The spirit of rebellion does not run in Guy Fawkes’ family
Guy Fawkes has become a symbol for dissent in popular culture as a masked anarchist hero of a comic book franchise and adopted by anti-capitalist campaigners who tried to occupy Hampstead Heath, but the spirit of rebellion does not run in the family.
Keith Fawkes, a direct descender of Britain’s best known terrorist, admits the closest he has come to emulating his ancestor is a spat with his accountant and a run in with Camden Council.
Mr Fawkes, who has owned Fawkes Books in Hampstead for 45 years, said: “It’s pretty hard to live up to, but I am still planning my great moment.
“People say Guy Fawkes is the only honest man to enter Parliament and I would like to try to stick to his principles. On the other hand I don’t want to be hung, drawn and quartered, with my body parts scattered around the country.”
Although the quietly spoken 70-year-old might not be plotting to bring down Parliament any time soon he can claim to have succeeded where his ancestor failed on November 5, 1605.
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At one of his family’s popular bonfire parties at their Muswell Hill home, Mr Fawkes surpassed his pyrotechnic predecessor when he singed a historic cedar of Lebanon which the Romans once planted around London.
“We practically burnt the fence and the tree down,” recalls Mr Fawkes, whose classmates often joked they might throw him on the flames.
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Over the years the bookseller has been interviewed by Australian and Japanese radio stations about his links to Fawkes.
In recent years the anti-hero has emerged as a symbol of defiance including at Hampstead Heath during the summer when anti-capitalist movement Occupy set up a protest camp.
“He has become a symbol against sleaze, parliamentary sleaze and greed,” said Mr Fawkes, chairman of the Hornsey Historical Society. “If Guy Fawkes had succeeded MPs would probably have sent him the expenses for the gunpowder.”