Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A failed conspiracy

Fireworks #1
Another Guy Fawkes night has been and gone.  It’s a slightly odd ceremony we have carried over in New Zealand and Australia from our history as British colonies.

The origins of Guy Fawkes are found in 1605 involving a failed conspiracy known as the “Gunpowder Plot”.  The object of the Gunpowder Plot was to blow up the English Parliament and the ruling monarch King James I.  Guy Fawkes and his conspirators were arrested before the plan could be carried out, intended to be on 5 November 1605.

So, more than four centuries later, many of us celebrate the failed plot by lighting bonfires, burning effigies of Guy Fawkes (or the villain of the day), and letting off fireworks.  Many people attend organised fireworks displays.  Others stage their own displays at home.

Every year there is the usual debate about whether fireworks should be sold to the public.  Every year there are reported injuries from burns, lacerations, bruising and foreign objects landing in eyes.  Over the years we have seen a gradual restriction in the selection and potency of fireworks on sale.  We have seen age restrictions imposed.  This year fireworks were only available for sale on the four days leading up to 5 November.

I expect there will come a time when organised public displays are all the entertainment on offer.

Many of us still enjoy getting together with friends on what is usually a mild late spring evening.  We barbeque home-raised beef and lamb and sip local wine.  We wait for nightfall and the opportunity to light our own fireworks with only slightly less anticipation than our children.  I guess we should enjoy it while we still can.

Photo courtesy of author Harold Neal under Creative Commons licence.

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