Nothing fills certain females with the need to outdo each other than a seasonal celebration.
In a way, the Autumnal paganfest known as Halloween is a gentle warm-up for the bare-knuckle rivalry of the neverending Christmas ‘celebrations’.
At least we are not American and do not have to don our public-facing preppy grins through All Hallows, Thanksgiving and then Christmas – throat-slitting would seem an increasingly pleasant option were that the case, long live the UK.
Anyway, after a recent six-day stint in fresher-land – when I went AWOL from family and working life and lived in and amongst our country’s most enthusiastically alcoholic and chemically-enhanced young adults – I’ve been feeling a little tired.
As half-term dawned and my other half sodded off on a perfectly-timed five-day business trip, I resolved to be a better mother. I necked a couple of diazepam the Sunday night, so I would feel suitably rested and zoned-out when embarking on the week ahead.
Then, I actually engaged with my four children in a variety of meaningful activities across the first two and a half days of the week – swimming, making shit, watching French films on TV, cooking actual meals, talking to my teenager about penises.
But Wednesday afternoon, as I walked back from the park with my brood and dreamed of gin-and-tonic, I encountered Competitive Mum, who is forever striving to be my nemesis.
Saccharine-sweet, she asked: “How’s your Halloween party preps going? Need a hand?”
“She’s not done anything yet,” intoned my increasingly moody and judgemental teen.
Ah, yes. As I had stumbled through my neighbourhood in the near-dawn of a Tuesday morning, returning home from my fresher-land rampage, I had (literally) bumped into Competitive Mum, who was heading out on a dawn jog (hi-vis tabard on, “It’s the only time I can find to exercise”).
“What are you doing for Halloween?” She’d asked me. I mean, is this is a question you ask someone returning home, on a late September sunrise, wearing dark glasses and an inflatable flamingo?
“Want to come to our Halloween rave?” She’d mewed.
Halloween rave, indeed. She couldn’t rave her way out of a cardboard box.
So, I’d promptly announced we’d be holding our own celebration. Bitch invited herself to that. I forgot all about it and now – here we were – two days from the event with no invitees, no decorations, no sweets, no homebaked-and-Instagrammable food and no sodding pumpkins.
“We’re good, thanks,” I replied – as if I was EVER going to admit one inch of fucking-up-ness in front of Competitive Mum. “It’s all under control.” I ushered my lot home and drew up a battle plan.
My battalion and I spent the next two days folding crêpe paper, making sorties to the holy trinity of John Lewis, Waitrose and Home Bargains, dramatically extending the family overdraft and copying the most badass Pinterest pumpkin designs we could find.
On the day, I transformed myself into a shimmering Morticia – white facepaint hides all sins. I took some smokin’ selfies, photographed my artfully spooky home with my iPhone 6 and shared a selection of filtered images across all my social media platforms.
For the final touch, I upended three bottles of tequila into the Halloween punch.
As my husband arrived home, I promised him a blowie to make up for the overspend, gave him a drink, then disappeared for a quick toot to enhance my hostessing activities and, lo, we were away.
“This is great.” “You look amazing.” “Best Halloween party ever.” These were just some of the superlatives flowing from people’s lips – significantly aided by the concealed tequila.
As I held Competitive Mum’s hair and witch hat for her – while she puked into my toilet and sobbed about how “stultifying” her marriage was becoming – I allowed myself a sly wink in the bathroom mirror.
Caner Mum 1, Competitive Mum 0 – Happy Halloween, bitch.