If you were in France, no-one would give two spooky hoots about Halloween. Tomorrow’s the big day: Day of the Dead no less. In France, the supermarkets don’t sell things they’ve no business selling: if you want fags – go to the Tabac; if you want flowers go to the pepiniere (with appropriate accents). But, during this last week, rules will have been broken as huge displays of chrysanthemums and cyclamen crawl over car parks. On November 1st, All Souls Day, everyone has a holiday for the purpose of cleaning up the graves of deceased loved ones. After this, they deck the memorials with said flowers and have a picnic to celebrate past (and passed) lives.
We do things differently here. You can get into Monkey World free on Halloween if you dress up. So, we dress up. If you want to see a past example of this, simply click on the ‘about’ page of this blog. This year, Asda had run out of suitable witch outfits so I went as Minnie Mouse. So I thought. Grandchild asked whether I’d recently looked at a picture of Minnie Mouse. No. Well, if you had, she irritatingly informed me, you’d know that Minnie Mouse has a black face. No points for effort then Grandma. I am the ghost of Minnie Mouse, I told her.
We sit in a tedious, miles long queue of folk trying to access Monkey World. There are three small people in the back of the car, one of whom is Dan the Skelington. Skeleton, I say. Yes, skelington, says Dan. From no recognisable conversational link, Dan the Skelington engages me in the following discussion:
Did you see Eastenders last night? No.
I can’t wait to see what happens tonight. Don’t tell me. I haven’t seen last night’s yet.
The queue’s not moving.
OK. What happened last night?
Well, you know the man who’s in love with the woman with the thing on her head? Well, he had a box of those things like cauliflowers.
Yes, cabbages. And he said none of the other men would dare to do it with those things.
What things? Cabbages?
What did he do with a pumpkin?
Well, he took his clothes off and put that other thing on his bum. Then he put the pumpkin in front of his you know what. I wasn’t going to watch Eastenders anymore but this sounds intriguing. Anything else happen?
Well, Charlie’s grandma switched the light off and dead Nick was there. I’m hooked but the other small people have different ideas:
My aim is to get past that signpost.
My aim is to get past that dead bush.
My aim is to reach home tonight and open a bottle of red stuff.
The road is strewn with fairies, ghosts and goblins who’ve abandoned their vehicles in the unseasonal heat. Witches open their boots to retrieve lunch boxes and picnic basket. Small pixies are hung over autumnal verges to partake in a desperate pixie pee. The devil in the car behind has phoned Monkey World and informs us that it’s shut due to overload. Cars are doing 98 point turns. It’s the hottest Halloween known since records began. Everyone has their windows down which makes it easier to pass the news down the queue. Behind us, an enormous convoy of very important flashing vehicles from the tank corps at Bovington sit helplessly in the carnage. It’s worrying. These are the defenders of the realm and they can’t overtake or deal with a bunch of part-time, under and over-aged spooks.
Lace-covered daughter number one suggests we abandon this Halloween nightmare and decamp to the beach at Kimmeridge. Which we do. Man at Kimmeridge, temporarily speechless at the arrival of Minnie and co wants to charge us £5 for the pleasure. We have a heated debate during which he makes the mistake of telling me I look nothing like a mouse. I inform him I’ve made more effort on this auspicious day than he seems to have. This is followed by boring sob story regarding his boss. We cough up and eventually arrive at the beach where, of course, no-one else has bothered to celebrate the day.
Later, we call in at Sainsburys in Wareham where, perfectly straight-faced, I purchase some fags and enquire after the nearest pumpkin purveyor. Woman appears incapable of speech.
I liked this day a lot.