I was in Wilkinsons yesterday, and immediately noticed all the Hallowe'en stuff on sale. Most of it was aimed at kids - things to dress up in, gruesome makeup for the girls, fake skeletal bits and pieces for the boys. Even teenagers (or Mums and Dads) could buy witches' costumes and the like - up to size 18, believe it or not! But no hats - they had already been snapped up. A pity.
There were still however skulls aplenty, some to put candles in (in the manner of a pumpkin), and some to place on the ground, along with fake skeletal arms, as if a dead person were emerging from his or her grave, keen to claim a victim. It was highly realistic, I can tell you. I played seriously with the idea of buying a skull, one I could keep in my bag and disinter at a key moment to startle all around. It seemed for a moment like a very cool notion, if not positively chilling. And if people weren't frightened out of their wits, I could still do a Lucified version of the big graveyard scene in Hamlet ('Alas, poor Yorick...')
I was very inclined to somehow play on the discovery of a witch in my family, hanged and burned in 1669, and the near-certainty of myself inheriting a witch gene!
In the end I resisted the spell, and just bought two items. One was a witch's broom (intended for a child really) for £1.25. I knew it would somehow come in handy. The other was a realistic-looking wine bottle with 'Witches brew - drink if you dare' on the label. This cost £5.00. I thought it really was a bottle of red wine, or else some vile satanic distillation. But when I removed the cellophane wrapping I found that it was actually a candle. Never mind! It's something I can produce when I turn up for an evening meal at a friend's (as I shall tonight), and if I'm lucky the true nature of this gift won't be discovered until it's time to open the first bottle of red wine. How the other guests will laugh and chortle! What a jape! (I will of course bring along a genuine bottle of wine)
I also bought a third item with tonight's invitation in mind, this time from Waitrose. It's a cheese. Specifically an Epoisses. This is an amazingly smelly French cheese, from Burgundy. I'm confident that it will be a big hit. Mind you, in the meantime, it's making a dreadful pong at Melford Hall. I'm not entirely sure that I'll be eating any of it, but I know that the other guests certainly will want to tuck in. If you remember, I bought an equally smelly English cheese last year called Stinking Bishop, bringing it back from an East Midlands caravan jaunt, along with a range of Melton Mowbray pork pies. All for serious gastronomic assessment. This Epoisses cheese will be sampled in the same spirit.
Time for lunch. My usual. Eye of toad and wing of bat, mashed-up slug and tail of rat - all sautéed in fresh blood, and served with salad leaves drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Low-calorie and yet wonderfully nutritious. Really healthy.
I come, Greymalkin!