Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bonfires of the Vanities

A random flash fills the night sky and a muffled rapid-fire popping sound finds it's way toward us from a nearby farmer's field. Are we in Baghdad? No, but the night-time sights and sounds of the Lancashire countryside remind me that we must be approaching that very special time of year again.

Next week, on the evening of November 5th, revellers throughout the United Kingdom will be celebrating Guy Fawkes Night, or Bonfire Night as it is commonly known. It commemorates the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot, in which a group of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, allegedly attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament on the evening of 5 November 1605 with the intent of killing the Protestant King James I of England. The conspirators were later arrested, tortured, and executed.

As has been the custom during the past few centuries, fireworks are lobbed into the air and community bonfires are ignited, often fueled by an accumulated collection of surplus wood and contributed items that otherwise would have been destined for the local refuse pit. Sadly, some communities still burn effigies of the Pope and other clerics, in a fervor of anti-catholicism that still darkens the souls of a few that remain unenlightened. Fortunately, they are in the minority.

Prospective photo opportunities beckon, as we will be venturing out with the trusty camera in hand to witness and capture Britain's closest version to the Fourth of July.