Illustration: Kelsey Davenport

DESPATCHES FROM THE SCHOOL GATE

Halloween? It’s an utter crapfest

Dangling skeletons, tissue-paper pumpkins and homemade broomsticks – Liz Dashwood is not a fan

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Everything in me rebels against Halloween. The apparently unstoppable metastasising of this utter crapfest over the last few years drives me demented. Let me count the ways in which I hate it:

1) The oceans of plastic tat to be used once and then discarded – into, ultimately, the bloody oceans themselves.

2) The artwork. Specifically, the size of the artwork. Spiders with pipecleaner legs, dangling skeletons, witches’ hats – each takes up at least a cubic foot of space once you have accounted for the safety zone around them to avoid knocking the sodding things to bits. And if Thomas brings home a broomstick again like he did last year, I’m taking it straight back to school and beating his art teacher to death with it.

3) The hanging of the effing artwork. Spiders and skeletons from his bedroom ceiling, a black sock-cat at the end of the bed, pictures of pumpkins with tissue-paper-candlelit eyes on the window… I don’t have enough time to have a proper bowel movement, but I’m supposed to curate a boutique exhibition every October.

4) Trick-or-treating. Eat sweets! Chat to strangers! We’ll deal with the ramifications of the glimmering understanding this induces that all rules are ultimately manmade and mutable later!

If Thomas brings home a broomstick again like he did last year, I’m taking it straight back to school and beating his art teacher to death with it

5) The making or buying of costumes for trick-or-treating. Expend time or money – this is a binary choice that never fails to endear me to any activity.

6) The standing around all evening while trick-or-treating. Far back enough to give the kids the illusion of freedom, close enough to pull them away from anyone holding the bucket of sweets too near his crotch. At least it’s too dark for them to see your expression as you mourn the loss of innocence from the world. Or to catch you eating all the fun-size Mars Bars from their haul.

“You’re a joyless freak,” says my husband, as he revamps last year’s ghost costume by plastering it with creepy-crawly stickers and some weird fleecy stuff that he and Thomas are calling, delightedly, “ectoplasm”.

“I’m not,” I say. “I just get my joy from seeing him tucked up in bed at night and knowing there’s a glass of wine the size of my head waiting for me downstairs. Halloween delays both these things.”

“But the kids love it!” he says, draping more ectoplasm over the white cloth and standing back to admire the effect.

“That annoys me, too,” I say. “It’s such a stupid, money-gouging, manufactured festival that I think even a child should be able to see through it.”

“You want to be the mother of a six-year-old Corbynista?” he asks.

“No, but… it wouldn’t be all bad.”

“Well, at least I’m around to do the trick-or-treating this year,” he says. “Being married’s finally beginning to pay off for you, eh?”

“As long as you save me the Mars Bars,” I say.

“Of course,” he says. “Of course.”

@LizDashwood

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Illustration: Kelsey Davenport
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