Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Creating the monsters was the most fun.

The challenge is much the same regardless of the occasion. How to create a marvellous, entertaining, top quality event with absolutely no budget whatsoever? The answer is to acquire things.

We have acquired so much Halloween equipment over the years it now fills more boxes than the Christmas decorations.

This year we acquired three surplus-to-requirement scarecrows. And the bottom half of a mannequin. From these humble materials we crafted the finest props known to the heritage sector. The Grim Reaper, a Mad Monk, a Wicked Witch and…. the bottom half of a mannequin.

While we were assembling the various body parts in a disused outbuilding, McColleague and I found ourselves continually interrupted by random passers-by. The door would swing open and a head would emerge, peering in curiosity at the cobwebby gloom of our impromptu laboratory.

“Hello!” I would chirp. “Can I help you?”

“Oh, no, no….just having a look round.”

“Ah, right. I’m afraid this part isn’t open to the public. It's a bit dirty and cluttered.”

“Oh, right”.

“So, if you'd like to close the door, we'll just get on with our work.”


A pause.

“So, what was this old building then?”

“A milking parlour. But it’s not open to the public.”

“Right. And what are you up to then?”

Sigh. Eventually we would persuade them to go without resorting to bludgeoning them over the head with the bottom half of the mannequin and dragging them out.

“Well,” I said to McColleague, “it’s just as well we’re not performing diabolical experiments on corpses in here. It’s a lot harder to have a secret laboratory than it looks in films.”

Which led me to a fond memory of Halloween Past, in Another Place with my best friend, when we were busy decorating the basements. Part of our design included an enormous Pentagram on the tiled floor. Rather than risk damaging it with scratchy chalk, or similar, we decided masking tape would do the job. Many, many attempts later, surrounded by screwed up balls of masking tape, we finally managed to produce something that looked almost right.

“They get a bad press, but hats off to the Satanists,” said my friend. “It’s much harder than it looks!”

It was a good point and one well made. If I were trying to summon Beelzebub I doubt I would have the patience to spend much more than half an hour or so trying to get my Pentagram to join up. And that's before you take into account the candles and blood and robes and all the other accoutrements.

Anyway, this year's props looked magnificent. Even the spooky marrows (we didn't acquire enough pumpkins) were a winner. I suppose I need to start acquiring firewood for bonfire night now. I need more cats in trees!

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