November 5, 2017
Remember, remember the 5th of November,
Gunpowder Treason and plot,
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
The 5th of November is Guy Fawkes night, or Bonfire Night, or any other host of names people have for it. It is a British thing, but there are enough expats and aspiring arsonists in Sydney that it is slightly observed.
So what happened on the 5th of November in 1605 and how should you celebrate?
Well a bunch of Catholics decided to blow up The Great Hall of the Houses Of Parliament in London with King James 1 inside, but they were foiled, with Guy Fawkes the closest guy to the gunpowder barrels under the Great Hall. The conspirators were all executed by being hung, drawn and quartered and to celebrate the King not dying, people lit bonfires, set off fireworks and burned effigies of Guy Fawkes in the streets.
Those effigies were known as ‘Guys’ and they usually looked pretty ragged. The term for a ragged looking person soon became a ‘guy’ which over time evolved into the word and meaning we use today.
During the festivities toasting to the King’s health was the done thing and while raising a glass was and is not something particularly new, the ‘toast’ part was changeing at the time. Our ancestors used to add actual toast (stale bread) to wine to help soak up some of the acidity and help improve flavour. The toast was then eaten or given to someone who was then ‘toasted’.
The bread started to be dropped from the ritual as it started getting more organised with ‘Toastmasters’ about the start of the 1600’s.
It goes to show that wasting food is a relatively new human past-time and in a cyclical twist, today, there is an English beer called Toast Ale made from old bread with the profits going to food charities.
So how should celebrate and ‘toast’ with some ‘guys’ this evening?
If you don’t have a monarch on hand to blow up, maybe just blow the top off a couple of frothy (or not so frothy) ones. Have yourself a pint of bitter off the hand pump somewhere like a traditional English boozer The Lord Dudley in Paddington or maybe The Lord Nelson in The Rocks will microwave your pint for you. It is a Sunday, so along with your bitter don’t forget to order the roast and complain about the weather to go full Pom.