‘Juvenile guile’: Hackney Gazette rants about youngsters asking for a ‘penny for the guy’

The Gazette 60 years ago

The Gazette 60 years ago - Credit: Archant

The Gazette let off steam in a rant about youngsters going around asking for a “penny for the guy”.

The custom would see children asking for money to buy fireworks for Guy Fawkes night, sometimes wheeling an effigy made out of straw in a wheelbarrow to burn on the fire days in advance of the celebration. “It is your silver they are after, and they are after it a long way in advance of the appropriate day,” warned the Gazette. “Working in gangs, they can make a very profitable business out of an innocent little custom.

In the days when amny young east Londoners could not have any fun on November 5 without coppers for their guys, there was every excuse for the public to be indulgent towards their antics. But under the new redistribution of the national wealth most youngsters these days get an adequate amount of pocket money each week, and some get a great deal more than is good for them.

“What goes on now amounts to something very close to cadging, and parents should be the first to discourage it. If the collections were for charitable purposes, as perhaps they could be under proper supervision, a pleasant old custom could still be turned to good account. It is a pity to see it now being used more often than not for juvenile guile.”