Courtney and I caught a bus early the next day to Derry in Northern Ireland. I didn't know much about Derry (or Northern Ireland in general) before we came but it was the last day of October and I'd been told that Derry really gets into its Halloween celebrations. It turns out, that was quite an understatement.
Derry is the second largest city in Northern Ireland. It's also known by the more English name of "Londonderry" and we were warned before we got there not to use the wrong name around the wrong person because it was still a great bane of contention. I tried to read up on the issues in Northern Ireland on the way there but it was a complicated issue and a short bus trip (and I slept most of the way, if I'm being honest). Derry was definitely a nice little town, though. It's not large but the Oldtown is encircled by one of the last completely intact city walls in the UK (it helps that the city never needed to use its walls).
Walking down the main commercial street to the hostel, we counted six separate stories devoted to selling only Halloween costumes and accessories. Halloween is not a holiday that we traditionally celebrate in Australia, delegating it to merely "another American holiday". I never noticed it before, but there is actually quite an aggressively anti-Halloween sentiment in Australia at the end of very October every year which is strange for a number of reasons. Firstly, Halloween is originally an Irish celebration. Secondly, I understand taking a stand against the influx of 'Americanism' but Halloween seems a strange place to draw the line. We are so strongly opposed to a holiday where you wear fancy costumes, eat junk food and part-ay down and yet I live in a world where I know what a Kardashian is?* Where is the logic in that? Anyway, any Halloween sceptics need to come to Derry for Halloween and I'm sure it will change their tune.
Simply put it is the biggest party I've ever seen. The entire town, plus the thousands of visitors who flock to Derry to celebrate in what most consider the birthplace of Halloween itself, are all dressed up in elaborate costumes and celebrating in truly an entire citywide party. There is no half-arsed 'I have a hat? I must be a witch or something'-type Halloween costumes. Everyone is getting completely into it. The costumes are elaborate, the pubs are completely full and their are parades and fireworks e'rrywhere. The real party starts when the sun goes down (obviously) but I saw locals wandering around in costume all day. I got served lunch by a vampire, there were pirates and ghosts running around town buying last minute party supplies and the shelves at Tesco were being stacked by two incredibly realistic looking zombies who even had their whole 'I'm a zombie packing shelves' movements down pat. It really was incredible.
Those of you who know me well probably know I'm not adverse to fancy dress. I've always been a fan of Halloween for this reason. I also often tend to take my fancy dress a little far (by Australian standards at least).
Top to bottom, Left to right:
Matador, Wolverine, I have no idea?, Ghillie Suit, Naughty Nurse, Clint Eastwood, Colonel Sanders, Ron Burgundy, Indiana Jones, Austin Powers, Priest, Milk man? (That one wasn't really a planned costume)
So what did I do this year, for this most special of halloweens? Well to brace you for it, it was described variously from "awesome" to "worse than Al-Qaeda Hitler AIDS". Ready?
For the uninitiated, that's Jules Winnifield, Samuel L Jackson's character from Pulp Fiction (still Quentin Tarantino's best film to date). Is it racist? Maybe. Depends who you ask. I didn't encounter anyone with a problem with it until I posted a photo to Facebook and learned that I was in fact personally responsible for slavery, persecution, genocide and I probably also killed Martin Luther King because the Internet is funny like that. I'm not ashamed of it, at the end of the day.
I even shaved for that. That's dedication to a truly noble cause if I ever saw one.
I should take this opportunity to thank Courtney for following me around Derry all day trying to throw this costume together last minute. Thanks, kiddo!
Anyway, Halloween was awesome. I'll talk more about North Ireland later because there's a lot of tension there.
Ps. This was my favourite costume of the night. HANK SCORPIO!
*Actually I legitimately have no idea what a Kardashian is. I know it's a person or persons but apart from having a vaguely cool sounding name, I have no idea what, if anything, they/it have done to deserve their fame and/or infamy.