Halloween is weird, right?
Ebola party in Mayfair
Even so, top of the weird list has got to be Mayfair music club, The Scotch of St James, which this weekend will be hosting an Ebola-themed Halloween party.
As a high-profile celeb-infested landmark, The Scotch has predictably drawn plenty of negative comment – a “reprehensible” move, that “trivialises” matters “beyond the pale”.
But the Scotch is used to controversy – its list of “alumni” reads like a rock and roll who’s who – controversial every one of them, including Paul McCartney, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix.
Predictably though, the do-gooders have it back to front. As promoters for the event point out, it is actually a fancy-dress party based on “Saturday Night Fever” with Ebola as the focus for attracting donations to the volunteer network Médecins Sans Frontières.
It is not the first time a deadly disease has caused celebrations, or triggered lasting traditions.
Across Europe the image of a doctor wearing a prominent beaked mask is still familiar, a memory of the bubonic plague epidemics of he Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.
Almost an omen of the full-face masks worn against Ebola today, the beaked masks were filled with ambergris, lemon balm, mint leaves, camphor, cloves, laudanum, myrrh and rose petals to counter the putrid air that was thought to be the cause of infection.
In the Republic of Venice, Italy, where the plague killed 146,000 people in 1576, a commemorative pontoon bridge is built every year across the 330-metre wide Giudecca Canal from the city’s administrative centre in San Marco to the basilica of the Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore in Dorsduro.
A religious ceremony and lavish fireworks display enables relieved citizens and the city’s leaders to give thanksgiving in the two-day Feast of Rendentore in July.
The plague hit Venice repeatedly. In 1630 almost a third of the city’s population was lost, salvation from which is commemorated in the magnificent church of Santa Maria della Salute, an iconic domed landmark that stands close to the entrance to the Grand Canal.
Will the current Ebola crisis bring similar gestures of relief from such incredible human suffering?
Weirdly – it being Halloween after all – we already have one.
Pierre Omidyar, the entrepreneur who founded the online auction site eBay, had a fascination with the virus. In fact back in 1995, when eBay was launched simultaneous with the second major outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the website was mostly a collection of information about Ebola.
So, still uptight about holding a Halloween Ebola party?
Hey, whatever works.
As long as the world comes out of it safely, anything to help those poor people suffering from Ebola’s indescribable misery is worth it.