We who went to Guy Fawkes's old school

  • Guy Fawkes was caught trying to blow up Westminster Palace on November 5

    He was born on April 13th 1570 in Stonegate in York, and was educated at St. Peter's School in York, preferring to be called Guido Fawkes

    My brother and I, as too did some of Guido's colleagues in in the plot, went to the same school.

    When we were there, this local (and rather ancient) history was used as convenient excuse for not allowing us anywhere near a bonfire or fireworks - after all, it was "bad form" to burn an old boy of the school.

    Many years and many headmasters later, the policy changed dramatically. Nowadays old boys get  annual invitations to attend the school's bonfire celebrations!

    But did I know him?

    On 5th November a few years ago, when my wife was listening to primary school pupils reading, she said to one little boy: "My husband went to the same school as Guy Fawkes."

    Obviously impressed, he replied: "Did he know him?"

    Bad news about poppies

     As usual, TV newscasters have started wearing poppies because we’re getting closer to 11 November. But however many times I’ve told the British Legion that they’d collect far more money by using cans with slits big enough to make it easier for us to donate notes, rather than coins, they have never taken any notice.

    But this year it may not matter so much, thanks to Covid 19. If everyone observes social distancing rules, the British Legion is presumably going to have its worst year ever - which is bad news for those who rely on help from the charity.

    Obama for Biden: rhetorical brilliance continued

    Since before Barack Obama became president, I've blogged many times about his rhetorical brilliance and we now have evidence that he's no less brilliant when speaking at an odd location,  i.e. a drive-in rally in support of Biden's campaign. 

    For what follows, a big thank you to CNBC, Reuters and Ipsos:

    With a Reuters/Ipsos poll showing Biden with just a 4-percentage-point edge in Pennsylvania, Obama warned Democrats against complacency.

    “We’ve got to turn out like never before,” he said. “We cannot leave any doubt in this election.”

    Americans are voting early at a record pace this year, with more than 42 million ballots cast both via mail and in person ahead of Nov. 3 Election Day on concerns about the coronavirus and to make sure their votes are counted.

    The early vote so far represents about 30% of the total ballots cast in 2016, according to the University of Florida’s U.S. Elections Project.

    Four years ago, Obama participated in a rally in Philadelphia with then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton the day before the election, only to see Trump narrowly take the state. The Biden campaign considers winning there a top priority.

    In remarks at an evening rally in Gastonia, North Carolina, Trump briefly mentioned Obama, noting that he had supported Clinton in her losing effort. “It was nobody who campaigned harder for Crooked Hillary than Obama, right?”

    North Carolina is another battleground state where opinion polls show a tight race. Harris was also in the state on Wednesday to mobilize voters in Asheville and Charlotte.

    Obama won North Carolina in 2008, but lost it in his 2012 campaign. Trump won it in 2016.

    Trump argued that coronavirus-related restrictions were harming the state’s economy and complained that Democrats and the news media were overly pre-occupied with the pandemic.

    “All you hear is covid, covid,” the president said. “That’s all they put on because they want to scare the hell out of everyone.”


    Even though Wednesday marked Obama’s 2020 campaign debut, his support has been essential for Biden. He has appeared at joint fundraisers with Biden and Harris, and his network of well-connected former aides has been instrumental in helping the campaign outpace Trump in bringing in donations.

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    Biden’s team said Obama would campaign in Miami on Saturday for the Democratic ticket.

    The last days of campaigning are taking place during a surge in cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations in battleground states, including North Carolina and Pennsylvania but also Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.

    Pennsylvania has averaged 1,500 new cases a day over the past week, a level it has not seen since April, according to a Reuters analysis. North Carolina is averaging 2,000 new cases a day over the past week, its highest level yet. The virus has killed more than 221,000 people in the United States.

    Polling shows a majority of voters are disappointed in the way Trump has handled the pandemic, which he has repeatedly said would disappear on its own.