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

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Sales Advisor - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telephone Sales Advisor is re...

Recruitment Genius: Appointment Maker - OTE £20,000

£14000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An office based Appointment Mak...

Recruitment Genius: Healthcare Assistant

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This provider of care services is looking for...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings Administrator

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Purpose of Role: To co-ordinate maintena...

Day In a Page

Read Next
George Osborne walks down the stairs from a submarine during a visit to the Royal Navy's submarine base at Faslane on August 31, 2015 in Faslane Scotland  

Sorry George Osborne, but it's Trident that makes us less safe, not Jeremy Corbyn

Kate Hudson
Fighters from Isis parading in Raqqa, northern Syria, where the ‘Islamic State’ has its capital; Iranian-backed Shia militia are already fighting the group on the ground in Iran  

Heartlessness towards refugees is the lifeblood of jihadist groups like Isis

Charlie Winter
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent