A couple of years ago, while making jellies filled with worms (confectionery, not garden, variety), draping fake cobwebs over banisters and sticking plastic spiders on windows, I heaved a sign of relief knowing that as my children were getting older, I wouldn’t have to go through this ritual for much longer.
But I was wrong. The older they get, the more obsessed they seem to be with Hallowe’en. Last year they badgered me for a celebration of all things spooky, with gory games and gruesome grub, and hours of scaring each other senseless at the bottom of the garden.
As on previous occasions, it took my husband and I all day to prepare for it. Decking trees, hedges and bushes with severed heads, bloodied axes and Scream masks. As it grew dark, my husband dressed in a sack with eye holes and hid before jumping out and terrifying them all.
This year we’re being harrassed into doing something similar, but even more scary. I jokingly suggested that we lock them in a darkened room with a set of of Saw DVDs, but then discovered to my horror that the last time my daughter had friends round (while we were at work) one of them brought the film The Human Centipede, a revolting certificate18 movie whose sequel is banned in the UK.
It’s not only teens who go a bundle on Hallowe’en. Increasingly, adults are holding annual parties too, dressing in costumes that range from the terrifying to the saucy. Look on any website — it’s like Freddie from Elm Street meets Playboy bunny girls.
Then there’s the latest craze — morph suits: costumes that look like a second skin. It’s like having a Spiderman or skeleton spray tan. These Lycra get-ups look okay on an eight-year-old, but on an adult male the sight is possibly more disturbing than the human centipede.
And, although they may deny it, adults love trick or treating. I’m sure many parents drag their children out to knock on doors with menace, demanding cash not candy. When we lived in town we’d get young children whose dad could clearly be seen behind parked cars, egging them on. “No less than a fiver,” he’d whisper.
The Hallowe’en frenzy has become such that people get more excited about October 31 than they do about Christmas (with Christmas starting in July, that’s perhaps understandable).
It’s another excuse to dress outrageously, drink a lot and behave like idiots. Maybe I will get in the spirit of it for another year.