We delay the final part of our discussion of the great beast Alesteir Crowley with something altogether more despicable. This came to me whilst hollowing out the biggest pumpkin I have ever seen for Halloween. It was so big, my hand was genuinely getting sore from scraping the flesh off the sides of this massive vegetable; soup for a fortnight out of this bad boy. I stopped to rest my hand and thought to myself, don’t be ridiculous. This is a luxury, and if anyone has ever attempted to carve a neep, they’ll know exactly what I mean.

Now let us pause for a minute and clear up what a neep is. Regardless of what anyone says, it is not this…

Not a neep

It is in fact this…

A neep

Yum. And this is what we carved in Scotland on Halloween before the arrival of the gallant pumpkin from America sometime in the 1990s. Pumpkins are a piece of piss to carve. Neeps on the other hand are an absolute nightmare. They stink, they are dry, harder than stone and will either bend all your mum’s spoons, blunt all her knives or cut off all your fingers at the same time. I have nothing but smelly and painful memories from carving these things as a child, and the results are, well mixed. Admittedly, though they do look crazy. The neep can’t help but look like some sort of edible primitive folk art, which I suppose it is. We used to carry these monstrosities with a dripping lit candle inside; no battery powered night lights here.

Turnip Lantern

Yes, I did say carry them. They weren’t just for sticking on the doorstep like the enormous pumpkins of our American cousins. The neep lanterns were portable, hardy enough to be supported by a piece of string and carried around all evening. But carried where? Don’t forget, the forgotten Halloween art of guising. Where you actually had to do something for your apple, monkey nuts or single toffees. This was an era before Fun-Sized confectionary; another invention from the 1990s. I had not realised the great strides forward humanity had made during that decade until now!

Poetry would be recited, I can remember Luke Skywalker doing The Sair Finger in our living room one year. Songs would be sung, instruments played, jokes would be told, scenes would be acted out with siblings. Unfortunately, I do not recall any of the routines I had to do so don’t ask. Maybe I did the Skye Boat Song. Then there was the ugly side of Halloween, when all the towns arseholes would go out anti-guising and steal all the profits made from those younger and weaker than them. Which was probably everyone.

Sorry Debbie

Trick or Treat, pumpkins, decorating the outside of your house, all inventions that came from America to infiltrate the originators of Halloween, the Scots and the Irish. Like all good invaders these ‘traditions’ stayed and ours got the boot. So next year, when all social restrictions are gone, my daughters are going guising, carrying neep lanterns and God help them if they utter the word ‘candy’ in my presence.

Halloween may be more fun, but it is a lot less fucked up.

Neep, or serial killer mask?

I’m still going to carve a big pumpkin though. Those things are fantastic. Happy Halloween.

Not a neep

Live deliberately


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