Monday, 1 November 2010


Finding ourselves with but a half-eaten bag of  chocolate raisins in the fruit bowl, the wizard and I had to turn off the porch light and batten down the hatches.

Trick or treating came over from America and continues to take us by surprise. As kids in post-war Britain we might run to apple-bobbing or inviting scaredycats to feel Nelson’s eye in a darkened room. (A peeled grape, if grapes weren’t on rationing).  What we really loved was Guy Fawkes night on 5th November.

image  © Rosie West


  1. As a child we never celebrated Hallowee'n despite being from the same locality as the Pendle Witches. I remember Nelson's eye though for us it was a bit more gruesome - Nelson's eye socket was a bowl of jam!

  2. Turning off the porch lights is definitely the answer! I really find this whole Halloween thingy a complete bore. Hallmark et al really have succeeded - why do Thai and Asian children "celebrate" (?) Halloween too, as in "Happy Halloween"? It's just complete nonsense. Bah Humbug.

  3. One year, after my brother & his wife spent a few days tying dried corn stalks to the porch columns, hanging giant cobwebs from the eaves & dressing up a mannequin in black rags & pointed hat, their kid ended up so sick on the big night that he couldn't even get out of bed, let alone dress up & go out, and they didn't want the doorbell & the dog barking it caused to disturb the kid's rest.

    On the other hand, they knew that merely drawing the curtains & turning off the porchlight wouldn't dissuade kids who had been watching a steady week's worth of preparation for the night.

    So my brother emptied the big iron bucket of the kindling it normally held on the hearth, hauled it out to the porch & put it at the feet of the witch, who he positioned at the foot of the steps. In her hands he put a cardboard sign that looked like it had been scrawled in blood:

    The old witch says "Drop all your candy in the cauldron below, go away quietly & no one will get hurt."

    That night, they heard crunching leaves on the sidewalk & the sound of whispered conferences in the yard, but the doorbell didn't ring once.

  4. I think I might prefer your take! pgt

  5. Blue - ooh hooh, love the eye socket idea!
    Columnnist, I nearly mentioned Hallmark cards and Scrooge in my post.
    All this horrible merchandising. I forgot another DIY fright: a tunnel made of sheets hung with wet spaghetti. I mean, where's the spirit these days?
    Magnaverde, I'm still laughing about your brother's solution to the problem.
    Delicious menace eh.
    Gaye, too late for the US to roll back its massive Halloween tradition. We go off half-cock here, that's the trouble.

  6. Dear Rose, Nelson's eye sounds brilliant! I wish I'd known about that years ago, I could have had a lot of fun! xx

  7. Being pretty far off the road, we don't get trick-or-treaters. If there are any teens ballsy enough to come back and wreak havoc, we haven't seen them. It's a shame, really. I think I could work up something genuinely frightening out of the discarded deer carcasses and roadkill we're always finding here- suspended about twenty feet up in a maple near the house ought to add an air of unambiguous hostility to our landscaping. The resulting buzzards would be a nice touch, too.

  8. rurritable, I love the way you warm to a subject..

  9. I am laughing reading all the GREAT comments. Let's face it, it is all about CREATIVITY and people love to come up with cool stuff to do...the scary stuff is even more of an invitation to some to cook up mischief.
    One year I took photos of all the kids that came to the door (I'm across the pond for you folks in the UK). They loved it and THEN I would offer candy. I buy stuff I don't like and then if any is left, just bag it and stick it out in the garage til next year. Aren't I a bad girl?

  10. Lynne, that 's the spirit! (Sorry not to publish this before - my flipping internet went down for 48 hours.)


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