Italy has gone Hallowe’en crazy, several years behind England and many years behind the US. Our local dime store which is hardly in the vanguard of fashion has a whole, erm, department, dedicated to pumpkin-related artefacts. But I did hear one note of sanity on the subject this afternoon. Funnily enough it came from a neighbourhood drunk after he’d asked me, pretty-please, if he could jump ahead of me in the supermarket checkout line. He needed to complete the urgent purchase of a bottle of beer. Actually, he finished drinking it while we waited.

First he noticed I had a large pumpkin in my basket. Then he noticed I was wearing blue pants with brown shoes, a black jacket and no earrings and surmised that I was not Italian.

‘English?’ he asked.

‘Pumpkin for the Hallowe’en thingummy?’ he asked.

And as I really couldn’t be arsed to explain to a man who grazes in the beer section that this pumpkin is actually for our pantomime and my mission is to keep it in a wholesome and non-gloopy condition for the next two and a half months because no Italian store is going to be selling whole pumpkins in January. Apparently the secret of successful pumpkin storage is to bathe it in a weak solution of chlorine, then keep it cool and in the dark. But I digress.

The beer drinker told me thought Hallowe’en was sinister. I agree. If it were plain dumb I’d just ignore it, but it’s a perfect marriage between Godlessness and crass stupidity. I loathe it. 

He had one last question for me. ‘How ever do you get the candle inside it to make the lantern?’

I guess that’s what drink can do to the brain.

So anyway, the picture of teeth is nothing to do with the upcoming horror-fest. I chose it rather to mark the day I returned to my dentist after too long an absence and discovered that all the money I spent with him in 2007 has been put to good use. One now awaits one’s doom in the new Laurie Graham Commemorative Waiting Area, complete with glossy mags and a flat screen TV.

It’s nice to feel one has made a difference somewhere.  



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