“Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot.”
Generations of British children have chanted this mnemonic. Many of them also stood on street corners or went house-to-house requesting,
“A penny for the guy”.
Procession of a Guy (1864) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Procession_of_a_guy.jpg Public domain
The guy represented Guy Fawkes. It was a man’s outfit stuffed with newspaper. It didn’t need any pennies, but they wanted to be able to have fireworks on Bonfire Night.
Light blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance.
Invariably, fireworks had this instruction printed on them. The touch paper was dark blue, which appealed to my sense of humour. I have often thought that my preferred method of communication followed the same instructions. Rather than risk a confrontation, I might send someone a note.
A damp squib was a small firework which did not go off properly, or a metaphor for something disappointing. It probably fizzled out.
To build a bonfire was part of the evening’s activity. The effigy would be placed on the top and burnt to a frizzle. Rebellious schoolchildren used to chant about building a bonfire, but as they were ungrateful for the opportunity of education for all, I am not going to reproduce it here!
Whizz! Bang! are the noises rockets make and Roman Candles send up different colours high into the sky. If the nail isn’t hammered in too far, a Catherine Wheel spins round making a pattern of sparks. It is named after the martyr, St Catherine.
Toasted crumpets, jacket potatoes, roast chestnuts, home-made toffee and toffee apples are popular at this time of year.
Toffee Apple or Candy Apple http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Candyapple.jpg (public domain: originator William W. Kolb)
Hopefully, they will not be burnt to a cinder or a crisp. Strictly, cinders are the lumpy residue in the ash from burning coal or wood.
A smokescreen hides something.
There’s no smoke without fire
is a saying about rumours. Just as fire causes smoke, rumours often start for a reason.
Smoke signals are made by interrupting the emission of smoke.
A peace pipe is smoked.
In the firing line
is a dangerous place to be. In its literal sense there is risk to life and limb. Otherwise it is where the person most likely to be blamed might be standing.
If you lost your job in Britain, it always used to be called getting the sack. A workman used his own tools and was given them back in a sack. Where does the American expression come from?
is placed round a hearth to prevent sparks and hot ashes doing damage and to keep children away from the fire.
is used in woodland to prevent the spread of fire. A wide strip is left unplanted to make it harder for a forest fire to spread.
Out of the frying pan into the fire
is a saying about a situation changing from bad to worse.
A baptism of fire
is an expression, which has come to describe a very challenging situation.
Its origin is the Bible, where it describes an empowering to deal with a challenge.
Jesus (on the left) is being identified by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world“, in John 1:29. 17th century depiction by Vannini. (Wikipedia public domain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Baptism-of-Christ-xx-Francesco-Alban.JPG)
In the Acts of the Apostles Chapter 2 John the Baptist’s prophecy was fulfilled. Verse 3 (NIV) They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
Photo credits Wikipedia