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Seeing as my classes have to finish a test this week, as added incentive to do well, I had promised that if I was impressed they would get a Halloween lesson. Who was I kidding? I wanted to deliver a Halloween lesson so desperately, they knew they were getting one, even if all they did was scribble ‘hello my name is pencil’ all over the test.
Fortunately my kids performed excellently on the test so I didn’t have to demonstrate my weak will and lack of follow through and got to celebrate Halloween properly.
I LOVE Halloween. So much. I love the orange and black, dressing up and the sensation of pumpkins squidging into my nailbeds as I scrape out their insides. It’s probably my favourite holiday and whereas last year I spent Halloween drunk dressed as the murderous and sexually non-discriminatory transvestite Frank-N-Furter, this year will have to be a bit more family friendly. I am planning on revisiting the Halloweens of my childhood to teach the Chinese youth about the joy of wandering around in the half dark with the smell of fireworks in the air, cajoling your neighbours into giving you sweets and loudly demanding that you know THEY ARE home because you can see them moving even though they’ve turned their lights off and not to be so stingy with their sweets.
Halloween was the time for me and my cousins to don bin bags made into capes, wear facepaint and fake blood that would invariably give us some sort of rash the next day and wander the streets feeling like the night was OURS. Pie and peas with the family with the monster mash and Micheal Jacksons thriller playing in the background. The taste of bonfire toffee peeled from a sticky tart case and the fight over who got the biggest haul and would anyone swap an apple for a snickers.
Halloween has always been a favourite, quitting Brownies when an over ambitious vicar asked me to choose between church and my favourite holiday. I haven’t been back to church, whereas I celebrate Halloween every year. Because he was wrong, it isn’t unholy or blasphemous, it let me celebrate with my family, I felt free and glad to be alive, also I got to wear those awesome plastic witch fingers.
So this Halloween I found myself in China, the night before I had planned to give my halloween themed lessons I found myself questioning the point of trying to conjure enthusiasm about halloween in my students, that was round about the time the 80th of 120 cardboard pumpkins was sticking to my hand rather than to the correct bits of paper. Though the day was worth it. Halloween in China was awesome.
After explaining about the origins and customs of Halloween I got my students to name different kinds of costume they might see at Halloween, it took a while but one of them finally volunteered mummy. I had been counting on this and at that point whipped four toilet rolls out of my bag. The game was simple, there would be four teams and the first to create a fully covered mummy would win.
After the chaos of mummy wrapping I got the students to sit and decorate the pumpkin cards I had painstakingly been making for the last three evenings. As they were finishing off I drew the curtains and waited for the attention to fall on me. This is one of my favourite parts of Halloween, the scaring. I wanted the students to practise their public speaking and try making their own Halloween story, to get them started I told a couple of my own first. The first story about the murder of a pet dog by a devilish unknown monster got me some horrified looks but it was the telling of ‘Johnny, I want my liver back’ that got the best reaction. If anyone remembers, ‘Johnny’ is the tale of a little boy who is fed by his penniless mother, the liver of a recently hung criminal. At night little Johnny is haunted by the murderer on the first, second, third step and on until the audience is silent and rapt listening to the story teller whisper “Johnny, I’m on the tenth step, I want my liver back.” Then finally the storyteller grabs a member of the audience and shouts “I’M IN YOUR BEDROOM!” This without fail sent each of my classes squealing but the best reaction by far was Henry and Milly who between them fell from a chair and burst into tears, though it was quickly followed by hysterical laughter.
So I got to wear a witches hat, traumatise some kids and eat enough sweets to make my teeth hurt. All in all, how could it of been a bad day? Halloween wins every other day once again.