A Dundonald guide to ‘Hallaween’ in the 80s

Hello, and welcome to my guide to Hallaween in 1980s Dundanal.

Back then, a chile in Dundanal would get more excited about Hallaween than they did about Chrismus. It was the one day a year they could dress up as ler favrit superhero and be that person for the whole day.

But nine tymes outta ten, despite bein promised they were getting a He-man costume, ler granny wud take lem down la Newtownards Road on the No8 bus and get lem a 50p false-face outta fuckin’ Glovers or Cheepers.

Those false faces wor attached to yer head by a ridiculously tight elastic string which wud often cut the circulation off after a wile. The hard plastic casing had two piss-holes ya cud see fru and sometimes if the plastic gotta wee nick in it, you’d lacerate the fuckin’ bake clean aff yourself.

If you’d enough of slicing yer bake with the aul false-face, ya cud always ram in the ‘one size fits all’ vampire teeth yer granny bought ya. Unless yu’d a fuckin’ gob on ye the size’a Mick Jagger’s, yer mouth was ripped open like thon Joker fella in the Dark Knight.

Once you’d rammed the plastic teeth in, some relative wud come over with the aul ‘Vampire Blood’. This here dark red liquid wud permanently stain anything it would come into contact with and came in a wee bottle which had no health and safety warnings on it. Yet here was yer aul aunt Ethel squirtin the fuckin shit in yer mouth and eyes.

While she was down in Glovers and Cheepers, yer granny wudda spent la rest of her bru money on 6ft cardboard Draculas and skeletons. Then every bawsterd wud stick lem to the walls and ceilings using brass tacks, totally wreckin the wallpaper and plaster work.

Yu’d all play games like ‘duckin for apples’, which was the least hygienic game in modern history. A house fulla dentally challenged people fishin apples outta a basin fulla water usin only ler putrid aul mouths. After the whole post code had ler bakes in it, the water to saliva ratio stood at 2:8.

Another unsafe thing to give young childer was an apple tart fulla some of the biggest bastardin’ coins ever minted. The odd time someone would choke on a 50p and they were told, ‘fuck up and stop complaining you ungrateful wee shite’.

Apples hangin from the ceiling which you had to eat with your hands behind your back wuz another cracker. I don’t know what hurt more, the misdirected head-butts or occasionally that the apple would swing away and come back to smack you in the teeth like a big cider tastin’ wreckin ball.

Then yu’d take a wee race down to Tommy’s van. The type’a neighbourhood convenience that existed before the likes of Centra. It sold sweets, WWF stickers, fake fegs that had been dipped in ammonia and most importantly, Bengal matches. Am nat really sure lat sellin a bax’a matches til a chile was a great idea. In fairness, he did ask me if I was 16, even though I was clearly only 8.

Then yer ma wud hand ye a pack’a ‘Sparklers’. A metallic rod covered in an explosive that could reach 2,000 degrees Celsius. And there’s you prabably wrapped in a bin-beg – but ‘fuck it’ she’d say, ‘there’s a full pack – and an aul lighter. You and yer brother have a ball luv’.

Then the real fireworks would come out. Yer granda wud get a bax off some dodgy cunt in work coz the peelers banned lem at the time. Then the ‘hard mawn’ of the street wud stick some rackets inside a milk battle and light lem – while the rest of the street wud duck behind ler fences as if it was the fuckin’ launch of Apollo 13 or sumfin.

Then you’d all go out with your carved turnips (pumpkins were for ‘snobby bawstards’) you’d bought in Wellworths and go ‘knockin la doors’. ‘Knockin la doors’ is the same as ‘Trick or Treating’ – but if you saidsomethin’ gay like that in Ballybeen circa 1987 yu’d have gat yer ballix knocked in so ya wud. It was also something you could do unsupervised in those days, without the fear of being dragged you away by someone yu’d now see doorstepped in a Predator Hunters sting video.

At the end of la night the whole house stank. Yer granda would be sittin in la corner carving a turnip and your granny wud say ta ye, ‘I’m sick of that smelly aul vegetable – and the turnip’.

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