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The Guy on top of the Bonfire

November 5th is Guy Fawkes day in England;  the anniversary of the day in 1605 when a band of men, including one named Guy Fawkes, tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament.  Luckily for that building, and for the English government, he was stopped before he could do the deed.  Bonfires were lit in London that night to celebrate the foiling of the plot.

Courtesy of Geoff Charles Collection, National Library of Wales

Courtesy of Geoff Charles Collection, National Library of Wales

When my mother was a girl, boys in her village would make a “guy”–a scarecrow-like figure made of old clothes and stuffed with hay, and wheel him about, asking passersby for a “penny for the guy.”  They would use the money to buy fireworks.  There were always massive bonfires on Guy Fawkes day, in which garden rubbish would be burnt, with the Guy on top. A well-known rhyme went, “Please to remember the Fifth of November/Gunpowder, treason and plot/I see no reason why gunpowder, treason/Should ever be forgot.”

On my Uncle Frank’s farm, two years ago during my Year of Living Englishly, there were the usual plans to have a bonfire, but no one seemed particularly energetic about making a guy, so this job fell to me.

I went around looking for old clothes to be donated to the funeral pyre of the guy, and was given an outgrown pair of trousers and a top. I spent a good hour sewing top to bottom so the Guy wouldn’t fall apart.  Uncle Frank then handed me an old jacket that had been hanging up in the barn for at least, by my reckoning, twenty years.  It was covered with spiderwebs, which I tried to ignore, and had multiple moth-holes.  It was, in a word, perfect.

Meg, a Halloween-costumed Melissa, and a friend help stuff the Guy in the hay barn.

The headless Guy

The Guy with his crowning glory: a pumpkin head (usually the Guy’s head is made from a piece of sacking).

The Guy’s final minutes.

At the nearby school that my younger daughter attended as a five-year-old in the “Infants’ class,” they were busy making Bonfire Toffee.

Courtesy of kiwidutch–Courtesy of kiwidutch.

Here’s the recipe:

Year 5′s Special Bonfire Toffee

Made with only the best ingredients!

12 oz sugar

4 oz best butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

3 fluid oz water

A good pinch of cream of tartar, dissolved in a little water

1.  Grease a baking tray

2.  Choose a large heavy based saucepan

3.  Put all the ingredients in the pan together

4.  When melted and starting to bubble put in the C of T dissolved in a little water

5.  Once bubbling do not stir as this lowers the temperature

6.  After a few minutes the mixture starts to thicken

7.  When it becomes quite thick and ‘rolling’ test a little of the mixture in a glass of cold water.  If it sets quickly and ‘clinks’ against the side of the glass–it is ready.

Pour into the greased baking tray.  Leave it to set.  When quite told turn out, smash into mouth-size pieces and enjoy!

Please note:  Crich Carr Toffee Making Company takes no responsibility for any damage to teeth caused by eating our product!

To my family and friends in England, Happy Guy Fawkes Day!