Winter Chills

I am currently visiting my Mater and Pater for Christmas.

They hate it when I address them in Latin.


Whenever I come home, I am cast immediately into the worlds of my childhood and my teenage years. My old bedroom remains unchanged and the architecture of the whole building brings back extremely potent associations.

As well as walking around with a permanent adolescent bonk-on, I also experience echoes of the old depressions and anxieties of growing up as a Softie Walter in the middle of Dudley: a Black Country town famous for a meat product with the unfortunate name of the faggot.

I always tried to get into the bad boys’ good books by using humour but apparently bullies don’t like jokes about The Mikado. Some people, eh?

After everyone had gone to bed this evening, I took to reading Charlie Brooker’s excellent Dawn of the Dumb book. In it, he mentions his fear of a face at the window.

“All is quiet. It’s bedtime. You walk to the window to draw the curtains. And there it is! Face at the window! Aaaaarrgh! A scraggy-haired lunatic with googly eyes!”

I really wish he hadn’t brought that up. Now of all times!

My childhood was plagued with a nearly identical ‘Face at the Window’ anxiety. The imagined face changed over the years but the window always remained the same. It was the little window on the mezzanine level between the ground and first floors. It was inevitable that I walk past the window every night on the way to bed/my pillowy grave.

Yes, yes, we have a mezzanine. Wanna fight about it?

To make matters worse, this window was of the frosted variety like you get in bathrooms. So whatever Satanic vision should appear beyond the glass would also be distorted by wrinkles in the pane, thus doubling the horror factor.

I think the earliest ‘Face’ I imagined would appear at the window would be knife-fingered scrotum chops, Freddy Krueger. Even today when I see pictures of that comedy horror rascal, it makes me jump.

I actually just did a Google search to make sure I had spelled “Krueger” correctly (I hadn’t) and an image of a Freddy Krueger latex Halloween mask almost made me soil myself.

As I got older, the Face at the Window (which never actually appeared, of course, this was just an anticipatory fear) changed. For a while it was the porcine spectre of “The Pig Mon” – a local urban legend who wore the ripped-off face of a pig over his own and patrolled the borders of our school playing fields with a chainsaw.

Later, the Face was usually that of a curious Grey alien. Would he take me on a Ziggy Stardust voyage of intergalactic exploration? Would he bollocks. He’d open my bum with a pizza cutter and fill it with nanobots so that I’d ever be under his remote control lest I want to contract cancer.

Occasionally the Face took the form of the masked lady ghost of a scary ITV anthology series called Chiller which I really shouldn’t he watched so late and on my own (she drowned the family dog in the back garden’s reflecting pool!).

The idea of seeing the lady ghost or maybe an alien Gray at the window was more scary in that it was more realistic. A human such as the Pig Mon couldn’t possibly appear at a window so high up from the ground but a Grey or a ghost could levitate. Oh, the rationalization of it.

Needless to say, this combination of being at home and reading that stupid thing by Brooker has resulted in the Face at the Window fear returning.

What Face do I imagine will appear at the window now that I’m an adult? Why, myself of course! The real monster! Yaaaah!

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