Of course, Hallowe’en belonged to Big Al.
It grew dark by five today. The last streaks of the pale grey light slipped away, leaving a wet town with an air of expectation.
Not every house was decorated: but our estate had its share of houses festooned with elaborate stage-cobwebs and severed limbs. I don’t know when wraiths gave way to horror stories as tale of choice, but somehow the poetry has slipped away, though the pumpkins still grin through the rain.
But the poetry burst in this evening, through the door, dressed in a diminutive black bat outfit and mask.
It was boisterous poetry: you know, the kind written by Roger McGough or Michael Rosen. But it was poetry, nevertheless.
It charged past me, up the hall, and hung an enthusiastic left in the direction of the party food. “Auntie Kate, let’s sing a Hallowe’en song!” the bat cried joyfully. We paused. I think it must have occurred to us both at roughly the same time that there were not many of those about.
It did not seem to bother Al. He is great at diversifying. And at that moment, a skeleton walked in, which caused a dog’s leg bend in the conversation anyway.
“Hello Felix, I’m Flappy the Bat!” Al bellowed joyfully.
Al’s mother entered, brandishing snacks for the bat. The skeleton eyed the bowl of onion rings wolfishly. I decided that it must surely be time to sit down for tea.
“Everyone,” I projected operatically. “Teatime!”
And in they came: the zombie Victorian maid – how much longer will my daughter dress up at Hallowe’en? – and the diminutive witch. The corpse bride, the final princess, had repaired to her friend’s for a sleepover. We were depleted, yes, but you would never have known it. Al was bellowing for five.
Never have the undead devoured cocktail sausages with such devastating speed and efficiency, or iced doughnuts with more panache. The tea disappeared quicker than you could say Nosfiratu, and we prepared for our trick or treating.
We have a sedate programme: we visit one house, that of Granny Norma, my husband’s mother. We telephone ahead to advise her there will be a knock on the door: and pop in for a cup of tea before she bestows Haribos on the assembled ghouls.
Accordingly we set out into a rather damp world in which various small wraiths, corpses and vampires drifted, always accompanied by an adult, from door to door, collecting sweets in buckets, drawn by the grinning pumpkins to sympathetic householders.
Each encounter was a delight for Al, who would strike up conversations with anyone. It appears he had already invited a lady at the costume shop to our party. The more the merrier, as far as this bat was concerned.
“Felix, will you play with me?” he enquired of the skeleton, who had been charged with the superhuman task of holding Al’s hand through the murky forest to Granny’s.
Felix mumbled something non committal. Al’s sister seemed reluctant to play, too. “I’ll play, Al,” I said.
“I’m flying up to the spooky castle, Al said. “But you can’t follow me.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because you will get scared. The door will open and there’s a very scary spider who will look like this -” Al transformed unsettlingly into a gothic gargoyle – “and you will get scared.”
Right-ho, then. Flappy clearly wanted some me-time.
We visited Granny; the sweets found the way to each ghostly apparition’s pocket and we stepped back out to find it was pelting with rain.
But Flappy the Bat didn’t give two sonic squeaks. He dodged the raindrops, a bat living in the moment, ecstatic, surrounded by all the ghouls he loved most in the world.
Personification of the poetry of Hallowe’en.