A Penny for the Guy?

Monday: I’m not going to be an election judge after all. I woke up sick this morning, coughing and wheezing and blowing. I hope it isn’t flu. I had my super-strength flu shot, so this is probably just a bad cold. A really bad cold.  Right? I was looking forward to being a part of this historic election, but I don’t think I should reward Seventh Precinct voters with a cold or worse just for doing their patriotic duty. So I’ll stay home, drinking herbal tea, snuggling with our cat and watching the returns between naps.

Today is Guy Fawkes Day, celebrated in England. Guy Fawkes was a lead actor in a group of Roman Catholic collaborators who allegedly, in 1605, packed the basement of Parliament in London with barrels of gunpowder with the intent of slaughtering King James I and many elected representatives. But the plot was thwarted literally as the match was about to be lit. After undergoing severe torture to make him confess, Guy and three others and others were hanged, drawn and quartered – well, Guy fell or jumped off the high scaffold and broke his neck before the worst could happen to him. Ever since the urchins of England make a rough effigy of “the guy” and drag him around in a wagon in the weeks before the day, reciting a rhyme and begging for pennies to buy fireworks. “Remember, remember the Fifth of November/ Gunpowder, treason and plot./ I see no reason why gunpowder treason/ Ever should be forgot.” They build a bonfire for The Guy on that historic evening and set off fireworks while he burns.

However, when I was over there in the late sixties I read an article in a Sunday supplement which threw some cold water on the historic account, saying it wasn’t an anti royal plot, but an anti-Catholic plot. The most telling element in the article noted that there was allegedly an enormous amount of gunpowder in that undercroft, barrels of it. Since the explosion never happened, where did the gunpowder go? There is no record in the Tower of London (the official government storage place for gunpowder) of a sudden increase in inventory. There are a number of places where Guy and his friends might have gotten gunpowder; for example, Spain. But of greater interest, where did it go? Hmmmm . . .

Tuesday morning: Took all kinds of over-the-counter remedies yesterday evening, slept for eleven hours last night and I’m sitting up at my keyboard this am. Feeling a little ragged around the edges, coughing messily, and thinking a cup of hot tea might help.  But better than yesterday.

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