Monday, October 19, 2009

Halloween costumes

Halloween haunted house 2008
I do love a good Haunted House party

Growing up in Smarden, a little English village in Kent, meant that I never experienced trick or treating. There might have been the occasional children's party - I remember one at Vesper Hawk Farm where wonderful F&J organised apple bobbing in the crepuscular Tudor drawing room - but Halloween was more of an occasion for telling ghost stories and drawing pictures in felt tip pens of witches, black cats & pumpkins (which seemed terribly exotic back then), rather than shoving buckets of sweeties down our gullets.

That's partly because Halloween was never a big, popular celebration in the UK and partly because it was always over-shadowed by Smarden's version of Guy Fawkes (Bonfire Night) on the fifth of November when everyone in in the village wore fancy dress and paraded through the village on themed, tractor drawn floats before congregating on the meadow behind the Village Green (the Minnis) to watch a firework display and huge bonfire complete with straw filled Guy Fawkes effigy. *

I remember one particularly glorious year where the Brownies did an Alice in Wonderland float for Bonfire Night, and Lil'sis was the Cheshire Cat. Another year we were a mixed fruit bowl, with me as a bunch of grapes. (Green balloons stuck on a white pillowcase.) But never, ever costumes for Halloween.

That is, until I came to New York, and stuck a wary toe in the Halloween malarkey that goes on in Manhattan. In 2006 I was just visiting, so JD & I picked up a cats eye mask (me), and a blonde wig (JD), at GirlProps in Soho for drinks with some friends.

In 2007 I was with all my NYC girlfriends at Soho House for the Seven Deadly Sins party. I was determined not to dress as a hooker (look, unless someone can convince me otherwise, a nurse/policewoman/cowgirl/Snow White/Alice/whatever costume that consists of stockings, a corset, perspex platforms, micro mini and hoisted up breasts outside of the privacy of one's bedroom is a sex worker's outfit), so went as a Black Widow (avarice) in an LBD, mourning veil, gloves and stilettos.

Last year the theme was horror movies and I had intended to go as a murdered bride. Except that was nixed when the wedding dress I had intended to splash with blood failed to arrive on time from eBay. I compromised and went as a very restrained murdered person in a black silk grosgrain Osman cocktail dress with whitened face, a bloody gash across my neck and more blood trickling down my mouth. (Photo at top.)

I'll be in New Jersey this year. The boys have turned down supper in Manhattan to do the community thing out here, complete with decorated front lawn and candy for the local children, about which I'm rather excited, as I've never seen a proper American Halloween evening. (Running around NYC does not count.) GG was muttering about pirates last week, and I quite fancy a Pirates of the Caribbean style serving wench costume. Although maybe we'll just pop some wings on Finchley.

*(Although why the English still feel the need to celebrate the prevention of the blowing up of the Houses of Parliament & the execution of a Roman Catholic martyr/terrorist four hundred years later is slightly beyond me. Fact of the day: it was compulsory to celebrate by fiat until 1859, to celebrate the deliverance of the King of England. Thanks Wiki for that.)