Munro, Mary

I've ay likit Halloween! Maybe, lang syne, in anither life I wis a wizened auld witch fa enjoyed aa the shennanigans o Halloween nicht, afore coorin doon tae hide awa the neist day. Ay, maybe I hiv a gweed jelp o heathen bleed, for richt frae the time I wis a bairn I've ay hid thon belly grippin feelin as October days grow short, an the time for ghoulies an ghaisties comes roon again.We rakit the glory hole, an mam's auld rag bag for weeks afore.

'Fit are ye gaun as, at Halloween?' ye'd be speired at the squeel.
'I''m nae tellin,' cam the answer, as sure as faith. Warm drawers under granny's jet beaded frock wis a good notion ,as the nicht could be cauld like death itsel. There wis thon tartan shawl that mither eesed tae weir roon her shooders fan she hid the flu...that wid dae fine wi a fause face wi a lang plooky nose an a pinted chin.

Gweed be here, ye thocht wi a smirk as ye tried on the auld braws ae nicht, O fit a ticket.
I jist need tae mak some hair that looks like cats' sookins an I wid fleg onybody I meet.

The day afore, ye daundered doon the Tullich road, jist as innocent as a lammie. Quick as a wink, in ower the palin, alang the neep dreels ye crept, lookin for the richt neep. The bashed tattie bogle squinted at ye wi his gley een, bit niver said a word. As seen as ye found a neep that wis even-like, an nae shargaret or wizzent, in unner the oxters o yer jaiket ye plunkit it, an oot the road ye went, the dubby neep filin yer gweeed school claes aneth yer jaiket.

Aince the lamp wis kinnelt, an the wax cloth wis back on the table, faither wad gie ye a haun tae scoop oot the hard bits o the neep. Ye didna wint a foggy neep...they didna taste gweed, for it wis fine tae chaw some o the juicy, yalla, neep as ye worked awa.

There wis a fine smell tae, a bit like the smell o warm foamy milk an sharny tailed coos munchin their sliced-up yalla neeps. Aince ye'd scoooped it oot, ye made its physog as coorse an frichtsome as ye could manage, big tuskers o teeth an bleed comin oer the jaw, a nose ooto o a carrot, an gless bools for the een. Wool wippit roon the lid made a gweed heid o hair.

Fin aa wis said an deen, I wis fair tricket wi this year's neep lantern. There wis a look o Auntie Nellie aboot the face. Faither aye said she hid a face that mynt him o a neepie lantern! A bit o caunle, a length o binder twine, an it wis deen. Halloween nicht could come noo fan it likit, fir I wis ready.
Halloween that ae year I myn o, wis cauld, the kin o cauld that jeels yer bleed. as the dark crept doon, as did the frost, snell and keen. Aifter yer tea, that ye could hardly swalla for excitement, ye dressed up in yer Halloween gear, fine an warm, kinnelt yer lantern ,an set aff doon the walkie tae meet twa or three o yer cronies.

Lauch an cairry-on ye aa did, as ye fingered ane anithers' ferlies, claes frae auld kists that hidna seen the licht o day for fifty year, auld beets trailed oot frae the wash hoose press. Aabody hid a neep, some frae the gairden ,an some snaffled like yer ain frae the fairmer's park doon the road side. They'd aa spent a lang forenicht howkin their lanterns as best they could .

Aff we set on oor roons o the village. It wis jist an unwritten law that ye stuck tae yer ain streets. Ye niver thocht o poachin on ither bairns' territories, bit seen ye heard them, bourachs o bairns, rigget oot like yersel, lauchin an kecklin as they trauchled alang in trailin frocks an beets that didna fit.

'We'll ging tae Jessie Johnston's first...She aye gings tae her bed at seven, an forbye she aye gies ye a gweed haunfu o sweeties an a saxpence as weel!'
Jessie wis waitin for her guisers..she wid hae been fair doon hertet gin we hidna geen her a knock.
'Ony Halloween ?' wis the cry, as her reed slorach o a face beamed at us frae the porch.
'Ye'll need tae dee a turn for me first,' she wheezled, so we trotted oot the feel jokes an rhymes ,an sang yon sappy song aboot a wifie on a rock in Germany. We'd learnt it frae the singin wifie last week, an we thocht it wis a bit glekit, bit Jessie thocht it wis awfu bonny an haunded oer oor sweeties an things wi- oot a myowt.

'Awa ye go noo ye limmers an dinna wauken the wifie doon the road at Loanmay, she's near eneuch at death's door so she winna wint you lot rappin at her door the nicht.'
As we pass a road end, twa or three geets shout
'Ging doon tae Mrs Henderson's, she's makkin chips,an ye get them in a real paper poke!'

Aff we raced tae Aggie Henderson's, an sure eneuch, there wis a line o bairns at her back door. The windae in the scullery wis wide tae the waa an the sweet hum o fat an fryin tatties made yer wame turn ower. We waited oor turn, hopin the tatties widna rin oot, or the chip pan ging up in a bleeze afore we got oor chips.

Seen aifter we'd said oor bitties tae Aggie, we fairly got a poke o bilin het chips,lathered in salt an vinegar. Fit rare they tasted in the frosty nicht air wi yer het braith makin a mist fan ye opened yer moo! That wis the best we iver hid! But we did the roons, even the bobby's hoose. Fan he cam tae the door wi his carperts an his galluses on, michty me, he looked like ony ither mannie wioot his uniform an his helmet. An for aince, he forgot foo only a wikk back ,he'd catched ye in Lang Tam's gairden,pinchin his soor aipples.
He wis near eneuch human that nicht o Halloween,an he lauched an joked in thon hoarse wye he hid, as tho he'd a buckie stuck in his thrapple.

'Get aff the streets bi nine o clock or I'll skelp yer docks for ye!' wis his send aff tae us,bit we jist gied a lauch an left him on the doorstep, grinnin like an ape an mynin fine o the nichts fan he hid deen the same as a bairn an nae hairm taen.

Ma's auld patchwirk bag wi the cane haunles wis gettin real heavy as we wandered on, knockin an singin like linties, till seen oor throats were dry an sair. That wifie in The Buildings maun hae been a witch,for she kent that we needed a drink o lemonade tae help us on oor road. The bag jingled an knappit against oor happit legs. Seen, we'd deen the street.

There wis a special feel aboot that nicht...as though something coorse an horrible micht jist loup oot at ye roon a corner. We bade in twas an threes jist in case! Lang efter half eicht, fair founert, we left ane anither tae trail hame. Aince in the hoose, yer lantern, lang oot an smellin foosty wi its burnt neep smell, wis left in the porch tae be thrown oot wi the scaffie the morn's mornin. Aa the auld claes cam aff in a flash, an wi dirlin fingers ye teemed oot yer bag. We were greedy deevils bit it did yer hert gweed tae see aa the tangerines, aipples, toffee, granny's sookers, nuts, wine gums an even a sair heidie wrapped in a paper hunky spread oot on a rag rug afore the fire.Ye coonted yer pennies an saxpences like Midas wi his siller....ten shillins an saxpence...I bet that's mair than Jock got next door! Aa ye got frae mam wis a gentle scud on the lug tae get ye tae the sink tae sweel yer hauns an face, for there wis squeel the morn.

So that wis Halloween. for anither year...bit it wis rare fun ye thocht, as ye drifted aff tae sleep, maybe tae dream o aa the ghaists an creepy things ye could hae met in the darkened nicht streets.I div believe in witches an ghosties, ye murmer tae yersel as yer een close, or else there widna be a Halloween!