“I think gaffa tape and cut up tights…I could buy mini bottles and hang them—no, gaffa tape…”
And so persisted the rotund woman (“Karen”) sitting beside me in what Specsavers proudly deemed their “waiting room” (two chairs on the shop floor) describing her Halloween outfit plans to an unsurprisingly unconvinced “Kez” down the phone. Poor Kez was getting an earful. I finally (reluctantly) came to the realisation that Karen was intending to go dressed as a Jack Daniels bottle.
I felt like I was sitting in an American optician’s waiting room (/shop with chairs). I’ve never been to America but I’ve watched enough ‘Friends’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother’ – and it sounds like Karen has too – to know that Americans step it up at Halloween. Here though, as all Brits will know, this plans of Kar’s is just unrealistic, not to mention with two days to go.
I’m not a celebration or fancy dress cynic, but I think Karen’s got a bit too whisked up in the Yanks idea of ‘anything goes’ – (a) taking things too far, (b) something frankly irrelevant (why not dress as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz on Halloween? Tobias from Arrested Development, anyone? I’m sure she’d look dashing in a pair of jorts…)
This year i’m expecting a Gaddafi or two, hopefully no Jimmy Saville’s but it’s not unimaginable”
As you could see on the taken aback and pitying faces of the other customers and staff floating uncovertly around the stacks of glasses, this kind of gusto just isn’t kosher around these parts. You could see it in their faces: they definitely had their yearly fail-safe black-dress-and-whiskers combo ready and waiting back at home. Or they’d simply be planning on turning the lights off at home and retreating to an un-trick-or-treat-able corner. Either way, each slightly magnified pair of eyes were rolling and squinting as Karen invested yet more time, care and thought into this car crash of a concept. You can dabble with the radical if you want, and maybe succeed, but as a nation the black-dress-and-whiskers demographic is just fitting.
Once fresher week/fortnight/nine days/month/whatever is over, shops start to pile up with pumpkin and ghost-related tit-bits in a bid that maybe this year we will be seduced into embracing the tradition with gay abandon. I write this on Monday – perhaps tonight I’ll bear witness to an unprecedented cultural turn. I doubt it.
I’ll conceed, it is tempting – why not throw caution to the wind. Indeed, as Karen threatened dear Kez – who I grew increasing sympathy for – “if we’re going out on a Monday, we’re going out on a Monday”. Yes, Karen, yes you are – we all acknowledge it, but we’re stuck in a UK-US limbo.
We are getting there though, as we’ve taken on the American-originated ‘bad taste’ look. A famous tradition at the Stephen J. Baum eviction firm is to dress up as homeless people. Goes down a storm with investors apparently. This year I’m expecting a Gaddafi or two, hopefully no Jimmy Savilles, but it’s not unimaginable, and definitely a few using this Celtic-Catholic superstitious tradition to get sexy (a jump from 1840’s get-up).
For reasons I can’t explain, as we sat there in semi-darkness (“relaxes the eyes”) surrounded by mirrors and timid assistants, the occasional Halloween-apparelled Yorkling would parade past the window. The costumes very rarely varied beyond Harry Potter and Alan Carr, and if they did, I’m not sure what they were.
I didn’t feel like one to judge Karen’s ambition, or the futile and obliviously premature fancy dressers to be honest. I’d just been doled out some glasses myself, which, much as my cousin insists will bring out a whole new ‘sexy librarian’ side to me, frankly just tops off my abnormality (the only ginger child of five, I have managed to move past buck teeth, scrawniness, and an awkward middle parting phase, but shortened eye sight seems to just be something of a u-turn. I can only be thankful that my eyes held out as long as they did). So, if Harry and Alan are in, I’m sorted.