America. We’ve had some great exports from the land of the free over the years; Hollywood films and Metallica to name but two. On the other hand we have also imported possibly the most heinous twist on one of our own ancient festivals ever thought up by man…‘Trick or Treat!’
For a start it’s fucking Duck Apple Night, everyone (over a certain age) knows that. A time when you try to drown a younger sibling or, as once happened to me, crush their windpipe against the lip of the washing up bowl by mistake…whilst trying to drown them. It is an innocent, witchcraft themed, event carried out in the confines of your own home and not pissing off the neighbourhood at all. Apples in a bowl of water, apples hanging on a piece of string, all needing to have chunks bitten off them without the use of hands. Apart from a few dislodged milk teeth, it is a completely harmless event. As a side note, I did hear of a family who did the apple suspended on a string from a door lintel blindfolded and to add an extra element of danger one of the apples was a bar of soap. Cool, I mean, cruel or what?
Let’s look at Trick or Treat. Children who are complete strangers to you and none of your bleedin’ responsibility or business at all, rock up to your door and demand candy (they’re sodding sweets) or they will play a trick on you. These tricks could range from egging your house, letting tyres down on vehicles and other such ‘harmless’ fun.
I accept the little children, dressed in various states of horror garb, going around with their parents have no intention of carrying out any tricks but it’s still a pain in the arse getting off the couch and answering the door wearing the falsest smile ever to grace a human face, as I help the country sleepwalk into type 2 diabetes. That may make me sound like a miserable sod but that’s only because I am. Why the hell are they bothering me on an autumnal night when I am semi-hibernating; why should I be complicit in destroying the teeth of a generation. (Sugar erosion, not me punching them in the gob.) And why should it cost me a single brass farthing?
Having said that, I am a fairly healthy man with the false confidence that I can handle these situations with little fuss but what about the elderly who live on their own? To the older generation this whole trick or treat thing is a total mystery? Imagine a frail old lady answering her door to a gang of six foot teenagers, dressed as the baddest assed serial killers from the silver screen and being told unless she give them something, they were going to terrorise her. Will she have the requisite candy (for the second time, they’re fucking sweets)? Probably not. What does she have to resort to as a substitute to pay these villains disturbing her peace? Maybe she goes for her purse and hands over money she can ill afford to lose because she is frightened of the consequences of not playing along. And a couple of quid is sneered at nowadays, we’re talking paper here, bro.
I have a suggestion. Those who wish to have their doorstep darkened by the hordes of the walking dead (which will without doubt be more believable than the TV series of that name) should be able to indicate so by placing a sign similar to the ones we see at Christmas saying, ‘Please Stop Here, Santa’. Obviously the wording would be different, maybe: ‘Yes, I am prepared to offer strangers candy (they’re swee…I give up) if they knock at my door dressed up in a worn out bedsheet or a bin liner with a hole in it for the insertion of the head’. Or maybe they could display a candle fuelled, carved pumpkin head? That would be in keeping with this Yankee twaddle. All other houses, those without express written invitation, or flaming, giant-sized, Day-Glo fruit, should be left in peace to duck for apples, in the privacy of their own home, like a good Briton should.
I did hear a story of one old chap, 70+, when confronted on his doorstep by several large, older teenagers whose costume effort extended to pulling their hoods up, refused to play along and pay them the cash they demanded. Needless to say they made some unveiled threats about what they were going to do to his house but seeing a how this chap was an ex-para with decades of martial arts experience, this failed to arise. I heard he even made them mop their own blood off his path when he’d finished. I know this is probably an urban legend but I like to think it is true and if enough people (when I say people I mean teenage lads, which as we all know are not people in the accepted sense of the word) believe it, maybe more old ladies on their own will be a little bit more relaxed come this time of year.
And don’t start me on ‘Mischief Night’, that’s just ‘The Purge’ made real. A couple of years back, the mischief extended to setting fire to the wooden benches and children’s play area outside a local pub. All just a bit fun…much like the birch.
Speaking personally I have no worries about trick or treat because my Mum is a real witch, a proper denizen of the night, and if you ‘trick’ me, come next Walpurgis Night, she will hop on her broom, hunt you down and you’ll be sorry before you can say ‘Eye of newt’. It’s true; I’ve seen her cauldron and everything.
Happy duck apple night.