All Hallows Eve

Every year Daniel put the same sign in his porch that he put there every year. It read ‘Do not knock – Americanisms not welcome here’. The sign spent the rest of the year stuck to the back of his under-stairs cupboard door.

He turned the porch light off, locked the door, put the chain on then made a cup of tea. There was a programme on BBC 4 all about railways, which was Daniel’s passion.

As a treat he took a chocolate biscuit from the tin. It was definitely a biscuit, not a cookie. For years Daniel had watched and listened as small Americanisms crept into everyday life. He didn’t like them at all. A friend of his was ordering drinks in the local pub and to Daniel’s horror addressed the barmaid thus ‘Hi, can I get a lager please?’ and to Daniel’s utter delight she replied ‘No, but I can ‘get’ one for you if you pay for it’. Her retort was deadpan and perfectly delivered. She went up in his estimation so much that he left the pint he’s been nursing and ordered another from her just so he could do it properly himself.

The odd premature firework banged outside as the programme started. Daniel tutted to himself. The tea was good, proper leaf tea, brewed in his favourite brown teapot and strained carefully, with just a dash of milk. Daniel used a mug for tea, he wasn’t that fussed with rattly tea cups and saucers. Ten minutes in, someone knocked on the front door. He ignored it. Knock knock knock. He ignored that too. The programme was focusing on rural line closures in the 1960s, something he remembered vividly. No longer could he stand in his favourite spot and take the numbers of the passing engines. The line was removed two days before his fourteenth birthday and he’d been so upset his mother had kept him from school for a day.

Knock knock. Persistent, annoying. Daniel went to the door, removed the chain, unlatched the door and opened it. Through the glass of the sliding porch door he could see three figures, all as tall as him. ‘Bloody teenagers, they should know better’. He slid the door open to mock roars, scary shrieks and menaces for treats with the promise of tricks if nothing good was forthcoming.

‘Didn’t you see the sign?’ He asked calmly. ‘No mate, can’t read can I.’ stated the youth dressed as Munch’s Scream character.
‘Edvard wouldn’t approve, would he.’ Daniel put his hand on a large umbrella in the stand. ‘You what? Give us something or we’ll egg ya!’ The threat was real enough. With lightning speed, Daniel whipped up the umbrella and thrust it point first into the black clad stomach of the demanding miscreant. The other two jumped back whilst the Scream staggered back a step, raising his hands almost mimicking his unknown inspiration.

Daniel shut both doors, put the chain back on and returned to the lounge. He brushed the fallen biscuit crumbs from the settee and sat down.

‘Now, where were we?’


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