Wednesday 5 November 2008


A historic day then - the day when, in 1605, Guido Fawkes and his gang of prototerrorists were thwarted in their attempt to blow up Parliament. This used to be a big deal in England, with every household making some attempt at a firework display on the night, while boys had the pleasure of lobbing bangers and jumping jacks around at will. Those days are gone now - when did you last see a 'Penny for the Guy'? Except among the pope-and-pikey-burning villages of the Lewes area, Bonfire Night is a sanitised, municipalised affair, a pyrotechnic display conveniently held on the nearest Saturday. The November 5 tradition seems to have been edged out of the popular calendar by Halloween, that interloper from America.
Ah yes, America. That election thing... Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be middle-aged and cynical was very... No no, enough of that - it was the right result, the inevitable result (though the Dem stranglehold on Senate and Congress is worrying). McCain was totally outcampaigned and looked old and confused (if only he'd beaten W to the nomination in 2000...). Indeed the McCain campaign peaked with his fine concession speech - which is not quite how it's supposed to go. Heaven knows what kind of president Obama will make - I just hope he doesn't turn out to be, beneath the glamour and the eloquence, Jimmy Carter mark 2. I hope he gets off to a better start than Bill Clinton did. And I hope above all that the psychos of Al Qaeda don't decide to test his mettle early on with one of their trademark atrocities. For now, let's look on the bright side,and rejoce that America has yet again proved that, in the final analysis, it's a resoundingly Good Thing.


  1. Really? Where I live, it's like Baghdad on Bonfire Night - every bugger seems to have a backyard fireworks display.

  2. Someone (Nige?) should write a concise history of the English bonfire, how its content changed between the years 1900 - 1999. It would be a snapshot of a changing society, from palliase to pallet, from mahogany to MDF.
    Now the election's over, will Sarah have to return the outfits and will Bryan be emerging, blinking at the light, from the broom cupboard?

  3. "Bonfire Night" is a sanitised, municipalised affair" - yes, just like Christmas, Easter and every other traditional event in the calendar. If you want celebrations these days, best to make your own.

    Here in Oxford they've done their best to banish the C word entirely, inviting the mayor to a "WinterLight" event situation instead. This used to be called switching on the Christmas Lights. But there's hope for us all, since this act of cowardly authoritarianism seems to have proved just as unpopular with Muslims and Hindus as with everyone else. They are insulted that the apparatchiks don't think they are British. Thank heavens for common sense.

    The election of Obama was good news, imho, as was McCain's remarkable concession speech. Yes Obama is an unknown quantity and it's somewhat against the odds that he'll turn out to be Abraham Lincoln 2. I just think one has to keep an open mind, not expect miracles, realize that the economic situation is beyond any one man to solve, and wish him and his country all the best. The comparisons with Blair and the grousing over at Bryan's place are most dispiriting.

  4. My little hound has over the last weeks been upset. It took me two years to get her to being a confident fearless bit of nature. Now, she is not gun-shy, but she has her sense of time and place.


  5. In my opinion, the future here in America looks brighter than it has in a LOOOOONG time. Symbols have power too and this is one symbolic move the American people have made, including me. I'm glad to be alive to see it, having grown up in the racist south in a school that wasn't even integrated until I was in 2d grade. This is living memory, folks.

  6. We all wish you well susan, better luck with yours than we have had with ours,

  7. Yes Susan, I add my good wishes to sentiments expressed by Malty above.
    Easy to say now, but I was never seduced by Blair in '97 or earlier; he always had a whiff of the spiv, the car salesman, all front and no back - and certainly no willingness to take the rap when things turned dark, as they did eventually.
    Your man looks and sounds like the genuine article with, apparently, a lack of artifice, and a genuine charisma that comes right through my broadband and onto my desk; how lucky you are to have found him at such a moment. And how drab and formulaic our lot appear beside him.

  8. Obama is going be such an unbelieveably bad president that people will say good things about George Bush.

    It has nothing to do with his being black. By the way, he's not an African-American. He's half-white and half-African. Its not the same thing. When black Americans go to Africa and call themselves African-American, they get laughed at.

    But he played it up and got the win. By the way, why was it okay for poeple to vote for Obama because he's black, but not okay to vote for McCain because he's white.

    Basing it someone's color and not their ability is racist no matter which way you color it.

    The guy has no experience, no advisors, no policies and is so far left he'll make Carter look moderate.

    And you can believe the terrorists are going to test him, and soon. And he'll end up handling it just like Clinton did. By ignoring it.

    Just what the world needs: Obama and Brown running the free world.

    I'd say God help us, but even he doesn't want to get dragged down in the mess that's about to come.

  9. When did I last see 'Penny for the Guy'? It was '87, when we moved to this blighted part of S London. Kids don't pull the wings off butterflys any more (too few around-butterflys that is?), nor drip acid onto ants, or make cylinder-bombs from copper-pipe and weedkiller/sugar (My, what times we had!), as everything now seems to be conducted online, where the non-real is judged as more 'realistic'.
    Personally I wouldn't be prepared to risk a knife in the ribs by asking the local kids why they don't make an effigy of Guido any more, but my guess is that it simply wouldn't pay as well as the other fast-vanishing staples that are still lingering on. The trick or treaters were around a couple of days ago; they just have to turn-up, and look sweet. And last Christmas, hard on the heels of the Utah Footsoldiers, came the 'carol singers'. No, I will not remove the inverted commas. Rehearsal time-10 minutes, tops. Result? Grinding of gears but, hey, the season of goodwill should see us through.And it did; they had a trolly to hold the money.