Dot writes: the Irish do Halloween in a big way. When I first moved here I remember being startled by how big it was, and also by the fact that in addition to costumes, pumpkins in the window and trick-or-treating they have bonfires and fireworks. (Fireworks, as it happens, are illegal here, but they have them anyway.) As a child I don’t remember celebrating Halloween particularly, but there was a festival in late autumn when we had after-dark parties with bonfires and fireworks, and it was one of the highlights of my year, right up there with Christmas and the Royal Norfolk Show. We’d eat jacket potatoes cooked in tinfoil in the bonfire and then we’d take our sparklers round the corner where it was dangerous and dark and wave them about to see the trails of light they left. The festival was Guy Fawkes Night and involved burning a Catholic in effigy. It took me an amazingly long time to click why it wasn’t celebrated in Ireland.
Anyway, this helps to explain why I really wasn’t up to speed with the Halloween jollities. There were no pumpkins in our window and Hugh wore a costume that his childminder bought for him last year, after a half-hearted last minute dash to Dunnes Stores on my part yielded no results. He didn’t go trick-or-treating either (the costume was shown off at a birthday party). At least we did have sweets ready for when the doorbell rang and, to an enthusiastic cry of ‘Trick or treat!’ from their parents, Peppa Pig, Spiderman and a skeleton pirate wandered vaguely in and started playing with Hugh’s toy garage. Our friends Sarah and Dave and John and Emily are rather more organised than we are. I have until next year to think of two stupendously excellent ideas for Halloween costumes, learn to sew, and get them ready. Suggestions on A4 paper with extensive instructions, please.