Monday, October 31, 2011


... or Happy Hallowe'en as you might say in the beautiful South.

When I was a kid in Scotland, Hallowe'en was a big deal for kids, but it was slightly harder work than Trick or Treaters have today. The idea was that you had to sort of sing for your supper, or tell a joke, do an impression, or a dance. Basically you had to do a turn before  being gifted a handful of monkey nuts or an apple. I can't remember much in the way of sweeties. Nuts were definitely the makeweight in my day in exchange for the ritual humiliation of our performances.

I'm struggling to think what my star turn was, and am blushing slightly that it may well have been a Frank Spencer, by way of Mike Yarwood impression - doggy doing a whoopsy on the carpet and all.

The balance has definitely shifted in favour of the Guisers (it comes from 'disguise') these days, but to be fair to them, the amount of effort and expense that they go to is a lot more than in my day when a bin bag over your snorkel parka was often as inventive as it got. Today's costumes, wigs, masks and make-up are in a different league.

This year is the first time we've done anything for Hallowe'en. The kids were a bit younger when we lived in Hackney, and if truth be told, the prospect of opening your door at a godforsaken hour 'round our old manor did not appeal that much. Luckily our doorbell worked only intermittently and the kids were not patient enough for us to descend from the first floor flat to the front door having decided that, yes, there was somebody at the door.

Round here there is more of a system. If you have a lantern on show then you are open to a knock on the door.

We had our rudimentary pumpkin lantern flickering on the window sill for a a couple of hours after the lights went down. It was put to shame by the altogether more artistic efforts of the guy a few doors down - point noted for next year. The Essex massive definitely take Hallowe'en seriously.

We had a bowl of sweeties for the kids who came to the door, who were very polite and well behaved with no surly behaviour or demands for cash, that you hear about. Our two initially came to the door to see the assorted ghouls and ghosties, but were soon freaked out by some of the more realistic costumes.

They were definitely up for Hallowe'en this year though, with the eldest demanding 'spooky toast' for breakfast. Cue quickly carved piece of bread in the shape of a pumpkin - I couldn't do a vampire.

After that they had a Hallowe'en themed stay and play session at another child's house and then back here for some apple bobbing and donut munching. I'm not sure how traditional that is, but it went down very well.

Hallowe'en is now done. Bring on bonfire night.

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