Rosie Johnson Illustrates
Freelance illustrator

Notes from the studio (it’s a shed)

We Need To Talk About Scary Stuff

Not for the faint hearted.

All Hallows’ Eve, as no-one calls it, is nigh.
It’s not everyone’s cup of green tea with eyeballs in.
For starters there are plenty of horrors in the real world. Perhaps we don't need to add to the already bountiful harvest of hideousness. Orange-faced monsters far more terrifying than any pumpkin are in control of our destinies. If you're really up for a frightening glimpse into the abyss- Turn the news on.

Slice of Trumpkin Pie anyone? Lost your appetite?

Slice of Trumpkin Pie anyone? Lost your appetite?

But that might not be the problem. For some it is simply yet another example of the commercialisation of what used to be, at most, popping a sheet over your head and getting the neighbours to empty out their biscuit tins. Now every supermarket aisle is festooned in cobwebs. We are urged to buy ‘essential’ monster hand grabbers in which to snatch the goods from the generous community. There are Halloween themed Jaffa Cakes for goodness sake. The world’s gone mad. Deliciously, moreishly mad.

witch rosie.jpg

And for those of us who do actually quite enjoy it (We have an 8 year old and 3 year old so scenes of mess, gore and horror have no shock value any more) there are issues again: What to wear? The cultural appropriation bordering on full on racism of a Dia de los meurtos costume; the casually offensive ‘lunatics’ or the crass insensitivity of the Weinstein costumes which will no doubt be gracing the grown up parties this year all make me uncomfortable. All these shine an eerie green spotlight on how very thin the veneer of civilised society is. Dig not very deep to see how people really think and feel about those who are different from them. Or perhaps more accurately, how little they think.

That might be overstating it, but more and more as I sit in my little shed painting and listening to countless episodes of The Guilty Feminist Podcast I feel awakened to my privilege, my lack of understanding and my need to ramp up the empathy for people whose experiences differ from my own. It’s not political correctness. And even if it is, so what? When did being thoughtful and respectful become so terrible? I may not have a problem with Halloween, but I don't need to make it harder for those who do.

A skip and a jump to two chats I had. The first with a friend with a young baby. She was saying they thought they might just turn all the lights off on Halloween night because they didn’t want to appear rude but they really really didn’t want the baby woken up by the doorbell ringing every two minutes. These are grown ups hiding in their own home from children.

The second a conversation online with a man whose daughter found the costumes and constant knocking at the door genuinely scary and baffling. She has autism and with it some sensory processing issues which make the whole night an ordeal.

With these chats in mind I have made some notices, free to download and print, which you can put on your door/ front gate, politely asking revellers to bugger off.

I hope they’re of use. Not everyone is up for Halloween. And that should be respected.

For the rest of us- I’ll be the one gorging on Lemon and Slime Jaffa Cake bars dressed as Pennywise having completely misjudged the tone of an Under- 8s- jolly-trick- or -treat -fest.

Halloween Baby Sleeping Free Poster
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