Friday, November 05, 2010

Remember, Remember...; or, A Memory.

So . . . Happy Guy Fawkes Day! I actually remembered it before midnight this year. Actually, I remembered it before three in the afternoon, which I think is making great progress.

All together now:

Remember, remember,
The fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot;
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Yeah, I have a confession.

I don't really actually care about Guy Fawkes Day. Not like I care about other not-really holidays, like International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

I just like to point it out every year because it reminds me of the first time I heard of Guy Fawkes Day.

Which wasn't on Guy Fawkes Day. At least, I don't think it was. At any rate, it might have been, but if it was, I didn't know it at the time and it was purely coincidental and actually has NOTHING to do with the story I am trying to tell but keep getting sidetracked from telling.


Do you remember book orders in elementary school? (YES THIS IS IMPORTANT. I am laying a foundation here, like Prof. Goldsmith would want me to do.)

(We just watched an episode of Psych in which he was in court and NO FOUNDATION was laid for anything whatsoever but the judge for some reason kept allowing stuff. That's what made me think of foundation laying. Sorry. Tangent over.)

I loved book orders. I loved getting those fliers made out of the flimsy newsprint type paper with the pictures and the blurbs and the little red-ribbon labels for the Newberry winners. I loved turning to the last page and reading down the full list of titles and then trying to find each of them in the flier, like a little game of hide and seek.

I also loved filling out the order form (Confession [and apology for yet another tangent]: I like filling out forms. Especially when it's a little stack of forms on top of each other, making it all cushiony when I fill in the blanks with a black ball-point pen. Yeah, I know I'm odd.) and cutting it out and putting it in a little envelope with the money for my order (although I always wished that it didn't ruin the rest of the flier; it was harder to re-read later if some of the entries from the other side of the form were half-cut-out and missing) (see above comment re: I know I'm odd).

Most of all I loved the day that the actual books from book orders came and the parent volunteer in charge of coordinating book orders for that year would come hand out the stacks of books and put them on the desks of their respective order-ers. And then the new book smell coming from the stack, and the anticipation. Which book would I read first? What new words and stories would I discover in these pages? Would I be able to avoid getting any papercuts from this stack of awesome on my desk?

One time I ordered a collection of short stories by Agatha Christie featuring a funny little Belgian detective. The book was called Murder in the Mews, had an oh-so-pretty cream-and-purple-and-dark-green cover with an attractive art deco design with the silhouette in red of a man with a bowler hat and a cane, and was my first introduction to M. Hercule Poirot. (I shortly thereafter made the connection that this detective was also on TV on Masterpiece Mystery. Gotta love PBS.)

I pretty much devoured the book but my favorite story was the titular case. I'm not sure why. I just really liked it. (Maybe it had something to do with the name of one of the key characters: Miss Jane Plenderleith. How could you not fall in love with such a story?)

And this story opened with Hercule Poirot and Inspector Japp walking home one evening and remarking that it would be a great night for a murder because no one would hear the sound of a shot.

Why? Because of all the fireworks going off for Guy Fawkes day.

For your benefit, here is the passage from which I gleaned my knowledge of this day.

"Rank excuse for begging, that's what Guy Fawkes day is!" said Japp.

"An interesting survival," mused Hercule Poirot. "The fireworks go up—crack—crack—long after the man they commemorate and his deed are forgotten."

The Scotland Yard man agreed.

"Don't suppose many of those kids really know who Guy Fawkes was."

"And soon doubtless there will be confusion of thought. Is it in honor or in execration that on the 5th of November the feu d'artifice are sent up? To blow up an English parliament, was it a sin or a noble deed?"

Japp chuckled.

"Some people would say undoubtedly the latter."

So, penny for the guy?

(Yeah, you were worried I wouldn't ever get back to my original point, weren't you? I totally showed you!)

(Also, happy 5th NaBlo post! Which, I think, is a much more exciting event to commemorate.)

1 comment:

Katie E. said...

Does it surprise that you just perfectly described my own experience with book orders? To a tee (except I never ordered ant Agatha Christie).