That’s what we used to call it when I was a loveable, rosy-cheeked tyke running around Northern England, back in the early Cretaceous period. There was no opportunity for householders to buy us off with a handful of Smarties or Black Jacks. It was knock-and-run, bangers fired from pop bottles, dog poo in burning newspapers, smashed milk bottles. Terrible stuff, what shits we were.
I was back in the old country about fifteen years ago when Britain was starting to grapple with the concept of Halloween as a marketing opportunity. I traipsed down to Asda with my niece and bought her a witch’s outfit made from a material more flammable than paint solvent. I didn’t think it’d take off (Halloween, not the witch’s outfit) but take off it did. When my own kids became of trick-or-treating age I was bah humbug about it, I went “all Presbyterian” as my kids describe anything in our household that garners parental disapproval.
But then I got a bit happier about the whole deal. What did it was seeing Halloween in action. In Hamilton North you don’t get feral kids from other suburbs and so you know exactly who everyone is, even in their best Dawn of the Dead or Dracula costume. Last night, a fully made-up Frankenstein and a zombie knocked at the door and I heard my wife asking them how they were enjoying high school, it was so obviously Tyson and Jack. It helps that Halloween falls in spring in Australia, not long after the clocks have done whatever it is they do (I’ve already forgotten). The evenings are usually warm and it’s an opportunity for families to mosey around the streets in groups, kids in packs, dads twenty paces behind, a beer in the mitt, beaming dadfully.
Having said that, it felt a perversely warm glow when I found this roadworks sign that had been thrown into the creek by the Spawn of Satan. Little buggers.
It certainly wasn’t this mob of reprobates.