Gazebo, Goodies and the Grim Reaper

This is from a Guardian article on Saturday 17th October entitled Spooky films and scare trails: how to have a Covid-safe Halloween. I was one of several readers who contributed.

Elinor Kirk, from Fife, is planning to decorate her garden and create a window display with skeletons, witches and a pumpkin. “ “I will be wearing my Dark Fairy outfit and my creepy playlist will provide suitable songs like The Monster Mash and The Time Warp,” she says. “I hope we will be visited by the boys from next door who can join in dancing, dooking for apples and eating treacle scones, but if we can’t have visitors, my husband and I will dance and dook on our own.”

by Linda GEDDES

Saturday night was Hallowe’en. Was it as I’d envisaged? The previous weekend the gazebo blew down, an essential bracket snapped along with almost all the guy ropes. Wind and rain continued and there was some doubt about going ahead. Undaunted, I sourced the part on ebay, bought some heavy nylon twine from the Fishermans’ Mutual in Pittenweem, and sent for three gazebo ‘walls’ from Argos. By Thursday they had all arrived. Updates from the Scottish Government meant we could meet in the garden as planned. In the continuing saga of my operated knee, another fall meant a phone consultation with the arthroscopy department with advice to rest for at least two weeks. At 3am on Saturday morning, Cannyrob and I were jolted awake by a fearsome clanking, grinding noise from outside. We immediately thought of the gazebo and put coats over our pyjamas to investigate. The gazebo was coping pretty well with the wind and rain and we worked out that the noise was coming from somewhere nearby. I put in earplugs and tried to get back to sleep. In daylight I saw that a metal bin lid was rolling back and forwards in the wind.

Last minute touches were added to the window, a nine year old sugar skull, a wooden skeleton and some more fairy lights. My friend B was particularly pleased with her creepy hand emerging from a box (glove with wire and old tights). Hallowe’en morning was dry and not too windy, so we began attaching guy ropes to the roof of the gazebo. I had found some tips on YouTube and practised my bowline and truckers hitch until I’d I’d got them almost perfect. Some heavy objects were used to weigh down the walls – a stone lion, a large pot, some bricks. Costumes were donned – Dark Fairy for me with thermal underwear and boots, my son’s Grim Reaper outfit with scythe for Cannyrob. B was an elegant Edwardian ghost with her long hair in a plaited crown. The Sonos speaker was set up in the greenhouse to blast out my Hallowe’en playlist. One complete fail was my effort to hang treacle scones from strings in the ‘through gang’ (passageway}. First, there were no treacle scones to be had and I was using doughnuts instead, dipped in treacle. Second, the string I was using kept breaking.

At this point our guests arrived: Harry Potter, a smaller Grim Reaper and a very glamorous Day of the Dead Senorita. I gave up and put the scones on a plate. The boys gamely tried to eat them without using their hands but it was sticky. Dooking for apples was more successful. It was very cold and windy and although the firebowl was burning merrily it was emitting too many sparks to huddle round. Blankets were provided, however. We had laid out plates of goodies – eyeballs, gingerbread skeletons, jelly bones and brains in the greenhouse, which meant a major sugar high ensued. This coincided with The Monster Mash and The Time Warp on the playlist. Everyone danced (my knee protested but it was worth it!). Our neighbours went home and we settled down to pizza and a movie, Hotel Transylvania. It was a great distraction from current events and so nice to welcome visitors who were last in our garden in the summer.

I was curious to see what the Tarot cards would show at this time of a new moon and All Souls Day. With Brexit, Covid and the US election looming ever larger, I chose to try a three card spread with cards chosen randomly from the Major Arcana.

The first card represents the present or a question. Predictably it is The Falling Tower, both prison and asylum. Escape is only possible by leaping into the unknown. Like the Hanged Man of previous months, it represents a state of uncertainty and inaction, with the threat of further destruction to come. The next, which shows the immediate past or a current influence, is Force. One of my favourite images, she is a vulnerable yet strong woman, brave enough to place her hand in the lion’s mouth. My female friendships and family relationships have got me through these difficult months and we will go on relying on each other. Women politicians and leaders continue to set an example. The last card shows the potential future or outcome. The Emperor represents worldly power, reason and fairness. Of course, all of this is simply a projection of my own feelings, which allows me to reflect on how things might turn out. A trustworthy leader would be a good thing though.

My friend A came up with a good word – vicarity – meaning absorbing, experiencing events from someone else’s life. She has family far away who have sent lots of photos of Hallowe’en fun. Maybe we all experience this to some extent. We exchange stories of our everyday lives and find interest and comfort in them. I recently found a photo of an old friend who was killed in an accident many years ago. I thought I’d try drawing her and found it took me back to our friendship as teenagers and young women. I remembered that in a box in the attic I have her letters written over two decades, from Canada, Thailand, South Africa and Oxford. Another twenty years has passed since I looked at them. I think it’s time I read them again. She led such a varied and interesting life, very different from my own at that time.

That’s it for now. No space for books this time but will definitely update you in next post. Who knows where we’ll be in a month’s time? Will the world be a better place? Will we be planning Christmas dinner in the gazebo? Will I be swimming in the harbour again? What do you think? What will you be doing? Thanks for all your feedback. Keep in touch. And stay safe. Remember you can email privately on timewithelinor@gmail.com

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