061105.Claverton Down, Campfire HeadphasedNovember 5, 2006 at 5:00 AM | Posted in Bath, Bath Abbey, Cathedrals and churches, Claverton Down, University of Bath | 10 Comments
“Happy” Guy Fawkes Day. OK, so I had a nice dinner last night but ended up missing most of the festivites, including Saturday Night fireworks and fire twirling. Oh well. Hopefully , I’ll see and take a photo of something good today and substitute with this photo. I’ll post something more later but until then check out my neighbor’s shot of the campus fireworks here. And better posts on Guy Fawkes here at the Ackworth born, gone West and London DPs.
“Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn’t well connected.”
-Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (see full quote below)
There once a man who decided to have his own little fireworks festivities, similar to those celebrated on July 4th and Bastille Day except that neither of these were yet popular. He liked to plan ahead—so much so that he amassed quite a collection of gunpowder barrels over so much time that very little of it was still useful as gunpowder. This man turned out to be planning on setting his secret stash off indoors, and under several floors.
But didn’t he realize there were people upstairs?! Yes. To him, there were two types of people upstairs: Protestants and Catholics. He and his friends dutifully wrote a letter to Catholic Lord Monteagle and asked him to play hooky for a day when James was visiting.
Unfortunately for Guy Fawkes and friends, his informed Catholic upstairs didn’t see the distinction between people and informed James, etc.. Jam.es I was king of England, had some connections…some power and decided to make an example out of disloyal subjects.
Although English Catholics already lacked equal rights before the Gunpowder Plot, they found themselves in a much worse condition with fierce Protestant reprisals lasting for another 200 years afterwards until Victorian Era Catholic Emancipation. Even today, 401 years after the event Catholics still can’t wear the crown (not that it means much anymore).
Guy should have known that Jame.s had connections. If he had just been patient, the Protestants would have done the job for him. On the other hand, J.ames did now that if you’re going to go after a group–then you better make darn well sure that they don’t have connections; and so they didn’t for two hundred years. Had Ja.mes Stuart been a little wiser, he might not have persecuted a denomination that was to prevail in his own family and cause the repeated downfall of their dynasty. But heck, the moral in that is based in reprisal logic too, so it goes. (Oh and for my fellow Americans, yes it is “repeated” because of the Restoration and failed attempts by the Great Pretender. If I bothered to proof this I would probably think that was a mistake too.)
Guy & Co. were tortured, hanged, drawn, and quartered while Ja.mes eventually died at his own pace, and the Protestants finally got around to beheading his increasingly-Catholic friend son, Charles.
Please to remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,’twas his intent
to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!
A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o’ cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we’ll say ol’ Pope is dead.
Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah!
As you can see, certain people sing certain verses but the point is the same: don’t touch English cheese.
I think Vonnegut’s theme works better here:
“The visitor from outer space made a serious study of Christianity, to learn, if he could, why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the trouble was slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of the Gospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of the low. But the Gospels actually taught this: ‘Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn’t well connected.’ So it goes. The flaw in the Christ stories, said the visitor from outer space, was that Christ, who didn’t look like much, was actually the son of the most powerful being in the universe. Readers understood that, so, when they came to the crucifixion, they naturally thought,… ‘Oh boy-they sure picked the wrong guy to lynch that time!’ And that thought had a brother: ‘there are right people to lynch.’ Who? People not well connected. So it goes.”
I’d like to think that the Internet and the Daily Photo Family are all about making connections so please check out a few random place blogs that you might otherwise overlook: (There’s no political reasons for this selection, I’m trying to have a city per letter of the English alphabet) Accra, Beirut, Cebu, Delta, Edinburgh, Flagstaff, Guadalajara, Hong Kong, Ithaca, Joensuu, Kuala Lumpur, Little Rock, Mumbai, New York, Oshawa, Paris, Queens, Rotterdam, Szentes, Tokyo, Where are U? Vantaa, Wellington, X?, Y?, Zaltbommel (Netherlands). Hopefully we are all a community now. And with that established, does anyone have a fiver? I’ll pay you back.
Oh, so this wasn’t fog for once but gunpowder smoke: the entire city was setting off fireworks!
Another early morning ill-thought out ramble:
Not so long ago, I watched V for Vendetta with a group of friends. Not sure if I want to keep rambling here but the whole time I was rooting for the building. I just don’t see the logic in that movie, except it was a cheap (and far too late) attempt to turn the overly long film into a summertime disaster/explosion flick.
As a Barry and Pugin admirer, I do not approve of the film’s Palace of Westminter explosion finale (I’m not posting a spoiler warning because they advertised that very clip of architectural atrocity in every ad). If the “heroes” are fighting against a “Great Leader” and his authoritarian council of ministers who function from anti-terrorist “undisclosed locations,” then why the frak (to quote another sci-fi world) do they blow up the old Parliament buildings! Set it in Berlin and blow up the Palast de Republik!
Given the lack of democracy, it is not staffed with MPs, and a bigger issue is that it’s a simple Gothic Revival structure on a classically symmetrical plan! People, there are more interesting building to explode! It’s the same as blowing up the Empire State Building in ID4—once you see one floor go you’ve seen them all.
Here’s my problem: Fawkes was trying to blow up the old Palace of Westminster Parliament building, the Elizabethan Tudor-styled one. The movie blew up the “new” one—A.W.N. Pugin and Charles Barry’s one! Pugin was actually happy when the Elizabethan one burned in the 19th C. He was thrilled. It represented Protestant architecture and Protestant oppression. Pugin eventually converted to Catholicism and became a Gothic Revivalist fanatic to propagate a moral right in the True Faith as expressed through proper architecture. Pugin’s acceptance as a great architect and the acceptance of his revival throughout the world proved to be a great step for Catholics in England, etc.
The “hero” in the Guy Fawkes’ mask who blows the building up is clearly fulfilling fate…but just as people can change, so too can buildings! It represents something different now and the V for Vendetta people were taking the mask gimmick to the extreme. Sure the building is a symbol of government, which is now bad, but as stated earlier: It’s empty! The bad government’s fallen. On the slight chance that there were some low-level evil minion government staffers still occupying the building for office space, then why not just evict them. Is it worth attacking a staff building just because it could be a symbol? It’s like targeting Alfred Mullet’s Old Executive Office Building (now Eisenhower Federal Building) in Washington, DC. You’re probably thinking “…the what?” but you’d recognize it when you saw it. It’s a nice old building but who’s there worthy of attack. I don’t think the VP uses his office in there anymore–too drafty. And so I say again, blowing things up is so wasteful. If you don’t plan on using the Parliament building again then why not convert it into something useful like another Industrial Museum or an assisted living facility.