Love it or loathe it, the 2,000 year old festival of Halloween roots itself in the days when the old world marked the end of summer and the beginning of a cold and dark winter.

In the Iron Age, the Celtic calendar celebrated New Year on 1st November and carried the same notion of casting out the old and in with the new. Ghosts of the dead and spirits from the Otherworld were thought to return to the earth during that very night. Huge bonfires were lit to ward off evil spirits, whilst people wore ugly masks and disguises to confuse the spirits and stop the dead identifying individuals who they had disliked during their own lifetime.

Although this sounds like a huge upside to being dead, those who were alive were generally scared about anyone they had upset. I guess people now just spill out their grievances on Twitter rather than wait a year to spook out their nemesis.

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In 2019 there still remains an excitement and thrill about Halloween. Admittedly not for all. Those who don’t wish to participate, I hope they are respected. For those that do, there needs to be a place to unleash their inner witch.

This year it was at The Dog and Fox in Wimbledon Village. 150 guests attended my Halloween party and I cannot put into words the outfits and faces on show that night. So utterly brilliant and so real was the fake blood, Facebook refused to let me boost the photo album on Lady Wimbledon’s page due to inappropriate content! Even more disturbing was not recognising anyone until the next day when all was revealed. Illusionist Diobo spooked everyone by making real flies appear from smoke and turned a £20 note into a butterfly.

Sipsmith presented the best dressed guests with bottles of their finest gin, and on arrival Bloody Bens made Bloody Mary’s mixed with Sipsmith Vodka! It soon made people dance, well... skeletons dance. Maybe it was Garage legend MC Kie and DJ Lexbeatz who were to blame for the devil hula-hooping and dance off between saints, sinners, axe murderer’s and a few demons thrown in for good measure. The dance floor was heaving with party revellers, thrilled that Wimbledon was alight with smiles of mischief on the night before Halloween.

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By midnight, the party had ended and my feet felt like the bolts around Frankenstein’s head. I said my goodbyes, while eyeing up left over Zay’s Bakes Halloween cakes in the corner. Placing my iron mask back over face, I devoured two chocolate cupcakes as I watched witches and vampires spill out onto the streets of Wimbledon Village trying to flag down a black cab.

The next day though... oh... was actual Halloween. This meant Trick or Treating with kids. With eyes blacker than last nights Joker and head pounding, I chose a different mask so I wasn't recognised and thus avoid any conversations. It didn't work. Surprisingly, the evening was mild and almost pleasant. The children held my hand as we ventured off the beaten track. I was in awe of the effort some houses made. Garden paths, flats and houses were covered in cobwebs, whilst spiders hung from doorways and witches laughed with an evil cackle as we approached the front door. My favourite was an old gate we carefully creaked open to discover a secret front garden of lit pumpkins and a skeleton sitting in an old Morris Minor. The kids squealed every time they saw a pumpkin lit outside - for they knew some treats were waiting and soon their baskets were filled. However, the real horror of Halloween was when we all got back home and the living room floor was filled with an array of rainbow coloured sweets. I actually banned sweets from the house two years ago when I faced utter embarrassment of my youngest needing a filling. Similar to Halloween 2,000 years ago, it seems for one night, maybe two, rules and usual conduct fly out the window as we mark the end of summer and prepare for the romance of winter.

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Looking forward as we must, this weekend marks Remembrance Sunday. Merton Council website notes a few Services of Remembrance if we wish to attend. Wimbledon War Memorial on the corner of Wimbledon Village hosts a Service commencing at 10.40am and will be attended by members of the Wimbledon Branch of the Royal British Legion and the 210 Transport Squadron, along with the Mayor of Merton, Janice Howard.

Also this weekend, the Wimbledon International Music Festival fortnight commences. A glittering array of unmissable performances, from rousing classical concerts, intimate recitals to jazz nights and masterclasses, all featuring standout musicians from around the world.

There is a beauty in autumn. Traditions of the past and embracing new rituals, makes our lives rich and feasts children not just with sweets and pumpkin soup but memories of their own to pass down to future generations.

Wishing you a ray of sunshine on these cold, frosty mornings.



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