Back in the mists of time, before trick-or-treating invaded every single corner of the British autumn, before zombie theme parks, before – who knows – even the most rudimentary latex horror masks were on sale (sorry, went a bit Dylan Thomas for a moment there), the soon-to-be Mrs SAHD and I were seeking a suitable date for an autumn wedding.
We thought we’d hit the jackpot. Halloween on an October Saturday. What a day to be wed – pumpkin themes, big party, leafy, autumnal decorations…
In the event it all worked out swimmingly. I use the word advisedly, because October 31 that year was the wettest day in British history (probably). It bucketed down all day and all night, which wasn’t the biggest problem for us – indoors, high on atmosphere and fizz – but can’t have been much fun for the merry bands of pre-teens romping around Capital City on a glorified sweet hunt.
This is about all Halloween has come to mean. Forget the bonfires of old, the weird appley games and the autumn bounty of pies and puddings. October 31 is when you place a box of edible treats near the front door and spend the evening running back and forth from the rest of the house, flinging open the portal to be greeted by sugar-craving teenies dressed in the most ghoulish outfits their parents could make/buy.
“Trick or treeeeat!” they shriek, eager hands outstretched as they eye up the goodies you just about remembered to buy at the supermarket a few hours earlier. The screams are bad enough, the costumes just add to the grotesque nature of the tableau. Mind you, once you’ve seen one six-year-old Freddy Krueger you’ve seen ‘em all. I’d be more impressed if I were confronted by a mini Celtic warrior or Boudicca, or maybe a biped cow – which is how it all began, back in Celtic times.
Still, we’re stuck with the hybrid, pseudo-American version of Halloween – pumpkins and candy bars and Hollywood-inspired costumes. In the circumstances, there’s no alternative but to dig out your werewolf costume from the back of the wardrobe, switch on that very funny howling/shrieking/hooting machine you bought last year and lead your own little one in a merry choc-fuelled dance around the streets of your community. Just make sure no-one recognises you.