Lynette Fay: Will I be able to beat my Halloween fears?
Come on, pull yourself together, you're in your early 40s, this fear of ghosts can't be plausible any more... Can it?
I CAN'T do ghosts or spirits of any kind. I nearly pulled my mother's arm out on the ghost train as a child, I still can't cope with the death coach and the banshee in Darby O'Gill and the Little People, and I slept with the light on for years after curiosity got the better of me and I stupidly watched Salem's Lot. That 'tap, tap, tap' on the window still gives me the heebie jeebies. (If you know, you know).
At the ripe old age of 10, I scared the wits out of myself at the Irish course in St MacNissi's Garron Tower. My memories of Tír na nÓg are synonymous with tales of the white nun and the black butler being told by torch light in a dormitory in the middle of the night.
Last year I thought, ah come on, pull yourself together, you're in your early 40s, this fear of ghosts can't be plausible any more.
I'm not sure if I started to listen to the excellent Battersea Poltergeist and Uncanny podcasts in order to test myself, or once again because curiosity got the better of me. I knew that I couldn't listen any more when I couldn't sleep for thinking of the nocturnal goings on in the student halls at QUB.
At the time of writing, I am preparing to go to Derry to experience the city's Halloween spectacular. From ghost tours on the famous walls to Samhain tales in Guildhall Square, I hope that this faint heart can handle it. I fear that the child will put me to shame.
My little girl wants to dress up as a witch, and I find myself struggling with the idea. 'Wise your head' I hear many of you reply to that statement, but hear me out.
I followed the story that led to the apology for the Scottish witch trials last year, and recently watched the excellent BBC/TG4 series An Diabhal Inti (The Devil's in Her) and can only conclude that witches were a nonsense, an act of patriarchy to strike out at women and those who were perceived to be different or daring in any way. Many parallels can be drawn with how women are perceived and treated today – those who dare to be different, who use their voice, who don't conform are evil and must be destroyed.
It might seem a stretch of the imagination for many, but I wonder if dressing up as witches come Halloween just perpetuates the ideals of the witch hunts and panics which went on for hundreds of years in Scotland and claimed the lives of thousands of (mostly) women.
Tonight, the veil between this and the other world is at its thinnest. We will knuckle down for the now, hibernate and wait for the spring. Darkness has fallen... Enjoy your Halloween celebrations.
WALK AND TALK FOR CHILDREN IN NEED
November each year brings a Children in Need campaign. This year, I have decided to take on a challenge and try and raise some money, to actively help those who are in need, instead of just talking about doing something. This year's theme is 'Walk and Talk' so it's a good fit for me.
I love walking but I make excuses that I don't have time to walk. Now I have to find that time. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, my daily walk was my escape and chance to catch up with friends on the phone.
Life has got busy again and I haven't been making time to either walk or to connect so it felt like this campaign provided me with the perfect opportunity to get back into walking and to reconnect.
As documented in this column regularly, I have an on-off relationship with fitness. At the moment, I am not at my fittest, but I have taken on the challenge to walk 100 miles in 30 days.
So, 3.3 miles per day, every day for 30 days. Initially, I thought that this was very doable. Surely I could find an hour a day to go for a walk? A few sleepless nights have put paid to a lot of the energy I had when I first took on the challenge. But I'll get there.
If I can do this, anyone can. Why not set yourself a challenge between now and November 18 to get out and about a bit more, and get a bit more connected.
I will report back on my progress...