Saturday, 19 October 2013
I remember Hallowe'en being quite a low key thing in my childhood - it wasn't seen as quite proper to celebrate the dead, or make fun of ghosts and hauntings.
We lived for a while in a remote part of Argyllshire, and one year my brother and I were invited to a party in a rather grim grey stone castle around Hallowe'en time, for which we had to dress up.
My brother had a plastic sword, shield, helmet and breastplate, which he wore with set of knitted grey wool 'chain mail' - I thought it looked pretty good. My outfit was adapted from one of my mother's 50's skirts, a dark purplish blue, covered with little figures, which draped around me like a full length cape, and she made me a pointy witch hat out of newspaper, painted black.
We were not a camera-owning family, alas, and I'd love now to see what we looked like. The strange intoxication of dressing up at that age was far more exciting - and memorable - than any other aspect of the evening; though I do remember - as if it were an illustration from Dickens' A Christmas Carol (the Fezziwigs' ball) - standing on the threshold of a very large room, seeing our hostess - an imposing woman, tall, with a shelf bosom and glinting spectacles - beckon us in towards a row of spooky silhouettes which turned out to be guests standing in front of a blazing orange log fire in a hearth the height and breadth of a Highland cow.
Thinking about all this made me go looking for vintage postcard images of Hallowe'en, and I found many online, mostly American. I particularly like the nightmare-inspiring vegetable-people in some of these.