s the Father Christmas of Bonfire Night, and nobody knows his name. Which is a shame.
But on top of that, the aforementioned country pile in the Midlands is the very same estate on which Ed’s great-grandson planted a horse chestnut. This tree was blown down in storms in 2014, then chopped to bits (a bit like Guy Fawkes actually) and hand turned into some rather lovely shaving gear.
You see, all makes sense. Hoorah!
Happy bonfire night all, we’ll be raising a glass of mulled wine to Ed, sparkler in hand: we hope you join us.
Matt and Antonio