Well, that was sudden. One minute we’re all lazing about in the searing heat of a Scottish summer (a girl can dream, ok?) and the next we’re plunged into the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, with wall-to-wall Christmas ads on the telly.
Hallowe’en is the opening act of the festive season. Zombies would appear to have been the fave costume again this year, with pumpkin a la Donald Trump the decoration of choice.
God knows, I hate to fly in the face of public opinion, and I am fully aware that my Scottishness might just get revoked, but personally I am supportive of the supplanting of the tumshie by the pumpkin. Turnips are many things, but easy carve is not one of them.
As a child, I remember having strong views about what I wanted my turnip to look like. My dad would sigh, and head for the kitchen to do battle. My mum would give that sort of tight, worried smile she gave when he spliced live wires together to make the table lamps work.
Inevitably, he’d start using language that caused my mum to shut the kitchen door sharpish. The Elastoplast dash was never far behind.
Nationally, the injuries must have been legion. Surely the Government should have released one of those public information films about the dangers of tumshie scooping?
Picture a 1970s kitchen, all mustard tiles and fondue sets. That’s not the scary bit. Behold! An exasperated parent slashing away at a rock-hard turnip, armed only with a tablespoon and a Stanley knife, completely disregarding Health and Safety. It was the Seventies. It hadn’t been invented yet..
Behind them lurks a sinister figure, voiced by Donald Pleasance, narrating the terrible tale of the dad about to go all slasher movie on his hands. The blade slips. There is blood on the walls, and the ominous warning. ‘Take care with your tumshie.’
There are no tips to improve the hollowing of a turnip. It’s not ice cream. It’s a hard vegetable that only becomes a fit partner for the haggis after a bit of a boil. You can’t just take a spoon to its insides. That’s why I am fully supportive of its American challenger. The pumpkin has clearly been designed to be scooped, carved and decorated.
By the time we were finished with the tungsten-tough turnip, on the other hand, it just looked like a vegetable that had fallen into the hands of contender for the Turner Prize.
Mind you, it usually had real blood dripped along it’s flanks for that authentic Hallowe’en feel.
Hallowe’en hissy fit
We’ve got a handy solution to the Hallowe’en decorations in our house. We’ve got our little black cat, Gertrude. She’s pitch black with scary big green eyes, which makes her the perfect living accessory for the witching season. The downside is the litter tray. Never seen a pumpkin that needs a poop scoop.
Yes, it’s a cool bar, but this is ridiculous
Met a pal for a drink in one of those super-trendy Swedish places where the staff are clearly recruited from a model agency. Decorative, but oddly lacking in customer care skills. In fact, the staff in these places are so gorgeous that I often wonder if the artificial humans of Blade Runner are not, in fact, already among us.
This replicant status would explain why they had no idea that the temperature in their establishment is just above zero. Or they could be trying to recreate Swedish winter.
Drinking gin with your coat on is just not right, well, indoors at any rate. I got the attention of the male model behind the bar and asked if there was any heating. It’s on, he said, apparently oblivious to the fact that his reply could actually be seen on the air between us.
He looked at me blankly, then his expression re-calibrated to sympathy for a poor old lady who didn’t realise that the current ambiance for super-trendy establishments is Ice Station Zebra.
Perhaps their ice comes from somewhere amazingly on-trend, like a designer glacier or something, and they want to re-use it. It’s certainly a novelty to me to see the cubes still in the glass when the gin is long gone. My Swedish winter theory melted in a similarly chilly Italian restaurant later that week. Pizza is a dish that should never be eaten cold. Particularly if it’s the punter who is cold.
Perhaps the change in seasons caught our hospitality trade on the hop, or the sight of the last electricity bill.
By contrast we finished our evening in a typically Scottish pub where the bar staff comprises of a decent smattering of grey lumpy people, a woman called Margaret and a cheery Australian student. The warmth enveloped us the second the door opened and our jackets came off the minute we sat down.
So come on guys, get the heating on.