Couch Potato Pickings | The Witches, apathetic trick or treating, and the glory of older women

Happy Halloween!

Back when I was a kid, my sister and I teamed up with our friend next door just before Halloween to post notes into every letterbox in our road. On these little letters we’d written a silly little poem which basically said ‘on Halloween three pixies will come to visit you,’ or something similar.

And we did visit, dressed up in all our pixie finery, having baked a load of flapjacks and ginger biscuits. We took them round in a big tin, offering our neighbours treats with a cheery ‘happy Halloween.’

I’ve no idea how or why we came up with such a generous idea, but it was great fun to do it, and no doubt the neighbours all had a nice surprise.

Nowadays it’s very different. America’s trick or treat culture has taken hold, but without even half of the effort they put in over there.

Last Halloween, Sofa Spud and I were visited by two kids dressed up as… two kids. Ok, they had a bit of glitter on their faces, but that was it. They didn’t even bother to say ‘trick or treat’. They just gave us a menacing look.

Needless to say, they didn’t receive any treats from us.

Maybe that was a little mean on our part, but I like to think we did them a favour. Surely it’s an important lesson in life to realise that you don’t get something for nothing. 

Maybe that sort of attitude makes me a witch, but I don’t really care.

And I’ll tell you why I don’t care. Because before things got twisted through history, the old crone (aka witch) was a woman of a mature age who had a bit of wisdom about her. She was a person to be celebrated and admired and respected, even idolised. So if anyone wants to call me a witch, then I thank you. I’m very flattered.

The Witches

OK, it’s difficult to remain flattered when likened to something this hideous. But, that’s what centuries of negative PR does for you.

Once the revered wise woman of old, she’s now perceived as an ugly old hag – thrust into children’s literature left right and centre as the bad guy.

A prime example is the movie from which that delightful pic comes – The Witches. An adaptation of the Roald Dahl story, it tells the tale of a young boy who chances upon a coven of witches in a seaside hotel and overhears the Grand High Witch’s diabolical plot to turn the children of England into mice…

The Witches

It’s hardly a great way to encourage kids to treasure the wisdom of their mothers, aunts, grandmothers is it?

So to redress the balance, I’ve decided to share some wise words from the great women I’ve looked up to over the years:

Meryl Streep: Interestingly, young people don’t come to you for advice. Especially the ones who are related to you.

Susan Sarandon:  I look forward to being older, when what you look like becomes less and less an issue and what you are is the point.

Helen Mirren:  All you have to do is to look like crap on film and everyone thinks you’re a brilliant actress. Actually, all you’ve done is look like crap.

Dolly Parton:  If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.

Anjelica Huston: Where there is age there is evolution, where there is life there is growth.

Jamie Lee Curtis:  If you just watch a teenager, you see a lot of uncertainty.

The Witches is showing on Channel Five today, 31st October, at 5.15pm

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