Sunday, 5 November 2017

Bonfire Night

It's the Fifth of November and a Sunday today, and that can only mean one thing: it's Bonfire Night!

Back in 1605, there was a plot by a group of British Roman Catholics to blow up the Protestant British Government of the day, and one of them, Guy Fawkes, was caught in the bowels of Westminster with barrels of gunpowder and a fuse. He ended up being hung, drawn, and quartered, and since then, depending on one's family background in the UK, the Fifth of November has either been comemmorated with bonfires, fireworks, effigies called 'the Guy', and bangers and mash (which is another name for 'sausages and mashed potato', especially on Bonfire Night), or nothing. 

 'Bonfire Night' is still quite the festival where I am: an annual public display of fireworks culminating with huge bonfires is the norm. Four years ago, I blogged about not seeing the Guy that was something I associated with this time of the year, and it has stayed this way. I now wonder whether Halloween and trick or treating has replaced the 'penny for the Guy' and the Guy's subsequent burning at a bonfire. Who knows?

My Chinese New Years are relatively silent as a licence must be sought for fireworks displays in February or January in the UK, so for me, Bonfire Night has become my annual night of fireworks. I find myself drawn more and more to the bonfire. Watching it bursting into life before fading into embers feels like a cleansing ritual of sorts, in the sense that the fire consumes everything in its path, and does away with shapes and forms. Nothing is permanent, and there is energy, colour, light, and beauty in change, and although I am surrounded by man-made electric lights and surroundings for the rest of the year, this one night reminds me of nature's power and of those things that still have not been explained by science, like why mashed potato tastes odd when it is made with whipped cream instead of butter and milk, and why I am still unable to take a decent photograph of fireworks despite having the best digital cameras at my disposal. Looks like I will just have to find more opportunities to take photos of fireworks!

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