As a kid, growing up in south London in the sixties, around this time of year I often balanced the preference of being hanged, drawn and quartered with that of root canal treatment.
Our firework displays, in early November, would be held near the garages at the back of our Balham flats; the oo-ing and ah-ing would be interspersed with offerings of home-made toffee from a “responsible” adult who clearly moonlighted as the local dental nurse.
Guy Fawkes obviously never witnessed a firework display and I wonder whether he’d have been proud of his eponymous day being celebrated by people succeeding where he spectacularly failed on that fateful November evening in 1605?
Toffee was introduced into Western diets around the turn of the 19th Century, just before the time the cost of dental crowns surged.
1868 was the year of the last public execution in this country and coincided with the advent of Starbucks and Pret, thus occupying people during their lunch breaks in the absence of a hanging.
So, when you’re next in line for your convenience lunch, spare a thought for the man who inspired sparklers, bangers and Roman Candles and think: “it could be worse, the avocados might have run out, but at least I’ve not been chopped into four pieces and my penis is still intact!”
Next time you’re ordering rocket, make sure there’s no blue touch paper attached!


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