Snapshot | Great Britain

Setting fire to the bad guys

Remember, remember the fifth of November! Writer Will Self on why effigies of Guy Fawkes and contemporary villains go up in flames all across the UK

When I was growing up in London, you would often see kids standing on street corners in the winter with a “Penny for the Guy” sign. They were collecting money for a homemade Guy Fawkes figure, which was to be burned in a bonfire on November 5 to commemorate the arrest of Guy Fawkes, the Catholic officer who failed in an explosive assassination attempt on the English Parliament in 1605.

Today, “Guy Fawkes Night” is still celebrated with fireworks and the burning of effigies. While the celebration used to be an anti-Catholic ceremony, today many current day villains also go up in flames. This year, these will include some controversial contemporary figures like Vladimir Putin and Boris Johnson.