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Feast of Fools?


Yesterday, Hugo Schywzer blogged about Race, class, Halloween, and the old Hyundais on Prospect Avenue. He was out on a run and observed how, in Pasadena, California, “trick or treating” appears to have become a time when the privileged residents temporarily let down some of their barricades and allow kids from poorer neighbourhoods to come and visit and play the game.

In some ways, that feels very touching. It also reminds me of the medieval custom known as the feast of fools when, for a day, rich and poor reversed their role and society was turned upside down. Of course, it could be said that we, the human race, are rightly called fools not for days like this but for the rest of the year when the barriers go back up and we live with less gaudily-painted fears and suspicions.

I am glad to report that we had not one “trick or treat” knock at our door on Tuesday night (I have no idea if Hither Green counts as a poor area and the local kids go packing off to somewhere posh, like Bromley). If people want to decorate their houses as a sign that they are playing the game then that is fair enough. However, it is not one I want to play myself and, furthermore, I abhor the thought that there are people who spend Halloween night in fear of extortion with menaces from gangs of small (and large) masked hoodlums.

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