Saturday 21 September 2019

Roddy Doyle's Charlie Savage: Halloween movies are not for the faint hearted…


Illustration: Ben Hickey
Illustration: Ben Hickey
Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle

They're saying they'll let me go home tomorrow. I'll be able to watch the rest of The Shining. It's my own fault - again. It started during the presidential election. One of the nitwits from Dragons' Den was on the lunchtime news and he was going on about how he worked in "the real world".

I love a good shout at the radio but your man annoyed me so much, my shout went straight to a scream and I think I must have fainted. I fell out of my own real world and woke up on the kitchen floor. Joe Duffy seemed to be talking to me. Anyway.

I told no one. I felt a bit dazed but nobody noticed, including me. And later the same day, we all agreed it would be a great idea to spend Halloween watching horror films with the grandkids. Apparently, I was hugely enthusiastic. I don't really know what enthusiasm feels like, but I even suggested that we dress up in outfits. But I haven't a clue - I can't remember.

Anyway, along came Halloween and we had the grandkids all packed in with the telly. The dogs were in the room too, because the fireworks outside were driving them demented and they were slightly less demented when we had them in with us. The coffee table was covered in bowls of slimy popcorn and the daughter had invented a fizzy concoction that looked very like blood but she assured us was sugar-free. I was dressed up like the Mummy and the wife was the Bride of Dracula.

We turned off the lights and got going.

Have you ever watched Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman in the company of 10 howling dogs and a gang of children who can't understand why there's no colour in a black-and-white film and think that the lack of colour is scary? It's memorable. It's actually great craic.

But, anyway, I fainted again. And they didn't find me until halfway through Dawn of the Dead. They finally located me under the grandkids, although they all thought I was messing because I was wrapped in seven rolls of jacks paper. One of the older grandkids explained it to me later. - We thinked you were pretending to be a zombie having a rest.

But I wasn't a zombie having a rest. I was an elderly man who'd fainted when he'd let go of a scream during that bit in The Shining when Jack Nicholson puts his head through the door. I was unconscious through the rest of The Shining, and all of The Thing, Kiss of the Vampire and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. More than six hours of top quality horror, and I was out for the count under the grandchildren.

I got away with it again. The wife thought I'd fallen asleep, which is something I do nearly every night in front of the telly, but always deny. I even nod off in front of the football these days, especially since Mourinho took over at Man United. Anyway.

Men's health. I hate it.

I don't think men had health years ago. There were no magazines or ads on the radio for prostate checks. Men just lived until they died - if that makes sense. My father never had health; I'm fairly certain of that. He just had a life.

Anyway, me being unconscious in front of the telly was no real surprise to the wife. She even showed the grandkids how to wake me.

- Poke him in the belly with your finger, said the Bride of Dracula. - Like this.

And they did. All of them.

But the next time I fainted she was a bit taken aback. Because I was driving the car and she was right beside me.

I wasn't driving, exactly. I was getting ready to. We were in the carpark at Donaghmede Shopping Centre and I'd started the car. But I dropped my sunglasses and I bent down, kind of under the steering wheel, to pick them up - and I woke up in an ambulance.

I'd fainted again.

The wife was looking down at me with that concerned look I really like. Usually. But it wasn't good; I knew that before I knew anything else.

- What's the story?

I've low blood pressure. That's all - that's why I've been fainting. They thought at first that I might have had a stroke. But it's just the blood - it's a bit slow. Or maybe it's the heart that's slow - I didn't take it all in.

I hate it: I have to take care of myself. I'm not to bend down too quickly, and that's humiliating. I'm not to shout at the radio without doing a few warm-up exercises first, and that's unrealistic - it's just stupid. I'm supposed to tell the wife if I feel faint.

But I won't.

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