Saturday, October 31, 2009

Guising, anyone?

Hallowe'en. Guisers. None of your 'trick-or-treat' nonsense - that's American. Guisers had to go round in the rain and the dark and sing songs or recite a poem or be especially wonderfully dressed so as to elicit admiration and reward without the need to perform. Whatever you think is the right pursuit on this evening, I have never, ever done it.

When I was very small, we went out to friends in the next close (wally closes, if you're interested in such cultural minutiae) who hung treacle scones from the pulley in the kitchen and who dooked for apples both ways - the fork held between the teeth and dropped on the basin full of floating apples from the back of a wooden kitchen chair, or the whole head plunged recklessly into the basin to pick up apples with the teeth. My mother always opined that our hostess had the advantage as she had none of her own teeth and the false ones (we didn't call them wallies, we who lived in wally closes - too vulgar) were stronger than my mother's real ones. It was an occasion for much mess, much wet hair, and considerable hilarity. We always thought the adults were having more fun than us, but perhaps they weren't drinking chilly orange squash on a chilly October night.

But I was never, ever, allowed to go out guising. In fact, I don't recall ever dressing up - though I do remember sending no 1 son out to school as a mini punk with green gelled hair (food dye and my gel) and no 2 son almost passing out under my mini cape (floor length on him) when he was Darth Vader because of the heat at a Sunday School party. (This in the days when there were children in the church). But they didn't go out round people's doors either.

And that is probably why our hall light is off and the door firmly shut, and why no 2 son has already Tweeted a dare to any hapless child to ring his bell tonight. Just shows you how conditioned we all are by what happened all these years ago.

I wonder if kids went guising in the blackout?


  1. Mrs Tosh8:56 PM

    This such a mean spirited post. At least I now know where the lack of joy comes from...

    We have had some very cute kids coming round this evening. Even Mr Miserable acknowledged that.

  2. Yes, growing up Hallowe'en was nodded to with dunking for apples. the trouble with these 'holidays' in the States is a day gets stretched to a month or more. As a child I remeber a fortnight feeling like an eternity to wait fro anything.


  3. For us, toffee apples from the pulley - everything stuck to you after that!

    But we expected oranges, nuts etc.. Nowadays if it isn't a much greater largesse for minimal effort, then you are likely to get a seies of unrepeatable words hurled at you!

  4. Mean-spirited? I don't think so, Mrs T. Merely factual.

  5. Marilyn10:51 PM

    Guising was very much the tradition in 1950's North Berwick - but only to neighbours and friends of your parents. Great fun and then everyone crowded into our house as mum made such scrummy toffee apples. Yes, money changed hands but that was needed to buy fireworks for the next social event. The amount you made depended on how well you performed. My kids kept up the tradition (only sweets and nuts by this time - no cash)and is now it's the turn of my grandchildren. I see by their photos emailed to me from USA that they're not letting the side down. I do prefer the British turnip lanterns to the American pumpkin, though both smell disgusting when burning!