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I hate Halloween. But I have two children of perfect trick or treat age, whose every sinew quivers in excitement at the very mention. So, once again, off we go, into the suburban drizzle of our cut-through road (oh, for a cul-de-sac!). Here’s why.

  1. I hate the fact that, for around two weeks before 31 October, I start making a mental note to myself to the effect that I must think of costumes, or I will let the boys down just as badly as I let them down every year on Book Day at school because there’s no costume planned and I end up cobbling something together at breakfast at some unbearably stressful interval somewhere between toast and teeth.
  2. I hate the fact that the Sunshine Mum part of me, which hasn’t yet quite faded, still thinks she can find the time and energy to plan something homemade ahead, research the web, pop to the market and chance upon some incredibly cheap yet perfect designer material, and spend a couple of evenings knocking up creative, cute costumes on the sewing machine which will force my sons to love me and everyone else to gawp, praise and generally hold me in awe.
  3. I hate the fact that, as Halloweens go by, I’m increasingly tempted by the easy, plastic masks and cheap costumes that spew out of the lower, seasonal shelves of B&M. Landfill? What landfill? I should love B&M!
  4. I hate the recognition that B&M know all this, just like they understand the sales power of a child’s disappointment.
  5. I hate that Halloween makes me feel unwillingly nostalgic, even though I don’t actually remember going trick-or-treating as a child.
  6. I hate people who turn their lights off and don’t answer the door.
  7. I hate having to sit in the dark and creep around my own house if I’m on my own because I’ve forgotten to buy any sweets… and then realising that perhaps I forgot them on purpose so I could do precisely that…
  8. I hate having to keep shout ‘Wait for the others!’ to children so pumped up with pure greed that they can barely stop themselves from vaulting clean over gates.
  9. I hate people who hate Halloween.
  10. I hate it when people give coins instead of treats.
  11. Then I hate thinking that at least coins don’t rot your teeth.
  12. I hate it when people expect a goblin, a witch, a ghoul, a mummy, a scary thing and a monster between the ages of one and 10 to share a 50p coin
  13. I hate skulking apologetically by rank wheelie bins.
  14. I hate the fact that our kind of Halloween is a crushing experience compared to the one we joined once in a very posh London suburb, where every porch (because they all had porches) was decked out in vast swatches of spiders’ webs, every bush (because they all had front gardens) groaning with pumpkins and bats, and the streets were abuzz with hordes of fantastically dressed up children and nannies, and there seemed to be budget-free Halloween parties happening in every front room, complete with eyeballs and skeletons and vampires and oh, such indelible happiness!
  15. I really hate the fact that this is the only time in the whole year that it’s OK to knock on the doors of strangers and say hello, but you’ve got to keep going, because of your disgracefully greedy kids, so you can’t stop long enough to discover anything in common other than a green bin collection date.
  16. I hate the fact that for weeks afterwards, I have to be the bad guy and say ‘no’ as we go through the same frequent and relentless discussions about the remaining sweets.
  1. But, I did discover something spooky and sinister… about myself. As we were putting the finishing touches of ‘blood’ on a last-minute, cobbled-together, non-B&M costume, I realised that there’s one part of Halloween I do really enjoy: the squelchy, spellbinding pleasure of squirting tomato ketchup liberally over people’s heads.


  1. Tim Lodge says:

    Of course, Halloween was a total sideshow to the main event, Bonfire Night, preceded of course by Mischief Night. MN is a particular characteristic event of West Yorkshire life; it doesn’t seem to happen anywhere else. Of course, you can’t sell anybody stuff for mischief, so it gave way to Halloween. We had the finest bonfire in Christendom in MY back garden. Once, we set fire to some telephone wires it was THAT big. My first nasty burn was from picking up a metal thing in the ashes the day after. I must have been about 6 (’twas my older brothers who ran the bonfire before me). I don’t think anyone in Pudsey was remotely interested in Halloween until, I would say, sometime around 1978.

    • Oh no Tim – Halloween was one of THE events of my late 60’s/early 70’s childhood in Pudsey. Way before the days of Trick or Treat we were dressing as witches and ghosts (costumes lovingly stitched Tamsin, by my Nan, with remnants bought from Leeds Market), for the annual Halloween Party hosted, curiously, by Lowtown Sunday School. We bobbed for apples, battled each other for apples dangled from strings, which had to be caught by the teeth with hands behind your back, and paraded in our costumes carrying turnip lanterns (no pumpkins around in those days), with prizes awarded for the best outfits. I can’t imagine any Pudsey churches encouraging such festivities nowadays!

  2. Tim Lodge says:

    Ah, Jenny. Though we lived only 500 yards apart, we came from such different worlds… !

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