Freedom of Speech. Really?

Freedom of speech. Really?

Freedom of speech is defined by dictionary.com as “noun: the power or right to express one’s opinions without censorship, restraint, or legal penalty.” 
https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=freedom+of+speech

That is the ideal, but sadly it is not happening.

Freedom of speech only counts if it is politically correct

This past week on the news it was announced that Margaret Court would not be presenting the women’s singles trophy at this year’s Australian Open.

Don’t know who Margaret Court is?

“Court is one of only three players to have achieved a career “boxed set” of Grand Slam titles, winning every possible Grand Slam title – singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles – at all four Grand Slam events. The others are Doris Hart and Martina Navratilova. Court, however, is the only person to have won all 12 Grand Slam events at least twice. She also is unique in having completed a boxed set before the start of the open era in 1968 and a separate boxed set after the start of the open era.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Court

Her rejection by Tennis Australia is caused by her stand on the Biblical view of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage in Australia. In 2012, she opposed proposed same-sex marriage reforms.

What happened to ‘agree to differ?’

Freedom of speech, agree to differ

When I was a young person, and then a not-so-young-person, people were not penalized for holding contrary views. Well, in most situations. There were some exceptions. For example it would not have gone down well to be drawing wages from your employer, then going out and demonstrating against him.

I have lived long enough to see many things I disagreed with, however just because I disagree doesn’t mean everyone else has to do the same.

You have a right to your opinion, I have mine

I will not impose my beliefs on you, so please don’t try to impose your beliefs on me.

It can be a prickly subject

It is a sad day…

When what a person believes trumps what he or she has achieved.

The Aussie tennis legend, who holds the grand slam record with 24 major titles, is marking the 50th anniversary of the year she won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in a calendar year at Melbourne Park starting next week.

Just a note: I am not a member of the church run by Margaret Court, nor do I intend to become a member. My beliefs are quite different from her faith. I can agree to differ with what she believes and still recognize the awesome career she has had.

To be honest, I am disappointed by the state of the times that has led to this decision.

Susan

 

The Effect of the Bushfires

The effect of the bushfire

The effect of the bushfires on animals is a subject much posted about on Facebook. However, the sad truth is that if all the native animals survived the fires, they would still die. Their habitat is burning or burnt.

Kangaroos are herbivores… After these catastrophic fires there is not much grass, nor leaves and mosses left.

Koalas (are not bears by the way, they are marsupials) eat gum leaves. And not just any gum leaves… “Koalas are very fussy eaters and have strong preferences for different types of gum leaves. In Australia there are over 600 types of eucalypts, but Koalas will not eat a large proportion of these.”
https://www.savethekoala.com/about-koalas/koalas-diet-digestion

The effect of the bushfires

This can be seen from space…
https://nasaspxa.com/2020/01/04/satellite-images-show-australias-devastating-wildfires-from-space/?fbclid=IwAR39_Jv3iKrAubYI-MmTcZSVRmTNHMEHoDG6jtQ8FvaVvRsEulfiKIIeNq8

So people on two continents are suffering from the smoke, which makes life more difficult for people who suffer from asthma, lung or heart disease.

Power is ‘out’ for vast numbers of people, as is phone coverage.

Reports from people who successfully fled from the fires – “It was like Armageddon,” was a ‘common’ comment. Considering the sky, which had been orange then turned black at 9 am, the comments make sense.

Pray for the firefighters

The effect of the bushfire, show support
Shared on Facebiook

Some of the fires started in September 2019 and firefighters and voluntary firefighters have battled the blazes ever since. Now, however, the fires are raging in many of our States at once.

North American firefighters have been arriving in Australia since early December to assist in the country’s bushfire crisis with more to be deployed on Monday.

For the first time since 2010, the US is sending firefighters while Canada is sending fire experts to Australia for the first time.
https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/technology/us-canadian-firefighters-will-help-local-efforts-in-bushfire-crisis/news-story/b3682d095caacf22de608e1fb123a9d9
Western Australia has sent firefighters to help. But is it enough? Who knows, but we have to try.

Consider also…

The effect of the bushfires on the farmers who were already ‘doing it tough.’ Many have ‘walked off the land,’ while others have committed suicide. The ones who remain desperately need help. Then there are caravan park owners, holiday homes… and people. People who have lost everything they possess and desperately need hope, encouragement… life. Pray for them also, please.

Since so much of the country has already burned, recovery is going to be difficult.

I read in the press that our major Telcos are waving mobile phone fees for the volunteer firemen.
https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/optus-slashes-fireys-bills-to-zero-231102844.html

Plus,banks are offering not only immediate assistance to people but also the suspension of mortgage and personal loan payments.
https://www.theadviser.com.au/breaking-news/39526-banks-offer-relief-for-bushfire-victims

You can help...

There are many honest fundraisers around, as well as some dishonest ones. If you choose to donate, check out the details.

Here is a link to one which was sent to me… Check it out
https://www.facebook.com/donate/1010958179269977/

And remember the ‘face’ of a young volunteer firefighter who shared with me photos she took at the start and end of her ‘shift’ fighting fires here in WA.
https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/volunteer-firefighters-and-their-value/

You can also donate your prayers. I see some people are praying for rain… but it’s not a sprinkle we need, it is monsoon rain, lots of it.

Thank you

Susan

 

The runaway train came down the track…

runaway train, oxygen blog

It was not actually a runaway train, it was a runaway wheelie-walker.

It was carrying my oxygen cylinder, and the nasal prongs were in my nose when the wheelie-walker decided to ignore the brakes were on and take off down the travellator slope.

The runaway train?

travellator

Well, as I said, it was not a train, it was my wheelie-walker that decided to run away.

The brakes were on, and I had used this particular travellator many times before without incident. My back was sore and with one hand I was holding onto the rail. I must have lifted the other briefly from the handle of the walker and it took off down the slope.

wheelie-walker with oxygen cylinder Paula screamed, but could do nothing because she was behind me. A one and a half metre nasal tube connected me to the cylinder on the front of the walker, and I know from experience how much it hurts when the nasal prongs are ‘yanked.’ Fortunately there was no one in front to be hit by the oxygen cylinder, but there was danger. (Other than to my nose.)

Worse than a runaway train

In any accident an unrestrained oxygen cylinder can become a ‘penetrating missile.’ As the technician who set all my equipment warned, “In an accident it will go off like a torpedo.”

torpedo

It was restrained on the wheelie-walker, but the wheelie-walker decided to make like a runaway train, dragging me by the nose. Painful.

Saved

I grabbed the nasal tube and pulled. Fortunately, the tube stayed connected to the nipple on the regulator. This stopped the walker’s flight and I was able to catch up with it, and safely exit the travellator.

A new complication in life at the end of an oxygen tube.

Lesson learned… don’t trust the brakes on the 4 wheel-walkers.

Please understand...

If you have a friend or relative who is oxygen-dependent, or chronically ill in a different life-limiting way, please don’t think they are making excuses when they say they cannot do something.

Several times I have been invited to coffee with the group in a shopping centre café and had to try to explain why I cannot join them. The shopping centre is built on a rather steep slope. Although I am assured the café is on a flat part, reaching it would mean walking, or trying to, walk up a hill at some point.

In my case I also have to ‘factor in’ how long I will be out of home so that I can work out the oxygen required, or number of batteries that will be needed for the portable oxygen concentrator.

A couple of resources

To help you understand the challenges and planning required by someone on oxygen 24/7

https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/living-at-the-end-of-an-oxygen-tube

About that runaway train… it was a song frequently played on Children’s’ Favourites radio programme.Listen here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFJ3KayeUTc

The words… https://www.flashlyrics.com/lyrics/vernon-dalhart/the-runaway-train-11

Another ‘adventure’ in life at the end of an oxygen tube.

Susan

Volunteer firefighters and their value

volunteer firefighters at a bushfire

Volunteer firefighters are a necessary part of the community here in Australia.

Why?

Because bushfires in Australia are a part of life in the summer. They can be caused by

  • a lightning strike,
  • by peoples’ carelessness,
  • or by that most despicable of creatures… the firebug.

Lightning and firebugs

The first is unpredictable, and the second – I would prefer not to say anything other than what I called those people before… the most despicable of creatures.

There is a ‘profile ‘a serial firebug here… https://www.theage.com.au/national/profile-inside-the-mind-of-a-firebug-20080113-ge6lnh.html

Our part: If we see something suspicious, call the police

approach of bushfite
(c) Christy-Lee Williams, 2019; Used by permission

Carelessness

Are you a smoker? Have you ever thrown away a cigarette and stood on it to put it out? They don’t always go out.

On a city street, chances are they will only be litter.

Annoying but they probably do not cause damage. In the bush though the smallest bit of heat can smolder and start a fire.

Unchecked it could become an inferno.

See last week’s post on how far the embers travel in advance of a fire.
Australia Burns

What about camping in the bush?

Ever done that? If it is in the period of a total fire ban, do you obey it? Do you even know about total fire bans and what they mean?

Even if there is not a total fire ban in place, if you cook where you are camping do you make sure any fire, or BBQ is completely out before you move away?

There are many ways to be careless when walking in the bush, all of us need to be aware of our actions… and the possible consequences.

Our part: Learn the rules and keep them.

By the way, the bush can be a small patch of bushland between suburbs. I remember a few years ago when a college and the college residences were under threat from a bushfire. There was a patch of bushland one side of the road, burning. The fire jumped the road and came perilously close to some of the college residences. The cause? A homeless man had been camping in the patch of bush.

Another type of carelessness

The people who do not move out of the way of emergency vehicles. Do you know there are rules about giving way to emergency vehicles – and penalties for not keeping those rules?

https://roadrules.rsc.wa.gov.au/road-rules/emergency-vehicles

Then there is another kind… but is it carelessness or selfishness? The spectators who want to watch the drama unfold.

These people put themselves in the way of the firefighters, hampering them, and in many cases putting their own lives at risk. Watch it on TV. The media, who have permission to be there, know the rules and the conditions of the fire scene. They keep those rules, or if they don’t, will not be allowed at the next fire scene.

Our part: Keep out of the way, let the people do their jobs.

It is difficult enough for them without dealing with ignorance or selfishness.

One of the volunteer firefighters

Volunteer firefighter after her shift
(c) copyright. Christy-Lee Williams, 2019; Used by permission

What if this was your daughter?

Or son, boyfriend, father, mother, girlfriend, husband or wife. They risk their lives to save the properties of others. In some instances a firefighter has lost his/her own home while off saving the property of others. It has happened here in Western Australia… and, I guess, many other places.

From an article by the wife of a volunteer firefighter…

“I wonder if the Prime Minister has considered what would happen if the volunteers just decided not to go. Or what will happen when they are all exhausted, worn down, emotionally frayed and unable to go back. Of course they will have already gone back several times after they reach this point because there is nobody else to go.”
Used with permission. Full article here… https://smarterthancrows.wordpress.com/2019/12/10/no-scott-morrison-my-husband-does-not-want-to-be-fighting-fires-this-summer/?fbclid=IwAR2r_-Nj51JlLPXbfnqAzFmoCtinFVhDYDBDFHAVOXgnSfK_Cq9NKw9_qLs

She also mentions the reality all the family and friends of the firefighters face… the firefighter might not come home.

And that happened last week.

Two volunteer firefighters killed while fighting fires

This was in New South Wales, not here in Western Australia. However, most of us mourn over the cost they paid to be volunteers.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/two-firefighters-dead-bushfires-close-in-sydney-nsw-195445715.html?utm_source=Campaign_Monitor&utm_medium=Edm&utm_campaign=DailySnap_Newsletter&utm_term=DailySnap_Newsletter&ncid=dailysnapshotau_dailysnaps_yaptekbs7gs

They were men with young children.

And if it is true that the Prime Minister said that they could choose not to go…

All I want to say is there would be little of Australia left without volunteer firefighters. These people have a sense of responsibility and community that would put many of our politicians to shame.

Fire truck and approaching bush fire
(c) copyright Christy-Lee Williams 2019; Used by permission

When I asked Christy about the time of day the pictures were taken, here is her reply…

“i went out there the first day (2.30-11.30) and again the second day (8.30 am – 8.30pm) so its both night and day”

Christy is a nineteen year old girl, she’s been doing this for four years that I remember. Her brother is also a volunteer firefighter. They follow the path set by their parents.

These are the heroes we should respect. Allow them to do their jobs… it may be YOUR home they protect next.

Bushfires are again devastating several States, and firefighters are exhausted.

Our part: Pray for them, and their families.

Susan

Note: All images in this post are copyright photographs taken by Christy-Lee Williams 2019 and are used by permission.

Australia Burns

Bushfires in Australia

The fires in Australia started in New South Wales in the Eastern States in September. (Not quite summer time.) Then it was Queensland’s turn. Other States have had fire emergencies since, but New South Wales is still burning, and there is an active on-going fire emergency in Western Australia.

In both these States temperatures continue to climb, and in Western Australia wind changes pose a dangerous hazard.

List of States and their fires can be found here… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019%E2%80%9320_Australian_bushfire_season

In Western Australia

Aside from the fact I live there, (although not near the fire zones) the adult grandchildren of a friend are volunteer firefighters, and have been involved in fighting these blazes. So, for me, praying for the firefighters has a personal face. I know these young people, although I pray for all firefighters, but particularly Christy and her brother.

When this fire started I was in hospital and saw on the news about the petrol station exploding in the blaze. Roads were blocked by the police as the nearby housing estates were too much of a risk to access.

Some of the nurses had homes in the affected areas and unable to contact husbands/family members. Consequently they were able to leave their shifts and go.

Evacuation centres were set up, police went door to door in suburbs under threat, telling people to evacuate immediately.

There is another side to the fact Australia is burning

Facts:

  • Crops have burned,
  • There are animal losses,
  • Devastation for the already stretched and depressed farmers and their families.
Price rise for bread in Australia

We might complain about the increased costs, and we have already seen some price rises. The price of bread rose by 15cents a loaf last week but we might as well get used to it because grain products will only be one aspect of the shortages.

 

Some of the images from the fires in New South Wales and Queensland showed burned, or starving animals.

A report I read about the drought in the Eastern States (prior to the fires) told of a farmer having to perform a Caesarean section surgery on his cows who were too weak to give birth.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2019-11-15/drought-affected-farmer-performing-caesarean-sections-on-cattle/11704744

I Am Fire

 This is the best ‘prepare for fire’ plan advertisement I have seen. A short version here…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=18&v=ygMJTQvmRyo&feature=emb_logo

The one I saw mentioned how far ahead of the actual blaze embers would travel and start new blazes.

The advert asks ‘Do you have a plan?” While I do not live in a bushfire zone, my home could lose power if a fire affected an electricity sub-station. Therefore, yes, I have a plan. I have to have a plan because a loss of power also means the loss of the oxygen machine that keeps me alive.

https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/living-at-the-end-of-an-oxygen-tube/

Life in Australia is more than dangerous insects and animals… and snakes etc.

An Australian summer brings with it bushfires, and it seems each year is worse than the previous one.

It looks as if the fires in California are now contained or out, but yes., I am aware Australia is not the only place where there are annual, devastating fires.

So, we would all do well to be aware of the consequences of our actions.

Susan

Choice: It’s Not as Difficult as You Think

Choice and possibilities

Sometimes we blame others for a poor choice we have made. However, if we have the full information, the responsibility for the choices we make rest squarely on our own shoulders.

As someone who never had much in the way of physical ‘riches’ when I was young, I thought God was a bit unfair taking the ‘talent’ from the man who had been afraid to do anything with it, but kept it safe. (Matt 25: 14 – 30.)

Now, I am older, I can see the spiritual meaning. I took it literally before.

The man who had been given five talents, used those talents and was praised for the result – because he used his God-given talent, made some wise choices, and in this example, increased the money.

The man who had been given two talents also made a good choice; he also made a one hundred percent return on what he had been given.

Using a talent is a choice.

We all have at least one talent. Some have the talent of encouraging others. Do we choose to encourage where appropriate.

Others are talented singers, and I know some people with beautiful voices, though they would say otherwise.

One of my neighbours has such a talent. She joined a group of other singers who go around local old peoples’ homes and sing for the residents.

There are talented musicians, and then some people find it easy to teach others.

Many of us say, “I don’t have a talent,” but I doubt it is true. Even if the talent we have does not bring us the attention of others, we all are gifted in some way.

A former neighbour did not think she had a talent. But her grown-up family all queued up for her mince pies, her cakes and pastries.

She was truly talented in baking. 

Choice of baked goods

Another person I knew was brilliant at organizing the home, and another at budgeting.

We are all different and have need of each other’s talent, if we decide to share. That, too, is a choice.

Talents are not always obvious

But each is important and we have to make the choice to use it. To decide not to use it is also a choice each of us make.

You might be surprised what you can do that would be a great help or encouragement to others.

If you need some ideas, consider some of the things mentioned in this post…https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/the-lonely-life-of-a-carer/

God bless

Susan

Why I hated Silent Night

desert scene, reminds me of Silent Night

Silent Night was my favorite carol when I was young. I could sing the first verse in French and German as well as in English.

So what changed my opinion?

One year the police knocked on the door in the early hours of Christmas Eve.

Yes, it was the news parents most dread hearing. A child was dead. A teenager actually.

Why the connection to ‘Silent Night?’

I don’t know if the TV, radio and shops played that carol more than usual, but it seemed to be played everywhere, and my husband remarked, ‘yes, it is a silent night for our son.’

After that every year, when the first carols were played in the supermarkets, or on TV, it was a reminder that an anniversary we would rather not have was approaching.

Even yet, Silent Night is a carol that will have me reach for a mute button, or if in a shop… walk the other way.

Silent Night announces the approach of Christmas

Christmas is a sad time for many people.

Regardless of whether or not you celebrate it, Christmas is one of those fixed times when the focus is on the season.

However, for anyone who has suffered the loss of someone dear to them it is a reminder of the missing person in their lives.

teenager in cap, meme

Another December death

In a little less than two weeks will be the anniversary of the death of my husband. His death was no accident, it was the result of a long battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis. Although he lost the battle, he lived longer than the usual prognosis for that condition. In fact, most people did not know he was terminally ill, and he touched many lives, encouraging them.

When we were told the end was fast approaching it was a shock. However, I didn’t want people sending me cards saying how much they loved him. Instead, I asked people to send him messages. I had them bound in a book and called it ‘Messages of Love.’ And they were, because he was well-loved.

No, December is not my favourite month, and I still dislike ‘Silent Night’ – in fact I do not like this time of year at all. It’s a month filled with lies, teaching our children to distrust us, and in a way showing them it is okay to lie.

I will see those two special people from my life again, and I miss them every month, not only December. But December is the time of the anniversaries of their deaths.

Susan

Fragrance sensitivity is a REAL condition

fragrance sensitivity cannot cope with these

Yes, fragrance sensitivity is real in spite of the anger it can arouse in someone who loves to ‘marinate’ in their favourite perfume or deodorant.

“Marinate’ in perfume was a term used by an Internet friend many years ago and since it describes what it seems like, I remembered it.

What is fragrance sensitivity?

Fragrance sensitivity can be defined as an irritation or an adverse reaction to chemicals in a perfume or other scented products such as air fresheners and cosmetics. Sensitivity to strong odors can make allergic people severely ill. People with asthma or other respiratory illness can be more susceptible to fragrance allergies compared to healthy individuals.


In the US Federal courts have ruled that an allergy to scents can be considered a disability under ADAAA (the most recent amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act). Under this law, when an employee has a severe reaction to exposure to an odor or scent their employer must act on their behalf to remedy the situation
https://www.fragrancex.com/blog/fragrance-sensitivity/

A study by Anne Steinemann of the University of Melbourne, states, “All fragranced products that I tested . . . emitted chemicals classified as hazardous air pollutants,” Steinemann said in an email. “You may not realize you’re being affected until it’s too late.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/bothered-by-fragrances-this-story-will-be-a-breath-of-fresh-air/2018/03/19/ace83e8a-26cd-11e8-b79d-f3d931db7f68_story.html

A sensory Assault

A horror to someone with fragrance sensitivity

For many people, repeated exposures can bring about a constellation of symptoms,” says Tracie DeFreitas Saab, MS, a human factors consultant with the Job Accommodation Network at West Virginia University.

Those symptoms, she tells WebMD, can range from classic “allergic” reactions, such as sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes; to headaches, inability to concentrate, and dizziness; to respiratory issues, such as breathing difficulties and wheezing; to skin reactions, such as itching, hives, and other rashes.
https://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/fragrance-allergies-a-sensory-assault#1

Let’s get personal

Why am I writing this now? People who know me, know that I am one of the 500,000 people in Australia with fragrance sensitivity.

Two things happened this week. One, the bank. I went into my bank and stopped in my tracks. It smelled like a perfume shop.

fragrance shop

Even the care worker with me was surprised at the perfume that ‘hit’ us. I had to wait on a bench in the shopping centre mall and leave the care worker to do most of my transaction.

More surprising was the fact that the staff member I spoke to when she brought something out for me to sign said that the bank had installed the fragrance as a signature for their bank.

Really?

What are we coming to that bank branches choose to smell like a perfume shop?

I opened an account at a different bank after asking if they knew of any plans to have their bank branches perfumed. The answer was disbelief.

The second incident was on a different day with a Care worker who came into my home smelling strongly of perfume. My Care Plan specifies that no one is to wear a fragranced product when in my home or taking me out.

When I asked her to leave she chose instead to make a call to her supervisor, all the while her perfume was permeating the air in my lounge room.

When she eventually did leave she was angry and told me she would not give up wearing her signature perfume as she stomped out of my home.

reaction to someone with fragrance sensitivity

Psychological issues

In Australia, last year, people with fragrance sensitivities were 2% of the population. We are vastly outnumbered by people who love fragrances. We are often ostracized, or disbelieved, therefore isolated.

By the way… I used to like wearing perfume.

As for the physical complications, the articles referenced cover much of these, and you will find links to Canadian Lung Foundation documentation in the memoir/help book I wrote called Living at the end of an Oxygen Tube. 

I do not deny your choice to wear perfume, or strong deodorant, or any of the many fragranced products. All I ask is that you respect my need to avoid these odours. Please do not try to prove me wrong and wear something fragranced and come near me. It has been done before. Please know that long after you have left, whatever you were wearing is either still lingering in my home, or affecting me. This is not an ‘affliction’ I would have chosen, it isolates me and limits where I can go… and I am already more limited than I would like to be.

having fragrance sensitivity is isolating

There is much more I could say, but there is enough here, although I would like to hear your opinion… no matter what side of the fence you are on.

Struggling this week,

Susan

Dehydrated, I am told

Dehydration of the earth

Dehydrated?
I would describe the way I am feeling as having been run over by a ‘steam roller.’

Perhaps a steam roller is before your time, I remember them.

Well, this is how one looked, approximately.

being dehydrated feels like being run over by a steam roller

Why am I talking about being dehydrated

Because I have just had a phone call from the oxygen monitoring service and dehydration is what they figure I am suffering from.

(I have to log in online every day and enter a bunch of stats. Things like my oxygen saturation, flow rate of oxygen, and a bunch of questions to be answered.)

Cause: Fluid restriction, several days of 100 f plus days, lots of appointments.

Solution: Told to drink a bit more water, go watch a movie, or at least not do very much.

(When I was in hospital recently the consultant doctor said they wanted me to be dehydrated so that I would lose the fluid.)

Just looked at what’s on TV – not worth  wasting the electricity. Maybe read a book.

Since I do not have the energy to argue I will find somewhere to sit and drink some water. Preferably in front of a fan.

Hopefully, I will re-hydrate instead of dehydrate.

I have to smile,

Susan

Bonfire Night

Bonfire

Bonfire night was celebrated when I was young in Scotland. As it took place on the 5th November the weather was not always conducive to burning wood, which at that time of year was often damp, if not wet. Therefore it entailed planning. On a suitable open space, and there were many when I was young, the ‘bones’ of the bonfire were set. Nearer the time, twigs were collected as kindling. Old clothing was also needed, and either straw or newspaper.

In those days we could also explode fireworks.

fireworks on bonfire night

There were sparklers, and penny rockets – which would be launched from empty pint glass milk bottles. Catherine wheels might be nailed to a fence, if there was one nearby. Then there were the ‘bangers.’ I think the only people who liked ‘bangers’ were the people who lit them, dropped them on the ground and watched people jump in shock.

Bonfire night was a community affair, although if your ‘community’ did not build a bonfire, you could still have your own family celebration with fireworks.

So, what is Bonfire Night

There are a number of ‘bonfire night’ celebrations or commemorations, but the one I remember as a child was also called Guy Fawkes Night. The clothes were ‘stuffed’ and someone made a ‘head’ to make an effigy called ‘the guy.’

There’s a ‘ditty’ we used to chant…

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

After that there are different verses that may be included. One goes:

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent
To blow up the King and the Parliament
Three score barrels of powder below
Poor old England to overthrow
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holler boys, holler boys, let the bells ring
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the King!

But Guy Fawkes was only one of the thirteen conspirators, and depending upon which account you read, Guy (or Guido) Fawkes was a mercenary they hired to set off the explosion.

Why did they want to blow up the British parliament?

Well, they were Roman Catholics and James 1 (or James IV of Scotland) was on the throne, a Protestant king.

The plot was centred around a group of Roman Catholic revolutionaries furious at the persecution of their faith in England.

(Lots of history and information here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes)

In short, they had hoped for better treatment from the new monarch James I after 45 years of hounding under the reign of Elizabeth I, and decided on drastic measures when things did not improve under his reign.

Warwickshire-born Catholic Robert Catesby and his friends planned kill the King, his ministers and scores of nobles by blowing up the Palace of Westminster during the State Opening of Parliament on November 5, 1605.

The plotters rented a house nearby and managed to smuggle 36 barrels of gunpowder – around 2.5 tons – into a cellar under the palace ready to blow it sky high.

The explosives were discovered with hours to spare after an anonymous tip-off warning one peer to stay away.

To this day the cellars under the Houses of Parliament are ceremonially searched before the annual State Opening.

Crispijn van de Passe the Elder [Public domain]

Although some would say Guy Fawkes was the ‘fall guy’ for the group, he is the one who is (or was) burnt in effigy on bonfires throughout Britain on the 5th November.

That is the Bonfire Night tradition I remember.

Execution of the plotters…

Had nothing to do with bonfires, or burning at the stake. The sentence was that they be hung, drawn and quartered. (Penalty for high treason in those days.)

“To be hanged, drawn and quartered was a punishment in England used for men found guilty of high treason. The full punishment was made up of the following – the victim was: Dragged, usually by a horse, on a wooden frame to the place where he was to be publicly put to death. This is one possible meaning of drawn.”
https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanged,_drawn_and_quartered

Tradition

Well, tradition very rarely is truth. Sometimes there is a kernel of truth somewhere, but the tradition of burning a ‘guy’ on a bonfire because Guy Fawkes was blamed for something thirteen conspirators did is stretching the imagination.

But that’s tradition for you. It doesn’t need to make sense, you ‘do’ it because you always have.

The first in the tradition series started last week with Tammuz, but it only introduced it, didn’t explain it. Maybe next week.

Have a wonderful week,

Susan