Sunday, 27 October 2013


     Halloween is almost upon us, but television programmers don't seem to be able to wait for the 31st of October. It's still days away from Halloween but my evenings viewing consists of, The Ghost of Greville, followed by The Canterville Ghost, Monster House, Ghostbusters, Scream 4, Scream: The true story, and then The Wicker man, and that's only one channel.

      All Hallows Eve is a time of supernatural activity. It's a time when the door to an alternative world is reputed to open wide enough for the souls of the dead to enter our world, spooky.

     As a teenager I remember waiting, with my friends, in the grounds of the Dunkenhalgh on Halloween. It is now a hotel, and the place where my wife and I had our wedding reception, but was once the ancestral home of the Walmesley family. The reason for our  visit was to see a headless horseman, who reputedly rode around the grounds once a year at midnight on Halloween.  I can only assume that the horseman was once a member of that illustrious family of Walmesley's, and lost his head by supporting the wrong side in some historical dispute. 
     Now if I were a headless horseman there's no way that I would ride around the countryside at midnight on Halloween, its far too bloody cold for that, especially when you have no head on which to wear a hat, or neck around which to wear a scarf. I suspect that the horseman felt much the same way, because after freezing our whatnots off for about two hours, the inconsiderate so-and-so never had the decency to show up.
 On another occasion we were told that the Pendle witches, who were hanged at Lancaster Castle in 1612 for witchcraft, were always abroad on Pendle Hill on Halloween, so we pitched a tent, lit a camp-fire, and prepared to spend the night. The same joker must have told others the same story, because there were many tents and many camp-fires, but the only spirits that we saw came straight out of a bottle.
     There was no such thing as trick or treat when I was a lad, but in fairness it wasn't long after the war when sweets were still a luxury.     On American television I watch as little kids, escorted by their parents and dressed in costume, knock on doors with baskets, or buckets,  to collect sweets. In television land householders trim their houses with all things scary, and even dress up themselves, waiting expectantly for that knock on the door so that they can frighten the poor little mites half to death, or try to drown them in a bowl of water on the pretext of bobbing for apples. 
    I think that trick or treat might have lost something on its journey across the Atlantic, because people here tend to close their curtains, switch off their lights, and pretend to be out when the doorbell rings, while teenage gangs, with cans of beer and wearing masks, like any self respecting  robber would, terrorise the area. Sweets are not for them, hard cash is what's required to buy more booze from the local supermarkets which stay open late to take advantage of the annual bonanza, and if you don't pay the required protection money, they will trash your garden or scratch your car. 
    A message to any would be trick-or-treater's. Don't bother calling at my house on Halloween, because I will be  sitting in the dark and pretending to be out.

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