Remember Remember the Fifth of November
Hello everyone, and especially my bosom possum
(I loved that, Leila, what a great expression!!)
Well I’m going to start by disappointing you – we had a lovely picnic in the park yesterday, but you’ll have to wait until next time to read about that, because today is the Fifth of November, so we have to commemorate Guy Fawkes. I’ll tell you all about him in a minute …
First, some of you have been nagging me to tell you the tragic story of Chris’s shoes. OK, but be warned, you will need at least a box of tissues, and you may never want to speak to me again …Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin!
Once upon a time, in a land far far away, there lived a young prince called Chris. Being a prince of adventurous spirit, he decided after leaving university to travel and explore the world before returning home to settle down. So he flew away to the continent of Europe, where he saw many wonders. Eventually, he arrived in the country of Italy, which is famous for its food, wines and … shoes! The prince decided that there would be no better way to remember his trip than to buy a fine pair of shoes (that were about as expensive as his entire kingdom) that would last for his lifetime. So the noble prince bought the most wondrous Italian leather shoes he could find, and returned to his kingdom a happy man. Some time later, the prince met Princess Rachel and they decided to get married and live happily ever after. The shoes remained treasured in their box, and the prince wore other shoes to go about his business. But, one day, the other shoes began to fall apart.
“I know!” exclaimed the prince. “I will wear my best shoes for work until I can find some new ones, and then the best ones can go back into their box for special occasions.” So the prince wore his best shoes for work, and eventually found another pair to replace the old ones. After buying the new shoes, Prince Chris decided to wear them immediately, and put the best shoes into the box so he could take them home safely. And this is where the story becomes a tragedy – when Prince Chris arrived home from work, he left the shoe box containing the wondrous Italian shoes near the door where (according to Princess Rachel) it remained for several days. And so, assuming that the box contained the old, worn-out work shoes, Princess Rachel carried it downstairs and put it in the bin, where it remained until the palace garbage trucks came to take the bins away. The devastating loss went unnoticed until it was far, far too late. To this day, Prince Chris has kept the empty box for his beloved shoes, and whenever the prince and princess have a disagreement, the prince always says “But at least I’ve never thrown your shoes away.”
So there it is. The story of how I threw away Chris’ best shoes. (In my defence, it was an ACCIDENT! But I admit I really should have looked in the box before I chucked it out …)
Anyway, let’s move on!
Who is Guy Fawkes? And why is 5th November so special? Well, I shall tell you. I hope you like history! I’ll give you the potted version, and then tell you how we celebrate it today.
It begins with the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. Elizabeth had been strongly Protestant, and many Catholics had been persecuted during her reign. English Catholics hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant, since his mother had been a Catholic. Two years into his reign, in 1605, a group of young men decided that James was no better than Elizabeth had been, and that the only way to stop the persecution was with violence. So they hatched a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, and hopefully kill the King and the members of parliament who were responsible. To carry out this plan, the group got hold of several barrels of gunpowder and stored them in a cellar directly under the House of Lords.
However, some members of the group had friends in the Houses of Parliament, and were worried that innocent people would be killed. One of them wrote a letter to a friend of his who was an MP, warning him not to go into Parliament on 5th November. This friend took the letter straight to the King, who sent troops to investigate. And guess who they found in the cellar, along with 36 barrels of gunpowder? That’s right! Guy Fawkes! He was immediately arrested, and then executed.
On the night that the explosion was intended, 5th November, bonfires were lit all over the country to celebrate the King’s safety, and ever since then, 5th November has been known as “Bonfire Night” or “Guy Fawkes Night”.
Bonfire Night was my favourite celebration as a child. In the north of England, the night before is known as “Mischief Night”, I think because of all the plotting that happened on the fourth. My sister and I used it as an excuse to be naughty and disobedient at home, although I remember taping up our letterbox (I think my parents still do this) because other people’s idea of mischief is to throw things (especially firecrackers, can you believe it?) through other people’s letterboxes.
The 5th November isn’t a public holiday in the UK, but for a few days beforehand you can see children asking for “a penny for the Guy”. We used to make effigies of Guy Fawkes from our dad’s old trousers and shirts, stuffed with newspaper, and take them round the streets, and people would give us a penny to spend on sweets (I don’t know if this still happens, but it was quite common when I was young). In the evening, we went round to a friend’s house for a bonfire and fireworks – sometimes bonfires were organised by local councils, or pubs, etc – and a bit of a party. We put the Guy on the bonfire to burn (this represents the end of the plot, I think), and watched the fireworks. The sad thing is that in the news the next day there are always reports of people who were injured by fireworks, and I think there are more public bonfires now to try and prevent this from happening. Because it’s November, it’s always freezing, and dark, so I remember wrapping up very warmly (and having a burning hot face and a freezing cold back from standing near the fire!) and lots of hot food – soup, baked potatoes, roast chestnuts etc. We used to have toffee apples, which are apples on sticks, dipped in toffee so they’re all sticky, and a special sort of toffee, called Bonfire Toffee, which was much darker than normal toffee – I’ll have to find out how to make it!
There’s even a rhyme about it (I think the rhyme is almost as old as the plot), which goes like this:
Remember remember the 5th of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
I have some very fond memories of Bonfire Night, and I hope I’ve managed to give you a bit of a picture of what it was like. It’s not celebrated here in Oz (well, why would it be?!), so I do get a bit nostalgic at this time of year! (If any of you are really interested, try searching online for “Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Plot”) Oh, and, if any of you have any celebrations that are specific to your country, or to the area where you live, I’d love to hear about them!
Leila, let me give you my full attention for a little bit, possum!
Things Down Under are getting interesting, thank you for asking! It’s the Melbourne Cup tomorrow (the race that stops the nation), and even though horse-racing really isn’t my thing, I’ll try to write a bit about it. We also have an election coming up in a few weeks, and for the first time it looks like the opposition might be in with a chance, so more on that as it happens!
First of all, well done on the homework – spot on both times! I agree that “in TV” is probably more logical, but we do say “on TV” – Isn’t English great?!
You can use for example or e.g. – either is fine! Remember for instance is also an alternative to for example, if you want a bit of variety!
How many thousands is fine too.
No article with arrogance – in English we don’t tend to use articles with abstract nouns, unless we’re talking specifically (e.g. The arrogance of the Prime Minister is incredible). Does Finnish have articles, Leila? I know a lot of languages don’t, and articles can be horribly confusing for students of English. Shall we have a look at some places where articles are missing from your last posts? See if you can put them in the right place (and everyone else, you can have a go at this too! Aren’t I mean?!).
1. Reason for that is …
2. I am rather impatient person
3. The reason for above is …
4. Someone knew that couple of songs
Leila, please don’t look at this and think “Oh my goodness, she’s found so many mistakes!” – The truth is, your writing is very accurate and I’m so glad I’ve found something I can maybe help you with!
One other tiny thing (I’ve picked up on this because I think it might be helpful to everyone else as well) I’d like to look at is how we use lack in English. Lack can be either a noun or a verb, meaning not to have something, and we use it like this:
As a verb: I lack space in my wardrobe for all my shoes. (no preposition)
As a noun: Lack of rain has made the ground hard and brown. (+ of)
There’s also an adjective: I’m lacking inspiration for these examples (no preposition)
And another adjective, meaning not to have a particular quality: Owen is certainly not lacking in charm (+ in)
OK, here are two sentences from Leila’s posts where she has used lack as a verb.
1. Can you suggest a correction?
2. Can you rewrite the sentences using lack as a noun or an adjective?
Have a go and we’ll see how you get on!
a. I maybe lack of it (self-confidence) at times
b. I lack of looseness in my writing style
Now, I realise I am LONG overdue to do some work on vocabulary, which I promise faithfully to do in my next post (once again I’m finishing this off after work, and I really need to be fully awake in order to do vocab properly).
Oh, and the title to Australia’s National Anthem is “Advance Australia Fair” (I sometimes try to wind Chris up by saying that as Elizabeth II is still technically Australia’s Head of State it should be God Save the Queen … but he just shakes his head at me!)
Anyway, good night (or I suppose it’s good morning for most of you now the clocks have changed!), and I’ll be back again soon with more amusing stories of life in Oz …
to commemorate (vb)
to nag (vb / n)
to settle down (phr vb)
to chuck sth out / away (phr vb - informal)
a potted history (expr)
to persecute (vb)
to hatch a plot (expr)
an effigy (n)
to wind sb up (phr vb)
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