As the world awaits the first report from speed king Donald Campbell’s hologram in 1844 as he seeks to return Florence Nightingale to the path we are all familiar with her treading, it has emerged that The History Maintenance Commission in New York City have received shocking news to the effect that Guy Fawkes, the man whose effigy has sat upon a hundred billion bonfires, at a very conservative estimate, since 1605, could be offered a Fire Safety Officer role with Westminster City Council that will severely compromise his involvement as fuse lighter in the infamous Gunpowder Plot.
As Hysterical News Agency Correspondent Sam Vellasquez of Madrid writes, the HMC are, as this article is being composed, running Fawkes’ details through the Omphalos, the computer programme at their HQ in Madison Avenue, to assess the scale of this occurrence and its impact upon history if it is allowed to continue unabated. Then, once the findings are at their disposal the decision can then be made as to whether to intervene to restore the course of history as we know it. Early indications I can reveal, suggest that Professor Delphi and his staff at the History Maintenance Commission are already preparing to act to prevent Guy Fawkes from accepting the role.
Here follows what we know of Guy Fawkes:
On about 13 April Guy Fawkes is born in York, England. His parents Edward and Edith complain about the midwife’s poor time-keeping, her unkempt, dirty appearance and lack of empathy for the plight of Mrs Fawkes in her labour. They complain to all who will listen and to everyone in authority. The midwife retorts with, ‘It was just another kid being born. No need for all the bloody fireworks.’
At an early age Guy Fawkes is told to keep away from bonfires.
Guy attends his first day at St.Peter’s School in York. He doesn’t make a great impression on his fellow pupils or the staff as he is surly and unfriendly. Indeed, the Headmaster ends up giving him a rocket.
After a jewellery theft near York Minster the miscreants bring their haul to Guy Fawkes. He is baffled and remains so when the criminal deviants explain that for some reason they assumed he was associated with sparklers.
Guy’s father dies. His mother later marries a Catholic who influences Guy with his religious beliefs. Some of Fawkes’ relatives start hiding priests so that they can escape persecution in Elizabethan England. Due to his education, Guy is enlisted to play the most important part in the operation…closing his eyes and counting to one hundred.
Guy leaves school and sets up a business selling masks to fellow teenagers to conceal their spots and other hideous late-Tudor skin blemishes and complaints. To save money Fawkes models the mask on his own face. Unfortunately, he receives complaints from customers who say that the masks certainly gave them more confidence and enabled them to shine in life where otherwise they would’ve hidden their light under a bushel. But the extra illumination had usually been supplied by way of flames licking their arses from having found themselves on the summit of a bonfire. Another teenage customer tells of how he tripped in Market Street, Huddersfield, knocking himself spark out while wearing the mask and when he recovered consciousness a couple of hours later was dismayed to discover that his plight had been totally ignored as no help had been summoned or administered. This distressing situation had been somewhat tempered by the fact that he had collected £18 3/ 2d in his dislodged headwear more than he had earned in the previous four years.
Guy sells the estate he inherited from his father and uses the proceeds to travel on the continent as a Catholic mercenary. Had he waited a week The Jesuit Times were offering the same prize to the winner of their celebrity crossword competition.
Guy fights on the side of Catholic Spain against the New Dutch Republic in the Eighty Years War. He then fights for France. He starts to complain about the French King Henry IV and other Gallic leaders. When the monarch gets to hear of this he exclaims, ‘Guy Fawkes, what does he know about sitting in a hotseat?’
Guy changes his name to Guido Fawkes by Deed Poll. But then shortens it to Guido Fawkes.
He travels to Spain to enlist support for a Catholic rebellion in England. However, Philip III of Spain mishears him and thinks he wants finance to cauterize a bunyon in England. The King advises him to simply tell the authorities there that he is a practicing Catholic conspirator and they will remove quite a few of his appendages by cauterization for free.
Guido Fawkes returns to England and becomes involved with a group of Catholics, led by Robert Catesby, who plan to assassinate the new Protestant King James I.
The conspirators gain access to a room adjacent to The House of Lords in London belonging to John Whynniard, Keeper of the King’s Wardrobe. Fawkes is installed as caretaker and uses the name John Johnson. He begins, with the other plotters, to dig a tunnel beneath Whynniard’s house towards the House of Lords. Deviously, they are able to conceal the entrance to the tunnel by placing the King’s Wardrobe over the top of it.
By July 20th the conspirators have placed 36 barrels of gunpowder in the room.
On July 28th the threat of plague delays the opening of parliament until November 5th. This is bad news for Fawkes and his Catholic rebels because the Sell By Date for the gunpowder is August 20th, so they consider returning it all for a refund before it goes off. Catesby and Fawkes restore calm. They keep the gunpowder in place ready for its deployment on November 5th.
In October Fawkes is given the role of guarding the gunpowder in the days leading up to the assassination attempt and then lighting the fuse on the day itself and then making haste across the River Thames before it blows. Guy proposes a better idea that he is already on the other side of The Thames but ignites an extremely long fuse from there.
On October 26th, the Catholic Lord Monteagle receives a letter warning him in couched language that it might be advisable to ‘staye away from Parliemente, staye on your sofa in a place of safti for they shall receive a terrible blowe’ (the couched bit was the reference to the sofa). Originally it was treated as a hoax. However, when John Whynniard asks for the next month’s rent in advance on October 31st and the conspirator Thomas Perry demands an 80% rebate because the room will be in a desperate state of repair from November 5th with parts scattered to all points of the compass, suspicions are raised.
The letter and the bizarre response to Whynniard’s demand for the rent are presented to King James I (VI of Scotland). He orders the room to be searched. In the early hours of November 5th Guy Fawkes is discovered in position with all the barrels of gunpowder.
Fawkes originally gives his name, upon capture, as John Johnson. When asked what he is doing with so much gunpowder he replies ‘To blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains.’ Sir Thomas Knyvet, his captor, tells him that he needn’t have gone to such trouble as telling a Scotsman that there was 20% off Haggis at McDuffs in Prince’s Street, Edinburgh usually has the same effect.
November 6th – King James, although admiring his resolve, orders John Johnson to be tortured in The Tower of London.
November 7th – Fawkes reveals his true identity on the rack (it has to be remembered that this was in the days long before the ease of photo ID we have today).
November 8th – Fawkes gives up the names of all his fellow conspirators on the rack.
November 9th – Fawkes implicates the Pope on the rack.
November 10th – Fawkes is just about to reveal what will happen in Shakespeare’s latest production at Christmas when it is decided to remove him from the rack as his torturers are looking forward to watching it over the festive period.
On 27th January the Guy Fawkes Trial begins. He pleads Not Gullty. The judge rules as inadmissible the defence’s contention that Guy’s confession was obtained by his ‘Sinews being stretched upon the rack’. But the jury probably guess this is the case anyway because when he was taken into custody his height is recorded as being 5 foot 3 inches and it is now evident that he is 13 foot 7.
The jury find all the defendants in the plot gullty. The judge orders that Guy Fawkes and all the other plotters, be drawn backwards to his death by a horse with his head just above the ground (this might be 16th century phraseology for a pony as their heads are closer to the ground than horses) then he would be partially hung and half dead his genitals would be cut off and burnt before his very eyes and then his bowels and heart removed and burnt (no consideration to be given to whether he was on thd donor register whatsoever). He would then be decapitated and the dismembered parts of his body displayed so that they became ‘prey for the fowls of the air’. Guy Fawkes visibly wilts as sentenced is passed but his defence team try to bolster him by saying that it wouldn’t get as far as the birds pecking his dismembered parts as by the time it reaches that stage they will have lodged an appeal.
On 31st January Fawkes is executed in the prescribed fashion.
Weeks later Parliament designates each November 5th as a national day of thanksgiving. People celebrate with bonfires, fireworks and an effigy of Guy Fawkes or The Pope is used to top the fire. However, his Holiness in Vatican City soon managed to cleverly prevent this indignity by copyrighting his image.
It also becomes a custom for children to make Guy Fawkes effigies and charge people a penny to recompense them for their efforts. The word ‘Guy’ meaning a strange looking person originated from this. Although it is now used to mean a man in general or in the plural a group of men, men and women, or women.
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