So, finally we must let go of summer. It has seemed reluctant to depart and the last few days in Torquay have been exceptionally mild and sunny. Almost summer like.
However, on Saturday the clocks go back and we return to Greenwich Meantime and increasingly dark afternoons. We play out this ritual of time changing twice a year and it is quite remarkable how baffled so many people are. Firstly, confusion reigns over the dates on which the changes are made and secondly there is a stunning lack of comprehension as to whether the clocks go forward or backward.
Hard on the heals of this next time change (which for the record is a backward by one hour change) comes Halloween. The shops have been full of Halloween costumes for weeks now and come next Thursday up and down the country tens of thousands of tiny little figures will be flitting around in Britain’s dark streets hoping to pick up a few treats. Others will be dressed up for parties whilst many more will be watching horror films with the lights turned down low.
Some people ( including my parents) decry the “Bloody Americanism” of trick or treating. They complain about our culture being swamped by Trans-Atlantic imports. However, these are the same people who sit down to their largely German inspired Christmas and their big fat American Turkey (a celebration inspired by the birth of a Middle eastern prophet) revelling in what they regard as a traditional British celebration. And in terms of trick or treating it only really begain in the USA in 1911 and was preceded by the Irish and Scottish “guising” which began in 1890′s.
Halloween is a fantastic opportunity to re-visit ghost stories and to watch Yvette Fielding and Derek Acorah stumble about some haunted property in the dark. The high point is always when Derek makes contact with some spirit who is usually called Thomas or John if male and Anne or Mary if female. Strangely, and regardless of who they are they always seem to sepak with a voice which is a cross between Frankie Howerd and Enoch Powell.
Like most towns Torquay has its own fair share of ghost stories. The Spanish Barn is reputed to be haunted by the distraught figure of a woman whose lover was one of the prisoners from the Spanish Armada and who died in captivity. A more disturbing tale is that of Castel o Mare a house in the Warberries where a maid servants was reputed to have been murdered by some beserk doctor. The house became uninhabitable because of the evil presence felt there and in 1920′s there were two documented incidents of happenings at the house. The first was from Beverly Nichols the writer and the second from spiritualist Violet Tweedale. It was later claimed that the hosue was pulled do. However, this was untrue and it stands there still. The full story can be found at www.spookytorquay.co.uk.
The Somerville will be suitably decorated for Halloween and happily prepared to welcome the spirits of those living or dead although of course it will have to be on a bed and breakfast basis.www.somervillehotel.co.uk