Saturday, 31 October 2015

Countdown to Halloween Finale: Ghosts of Halloween Past


Sadly I’m still suffering from a severe bout of depression and panic attacks so really this post isn't gonna be amazing AND it's getting in the way of me watching cartoons and feeling lonely - see what I sacrifice for you lot? I am so fucking amazing :D - but I could do with some nostalgia.

In one of my Chain Gores posts (the Poundland one…?) I mentioned a specific type of rubber skeleton that was once ubiquitous throughout (at least) the late 1980s and 1990s that everyone should have owned or seen but I didn’t have one to illustrate my point because the three from my childhood disappeared into whatever vortex shit disappears into when you put it into your attic and don’t check on it for a decade. Great Noteworthy news - I actually found one! 

I found it the day after posting my Examples of Crap… Halloween edition (of course, couldn't have found it the day before so he could have been included and made that article 83% better, dick) and yes I was going to write an entire post on it because I honestly thought this shitty plastic skeleton would be one of only two links I had to the Halloweens of my childhood but then I found something even better and decided to combine them into one big nostalgic post of crap you don’t care about!

Now let me be clear, the Halloweens of my childhood were motherfucking awesome, not just fucking awesome, mother fucking awesome, but nearly all of the ‘regular’ Halloween decorations (don’t tell me you don’t/didn’t have them) were thrown out sometime by my nan, the skeletons and some of the plastic stuff like the shaking screamers I managed to salvage but they went into that vortex. All the things I associated with Halloweens as a kid – that cool ghost that shook and lit up, the rubber skeletons, the inflatables, that vampire half-mask that grandad wore every year because he refused to put any more effort in than that (though he did eat wearing it, so that’s some effort), - it’s all gone and it makes me sad. I wanted to find some pictures of these wonderful parties and do a post but…I couldn’t find any and my grandparents have moved to Devon (6 or so hours away) and even if they did have any they a) wouldn’t know where they were and b) couldn’t use a scanner if you sent them on a year’s course so I had honestly thought the only physical link to these great times was a shaking screamer I found at a bootsale last year, then I found this skeleton and I fucking teared up – I am not kidding. I’ve been down and the more depressed I get the more upset about being an adult (and having depression) I get and the more I yearn to be a pre-teen and not having anything wrong with me and just sit and play with Ninja Turtles. I found Skelly in my local charity shop which is literally 2 minutes away from my house - for 75p!! The charity shop was actually closed when I saw it (it was late, I was getting takeaway) and you bet your arse I was ‘round there the minute it opened… only for it to not open for another 2 hours because they had ‘technical difficulties’; given that charity shops are not very technical nor are they Channel 6 News I’m going to assume that either the fuses blew or someone got stuck in traffic. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that no one has ever waited two hours for a shop to open just to buy a second hand skeleton but I did indeed kill time for those two hours (I just did shit around the house, the shop really is just two minutes away from my house) so I could excitedly buy a 75 pence rubber skeleton that looked like the ones I had when I was 7.

You know when I say it like that, I sound mental

But I did go and excitedly buy my 75 pence rubber skeleton and waved it at my family who stood and looked confused and then went back to what they were doing. This is actually a slightly newer version than the ones I had, you can tell because of some of the pixels and from seeing a few shops in your time because the whole thing is a lot thinner, it’s especially notable on the spine and ribs and the head hangs back rather than forward due to it, it’s also a little shiner than the ones I had as a kid which were all matte-finish but it IS that mould, with the same two-tone colouring and paint apps applied to the skull with someone’s dick that I so fondly remember, it’s a silly thing but it really feels special to me, a little bit of my past recaptured forever and I am not letting this one out of my sight, it’s hanging in my room from now until I die. I utterly love him and he’s worth making me look like a weirdo on the internet for, especially as nothing I could say would be as embarrassing as what I am about to post (well other than my sexual fantasies involving Cindy Bear obviously):

That happy waving child is me, I have no idea how old I was but it was before I went to senior school so I must have been under 11, yes I am wearing a Joe Bloggs sweatshirt (my  mother so dressed me as a child) oh and yes that IS a 7 foot papier mache Satan. I suppose you’re probably more interested in that really aren’tcha? My mum’s redecorating her room, which sounds like a non sequitur but hang on, and that involved moving a load of boxes she has on top of her many wardrobes, which was my primary function for the afternoon that day. In one box was a big pile of old photos include the one above, a photo of one of our motherfucking awesome Halloween parties, I fucking cried (I’m very emotional at the moment). I honestly thought all photographic evidence of these parties was lost but here one is, and its evidence of the best one we ever had.

These parties were held at my paternal grandparents, my parents split when I was very young and I used to see my dad twice a week, usually Friday and Sunday, but physically I went to my grandparents (they lived, again literally, three roads from my house) and on Fridays my uncle and aunt and their two children would also come ‘round for a big meal (the girls went to the school over the road from my nan’s and my aunt worked in the chemist, which is only one shop or so away from the charity shop from earlier in this post so it was quite logical to do this). It was a really nice thing and I miss it and them terribly now they’ve moved away but I especially miss the Halloween parties we threw ourselves. My grandparents started doing them sometime after my eldest little cousin was born, my nan and dad would cook themed food (eyeball swamp being my fondly remembered offering – lasagne with boiled eggs sunk into it, each with a pupil painted on it in food colouring) and me and would spend at least a fortnight before building/making elaborate Halloween decorations and by elaborate I mean, well that picture features a 7 foot papier mache satan so I think you get how elaborate I mean. One time we built a life-sized half-a-werewolf and dad fixed it to the wall so it looked like it was bursting out for instance, but we always liked to have a ‘centre-piece’ that was typically mad. Now no one but us nine (me, my dad and his fiancée, my cousins, my grandparents and my aunt and uncle), the people who were there every week, were guaranteed to come to these things, it was entirely just for our benefit and it was glorious. 

By the time I was getting close to go to senior school the girls were a little older and our parties had started to get noticed by other family members so my nan’s little sister, her husband and adult children would come down (about two hours’ drive away) especially for them and the few friends I had at school would make subtle hints at coming ‘round and thus we felt the need to outdo ourselves every year – we never topped this year, the year of Satan. Me and dad (well, mostly dad) spent about a month of weekends in the conservatory (pictured) building Satan, made around an old broom handle and a weighted base with random wood from grandad’s shed nailed to it and fashioned from chicken wire and papier mache (what else?) with a bed sheet and painted with, I believe, aerosol paint actually meant for cars – a method that was actually quite professional for us – I think we actually bought the chicken wire new and everything, he stood around 7 foot. We didn’t leave him in the conservatory like he is in this picture though, no, no that would be far too boring – we put him in the garden and dramatically lit him, I seem to remember us doing with whatever lights we could find so it was absolutely completely fucking dangerous but it didn’t rain so who cares. We then decorated the whole conservatory as if it was hell, though it ended up looking more like that scene from Beetlejuice where they show you the exorcized spirits, which is still pretty unnerving really, then set up a long table in it and 12 family members, my friend Shaun and I think a friend or two of Emma’ (my eldest cousin) all sat around and ate in the shadow of papier mache Satan, playing cheap Halloween compilations and scoffing food made to look like body parts. It was so great, really I can’t convey how much I enjoyed it, then we watched horror films and The Simpsons Tree House of Horror, my grandad used to love making us watch that because he knew full well I was freaked out by the zombie story and he used to love to make me squirm (I have mostly forgiven him). That green demon that’s also in shot was a little extra minion dad around time (god knows how) to cook up and started out as The Creeper from DC Comics but it ended up looking way more frightening, he survived a couple of years I think, but what became of Satan? We set fire to him of course – I swear I wasn’t raised in a satanic cult, I promise.

Why we burnt him is because in the UK Firework Night is just after Halloween (the 5th of November to be precise) and instead of making a Guy (a effigy meant to represent scapegoat Guy Fawkes, who was a patsy for a plot that tried to blow up a king who, frankly, would have benefited from it) we just thought ‘fuck it, we’ll use Satan’ so in my uncle’s back garden, in his incinerator (I think this may have also been the year dad blew the bottom out of it by throwing a dud firework into it…?), we stood a 7 foot devil and set fire to him, in full view of the neighbours and the pub up the road’s beer garden – and no one called the police or anything! Mind you he did live in Harold Hill and people are very used to stuff burning ‘round there, and even if they had called the police it was Fireworks Night in Harold Hill: they’d all be way too busy having firecrackers thrown at them by the delightful youth of the town.

I remain incredibly proud of the effort and madness that went into these old Halloween parties and I am so glad I have a picture of easily the finest one we held and that, at last, I get to share all the madness with the world via blog. Thanks for making a miserable bastard happy by reading it my imaginary buddies.   

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