Things that go *Ding-Dong* in the Early Evening Time

I am not, I will admit, a great one for Halloween. The pleasures of it elude me somewhat. For a start there is too much effort involved – first you need to find an outfit which is even worse than finding a blog template because your poor choice of dress will haunt you via friends’ photographs for the rest of eternity. What seemed like an ironic and droll Boney M tribute seems less so in the cold light of 30 years hence. I’m told we’re all going to live to be 120 years old from now on so it’s worth bearing in mind how much longer those youthful misdemeanours are now going to haunt you.

I’m also not keen on having to interact with other peoples’ children. Even with the ones I can personally manage to place a name to, social discourse is stilted and awkward. I’m always terrified I will say something hideously inappropriate which will scar them for life or, worse, be recounted by their Mammy to the other Mammys around the school gate who will laugh at me. I don’t know the Mammys around the school gate but this is a small community. I live in fear of the day a story is recounted to me by somebody I vaguely know and it turns out to be about me.

The main trouble is that I can’t help but feel this whole Halloween thing has become just another form of one-upmanship. A way for parents to show off to other parents that their child can have the best and most expensive costume. What ever happened to donning a couple of rolls of bandages and going as the Mummy?
I went into Tesco at the beginning of October only to find my way totally blocked by a Mammyjam in the seasonal aisle. There must have been twenty Mammys (and a couple of Daddys, equality fans), each with a trolley, all gushing over the nylon outfits newly made available that week. Mammys entering the store were parking their trolleys by the newspapers and making their way to the front of the crush on foot. It was utter chaos. By the time Halloween rolled around four weeks later, the entire collection was sold out.

In my youth, we didn’t do much for Halloween. It was always secondary to bonfire night. When we did, not a single one of my contemporaries would have bought an outfit to wear for Trick or Treating. Sure, you might have bought a moulded plastic witch’s hat or a mask or something to make it a bit clearer what you had come as, but the main crux of the costume would always be something fashioned at home from whatever you could raid from the dustbin or your Mammy’s wardrobe (this was the 80’s, there was a lot to choose from).
Kids today just don’t make stuff anymore. I’m not sure they know how. Even the lego kits of today have lost their way. In my youth I had about a kilogram of the stuff, all proper individual pieces that could be fitted together one of a hundred different ways. These days they are all pre-moulded pieces designed to make one thing only. Rubbish.
Can you imagine trying to persuade your average 8 year old that a really fun way to spend the afternoon is with a Pritt Stick, a pair of scissors and a piece of cardboard building a replica of the Globe Theatre or Darwin’s Beagle? Let alone garnering any enthusiasm for a carefully constructed Blue Peter Tracey Island model? They’d only complain it smelled of yoghurt. It’s little wonder they all turn out in logoed polyester rather than papier-mâché.

Over here, I was rather glad that I would not need to lay in a supply of candies for the little oiks of the neighbourhood as I did when I lived in Cardiff. When I say that I live in a field, I mean that literally. The nearest house is a good quarter of a mile away. Beyond that, it’s another quarter to the next one. If I want to go anywhere at all, it does have to be by car.
As children can’t drive, I assumed I would be safe from them. I was wrong.

At the risk of sounding like Concerned of Tunbridge Wells, what kind of person allows their children to harass strangers for sugar?
I saw the brake lights flash and moments later was greeted with a wild banging on my door by a number of breathless children demanding sustenance. They were each clutching a carrier bag and were clearly making an opportunistic tour of the neighbourhood.
It was only later that I realised that I did vaguely know them. They were the children of the man who seeded my lawn over 18 months ago. I haven’t seen him since I paid him and I haven’t seen his kids since they mysteriously pitched up at my door in an identical situation 12 months previously. On that occasion, Mammy gave them some rotten apples from her fruit trees (she thought they were fresh ones) and I gave them some leftover Harribo I had laid in for the children of my friend in the hope that plying her kids with e-numbers would discourage her from bringing them to see me.

Mammy tells me I am a grouch. She is right, of course, yet I’m still put out that I have to put up with these brats because their parent lacks the will, or the possibly just the manners, to tell their offspring that it’s not okay to call on people you don’t really know, who don’t have any pumpkins out the front, who haven’t seen you since you demanded additives this time last year and to whom you are as welcome as a soloist performing Silent Night in a Synagogue.

Anyway. Mammy has suggested that next year we put some Garda Crime Scene – Do Not Cross tape across the gateposts to try and keep them out. I’m not convinced it will work but I’m happy to give it a try. Leaving all the lights on will probably make it look more convincing.

If you have had your kids out trick or treating, it would be really nice if you could be a little more circumspect about where you take them. Calling on the people you don’t know is irritating and, to be honest, a little rude. Kids today need to learn you don’t get sweets for mere existence. It’s up to you to teach them.


Anonymous said...

A group of children came to our door too. I just don't get it.

Theo said...

Wire at Garrotting height. That's my next plan.