Is Guy Fawkes Back?

London, Reading & Writing, The Arts

After years of being swamped by bland colour-branded shopping-friendly Halloween, could Guy Fawkes night possibly be making a comeback?

The recent protests against the city bankers have seen a return of Guy Fawkes masks, but specifically, the masks sported by the villain/ hero of Alan Moore’s graphic novel ‘V For Vendetta’. Which is interesting, because David lloyd’s Guy Fawkes face is based on the traditional design of the papier mache masks that used to be on sale when I was a kid.

The next step would be to see the return of ‘Penny For The Guy’ – although I guess 20p would be the least you could get away with without being knifed for your mobile.

9 comments on “Is Guy Fawkes Back?”

  1. Sparro says:

    How many kids these days would know, intuitively, how to construct a guy? Even in the dwindling days of guy-dom, which I would say was the 1970s, the attempts at extracting money with modest menace by the use of a pillow-case and a piece of cardboard to replicate Mr Fawkes were pretty risible. Material creativity in three dimensions, I fear, is a lost art.

  2. Cat Eldridge says:

    Your photo isn’t of the anti Wall Street protesters but instead is clearly a protest against Scientology which makes the use of Guy Fawkes makes a very strange thing.

    I also suspect the film made of the graphic novel is why the masks are popular among protesters as you can buy the film prop masks in myriad locations to this day.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    Sparro – surely a Guy is built the way you’d do a scarecrow? Old clothes, something to stuff it with (preferably readily flamable), something to indicate a 17th century hat and an attempt at the face with moustache and van Dyke beard. Since hay isn’t readily available in the city I wonder what you’d use for stuffing, more old clothes? They used to spread straw or hay in the street outside the home of sick people (wealthy sick people, I’d guess)to reduce the noise. Wonder what you could do now that the noise is above the street and in the engines of the traffic.

  4. Helen Martin says:

    Sparro – surely a Guy is built the way you’d do a scarecrow? Old clothes, something to stuff it with (preferably readily flammable), something to indicate a 17th century hat and an attempt at the face with moustache and van Dyke beard. Since hay isn’t readily available in the city I wonder what you’d use for stuffing, more old clothes? They used to spread straw or hay in the street outside the home of sick people (wealthy sick people, I’d guess)to reduce the noise. Wonder what you could do now that the noise is above the street and in the engines of the traffic.

  5. Sparro says:

    “surely a Guy is built the way you’d do a scarecrow?”
    There are many ways to approach guy-building, Helen, and your approach is perfectly reasonable and logical. But my point was that kids today do not seem to have so much of a grasp on building things from found objects and imbuing them with a zap each of creativity and wit. Everything now has to be instantly and virtually created, via the touch of a button. If it it isn’t possible to get a ‘Guy-App’ on your mobile digital whatsit, then Guys are probably things of the past.
    Also, I suspect Health & Safety would make such things difficult today; a Guy in the street is a potential trip-hazard, you probably need a license to stuff old coats with straw, and think of the disease potential. The council would have to issue parents with a Permit to Guy’, and be made aware of the dangers of poking people’s eyes out, etc.
    Or am I being too cynical?

  6. Helen Martin says:

    No, unfortunately. The solution some municipalities might come up with would be a symbolic guy, printed on 8 1/2 by 14 paper with which you would knock on doors. At a prescribed time children would bring their guys and the money collected to a park where a bonfire with a proper guy would be lit and the kiddies would have a mild feast of fire roasted potatoes (cooked by adults, of course) and whatever is locally favoured. The money would be turned in with half going to UNICEF, a pound going to the municipality and anything remaining being returned to the child. The evening to end at 9pm with fireworks – lit by licensed adults.

  7. Alan Morgan says:

    Hogwash! Nonsense! A little less Arthur in your diets, all. It might be received wisdom that kids cannot build anything, make anything else and live on dishes of computer generated make-believe but this is just the lazy jealously of people (myself included) who couldn’t hit our youth with a very sharp dart at three paces. I can’t remember ever having made a penny-for-the-guy when I was a sprout, and I’m in my forties. Even then it was something out of the Beano. My kids (and those locally) make scarecrows each spring for the allotment competition, easter bonnets, costumes, all sorts. They draw, paint and make. Doubtless it is true that many kids spend too long in front of the tele, it was ever so too thirty years ago.

    Maybe your childhoods were different. Perhaps you sailed with posh kids on the Swallow. Or salvaged machine guns with Chas McGill. Or foiled burglaries and were rewarded with a slap-up feast. I didn’t. I read about such things though.

  8. Helen Martin says:

    And so did I. I can remember one Halloween when someone invited the kids to a bonfire, probably in an ’empty lot’. The city was growing hodge podge and there were a lot of empty lots. We finished our trick or treating and brought our loot bags to the fire area where the organizing parent had been roasting potatoes in the coals he’d created on the edge of the freshly lit fire. We stood around burning our fingers on the hot potatoes until we could eat them and then the fathers lit off the collection of fireworks they’d made. The community Association took it over afterwards and it was just fireworks set off by the firemen from the local hall. I’m betting that that organizing parent was a Brit; it was 1949 or ’50 and we had British vets and British wives of Canadian vets. The city of Nanaimo celebrated Guy Fawkes instead of H. until fairly recently.
    News Flash: four preteen boys spotted with firecrackers across the street, trying to get them to explode under the street grating. They were standing up against the stone wall where the parents couldn’t see them, but in full view from our front window.

  9. simon barber says:

    We used to get my mate’s little brother to dress up and sit in a push chair for a cut of the proceeds….that way he could scream at the tightwads who didn’t cough up….suppose that would be against all sorts of rules now.

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