Halloween parade in Tokyo

Men wearing costumes, walk in a street during a Halloween parade in Tokyo on October 29, 2016. 

| Courtesy | Nation Media Group

It’s that time again, when Halloween ghosties and ghoulies walk free

You may agree or not, but a lot of people here will tell you with a straight face that this is the scariest time of the year.

On Tuesday, October 31, is Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve, the eve of the Christian feast of All Saints on November 1, a day for people to remember loved ones who have died.

For many others, it is a time when the dead rise from their graves and walk the earth.

Polls taken this year found that 34 per cent of Britons believe in ghosts, 28 per cent say they have felt a supernatural presence and nine per cent that they have communicated with the dead.

Certainly, you just have to turn to the television listings to see how fixated this nation seems to have become with the supernatural.

Ghost-hunting and paranormal investigations with titles such as “Uncanny” abound on air, depicting investigators prowling nervously through abandoned buildings in search of the undead.

There are books and podcasts, Facebook groups, forums and walking tours, as well as such popular Halloween activities as trick-or-treating, carving grotesque lantern faces out of pumpkins, apple bobbing and dressing up.

It’s all about spectres and vampires, witches and skeletons, poltergeists and things that go bump in the night, the night of October 31.

Just before writing this, I saw the driver of one of our local buses with painted white face and wearing what seemed to be a nun’s habit, an early entrant in the scary stakes. 

Halloween activities have exploded over the years, which social historians put down to American influence and commercialisation of the original feast. A one-time evening of home-made fun now stretches to a week and more, with expensive costumes, masks and diabolical paraphernalia on sale in the big stores.

This has not always gone down well with traditionalists, especially some Christians. Just this month, a Catholic priest in Czechoslovakia stamped angrily on Halloween pumpkins near his village church.

Father Jaromir Smejkal said, “Leaving the rectory on Sunday evening, I saw numerous symbols of the satanic feast of Halloween in front of our sacred grounds. I acted according to my faith… and removed these symbols.”

Upon learning that the pumpkins were carved by the village children, the priest said it had not been his intention to harm anyone, especially not children.

All this a long way from “Ducky Apple Night,” when our dad filled a tin tub with water and challenged us kids to duck our heads under and snare one of half a dozen bobbing apples with our teeth, though what we usually got was a mouthful of other kids’ spit.

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It was hard to believe at first… a boy of 13 was knocked off his bike, surrounded by armed policemen and handcuffed because an officer thought his water pistol was a real gun.

The lad was having a water fight in Hackney, inner London, with his little sister; his pistol was blue and white, hers pink and white. Unmistakeably, toys.

Are our policemen blind?

A clue was offered by the children’s mother. She asked, “Was his real offence being a black boy on the streets of Hackney?”

“I know,” she said, “and the police know, they would not have treated my son in the way they did if he had been a white boy. “I know that they would not have treated me with contempt as they did or describe me as ‘aggressive’ if I was not black.”

The Alliance for Police Accountability said the scene involving the boy was horrific and appalling and officers did treat his mother with contempt.

An investigation by standards department of the Metropolitan Police, the force that covers London, found that no misconduct had been committed by officers involved. A complaint of racial bias was being investigated.

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They call it “charge rage,” the latest version of “road rage,” where motorists fight and argue, not over bad driving, but for access to plug-in points for their electric cars. The motorway service station chain, Moto, has hired marshals to manage queues and calm down stressed and angry drivers who claim charge points are too few.

The Department of Transport said 96 per cent of motorway service areas already have such facilities and hundreds more will be installed in coming months.

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Terrible jokes for Halloween:

How do you write a book about Halloween? Use a ghost-writer.

What’s it like to be kissed by a vampire? A pain in the neck.

Why didn’t the ghost dance at the party? He had no body to dance with.

What do you call a witch with a rash? An itchy witchy.

A man believed his car was haunted, so he asked a priest to exorcise the vehicle. The priest performed the necessary ritual and presented the car owner with a bill for £100, which the man refused to pay. A few weeks later, the car was repossessed.