My birthday falls on the 5th of November. Here in the United Kingdom, that’s a special occasion known as Guy Fawkes’ Night (or sometimes just Bonfire Night). If you’ve ever seen V for Vendetta, you’ll know more or less what I’m on about: basically in 1605 this Guy Fawkes character led an assault on the then-English Parliament, with the intention of blowing up the House of Lords and assassinating the King. The attempt failed, Fawkes and his fellow conspirators were hanged, drawn and quartered, and to this day we still celebrate that the treason never took place. Yes, even here in Scotland where we don’t feel particularly warmly or fuzzily about the Crown or the House of Lords or the London Parliament or any of that stuff. But hey, a party’s a party, and where I’m from, the 5th of November is definitely a party.
In fact, I pretty much thought I was the luckiest girl alive when I was growing up, because the whole nation shot colourful explosives into the air on my birthday and it totally felt like they were doing it just for me. There isn’t a town or village in the length and breadth of the country where no sort of bonfire or firework display takes place on Guy Fawkes’ Night, and it always formed such a natural part of the day when I became one year older. After the presents were unwrapped, the party was over and the cake devoured, we would all wait eagerly for the sun to set and then scramble to wrap up warm against the bitter Scottish winter, while my mum went out to prepare the fireworks she would have picked up from Tesco earlier in the week. Once she was satisfied that we wouldn’t catch a cold, we’d all huddle outside feeling like Paddington Bears, breath floating as frosted glass before us and sparklers gripped tight in double-mittened hands.
Not long from now, it’ll be that time of year again – I’ll be donning my duffle jacket and Braving the Scottish cold before you can say atchoo - but for now I’m actually writing about the last firework show I saw, which was a whole other ball game. This is because it took place during my now-infamous summer visit to Ohio, and as I’m sure you can imagine, the hu-Midwest in July, with no air-conditioning, is about as far a cry as you can get from what I’m used to in my firework displays. I spent the evening longing for those puffs of glass on my breath and the hairs on my arms standing on end as I sweated through an hour of my favourite entertainment. I love nothing more than a firework show – every shimmering strand that bolts into the sky feels like my favourite kind; I love the sight, sound and smell of fireworks, and the way that each of these sensations makes its way over to you at its own pace, so each explosion just goes on and on. And I find it really, really strange to think that when Grant thinks of fireworks it evokes memories of hot, insecty summer nights, while I can’t associate them with anything but shivering, chattering and ‘haaah’-ing into your hands to keep that precious warmth safe.
Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope you all had a beautiful 4th of July two months ago :P
Remember, remember, the 5th of November: gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why this kind of treason should ever be forgot.
Night night and sweet dreams!