Halloween is almost upon us. Once upon a time, this would have involved white sheets pinned over my hair, talcum powder on my face to give a ghostly pallor and an evening at the Brownies' fancy dress competition.
And maybe the odd Sainsbury's toffee apple, if Mum was looking the other way.
But now? Now we've adopted the traditions from the States and we've all gone Halloween crazy. Back in August, I saw the season's first orange plastic pumpkin shaped 'Trick Or Treat Collecting Bucket' for sale in the local petrol station. Not only was it £5, it was the size of a small orange.
Why the hell would I pay that for a scrap of plastic in which I could fit just a couple of fun sized Mars Bars and a mini packet of Sweethearts?
And I know I sound a kill joy, but I really don't agree with Trick or Treating here in Middle England. It doesn't have the fun, family atmosphere embraced by our friends over the Pond. Over here the evening takes on the cheap air of greed and E numbers, as kids far too old to take part in the whole thing slosh on a bit of fake blood and traipse from house to house, screeching and shouting all evening.
These days I have to start considering several issues, weeks before 31st October.
Qs 1. Do I let my son go trick or treating with his friends, without adults? Worryingly, this question first arose when he was eight. The answer has generally been no.
Qs 2. Do I buy in sweets for trick or treaters? If so, how many?
Qs 3. Do I answer the door and give the goodies to the little ones? I always feel like the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It feels odd as an adult, a stranger, giving sweets to pre-teens dressed as tarty witches and slasher film victims.
A few years ago, I visited a South African friend at Halloween. I thought he was a miserable old codger after I'd rung the doorbell and he leopard crawled across the hall floor, opened the door slowly and whispered 'Get in! Get in before They see you!' Obviously strangers knocking on the front door and being greeted with sweets and smile was not the accepted practice in Jo'burg.
So this year I think that I'll turn the TV up loud, won't answer the door and will eat all of the sweets myself. Husband will come home and find me with cotton wool stuffed in my ears and slumped on the sofa, surrounded by the empty wrappers of Refreshers and Chuppa Chuppa lollies. Perfect.