From The Hood : The Masque Of The Blue Line

Am I getting old or are holidays just not as fun any more?
by Lyndon Hood

It was a good party, up to a point.

The trouble started with the idea of seeing whose costume was scariest. We decided to hold a competition: a series of one-on-one eliminations ending with one super-scary winner. Like with the Act Party.

Round one, Match One: Sharon, dressed as An Unaffordable Housing Bubble vs Vanessa, as Destruction of Real Estate Equity. Immediate controversy. We eventually settled on James as sole judge because he, having exactly one mortgage to his name, was agreed to be unbiased. Of course, afterwards I discovered Vanessa is due to give evidence against James in an upcoming criminal trial. But, on the other hand, it seems James had been sleeping with Sharon – obviously a bit of a wrench for his wife but, in judging terms, I argue the combination means he was still technically neutral. Winner: Vanessa “by a mile”.

Round One, Match Two: Helen was dressed as a Worst-Case Oil Spill Scenario, which was generally agreed to be quite scary enough until Neil, who was dressed in a business suit, explained that he had come as a Government Minister Who Didn’t Seem To Care About Worst Case Oil Spill Scenarios.

Protests lodged: Helen – that Neil had just made this up now and really just couldn’t be bothered getting changed after work; Neil – that Helen’s costume was not realistic and should really be much smaller; Helen – that she was supposed to be an oil spill not Sexy Coal thank you very much, and if he didn’t like the way hers came out he should just make his own; Neil – that he had actually made a very detailed and credible costume, we just weren’t allowed to see it right now and besides the problem wasn’t the costume so much as the model. Victory: Neil, due to penalty (viz. a series of precise blows by Helen to Neil’s person) and default (viz. Helen storming out of the room). Neil seemed quite pleased about his success once he could breathe again.

Round One, Match Three: Geoffrey, dressed as Karl Marx, against Peter, dressed as Ayn Rand. Basic issue re: scariness was that G. looked like a sort of 19th Century Santa Claus, whereas P. kept insisting that he wasn’t in a scary costume at all, which only enhanced the effect.

Proceedings here interrupted by the family toddler, Sophie. Woken by the noise, bobbing jauntily into the room dressed in the Ferry costume she had been doorknocking in earlier in the evening, presumably hoping of further treats. Neil – who, perhaps stung by earlier claims that his costume was insincere, was now deeply in character as a Cabinet Minister – screamed in terror. We never quite determined whether he was alarmed by little Sophie’s likeness to a Mode of Public Transport, or if he understood her to be a Boat Person, but I can tell you the way his arms flapped as he ran out of the house was rather comical.

When things settled down we attempted to put Sophie back to bed and to convince Peter than he had won his round, with the eventual reluctant agreement of both. Then, realising we had an uneven number of competitors for the next round we drafted Letitia. Lettie was dressed as a beggar – she had he own little QR codes which sent anyone who scanned them to a website that explained how virtuous they were for not giving her money. Everyone agreed she was quite scary enough to go straight through to the second round, except Peter, who thought she should just win.

Round Two: We were just arranging the lineup for this when the police broke the door in.

It seems Neil’s horrified flight had only ended when he flagged down a passing patrol car. Still in character as a Cabinet Minister, he attempted to get them to shut down our gathering on the grounds that there was a beneficiary there having fun. There weren’t any actual beneficiaries; probably he was thinking of Letitia. Of course he never scanned her QR code so he hadn’t read the bit about how this particular beggar had already been kicked off the benefit so clearly didn’t deserve anyone’s money. Mind you, nobody else had scanned the QR code either.

Unfortunately, when his initial approach didn’t work, Neil, being, as I said, still in character as a Cabinet Minister, tried to explain to the police that, actually, the selldown of state assets was a very good idea, even in the current conditions. That was what got their attention, as it gave them just cause to think we were all doing hard drugs.

Having once broken the door down, and seeing so many of us dressed as undesirables, I suppose they decided to take a proactive approach. And then off course there was Bill who was done up in “ironic” blackface which meant (a) that what happened to him was really just a misunderstanding and (b) that, really, he deserved everything he got. I’m sure the officers were just trying to do their best. We didn’t even have to call our own paramedics.

Still, we were going to complain formally about the police behaviour. Geoffrey in particular was looking forward to the IPCA finding the police had done something wrong, followed by a press conference where the Police Commissioner accepted the finding at the same time as denying that they had done anything wrong.

But then we found out some of the officers had been bragging on Facebook about what they had done, which apparently makes them unprosecutable. Besides, what’s the best outcome we could get? If it came to an actual trial it would just mean a lot of distress for us when juries are notorious for not convicting cops.

At least that’s the way our investigating officer put things to me – ‘their word against ours’ and all that – as he leant back in his chair and idly picked at his fingernails with his police-issue baton. Of course what with the baton I wasn’t going to argue, and what with him being a policeman I naturally believed every word he said.

So instead of trying to deal with this particular case, I got together with some of my political affiliates and formed an independent grassroots group to lobby for the banning of Halloween. It’s really not worth the risk.