The latest Phil Evans column from the South Wales Evening Post
The latest Phil Evans column from the South Wales Evening Post.
Comedian Phil Evans is from Ammanford. He is known as the man who puts the ‘cwtsh’ into comedy.
A spooktacular time?
I’ve tried. I really have.
After weeks of entering supermarkets piled high with plastic pumpkins and fake skulls, synthetic spider webs, rubber monster masks, battery-operated ‘torture victims’ in chains howling in pain and other ghastly, horror-themed tat, I’ve tried to join in with the relatively recent British obsession with Halloween.
But I still loathe everything about it.
You may think it’s just a bit of fun – but in reality Halloween is a money-making monolith that exists solely to sell you things you really don’t need and will be discarded on November the 1st.
The shops and their suppliers don’t care because they’ve already taken your money and know they’ll take more from you next year.
The highlight of the Autumn used to be Bonfire Night.
So why did the great British tradition of November the 5th become the poor relation to the American celebration of all things spooky?
There was no particular demand from the public for Halloween-themed goods.
Commercial enterprises created the demand, possibly because fireworks sales nose-dived when new rules came in preventing youngsters from buying them and setting them off in the street . . . in August!
When I was a lad . . . cough . . . 20 years ago...Halloween barely made a dent in our autumn calendar.
We might do a bit of apple bobbing – an activity which proved that making your own fun is no fun at all – but there was no question of us kids going out in the dark, knocking on doors, demanding sweets and making threats if none were forthcoming.
That only happened in American films.
If we were lucky, one of the three TV channels we had back then would risk facing the wrath of Mrs. Mary Whitehouse (the infamous TV Watchdog who totally disapproved of anything she didn’t approve of) and treat us to a late-night horror film from the glory days of Hammer Films. Although the goriest bits were usually snipped out!
And that was it.
No lengthy build-up in the shops, constant advertising on the box or groups of children/teenagers/killer clowns banging on your door shouting “Trick Or Treat!” from tea-time to 10 o’clock.
Many children today haven’t heard of the Gunpowder Plot, have no idea who Guy Fawkes was and have never been handed a box of fireworks with the cautionary words, “They’re yours - but your father will light them!”
But they do know about zombies, vampires and werewolves!
Don’t you find that scary?
Slowly dying out:
Now, those of you that read my column regularly will realise that I spend a lot of my time frequenting local coffee shops, where I meet some fantastic people and also do a lot of my creative writing.
But I've recently come to realise that I don't think you go to a single town in Wales now and not see one of the major coffee house franchises somewhere along the high street.
Even in some of the small quaint towns and villages, you won’t have to look far to find one.
But this made me think, there are also some of the most beautiful small, independent local coffee shops in each and every town that are usually family run which seem to be struggling to keep up with the coffee giants.
Years ago, this was where everyone from the community got together to catch up on the local news.
On a weekly basis, I'm seeing local cafes close as they are unable to compete.
This makes me sad.
I've decided to make a concerted effort from now on to search for the little local coffee shops, and if they happen to be serving homemade cake, too, it would be very rude of me not to indulge!
Yule be grateful:
I’m very mindful of the fact that the season of goodwill will soon be here as many retailers have already set their stalls up in readiness to capture the early impulse buyers amongst us.
So where has this year gone?
I’m still finding pine needles in the carpet from last year.
Are the weeks and months moving much quicker these days?
My dear grandmother Ruth would often remind me that as a young girl she got extremely excited on Christmas morning to find a tangerine in a sock at the end of the bed.
I honestly thought that she was just teasing me, but apparently this was true.
Times were hard back then and people went without – and children were grateful for anything they had.
But, today, this isn’t always the case, as we seem to buy too much and appreciate little.
Right then, my Christmas gift list this year will consist of fruit bought locally and presented to the recipient in a sock.
Bring back the old days for a change.
This will all end in tears, mark my words.
You can follow Phil Evans on Twitter @philevanswales and www.philevans.co.uk