November is the month of Guy Fawkes night and remembrance day, both of which made me a little uncomfortable this year. I was acutely aware that there was a huge amount of pain and suffering behind both of them. As far as I can work out the bonfire night celebration is not only about Guy Fawkes – for two hundred and fifty years it was a state ordered anti-Catholic event.
Religious persecution is never a good thing and it’s obvious that there was a lot of pain and suffering behind remembrance day which made me wonder to what extent our national psyche and character is formed by the events we choose to focus on. So, I thought, why not celebrate something positive such as the discovery of penicillin which of course led me on to think about all the pain and suffering there was before it was discovered. Maybe it’s not possible to celebrate or commemorate something that is purely positive because it can only be positive in comparison to a negative; maybe we could focus on the fact that we’re so much more fortunate than our ancestors – would that change our national psyche?