A Remembrance of Halloweens Past - TIH Column

My latest column for those lovely folks at This Is Horror

“A few years back I won an award for a short story collection. So proud was I of this achievement that I made sure the award was prominently displayed in my downstairs toilet.

At about the same time we were having some work done on our cottage. A local builder was taking up the floorboards in the front room. After using our downstairs loo he mentioned, with some apprehension, while I was making him yet another cup of tea, that he’d spotted the award.

“So you’re err … you’re into that, err … that sort of thing then Jasper?” he said in his broad West Country accent. I admitted that I liked horror and had written rather a lot of it over the years.

“Tell you what Jasper,” he said, eyeing the floorboards as though he was wondering if he shouldn’t give me a little more time to re-hide whatever I’d left under them. “I’ll have one of my lads come round and finish this up in the morning, if you don’t mind.”

The hasty retreat our builder subsequently beat, is not an uncommon occurrence to those of us who work in the horror field, nor to those who consider themselves a fan. Though, on the whole, you couldn’t hope to meet a nicer, gentler and more well-rounded group of individuals than horror writers and horror enthusiasts, people tend to view you with distinct suspicion if you spend a lot of your time wondering just how much of the front of your house you could festoon with human innards before you were forced to butcher another corpse. Or how long it would take a dismembered body to decompose if the various parts were artfully gaffer taped to the gnomes in your front garden?

Except on Halloween of course. On Halloween your neighbours will all come round and praise you for the creativity and imagination of your house decorations. If it’s a slow news day the local newspaper might even send someone down to take photos. It would only be a week or so later, when the pumpkins and plastic witches had all been packed away, and the smell of decaying flesh was making your neighbour’s prize azaleas wilt, that anyone would think to call the police.

That’s because Halloween is the one time of the year when everyone shares and celebrates our dark and twisted obsessions. When Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees are welcomed into homes all over the world like weird Anti-Santas who take away presents of candy, chocolates and other tooth rotting treats without leaving a thing in return. Halloween is the national holiday of the international tribe of loners and misfits who spend the rest of the year in darkened rooms listening to Slayer and poring over their lifetime collections of Fangoria …”

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