Friday, 24th November 2017
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

“Trick or treat, smell my feet!”

Now that I have reached the “GOOD” side of 50! I am rapidly become less and less tolerant! Maybe even more grumpy! In fact Mrs Garland and the rest of the Garland Clan tell me that I am turning into Victor Meldrew. Played by Richard Wilson, another Scot, in the BBC sitcom “One foot in the grave”. I don't believe it myself, though, I have to admit, I do see some uncanny similarities, particularly within certain situation, which I experience.

I am pretty sure that Victor would be sickened at the lack of effort and imagination that we witness, when we answer these knocks at the door, at this time of year. “Trick or Treat!” - sadly even these three words are largely missing from this custom. The whole process has become so Americanised, it appears that our children are now simply interested in “Making a fast buck”. They are riding the wave of get in quick, then turn and burn.

The door bell rings and on answering you may very well be greeted by an imaginative costume or two. With barely time to engage in niceties, a bag is pushed forward into your face which you are expected to fill, with all manner of sugary delights. I have also noticed that over the years, these bags have been increasing in size, with kids even carrying multiple bags! Our local retailers are now selling specifically themed buckets, encouraging foraging on a biblical scale. Some so heavy, the kids bring their very own Sherpa with them (normally Mum or Dad), to share this burdensome bounty.

Hundreds of parents are literally putting their backs out, having to haul this treasure trove of calorie laden confectionary, fed to these door knocking children. No doubt physiotherapists and chiropractors are eagerly flexing their hands, in anticipation of spooky appointment requests!

Mrs Garland loves when kids visit. They do come a knocking to chez Garland, in response to our decorated front windows, stating that we are “Open for business!” Our, now antique, plastic pumpkin glows softly in our porch, inviting every vampire, zombie or even a child who just hasn't bothered, to ring our door bell.

Now in Scotland, before we went “Guising”, we had to somehow carve rock hard turnips, not pumpkins. This in itself, was literally a bloody affair, with many a finger being sliced open or amputated in the process. This of course saved the need to buy red paint! From memory, I cannot recall a scary, purple faced turnip, which did not bear a tinge of crimson red, adorning its facial features. Of course, the left over turnip did not go to waste and was eaten raw or found its way to the dinner plate.

As child after child rings the doorbell, Mrs Garland answers. On the other hand, I would wait to hear if there was actually going to be a performance of some kind. If there wasn't I'd rush out and hand the kids some of my homemade chocolate balls. A secret recipe that very skilfully disguises a Brussel sprout by wrapping it in a wonderful coating of chocolate! This proved so successful, that next year I am considering covering all manner of other vegetables, in a coating of thick milk or white chocolate.

I can only imagine the conversations at home, when the children bite into the chocolate ball, hoping to find a tasty, syrupy, sugary filling. Only to discover that they have actually eaten a sprout. Perhaps Jamie

Oliver will be on to me shortly, asking me to roll out this experiment and change the dietary habits of a nation, in the run up to Christmas?

The joy of answering the door to a comically made up child is disappearing with age. Just where ARE all the wonderful songs and jokes we used to hear? The wee jigs and dance routines, which had been rehearsed for weeks, have all but vanished. Unfunny limericks and bashful performers are no more.

It is a sad sorry day, but I am resigned to the fact that I will no longer be entertained by spooky children, visiting our house at the end of October.

“I don't believe it!” I hear you cry.

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