Yesterday I experienced something I have never experienced before. Peak Halloween.
When I was a lad, All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve was ‘celebrated’ after a fashion but nothing like it seems to be these days. I would beg my mam to buy a turnip to make a lantern which would lead to an argument about eating the flesh. We would wander the local streets with our lanterns dangling by their string with the faint glow of the candle lighting the dark streets. The smell of roasting turnip will be forever seared in my mind. Trick or treating was something we never did. I’m sure it happened but it was not for the likes of us.
Having spent a fair amount of time over the last month in Great Park, just north of Newcastle, I have experienced a whole new level of celebration. It must be the kind of families that live on the estate but they have gone crazy. Nearly every house has something to mark the festivities, from a pumpkin at the door (no turnips) to spider webs, skeletons, and tombstones. One or two houses have really gone over the top in competitive ghoulishness. Headless babies and blood soaked spooks are enough to turn the stomach of even the most hardened of adult, let alone a child.
Halloween has become a highlight of the year, perhaps even more so than Christmas and again, this may be a reflection of the makeup of the estate. So much effort has been put into celebrating the day, or night, that you really have to tip your hat to the householders. I would hate to have to put it all away.
But the real event happened once the sun had gone down. A planned orgy of spectres, ghosts and ghouls kicked off around six. There was even a map showing the best route to take for maximum fright. The streets were swarming with people from babies in pushchairs to fully grown adults, most of them decked out in some sort of fancy dress, closely or loosely related to Hallwoeen. There were the usual ghosts, mummies and witches yet also a range of Marvel characters, the odd underdressed vamp and even someone wearing an inflatable dinosaur costume. Halloween is clearly a broad church.
Cheap confectionery was pounced upon in a feeding frenzy as if the children had never seen such delights before. It was a real sugar rush even though there is an abundance of sweets in the shops.
We must have passed at least five hindered people out and about on the estate as we made our way home to the peace and quiet of a different demographic.
It was peak Halloween!