Halloween, as a teacher, drives me to despair. I don't particularly have an affection for all the hocus pocus, though I do remember the amazing parties my parents used to hold for me and my brother in our garage, which was suitably transformed for the evening. I'd have to rate it somewhere below Guy Fawkes Night in terms of festivals I look forward to. I am smug that its origins are firmly placed within the British Isles, Celtic tradition spreading throughout the fledgling kingdoms, and not from the candy-soaked corporate shores of the good old U S of A.
Japan is as usual ignorant of this small fact, and sees only money signs at this time of year. Cute characters emerge in Halloween costumes, while Universal Studios and Disney execs rub their hands with glee. My students know about trick or treat and jack'o'lanterns, but not that Halloween is similar -if more sinister- to Japan's Obon season, that it was once the end of the old year, and that carving pumpkins and food-giving was a way in which to protect households from malevolent spirits.
Two weeks of elementary school and the howling war-cries of 'candy please!' has just about driven me insane. I am one more funny hat and moustached glasses away from the funny farm.
Every day this week I have awoken from unsettling dreams of hundreds of tiny mummies in pumpkin Halloween masks, all holding out their spindly bandaged arms and demanding candy, which I don't have. Before the rioting begins, a massive and massively pissed off whale swallows us whole, room and all. Why mummies? Well I have no idea. Why a whale? Well that would be the unsavoury fact that last week I accidentally ate whale for school lunch. Carefully diced and smothered in sauce, no-one would answer my enquiries about what I was stuffing in my mouth. After gulping down the last mouthful, the teachers reluctance to explain what the dish was made me suspicious. It dawned on me that it was whale (I was tricked into eating it a few years back...a tremendous joke). How on earth did this whale die for scientific research? Japan as yet refuses to admit it is a commercial whaler. I assume the whale in my belly right now was whisked from a lab and canned before you could say 'whales are beautiful, intelligent creatures who can hold a decent note'.
So has my Halloween been spent thus far. With an increasing desire to carry a supply of sweets around with me and randomly start hurling them at people, I have had about my fill of this sickly-sweet, not at all macabre season of the dead. Happy Halloween one and all.