Tag: celebrating failure

An Elimination Thought Experiment, Courtesy of Guy Fawkes


Welcome to that most British of holidays–Bonfire Night–Guy Fawkes Night–the Fifth of November. The holiday that, when I was a kid, was exponentially bigger than Halloween, as for a few days before, children would push around a wheelbarrow laden with a straw-stuffed effigy of Guido Fawkes, usually dressed in their father’s cast-offs or scrapings from the bottom of the charity clothes-barrel, shouting “penny for the guy!” collecting their small change, buying a few fireworks with it, and then, dizzy with excitement, setting a bonfire ablaze, throwing the “traitor” onto it and watching him crackle and dance, before setting off their Roman candles, Catherine wheels, and sparklers in a gluttony and excess of high spirits.

Why do I call it the most British of holidays? Because, in the best tradition of my countrymen and our spirit of inestimably fair play, it celebrates the underdog. The failure. The one who couldn’t. The one who didn’t. The one who wasn’t even really the leader of the plot, just an also-ran who got caught in the crossfire. We’re really serious about that sort of thing. As with so many failures, human and otherwise, we embrace Guy Fawkes and clutch him to our bosoms, refusing to let go. We write books about him.  We make television programs about him. We love him. (Stay tuned. Wouldn’t surprise me if, in another 413 years, the UK will be celebrating “Brexit Night” every June 23, carting around dummies dressed like Theresa May (kitten heels and all), and setting fire to them with the most ecologically-sound fossil-fuel alternatives they can find, to celebrate the day that Britain voted to leave the EU, and then, you know, didn’t.)