Guy Fawkes Day -- 11/05/03

Bonfires and fireworks tonight in England. (Oh, okay, if you want to be technical about it, since I am typing this in the evening, they've already finished their fireworks and have gone to bed because it is the wee hours of Thursday Nov. 6th over there right now.) Whatever.

It used to be that kids would go door to door begging "A penny for the Guy" -- much like our kids go trick-or-treating on Halloween. I understand, however, that tradition is fading away, a combination of the global American cultural influence and intense marketing by the candy companies inspiring kids to go trick-or-treating on Octomber 31st just like American kids. I was in England around this time of year back in '98 and I remember the Halloween candy displays in Sainsbury's and big banners flying above the streets proclaiming a grand fireworks display to be held on the 5th and also one to be held on Saturday, Nov. 2nd (I guess they figured on a larger crowd on the weekend?)... However, I had to return to the U.S. on the 2nd, so I didn't get to see either.

"Remember, remember
the Fifth of November
is gunpowder treason and plot.

I see no reason
why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

Knock at the door,
ring the bell.

Have you got a penny for
singing so well ?

If you haven't got a penny
a ha'penny will do

If you haven't got a ha'penny
then God bless you !!"

Note to American readers who may have skipped school the day this was covered in history class -- Guy Fawkes plotted to blow up Parliament by setting off barrels of gunpowder in the basement of the House of Lords in November of 1605. Needless to say, the plot was foiled. Mr. Fawkes was caught (with three dozen barrels of gunpowder) questioned/tortured and then executed. The English like to celebrate that close call by lighting bonfires every November 5th. (Yes, the 400th anniversary is coming up in two years. Bet there will be an especially gaudy and spectacualr program thhat night!

I've been exhausted. Working very hard, very busy at work. Did not really have time for NaNoWriMo last night. Nor tonight. I'm posting this and going to bed. I'll have to catch up on the weekend.

Somebody wrote to Jerry Pournelle (science fiction novelist, computer writer) telling him about NaNoWriMo and seeking Dr. Pournelle's opinion. He replied that one of his books ( Birth of Fire) had only been 55,000 words and he had written it in one week flat back in the 1970's.

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