The Monster Mash

It’s official, the summer is over. The kids are back at school, the evenings are getting shorter and wee minds begin to turn towards dark thoughts. Nothing too sinister though. Little minds are awhirl with images of Ghosties and Ghoulies, Witches and Monsters and of course shopping bags bulging with sweeties.
Yes Hallowe’en is just around the corner and I for one can’t wait for the first of November.
Hallowe’en is a nightmare, if you’ll pardon the pun. You remortgage the house buying up your own bodyweight and beyond of sweets, nuts and for some mad reason fruit which if you give to a trick or treater will invariably find it’s way back to you through a window or splattered all over the front of your house. You have a last minute dash around every shop in town trying to find a suitable outfit but as usual you left it too late and there’s sod all left. Leon nearly had to wear a princess costume for his first ever trick or treating but after wrestling a surprisingly strong and determined old woman I managed to procure a little devil costume which he adamantly refused to wear on the night.
I know you’re all thinking “Come on Steve, It’s all a bit of fun” and I will allow that it used to be. Before the Celtic Moggy made us all go mad. People now decorate their houses with animatronics that would put the next Star Wars film to shame. The internet is jammed with people ordering costumes from the farthest reaches of the globe just so their kid is different. At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, in my day we made our own costumes each year. Without a care for Health and Safety regulations our parents would cram us into a black bin liner (with a hole for your head if you were lucky) and rub coal dust over our hands and faces and sent us off out into the night. You were a Zombie but so was everyone else so it didn’t matter. You may have been one of the lucky ones who got one of those stiff plastic masks that only covered half your head which was supposed to stay attached using the flimsiest piece of elastic which broke before you’d even left the house. You wandered up And down your road knocking on each door with a true sense of excitement and fear. The excitement due to the fact that you were out after dark and the potential for mischief was huge, the fear came from poor street lighting and overactive imaginations. Not everyone would answer their doors but those who did would dish out a handful of monkey nuts and if you were really lucky a mini Mars bar and you would happily rustle off in a hail of flapping plastic to the next adventure.
And as for pumpkins;
When I was a child we didn’t even know pumpkins existed whereas now we have farms full of them. To me, one of the most stomach churning smells is that which comes out of a pumpkin when you hack away at it. You are endeavouring to create a text book Jack O’ Lantern but end up with a lopsided mess, some foul smelling seeds and stringy stuff and a few missing fingers because you used your largest carving knife to butcher it.
As for the trick or treaters themselves. I don’t believe in the pre packed goody bag which seems to have crept in over the last few years. I like answering the door with a huge bowl full of sweets and doling out huge handfuls to large eyed, over awed wee ones. The problem with this technique is that you run out of stuff early and have to spend the rest of the night huddled behind your couch with the lights off because if they think you’re home but ignoring them, the kids will cover your house with more eggs than a builders breakfast.
Okay, it’s time for complete honesty here. I am only down on Hallowe’en since last year. I used to love it but I am still traumatised.
Here’s why;
Last year my darling wife had the idea of a pre trick or treating party for Leon and some of the neighbours kids (I know, How middle class are we?). She made it sound so simple, a few traditional party games, some sweeties and then off out into the night.
So, the appointed time arrived, the kitchen was decorated, my wife had planned some fun games and I was going to hide somewhere until it was all over.
The very second the doorbell rang for the first guest, wee baby Sam, who was then but four months old woke up. My wife raced up the stairs and I was now left with a kitchen full of children, some adults I didn’t know and a very limited knowledge of Hallowe’en games.
Twenty minutes later the party ends and a group of crying children head off door to door like some mini Lisbon Treaty proponents on a canvassing spree.
Why were they crying?
Two because they were unable to see due to the paste all over their faces made from my flour and their tears from the grape and flour game.
Three others because of the extensive water damage to their costumes from the apple bobbing fiasco and one final inconsolable child whose imported mask melted from sitting too close to a badly butchered pumpkin with four candles in it. I think me rubbing coal dust on his face afterwards pushed him over the edge.
This year will be different though. I have a full twenty pack of bin liners, half a ton of cut price German sweets and a new blackout curtain for the lounge. We might even throw another party.
What could possibly go wrong?

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