Tuesday, 5 November 2013
A London Halloween: surprisingly spooky
I don't know how many times I've warned the Littleboys over the past few years that Halloween in England wouldn't quite be the same as in America. I tried to let them down gently so that they wouldn't be hugely disappointed by the contrast between Long Island and London. "Halloween isn't such a big thing in England," I'd tell them. "You might not find that everyone's out trick or treating, and people don't really decorate their houses like they do in America."
But now they probably think I'm a complete nutter.
In fairness, at my previous London home, I would quite often buy a stash of Halloween sweets and end up keeping them for a whole year after nobody came round trick or treating on October 31. But it seems things have changed. Last Thursday, we headed out not only to find the streets full of trick or treating families, but many houses lit up with pumpkins. Not only that, but people were making a real effort to dress up in spooky costumes just to answer their door.
At one house, which was dark except for a lit jack o' lantern, the door appeared to open spookily by itself, before the mother (I presume) then appeared wearing a bloodstained white doctor's jacket. Her two sons then appeared at the window looking like vampires, holding candles and staring blankly out of the window without even a trace of a giggle. This was better than anything that ever happened to us in the States, where (dare I say it) the spooky element of Halloween is sometimes altogether forgotten as teams of fairies, superheroes and firefighters roam the streets.
True, the house decorations we had been missing appeared at the last minute, on 31st October, rather than being up all month, but some of them were excellent, and the pumpkin carvings in the neighbourhood were extremely impressive (compared to our amateurish efforts, above). The boys were most excited by a pumpkin carved as Mario from Mario Brothers, and there were bats, owls, and all manner of other designs.
The only contrast the boys themselves could see is that the quantity of their sweet booty was slightly less impressive than in the US. Many people had run out quite early on, including us, and some people were handing out fruit instead, as it was the only thing they had left in the house.
Next, year, I'll be dressing up to answer the door - and I'm certainly buying more sweets.