Halloween and Guy Fawkes. Call me an old curmudgeon if you will but I say we should ignore them both.
Halloween. Sure, it's cool that kids want to dress up and chew and suck their way to dental decay but does it have to be in macabre costumes? Might there be a nicer way of bringing ghouls and gobstoppers together?
We're lucky, I suppose. Ours is a two-acre block so it's quite a walk up the gravel drive. We don't really get bothered but, if we lived in a more accessible location, I have a feeling that I could become very easily irritated by door-knocking youngsters.
I feel the gobstoppers might become missiles. Like shrapnel but in a wider range of attractive colours.
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Halloween is apparently based on an ancient Celtic festival but has evolved into a day of dressing up in spooky costumes, carving pumpkins and eating lollies. The only positive I can see is that all the cobwebs you haven't bothered to clean from your house become functional decorations for a day.
And so to Guy Fawkes. I clearly remember that, as a kid, I loved it. I made a Guy and, from memory, I wheeled it to school on some sort of trolley. There might even have been a competition.
I also remember having to say "Penny for the Guy" quite often so perhaps it was a fund-raiser of some sort. For younger readers, I should point out that the penny was a unit of currency which, in today's money, might be worth .0001 cents (depending on current currency fluctuations). Given its modest worth, it was a very large coin.
At night, we watched fireworks from a safe distance. Five miles springs to mind. They were lit on the back lawn by my father who had strict rules about safety.
Trouble was, the fireworks didn't appear to emit sufficient sparkage to cause concern; more often than not, they just tended to go ppphhhffftt. Then die. Perhaps, for safety reasons, my father might have been lighting them with beer-soaked matches.
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Anyway, the resultant display was always underwhelming though being allowed to twirl a sparkler in the air could be described as only moderately lame.
As a kid, I was also told that you could burn an effigy on this day but I didn't know what an effigy was so couldn't. We were not a wealthy family so probably didn't have an effigy anyway.
The best fireworks display I have ever seen was not even associated with Guy Fawkes. It was on Sydney Harbour and celebrated Australia's 200th birthday though there might have been indigenous inhabitants willing to dispute that figure.
I was aboard a boat and so it seems was everybody else. You could virtually cross Sydney Harbour by stepping from deck to deck. A lot of champagne was lost overboard to marine creatures which probably ended up having a rather special night without even comprehending what their celebration was all about.
The harbour floor must have been a muster of merry molluscs.
Fireworks drizzled from the Harbour Bridge and exploded into the night sky but there wasn't a Guy or a carved pumpkin in sight. I rather liked that.
But, as I write this, I hear fireworks exploding outside and know that animals in the neighbourhood are cowering in fear. Our current dog seems to be coping but earlier ones were terrified on this date.
And to make it all worse, these explosions are to "celebrate" the action of a criminal. Or are they to celebrate the fact that the gunpowder plot of 1605 failed?
Whatever the reason, I'd be happy to celebrate it just with a few more lollies – perhaps some left over from Halloween.
Please save me a toffee de luxe.
Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.