Entertainment Column #1

Column #1 - “Recollections of an Unusual Childhood”

I am an unusual person, I will say, not with pride or arrogance, but with fact – and I had an extremely unusual childhood. On top of being home educated with my five siblings in a rural British Town, I spent much of it travelling in a motorhome (RV) across Europe and the UK, meeting even wackier people than my weird (and wonderful) parents. And this, as you can imagine, lead to some strange yet fantastic stories to tell, which is what I will do in this column.

This particular tale recollects a certain Halloween Party that resulted in some marvellous escapades for a gang of eleven-year-old children on a sugar high. Since my parents aren’t into full-blown Halloween decorations or Trick o’ Treating, myself, my sister and our best friend, who lived round the corner, decided to take matters into our own hands and surprise everyone in a way that did not please them as much as it was intended to – and then go out-of-control because we were Halloween enthusiasts even if the adults weren’t. There were several events to the evening, so I’ll tell them all in order – and with the times as well, just so you can imagine us getting crazier and crazier as the night went on.

5:00p.m.
Decor

It all started with our trio deciding to display our decorating skills by first going to the local tip* to gather as many discarded Halloween decorations as possible (oh come on, my Dad’s from Liverpool, what did you expect?) and then transporting the assortment back to my house using our master plan – pedal as fast as you can on a BMX bike that is even too small for an eleven-year-old and crash several times as you go. Then it was on to my friend’s house (let’s call her “Sisa”, mine and my sister’s nickname for her at the time) to load up with her Halloween adornments as well, resulting in a tonne of decor of which half was whole, functioned correctly and didn’t smell of garbage, and then finally back to where my family lived to do our decorating in secret whilst both sets of parents were out. We did quite well, considering the condition of the adornments we used, but our fault was in adding natural decorations to the factory-made display. Who knew that when pumpkins are set on fire, they are extremely flammable? Or that pumpkins actually have insides that are very sticky and a pain to clear off a white carpet? And why does no one ever say that leaves should also be called ‘spider houses’?

And thus, to kick off the evening, my parents returned to a house covered in pumpkin, smelling of burnt vegetable and bins, and crawling with spiders. But hey, we were in costume!


6:30p.m.
Costumes

Ah, the joys of Halloween Dress-up. If you slap some makeup on your face, cover yourself in a curtain and pull a weird face, voila! You’ve got a costume. Since neither me or my sister had anything resembling an actual Halloween outfit, we did just that, whilst Sisa borrowed her Grandfather’s university cloak, grabbed an old broom and held an apple in front of her before declaring herself a wicked witch. Once content with this (and upturning the upper floor of the house in the process), we paraded out into the darkness to go trick o’ treating, leaving our parents to clean up whatever chaos we had caused.

7:00p.m.
Trick o’ Treating

Following our general rule, Me, My sister (A.K.A. Zinnia) and Sisa visited every house that had decorations up in our incredible costumes. Typically, this rule works in theory, however, we forgot one thing – that, aged ten, eleven and twelve, we were some of the most socially shy children you could ever meet. An example of where we went wrong is when at one house, when knocking on the door ready to shriek “TRICK OR TREAT” and get as much confectionary as we could, Sisa and I got an extreme case of what you could call ‘stage fright’ – meaning that we bolted before the owners of the house could make it to the front door and left Zinnia to gather the sweets whilst we watched from behind a hedge.

This happened for several times until Zinnia, fed up with being the only one at the door every time we rang the bell, grabbed me and sister and pulled us backwards before we could retreat, leaving us to stutter as the owner handed us lollipops and sprint away as soon as we’d taken them. This continued in a hit-and-miss fashion until we decided to try and get some courage up by acting like whatever we were dressed up as. Of course, this didn’t go too well either – let’s just say that we didn’t expect a seven-year-old child handing out confectionary with his parents would be terrified of zombies and proceed to slam the door in our faces.

9:00p.m.
Party Games

Returning from our mostly successful Trick o’ Treating, we were greeted with a brilliant surprise – mine and Zinnia’s uncle, aunt and cousins had come over to join the fun. Now one of my cousins [A.K.A. Ailsa] was the same age as Sisa, so we then proceeded to pull her into the fun. Not content with scaring a seven-year-old boy to death, we thought we’d pull a prank on my teenage brother, who was, at that time, living in his bedroom as a kind of nocturnal vole who played Minecraft all day and most of the night. The prank was simple, as was all of our plans – lure him upstairs with the information that our Halloween confectionary was hidden in the loft and promptly lock him in there with Zinnia and Sisa, who were still in full costume. Now, you see, the loft of our house was set into the side of the building, meaning it could be accessed from the top floor by means of a small door with an equally small key. So, after stealing the key from my parents, Ailsa and I successfully imprisoned Rory (my brother) in the dark, dusty area where Zinnia and Sisa waited in ambush.

I remember the follow up to the tense moment in which we shoved him through the door and locked it very clearly. First, he yelled, then, he screamed, and finally, there was a huge thump before a witchy cackle was halted in its tracks and everything went quiet.

The silence continued for at least twenty more seconds before Ailsa and I exchanged looks of panic and rushed to open the door, whispering something along the lines of “you know people can die from too much dust”. However, all we opened it to was more silence, and a few seconds later, I declared myself the hero and stepped into the inky black of the loft with the aim of finding my friends – dead or alive… (eleven-year-olds have fantastic, if not extremely inaccurate, imaginations).

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. A second after entering the loft, my ear-splitting scream sounded through the house as three gleeful pranksters turned my own plan on me and jumped out from the darkness in a shrieking ambush. After the initial terror, I proceeded to throw myself at the trio and then collapse laughing with them, even if I did protest I was ‘never actually scared’

10:00p.m.
Finale

The evening started to wind down after we (Ailsa, Sisa, Zinnia and I) had charged about for another hour but luckily not set the house on fire. The guests then made their way out to our back garden, where my Dad was having what you could call a bonfire fire, but in this ‘fire-pit’ – a metal dish on legs designed for open cooking. Once the customary marshmallows were finished, however, we discovered we still had the energy for one final misdeed - and yes, you guessed it – it involved the fire.

The sticks previously used for toasting marshmallows turned out to fantastically flammable, so of course we lit the ends on fire and watched them slowly burn it an ember. After that, there was even more fun – did you know that, when you wave a stick with a glowing ember on the end very manically in the dark, it looks like a lights display? The glowing ember, when moved through the air at a rapid rate, looks like a line of orange is being drawn in the black. So, naturally, we all started waving the (still burning) sticks around, mostly in front of each other, as close as you can get without actually burning the person….

And of course it would be me to get just a little too close.

In my defence, I didn’t mean to burn my sister. She was just a casualty of the fantastic lights display I was creating with my ember-on-a-stick. Besides, she was fine, a bit o’ water and Vaseline** and the burn was treated. It didn’t even dampen the end of the night – after guzzling ourselves on sweets and unintentionally trashing the house, the evening was declared a hit and we returned home both exhausted and joyful.

~

So that was a night of Halloween Festivities in the Le Fay Household – weird, chaotic and, in our mind, awesome. Let’s hope you have just as much fun as we did that Halloween this time around – just remember – scaring seven-year-old kids whilst trick or treating is definitely unacceptable.

**Vaseline - not sure if you have this in the US, so if not, it’s a kind of balm often used for lips and soothing cuts and burns.

Lilia Le Fay