Friday, 8 February 2013

Goodbye to an Old Friend

I don't even remember when the latex Pinhead mask came into my life but for the last 8 years it has been propped on the windowsill of my front room. Pinhead from Clive Barker's Hellraiser was a character that I adored. I loved the horror genre. I thought that Clive Barker was a total visionary. I thought that  Doug Bradley, the actor that breathed life into the Pinhead character, was inspired. I bought the DVD. I allowed myself to be scared, fascinated and spellbound by the storytelling. My friend Kirk gave me the mask.

I absolutely loved that mask. I tried to find one of those head mannequins for wigs to display it (I used to have one that I bought in a jumble sale once but have no idea what became of it). In the end, I stuffed it loosely with tissue paper and put the whole thing over the top of a suitably shaped vase. It looked amazing. And scary. My children confessed to being 'freaked out' by it but I did not let that deter me from displaying it prominently.

Nearly sixteen years ago, after the birth of my fourth daughter, I organised a Christening for all my girls. I was never much of a church goer but my eldest daughter was a member of the church choir and expressed a desire to be officially welcomed into the Christian family.  We did all four girls together. It was a lovely day with lots of pink, a beautiful cake, balloons and flowers (and a splash or four of holy water). Before the ceremony, the vicar came to our house to meet with us and discuss the solemnity of the occasion. He was more than a little alarmed by the Pinhead mask that I hadn't even considered moving out of respect for a sensitive man of God. Once I convinced him that I wasn't a devil worshipper (or worse) and that my interest in horror films was purely rooted in entertainment, he relaxed!

The mask was not very effective as a mask. The horrible rubbery smell inside was almost unbearable. It was not exactly breathable so you would overheat very quickly within its confines. Also, the rods that represented  Pinhead's pins (or rather 6" nails!) fell out a little too easily. It was only ever used as an ornament.

At Christmas, I would sometimes give him a festive flourish.

Many times we have had young offenders at our door selling overpriced J-cloths and dusters as part of a rehabilitation programme. I find it very uncomfortable saying no but often when they spot Pinhead through my front window, hard selling is forgotten and conversation turns to films. I have had many film recommendations made from the young men who have not had the best start in life along with confessions of their crimes and their hopes for the future. I don't know if I should be alarmed by the correlation between criminal behaviour and obsession with the horror genre but I am always happy to have had a meaningful exchange rather than being forced to shut the door in their faces.

Pinhead has been been part of our family for a long, long time. He is so familiar, I barely notice him. My little ones have never been unnerved by his presence. Recently, I was cleaning the windowsill where he resides. I was shocked by how old and tired the poor thing had become. The latex was very brittle and splitting in many places. The number of pins protruding from his skull were seriously depleted in number. I found several on the floor below, like dead leaves from a tree in autumn.

With huge regret, I felt that the time may be close to saying goodbye. I could never bring myself to throw him coldly into the dustbin. He would need to be carefully placed in an appropriate receptacle and stored away in a dusty recess befitting of an iconic dark soul.

Today, I took a deep breathe and actually did it. A coffin shaped empty chocolate box with black satin lining seemed a perfect final resting pace for my old friend. It was a delicate procedure to remove the rubber skin from the vase and tissue that had given him shape for so long. The vase was a gift from my sister who died many years ago. It was nice to have it back. The tissue paper was suitably yellowed and crackly.

It was impossible not to damage the fragile thing further as I placed it in the box and closed the lid. Even as it split and rained pins onto the floor, I couldn't help thinking what an incredibly powerful image it still possessed.

Goodbye old friend. You have silently witnessed monumental changes in my life. Your imperceptibly slow decay marked the passage of years. Your time in the sunlight is over.  Gather dust now. Wait in the dark. One day, someone might discover a coffin shaped box and wonder what lies inside. Be ready for that day, old friend. Be ready.

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