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Remember, remember, the fifth of November, traitors, gunpowder and plot! 


Hallowe'en has been and gone. Last Saturday, we sat over our dinner and waited for various spooks to make their visit; it wasn't long before the doorbell rang and seven or eight little monsters, witches, ghosts and ghouls squealed and giggled as they stood at the door expectantly....

They all behaved so politely, thanked us so cheerfully for the lollipops we handed out to them, and went on their way so happily that we were left smiling and gleeful ourselves; there must have been a mum hiding somewhere, we thought, within easy earshot of their little terrors. No monster behaves that well out of their tombs and late at night.

As if to illustrate that idea, last night's peace and quiet was loudly punctuated by great soaring whizzes, terrific bangs, shouting and raucous laughter-it was once again "Guy Fawkes Night". Bonfires used to be seen everywhere down in England while I was a kid, Rockets and Bangers were the fireworks of choice amongst us. We'd get old clothes, stuff them to look like Guy Fawkes himself and go out and compete in the High Street for pennies dropped into our carts by shoppers. These would fund our efforts to make 'bonfire night' go with a real BANG!

Here in Edinburgh, Hallowe'en is a much more family friendly event! Maybe there are a few bonfires and organised firework displays to celebrate Guy Fawkes' execution of 350 years or so ago. But, even though the few boys who do go out to try and maintain a party atmosphere, it just doesn't seem to be the same as it used to be. Hallowe'en is innocent and for younger children really (even though you do see a few overgrown types from university still trying to maintain their infancy all dressed up like Dracula Morticia et al. But Guy Fawkes Night, on the other hand, seems somewhat frowned upon these days. It attracts, at least where we live, a rougher element where no adult wants to go out, and rather make sure their children and pets are safe and sound indoors well out of harm's way.

For me, from England originally, where 50 years ago, Hallowe'en was unknown and just a festival to be experienced over in Ireland and Scotland if you were lucky enough to have links there, this festival is much gentler and more pleasant than the uncontrolled excesses of "Bonfire Night" which I could hear last night. It wasn't as bad as it usedto be but still a bit too rowdy for me.

Mind, I still think the firework displays of a Japanese summer and the similarly fantastic displays that can be seen over Edinburgh Castle at the end of the Festival and at Hogmanay in the depths of our winter here are preferable to either Hallowe'en or Guy Fawkes Night. What's Hogmanay? I'll tell you about it next time.......

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