Halloween's not like it used to be when I was a kid - Argus Friday 30th October 2015

Posted Saturday 31st October 2015   By Ericka Waller

When I was a kid, Halloween meant a toffee apple (that would require teeth made from dominoes to bite into) on sale by the till and ‘trick-or-treating’ round the green outside the local pub, where most people told us to “jog on”, chasing us to make sure we did so. Now, the first three aisles of ASDA are dedicated to fake cobwebs, jack-o-lanterns, masks and ghouls to hang round the house. My four-year-old is so scared we have to shop elsewhere for the month.

As for the sweets, it seems now we are required to buy a giant bucket full of specially themed jellies and candies for our little visitors, not including those with intolerances.

It’s hardly a treat to hand a vegan a Milky Way, or dole out gingerbread ghost-men to the gluten-intolerant. And all of them contain sugar which is deemed worse than cocaine these days anyway.

It’s addictive, that white stuff. My hairdresser Paul bought a bucket of Haribo to leave on his doorstep for little guests, which his own neighbour stole, while dressed as the back end of a pantomime cow.

Not that trick-or-treating is enough anymore. The whole of October seems to be dedicated to celebrating Halloween. I know this because I took my children to Tulley’s farm today. It cost me more than a weekly shop.

I came out with three traumatised children, very muddy shoes from walking round a glorified farm and sciatica from queuing

for the Hay Ride (which to be fair was amazing, and I plan to go back this weekend to the adult’s version, but that is not the point).

We are going to a Halloween party, I am hosting a Halloween party. Neither of these are actually on all hallows eve. I’ve spent long hours learning how to make (vegan) hot dogs look like bleeding fingers and watching ‘How to carve the ultimate pumpkin’ on You Tube. It’s involved me ordering an electric drill (which I doubt I will ever use again) for one of the million pumpkins that are due to be sold.

Henry Enos, consumer behaviour specialist at the University of Glamorgan, said “Traditionally we would whittle a turnip in the UK. We used to do bobbing apples, we didn’t used to dress up in formal costumes, you would just create one out of some sheets.”

Now it’s gone to such extremes that people are calling for a ban on trick-or-treating after last year was the worst year on record.

When I first read the report it started pretty tame, with people suffering damage from eggs being thrown at or in their home, or garden plants, ornaments and fences damaged.

But then the report went on to claim more than 1.6 million people were victims of theft either inside or outside the home during Halloween. Properties were damaged by sparklers and stray fireworks. Over a million people suffered damage from firecrackers or silly string being put through their letterbox.

Thousands of homes were graffitied, and thousands more people were injured by fireworks being used as weapons or suffered arson attacks on their property.

The findings, from research commissioned by Santander Insurance, showed almost 50% of people asked would support a ban on people wearing masks that obscure the face, and on people wearing hooded tops.

I can’t say I blame them really. I’m inclined to lock the door early, turn all the lights out hide under the duvet with my dog.

And finally

Speaking of blood and gore, wasn’t it wonderful when Walthamstow MP, Stella Creasy, forced Bill Cash, Tory MP for Stone, to say the word tampons instead of ‘products’.

It’s a sore subject (literally). Kiran Ghandi, a 26 year old Harvard student let her period flow freely when she ran the London Marathon in April this year to raise awareness for women who cannot afford, or do not have access to sanitary products.

People were horrified. Comments on twitter included ‘that’s not feminism, that’s being unhygienic.’

Kiran defended her choice saying “Culture is happy to speak about and objectify the parts of the body that can be sexually consumed by others, but the moment we talk about something that is not for the enjoyment of others, like a period, everyone becomes deeply uncomfortable.'

For homeless people, hygiene isn’t an option. They have access to free condoms, not tampons.

While I agree it’s farcical that tampons are deemed a luxury while Jaffa cakes are too essential to tax, I also agree with my friend Nancy Carter who adroitly said “I consider myself a feminist. However, from an ecological point of view I don't think anything 'disposable' should be encouraged. They're polluting our seas, are unhealthy (bleaches and carcinogens) and very wasteful.”

Maybe reusable silicone menstrual cups are the answer (Mooncups). They are non-toxic, last for years and don’t enter water courses or landfill.

Perhaps a charity could be set up to donate these to homeless women, or for those who cannot afford ‘luxury products’.