Stop knocking Halloween. It’s a chance to crack my teeth on toffee apples

Brits buy in to spookiness, so bring on the pumpkins and trick-or-treating.

Related Topics

It’s 30 October, which is technically Halloween-eve, so I hope you have your pumpkins carved, your house haunted and your decorative bats poised overhead.

I’ve had my flat decorated for a week, obviously, because I love Halloween. This can come as no surprise to those of you who have seen me below my headshot – I have dressed like a witch since I was 15 years old, and that is unlikely to change now, since I am statistically likely to resemble a witch more and more as the years go by. 

Every year, some killjoy tells me Halloween is an American import and I should save myself for good old-fashioned British Bonfire Night, but answer me this: shouldn’t there be two days, less than a week apart, where I can crack my teeth on toffee apples? And, anyway, the word for a fear of Halloween is samhainophobia, which should remind us all that Halloween owes more to Celtic roots than transatlantic ones. 

Besides, as a nation, we’re pretty sold on spookiness – apparently, 60 per cent of us reckon we wouldn’t buy a house if we found out it was haunted, which suggests that considerably more of us than I would have guessed believe in ghosts. Or have seen The Haunting too many times. 

But my recent trip to America has left me with massive Hallow-envy. Who knew you could buy bat-print doormats? Not me, or I would have bought one years ago to go with the haunted tree we’ve put up in the hall. I once walked past a house in LA that had a giant animatronic black cat in the front yard, whose eyes flashed and head moved when you approached. It also made a slight creaking sound, possibly from lack of use, since pedestrians in LA are rarer than the ghosts of unicorns. 

For this week’s trick-or-treaters, the research is in, and it turns out that Cambridge is likely to provide you with the best haul. The property prices are high, which theoretically means the owners have cash to spend on barrels of sweets, and the traffic levels are low, which means that even in a borderline sugar coma, you’re unlikely to get hit by a car. 

The second best place would be my flat, as I always buy in coffin-shaped chocolates, and then hardly anyone turns up (perhaps that witchy reputation is more serious than I have so far considered). But even this is better than my previous flat, which was in the roof of a huge Victorian house. No child, it turned out, wanted sweets enough to walk up 70 stairs to get them. And since there would have been a net calorie deficit on the trip, I could hardly blame them. 


All the world’s a Greek tragedy

Last week, I went to see Rachael Stirling play Medea in Mike Bartlett’s excellent modern version of the Euripides tragedy. She’s fiercely good. Since it’s my favourite play (I know – it’s a mystery that I don’t have kids), I reckon I see about one production of it every year. Most of them, if I’m honest, aren’t great. But they keep being staged: audiences can’t seem to get enough of Greek tragedy.  

Prof Edith Hall, at King’s College, London, reckons that more Greek tragedies have been staged in the past 50 years than at any time since the ancient Greeks were watching them. Which makes perfect sense: plays about war, disease and infidelity are as relevant as ever, and morph seamlessly into contemporary settings. Faithless husbands and wives still hurt their spouses, contagion and disease still terrify us, and the war might now be against the Taliban rather than the Spartans, but the nature of war itself – and its impact on those involved – is unchanging.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells