A Journal of The Plague Year, And Other Tales

All Rights Reserved ©

Remember, Remember The Whenever of November

Remember, Remember, The Whenever of November.

On the 31st October, as rain pelted the Lower Mortlake Road and soaked the small bands of children along it who were trick and treating for Halloween, local householders staring glumly through their windows would have seen, mirabile dictu, a burst of fireworks shatter the leaden skies above St Mark’s Church, Richmond.

As the borough’s dogs yelped with fright and dived under beds and sofas, curious-minded folk reached for their reference books, keen to know what we were all meant to be celebrating that night.

It appears the protestant faithful of our parish had organised this joyful display because, as Whittaker’s Almanac revealed, this was the day in 1512 that Martin Luther sent his Ninety-Five Theses to Albrecht von Brandenburg, Archbishop of Mainz, thus kicking off the Reformation.

Alternatively, it may have been put on by Richmond’s community of art lovers in memory of the moment in 1541 when one Signor M. Buonarroti clambered down his scaffolding in the Sistine Chapel, cast an eye over his seminal fresco, The Last Judgement, and thought: “sod it. That’s all they’re getting out of Michelangelo for forty measly ducats.”

The next evening, a fierce barrage of rockets and Roman candles rose above the Hammersmith and Fulham municipal cemetery at Chalker’s Corner, over Barnes way.

Some death cult was doubtless responsible for this because on this day in 1755 an earthquake in Lisbon killed 50,000 people and, in 1952, the US exploded the world’s first H-bomb over the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific.

To Richmond’s surprise, plumes and flares again lit the skies on November 2nd. One would guess this was an inter-faith celebration staged by our local Zionist and Rastafarian communities to give thanks both for the day in 1917 when Lord Balfour declared the right of Jews to form a state in Palestine and also the one in 1930 when Ras Tafari Makonnen was crowned Haile Selassie, 225th emperor of Egypt in the Solomnic dynasty.

The next evening, anyone wandering through the drizzle in Richmond Old Deer Park would have spotted a group of folk and their accompanying pooches circled around yet another fireworks display. This was not a joyful occasion, the almanac suggested, but rather a solemn and symbolic remembrance of what we might call Orbital Doggo Day – the occasion in 1957 when Muscovite mongrel Laika was blasted into space in Sputnik 2, never to see her basket on Earth again.

On November 4th, the borough saw its liveliest night of pyrotechnics yet – a bombardment heavy enough to rattle window casings and crack vegetable cloches in back gardens. Householders staggered from their detached Victorian villas to silence the alarms on prestige cars and asked each other how Richmond had ever descended into such a meaningless conflagration.

Those who had to ask clearly did not own almanacs. Those who did calmly looked up the date and guessed the cause at once. Tonight’s rapid rattle had almost certainly been triggered by local militarist cadres to mark the day in 1862 when Dr Richard Gatling of North Carolina patented his machine gun.

Who knew there were so many anniversaries for local history buffs to celebrate? When would it all end?

On November 5th, however, London tamely succumbed to the government’s latest lockdown and on that night, across thirty-two metropolitan boroughs, the fireworks fell silent. For the first time in a week, Richmond residents were able to report that all was quiet on the capital’s south-western front.

This was a shame because tonight – of all the nights in the year – every man, woman and child had been looking forward to lighting up the skies for joy.

Didn’t the government know this was the famous Fifth of November? Had they no respect for the past?

For on this momentous day in 1556, lest we forget, Emperor Akbar led his Moghul army to glorious victory against Hem Chandra Vikramaditya in the Second Battle of Panipat.

But would Boris and his buzzkill pals let us hold a fireworks party to honour it?

Would they hell.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.