Saturday, 25 October 2008

Wednesday 31 October 2007

Being slightly dubious about the process of Hallowe'en, rather than wishing you my compliments of this day, I invite you to have a very


My reasons for not enjoying this festival wholeheartedly are not, as you might have come to expect by now, me being merely curmudgeonly. I take no issue with harmless kiddies' parties and innocent fun. It is what lies at the root of the Hallowe'en ideal and what it can lead to that troubles me. I am not going to go into religious beliefs or any superstitions here - each to their own. Suffice to say that generally, I would tend to go with God (because, let's face it, God's got lightning and Darwin's got bark-all). A lot of what lies behind the well-meaning fun of Hallowe'en is very sinister and frightening. I don't mean the Harry Potter-type shenanigans; they are intended to be enjoyed and appreciated as fictions. No-one really knows what really happens outside the realms of life as we know it - but Ouija boards/séances/etc. can mess with your mind and leave you very vulnerable, regardless of whether or not they genuinely work. But what REALLY troubles me seems to be drifting towards us here in Great Britain across the Atlantic...

I recently looked at a Hallowe'en-themed 'entertainment' event in the USA, in which a friend is appearing, that has its own promotional website. I was so astonished that my whiskers nearly fell out. For 'twere not comedy witches and wizards being celebrated here. Oh no. 'Serial-killers' seemed to be the main theme. Axe-murderers, chainsaw-wielding nutters, blood, spatter, death and gore were on open display. Forgive me if I sound boring, but I don't particularly wish to see recreations of scenes like something out of the Charles Manson murder houses, or other heinous acts of similarly revolting crimes, billed as "fun for all the family". I enjoy excitement, and my partner especially enjoys a bit of naughty, raucous fun - but there is a line and anything that involves grisly death and dismemberment definitely crosses it.

ALSO - just before I have done with my boring little toot - let's not forget that at the end of the sixteenth and during the seventeenth centuries hundreds of innocent (mostly elderly and/or disabled) women, plus the odd man, child, cat, dog and indeed cow - yes - cow, were horrifically tortured and executed for "being witches". Perhaps it might be better to remember these poor s*ds at Hallowe'en, rather than chucking eggs and flour over strangers' cars because they refused a random request for a pawful of sweets.

"But JASPER"! I hear you cry. "What has gotten into you?" Yes, I know I am not one for righteous indignation in general. But I was thinking about this when I was out and about today, and I had to get it off my furry little chest. I hope you will forgive me. For we have had our own little Hallowe'en traumas in Castle Jaspula today. It started with a pumpkin.

My partner promised me that I could have my very own Jack o' Lantern this year. She has never had one herself, and I looked slightly interested when she mentioned it, which was the decider. Plus, she wanted to make some pumpkin soup. Despite the poor pumpkin harvest this year (due to the weather), my partner found a HUGE one in a local shop about ten days ago, and carefully stored it away until the appointed hour.

Cometh the hour; cometh my partner's customary misfortune. Being suspicious of gourds and squashes in general (especially those white ones - what the hell are they all about?!), I was in the kitchen watching closely as my partner began to prepare her soup. The ingredients were assembled and a large knife was taken up to slice through the top of the 'kin. There was a sudden movement from my partner upon slicing the orangey beast, which - remember - we had only had for ten days. The b*st*rd was completely rotten inside! A smell that cannot be described with any currently-existing words filled the kitchen. My partner and I both screamed, and I fled from the scene as far as I could manage without actually boarding an aircraft. That might give you SOME idea of the foul stench - I couldn't hack it, and I eat poo. My poor partner sped with the offensive gourd to the garden-composter and ushered its contents into the barrel as quickly as she could. Alas! The deceptively-still-orange rancid pumpkin had, upon being sliced, issued its noxious juices onto the kitchen worktop and under a glass cover. Emergency cleaning measures were taken. I don't think I have ever seen my partner move so fast.

Then, as if this were not trial enough, she had to rush up town in my little Green Corsa to procure more pumpkin because the soup was already under way. Happily, she went where she should have gone in the first place - to our friendly local greengrocer. (The offending pumpkin came from a supermarket. That'll teach her to keep it local...) Alan the grocer laughed sympathetically at our plight and then brought out a whole new box of pumpkins from his store especially for my partner. They were smaller, so she had to buy two, but at least these were guaranteed not to stage an all-out assault on our noses.

The soup was prepared successfully; I sampled a full ladleful to my great enjoyment, and was also very happy to discover that I like pieces of raw pumpkin too. Who'd've thought it, eh? Anyway, these pumpkin shenanigans took place yesterday afternoon, so THIS afternoon, with the whole traumatic episode fully behind us, we set to in the garden and carved our (now) three Jasp o' Lanterns. For the skin of "The Devil's Pumpkin" remained brilliant orange, so my partner found a particular satisfaction in taking a knife to it. I am sure there is probably some brilliant life-lesson to be had from the handsomest pumpkin with the prettiest orange shell that is rotten and stinking on the inside, but I have had enough sermonising for one day and I can't be bothered.

So - humbly begging your patience on our meagre first attempts at a Jasp o' Lantern - I present:

My partner's best effort at a photo of me with the Jasp o' Lanterns:

My partner's worst effort at a photo of me with the Jasp o' Lanterns:

Despite my inability to quite fully forget the smell of the decayed pumpkin-flesh, I have actually had quite a good day today. I was supposed to go to the vets today for injections and the re-examination of the mysterious lump on my right flank. But - hurrah! - the necessary vet is away on a course, so this dubious pleasure is deferred until next Wednesday! My partner is annoyed, as the lump apparently now has a near-neighbour of similar size which she found at the beginning of last week. But I grow not concerned. As I stated in my earlier posting: it will take more than a couple of anonymous lumps to bring down Jasper Stafford.

Happy Jasperwe'en!

Good night.
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