I’m getting scary fatigue and there are still several days to go…
Thanks to the confusion that now reigns between Hallowe’en and Guy Fawkes Night, we seem to have one week here in Central London when fireworks go off non-stop and the streets are full of people in peculiar fancy dress that’s neither one event or the other. For years we were content to stick a cardboard mask on a straw dummy dressed in a dead relative’s clothes and beg pennies on street corners for it. This would be followed by an evening of heavy rain during which we would chuck jumping jacks, bangers and Ariel Bombshells into old people’s gardens, our bonfires leaving a ring of scorched earth in the garden for the next nine months.
Then came orange and black plastic tat from supermarkets flogging the US concept of Hallowe’en, which was better for making money and didn’t involve getting blown up. So now, Guy Fawkes’ nights are controlled park displays (boring) and Hallowe’en is something suburban children have copied from TV shows. Meanwhile, people throw parties randomly based around the idea of being scared – hence the ‘generic dressing up’ look London now adopts for one very long week.
This is so English, not to simply dump one and adopt the other but to have the two sort-of operating side by side, neither quite doing the job, in the same way that we use Centigrade and metres yards and grams and ounces.
Last night, however, Suzi Feay and the Authors’ Club did us proud at Blacks Club in Soho, where myself, Salley Vickers and others sat in a great wingbacked chair by a roaring fire and read creepy stories aloud to a packed room. outside, the Soho streets were heaving with bellowing revellers, half Sexy Witch, half Occupy London, but inside the silence was only broken by the odd gasp of revulsion. Excellent job done, everyone, and a lot more fun than being caught in Hallowfawkes Week.