There is every reason to be much afraid.
|Much Afraid from The Pilgrim's Progress 1683|
Creatures from the edges of beyond are everywhere.
They emerge from the souls of drowned benches . . .
they occupy the living benches in public parks . . .
. . . and they even swarm around the benches in your sitting room.
I was terrified by this skeleton in my ensuite . . .
. . . and his mates who'd taken over my piano.
Some of them look friendly enough
but you don't get the feeling you want to reach out to them.
|photo by Joanna Michalak|
If you don't like skeletons, it's best to avoid benches in cemeteries.
I'm avoiding benches in parks too.
You get those smiling zombies who sit beside you on a bench and try to chat about the economic crisis.
This zombie girl tried to befriend me by asking for advice about makeup.
Take care! They weave a web of deceit.
I am particularly careful around witches.
I know there are good ones, like this one playing with her dog in the park . . .
. . . and this little one I saw in the bike shop.
But next thing you know, they're leaving their spoons in your coffee . . .
and parking their brooms near your lovely orange bench.
They fly off and you never know when they're coming back.
Dare to complain and you'll get threats.
It's no wonder people are terrified this time of year.
Beware of demons sitting on benches, even if they appear to be just sending a text.
Watch out for vampires who want to suck your blood. This woman may not realise the danger she is in.
This girl though, seems more alert.
Plus the vampire is small and very cute.
Some scary creatures will jump out at you and yell BOO.
That's not so bad.
It's the ghosts you have to watch out for.
They fade in and out and surprise you when you least expect it.
With terror like that, it's no wonder this fellow lost his head.
It's important to keep calm and
Here in Fribble we had a Halloween party where everyone dressed up as people from different countries. It was meant to be fun rather than frightening.
Innocent wore her new designer pumpkin frock. She and her cat look innocent enough on their Halloween bench.
Her husband Root was a little weird in a Greek toga and Tamsin was an Egyptian mummy. But the scariest it got was Lord Brassica as Zog, King of Albania.
Far worse are the people who sit on benches without heads . . .
. . . or the ones who have a head but lack anything substantial in the way of a body . . .
|photo by Joanna Michalak|
The Brassicas had another Halloween party over at Drizzly Manor which, I gather, was more sinister.
My imaginary friend Miggy turned up shrouded in secrecy. I don't even know which one she is here. She's been eating a lot of cake lately so it may have taken four shrouds to cover her.
Root made a spectacle of himself, as did our police constable, Willie Wyme.
Unwin the butler served up a cauldron of arms and legs, some with shoes still attached. And then little April amused us by removing her head.
With a seasonably on-trend spider fascinator on her head Lady Jessica Brassica was a very elegant and dignified Morticia Addams.
Not so dignified was Eddie, my Inner Editor.
We wondered why on earth Eddie dressed himself as a baby.
Eddie explained that babies remind him of creepy crawlies. He can't imagine anything scarier.
You can see what he means.
Which leads me to a question: whatever happened to Baby Jane?
The haunting look of Baby Jane reminds me of our resident Evil Twin, Cora Boran. She frightens the life out of us by shuffling round the streets of Fribble with her walking frame.
And now for something truly frightening. Are you ready?
Ever heard of coulrophobia?
Well, if you're scared of clowns, look away now.
Der Krampus is very creepy indeed.
The only thing worse would be a clown zombie.
My imaginary friend Miggy is terrified of zombies and clowns. She is frightened out of her wits by Der Kraumpus. She says if she saw him she would leave home and run away to a motel.
But it's no good going to a motel, Miggy.
There'll be a clown in every room.
It's no good trying to lock yourself in the room and settle down with a book.
You won't be able to sleep.
Miggy found herself a simple non-clown motel and she likes the retro car.
And what's this? A good-looking young man who owns the car.
Name of Norman . . .
Hmmmm. Something about that rings a bell.
Migs! Whatever you do, don't take a shower!
Oh dear, this is getting all too terrifying.
I'm going back to the Fribble Halloween party where people are just a little bit scary.
And that's not only at Halloween.
The large spider bench is from Steel Heart Ltd. in Illinois http://www.steelheartlimited.com/ They make stylish and unusual home and garden products from cast iron, metal and other materials.
Much Afraid is a character from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, 1683.
The drowned bench and the girl coming out of the water is a photograph called Broken by John O'Nolan, 2010. and I saw it at http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnonolan/ John is from Lincoln and is a passionate web designer, as well as an entrepreneur, programmer, blogger, & author. He's also a member of the WordPress UI Team. There are some stunning portraits on his photostream too.
The witch on the bench is by MOs810 in Poland, taken in 2013. It was taken at the beautiful garden Hortulus Ogrody Tematyczne in Dobrzycy. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hortulus_Dobrzyca_(12).jpg
I just love these decal bats flying around the elegant bench sofa. They're from Sarah at Stickerhog in Massachusetts. Sarah sells all kinds of wall decals and vinyl graphics for the home; indeed there are decals for every room in the house. Love the cup of steaming coffee! www.etsy.com/shop/stickerhog
The skeleton in my ensuite is from the wonderful Powerhouse Museum Collection on Flickr Commons. http://www.flickr.com/photos/powerhouse_museum/2980051095/ It's a plate glass negative, taken about 1900, entitled Portrait of an articulated skeleton on a bentwood chair. It's a gift of the estate of Raymond W. Phillips, 2008.
The skeletons playing the piano are from the National Archives UK, 1893. http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalarchives/8141311057/
What is it with skeletons playing musical instruments? The Day of the Dead skeleton couple are from www.thrillomatic.com I really like them! They have featured on Benchsite before, at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/gambling-on-love-in-las-vegas.html
Joanna Michalak sent me the skeletal hands holding up candles, and the skeleton head with a very flimsy body which looks like it might be made out of a hessian bag. I know Thin is Good and all that, but really, it's not much of a body, is it?
I photographed my local cemetery just a few days ago here in Fribble-under-Par. Fribble dates from the 14th century so this is a nice old cemetery with lots of Victorian headstones still just about standing. The weeds have taken over, which adds to the atmosphere, and the bench too is in a state of decay. For more about Fribble-under-Par and my paradise island see http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/my-paradise-island.html
John Tavares Jr. lives in Toronto and uses his photos to document and report. The zombie girl and the man with his newspaper on a bench is apparently Another Quiet Afternoon at Nathan Phillips Square, which suggests that zombies normally inhabit this park. If I'm ever in the area I'll pop along and see one. http://www.flickr.com/photos/johntavaresjr/
The intricate spiderweb bench featured as a Boise Daily Photo back in September 2008. It's from Debbie Coulson Smith, the Boise Diva, who posts pictures at http://www.boisedailyphoto.com/ As it happens, this bench was not for Halloween; it was in front of a tattoo shop.
The witch and her dog in the park (2007) are by David Creswell, who lives in New York City but is very well travelled, as reflected in his Flickr photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cresny/
The little witch in the bike shop and the ghost later on are both Miggy's niece Lettie. Like most kids, Lettie loves Halloween and now that she's older, she still carries on the tradition of dressing up. Lettie has a baaaaad sheep bench story to tell at
The two scary spoons are both from Sarah Parker in Virginia. Her etsy shop has handstamped silverware, etched glass and other unique gifts. www.etsy.com/shop/milkandhoneyluxuries
The broom parking sign is from Wendi West at Wordybird Studios in Utah. Wendi makes wall decals and stickers for every occasion. There are 11 pages of them in her etsy shop, all beautifully photographed against some eye-catching furniture. The orange bench is brilliant so I'm not surprised a witch would wan to park her broom there. www.etsy.com/shop/wordybirdstudios
Ria Pereira from Miami took the Happy Floating Halloween image of Oliver the cat on the broomstick. Love the socks. Ria also has a way with coffee; her photos of cappucinos are enough to make me get on my broomstick and fly down to the nearest coffee house. http://www.flickr.com/photos/riapereira/
The Don't make me drop a house on you sign, as every witch lover will know, is from the Wizard of Oz. I recognise the socks. It comes from 2 chicks and a basket, who make primitive handpainted and handcrafted signs in their cozy workshop in Pennsylvania. There are plenty of signs for witches, as well as for Christmas and other holidays. www.etsy.com/shop/2chicksandabasket
The demons sending a text are by Martijn van de Street, photographed in 2005. Martijn reckons they were reading a map. http://www.flickr.com/photos/treenaks/ I saw them at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Demons_on_a_bench.jpg?uselang=en-gb
No vampires are involved in the photo of the man and the woman; it's actually ghosts which are the problem here. The woman is actress Betty Nanser, performing in the Ibsen play Gengangere (Ghosts) in 1925. Her co-star is Henrik Bentzon. I can't help thinking she looks a little drained of blood, but perhaps that's the fear of ghosts. The photo is from The Royal Library of Denmark at http://www.flickr.com/photos/departmentofmapsprintsandphotographstheroyallibrarydenmark/8043671034/
The little vampire and the girl on the bench were photographed in California in 2008 by Stacey Taylor-Kane. The vampire may look cute, but the photo is called Looking Tasty, which suggests the pretty girl is in some danger from the young vampire. No wonder she looks worried. The photo is from Stacey's photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/alleykitten/
Boo! is the man in the mask standing on the bench. It's from Drew's Kitschcafe at http://www.flickr.com/photos/drew-o-rama/ Drew does a lot of Bench Mondays with this same bench. He likes french fries and vintage clothing and housewares. His photostream is full of colour: dishes, yarn, quilts, food, fabrics - all sorts of bright and brilliant things.
The ghost poem is William Blake’s painting The Poems of Thomas Gray Design 31 (A Long Story), painted between 1797-1798. Blake lived 1757-1827. This is a Google Art Project. The painting is now in the Yale Center for British Art, but, as with most ghosts, not on view. I found it at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:William_Blake_-_The_Poems_of_Thomas_Gray,_Design_31,_%22A_Long_Story.%22_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg?uselang=en-gb
The man holding his own head is Simon Greig (xrrr), who is an IT architect and part-time photographer. He has made this photo available via Flickr Creative Commons at http://www.flickr.com/photos/xrrr/4060860832/ It's called Happy Headless Halloween and apparently it only took him 15 minutes to make.
The pumpkin head beside the headless body is by Ex-pat Winnipegger John Wunderlich, who now lives in Toronto. His photostream includes great Halloween photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wunderlich/
The shrouded women are Time Guards, sculptures I saw at Cass Sculpture Park in West Sussex during a visit in 2010. (I have also seen them entitled Guardians of Time - not sure which is correct.) Either way, they are stunning. The work is by Austrian sculptor Manfred Kielnhofer and this year the sculptures have been on tour. This month they have been at the Festival of Lights in Berlin, looking somewhat different from when I saw them. http://www.artpark.at/2013/10/04/festival-of-lights-berlin-guardians-of-time-by-manfred-kielnhofer-contemporary-modern-light-art-festival/
Here in Fribble and Drizzly we take Halloween very seriously. There are lots of parties and people enjoy getting out their costumes. Some are spine-tingly, others are entirely benign. For example, here's Ursula Makepeace, our Unicorn in Residence. She decided to come to the Halloween party wearing the same thing she wore for World Peace Day back in September.
Baby Jane is a Uneek Doll Design from Debbie Ritter's shop in Alabama. www.etsy.com/shop/uneekdolldesigns Debbie makes dolls for all kinds of historic and literary figures, including this Bette Davis doll from her role in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (date) To my mind, this film is still one of the scariest ever.
The Giant Scary Baby Things were photographed by Ryan Hayes in Prague in 2009. He saw them on the Mala Strana. Ryan is from Austin, Texas originally but now lives in London. He photographs a lot of creative people, including the Burning Man festival in Nevada, Halloween, and makeup artists at work. The zombie girl asking for makeup advice at the start of the post is also his. Ryan's photostream is oneflameinthefire at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryanhayes/
Der_Krampus is a candy coloured clown I found on Flickr Creative Commons. http://www.flickr.com/photos/gfoster67/ He's by George F, perhaps he even is George F. I'm not coulrophobic but Der Krampus is very scary indeed. If you don't believe me, have a look at the set of photos of what clowns get up to on their holidays. Elsewhere, George F has some gorgeous, haunting photos of abandoned institutions; these really are the stuff of nightmares.
The coulrophobia badge is by Amber in Atlanta, Georgia. I thought this badge summed up coulrophobia rather succinctly. Apparently the term coulrophobia is a recent one, used mainly on the internet and not derived from any specific psychiatric condition, though it is well-established in research that many people, especially children, have a fear of clowns (Miggy included). A few years ago the Bestival had to change their theme when it became clear that many Bestival-goers are coulrophobic. Amber's etsy shop sells pinback buttons, magnets, photoprints and art glass penants. https://www.etsy.com/uk/people/kohaku16
The clown zombie is from Soul Stealer, who took the picture at World Zombie Day in London in 2012. There are a huge number of brilliant portraits on Soul Stealer's photostream, including goblins, steampunks, goths, zombies and some really creepy dolls. It's Halloween every day at http://www.flickr.com/photos/soul_stealer/
The Clown Motel is in Tonopah, Nevada and it is very much photographed. According to Trip Advisor in August 2011, its rooms are clean and comfortable. Despite this recommendation, Miggy won't be going there. This photo is by Jon Jabbex, taken in 2012 for his Flickr photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jabbex/7817593030/ Jon did not find the motel creepy at all, but didn't like the cemetery right behind it.
The seated clown with another clown in his lap is also from the Clown Motel; I recognise the photos on the wall behind them. This photo is by librariananguish, who describes herself as a librarian crimefighter. She visited The Clown Motel in 2010 and lived to tell the tale. You can see more photos of the Clown Motel and other scary stuff at http://www.flickr.com/photos/librarianguish/with/5070021196/
Here Be Clowns is a book I found in an antique shop. It is an anthology edited by Dorothy Davies and published in 2012. I don't know anything about the plots of the stories but the front cover is enough to send Miggy screaming to the Bates Motel.
The Bates Motel is at Universal Studios. It was photographed by Loren Javier in 2011 and appears on his photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorenjavier/ If you know Alfred Hitchcock's movie Psycho, you'll know all about the Bates hotel and what happened in the shower there. Loren lives in LA and has an annual pass at Disneyland. But he has loads of photos from Universal Studios too, including a whole collection of Norman Bates and the Bates Motel.
The Psycho shower curtain is one of the many fabulously creative shower curtain designs from Joe. I don't suppose many motels buy them. Joe's shop is at www.etsy.com/shop/customshowercurtains
The final Halloween party picture shows Fribble residents, from left to right: Cora Boran (with mask and walking frame); Tamsin Pink (wrapped in shroud); Garcon Orange, a French orange dressed as himself; Tamsin's baby with a spider on his head. In the middle row our Engineer Emily has a bowl of fruit on her head and is supposed to be Carmen Miranda. The wrench in her hand doesn't help. My two cats Rosie and Melissa are at the back, then our police constable Wyme the Crime under the ghost head. He couldn't be scary if he tried. Root, son and heir of Lord Brassica, is wrapped up in a green net (good place for him) and his mate Sk8T is upside down for some reason. In the middle is a little angel called Angela, who appears to be a party-crasher as no one knows who on earth she is.