Tab Tries Trick-or-Treating
Lost the urge to knock on your neighbours door with an empty bucket and a scream mask? For Halloween TOM FAIRBAIRN revisited the pleasure…
How Halloween has changed. As kids, we dress up as adorable pumpkins, our chubby cheeks stuffed with candy, and give out sweets to anyone who comes to our door—as long as they did the same.
I wanted to test whether this has changed as we grew up. I wanted to see if trick-or-treating was alive and well in Cambridge, or whether it had been supplanted by the modern phenomenon of ‘why so serious’ Jokers for the men, and for the women—naughty devil horns and more cleavage on display than you can shake a blood-spattered cleaver at.
The clock struck nine and still, to my utter astonishment, no one had come to trick-or-treat at my room. So I mustered a group of equally disappointed individuals—a terrifying doll, Cleopatra, Count Dracula and a ‘slutty, slutty bat’—to try and inject the conventional Halloween spirit into Cambridge.
We set off down Brookside Lane. There were no kids anywhere because they’d finished trick-or-treating and were in bed, eating all the chocolate they’d gathered that night and watching repeats of Downton Abbey. The lady from one of the houses genuinely told us to ‘sod off…you’re too old’ and that she’d given her sweets away. Although we were ‘shook’, we went on, being told by each house in turn that they were out of sweets because the kids had beaten us to it.
That is, until we came across a house with peaceful, completely uncreepy organ music exuding from the walls. ‘This looks weird’, said the slutty bat (not her real name), ‘let’s try it.’ So we did. And instead of a candy shower, in a fitting role-reversal, the inhabitants turned out to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. They told us that Halloween wasn’t morally right and that we should go home and think over our values. So we went to pub.
An hour later, Dracula suggested in his laconic drawl that we should head back to College and trick-or-treat the rooms. We arrived back at the perfect moment: at about midnight, when people had returned to their rooms to fix up their terrifying Heath Ledger smiles and straighten those naughty devil horns before going out.
A series of bizarre and beverage-related door-to-door encounters ensued. Most students, to our utter disgust, said that no one does trick-or-treating anymore. ‘Halloween’s just about getting trashed in fancy dress,’ one Pembroke student put it. ‘No one gives a shit.’
Killing the Halloween spirit slightly…
I do not wish to tar all students with the same brush. Many were flustered by our knocks and began to panic that they had no real treats for us—but they improvised, still believing in the principle that when people trick-or-treat, you must give them something. Gyp rooms were plundered and half an hour scored an impressive tally of:
- A cauliflower cheese ready meal
- A jar of pesto
- A mouldy cup of coffee
This was still frankly a poor showing. I’d been used to reaping a huge confectionary harvest in my younger days and we were just preparing to head out to Fez, our hearts laden with disappointment, when we knocked on our final door. To our amazement, this student had just received a ‘care package’ from his grandmother. Acknowledging the Halloween spirit and bemoaning like us the fact that no one does it round here, he invited us in, and we helped him work his way through the feast his gran had sent him.
Maybe Halloween as we knew it when we were kids isn’t dead. Maybe it’s not just a night of highly questionable dress. We were insulted, degraded, not quite converted, but we could go to Fez that night safe in the knowledge that the innocent Halloween of our childhood lives on in its weird little way.