Tonight is Guy Fawkes Night, an evening that always draws a wry smile followed by the sound of me pounding my head against the wall as yet another expat asks the question “Why don’t the Spanish celebrate Bonfire Night?”
I’ve stopped trying to explain that November 5 and all that isn’t about fireworks and burning a dummy, but is pretty much a celebration of the brutal crushing of an act of rebellion by Catholic nobilty in England, who were banned from practising their religion. The celebration of torture, mutilation and burning at the stake of Catholics isn’t big in Spain. And they were already ahead of the game in that respect after the horrors of the Inquisition…
Remembrance Sunday also takes place this Sunday. It is always an occasion that makes me stop for a moment and think of those who gave their lives for our freedom and continue to do so. While in the UK it seems to be a hit and miss affair, I remember being in a small town in Belgium on one Remembrance Sunday when the entire place fell silent at the eleveth hour.
It was about this time of year that I got my strangest ever request. As a journalist, public relations fixer and sometime-event organiser, I get asked lots of things. But never as challenging as the Brit hotel owner when I was living up near Antequera who wanted me to organise a fly past by a Spitfire to mark the event. I had to (tactfully) point out that
a) There were no Spitfires located in Spain
b) Civil aviation rules would probably forbid a low level pass by a fighter aircraft
c) The Spanish wouldn’t get it. They’d already had their war by 1939…