Oh yes! The party police are positively apoplectic with the prospect of being able to personally dampen our fireworks twice in as many weeks!
It's Hallowe'en. You know the one - ghoulies and ghosties, and things that go bump in the night. Bright eyed little kiddies wanting to dress up in those fabulous, and very reasonably priced costumes in the supermarkets, (far better than mum getting out the sewing machine!), to attend the local party, or to go Trick or Treating. All innocent enough - but the doom and gloom merchants are right on the case. Condemning Hallowe'en as anti Christian and dangerous, the Vatican suggest we persuade our offspring to dress up as historical characters instead. OK... and no-one thinks that this will in any way detract from what we now consider to be a good excuse for an autumn party. Methinks Joan of Arc and Napoleon are going to look a bit out of place surrounded by the more traditional Hallowe'en favourites like zombies, witches and goblins.
And furthermore - that nasty nasty American import of Trick or Treating has to go! Utterly untenable! Or at least it needs to be modified and policed. For the blissfully uninitiated, Trick or Treating is where small groups of smaller children are escorted around their neighbourhoods, wearing scary outfits (but not as scary as hoodies and flick-knives), knocking on doors and shouting Trick or Treat. The idea is that the householder gives them a sweety or possibly a few pence; admires their costumes and bids them on their way. Failure to provide a treat exacts revenge in the form of a trick - and if there were ANY worthwhile monitoring of Hallowe'en, it might be on the somewhat dubious interpretation of that trick. But no,the police, local authorities, government, have NOTHING to say on that matter. It's the nature of the treats that have come under scrutiny. The World Cancer Research Fund no less, has come in all guns blazing to suggest that Hallowe'en treats should be something tempting like... celery! Masquerading as Frankenstein's finger! So, let me just get this one straight. They're all happy with veiled suggestions of cannibalism, and not too worried overall about the idea that Hallowe'en is going to lead to an upsurge of Ouija boards on our pre-schoolers' Christmas lists, but they would prefer that we reduced the sugar and fat in this ONCE A YEAR event. Have they really NOTHING better to do?
And surely in a week that has seen PARENTS banned from a children's park on the basis that they might be paedophiles themselves, it can only be a matter of another 365 days before Trick or Treating is outlawed altogether. If it's reasonable to assume that all parents are potential paedophiles - and you usually need two parents to one child, (let's not go there), then it has to be reasonable to assume that every household must have at least one paedophile in it, and therefore there can be NOTHING more dangerous than sending your kids to knock on doors! What an appalling state of affairs.
Please don't mistake me, despite the ranting, I'm not a fan of Hallowe'en myself, but with five children, I'd have to be a major party pooper to ignore it completely. But if you think I'm going to all the effort of dressing up, and dressing the kids up, to go out and have bananas and sesame seeds thrown at me, you're sadly mistaken.
All Hallow's Eve or Hallowe'en celebrations started off as an ancient festival to mark the start of 'the darker half of the year'. Before the advent of electric light, it must have been a fairly dismal prospect - six months of weak light and many hours of darkness, and somewhat unsurprisingly many folk simply gave up the will to live and popped their clogs. So the ancient Celts came to view this is as a bit of a depressing time, a time of death, and thought they would start the new year on November the 1st. This led, with a bit of a quantum leap of imagination, to the belief that the night of October 31 was a time when the line between the living and the dead became a bit blurred, and that the souls of the previously deceased would return to earth. And that, it seems, was enough of an excuse for a bit of a party! In more recent history, All Hallow's Day (a time to remember saints and martyrs), and All Soul's Day (a time to honour the dead) were established on November 1st and 2nd respectively, in an attempt to have us all forget about the darker celebrations of Hallowe'en.
Well, if the ancient Celts, who started all this, are to be believed, the afterworld must have something way better than the internet if they can get the message to all departed souls that tonight's the night to get on down to earth and party! Although in Brown's Britain, the risk assessment forms, health and safety and political correctness may just prove too much for your average undead, and they may decide to stay in and wash their shrouds instead. And as the Grim Reaper will have a hell of a job getting that scythe through customs, he'll probably just turn in for an early night with a cup of horlicks. And we have nothing to worry about. Not that we did in the first place.
And when all's said and done, it's going to rain tonight. This long mild spell, our Indian summer, is finally wimping out on us and the evening will bring screaming rain and gusty winds so we'll all get wet anyway.
Happy Hallowe'en! Enjoy it if you can!