Sci Comm Stories – Halloween……


Its Halloween!!!!

Admittedly I have never really been one to celebrate this ‘holiday’, even when I was younger, as I didn’t go out guising (‘treat or treating’ to others) and only would dress up if there was an organised Halloween night through school or cubs. That meant that by the time I was a teenager my Halloweens where no different to any other night of the year, and that continued as I went through uni. (I was partial to a viewing of Nightmare Before Christmas however)

It was not until I joined Glasgow Science Centre that I would end up ‘celebrating’ Halloween again, as they host a huge yearly late night family event. During my time there I ended up taking part in four of these, with a very competitive staff costume competition being one of the highlights each year.

In my first year I was naïve enough not to realise how seriously it was taken, so I went as someone that didn’t cost too much to put together, Shaun from ‘Shaun of the Dead’. All I did was spray my hair orange, and pop on a white shirt, red tie and black trousers, before spattering myself with blood.

Safe to say I was no where near winning that years contest, but a lesson had been learned in how creative and serious GSC employees will get when it comes to costume design!

Inspired and determined from the previous years’ experience, year two saw me think a bit left field and dress up as an actual exhibit in the science centre. On the third floor there was a chap called ‘the Homunculus’, which showed what the human body would look like if the most sensitive areas were proportional to actual body size. It meant he had a giant head, huge lips, big feet, and enormous hands (plus a noticeable bulge in a certain area!)



Year three saw a more traditional scary character, becoming the king of Halloween himself ‘Jack Skeleton’ from ‘the Nightmare before Christmas’, before my final year producing a very fun ‘Hades’ from the Hercules Disney cartoon (It was my penultimate day at GSC so wanted to go out with a bang!)

As great as they turned out to be none of my costumes were awarded the best of GSC in either year, but the Homunculus was pretty darn close!

Anyway, we did more than just dress up on GSC Halloween night as there were loads of science activities to present. Three out of the 4 years I was in the auditorium presenting science shows; creating dragon breath, crushing pixies to produce light, setting fire to ogre farts etc, but in year one I was assigned to lung dissections.

Traditionally lung dissections where very calm and methodical affairs, but for that Halloween me and a colleague decided to make our public as squeamish as possible; throwing bits of lung in a pie, wearing sections of windpipe as rings, and I even ‘chased’ a few kids whilst holding a whole set of lungs. Looking back we fairly got into character, so much so that a parent came up to our table, took a couple of calculated looks between the mutilated sets of lungs and my blood soaked hands full of improvised oesophagus jewellery, then declared:

‘Those lungs cant be real, as no sane person would be doing that!’

As it turns out, there was one such mad man, so ladies and gentlesmen, I give you the ‘Butcher of GSC’……..



So it has been a while since I wrote up the first ‘Sci Com Story’ and there is a justified reason for it. At the start of the month I began my second story (different to the one above, confusing I know!) and had it saved on my laptop. I do a lot of travelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh due to living in one city and working in the other, and my laptop comes with me from time to time.

It was on one such occasion I was actually doing a bit of work for the National Museum of Scotland, where I had brought our ‘Powering Up’ renewable energy activities to the  IKEA store just outside of Edinburgh as part of the Midlothian Science Festival. I had hired a van to move all my equipment and when I had unloaded it all onto a trolley I decided to put my bag (which contained my laptop) in the back of the van for safe keeping.

I then spent the next few hours engaging with IKEA customers with the model wind turbines and solar panels I had brought, before it was time to re pack the van. By this time the sun had set and it was really dark in the car park, with few street lights about. So it took out my bag, loaded the boxes into the back of the van, closed the doors and jumped in the drivers seat to get ready to head home.

There was a car still parked in front of me, but the space next to it was empty, so thinking I was being clever I decided to reverse out a few feet then go back forward through this gap towards the car park exit. What I did not expect though was the large bump of the back wheels as I moved forward.

At first I was confused, as I was sure the space lines wouldn’t have caused such a big lift, then it dawned on me what happened as I noticed the empty seat beside me where my bag had sat on the journey to IKEA. Fearing the worst I got out and walked round to the back of the van to find my bag wedged into the back wheel!

So yes kids, I can now say I have once run over my laptop with a van!


*Its been fixed now! And the saved story will be posted next week.

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