It’s Halloween, and I have to say that I am scared. Not by ghosts, vampires, ghouls and lost spirits, but by the scale of America’s commitment to the Halloween tradition.
Although I recently read a news story that said that UK spending on Halloween-related products has risen by more than 1000% to 120 million pounds in the last five years or so, I’ve got to say that the whole thing has always passed me by. Sure, you might see the occasional trick-or-treater out on the streets, or a carved pumpkin in the window of a home or two. And yes, greeting card shops and fancy dress stores often had displays of a largely orangey nature in the run-up to the ‘big’? night. But nothing can prepare you for the all-encompassing commitment to Halloween that engulfs America on October 31.
Imagine Oxford Street during the January sales (except with the vast majority of the shoppers being dressed like the cast of the video to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, and you will have some idea of what Carroll Gardens was like this evening. Belligerent young masses roamed the streets, their long-suffering parents trailing a few yards behind, with all children grabbing
sweetscandy from the huge number of families sitting out on their stoops waiting to receive the youthful trick-or-treaters.
It wasn’t just spooks and spookesses either, with Batgirl, Darth Vader and, erm, a giant spoon all among the participants. The little girl downstairs showed the Brit-friendly nature of Brooklyn, coming dressed as a number 2 London Routemaster bus. I didn’t quite have the heart to tell her that Red Ken has probably turned it into a bendy bus by now.
Kids wandering the streets I can kind of understand. But New York today was simply jampacked full of crazily costumed people or, as I prefer to call them, freaks.
Stepping into the
liftelevator at the office today, I was joined by a cowboy with a facial gunshot wound, as well as a mad scientist complete with Einsteinesque hair and a frankly desultory clipboard. Cinderella (who, by the look of her, hadn’t been starved to the point of malnutrition by the Ugly Sisters) stood alongside me the queueline for lunch. And I’ve seen more sodding cheerleaders than Giants Stadium over the last few hours. Whatever happened to putting a white sheet on your head, ripping two holes out of it for eyes and hoping that your mum didn’t notice the rips over the coming months?
When it comes down to it, most of these people are old enough to know better. I mean, is there really any need to turn up for your office job dressed as Heidi the mountain goat herder’s daughter? I think not. Call it bah humbug-ism, call it just being a British killjoy, but let’s save Halloween for the kids. Even if they do squirt water at you and run off with your Jaw Breakers.