We were all a bit self-conscious in our finery - apart from the kids who had a fine old time of it: Mac looked fab in the costume Ruby Over The Road had made for him Tom and Ben arrived as half unwrapped mummies, Luke an extremely convincing corpse (complete with jelly worms poking out of his dusty, musty suit. Ian was a believable werewolf whilst Caitlin’s only concession to Halloween was a white sheet with eye and nose holes. Underneath it she wore one of her glitzy party dresses and “a new pair of lovely shoes”. That child gets more like her mother every day. Bea was dressed entirely in black with her Titian hair tied back with a black ribbon - it wasn’t entirely clear what she had come as but David suggested Mrs Danvers the mad housekeeper from Rebecca as she kept telling everyone that Caitlin had “insisted that I cut up that sheet - it’s finest Egyptian cotton - I won’t even begin to tell you the thread count”.
Auntie Ivy and I were both witches (although I was sparklier), Janey’s bump was painted to look like a pumpkin (“I kept smudging it on the sodding steering wheel”) and we all congratulated Darren on his costume: he’d strapped his arm up at an awkward angle and kept making suitably spooky yowling noises. Well, how were we to know that it was strapped up because of an injury he’d got the previous night during a match? He’d added fake blood for that realistic gory look but the pain was real. Still, he was fine after three lagers, especially when Janey asked him when his next Panadol were due.
David and Stephen (both in costumes that were designed to ensure that everyone knew that they hadn’t planned anything in advance) were in charge of food and drink distribution and so became Ghostly Butlers. They fitted in well with Bea who kept asking me where I kept my napkins and doilies. Matthew arrived dressed as Frankenstein whilst Lydia was a Fallen Angel (wonky halo, smudged bright red lipstick, stilettos, skin tight red dress and cigarette permanently on standby).
Assorted other guests dropped in and out of the party dressed in all manner of costumes - Frank and Marjorie arrived during a lull in Trick or Treaters “We’ve had fifteen kids through the house, sampling our wares!” Marjorie trilled as she flitted over to partake in a Spooky Sandwich. She was dressed in a rather flimsy outfit and took to raising her arms and making “wooooh!” noises. Saskia (yet another witch - I was still sparklier) said that she “glimpsed an unrestrained boob” which put her off the Bloody Punch. Ruby Over the Road popped across, not to party, but to drop off a batch of bat shaped iced fancies.
It was very atmospheric to say the least - we had dry ice courtesy of a machine that Charlie had appropriated from somewhere random (she was dressed as a saucy devil in black pencil skirt and five inch heels), spooky sound effects from the CD that Matthew bought with him, pumpkins glowed with tea lights (as did the couple of orange peppers that Bea bought with her - Sainsbury’s had sold out so she panic bought) and a good time was had by all. The Bloody Punch went down well, as did Heaven’s Nectar (ice cold vodka) and the Drink from Hell (tomato juice and copious amounts of Worcester sauce).
But here’s the strange thing. Amelia’s threats of “talking to Father Thomas” about us heathen unbelievers caused a few titters - even David laughed at the thought of his mother reporting our party to the local Catholic church. We also realised that we’d made a boo-boo by not inviting Alex the Medium as he could have provided us with a few other-world guests. All very flippant and light hearted you might agree - until we decided to take some pictures.
We had our camera, so did Bea and Matthew, all digital and ours had new batteries. Ours didn’t work. It turned on and made the usual reassuring beeping noises but, when it came to actually taking a picture, the camera died. Matthew tried his - same thing. It turned on, but died when it came to taking a picture. Making jokes about our “inferior camera equipment”, Bea was snapping out in the garden (she got a lovely shot of Senior Dog peeing up my rose tree) but inside the house, when trying to take pictures of spooky revellers......it died.
Out we three went with our cameras and took random shots of the street. All three worked. Back inside, faced with an overly posed shot of Charlie, Saskia and Lydia, all three cameras refused point blank to do what cameras do. “Ah well” said David, whizzing past with a bottle of Speckled Hen, "we’ve got the camcorder”. Matthew wasn’t too worried and Bea was threatening to write to Panasonic about their shoddy goods. I went upstairs and had a quick word with Gladys.
I didn’t think that she minded us having a good time but was a bit concerned that she might think we were making fun of her, well, her dead status. I said my piece and waited to be struck down before returning to the party and trying not to worry too much.
This morning, once Mac was safely at nursery (armed with left over scary biscuits) I sat back and tried to remember how to play back the camcorder. Pushing buttons and cursing loudly, the screen suddenly flickered into life and I sat there peering at it. It was blank, save the odd sprinkle of static. Charlie came for lunch and she had a go. Same thing, no sound, no picture, nothing. We could see that we’d recorded nearly an hour of footage but nothing. “David left the lens cap on!” she giggled. She stopped giggling once I told her that we’d lost the lens cap last summer and hadn’t replaced it. Besides, you don’t need to take a lens cap off to record sound.
Oh. And both cameras work now by the way........