“Remember, remember the 5th of November,

Gunpowder, Treason and plot. I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot!”  So goes the children’s rhyme commemorating the foiling of Guy Fawkes’s plot to blow up British Parliament in 1605. As you can imagine, it was a big deal in England and celebrations started a lot of traditions, especially bonfires at which Guy Fawkes and the Pope (or villain of the moment) were burned in effigy.


Down in Devon, where my in-laws live, they not only celebrate with a huge bonfire, but also by piling tar barrels onto a sledge, setting them on fire, and dragging them burning through town. Time was when they simply lit the barrels at the top of one the many hills in the village and sent them careening down, but parked cars and other fire hazards eventually called for the sledge modification.

tar barrels2

The tar barrel carnival is this weekend and son #2 will be there working with a team of photographers and filmmakers (including his step-granddad) to capture the conflagration. Exciting as Hatherleigh’s tar barrels look, they have nothing on nearby Ottery St. Mary’s tar barrel tradition. Follow this link and watch the short documentary (be sure to watch the whole thing). It’s priceless.


Can you imagine anyone doing that here? Call the fire department! Call social services! Oh, my. Let this be a lesson for us this Saturday. Traditions are important to maintain. It is also important to let our kids test themselves. And, yes, a certain amount of risk is fine. Let us also respond to terrorism with the same united will and assurance that the English did in 1605.

Vive la France!