Secret Histories: Guy Fawkes

ALDOUS BERTRAM unearths the exclusive transcript of a chat between Guy Fawkes and his right-hand man.

Bonfire Night Cambridge Fireworks Guy Fawkes Houses of Parliament Student the tab

At this time of year in 1605 the Gunpowder Plot, intended to blow up King James I during the State Opening of Parliament, was foiled by royal authorities. Caught ‘match in hand’, Guy Fawkes was famously burnt for his part in the conspiracy. A very old recording has been unearthed in the Tower of London, revealing Fawkes’ final conversation (made via a payphone) with the leader of the plot, Robert Catesby:


GUY FAWKES: …It’s me.

ROBERT: Huh? What’s that?

GUY: Its ME. Guy.

ROBERT: [Covers phone with his hand and shouts to the room] Shit! It’s Guy! Turn the music down! Just don’t say anything, I’ll deal with it! [Returns to phone] Guy! Great to hear from you, how’s things?

GUY: Are you fucking with me? How’s things?! I’m. In. The. Tower.

ROBERT: Yeah, Guido…look, I really don’t know what to say…


GUY: Was that Digz? Is Digz there?

ROBERT: Umm…yeah a few of us guys are here.

GUY: OMG. Are you having a fucking party?!

ROBERT: Listen Guy, they were all scheduled to come round here anyway, you know, if things had gone well they deserved to know…you were meant to be here too, mate.

GUY: Don’t you ‘mate’ me! I’m not your ‘mate’! I’m in fucking jail, and you’re having a fucking party! You know I’m going to burn tomorrow?

ROBERT: Umm…yeah, um, we figured that would probably happen. Some of the guys thought you might hang, but I put my money on burn…I mean…I meant ‘money’ metaphorically…err…it wasn’t a bet or anything!

GUY: Great. And you know what? If you guys had done your fucking job properly I might be feeling the burn of sambuca in my throat too, instead of the flames of royal retribution licking up my thighs in the morning. Why didn’t you warn me I was surrounded?!

ROBERT: I tried calling like four times! I figured maybe you didn’t have any signal…

GUY: Duh! I was under the fucking palace you retard!

ROBERT: And I sent you a text…

GUY: Yes, thanks for that! Not. That nugget of genius came through this morning: ‘2 L8, UV GOT 2 GET OWT. ♥ ROB’.

ROBERT: Well I’m sorry, Guy, I really am. I mean really really.

GUY: Urgh. I just…well…couldn’t you have sent someone down or something?

ROBERT: You know I had to go and pick up my weasel from the vet.

GUY: Yes, but…in retrospect, well…I just think it’s a bit odd that you scheduled an appointment for Mr Woozle at the exact time of the final moments of Operation-Blow-Up-Fat-King-James, you know, the detailed planning of which you’ve overseen for over a year?

ROBERT: Oh we’re calling it the 'Gunpowder Plot’ now, by the way…we think the term ‘plot’ conveys its failure to come off, but still carries a certain amount of glamour. We’re working on a rhyme too. What do you think?

GUY: Whatever, Rob. I have to go in a sec, I’m on a payphone.

ROBERT: Look, Guy, before you go – we got you something.

GUY: You did?

ROBERT: Yep. We knew there was no point in getting you a card so we sent a tin around the office this morning, and we’ve bought you one of those little bottles of dynamite – not trying to be ironic or anything – but, you know, so that when the flames get up to your neck it will all be over quickly. It’s one of them new ones, with different colours when it goes off so the crowd will love it too.

GUY: Thanks…that’s really sweet. I appreciate the gesture. Can you do me one other last thing?

ROBERT: Sure thing, mate. Fire away…

GUY: Not funny, Rob. Basically – and I’m trusting you this time  – could you keep my name out of the papers?