Brenda’s Unfortunate Record Of The Week #7


It’s the start of November and you English used to do it right. When I first moved here in 1998, firework season began late summer, peaked about now then slowly tapered off til mid-January. Kids made proper Guys, wheeled them about in shopping trollies demanding money … and they’d be everywhere, like Victorian vermin, right out of the pages of Dickens. Me and my North American sensibilities were rocked, ‘You’re gonna do what with this dummy? And the money’s going where?’ It all came across deliciously arcane & barbaric. 

Maybe the first nail in the coffin was the Fireworks Regulations act of 2004, which amongst other things, tore gunpowder away from the grimy paws of youth. This was followed by improved video game graphics & online entertainment – why go out in the cold & risk an ASBO when you could sit at home and blow shit up 24/7? But for me the real culprit must be the rise in popularity of Halloween, Bonfire Night’s weaker American cousin. The annual sugar-coated raid of the fancy dress box has encroached so much on the far more serious tradition of burning effigies, it risks snubbing it out completely (although I must thank you Ransom Note for the splendid night last weekend – honestly one of the best I’ve had in ages). 

I haven’t heard one iota about November 5th this year. I haven’t seen a Guy in over a decade. Pffff. Seems you have to trek down Lewes for any semblance of what once was and even then, I’m sure it’s a Disnification of the real deal (like everything nowadays). 

In saying that, remember the ‘perfectly legal’ Alex Salmond episode of 2014? In a statement the Sussex Police said they said they had "presented the complaints to the Crown Prosecution Service and it has been identified that no criminal offence occurred" … 

"Effigies have long been a tradition at the annual event, with high-profile politicians and celebrities who have recently been in the news being featured in bonfire society processions. The event organisers have made it clear that there was no intention to cause insult to anyone or any particular country by the choice of effigy: simply that the person chosen has been a popular media figure in the preceding 12 months.”

Yes England, as the days get darker nothing beats burning thine enemy. I wonder if this week’s High Court ruling will see a last minute swathe of Brexiteers stuffing the sacks (assuming that’s how you do it … I’ve only ever made voodoo dolls). Actually I doubt it. They’re probably all still locked in an E-numbered comedown, nursing sore teeth & scraping the final dregs of face-paint from under their finger nails. 

In 2016, it seems we must resort to the pixelated screen to get our fix, as anyone as dedicated to the Hollyoaks plot-line as myself will know. Tuesday’s episode saw evil teenage murderess Nico engulfed in flames. Her killing spree, having lasted over a year crescendo’d with a final thwarted attempt to kill her best friend, and as demented daughter turned on poor mother, the match was lit. Oh how we love to fry a villain. And nothing smoulders better than the female – her corrupted corpse crackling away, fulfilling that long-lasting legacy of sending bad bitches to the flame.

So England, come on! Where have your claws gone? Surely you won’t let this age-old tradition shrivel up and croak in favour of carved pumpkins and bonbons? Get out there, get burning and do your heritage proud.


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