Tag Archives: festival

A carnival of clowns

It is that beautiful time of year again, you know, the time of year where leaves change colour and start to cover the pavement in warm colours, when there is a tinge of frost on your breath as you rust to the bus stop in the morning, when you start hearing reports of clowns terrorising your local….

Oh wait, what?

This is a fairly new phenomenon that I really didn’t realise was even… well a phenomenon until very recently. In late August reports started coming out of America that people dressed as clowns were trying to lure children away into forests. This quickly escalated into the clowns coming up to residences and appearing at windows, banding on doors, being a nuisance. I wasn’t alone in wondering at the logic of this, in a country where guns, to a degree are fairly commonplace. I assumed, that this would just be something isolated to America… or maybe I hoped. But no, it wasn’t long before they turned up in the UK. Now, living in Northampton, we had the Northampton Clown a couple of years ago (I am now informed that this was in correlation with the release of either the book or film, IT) who has since been unmasked. In all fairness, he was fairly laid back, and would leave cryptic messages on his FB page, giving clues as to where he would next turn up. He would always just appear standing in the middle of a car park, street corner. Always quiet, never interacting. 


But since then, things certainly seem to have escalated. It is hard to pin down exactly when clowns started becoming synonymous with Halloween, or when they started terrorising locals – I mean until the Northampton Clown, it was not something I had come accross. And given to urban legend, second hand stories and various differences around the country, you will get told either they haven’t until this year, or that it just something that happens every autumn. Although this year is slightly different in that this escalated quickly and the police have since had to put their foot down and stated that anyone dressing as a clown will run the risk of being arrested on sight. 


But is dressing as a clown any different from other festivities that come along with this time of year? This is the last hurrah, the party before we all buckle down for potentially a hard winter. I mean traditionally… historically if you will. Halloween has always been a time for scares, pranks, for the veil between the living and the dead to be that little thinner. All Hallows… Eve? and The art of carnival! both explore the history behind our need to let loose. I mean even looking at the football season, especially when it is an international tournament. The fact is that, we are tuned into needing days to let off steam. We are lucky that now we have, as a basic standard, a 5 day working week and 4 weeks holiday, bank holidays. 


And while I am meandering to my point, bank holidays, to a greater extent have taken over from festival days, although I don’t wish to repeat myself if you have clicked the links to my previous blogs. Not, actually, all that long ago, we didn’t have the luxury of time off, and relied on festival days to blow off steam. Halloween is a time of year that we are slowly taking back. It has always been a time of celebrate, but we have slowly moved it over to a child’s holiday, not something for adults to concern themselves with. Why would we want to dress up and pretend to be someone else? Why would we want to put on a mask for an evening? Why indeed! 


I don’t condone the idea of people dressing up as clowns to terrorise people, frankly, outside halloween it is kinda.. creepy whether you like clowns or not. And it really does give people the excuse to cause trouble. That is really why there were traditional feast days, and carnival days. So that everyone understood that is was a ‘day off’ from roles, responsibilities, that everyone was on the same level. A sort of, wholesale ‘what happens in Vegas’ situation. 


So dressing up as a clown at will, from late summer, approaching children, tapping on windows, and hell, even attacking people? This is really not acceptable, there is a reason while, as a society, a global one at that, we are all feeling rather uneasy. It really doesn’t matter what your intention is.. although sorry if you are going to dress up as a clown, you must realise that you have a 70/30% chance of terrorising or upsetting people. Just stick to Halloween weekend/night. And stay either in a club/nightspot, or home. Don’t think it is big or clever to scare innocent people. We have Fright Nights, we have movies, we have enough ‘safe places’ to get scared where we will also be guaranteed comfort and support should anything untoward happen.

I am sorry to sound like such a downer, I love clowns, I love clown makeup, and I adore halloween. But everyone has a right to be safe (even dressed as a clown) and to enjoy themselves! 



Football Festivities

This is yet again, probably not the blog you are expecting. As you may or may not be aware, the UEFA European Championships are once again upon us. I found out via Facebook. First FB kindly asked if I would like to share scores, or some such. Then there was the influx of complaints about the football. I guess I am lucky, I can mostly avoid football in my ..’real life’ feels wrong.. my physical life? Non Cyber life? Okay that term is something I will need to work on.

Now I went on to see an interesting debate on a friend’s page following on from the question of football and why football tends to garner a certain reaction from fans, which isn’t present in other sports, an example used most often is Rugby, but you could through things like Tennis, Basketball, Hockey and if feeling facetious you could (and someone did) suggest Chess.


My conclusion at the time was thus : Could it also be the type of person that the game itself attracts, for example those who follow sports also to a degree play the sport. Football non violent so there is always a degree of frustration both on and off the pitch whereas rugby is a violent game, where issues are resolved. Chess is an intellectual game, and so any arguments would be resolved with coherent debate, so I would suggest this would be the case in a perceived slight either as competitor or audience member? I would extrapolate that it might have something with the amount of testosterone that either participating or watching causes to be released, and how it is channeled, effectively or not.

But this hasn’t left me, as clearly, the football won’t be either, going by the signs of patriotism I saw on my way into town this morning (flags, houses and cars, festooned.. each to their own, I have Halloween decorations outside my home) and so I have continued to ponder this. If you are wondering why this has taken on so much of my time, I compartmentalise and so I am generally thinking on a number of topics or subject. But I have since drawn comparisons to the idea of ‘carnival’ which I did a blog post on last year The art of carnival! which was a brief exposition on what carnival once was and meant.


You see, things always happen for a reason. I don’t mean, you missed your bus and ended up in a coffee shop and met your one true love. I am talking about timing. We still have festivals at certain times of year, the timetables have not changed, since before Christ. We have celebrations at certain times of year. For example, you could suggest that we have football tournaments at this time of year because the weather is at its more temperate. Which is a lie. It is an international game now, so the weather will be different depending what hemisphere you are standing on at the time. And we should… well.. the idea is that it should be relatively warm. It isn’t. It is because we have kept to the festival days in rough approximation for … well as far back as we care to go.

Is football a legitimised ‘carnival’ of sorts – well, yes, actually i would say it is. There is the idea that anything go’s, that it doesn’t count, there is a holiday atmosphere and to an extent it is encouraged. Why our fans (among others, England fans are not alone!) are so … extreme in their behavior may have something to do with the long hours that are put in, the lack of money for entertainment. From the moment you commit to becoming an adult, you are expected to provide, either yourself, or later your family. You become responsible and you can’t just go off for a weekend and leave your troubles behind. You have a wife, children, a job. When you go on holiday you are with your family. You are with other families, you have to keep some of that veneer of responsibility alive.


But going away with the ‘lads’ is reminiscent of holidays that have to a degree, become a right of passage for many young people, going to Spain and other, far but still close, destinations that are hot, and cheap. That you can just get away from your real life, let your hair down, drink too much, spend too much time in the sun, and get a tattoo or 3 that you instantly regret. You are young, possibly singe (but who will tell) you have just finished school, college or in a break at uni. This is all very natural and part of human nature, and again comes into the idea of carnival. One of the themes is hiding your true self, either by mask or by becoming something you are not. For some people it is becoming promiscuous, or a heavy drinker, someone who has tattoos. I am not for a moment trying to become judgemental but this is my attempt at understanding the phenomenon! This is great when you are either just heading toward your Twenties, or mid twenties, but the older you get the more responsible, you have to adult.

And so, it reaches a point where you need a natural release. For families, local councils still offer ‘opiate for the masses’ by offering fun fairs, markets, entertainment that is relatively inexpensive and accessible by all. But it isn’t letting your hair down. It isn’t the type of letting down of hair and general debauchery that we are more likely to think as Roman. So while it is good at helping the towns citizens feel a little better about living there, and spaced throughout the year so that it not only makes everyone feel good, it allows for exchange of coin, people coming into the town and people having a good reason to visit other towns, thereby promoting tourism albeit on a small scale.


But this is like I said, not really enough, if you work 40+ hours a week, you live with several other people of varying sex and age, with familial dynamics, where you have to be constantly aware of what others needs and wants are and often putting them in front of your own. But when you get to go away on to see a football tournament, you are encouraged to a degree to get lairy, to cheer, to promote your own team winning over others, you get competitive. You drink. A lot. Often you are in the sun for hours at a time and there is a feeling, generally, of festivities. We are pack animals, we are often effected by moods of those around us. So when there is a lot of goading, celebration, attitude of ‘them versus us’ it is infectious. It is spur of the moment, holiday mood, you are being validated because you are supporting your team either locally or nationally and you need to defend your team and your own honour. 

So, during the course of writing this, England were knocked out, and unfortunately, so were Germany. Which I am very upset about. Don’t talk to me about it. Still fresh. See, even someone who has zero interest in the sport, gets upset when her home team gets knocked out! But I can’t condone the violence, but I think I can now, understand it to an extent.