Halloween crept up on me like a stalker in a slasher movie. Sure enough I'd seen the pumpkins in the supermarket and I'd bought a couple of extra packs of Haribo Tangfastics but I wasn't even thinking of sharing my candy. Haribo is part of my staple diet and I'm not up for giving it away, even if I've got a knee high Count Dracula, a mini Amy Winehouse and a Ninja Turtle at the door.
I may live in the Royal Borough Of Greenwich but the part I live in is more rough than Royal and every other day can feel like Halloween. People demanding treats with menaces is a weekly occurrence, it just happens to be that my neighbours call them bailiffs.
Halloween seems to be the celebration du jour, it's the new black, the new kid on the (chopping) block and the new excuse to get dressed up, have a party and bite somebodies neck. It's also an excellent reason to get dressed up, talk to complete strangers and then get treated for it; of course, if you're already doing that to earn a living / pay your rent / mortgage / store cards then maybe it's a national holiday for you?
Halloween = fun for the 9 to 5'ers and a reason to have a lie in for the nations hookers.
I was never allowed to go "trick or treating" as a child. My mother saw it as being tantamount to begging and a prime reason I would get snatched off the streets and never be seen again. It didn't stop me doing it though, as soon as her back was turned I was dressed in a black bin bag, with a pair of her tights over my head and I was out demanding sweets with menaces from the neighbours. I don't think anyone ever said "trick" to me, I always got treated, but then again, an eight year old in a black bin bag, with his mothers tights over his head and carrying an imitation firearm would probably have that effect on a pensioner with a nervous disposition? The most difficult thing was trying to eat all the evidence without tearing a hole in the tights before I got home.
Trick or Treaters are not the same anymore. It's not kids expecting a handful of sweets, it's groups of hoodies who need apples with razor blades attached (that was another reason I was never allowed to go trick or treating, the urban myth of the apple and the razor blade).
Halloween for anyone living in the rougher parts of London means spending the evening with the lights off, the curtains drawn and the letter box taped shut. It's the perfect excuse for feral youth to scare the living daylights out of old age pensioners because a pack of cola bottles or a sherbet dip just doesn't satisfy the need anymore. Why settle for a pound when you can take the whole purse? Like the cast of Orphan Annie, instead of treated, they got tricked, instead of kisses, they got kicked.
Daddy Warbucks has eaten all the candy and he didn't even burp.
Halloween has turned into just another reason to get drunk and sleep with somebody you don't know (for adults). When did a sexy nurse outfit become de rigueur for anyone with breasts and when did a cod piece and a pair of batman ears become the uniform for anyone with, well, a pair of cods and a pair of ears? I didn't see one original outfit for an adult, I've seen more creativity and imagination on CCTV from Crimewatch. Children are not interested in "All Hallows Eve" or the festival of the dead, they just want some money and a mouthful of tooth rot. Halloween is the sugar rush to end all sugar rushes and maybe that's the payback for letting your children go begging door to door? "Mum, I've got a toothache and it's all your fault because you dressed me up as ET and pimped me out for a bucket of popcorn".
I only opened the door twice this Halloween, each time I answered "Treat" and then showed the beggars in hoodies my wares. A pack of out of date prawns, a passed their prime Spice Girls CD or a shot of tequila. Like I said, I live in the rough part of Greenwich so the prawns and the Spice Girls got kicked to the kerb but the Tequila went down a treat.
If you're looking for an example of "Broken Britain" then look no further than Halloween. The ratio of kids to adults with their benefits slashed begging at my door was 3/2. I was half expecting a four year old in a David Cameron mask to come bashing at the door, instead I was confronted by the disaffected, the disappointed and the discombobulated.
Just wait until Christmas when they come back carol singing.