I’ve learned a lot about Mexico and the country’s history over the last five and a half years. But it’s not a one way conversation. People want to know about my own country and our history, particularly when festivals and celebrations are in the air.
When is Independence Day in Britain, I’m asked. Ummm…we don’t have one. We tended to grant independence rather than gain it. Revolution Day? No, I’m afraid not. We’re far too polite to revolt. Saints days? No, we put those in the bin a long time ago. Day of the Dead? No, nor Halloween. We just put them in the ground, or slide them into the furnace and have a beer. Deed done. Christmas? Oh yes, we have Christmas! The baby Jesus? Goodness me no! It’s all for Father Christmas!
Then I remember, we do have one annual celebration. Should I even mention it though? Well every 5th November we remember a Catholic plot to assassinate the king and his government. Don’t worry, I tell them. We caught them, tortured them, executed them in the most painful way known to man at the time, and celebrate it with bonfires, effigies of Guy Fawkes and fireworks.
And so Catholicism, as a serious rival to the new Protestantism, was extinguished, and those loyal to the Vatican sidelined, discriminated against and excluded from English society. The Protestants are often referred to as Christians, as if an entirely separate religion, akin to chalk and cheese. I point out that they could also be referred to as Reformed Catholics. And that they needn’t worry about discrimination on my part. I think they’re all equally nuts!
But back to the Gunpowder Plot. It was for a long time debated whether the plot could have worked. Whether or not the explosives would have gone off. If the king and parliament could have been killed. A few years ago, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the plot, Top Gear’s Richard Hammond set out to discover what would have happened. The key part, the explosion, is in the video below.