Sorry this post is a day late, and probably a hundred words short. A big boobrie came and took it.
A boobie, according to this interesting page of creatures of Scottish folklore, is
[a] gigantic black bird, which is supposed to have lived in the lochs of Argyllshire. It had webbed feet and fed on cattle.
And of course, it only makes sense that a monster should have been stealing my homework yesterday. It was, after all, Halloween.
Even in the few years I’ve been back in Scotland with Mrs Stroke Bloke, I’ve noticed a change in Halloween. When we first moved here, it would take some looking to find a pumpkin. Now, they’re got pride of place at the front of the supermarket. I was out in town on Saturday night, and student-age types were all over the place in costumes.
When I was a kid here in Edinburgh, Halloween costumes were almost exclusively for kids, and we carved our lanterns out of turnips. They were legendary for being a pain in the arse – and dangerous – to carve, but from experience I’d say the same is true for pumpkins. Admittedly, the latter allow for a little more artistic expression. But they don’t really get that terrifying shrunken head aspect.
I stumbled across post on the social meeds today, wherein some Scots were losing it over the Americanization of Halloween. I’m very leery of this type of thing, which too often degrades into an ironically uninformed set of rants about the ignorance, consumerism, and insularism of the average American. I’d wager that few of the correspondents had read The Federalist Papers or, say, Thomas Geoghegan’s book of American labor, Which Side Are You On or Richard Rorty’s history of leftist thought in twentieth century America, Achieving Our Country.
Anyway. Having set my mind on writing about Halloween, I had the phrase Here Be Monsters in my head as a title. But I didn’t know its origin.
Ian Wiki tells me that
Like the Lenox Globe above, on which the term appeared around the east coast of Asia.
Another thing I’m leery of is unthinking nationalism and nostalgia.
Nevertheless, I wonder if it’s a shame that for the kids round here, the past is a place where be monsters. That they’ll have a Halloween that’s a little less possessed of scary magic, and effort. Decades later I still fondly remember Halloween being a time of guising, when trick-or-treat actually did mean you had to tell a joke or sing a song; dookin for apples; or eating a treacle-covered scone hanging from a rope with no hands. A let’s face it, Sexy [insert name of costume here] is a tricky prospect up here as October turns to November.
There, Halloween spirits! Have I gained your mercy? Can I post now? Or will I suffer the same fate as that wee nyaff Linus…?