I’ve tried. I really have. After weeks of entering supermarkets piled high with plastic pumpkins and fake skulls, synthetic spider webs, rubber monster masks, battery-operated ‘torture victims’ in chains howling in pain and other ghastly, horror-themed tat, I’ve tried to join in with the relatively recent British obsession with Halloween.
But I still loathe everything about it.
You may think it’s just a bit of fun – but in reality Halloween is a money-making monolith that exists solely to sell you things you really don’t need and will be discarded on November the 1st.
The shops and their suppliers don’t care because they’ve already taken your money and know they’ll take more from you next year.
The highlight of the Autumn used to be Bonfire Night. So why did the great British tradition of November the 5th become the poor relation to the American celebration of all things spooky?
There was no particular demand from the public for Halloween-themed goods. Commercial enterprises created the demand, possibly because fireworks sales nose-dived when new rules came in preventing youngsters from buying them and setting them off in the street . . . in August!
When I was a lad . . . cough . . . 20 years ago…Halloween barely made a dent in our autumn calendar.
We might do a bit of apple bobbing – an activity which proved that making your own fun is no fun at all – but there was no question of us kids going out in the dark, knocking on doors, demanding sweets and making threats if none were forthcoming.
That only happened in American films.
If we were lucky, one of the three TV channels we had back then would risk facing the wrath of Mrs. Mary Whitehouse (the infamous TV Watchdog who totally disapproved of anything she didn’t approve of) and treat us to a late-night horror film from the glory days of Hammer Films. Although the goriest bits were usually snipped out!
And that was it.
No lengthy build-up in the shops, constant advertising on the box or groups of children/teenagers/killer clowns banging on your door shouting “Trick Or Treat!” from tea-time to 10 o’clock.
Many children today haven’t heard of the Gunpowder Plot, have no idea who Guy Fawkes was and have never been handed a box of fireworks with the cautionary words, “They’re yours – but your father will light them!”
But they do know about zombies, vampires and werewolves!
Don’t you find that scary?