Having been tricked into going to the Imperial War Museum right at the beginning of half-term before they’d had a chance to gather their wits and superglue themselves to the TV, the children were no way going anywhere interesting (free) again; they were not legally obliged, or paid, to do so, and there was plenty of sitting to be done! So by the time Halloween arrived at the end of week, the unremitting tedium of tidying up and wiping down after them without going anywhere or doing anything had put me in the most fearful grump.
When Maddy hauled a sack of oranges through the door for carving into ghouls, there being only one rotten pumpkin left in the shops by reason of its vast dimensions and putrid stink (which she bought too, oh good!), I should therefore have encouraged the urge to do something. But the mood I was in, I foresaw mountains of orange gloop topping off my week of slopping out all things uneaten, regurgitated or fallen off a shoe, and, miserable old goat that I am, supplied every kill-joy discouragement I could muster.
The children ignored me (rightly so) and got on with carving the oranges, nominating me – told you! - as orange slush wipe-upper. ‘You should be eating all that lovely orange inside!’ I winged. 'We need to leave room for all the trick or treat sweets later' they said, sensibly, which left me to sloosh down so much orange pulp I was bloated enough to stand in for the mouldy pumpkin. They did have a go at carving the yukky pumpkin as it happens, using pins to hold errant soggy fangs in place (which incidentally put paid to the horrible baked pumpkin I like to unveil around this time of year) and I have to say we had quite a lovely display of Jack O'Lanterns out the front this year, thanks to Maddy.
Bonnie wanted to dress up as a spider, and had the ridiculous notion of buying it, but I reminded her that in this house we were too mean to buy costumes so we made them, and anyway wasn’t it more fun? (clearly, from the stony look on her face) ‘We’ set about creating Incy Wincy with old black tights and tissue paper and she sulked, envisaging the hugely expensive bought spider costume she’d be wearing if she wasn’t so underprivileged.
Josie saved the day, thank goodness, by drawing a fabulous spider’s web all over Bonnie’s face, which moved when she screwed up her nose, and which Alfie thought was ‘sick’ when he returned from the golf course with Alan!!! (it’s a conspiracy now; additional golf slotted in under the heading ‘childcare’). I was so grateful Alan had returned after I’d cleared up for the fiftieth time I told him to get off the bed he was planning to have a rest in, he wasn’t supposed to be enjoying himself for such large chunks of the weekend, and to help by putting the carved oranges and rotten pumpkin out the front with candles inside.
Before you could say ‘Woooooooo’ it was time to step out. A few witchy rags, a wrinkled and craggy face that only forty-five years’ neglect could conjure up, and ‘Abracadabra!’ I was a witch to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, Alfie was more scared of knocking on strangers' doors than the householders were of his age five Devil outfit, so a certain large witch ended up with the starring role, cackling ‘Trick or Treat!’ in his place, which was very grim indeed. We were home again in twenty minutes, where a shiny-eyed Bonnie was flaunting a full bucket of sweets commensurate with a proper evening’s trick or treating, kindly ‘sharing’ the ones she didn’t like with her siblings. ‘Don’t steal any!’ she warned us as she went up to bed, and I nodded and swallowed whole the chocolate toffee already in my mouth.