Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
This is of course from the Scottish Play, first acts, an incantation of the three witches. But it could also fit Halloween easily: witches, witchcraft, etc. And it was turned into a song in one of the Harry Potter movies (this one if I am not mistaken), sang in an Halloween scene. I usually upload a song for Halloween, this one is perfect. I do not have three witches, but I do have three Jack O'Lanterns, an Unholy Trinity. So here it is.
Cette citrouille, ce Jack O'Lantern, est peut-être classique, mais c'est le design préféré que j'aie fait cette année. Elle a une sale gueule dans le genre sinistre, une bouche dentée et dévoreuse. J'ai vu les autres citrouilles dans le quartier, et elles ne valent pas celle-ci. J'aimerais pouvoir la mettre à la fenêtre et offrir des friandises. C'est ce qui me manque le plus.
A quick video for tonight's countdown to Halloween post. I say this and I will probably post more. Because Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie are hilarious and because this is so funny in the funny because it's true kind. Trick or treat is still very controversial in this country, at least for some people.
Cette photo a été prise dans une chocolaterie/confiserie à la Gare du Nord. Des crânes et des citrouilles (je crois) en chocolat. Des chocolats sous les couleurs et les thèmes de l'Halloween (Halloween comme ils disent en France). Ca m'étonne: l'Halloween est vue comme une vilaine fête consumériste et américaine chez les Gaulois et chez les éléments encore religieux (lire: obscurantistes) de la société française (ils existent encore), c'est une fête démoniaque. Bref, voir ça, ça m'a comme redonné foi en la France. Bien sûr, c'est à Paris, et dans une gare qui donne sur l'étranger en plus. Néanmoins, c'est rassurant de voir que l'hostilité à l'Halloween n'est peut-être plus aussi hystérique qu'elle l'a déjà été.
This is the first of three pumpkins I will carve for Halloween. I wanted to do the other two, but was too tired. I tried to go for a look that was creepy and unsettling. I hope it worked. By the way, I wrote a story about Jack O'Lantern (it is a tradition on this blog), which you can read here and here).
Enfin, il semblerait que ça soit le cas, du moins à certains endroits: on risque de battre des records de chaleur, allant jusqu'à +20. Et les Anglais sont heureux parce qu'on a une fin d'octobre chaude. Misère! Je vais apprécier l'Halloween peu importe la température, mais je l'aime plus quand il fait frais, voire froid. Suis-je seul à vouloir des températures automnales pour l'automne, surtout lors de la fête qui marque la saison?
Before I do my countdown to Halloween post, I wanted to write a quick post to all my UK readers as a reminder: Autumnwatch is on tonight, at 08:00PM. My favourite UK program, about this country's wildlife in... autumn. It has many animals featured, including otters. These ones were seen in the otter sanctuary in Buckfastleigh. I thought they would illustate this post beautifully. So tune in.
Préambule: je ne suis pas un grand fan de porc d'habitude, ce n'est pas ma viande préférée. Étant marié avec une végétarienne, je mange peu de viande en général, par paresse je l'avoie, mais quand j'en mange, c'est très rarement du porc, sauf en saucisses. Mais c'est rarement du porc, porc. Or, lors de notre fin de semaine chez son couple d'amis, ils nous (enfin ils m')ont fait une casserole de porc aux pruneaux qui était vraiment bonne. Une recette de Mary Berry. Avec un vin rouge, c'est pas mal le meilleur repas avec de la viande que j'ai mangé depuis longtemps. Parfaite pour un soir d'automne frais ou froid. Et la preuve que les Anglais savent faire la cuisine.
Quick countdown to Halloween post for tonight and I announce a tragedy, or at least a dramatic moment: I am out of David's Tea's pumpkin chai. My tea for autumn and for Halloween. I drank all that was left of it last Sunday. Now I am completely out of stocks. I guess I should not complain: I still have my Halloween perfect mug, with its spooky design. But drinking something else than pumpkin chai is, well, not the same.
Vous connaissez la légende de la Corriveau? Qui a déjà existé, d'ailleurs, et on lui a donné une sale réputation. C'est du personnage de légende dont je veux parler ici, la meurtrière, un peu sorcière, dont le fantôme dansait avec le diable. Elle fait peur, ce personnage de légende. J'ai trouvé sur YouTube une vidéo qui en fait un joli petit film d'horreur contemporain et comme c'est l'Halloween bientôt j'ai voulu donner une touche québécoise à la fête avec ce petit bijou de film muet.
(Before you read this post, please read and comment part 1 and 2 of my last Jack O'Lantern story. A warning: it gets violent and nasty near the end.)
Tonight for my countdown to Halloween post, I thought about making you discover a horror story from the great M.R. James. Since I mentioned plenty of ghost stories recently, I also thought it should be one when the antagonist is not a ghost. Although at the time all horror and supernatural stories were called ghost stories, Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book has as its villain a demon. And the protagonist, like in most of M.R. James' stories, is a mild-mannered academic. You can read it online here. But I would recommend that you get your hand on a paper copy. In any case, read it by a dim light and enjoy. It is not very long. This was the first horror story he ever wrote and the second I read. It is one where evil is at its most malevolent and most inhuman. And it is one ugly monster too. Anyway, read, enjoy, and tell me what you thought of it in the comments.
Cette photo a été empruntée (ahem!) de la page Facebook de mon cousin Samuel Archibald. Je n'ai aucune honte, comme vous le voyez. Je l'ai téléchargée ici parce que je ne suis rendu compte d'une chose: je la connais depuis mon enfance et pourtant je n'y ai jamais mis les pieds. C'est d'une laideur sans nom, on s'entend. La brasserie, qui est en fait un bar entre Chicoutimi et Jonquière, est là depuis des décennies. Enfant, je trouvais les couleurs vives de l'enseigne assez intrigantes et l'endroit avait quelque chose de mystérieux et d'exotique. Bon, on est quand même loin de la mer. Et voir cette photo m'a fait penser à toutes les fois où je passais devant lorsqu'on se rendait à Jonquière.
This is part two of my Halloween story, see here for part 1. I might write an epilogue, as this is quite long.
Charity Fairchild did not feel the cold autumn air, did not care about her undignified clothing. All she could think of were the lanterns and the perpetrators, whoever they were. If only she could strike the children who had done it the same way she would strike the pumpkins. It must have been someone from the school. And she would find them easily. Her instinct and the Lord's help would allow her to find the culprits as easily as if she had seen them committing their vile act herself. And then she would extoll punishment Of course, not
hitting their stupid heads with a shovel (although she would have loved to do so), but spank them hard with the
cane she used for such duties. She would have to find an excuse for it,
some other misbehavior, as she had no intention to admit the school had
been vandalized like this. She had to destroy every evidence of the
crime, then see in the eyes of the pupils who were disappointed by the appearance of the place. Then find some other misbehavior they were guilty of, that would be easy enough, they were always guilty of something, sinners from the womb, ready to grow in depravity. And then, then hit them hard with the cane. Nobody would know but the guilty pupils, herself and the Lord.
Once in the playground, she put the bin down and held the heavy shovel with both hands. So many of these atrocities. Who did this, who desecrated her school like this, and why? She held the shovel high in the air, ready to strike one who seemed to be smiling at her stupidly. She was about to strike when she heard a mocking voice ahead of her.
"Oh Charity, I suggest you forget about breaking my fellow lanterns, it would be a long work and you don't have much time."
She rose her head, dumbstruck. The voice was the one of an adult man, not a child, not a teenage boy. It was strangely hollow, as if coming from a cave or the bottom of a well and had something of an Irish accent. Which would explain a lot, thought the headmistress. Nasty Papists and drunkards, all of them, savages who first developed this Satanist holiday. She looked where the voice was coming from. Sitting on the branches of a rowan three, she saw the man. He was tall and lanky, clad in old green clothes from another time, he had a very large and round head... And then Charity Fairchild saw that it was not his head, but a large pumpkin resting on the man's neck and shoulders, as if it was a helmet or a large mask. A pumpkin just like the other lanterns, with a mocking smile and wicked eyes. Looking at the trespasser, there was something strange that unnerved her: there was light coming off the pumpkin mask, the same orange tainted light that was coming from the lanterns, making the pumpkin shine like burning hot coal. The stranger jumped down the tree as easily as if had been a cat and walked to her.
"You, you did this!" said the headmistress with as much venom as she could spit.
"You have been tormenting these children long enough, I thought I would torment you a bit before you go to the grave."
He was Irish, most definitely she thought. She could hear the accent very distinctly now. And he was an adult, so there was no proscription about hurting him. She was merely defending herself and the school's property. She let him walk closer, trying to forget the glow coming from the pumpkin the stranger used as a mask.
"Shame on you!" she said. "For doing this abomination, you agent of Satan!"
"You should get educated. If you knew my story, you would know Old Nick and I are not on speaking term. Neither am I with the Old Man upstairs, mind you, so I am on nobody's side."
This was more than the headmistress could hear. Making some trivial comments about Christianity's revealed truths, making fun of hell and talking of the Lord in such blasphemous terms overwhelmed her with fury. She rose the shovel and plunge its sharp edge where the stranger's head was. Nothing happened. She felt the shovel hitting the lantern hard, then deflecting, as if it had ricocheted, to hit the ground. Or maybe it had simply gone through the stranger. She was not sure, she could not be sure of what she had seen and felt. But the shovel was there, stuck on the moist soil like a javelin. The stranger laughed.
"Your senses are not betraying you, stupid old bat! No human weapon has an effect on me. I think you should have guessed who I am now."
"You, you are a devil."
"I told you, Old Nick and I are not even friends. Acquaintances, yes, but we don't like each other. He tricked me a few centuries ago to give him my soul, I tricked him back and again so I would not go to Hell. As the Old Man upstairs considered me unworthy of Heaven, I was condemned to walk the earth until Kingdom Come."
The stranger stepped forward, so fast Charity Fairchild did not have time to walk away. She could see the pumpkin head well now. It was hollow, there was head in it, only a piece of burning brand producing a bright flame. The headmistress gasped.
"I am Jack O'Lantern," continued the spectre. "I have been walking this earth as a shadow of what I was, unable to enjoy food and drink as I used to, unable to get drunk as I loved to, yet remembering every bit of my wicked life, feeling the same thirst I ever had, which makes my suffering all the more bitter. This is the part of my curse which is mine alone, but I carry the seed of a curse with me, a curse which I give to those I meet on Halloween night. The same fateful night I tricked Old Nick. I bring death and ruin to those who see me."
"But you cannot hurt me, I am an humble servant of God!"
"Servant, yes, humble no. You think the Old Man cares about you, about what will happen with you now? We would not have met if he did. Tonight is your last night on Earth. You will not live to see November."
"You cannot punish me, I did nothing wrong, I was always a righteous Christian!"
"And you hurt and deprived those you considered not to be. I was what you call a sinner, enjoying life fully, not I cannot. Those children still can, and you are taking their pleasure and happiness away from them. I will give them freedom. This is my treat to them. This is my night. My rules. Old Nick gave it to me. The Old Man agreed with it. And now the trick is on you, Charity. A taste of hellfire."
Charity Fairchild saw that the cord of her bathrobe was now inside one of the lanterns, as if it had bit it. It was suddenly ablaze, running from the cord to her robe. She had a short cry of of horror, muted as she saw the dark ochre flames engulfing her clothes and herself. She felt the heat gnawing her skin swallowing her whole. In spite of the overwhelming pain, she started running, running to her house which she could barely see through the fire of the living torch she had become. She felt her slippers turn to ashes as she was running, her feet now bare of skin, only muscles and bones, every hair of her body being swallowed by the flames. When she reached her doorstep, leaning on it, all she could see before the heat boiled her eyes and made them burst from her sockets were her fingers withered into small black twigs. They broke hitting the door as what was left of Charity Fairchild turned into ashes on the porch, victim of the curse of Jack O'Lantern and the day she had always hated.
Before you read today's first countdown to Halloween post (there may be a second one), please read (and if you wish comment) the first part of this original Halloween story. Only on this blog. But right now, I would like to make you discover some ghost stories by Charles Dickens, from The Pickwick Papers. Which I have not read yet, as I read very little of Dickens. A shame, as he wrote some amazing ghost stories, which I truly rediscovered recently (see this post and that one). I guess now they have been obscured with his most famous ghost story, A Christmas Carol. Because yes, it belongs to the genre. Ghost stories have been a Victorian tradition, published and read around Christmastime. You see this influence in one of the tales in the Pickwick Papers. But I digress...
About two decades ago, when I was a child still unable to understand more than a few words in English and not being allowed watch horror movies because of an overprotective mother (my father was a bit more liberal regarding this), my brothers and I once stumbled upon this animated adaptation of the ghost stories told in Dickens novels. It was a weekend afternoon in October, I was desperately seeking to find scary stories, in book or movie form or whatever, to get myself in the mood for Halloween. It was on an English speaking channel, so we understood very little. We only watched the second half of the program, so we missed the first story and the first half of the second. We did understand that the second one was a tragedy, with the main character falling in love with a lady ghost, unable to fulfill his love before his death. And the second one had an uncanny resemblance to A Christmas Carol (in fact, it was its prototype). Which made me like it less, although I did find the goblins spooky. And the second story had plenty of adventures against angry, prone to fight ghosts, so this was the most exciting one for us, not unlike our Halloween game. In a way, not knowing English made us enjoy it more. The first one, I discovered later on, was a parody of ghost story. Not a proper horror story, although there are the classic scary tropes, as they end up deconstructed by a rather smart protagonist.
I rediscovered them years later on YouTube, thanks to PJ. You can find the first part here. As it is divided in six parts, I will not upload them on Vraie Fiction. Instead, I will give you the trailer, which gives you a pretty good idea of what will come. It is not the best animation, far from it, but it has nevertheless plenty of atmosphere and certainly worth a watch. Enjoy.
Je télécharge sans gêne aucune une photo prise par ma cousine Amy, qui est dans ses temps libres une artiste-photographe. C'est son violon d'Ingres. Je me permets de télécharger cette photo parce qu'elle me l'a permis et parce que c'est une superbe photo. J'aime que vraie Fiction prenne les couleurs de la saison, surtout lors de ma saison préférée, et il n'y a pas plus automnal que cette feuille morte.
This is my second countdown to Halloween post today, my first one can be found here. I took this picture in a local pub, of the tap label of the Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery. One of my favourite beers, maybe my favourite one. Certainly my favourite autumnal beer. It is the officious beer of Halloween, as they claim. Anyway, I had to blog it tonight: the label is so dramatic, so elaborate, with the many Jack O'Lanterns and the dark and firery colours. They seem to outdo themselves every year. Last year's pump label label was already great. This one is amazing.
Petit mot afin de souligner un petit évènement qui marque l'automne: cette nuit à deux heures du matin, on recule d'une heure ici. Ce qui veut dire que je dormirai une heure de plus et que le soir va tomber plus vite. Et que nous ne serons plus dans ce concept bancal d'heure "avancée". J'ai de la misère avec l'heure avancée. Je n'aime pas du tout en fait. L'heure normale, c'est ce qu'on devrait avoir durant toute l'année. Cela dit, le retour à l'heure normale me donne une raison de plus d'aimer l'automne.