You might think that today, 31st October, is Hallowe'en. I call it Grumpy Old Man Day. You see, this, for me, is not the eve of All Hallows' Day, or All Saints' Day, the night when ghosties and ghoulies and all kinds of nasty, scary things are out and about. Although, now I come to think of it, that is exactly what happens today!
Trick or treat. What idiot came up with that idea? He has to have been American: no true-blooded Englishman could ever have countenanced allowing children to demand money with menaces. Children, after all, should be seen and not heard. Seen, for preference, for a few minutes before bedtime when Nanny brings them to meet their parents. Of course, that is while they are young children. As soon as they reach the great age of 7 or 8 they should be packed off to boarding school. With luck, another pupil's parents will be foolish enough to invite them to visit for the school holidays.
Unfortunately, the Old Bat doesn't share my views about this horrible habit we have imported from America. She is only too delighted to buy a pumpkin, throw away the inedible inside (I don't like pumpkin pie or soup or anything) and cut out the features of a rather wierd-looking face which, duly illuminted by a nightlite, is placed beside the front door to indicate to the brats of the neighbourhood that we are prepared to dole out sweets to any who care to come calling. That, of course, means that we have to buy, not only the pumpkin, but a barrel-load of sweets as well. The only benefit is that I get to eat any left-overs.
There was one memorable year when our supply of treats was exhausted. The doorbell rang for the umpteenth time and I wearily went to answer the call. There on the step were five hopeful young girls. I had just two sweets left. Fern, the dog, had come to the door with me and provided me with inspiration. I suggested that, as their treat, the hopefuls could pat the dog. That, in their view, was far better than getting another sweet.
So tonight I shall place the pumpkin, duly illuminated from inside, beside the front door. I shall also switch on the outside light for safety's sake - and gird my loins, preparing my rictus grin. But that nightlight will be extinguished early as tonight I have a treat as well. My daughter is to arrive from the Midlands and she and her brother are taking the Old Bat and me out to our local Italian restaurant by way of belated celebration of an event that occurred 49 years ago. My grumpy old man act will be short-lived this year.