Tuesday, October 28, 2008
It's getting to be that time of year again.
October 31st, All Hallows Eve when ghosts, ghouls and small children in fright masks stalk the streets.
The French throw themselves into it with gusto Considering their natural abhorrence of anything that might have blown in from the direction of the New World it's quite surprising. The gift shops are full of witches hats, Edward Scissor hands finger nails, and inflatable pumpkins. The fancy dress shops are doing a brisk trade as well. And come Friday evening the village trick or treaters will be out. Probably.In our village nothing follows a particular pattern.
The first year we arrived we were still in the process of unpacking when Halloween was unleashed on us.There was a timid knock on the door, and there stood one small boy with a sheet over his head emitting half-hearted wailing noises. I reacted splendidly, uttering multitudinous 'ooh-la-las' whilst racking my brains as to what to offer a pint-sized ghoul.
No sweets are consciously kept in our house,for reasons which will be revealed later, but I remembered that eldest and wisest daughter had driven down from the UK to help us move and had cleared out her drive-time sugar ration before the journey home. Somewhere in the wreckage of our move was a bag of jettisoned sweets.
When I eventually located them, during which time Captain Sensible was entertaining our young spectre on the doorstep, I discovered, in amongst the scruffy-looking sticks of chewing gum and half-empty boxes of Tic-Tacs, a five finger bar of KitKat.That would do splendidly.
Our little visitor looked suitably impressed and with many 'mercis' he scuttled off as fast as the sheet would allow.
'I bet that's the best treat he'll get all night' the Captain remarked. 'he's probably gone roaring off to tell all his friends to get off down to the new Anglaises. They're giving away English chocolate bars,'
Horrified, I realised I hadn't anything else to give anyone, apart from the manky looking Wrigleys and a few TicTacs. I spent the rest of the evening twitching like a startled rabbit every time I heard anyone walk past But all was well. Either our little ghost was Billy-no-mates' or what friends he had were too scared to knock on the door of Les Anglaises.
Next year I was better prepared. I bought a 'geant' sized bag of mixed chocolate bars.Individually wrapped I could dole them out to whoever came (as come they would) without fear of running out. After all we had been in residence for a year, people called out 'Bonjour. Ca va?' wherever we went, and unknown,unrecognisable hands waved from passing cars and vans.We were on the village calender.
I saw a large group from my kitchen window as they scampered down the back lane to my neighbours. I opened the bag of bars in eager anticipation and rehearsed my lines. The French equivalent of ...Goodness, what have we here? ...and other suitable expressions. I heard the click of Madame's gate and 'au'voirs' and 'bon nuits' being exchanged and then...silence. The 'Maison Anglais' was too terrifying a place on a night like this. We had been missed out. Quelle dommage!
So - I had a large bag of bite sized choccy bars to dispose of. What a problem. Now, put me in a room with Dawn French and a chocolate fountain and I promise you there will be blood on the carpet. I decided that if the bag was out of sight I would forget about them . Eventually. And anyway, I reasoned, they were probably quite revolting. I like the dark, sensuous, Belgian stuff...for grown-ups. Unfortunately a few weeks later I was struggling to complete an article on Antonio Gaudi and the Sagrada Famillia. It was destined to be like the building itself...unfinished. A deadline was approaching... desperate measures were called for. Like a chocolate rush.
The fact that the bars were bite sized may have been the problem. And the fact that one wasn't enough.I don't know how many I munched my way through before the article was completed, I just know I felt extremely queasy, spent the rest of the day haunted by Puritan guilt, and three years later I reckon I'm still wearing every last damned bar on my hips.
The next year a minuscule pumpkin and a equally tiny Spider Man materialised on the door step, and were suitably rewarded for outstanding bravery when confronted by foreigners. I bought a bag of Haribos on this occasion. I was pretty well guaranteed not to touch those should there be any left over.
So, recalling the indecision's of previous years I have bought a packet of individually wrapped 'Petit Sacripants' which is a very exotic title for what is basically a plain biscuit with a layer of sweetened cream,and a covering of milk chocolate on top of that. I notice that the calorie count is 519 per 100 grms, which I have worked out is 103.8 calories per sacripant. I shall bear that in mind, should they still be hovering about after the weekend.