Bonfire of the soul

Mask, after Guy Fawkes, one of a group of Catholics who plotted to blow up Parliament in 1605. He was caught, tortured and executed. Today, he has become an icon of protest worldwide, most famously adopted by the Occupy Movement.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot…

I can hear the pock-pock of fireworks outside my window. It’s that time of year again, when  people fire rockets from their back gardens (yes, it’s legal in the UK), terrifying the neighbourhood dogs. It’s Guy Fawke’s night – the night Brits remember the failed bomb attack on Parliament in 1605 by a cohort of Catholics, one of whom was Guido Fawkes.

Traditionally, people would also create ‘guys’ or effigies, stuffing old clothes with straw or newspapers. The guys would then be burned in a bonfire on the 5th, with children chanting such uplifting songs as:

Rumour, rumour, pump and derry,
Prick his heart and burn his body,
And send his soul to Purgatory.

(Can’t you see their plump little faces now? Circling the fire, tremulous voices rising at the end of each verse. Stirring.)

On Sunday, it was Deepavali or Diwali – the Hindu festival of light – so there were fireworks careening across the skies then, too. For some, it was the spiritual new year, the light suggesting new beginnings.

There’s something about the juxtaposition of these two celebrations – one a sacrificial rite, the other marking the triumph of good  over evil. I’m seeing omens in everything these days, so I can’t help but glimpse my own baggage in the shape of a guy, dissolving in a sea of fire. I think I’m finally coming round to the realisation that it’s time for me to move on.

When I look at the past – at Ben and me and all the things we did together – I can still smile, because we were happy once and it was good. There are things I regret, that I wish I’d done differently, but I accept that they are lost now. Our lives are built from these small tragedies – the missed moments that stretch into gross misapprehensions. There was a lot of tragedy in our relationship, along with genuine affection.

But it’s time to leave all that behind. Whatever comes next, it can’t be more of the same. We’ve been in this rut for months, bordering on years. I don’t see it changing. It’s time to focus on Rosie and me (like so many of you wise followers have advised). Time to clean out the corners, open the blinds…. and let the light in.

***

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