Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
Broadband from £5.99 a month with an included wireless router when you sign up to Plusnet - terms apply

Monday 31 October 2011


TODAY'S the day the world splits in two - the bit that likes Hallowe'en, and the bit that turns the lights out and shouts 'BUGROFF!' when the doorbell goes.

You could argue the split is between those with children and without, or the people that object to commercialisation of tradition and those that enjoy being bullied by little tykes expecting something for nothing. "How long til it's 'gissa flat-screen telly or we burn your house down?'," the cynical might ask.

Yet the rituals of All Hallow's Eve - even the ones that America has taken and made four times more expensive and less fun - still have their roots in good things. It's just we've forgotten what they are.

Pumpkins were originally turnips, carved to represent a soul suffering in Purgatory. They only became pumpkins when Celtic emigrants to America realised they were easier to deal with than turnips, and also nicer to eat. Anything is nicer than eating turnips; cardboard, cat poo, your own feet. The begging door-to-door comes from wassailing beggars, asking for soul cakes as the weather turned cold in return for saying prayers for the dead, which I suppose is more inventive than sitting outside KFC hoping for a discarded bit of factory-farmed almost-chicken.

It is the time of year when human beings gather around bonfires, store up food for the coming winter, and mark the changing of the seasons. When I was young we also used to deliver food parcels to the elderly, although that part of the harvest celebrations seems to have been lost amid fears of paedophiles, inadvertent poisonings and the health and safety police.

But the main purpose of the day, from pagans to Christians and everyone in between, was to mark the moment when life passes into death; when summer is over and the harvest is in, when you have long months of the cold and dark to wait for spring, and thoughts turn to people no longer with us. Hence the undead roam the streets, looking for a living soul to snatch, but settling in extremis for a Curly Wurly.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying Hallowe'en, yes, I get it, but most of it's hogwash and anybody who turns up on my doorstep expecting to get a bucketful of Jaffa cakes simply because they dressed up as the Cookie Monster is going to find that I have put a lot more thought into this than they have. So anyone who makes it through the enchanted forest to my gingerbread cottage is going to find one of the following:
  1. I will open the door and read the above until they go away.
  2. They will be given the contents of my recycling bin. Why should the Chinese get all the benefit?
  3. Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries played very loud and me, silently staring.
  4. A Ouija board and a tethered goat.
  5. Hurled turnips.
  6. Unholy fox noises.
  7. A request to wash my car first.
  8. Cigarettes, if they're that interested in being dead.
  9. A lecture on tooth decay.
  10. An adult in a fox costume who screams and swears from the moment the door is opened, hurls a single Curly Wurly at them and then slams the door.
But seeing as I did that last year, they might just leave me alone.

Either that or I shall egg them from my bedroom window.