Val's November Blog: Remember, Remember

There is not a dull moment in the calendar as this time of year seems to get busier and busier.  Halloween is over, but it is followed on very quickly with Bonfire Night on 5th November.  In the past, we also had to get through Mischievous Night – the evening before Guy Fawkes night – when children, mainly in the north of England, traditionally played small tricks on the neighbours. 

It went into decline in the late 20th century, partly as a reaction to the Americanisation of Halloween and the glorious opportunities to dress up and knock on doors for sweets instead of just plain michieving, which usually took the form of ringing bells or knocking on doors and running away. 

Now I think we jump straight to November 5th.  Do people still know or sing the rhyme, ‘Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot. We see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot’?   I’m not sure I’ve sung that for many a year but it is still there in my memory.  And what about wheeling a stuffed guy around in a wheel barrow shouting ‘penny for the guy’.  Does that still happen?

Anyway, to get you in the mood for festivities this weekend watch ‘A Date to Remember' (c.1952) made by amateur filmmaker Fred Brackenbury, from the Nowell collection. It shows three very diligent children quietly reading and doing homework when dad comes home and gives them a big bundle of fireworks . Well, this is 1952 and actually it is the boy who is given the fireworks. Still, the girls are allowed to have a sparkler.  

They move outside to the bonfire in the back garden having put their coats on. Now, I do have a memory from when I was about 6 – we were in our back garden, desperately trying to keep the bonfire alight with mum looking for things to burn, when a mumbled message came from her ‘to put this on’.  A coat was handed to me. Well, you can imagine what happened next.  Yep, the coat went on the bonfire and not on me. But nothing like that happens here: a bonfire, plenty of sparklers, rockets and fireworks. Just plain family fun. And as it has been a good year for apples, don’t forget that toffee apples are also synonymous with bonfire night, so why not make some and enjoy your weekend.