Whatever happened to Guying?
Years ago, parents would encourage children to rummage around their home to seek out old clothes and help stuff them with pillows and newspapers, tie them with string and attach a universal “one expression” cardboard mask to an improvised head to create a “Guy” (Fawkes).
The kids would borrow an old pram and push the effigy to outside the local pub calling “Penny for the Guy?” to any random stranger with some spare change to give them.
They would then come home and share out their monies from their “legalised begging.”
Our own “Guys” were always immaculately dressed in a jacket, shirt, tie and slacks and were definitely the best looking guys my sister ever went out with.
At the end of one rigorous week’s Guying, our Guy was falling to pieces so we approached an elderly gentleman and said “Penny for the Guy?” He gave us a penny and we gave him the Guy because that was the verbal contract.
These were fun times and it was sad when I finally had to give up Guying at the age of 27 because it was no longer considered cute but creepy.
On firework night, itself, dad would carry the Guy to the garden incinerator and torch him like a cheap remake of The Wicker Man.
Nowadays, Guy Fawkes’ Night has been superseded in popularity by Halloween and shops are full of pumpkins, small buckets for treats and a dazzling array of scary masks not seen since they raided the janitor’s office on Scooby Doo.
And to think we once told children not accept sweets from strangers and now we actively encourage them to knock on stranger’s doors and ask for sweets. How mad is that?
Personally, I’m a bit saddened that Guying is dying out because, as an adult, I don’t mind sometimes giving away money, I just don’t like sharing my sweets.
Just the kinda “Guy” I am.


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