There’s more to Halloween than purring from behind your sexy cat mask at terrified teenage boys who only want a packet of Haribo. I’ve learned that the hard way. Here are my Lewes Halloween Rules (and you can start by removing that apostrophe from between the e’s).
Rules for trick-or-treaters
1. No lit pumpkin, no knock. NO KNOCK. Hear me, yobbos? It’s not cool to hassle un-pumpkined houses, m’kay?
2. Take a polite number of sweets. Three or four; fewer, if we’re talking Milky Ways. Sure, you can go for the two-handed grab. But it’s a small town. Next year you’ll be barred, and will have to go to Uckfield instead.
3. If you’re old enough to go without a parent, are you too old to go? I’m genuinely torn here. Sure, no-one wants to give Percy Pigs to adolescent mobs who’ve made NO EFFORT other than a pair of ripped fishnets. But on the other hand, it’ll be really nice when my kids can go by themselves.
4. Mums, you do NOT have to panic-buy tarty schoolgirl/sexy cat tat from the big Asda. This is not what Emmeline Pankhurst fought for. How about being a zombie Angela Merkel (interview outfit and let your jaw drop a bit)? Dads, seen one warlock, seen ‘em all. Mix it up a little. Have you thought about being a sexy cat?
5. Ask yourself before you go out: what IS the trick? No-one ever knows. There’s a savvy woman in Lewes who doesn’t bother buying in sweets. She just asks all-comers for a trick, knowing she will be greeted with bafflement. We can do better, people. Prepare a proper trick, like a squirty bow tie, or a way of conning the homeowner out of their life savings.
Rules for homeowners
6. Got no lit pumpkin? Then you cannot answer the door. It spreads confusion and spoils it for everyone. I don’t care if it’s your long lost brother who’s finally shown up after six years adrift in the Belgian Congo. He can come back tomorrow.
7. Remember, your sole purpose is to terrorise small children. You want to see them screaming. The sweets are merely a sop so that their parents don’t sue you.
8. Confound their expectations. Treaters will chat away as they approach, not prepared for a fright until they’ve rung the bell. Hide under a tarpaulin outside your front door, and just before they knock, quietly say, ‘Boo.’ They will wet their pants.
9. Your pumpkin should be scary. A skeleton, ghost, or elaborate hanging scene. Mickey Mouse has no place here.
10. Follow the example of the legendary woman in Southover who gives out what she calls witches’ fingers. These are carrots. The most talked-about ‘treat’ my child got last year was a potato. Admittedly it was talked about unflatteringly, but it made for a memorable Halloween. Who remembers the sherbert fountains? They only remember the potato.
Beth Miller. Published in Viva Lewes, October 2014. Illustration by Michael Munday.