Pumpkins and Skeletons: Photos of Halloween in London

2.11.12

Pumpkins and squashes, BrockleyMagi Gifts, BrockleySounds Around, BrockleyThe Halloween windowSquashes, Covent GardenCybercandy
Trick or treatFireworks, Lillie RoadHalloween gamblingHalloween, North End RoadHalloween skeletonPumpkin
Deadly duo

Pumpkins and Skeletons: Halloween in London, a set on Flickr.

As part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, I recently reached a small milestone, as the last set I uploaded, “The Open-Air Street Artists of Ashby Mews, Brockley,” was the 50th set I have uploaded since I began this project in May.

Those 50 sets contain my first 1,001 photos, and although it will take tens of thousands of photos to try and capture in any meaningful sense London’s streets and buildings, its houses, shops and offices, its parks and rivers, its skies and its forgotten places, and the movements of the people who bring these places to life or are crushed or belittled by them, in all 32 boroughs and the City of London, I have another 213 sets that I have photographed over the last three and a half months, but haven’t yet had the time to upload, containing over 4,500 more photos from the trips I have been making on an almost daily basis, so I do feel that I am making some meaningful progress.

For this 51st set, I decided, topically, to upload a handful of Halloween-related photos taken over the last few weeks — some from shops in Brockley, in south east London, where I live; some from a visit to Covent Garden with my family; and others from a visit last week to North End Road in Fulham, the first of what will eventually be many trips to cover west London, which is the most difficult area of London for me to reach from the south east. The set is completed with a few photos from Halloween itself, as celebrated in south east London.

I hope you enjoy these snapshots of the annual Halloween ritual, of the marvellous seasonal blooms of pumpkins and squashes, and, in one instance, of the flurry of firework selling that precedes Bonfire Night, traditionally held on November 5 to commemorate the killing of Guy Fawkes, but now stripped of its anti-Papist associations, for the most part, and held on the nearest Saturday before the 5th.

I’ll be on Blackheath with friends and family on Saturday evening, for the annual — and always impressive — firework display arranged by Lewisham Council (which was formerly run in conjunction with Greenwich Council as well, until they rather disgracefully decided to stop providing any funding).

As for Halloween, I hope yours was as much fun as mine. My son and a friend of his went trick-or-treating in our neighbourhood, as seen in the last photo in the set, as did numerous other local children, and we then had a delicious meal with friends after our cauldron of sweets was emptied by the ravenous hordes. I can’t say that I entirely approve of trick-or-treat, which was imported wholesale from the US sometime on the 1980s, but I’ve always loved the ghoulish paraphernalia, and, in a deeper sense, of course, Halloween and the Catholic Day of the Dead, celebrated with such aplomb in Mexico, find an ancient pagan echo in Samhain, one of the cross-quarters of the Celtic year, when the animals that could not be kept over winter were slaughtered, and a great feast held.

Between 1996 and 2005, when I travelled extensively in Britain in search of ancient sacred monuments, and chronicled the beliefs of the various counter-cultural groups who had become attached, in particular, to Stonehenge and Avebury in Wiltshire, I met many people — Druids, Wiccans and various other land-reforming mavericks and iconoclasts — who were drawn to the wheel of the ancient year, and I also grew to appreciate the power of a calendar founded in the movements of the sun, and the rhythms of nature. It is a part of myself that, in some ways, I regret neglecting, as my life has settled into something much more urban and technological.

My relentless bike rides — and my ongoing attempt to map London, in images, and also internally, through my camera and through first-hand experience — may just be a way of trying to reclaim something of that fascination with nature and place that drove me in those years of exploring ancient sacred places.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

19 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Iffit Qrshi wrote:

    Such a wonderful and uplifting project. I have started my own in Oslo. After the attacks on the 22nd July by mass murdering terrorist Breivik we needed something which would show our common humanity. People are obsessed with ones religion or ethnicity in Norway. There is no room to focus on the individual.with Humans of Oslo I’ve been able to show diversity as something positive. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/HumansOfOsloMvbo

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Lovely project, Iffit. Wonderful photos, and the perfect response to the horrors of Breivik and his sick mind.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Iffit Qrshi wrote:

    Beautiful images Andy. Will spread on my wall

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Iffit. I also added “Humans of Oslo” to my likes. I’m really impressed with the humanity of it!

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    In my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, I recently reached a small milestone. I uploaded the 50th set of photos, with 1,001 London photos uploaded to date. I still have another 173 sets to upload, containing over 4,500 more photos taken over the last three months, and will be adding more whenever I can get out on my bike (like now, while the sun is shining!), but it’s satisfying to have posted the first thousand photos.
    Here are the photo sets: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyworthington/sets/

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Iffit Qrshi wrote:

    Thank you so much. Will have a global Humans of… Day once a week or month so people can send in images from other cities and countries 🙂

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Great idea. Keep me posted!

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Christopher John Webster wrote:

    knockout….

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Chris. Just a bit of seasonal fun, really, although the North End Road was an eye-opener. Never seen so many pawn shops and pound shops in one place.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, I posted the photo, “Squashes, Covent Garden,” and wrote:

    One of my favourite photos from my recently posted Halloween set – a wonderful selection of seasonal squashes from a shop in Covent Garden. They really do look too good to eat!

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Neil Mckenna wrote:

    The big one, bottom left, looks like it’s had a run-in with Jackson Pollock!

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Or it just flew in from a galaxy far far away …!

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Neil Mckenna wrote:

    Indeed so!

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Mahalia May wrote:

    you make me want to have a camera again. i took one b/w photo class in college and walked the streets of atlanta the whole semester, and jumped a few cargo trains, and had a blast taking pictures of the city. 🙂

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Get a camera, Mahalia! The latest compact cameras are great value, and remarkable quality for the price. Mine’s a Canon Ixus 115.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Christopher John Webster wrote:

    Brilliant colour Andy…

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Chris, and no enhancement needed. I generally brighten and sharpen my photos a little using Apple’s photo software, but these squashes don’t need any cosmetic surgery!

  18. mr. r.e.heppolette says...

    i am 84 years of age were it not for the a@e i would not be here to spend quality time with my family..the medics, doctors and nurses are the true knights of the realm… friends are Gods way of taking care of us

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Mr. Heppolette. Your comments are exactly the kind of comments that Matthew Kershaw and his team should be paying attention to. Thanks for getting in touch.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer (The State of London).
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