Friday, October 31, 2008

Who you gonna call?

have to say Derry City Council have pulled off a blinder with this year’s Hallowe’en celebrations.
Not only do we get to enjoy the usual fireworks display (approximately 15 minutes of ‘Oohing’ and ‘Aahing’ at 30 second intervals as the sky lights up) but we also get a host of other family friendly adventures including the drive-in movie screening of ‘Ghostbusters’.
With a four year who is dressing up as Peter Venkman for the occasion he has been almost uncontrollable with excitement at the prospect of seeing his favourite movie on the big screen. (Apart from the ghost in the library, he doesn’t like her one little bit - and sadly drive-in movies have no fast forward facility).
The truth is having a four year old has made Hallowe’en (‘Ghostbusters’ or not) all the more enjoyable again. I’ve gone through different stages of loving and hating Hallowe’en.
As a child, it was a great adventure altogether. We’d haul down old curtains, discarded First Communion dresses and cover cardboard wands with tin foil to make them shine and dress up as a variety of witches, fairies and vampires. Armed with our Wellworths bags we would take to the streets of Creggan, rattling on the doors of neighbours and sing-songing “Any ‘hing fer Halloween?” over and over again until our bags were laden with mandarin oranges, apples, monkey nuts and grapes.
If you were lucky the odd lollypop, toffee apple or rice crispie bun made their way into your bag. (There was a wee woman on Broadway who made the nicest toffee apples in the world ever!).
True success on the big night was measured in two ways however. Whoever got the most hazelnuts/ brazil nuts and survived a raid by one of the gangs from the neighbouring streets was the winner. We would sit, all on the carpet, pouring out our loot and fighting over the one pair of nut crackers my mother owned. If we got really impatient we would batter the living daylights out of the poor nuts with the back of the metal poker and try and catch the nuts before they sped across the room at the speed of light to disappear under sideboard never to be seen again. (Well not until the big Christmas clean anyway).
It was all good, innocent fun. (Apart from the evil raiders who were merciless with their hijacking of hard earned monkeynuts.)
I still loved Hallowe’en into my late teens and early 20s when you just had to make it out the town. I didn’t care then that you couldn’t get into a pub unless you went at an ungodly hour or that there was no chance of a seat or getting a drink from the bar without a ten minute wait and that a taxi home was out of the question. (Now that I’m well established in my 30s all these things are very important to me. Forget a mad night’s dancing - sharing a bottle of wine in a quiet corner of a bar with friends before stumbling into a taxi is my idea of non-pregnant heaven).
I remember my feet hurting for days after from all the dancing and the eerie feeling of the morning after the night before as worn out looking Cinderellas, bumble bees and werewolves wound their way home in the early hours. But it did then reach a stage where it all seemed like too much trouble.
Sure I’d watch the fireworks from the warm and comfy vantage point of my back bedroom window but apart from that it was a case of hiding from the wains who knocked at the door (yes, I became a Halloween Grinch) and putting on a distinctly unHallowe’en-y movie.
Having a four year old (and a Peter Venkman impersonating ‘Ghostbusting’ four year old at that) has changed things again and I’m almost as excited as I get at Christmas. We hunted for his perfect costume, complete with inflatable proton pack and I’ve managed to find a small toy ghost for him to “bust” all night. I
’ve been reading ‘Room on the Broom’ (a gorgeous, gorgeous children’s book) ad nauseum and singing ‘The Witches of Halloween’ on a loop. (Thank you to Mrs McDowell at Galliagh Nursery for reintroducing that to my repertoire last year).
Tonight (if we can tackle the fear of the library ghostie) we’ll be going to the drive-in and then on to watch the fireworks. Then it will be back to my sister’s for some Hallowe’en games, probably too much chocolate and maybe one or two hazelnuts smashed with the back of a poker.
There will be dancing to the “Monster Mash” and maybe a spot of ‘Trick or Treating’ (although I still prefer the old war cry of ‘Any ‘hing fer Halloween?’). There might not be drunken queues at the bar or the walk of shame home in the early hours but it will still be magical all the same.
If I thought there was a ghost’s chance in hell of it still fitting I would slip on my wedding dress and cover some cardboard in tinfoil to make a wand. So whatever you’re doing tonight - enjoy the party and let’s show everyone how Derry still does Hallowe’en best - be it with an old curtain, a drive-in movie or a fireworks display.

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