We were back in the Dales last week, the place that I think of as home, although I've now lived out of the county for over half a century. The days were sunny but cold and we did very little walking but had a sociable time with friends and neighbours. I had quite a bit of cutting back to do in the small front garden as plants had grown over the steps and pathway. I'd fastened up the entrance gate with a twist of wire on my last visit in the summer so that the nuthatch nesting by the french windows would not be disturbed. There was plenty of stuff to clear. Any suitable material for burning was welcomed to be added to the village bonfire for Guy Fawkes Night.
Guy Fawkes was a Yorkshire man, educated at St Peter's School in York, the fourth oldest school in the world. It was founded by Paulus of York in 627AD. The school has a bonfire each year but a 'guy' is never burnt. When I was young it was a common sight on the days leading up to Bonfire Night to see children dragging round their guy on a buggy or standing by a slumped guy in a doorway asking for 'a penny for the guy'. It was an acceptable form of begging, to collect enough money to buy bangers that would scare the wits out of little girls like me! (I saved my money for tuppenny snowstorms and would keep one to light under the trees in the winter when real snow had fallen.)
It was a cold, clear night on November 5th
with a full moon.
Everyone was well wrapped up. I was wearing my hiking socks and boots for warmth, quite forgetting that I would need to jump the stream if I wasn't going to roast and burn by the fire. More sensible people were wearing thick socks and wellies and could wade through the water.
Our friend, Brian, died in the spring and his house has just been cleared and sold. He was a committed Catholic in a dale of chapel folk. His old sofa had been put on the bonfire and it burned brightly. It caused me to reflect on the reason behind the gunpowder plot, a response to the persecution of Catholics in England. I'm glad to leave those days far behind. No one had made a guy for our bonfire and I'm sure that Brian, who had a great sense of humour, would have been amused to see his sofa warming all his chapel neighbours!
Remnants of old Catherine wheels were pinned to a bit of fencing, relics of bonfires past.
Ee, it wor grand!