The Dead In London


I don’t really like Halloween. I didn’t grow up with the event (I think it was imported into London in the 70’s) and it feels like an excuse to sell stuff to kids, rather than anything real. I can see why it caught on over here, with easy colour-coding and things to buy, but it remains almost exclusively a kiddies’ event in London.

But autumn has always been a time of wildness – the storms arrive, the anarchic spirit of Guy Fawkes returns, fireworks are randomly exploded, and the thing that’s missing from the streets now is Penny For The Guy. (Does it happen anywhere anymore?)

When I was a kid there was one standard mask of Guy Fawkes which every child wore – it’s the one that appears in ‘V For Vendetta’. It seems a terrible shame to lose this anarchic night in favour of a holiday imported by salesmen.

Never mind – there are other events to attend this week, including Day Of The Dead celebrations at many of London’s new wave of Mexican restaurants and bars. And at The Old Operating Theatre at St Thomas’ Hospital, the bill of events includes shows on;
Amputations! Blood & Bandages! (A history of barbershops) The Mandrake, or Satan’s Apple! ‘One Night With Venus, A Lifetime With Mercury’ – The History Of Syphilis! Body Snatchers! Autopsy!
Booking is advised here. Take the kids!

2 comments on “The Dead In London”

  1. BangBang!! says:

    I’ve always been under the impression that Halloween has more often than not been quite a mjor festival in Britain as a whole. As opposed to Guy Fawkes Night which was obviously a relative newcomer. Certainly coming from Northern Ireland, Halloween was always the bigger festival when I was growing up. Possibly a Celtic thing? Although I’m sure I remember reading that Trick or Treat in various guises has been practiced overe here for quite a long time too.

    Halloween also happen to be my birthday so I may be slightly biased!

  2. Helen Martin says:

    Happy Birthday, BangBang!! The idea of paying off the spirits at your door is an old one, but the Celts were marking a time when the separation of the two worlds was at its thinnest so the ghosts you expected to meet were not necessarily evil or dangerous. The children were told this morning that having All Saints at the same time as Samhain was an example of sharing. I don’t know that I’d agree about that, but it does make for as blurry a celebration as any I’ve heard of. I wonder if being born at the time of the celebration of the dead makes a person more sensitive to other worldly phenomena?

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