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Saturday, October 27, 2012


halloween has never really played a big part in my life.
never did trick or treating – it was always something that was for american kids. you would see it on tv shows and films. it was foreign and exotic.

for me and my mates it was guy fawkes night.
bonfires and fireworks.
more importantly it meant ‘penny for the guy’. we would make up our ‘guy’, old clothes stuffed with paper and even older clothes and a cardboard mask, a sign over its head and we were set. if we could find a pram then we would wheel the guy up and down the street harassing passing adults to give us a penny (or more) for the guy.
our ill gotten gains would be turned into bangers, catherine wheels and sparklers.

as guy fawkes night drew closer we would get more excited. fireworks! fireworks!
all the kids loved fireworks.
back then it wasn’t a case of going to the local park and watching a large display – no it was what your parents did for you in the back garden. i was lucky, because my parents ran a pub there was a large yard to use and lots of people who would come along with fireworks to watch them all go up in smoke. in a corner there would be a bonfire.
it was a magical night.
once our fireworks had fizzed, whooshed, sizzled and banged we would stay out to watch other people’s fireworks exploding in the sky.

i still love fireworks.
guy fawkes night has just become fireworks night and mostly it is a civic affair that is at once spectacular and slightly disappointing.

over recent years halloween has begun to replace guy fawkes night – a british tradition being pushed to one side by another slice of american consumerism. there are many reasons why this has happened. i would wager the main one can be seen on the shelves of my local sainsbuy’s.

recently diwali, the indian festival of lights, fell on november 5th and my local sainsbury’s had their fireworks all marked up for diwali – anything to boost sales. this year’s fireworks in sainsbury’s is a smaller unit than the one they have erected to sell diwali sweets.
yet walked a few yards down to the aisle where they rack their toys and you will see tat upon tat of themed halloween gifts. scary lights, spooky lights, ghoulish lights. there are things to wear, things to carry, things to eat. things in the shapes of ghosts, ghoulies, demons, witches and cats. things that make scary noises.
mostly things that make lots of money for sainsbury’s.
halloween has taken off because a lot of commercial outlets have seen it as being a great way to make a lot of money for themselves. money they can’t make on a simple fireworks night.
kids pester power is easier to ignore when the treats are locked in glass cases and cost a small fortune. much hard to resist when they are cheap and on the shelves for the kids to touch and pick up.

yes i admit that some of that tat appeals to me. the big kid in me wants the thing that has spinning lights in it, or the bouncing ghost ball, or the mad cat toy.
just keep me away from the halloween candy.

remember remember the fifth of november
gunpowder, treason and plot.
i see no reason why gunpowder, treason
should ever be forgot...

oh except for the dosh that makes the tills chime in shops up and down the land.

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