I have never known anyone as excited by Halloween as Ruru was last year. He was planning his costume from mid-September. Personally, I am content to spend All Hallows’ Eve at home watching horror movies with the lights off, but Ruru was sooooo excited at the prospect of going to the big Halloween party at Missing.
Initially, he sent me a screenshot of an impressive latex mask of Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT that he had found online and a message saying that he was thinking of buying it. Several days later I received a text telling me that he had ordered it. Next, he found the full clown suit, complete with trademark ruff, and bought that. I was then treated to regular updates tracking the various items progress and estimated delivery dates. I think he forwarded me every notification that he received from Amazon and eBay (Did I mention he was excited?). Soon, the inevitable selfie of Ru wearing the mask (doubtlessly grinning delightedly from ear to ear under the latex) appeared in my inbox, followed days later by one of him wearing the complete outfit. Finally, he enlisted his little brother in proceedings, posing him dressed as one of the monster’s victims, in a mustard coloured coat with the hood pulled up and back turned to camera, in homage to the film poster.
I misunderstood the significance of the kid in the mustard anorak and thought his brother was going trick or treating dressed as the youngest son from East is East.
“You have got to come to Missing on Saturday night,” Ruru told me.
“I’m going to London that day.”
His face fell, “You have to see me in my costume.”
“Alright, if I am back in Brum early enough, I’ll pop in and find you,” I promised.
As it turned out, I arrived back in plenty of time, so headed straight to the pub and joined the drunken throng.
Ruru was easy to spot, dancing on Missing’s glitter backed stage dressed as a killer clown… while the red balloon floating above his head also helped pinpoint him.
I weaved my way across the pulsating dancefloor, leapt onto the stage and planted an exaggerated kiss on Pennywise’s fang filled mouth. Thankfully, Ru hadn’t opted to dress as Pinhead from Hellraiser, otherwise I could have had an eye out.
Funnily enough, many years ago, I was facilitating a den making workshop at a local arts venue, where I was using swaths of fabric, washing lines and pegs to create billowing tents. Two cheeky children took delight in covering my ears, eyebrows and cheeks in the wooden pegs. I just went with the flow, thinking, It’s making them giggle, but I’m not sure how long I can bare this, then turned my peg covered face to the children’s mother and, assuming the reference would go over her sons’ heads, announced, “Look, I’m Pinhead.”
The mother gasped then laughed, “The actor that plays Pinhead is an old friend of mine. I’ve known Doug Bradley for years. The children actually call him ‘Uncle Pinhead’.”
What are the chances of that?!
Back at the night of the Halloween party, Ruru was in his element. He twirled around the pub posing for photos with everyone. I had never seen him so happy. He was like a little celebrity.
He vanished for twenty minutes, as he performed a lap of the bar, then returned and yanked off the latex mask to reveal a flushed face, soaked with perspiration. It was like he had sweat incontinence.
Holding up a limp piece of string with a scrap of red rubber attached, he tutted glumly, “People keep bursting my balloon.”
It turned out that Ruru had prepared for this eventuality and produced a whole bag of balloons from his pocket. Quickly inflating one with a device he had stashed with the staff behind the bar, he had soon donned his mask once more and bounced off eagerly on another circuit.
When Ruru returned twenty minutes later, he was giddy with adulation, drenched with sweat… and holding a flaccid piece of string.
The conversation at the Halloween party turned appropriately to tales of ghosts and the unexplained. I told the small group I was stood with about a spooky incident that happened to my father, many years ago…
He and my mother had been attending a house party. At the time, the Ouija board was very much in vogue. In the late 1960s, Waddington‘s, the nation’s favourite children’s games company, even produced boards for sale in high street stores. Those halcyon days when you could just pop into Woolworths to buy a paranormal portal to the spirit world… and a quarter of pick n mix.
My dad was always a cynic and had no belief in the supernatural, so much so that he couldn’t even tolerate scary movies, as he found it all so preposterous, so I can imagine the sceptical look on his face when a group of fellow party goers engaged in an impromptu séance.
The lights were dimmed and a Ouija board, marked with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0–9, the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’, was set out in the centre of a table. Participants then placed their fingers on an upturned glass, which acted as a movable indicator to spell out messages from the other side.
My dad watched for a while, as the group asked the ‘spirit of the glass’ the customary “Is there anybody there?”, followed by various questions like, “Do pets go to heaven?”, “Have you met Elvis yet?” or “Where did late Uncle Frank leave the key to the patio doors?”. The glass obligingly slid from letter to letter spelling out the answers.
Someone is pushing the glass, Dad thought, but I’ve got a question that no one here will know the answer to, so he joined the table, determined to expose proceedings as a charade (the old spoilsport).
My dad came from a family of six siblings, so he asked, “What is the name of my eldest brother?”
No one at the party, other than presumably my mother, would have been able to even name one of Dad’s brothers or sisters, let alone the eldest of either gender. In fact, I have just had to text my sister to doublecheck what order they were all born in myself. She pays attention to these things.
In response to my dad’s question, the possessed glass slid across the board to the letter K.
Ha! I’ve got ‘em, thought Dad, triumphantly. His eldest brother was called Geoff.
The glass then went on to spell out further letters… E… N… N… E…T… and H. ‘Kenneth’.
Dad immediately snatched his finger from the glass and pulled away from the table.
He did indeed once have a brother called Kenneth, but tragically he had died in accident as a child. That was the last name Dad was expecting to see or even thinking about. If Kenneth had lived… he would have been my father’s eldest brother.
Sweet dreams. X