On Fireworks

By Aubrey Beardsley

It is here again, Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night, also over-simplified as Fireworks Night.

Dogs everywhere are dreading the sun going down tonight. They’re leaving the parks early. They’re getting ready for bed long before the evening movie. Even the ones who seem to cope reasonably well are still affected by the noise. And what can you do? Well, do make sure your dog is safe inside and free to find a place that they want to be, and if we want to hide then let us hide. And do comfort your dog, do try to reassure your dog, and do be with your dog. Some people say ignore your dog, but as a dog I can tell you this isn’t very good advice. Please provide the comfort we need and trust you to give. You can’t reinforce terror, and that is what a lot of us dogs are feeling. Be armed with the best treats your imagination can find, turn on the Christmas movies, and do the best that you can.

And who was Guy Fawkes and how has he been causing all this chaos for over 400 years? Well, he and some friends wanted to blow up Parliament in 1605, but he was caught and then gave up all his friends (but they had already been caught) and then met a rather gruesome end, as was the tradition in those days. But apparently his gunpowder was off anyway and wouldn’t have exploded. One of life’s ironies.

So, why the fireworks? First of all, really they are supposed to be bonfires to burn effigies of Guy Fawkes, although apparently not at St Peter’s School in York (where he used to be a student). And now they burn those those of almost any politician, especially all the ones we have at the moment. But I guess with the Clean Air Act that’s probably not possible in London. And yet those politicians still keep poisoning it. Yet another of life’s ironies.

But, anyway, the fireworks aren’t to finish off what Guy Fawkes tried to begin. They were actually originally intended as a celebration of the King’s escape … “always provided that ‘this testemonye of joy be carefull done without any danger or disorder.” Well, that last bit seems to have been forgotten given the number of injuries again this year, as well as the fireworks that have been waking us up at 2am several nights in a row. The British, once again, love to show their mastery of irony.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that Guy Fawkes started to be more of a celebrity and remembered as “the last honest man to enter Parliament”. And then he starred in V for Vendetta … well, a mask of him did. Although, honestly, what about Halloween? I really do think that looks a bit like him too, from certain angles. But the mask in Halloween was actually a cheap Star Trek Captain Kirk mask from a costume store, which they stripped of its hair, stretched the eye holes, and painted white. Apparently the other choice for Halloween was a clown mask. But unlike this Halloween no-one found it as scary because it was smiling, while Captain Kirk was emotionless. Ironically, that’s hilariously accurate.

Meanwhile, the sun is still shining brightly here but the fireworks have already started. Basic optical phenomena, such as night, do seem to be beyond a lot of people. Or once again, Bonfire Night is blinding in its irony.

But maybe this year, more than in a while, we really need Bonfire Night …

Oh well, it is going to be a long night … probably lasting until the wee small hours if the last few nights are anything to go by. So our plan is to go to bed early, draw the curtains, turn on the tele, and enjoy some TV snacks. So we are armed with plenty of cheese, blankies, and Christmas movies. That’s the way we pooches celebrate bonfire night! We are armchair anarchists!


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