Don’t mind admitting it. October scares the bejesus out of me. What should be a nice month of golden leaves, when it’s still mild enough to go out without being suffocated by outerwear, is tainted by the horror that’s ahead.
The end of the month looms like an open grave waiting to suck me in. There, beckoning me forward with a crooked finger, ready to whip my legs out from underneath me, savage me in a fearsome flurry of nylon witch’s wig, bad make-up, false rotten teeth and outfits that cost more than my weekly food shop to buy, is Hallowe’en.
Growing up, Hallowe’en barely registered on children’s “list of things to exploit”. Instead, we accepted it as merely the starting point for the more lucrative guising season. For me, Hallowe’en was simply a brief episode at the Brownies when the hall darkened and someone told a spooky story before we dipped faces into a bucket of water in search of an apple plucked earlier by Brown Owl from a neighbour’s tree.
Hallowe’en concluded with me sitting in my Brownie uniform, cheeks drawn savagely together, chewing unhappily on a crab apple of extreme sourness while praying there were no worms lurking inside.
Is that grim torture not horrific enough for today’s children? Apparently not. This year UK analysts Planet Retail predict shoppers will waste up to £325 million making Hallowe’en a hoot of terrifying proportions, compared with the £12m we parted with in 2001.
Personally, I’m braced for several kids’ parties requiring various costumes (Hallowe’en outfits are designed to self-destruct on first wearing). I fully expect to be forced by a tearful child into paying a tenner for a Jack Sparrow wig, inwardly weeping, knowing that tenner was meant for my week’s lunches.
There will be treats and loose change required for strange children who roll up at the front door and who, when asked for a wee “turn” for this payment, will stare in silence until they are asked to just kindly leave with their booty.
Of course, the financial horror is just one frightening element of Hallowe’en. The other? It means there are just eight weeks until Christmas.