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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Remember, remember...

...the 5th of November
Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

So goes the famous English rhyme about Guy Fawkes, the man who headed up a ring of Catholics that failed in their attempts to assassinate the Protestant King James I as well as many members of Parliament in 16th century England.

Don't worry, I don't know these facts stone cold, but I did remember something of my history when earlier this year my memory got a jog by the movie, "V for Vendetta". It's not really a day that's commemorated in America, which is a bit ironic considering the Gunpowder Plot has at least a couple of themes in common with my country. First, that no government should ever be beyond the ability of its people to overthrow it. Second, that Guy Fawkes was acting out against the powers-that-be in England, something we yanks did in that little squabble with Mother England called the Revolutionary War.

More accurately, there isn't really a Guy Fawkes "Day", but rather a "Night," and tonight it's being celebrated here in New Zealand. The night before the 5th of November, the original chosen date of the doomed conspirators to blow up Westminster Palace, is celebrated with fireworks and bonfires. So I know I'm not posting this on the actual day, but in the spirit of the celebrations being carried out the night before, I am thus writing about it the night before.

So nyeah.

There have actually been a high number of clients coming in to the practice all week, requesting tranquilizers for their poor dogs, whose nerves will be shot by the time the evening is over. Fireworks do send some dogs into quite a frenzy! All this mention of Guy Fawkes and fireworks eventually lead me to ask a co-worker what it was all about. At first I was a little embarassed since I am here in NZ and didn't know much of anything about this holiday they celebrate. But the Kiwi nurse who shall remain nameless said she thought Guy Fawkes was American and that this fireworks celebration had some religious undertones. Wrong though she was about his nationality, I can't hold it against her as she still knew more than I did. There are more than a few yanks who don't fully understand many American holidays, either!

I am a bit uneasy about the notion of glorifying a guy who was basically going to vaporize many innocent people just to make a point. It kind of puts him in the same echelon as that wanker Timothy McVey, although at least Fawkes and his cronies never did see their plot come to fruition. Also, in these uneasy times of global terrorism, it is hard to get behind a celebration for a guy who would undoubtedly be painted a terrorist today were he to carry out such a deed. Perhaps if he had planned to blow up empty buildings, like the character in the movie, it would be a little easier for me to sympathize with Fawkes.

Still, I like the notion of the holiday, for I think the real reasons most people celebrate Guy Fawkes Night is because of his firm belief in standing up to the government and doing something about a bad situation.

Plus, it's a whole lot of fun to light off some fireworks and burn stuff, so any old reason will do.

Still, as the tagline for "V for Vendetta" says: "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."

Damn straight! Coincidentally, Election Day is right around the corner in the States, so in our own accidental way we indirectly celebrate Fawkes by exercising our awesome ability to vote. Well, about 50% of us do, anyways. Makes me wish I had seen far enough ahead to register to vote by absentee, but for sure I'll correct that mistake before next year.

So good on ya for your fighting spirit, Guy Fawkes, even though you just might have become a murdering bastard. The fireworks that are going off as I write will hopefully keep inspiring other Guy Fawkes Night celebrants to always be suspicious of their governments and to take the power back when necessary.

I do like celebrating this new holiday, it speaks to my American spirit, and I have enjoyed being in New Zealand that much more now. I have definitely learned something new today!

2 Comments:

Blogger Beechball * said...

That's great! Happy day to you way over there in NZ! I agree with you on the fact that any reason to burn and blow stuff up is a good one! I love fireworks and I love bonfires and I really wish I could be there to party down with ya, it sounds like it would be a great time!

6:43 AM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

Thanks Lyndsay, would have been fun to blow some stuff up with ya. As it was, there were quite a few bonfires that got out of control and more then enough drunken arrests involving fireworks. Accordingly, they may not be available for use next year in NZ! Aussie has already banned them, in fact. Oh well, plenty other ways to have a good time I spose!

5:29 PM  

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