Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November

Early on Friday morning I was getting ready for work when I heard a commotion in the kitchen; our house cat Sammy had somehow managed to pull a bird through a slightly open window. The bird was duly dropped on the bed and as it hadn’t moved I thought Sammy had killed it so I got the shock of my life when as I approached the scene it suddenly flew off!  15 minutes of what must have been pure slapstick ensued as I chased a very excited cat and a very frightened bird around the house.  I don’t know whether Sammy, the bird or I made more noise (I cursed a lot) but the bird certainly made the most mess; it was nervous enough to void its bowels several times, including over me!  Eventually, with Sammy locked into the bedroom I managed to coax the bird through an open window and it flew away, seemingly unhurt minus a number of feathers and the contents of its stomach.

The blue jay that Sammy presented to me as a present inside our house!
The blue jay that Sammy presented to me as a present inside our house!

The eventful start to my Halloween is in many ways a metaphor for life as an expat; it’s easy to be constantly surprised by things when everything is new to you.  The other day I mentioned to my wife that it was nearly Bonfire Night and she told me that fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts which came as another surprise. I know that fireworks can be dangerous but with the way that people drive here they should be the least of the authorities concerns!  Most of my readers are not from the UK so in case you are not familiar with Bonfire Night it commemorates the failure of the Catholic attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill King James in 1605. Guy Fawkes was discovered guarding a massive stash of gunpowder and promptly tortured. I know that this makes Bonfire Night sound like a sectarian hate ritual (and initially it was) but over the centuries it has become a great family night rather than a chance to get one over on a different church. It usually consists of firework displays and bonfires and is not commercialised like Halloween. I love Bonfire Night, where you can see fireworks in every direction and the air is full of wood smoke.  Alas I will have to remember, remember the 5th of November without the aid of pyrotechnics!

Another nice surprise that I had this weekend was our discovery of another British food store in Massachusetts. These stores nearly always have bullshit brands in stock with names like “Posh Totty” and “Jolly Good” with pictures of red buses or cottages on the front to convince Americans that they are indeed legitimately British products.  There are usually, however, genuine British food products that I miss from home too and we walked away from this shop with tea, chocolate and shortbread biscuits. This store even had British advent calendars although at the price they charged it would have been cheaper to buy 25 chocolate bars and eat one every day from the 1st to Christmas Day! On the way home we stopped off at a wholesale store called BJ’s (no laughing at the back) and found that they had huge jars of Quality Street for $15. Quality Street (along with Roses) are traditional chocolates to have in the house over Christmas so I was pretty happy with that discovery.

Inside the British store
Inside the British store

November looks to be a pretty good month; I have my first Thanksgiving to look forward to and I’m excited that Johnny Marr (formerly of the Smiths and one of the greatest guitarists alive) is playing Boston.  Have a great weekend everyone!

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6 thoughts on “Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November

  1. Does the Quality Street come in a hexagonal tin? That would be the tits.

    It’s funny, every now and again something so British appears on the shelves at the supermarket (which seems to have some kind of deal with Waitrose of all places…I know). The other day I saw a jar of Bovril for sale. I have no idea who thought that a warming beef based drink would be a good sell in the tropics but there you go.

    We also have a large number of ‘British’ products for sale for the rich and ill-informed which I have never heard of before. Always makes me chuckle.

    Cheers 🙂

    1. Sadly it was in plastic for not a tin. They had tins of Roses at the import store for 20 quid, at that price I can wait.

      Now you’ve made me crave Bovril because it is the very opposite of the tropics here; it’s snowing outside!

  2. I’ll be in Cornwall for the 5th, hopefully watching some fireworks on the River. It always gets me in the mood for Christmas, being the last celebration of the year before Christmas Day so I always look forward to it.

    By the way, that popular poem “Remember, Remember the 5th of November” has this very politically incorrect final verse:

    A penny loaf to feed ol’ Pope
    A farthing cheese to choke him
    A pint of beer to rinse it down
    A faggot of sticks to burn him
    Burn him in a tub of tar
    Burn him like a blazing star
    Burn his body from his head
    Then we’ll say ol’ Pope is dead.
    Hip hip hooray!
    Hip hip hooray!

    and I produce the poem in its entirety here. I’ll probably do an updated post of this in a couple of days so the link may disappear before the 5th. http://sweattearsanddigitalink.com/2011/11/05/bonfire-night/

  3. Well, it may be illegal to shoot off fireworks, but don’t be surprised if you hear them anyway. 😉 It’s illegal here too, and yet people go to other states and smuggle them in. The end result is having giant rockets blow up over your house every holiday, your neighbours thankfully not blowing you or themselves up every year, or people actually dying because they can’t hear when a person is shooting off a gun to party (also very illegal) over the fireworks.

    1. You make a good point there; right across the border in NH where fireworks are legal there are firework stores and they must exist so that MA residents can illicitly bring them back! I did hear quite a lot around July 4.

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