Monday, November 07, 2005

Nunchuks So Could Be a Real Instrument

While in general we steer clear from "Americans-Are-From-Mars-Limeys-Are-From-Neon-Hued-Sex-Planet" observations, there is one holiday from the old country we miss a little. Not the Queen's birthday, nor the anniversary of Tranfalgar, both in their own way useful (the old biddy's advancing age, the opportunity to rile the French), but hardly essential.

No, we reference bonfire night, and a spectacularly sordid affair it is too. Cultural observers far smarter than we are apt to claim that American enthusiasm for Halloween relative to the British is in some way proof of a side to the american character both darker and more imaginative.

Lost in the exegesis is the fact that the Brits by and large don't care, because they have a much better holiday exactly a week later. This one does not involve dressing up, and instead involves the outdoors and lots of explosions. It is largely secular, and almost republican, although the holiday's origins lie in both religious and monarchical strife.

You're not going to get a better explanation of the day than fafblog. Alright, Wikipedia'll do. But really all you need to know is that a group of disgruntled, but probably genuinely aggrieved, Catholics tried to blow up not just the King, but all of parliament.

They failed, but succeeded near as dammit at establishing anti-Catholicism as official part of English public life for the next couple of hundred years. It's one reason why there's a parade of worthless "constitutional historians" onto the news whenever Tony Blair takes mass with his missus. This is not entirely unfounded. The pope was apparently aware of what was going on, and if not him, then at least his servants the Jesuits.

Still, in general, one's enthusiasm for bonfire night increases the further north one gets. Southerners are apt to downplay the whole sordid affair, while northerners, often starved for light and entertainment, embrace the explosions with gusto. Meanwhile, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, they unleash a day of hate against the Pope, Catholics, and anyone else they think might get in the way of being dour and intolerant.

We're sad we missed the expensive recent ITV re-enactment. This is the sort of public service exploding to which our children need more exposure. But we're sure that Ian Paisley Tivo'd it. Oh yes.

Housekeeping. Dear nolandgrab. Please do not ever ever ever link to Russ Smith's columns in the NY Press. The man is not your friend, even if he does hate the Times.

Dear Todd Barry, you were very droll at Southpaw last night. As a reward, we will simply say, on the internet, that your pants were too tight. There. Happy?


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