Mirth and Woe: Hallowe'en
All Hallows Eve. Where evil stalks the Earth, casting its spell and dragging God-fearing folk down to Hell where they are sick inna dark satanic hedge, or something.
Or, a bunch of local scrotes pulling their trackies over their heads in a last-minute, cider-driven attempt at dressing up, before knocking at your door demanding money with menaces.
All much the same thing, to be honest.
Back in MY day, of course, it was a true innocent pleasure.
This was the time I was living in Canada, my evil five-year-old brain already working out how to kidnap yummy mummies for whatever nefarious purposes five-year-olds have for kidnapping yummy mummies.
Yes, I was the true Spawn of Satan, and it was to be my first ever proper Hallowe'en.
Back in the old country, they didn't do Hallowe'en the same way they did over the Atlantic – it being seen as an American festival, so it was all new to our family. We got dressed up in all sorts of costumes. My brother was a Charlie Brown-like ghost. My sister a witch - no change there, then (oh ho!) – and I, for some reason, a cat.
The reason being that my mother had spent several days making a cat mask out of papier mache. It stunk of damp newspaper, and had dried spaghetti for whiskers, which were tasty. And like any kind of mask, it was impossible to see out of the eye holes, and found myself on collision course with just about the entire neighbourhood.
"Trick or... ooyagh!"
Of course, scared witless by tales of ghosts, vampires, skellingtons and the undead walking the Earth is no way to send a five-year-old kid out onto the mean streets of Vancouver after dark. Cat mask or no cat mask, I was petrified.
Luckily, every door we went to opened to reveal not brain-eating zombies, but kindly local folk who showered us with sweets of all descriptions.
Lots and lots of sweets.
Luckily, I was well prepared for this, and lugged around my booty in a pillow case.
As the evening went on – and we visited rather a lot of houses – sweets began to completely bypass the pillow case and went directly to mouth.
Om nom nom nom.
Om nom nom nom nom burp nom nom nom nom, if we're going to be pedantic about it.
At last, we reached the block of flats at the far end of the estate. Our little gaggle of witches, ghosts, ghouls and single papier mache cat, trudged up to the top floor in order to work back down to street level. It was, for a pair of small legs, a long way to the top, and huge handfuls of sweety goodness on top of the day's ration of Canadian Maple Syrup was beginning to take its toll.
Knock knock de knock went a hand on front door.
"Trick or treat!" we shouted for the hundredth time that evening as a silver-haired old lady appeared.
Except, from me, it came out as "Blep."
You DO NOT want to know what it's like to vomit inside a full-face papier mache mask in the shape of a cat. It fills up pretty quickly, I can tell you for nothing.
The silver-haired old dear could see my distress, and leaned over to help me with my mask.
"What's that sonny? Did ya say 'Trick or Treat'?"
No, I didn't. And finally wrestling the puked-filled thing from my face, revealing what appeared to be horrific, hideously melted features, I told her exactly what I had just said:
And that was the end of Hallowe'en.