It’s warm. I don’t have my coat. I walked down through Soho with my leather jacket slung over my handbag. Coming up the escalator at Tottenham Court Road, it could have been late July, humid and damp outside out the station, there is little relief exiting the underground. No bracing cold wind to chase away the stall tube air. But its not late July, it October, and by 7pm the sun is long gone and the festive lights are strung up ahead of the Friday night revellers, not yet lit but ominously signalling the onslaught of the Christmas. Friday night in Soho, unseasonably warm and its Halloween. Mischief and Mayhem wait in the wings, but for now she’s all perfectly applied black eyeliner, ladderless stockings and strategically positioned fangs. No one’s sold their soul just yet.
I’m not in costume tonight. I’m meeting old friends and taking a hiatus from hell raising, so the only make up I’m sporting is a slash of red lipstick which after kissing everyone hello, is smudged over various cheeks and foreheads. Having a table outside the bar we have front row seats for the warm up show, meaning our conversation is peppered with phrases like ‘check out the tossers dressed as power-rangers’ and mistaking a sexy waitress for our actual waitress more than once. The pubs have spilled out their costumed customers, doors flung wide open to the warm air. Jack’o lanterns winking in the windows, fake spider webbing over neon strip lighting.
By midnight I’m heading back home (for fear of turning into a pumpkin) and Soho has got involved. Her eyeliner is smudged, and the stockings are ripped. Three zombies are vomiting in succession outside a sex shop, a few sugar crazed 7 year olds are chasing each other down Dean street without parents, on scooters, knocking over a witch who can no longer balance on her stilettos. A couple are having a row at the bus stop, she is red eyed and shouting, he shuffling from one foot to another, his monster mask hanging around his neck looking forlorn and not nearly as scary as the his enraged girl who shoving him with her plastic pitchfork. Catwoman and her corpse bride pal are laughing behind their mobile phones, snapping gum and selfies while the N52 rumbles into view.
A dead marine jumps in front of me ‘BOO!’ he shouts,so close to my face I can smell the rancid booze and cigarette on his breath. Its feels violent. He laughs when I tell him to back off, he falls in with his undead platoon, whooping down Regent Street, shoving each other into the traffic. I give up on the bus when the countdown ticks up, 189 Cricklewood 20 mins – contemplating another 5 mins of the shrieking ghoulish hen party currently infesting the bus shelter is horrific enough. I’ll have to brave the last tube fright fest and take my chances.
By the time I get home I’ve encountered a vampire Alice in Wonderland and a coven of witches taking over the local kebab shop, and a trio of escaped convicts trying to negotiate with a minicab driver ‘honestly we’ll be 5 minutes mate, we’ll be right back…’
I fall into bed, wishing I could remember where I packed away my Carrie prom dress, the samurai sword from Kill Bill and my Cruella wig. I used to have this holiday licked. Next year, I’ll even carve a pumpkin.
London at its best, and its worst, dressed up as it’s darkest fantasies and best nightmares. Trick or Treat?