• Simon O'Donovan


This week's theme for our 'Friendship Group' was 'Halloween', as 31st October is fast approaching us. We started the session, as usual, with introductions and each of us saying if we went to a Halloween Fancy Dress Party what costumes would we wear. We went on to note, on a white board, the following orientation details (we leave this up for the duration of the session, as a reminder): - Name of our group: FRIENDSHIP GROUP - Theme of our session: HALLOWEEN - Date of our group: OCTOBER 2019 - Our current whereabouts: DAY UNIT BASED AT ...... - Season: AUTUMN

We then went on to list as many horror film characters as we could: - Dracula. Created by Bram Stoker (1897). Fears daylight, crucifixes, mirrors, garlic & a ring of fire. Can only be killed with a stake through the heart. Homeland - Transylvania. - Frankenstein. Created by Mary Shelley (1817). Created out of various body parts from bodies supplied by grave robbers. Brought to life with electricity. Said to live forever. - Werewolf. A human infected with the bite of a werewolf transforms into one on the night of a full moon. Can only be killed with a silver bullet through the heart. - Witches. Most famously recreated in William Shakespeare's Macbeth. "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble." The Salem Witch Trials in 1692 saw 19 of the 200 accused executed by hanging. The sad episode was said to be a case of mass hysteria and superstition. The phrase 'sink or swim' refers to witches in history having stones tied to them, then being thrown into water. If they sank (and presumably drowned), they were innocent. If they floated they were indeed witches (as not being baptised, water would repel them). - Ghosts and ghouls. We tried to think of the most scary ghost story we had heard. 'Woman In Black' and 'The Others' were highly rated. "As I was going up the stair, I met a man who wasn't there. He wasn't there again today... Oh, how I wish he'd go away." - Zombie. Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' was the one piece of film involving zombies that everyone could remember. The 1968 film 'Night Of The Living Dead' was also a classic. - Mummy. Obviously, Mummies come from - Egypt. We remembered Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee being top rated actors in the 'Hammer Horror' movies. Boris Karloff starred in the classic 1938 film 'The Mummy'. We then went on to list things we associate with Halloween. This was our list: - Fancy dress - Witches hats, Dracula teeth, Broomsticks, White sheets, Skeleton costumes. - Trick or treating & getting doors and cars egged and floured - Face painting - Bobbing apples - Toffee apples - Ghost stories - Pumpkin carving - Black cats

- Bats. And, of course, 'All Saints Day' which is the day that follows Halloween ('Hallowed Evening' is where the name Halloween comes from).

We went on to list some of our favourite horror films and looked up where they featured on the list of top grossing horror films. - 'Poltergeist' (1982) - The village built on the American Indian burial site was - CUESTA VERDE ("They're here!") - 'The Exorcist' (1974) - The possessed child's name was - REGAN, PLAYED BY LINDA BLAIR (Number 3 on the top grossing horror movies of all time list, earning $441.3m) - 'An American Werewolf In London' (1981) - The name of the pub on the moor was - THE SLAUGHTERED LAMB ("Stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors!") - 'Psycho' (1960) - The lead character's name was - NORMAN BATES, PLAYED BY ANTHONY PERKINS (Alfred Hitchcock film) ("Mother's not feeling herself today.") - 'The Birds' (1963) - Another Hitchcock film. The lead actress was - TIPPI HEDREN - 'The Silence Of The Lambs' (1988) - The name of the lead character was - HANNIBAL LECTER, PLAYED BY ANTHONY HOPKINS ("I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti!") - 'Aliens' (1986) - Lieutenant Ripley was played by - SIGOURNEY WEAVER (We all remembered the infamous John Hurt scene where the Alien makes it's first appearance.) ("In space, no-one can hear you scream!") - 'The Shining' (1980) - Directed by - STANLEY KUBRICK and starring - JACK NICHOLSON ("All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". "Here's Johnny!") - 'Jaws' (1975) - The name of the boat ("We're going to need a bigger boat!") was - THE ORCA (Which is the proper name for a - KILLER WHALE) ('Jaws' was the second top grossing horror film of all time, earning $470.6m at the box office.) - 'Young Frankenstein' (1974) - A comedy horror film directed by - MEL BROOKES and starring - GENE WILDER. (We remembered the classic song and dance routine, 'Putting On The Ritz'.) - 'Sean Of The Dead' (2004) - Another comedy horror film about zombies and starring - SIMON PEGG & NICK FROST - 'Halloween' (1978) - And of course the original 'Halloween' film series, starring - JAMIE LEE CURTIS (Michael Myers was the psychotic killer.)

- 'Nightmare On Elm Street' (1984) starring Heather Langenkamp and Johnny Depp. The disfigured midnight mangler was Freddy Kreuger. - Finally, 'The Sixth Sense' (1999) starring - BRUCE WILLIS, was the top grossing horror movie of all time, earning $672.8m at the box office. ("I see dead people!" was the dreaded phrase uttered by the boy actor - HALEY JOEL OSMONT.) List other films that members come up with which are missing from this list ... IDIOMS FOR HALLOWEEN Makes your blood run - COLD (so frightened you can feel it all over) Play devil's - ADVOCATE (argue an unpopular opinion) In cold - BLOOD (purposefully ruthless) Like a bat out of - HELL (something that happens quickly and unexpectedly) Over my dead - BODY (no way am I allowing that to happen) Skeleton in the - CLOSET (keeping a secret) Stab in the - BACK (betrayal of trust) Scared - STIFF (so frightened you can't move) Ghost - TOWN (deserted place) Let the car out of the - BAG (reveal a secret) Send shivers down your - SPINE (a frightened or excited feeling) Dig your own - GRAVE (do something that causes you harm) Scare the - PANTS - off someone (frighten somebody) Witching - HOUR (midnight) Someone walking over your - GRAVE (response to sudden unexplained shivering) Goose - BUMPS OR PIMPLES (physical reaction to fear)

Trick or - TREAT (Another name for Halloween)

Scaredy - CAT (Someone who is easily spooked)

Once in a blue - MOON (Infrequently)

Jump out of your - SKIN (Terrified)

SUPERSTITIONS The last part of our discussion group was a picture round - click on the image above to download the images. Each slide was used to prompt discussion about 'Superstitions'. Good luck: 1. Four leaf clover - "One leaf represents faith, one hope, one love and, if a fourth leaf is present, that's luck.” 2. Kissing the Blarney Stone (gives you the 'Gift of the Gab') 3. Picking up a penny - "Find a penny, pick it up. All day long, you'll have good luck. Give it to the best of friends, then your luck will never end!" 4. Touch wood - This saying is said to have been preceded by a Latin version - 'absit omen', meaning 'far be that omen from us'. 5. Lucky horseshoe - It is said that the ship of Admiral Nelson called 'Victory' had a good luck horseshoe nailed to it's mast. Of course, the horseshoe has to be positioned to catch the luck. 6. Fingers crossed - A gesture originally meant to invoke God's protection, now it is more commonly used when one tells a white lie. 7. Throw salt over your shoulder - Spilling salt is apparently bad luck and throwing a pinch over your left shoulder (your 'sinister side') reverses that bad luck. Legend says that the devil is always standing behind you, so throwing salt in his eye will distract him from causing trouble. 8. Magpie - As the well known rhyme, "One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret never to be told" shows it is only seeing a lone magpie that brings bad luck and groups of magpies are said to predict the future. 9. Black cat - A black and white cat crossing your path means good luck. A cat cleaning its face in front of the door is a sign of company. A cat eating grass is a sign of bad luck. A cat following you home indicates good luck. 10. Rabbit's foot - The Celts first associated rabbits (the whole rabbit, not just it’s severed foot) with good luck back in 600 B.C. Since rabbits live underground in burrows, it was believed they could communicate with the spirits of the underworld. To make the foot lucky, the rabbit has to be captured or killed in a graveyard, it must be killed on a Friday and it must be the left hind foot. 11. Wishbone - A chicken wishbone would be snapped apart by two people while they were each making a wish. The person holding the longer piece was said to have good fortune or a wish granted. If the bone cracked evenly in half, both people would have their wishes come true. 12. Giving coal - To ensure good luck for the coming year, the tradition of 'first footing' on New Year's Day dictates that a dark-haired male should be the first into the house and he should carry bread, salt, coal and a drink. These represent food, flavour, financial prosperity and good cheer. 13. Saint Christopher medal - Patron Saint of Good Luck and of Travellers. "Saint Christopher, intercede for me, and make my luck and my faith in my Lord increase every day.” 14. Cornish Pisky - Not so long ago almost every Cornish household had some kind of Pisky charm to attract the luck that the good will of the Piskies was thought to bring. They are said to be a mischievous fairy. 15. Ladybird - To have a Ladybird land on you is said to bring good luck and to represent a magical moment. And we all know the rhyme, which represents a warning "Ladybird, ladybird, Fly away home, Your house is on fire And your children all gone; All except one And that's little Ann, And she has crept under The frying pan." 16. Rainbow - A Leprechaun is a type of fairy in Irish folklore. They are usually depicted as little bearded men, wearing a coat and hat, who partake in mischief. They are solitary creatures who spend their time making and mending shoes and have a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Bad luck: 17. Spilt milk - "There is no point crying over spilt milk, what's done is done." Don't be upset over something that cannot be fixed, often something minor. 18. Umbrellas - "Never open an umbrella indoors, as bad luck will come raining down on you!" Also, if you drop an umbrella, never pick it up yourself. 19. Ladders - Walking under a ladder is said to break the Holy Trinity, represented by a triangle. So it is a potentially blasphemous act. 20. Breaking mirrors - Mirror superstitions probably evolved from the time when the first humans saw their reflections in a pool of water, believing that the image was their actual soul and to endanger it would mean risking injury to the other self. It was the Romans who tagged to the broken mirror a sign of seven years bad luck. 21. 666 - In 2018 the last flight '666 to HEL' flew, as many superstitious people refused to board it. HEL is Helsinki, by the way! 666 is said to be 'The number of the beast'. It comes from the 'Book Of Revelations' in The Bible. 22. Cracks - "Step on a crack and break your mother's back!". This is said to relate to a fear of empty crevices and what might lurk there. 23. Number 13 - There are several possibilities as to why this number is 'Unlucky 13'. Judas was the thirteenth person to take his seat at the last supper, the crucifixion occurring on the thirteenth of Nisan (Jewish calendar) and the execution of the Knights Templar on Friday 13th. Many hotels have removed 13th floors and rooms, such is the fear associated with this number. 24. Stairs - Crossing on the stairs is said to be bad luck and probably dates back to a time before bannisters were invented, so there was a real risk of a person falling from the unguarded side. Phobias: 25. Fear of snakes - Ophidiophobia 26. Fear of rats - Musophobia 27. Fear of heights - Acrophobia 28. Fear of flying - Aerophobia 29. Fear of spiders - Arachnophobia 30. Fear of crowds or open spaces - Agoraphobia 31. Fear of enclosed spaces - Claustrophobia 32. Fear of needles - Trypanophobia 33. Fear of thunder and lightning - Astraphobia 34. Fear of Friday 13th - Triskaidekaphobia. With all of the above, we asked if anyone had any other superstitions or fears and phobias that they could add to the list.

MUSIC ROUND LINK TO PLAYLIST - 1. Addams Family - TV Theme. Name some of the characters. GOMEZ, MORTICIA, LURCH, UNCLE FESTER, THING, COUSIN IT, PUGSLEY, WEDNESDAY (We all clicked fingers in time with the theme tune.) 2. The Munsters - TV Theme. What monster was Herman Munster based on? - FRANKENSTEIN

Other family members were? - LILY, GRANDPA & EDDIE 3. Scooby Doo - TV Theme. What was the name of the vehicle? - THE MYSTERY MACHINE

Scooby Doo's (he was a Great Dane) master was ? - SHAGGY 4. Bewitched TV Theme. How did Samantha cast spells? - BY TWITCHING HER NOSE

Other family members were? - TABETHA, PANDORA & DARREN 5. Ghostbusters - Film Score. Name the three main stars of this 1984 film? - BILL MURRAY, DAN ACKROYD, SIGOURNEY WEAVER ("I ain't afraid of no ghosts!") 6. Psycho - Film Score. Name the actress who was stabbed in the infamous shower scene and the actor who stabbed her? - JANET LEIGH & ANTHONY PERKINS

(Interestingly, in the film you never saw the knife cut Janet Leigh in the shower scene. The fear resulted from the power of suggestion.)

7. Jaws - Film score. Name the town where the film was set? AMITY

The author of this book was? - PETER BENCHLEY 8. Superstition - Stevie Wonder. What is a fear of spiders and Friday the 13th called? (memory recall from previous activity) - ARACHNOPHOBIA & TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA

Go around the room and ask members if they have any superstitions. 9. Monster Mash - Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers. What things repel Dracula? - DAYLIGHT, CRUCIFIX, MIRROR, GARLIC, HOLY WATER, WOODEN STAKE 10. The Time Warp - Rocky Horror Picture Show. What Crystal Maze TV quiz show host wrote and starred in this musical? - RICHARD O'BRIEN

Try getting everyone up to dance the moves to this song ... 11. Ghost Town - The Specials. Who was the lead singer with The Specials? - TERRY HALL

Where would you find a Ghost Train? - A FUNFAIR 12. Hungry Like The Wolf - Duran Duran. What will kill a Werewolf? - SILVER BULLET

Lead singer with Duran Duran is? - SIMON LE BON 13. Black Magic Woman - Santana. Which company made the Black Magic chocolates? - ROWNTREES

True or False. There were milk chocolates in the box? - FALSE 14. Bat Out Of Hell - Meatloaf. What is Meatloaf's real name? - MARVIN LEE ADAY

Released in 1977, this album is the third best selling of all time with how many sales? - 55 MILLION CLAIMED SALES 15. Spooky - Dusty Springfield. Which ghosts was Ebenezer Scrooge visited by in Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'? - JACOB MARLEY AND THE GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST, PRESENT AND YET TO COME 16. Harry Potter - Film Score. Where did the train leave from for Harry's school and what was the school called? - PLATFORM 9 AND 3/4, KINGS CROSS & HOGWARTS

What did Harry have on his forehead and who put it there? - LIGHTNING BOLT & LORD VOLDEMORT 17. Tubular Bells - Mike Oldfield. What horror movie was this the soundtrack for and which record label did this album launch? - THE EXORCIST & VIRGIN

Who created Virgin, which went on to include 'Virgin Atlantic Airways', 'Virgin Trains', 'Virgin Media' and 'Virgin Galactic'? - SIR RICHARD BRANSON 18. Hammer Horror - Kate Bush. Who wrote 'The Hunchback Of Notre-Dame', published in 1831? - VICTOR HUGO

Who was this character's love interest? - ESMERELDA

19. Witchcraft - Frank Sinatra. Which film has the 'Wicked Witch Of The West' & 'The Good Witch Of The South GLINDA' - THE WIZARD OF OZ

How do witches travel? - ON A BROOMSTICK

20. The Phantom Of The Opera - Musical. Who was the first 'Phantom'? - MICHAEL CRAWFORD

He is singing this with? - SARAH BRIGHTMAN (Who was at the time married to Andrew Lloyd-Webber)

21. Unchained Melody - The Righteous Brothers. Which spooky film was this used in, during the Potter's Wheel scene? - GHOST

Starring who? - PATRICK SWAYZE & DEMI MOORE 22. Thriller - Michael Jackson. Who directed this acclaimed music video? - JOHN LANDIS

True or false - 'Thriller' is the best selling album of all time? - TRUE (66 MILLION CLAIMED SALES)

23. Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin. This song seemed like a good antidote to all the horror! Members generally sang along with it and one got up and danced towards the end, when the drums kick in.

The lead singer with Led Zeppelin was? - ROBERT PLANT

The day after Halloween is? - ALL SAINTS DAY


Our activity this week was drawing Halloween Masks on oranges. This was a safer alternative to carving pumpkins and somewhat quicker, with equally impressive results.

About Me

Simon O’Donovan MBE has worked in NHS Wales for most of his adult life, supporting people with dementia, their carers and families and developing and improving services to benefit this client group. 

He recently retired from working as a Community Mental Health Nurse within a Young Onset Dementia Service and continues to contribute to weekly CST 'Friendship Group' sessions as a volunteer co-facilitator.


He has been keeping a weekly 'Young Dementia CST Blog' to share and archive tried and tested activities resources, with the ultimate aim of providing an 'off the shelf' resource library of weekly themed CST sessions which can be used on rotation throughout the year. 


The main aim of this website is to share experience and resources freely, in order that others can dip in and out and use some or all of the materials provided in their own CST work. Thus it is hoped, facilitating and supporting the provision of uplifting and enjoyable sessions that optimise people with dementia's quality of life.

This site is not owned by or affiliated to any organisation. It’s a personal commitment, a not for profit exchange of ideas and a resource library which aims to enable more widespread use of CST approaches for people with dementia. 

To this end, 'Guest Blogs' are VERY welcome, but bearing in mind that no images of clients are to be used without their express written informed consent.

Please note that some images are reproduced on this blog from the internet under the 'fair use copyright' principle, in that they will only be used for educational purposes with disability groups and in no way will be linked to profit making activities.


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