Gunpowder, Treason & Plot 

This morning, as I am off work this week, yours truly made a cameo appearance at the Next Chapter writing group meeting which I’ve been unable to attend since cutting short my retirement.

My submission for the workshop, where the topic hook was ‘fireworks’, is below. A spoof ‘horrible history’ biographical vignette relating to Guy Fawkes. Hopefully you will appreciate this parody piece as much a my fellow authors appeared to do:-

The hours leading up to Firework night (or should that be Bonfire night, or indeed Guy Fawkes night) proved unremarkable moments for yours truly… This lack of an adrenalin rush not helped by wasting most of the day wondering whether the evening is titled Firework night, Bonfire night, or Guy Fawkes night.

To the layman my angst at the naming convention will seem a misguided way of spending time. However, my OCD dictates I utilise the correct moniker for the event celebrating the Gunpowder Plot’s spurning. A coup aimed at blowing up the House of Parliament in 1605. 

One of the main protagonists arrested for his part in the plot being one Guidance Fawkes.

Footnote – Yes, I know he was called Guy not Guidance, but I thought my extension of his calling card provided with further gravitas… Consequently, it’s staying.

Apart from endeavouring to ease my OCD, the rest of that day’s daylight hours were spent mooching about, scratching around and watching my beard grow in the mirror. The latter I would venture is unlikely to be embraced as a national sport anytime soon.

Sadly, the unease borne from my obsessive compulsive disorder in daylight hours only heightened once dusk had fallen. A seemingly endless stream of boom, boom noises not helping my already shaken nerves……… It won’t be happening next year, though, as it’s the last bl***y time I’ll be inviting Basil Brush to my Bonfire Night party!

Anyhow, I digress…

In 1591, at the age of 23, York-born Guy Fawkes converted to Catholicism. A major life event he followed by converting his garage into a fourth bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and splendid views of the River Ouse.

Following this change of religion, with fire in his belly from being forced to knock down his bedroom conversion for planning permission breaches, Fawkes fled to fight in the Eighty Years War. Here he sided with the Spanish Catholics against the Dutch, and an Andorran goat herder who demanded he circumvent his land while the Spaniards ventured north.

The longevity of this war meant Fawkes didn’t return home until the early 1600’s. Tired after his exertions and with wig listing to the right, the haphazard rebel was irked to find a huge fuel bill upon his return. This weighty demand consequential of forgetting to turn his immersion off prior to leaving for the Iberian Peninsula nine years earlier. 

Back in the UK, the rebellious catholic became a key protagonist in the Gunpowder Plot. Acquiring the nickname ‘Knives And Fawkes’ from the local village idiot, his role in the plan was monitoring gunpowder storage beneath Parliament that fateful evening in 1605.

The Yorkshire born rabble-rouser was caught red-handed in possession of the stockpiled explosives after a whistle-blower tipped off authorities, leading to a thorough search of the Palace of Westminster.

He was initially arrested for gunpowder handling breaches. Incurred further wrath from authorities for health and safety misdemeanours, including not adhering to high visibility jacket and safety helmet edicts. Additionally, Fawkes received admonishment for recklessly reading a book by match light while perched on a gunpowder barrel.

However, things became far worse for Fawkes after further investigation by the authorities revealed the full extent of the York man’s criminal agenda. Leading to him being sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. 

The convict, though, avoiding that method of execution after he could not be drawn due to prevailing parchment and pencil shortages at that time.

In the end Fawkes demise came courtesy of falling from the scaffolding where he was scheduled to be hung, dying instead as a consequence of neck fracture.

As he lay moribund, he whispered to the executioner “Tell my missus I bequeath her my high-visibility jacket…. Oh, and mention I forgot to turn the immersion off again so expect another hefty energy bill!” 

Since this historic night in the early 17th century, the anniversary has been marked by the UK public burning an effigy of Fawkes on a bonfire, along with illumination of dark skies by fireworks…… In his home city of York locals also mark Fawkes’ notoriety by leaving their immersions on between 6pm – 11pm.

Disclaimer – If you are a student due sit an examination relating to the events spawning the UK’s 5th November ‘celebration’ please, please, please do not use this hooey for historical reference.

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