As a nation, we have taken some rubbish from the Americans over the years. From naff television shows to crappy fast “food” establishments, from the insane idea of drinking skinny lattes and other ridiculously-named types of coffee to the even more insane idea of drinking it outside in the street. In places like Wigan for God’s sake! Hardly Gay Paree now, is it?
We have tragically followed their fashions too, though I accept I am in no real position to pontificate about fashion. We wear baseball caps in the most inappropriate places (like restaurants and churches I mean, not heads) and wear jeans where the arse pocket droops half a mile and hangs somewhere around the back of the knees.
We – well, some of us – have even started to adopt their annoying way of speaking. “Can I get a coffee?”, for example. “No, you bloody well can’t! You can have one, but as I work here I will be the one to get it for you”, should be the barista’s response to this . And in the work place generally, we have adopted their nauseous management-speak terminology. Pushing envelopes, touching bases and doing lunches are things I think we can all do quite well without, thank you very much – going forward, that is. The use of such phrases should be confined to taking the micky out of head-up-their-arse middle managers and playing Bullshit Bingo in meetings. Not that I do either of those things, of course.
Most of this stuff I can just about stomach, but the modern-day love-in with the imported clap-trap around Halloween is currently shortening my fuse to dangerous lengths. When I was a kid, Halloween meant ducking for a few apples and the full extent of dressing up for Halloween amounted to pretending to be a witch (girl) or Frankenstein (boy) and shouting boo behind your granny or granddad. Now, as with all thinks inspired by our colonial cousins from across the pond, it has gone way over the top. The Yanks have turned Halloween into a full-blown all-day fancy dress event, including in the workplace. A few years ago I was working in Norfolk, Virginia and found myself sitting in a meeting between Superman and Cher. Awesome, not! Inevitably, us Brits are now taking this on board too. Mark my words, it won’t be long before we are all coming to work dressed as Mario and Luigi and paying a pound for the privilege like it was Children In Need day.
And don’t even get me started about Trick or Treat. Apart from keying your car, letting your tyres down or poisoning your cat (please, would someone?) nobody has a decent trick up their sleeve anyway. Where have all the showmen gone? Helen’s brother used to turn his eyelids inside out which was worth a handful of anyone’s Haribos when he did that on your front door step. I would certainly have coughed up to have seen him perform that trick. These days, the spoilt brats are gutted if you produce a bag of sweets instead of cold, hard cash yet they don’t actually expect to have to do anything to earn either treat.
So, I’m afraid I don’t do Halloween and I especially don’t do Trick or Treat. A few years ago, to avoid it, we simply covered the glass panels in the front door with black bin bags in an attempt to appear to be out. A bit like we used to do when the window cleaner came collecting. It’s fair to say the door had probably made more of an effort to dress up than most of the Trick or Treaters but it didn’t stop them knocking and annoying me all the same.
Tonight therefore, as for the last couple of Halloweens, we will disappear to the pub for tea – or dinner, to you non-Wiganers. So, if you need me, I’ll be in Lymewood Farm ducking for pints of bitter and mixed grills and sticky toffee puddings until the whole sorry affair is over and done with.