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Monthly Archives: October 2013

They emerged from the night into Suburbia in flame-painted vans.  Piling out, they were full-grown men dressed as Trick-or Treaters in garish costumes: devils, ghosts, wizards, mad monks, killer clowns, goblins, trolls and skeletons.  They babbled and chattered as they capered around polished silver cars and neatly-trimmed lawns.

In groups of three and four they approached the small redbrick homes, walking right up to each front door.  In addition to the accessories of their type, e.g. pitchforks, brooms and axes, each carried an empty red bucket.

The leader of the group targeting number 36 wore an exquisite devil costume.  His mask was bright red, with yellow curved horns, black plastic eyebrows, forked beard and long pointed nose.  His breath was warm in the cold night air and smelled of rotting meat.

Number 36 had no Hallowe’en decorations, no signs to welcome child trick-or treaters, no carved pumpkin lit up to ward off evil spirits.  The same could be said of all of the house targeted by these night time visitors.  The only adornment on the door of number 36, if it could be called that, was a small handwritten stating: ‘We do not buy or sell at this door.  Hawkers are not welcome.’  The devil gestured to the sign and turned to face his companions, his fixed white grin beaming.  Their laughter was like a shower of glass.

The devil knocked three times.  A light went on inside the house, and a bleary-eyed man in his pyjamas opened the door.

‘Mr Timothy Potts.  Trick or treat?’ said the devil.

‘What time do you call this?’  the man spluttered.

‘Midnight,’ the devil laughed.  ‘Mrs Timothy Potts.  Trick or treat.’  He held out his pitchfork, propping the door open and threateningly close to the man‘s throat.  The man at the door could see it was no child’s toy.

‘How do you know my name?’

‘Mrs Agnes Potts sends her greetings.  Mr Timothy Potts.  Trick or Treat.’

Exasperated, Timothy Potts spat out ‘but I’ve got no sweets.’

The horde behind the devil laughed.

‘You’ve got no sweets, Mr Potts.  It’ll be Trick then.’  The devil reached into his cape  and pulled out a curved knife, he cut just underneath his mask‘s pointed chin.  He coughed and strained as he cut, apparently wincing in pain.  When he had finished, he cast the plastic mask aside.  Underneath, running with blood was a fleshy face that was in every other respect identical to the mask.

This was back when Harry Potter ruled the book charts.  When it was still possible to visually do a survey of what people are reading on the train.  Now it would be something like ‘iPad, Kindle, generic Tab….;

Didcot Parkway to Bracknell Commuter Reading Survey II

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J K Rowling x 6
Blood & Money by Graham Hurley
Imperium by Robert Harris
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
Fat by Rob Grant
Siege of Heaven by Tom Harper
The Glamour by Christopher Priest
The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman
Have I Got Views For You by Boris Johnson
Wicked by Jilly Cooper
Once by James Herbert
Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
The Afghan by Fredrick Forsythe
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Transformers by Alan Dean Foster
Piers Ploughman by Anthony Trollope

Au Pair

One side of an overheard mobile phone conversation.

Where have you been?
Well I suppose you feel better.
The house was beautiful
I’ve been thinking
We could get ourselves into a financial mess.
We should sit down.
And have a serious conversation.
I’ll get all the figures out.
She’s costing us a lot of money.
Not just her pay
But expenses;
Running her car.
I’m not suggesting we let her go now.
I’m not;
We promised to keep her
For a year; we’ll do that.
The children can cope
The school meals are good.
They can have ham sandwiches for tea
We could make a big daal at the weekend.
I’m not saying
We tell her to go now.
But when she does go again
It’s what she wants to do, she said,
Then tell her she doesn’t need to come back.
She’s only here for the work permit.
Of course we’ll need to take on a cleaner.
But just once every couple of weeks.
We’ll talk tonight
I know it’s a bad time.