Children in Halloween costumes go trick or treating in the New York City suburb of Upper Nyack, New York. | Mike Segar

I cannot remember a time when globally, so many got so overexcited by an annual event. I’m talking about Halloween, a diary date that frankly leaves me a bit cold. I find the increased commercialisation of it and the mass hysteria, particularly in the States, really off-putting. There is something almost amoral about wealthy celebrities spending thousands of dollars creating elaborate costumes and holding excruciatingly expensive parties while the world burns and children starve and die in places like Gaza. Isn’t there something genuinely monstrous about it at this current moment in our history?

Halloween used to be a lovely event for kiddies and trick or treating was usually conducted in the same street in secure communities. Now Halloween is celebrated by more and more adults and children need to be chaperoned around their communities for fear of sinister forces lurking behind front doors.

As children, we adored Halloween, but it was such a low-key and happy family and neighbourly affair. We’d duck for apples, some of which contained sixpences, and we’d have sausages, baked potatoes and fun food and play with local neighbours’ children. We did dress up in homemade silly costumes, but trick or treating was not on the agenda. I liked it better then when commercialisation didn’t come into play but that’s probably because there wasn’t much money about and we children had to learn to create our own fun – and costumes come to that!

All the same, I did smile to see Sharon Osbourne’s wonderfully barbed Halloween costume take on Bianca Censori’s outrageous outfits while in Italy recently, when she wore next to nothing. Osbourne wore a barely there pair of tights and flesh coloured body outfit while holding a cushion to hide her modesty while Ozzy, her husband, was decked from head to toe in a crazy all-black ensemble, a wicked dig at pop star, Kanye West’s penchant for covering up wear while his girlfriend, Bianca, goes practically naked. In truth, it was the scariest Halloween costume I witnessed anywhere.

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk past Christmas themed shop displays in London
Shoppers walk past Christmas themed shop displays in London.

Christmas Saccharine

Yawn. It’s the lead up to Christmas when the big UK stores roll out their habitual tear-jerking Christmas ads, apparently to the unbridled joy of the nation. Well, while people are, according to the popular UK press, waiting with bated breath for the new John Lewis advert to pop, M&S has already released its own. And what a banal and messy woke fest it is. Aside from featuring a star-studded cast (whispers ‘who are they??’) the general philosophy appears to be to ignore the hassle and demands of the festive season and just suit yourself. I suppose that’s okay as far as it goes but it’s not very festive or family friendly. It aims to be funny, but it didn’t tickle my funny bone in the least.

The only surprise for me was that the word Christmas was still used. I assumed that non-politically correct vocab of this kind was now banned in the UK. Currently, I am being bombarded with ads and mailshots re ‘the festive or holiday season with any mention of Christmas iced out coolly as if it were a dirty word. I might be a retrograde, but I like the word Christmas and until it’s deemed a hate crime to utter it, or a lock-up-able offence, will continue to use it.

FILE PHOTO: Cast member Matthew Perry attends the premiere of the film "17 Again" in Los Angeles
Matthew Perry.

A friend indeed

What sad news to learn of the death of comedy actor, Matthew Perry, at only 54. I wasn’t a diehard fan of the show, Friends, but I found it funny and cheering when I did see episodes. It made a lot of people happy and brushed away the blues for countless audiences, and the show has stood the test of time. For that reason alone, I can understand the global outpouring of emotion and grief. By all accounts, Perry was a kind and decent man who did his utmost to give back, especially with those afflicted by addictions. May he find a better world.

Demonstrators protest in support of Palestinians amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Washington
People watch from inside a Starbucks as demonstrators march in support of Palestinians in Gaza, in Washington.

Of mice and men

As the Israeli-Hamas war rages on with the Gaza strip reduced increasingly to a rubble site and displaced Palestinians and trapped foreigners scrabbling to cross foreign borders, another related war rages in the UK. There have been huge Pro-Palestine marches and rallies in the UK, with a sinister level of violence bubbling to the surface as factions jostle while the police appear powerless or unwilling to intervene.

Now, a new squeaky terror has hit the streets in the form of live mice dyed in the colours of the Palestinian flag being unleashed in branches of McDonalds. Meanwhile, stick insects have been launched in a branch of Starbucks while windows have been smashed. The reason for this bizarre and unsettling course of events is due to the two chains’ apparent support of Israel.

Whatever angry Pro-Palestine supporters feel about the burger joint and coffee chain, I strongly condemn the use of animals or insects to make a point. Thousands of poor little rodents have lost their lives over a war that has nothing to do with them, and that goes for stick insects too. How this furthers the Palestinian cause I have no idea but if comments from outraged animal lovers on social media are anything to go by, the perpetrators are greatly damaging their cause. This is the sort of tone-deaf stunt made by the Stop Oil lobby which has won it more enemies than friends with its tiresome and predictable PR tricks.

The best way to highlight the current desperate state of the Gaza Strip and its beleaguered people is surely with effective and dignified lobbying without the need for mob hysteria and sensational, cheap tactics?