For weeks beforehand, young boys would tour the streets looking for any spare timber that could be used to build a bonfire, and stuffing old clothes to make a “Guy”, which would then be wheeled around the streets or left outside shops with a collecting tin.
“Penny for the Guy” went up the cry, and any pennies collected would be used to buy the magic ingredient of the evening. Fireworks. Almost every child had a display in their gardens; some no more than a few rockets and Roman candles, others having a more elaborate celebration with food including potatoes roast in the embers of the fire.
Nowadays the date is more significant to me as being my daughter Holly’s birthday, (don’t be fooled by the candles, she’s older than 7!) but it seems that I’m not the only one with different priorities. Halloween, which was once the lesser event (carrying hollowed out Swede in the rain, and struggling to relight the temperamental candle inside without burning your fingers had a limited appeal) has now overshadowed a date celebrated to mark an important moment in British history.
Halloween is more of a marketing man’s dream, and I wonder how long it will be before that name (meaning the eve of All Saints’ Day) becomes replaced by Trick or Treat night.
Walking the beach the day after there were still some traces of Guy Fawkes celebrations; the scattered crocodilian timbers that evidenced a bonfire erased by the tide and the occasional carcass of a spent rocket, but these were few and far between and easily missed (unlike the smart windsurfing board abandoned at the water’s edge) Perhaps the two dates will merge into one at some point and we will celebrate at the end of October with fireworks as well as costumes.
Similarly I read this week that a breed of dog once familiar to all thanks to its role as the icon of a well-known paint brand has been placed on a watch list due to the decline in the numbers being bred. I refer to the Old English Sheepdog (the “Dulux” dog) which it appears is seen as too much trouble to look after compared to “handbag” dogs like the Chihuahua.
So it was nice to meet a man out today walking two of these shaggy beasts. Getting them both to remain still for a picture was too much to ask, but I grabbed a couple of shots of one of the pair as well as their owner John. It was great to see these “real” dogs out exercising. I hope they fare better than Mr Fawkes.