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Thoughts from October 2015

the history of halloween

With Halloween around the corner, a lot of people are asking us 'just what is Halloween?' or 'is there some sort of comprehensive history of Halloween which will allow us to get up to speed both quickly and easily?' We completely understand. The origins of Halloween, and the traditions that go with it, have always been a bit murky. So, we’ve come up with a definitive timeline of Halloween’s most popular events:

1977 - Halloween is invented when a man gets lost in the woods and thinks he sees something in the dark. He is the first man to ever feel fear. He returns to his village and tells the others about the new emotion and they invent ways for other people to feel it.

1978 - 12 months later everybody in the world has felt and understood fear. It is locked away and everyone decides to only let it out one night each year. This night is called Christmas Day until somebody points out that Christmas already exists. ‘Halloween’ is chosen instead after the word is found inside a book of nonsense verse for children.

1979 - Trick or treating is invented by Derren Brown to advertise his new magic show where he treats or tricks people into having dinner with him.

1980 - Halloween is cancelled because there aren’t enough novelty skeleton costumes for everyone’s dogs to dress up in.

1981 - Halloween 2: The Halloweening is released in four cinemas across the United Kingdom. By now, the national holiday has outgrown its humble beginnings and only a young Jonathan Ross watches the film. He gives it five popcorn bags out of five.

1982 - Halloween 3: Season of the Witch happens. More people watch it than have watched anything else that’s ever been at the cinemas. The film immediately gets a 100% on rottentomatoes.com

1983 - The first ever sighting of a werewolf is recorded in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. A lot of people are killed but it’s still a very popular video.

1984 - Lots of ghosts turn up but they are chased away by humans. “Go away, ghosts,” they say. “This holiday is not for you.” It will be many years before ghosts are allowed to Halloween.

1985 - 87 - Halloween is banned by Thomas Cromwell, the Demon King.

1988 - Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers as Austin Powers suddenly appears from behind a door. Everybody is scared for a moment but it’s okay because nothing is real.

1989 - The clocks go back for the first time and Halloween is celebrated an hour earlier. When everybody realises they laugh for a little bit too long.

1990 - The ‘sexy cat’ costume is invented for a joke but is accidentally taken seriously. Nobody ever takes credit for coming up with the idea.

1991 – Pumpkins aren’t selling very well so the PR Team of the film Halloween are called in. Pumpkin becomes everyone’s 61st favourite vegetable.

1992 - Cereal with milk is voted the favourite food of people on Halloween morning.

1993 - TV personality Kriss Akabusi goes on Live and Kicking to shout that ‘Halloween is dead’ but nobody pays attention because they are too busy preparing their questions about the Guinness World Records TV show, Record Breakers.

1994 - A man is arrested for dressing up as a policeman for Halloween. Impersonating a police officer is a serious crime no matter what the holiday spirited context might be.

1995 - This year the film Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers as The Love Guru turns up in a pile of DVDs that somebody left at a charity shop. It is immediately lost amongst a pile of James Last LPs and never seen again.

1996 - The film Ghost comes out and is voted the scariest film of all time for its terrifying depiction of a couple using a pottery wheel.

1997 - Because of the film Ghost, ghosts are allowed into Halloween for the first time. They spend most of it too self-conscious to scare people and end up going home early.

1998 - Halloween H20, a new bottled water, starts to appear in the shops. It is not as nice as other bottles of water that you can find under your tap and is quietly removed from the shelves.

1999 - A giant man is found with the word ‘Halloween’ written onto his leg but it washes off and everybody relaxes.

2000 - The ghost of Guy Fawkes turns up a couple of weeks early. He’s embarrassed but the majority of people can laugh about it now.

2001 - Someone writes a book about the history of the holiday and everybody forgets to celebrate because they are too busy reading the reviews.

2002 - Halloween overtakes birthdays as the day when people accumulate the most unwanted clutter in their homes.

2003 - Ghosts. So many ghosts. They’re everywhere. Everyone paralysed by fear and unable to celebrate Halloween.

2004 – The ghosts are exterminated by the ‘Ghost Busters’ who are then made the subject of a very popular documentary. Everyone pretends to be happy about it but they all secretly miss the ghosts.

2005 - Plastic spiders seen out of the corner of people’s eyes are voted as The Most Enjoyable Unexpected Scare of 2005.

2006 - Somebody forgets to end Halloween. It doesn’t stop happening until somebody rings the bell.

2007 - Apple bobbing is banned after everyone realises it isn’t fun and they don’t like it.

2008 - Everybody looks for Halloween but nobody can find it. “I’m sure it was here a second ago,” says the person who everybody suspects lost it.

2009 - A group of teenagers spend the weekend in a deserted cabin in the woods and make a series of questionable decisions. Nothing bad happens because the only scary thing you’ll find in British woodlands are slightly aggressive badgers.

2010 - For the first time, children are allowed to knock on people’s doors and ask for sweets. It is a big success.

2011 - The official slogan for Halloween is launched. ‘Halloween - it’ll tide you over until Bonfire Night'.

2012 - A scary book is found in an ancient Egyptian tomb. It is thought to be a magical book of pure evil but it turns out it’s just a John Grisham thriller that someone left there.

2013 - The Queen dresses up as Merlin for her annual Halloween speech. Everyone votes it her best impression of a wizard of all time.

2014 - Halloween is renamed ‘Scary Day’ but everyone thinks it’s too scary so it’s changed back.

2015 - A black cat wearing a collar wins the fancy dress costume parade as it is mistaken for two people dressed up in a realistic black cat wearing a collar costume.

2016 - Everyone is too afraid of the actual world to pretend they are scared of Halloween.

We're already looking forward to next Halloween. Rumour has it that it may involve leprechauns. Or a massive pie. Or Matt Cardle performing a spooky mash-up of Top 40 hits on his famous silver pan pipes. It's going to be great.

the 4th floor stapler - the story so far

As these things often do, it started with a minor act of rebellion. A person pushed by circumstance into an act they never thought they’d be capable of. One morning, driven over the edge by one label too many, they grabbed the fourth floor stapler and took it to the second floor. The world would never be the same again.

It gave them an adrenaline rush. The kind they hadn’t had since they went scrumping for apples as a teenager, clearing the fences at Old Man McCarthy’s farm with a single vault. They quickly put the stapler back, panting for breath. The week went on, they couldn’t get it out of their mind. Nothing else compared. Everyone in fruit towers was talking about it. Who was the daring renegade who’d taken the fourth floor stapler to the second floor?

So they did it again but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t new. It wasn’t exciting. There was only one thing for it. They took the stapler to Cambridge. 

Then they too it to see a donkey. They were out of control.

And then, in a day of madness which will go down in history, they took it to The Ritz.

Meanwhile, the fourth floor was slowly falling apart. Their stapler was missing, nobody knew what to do. Vital documents that needed to be kept together were drifting apart. Desks were filling up with loose documents. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

But the stapler stealer didn’t care. They barely even noticed. But the UK wasn’t enough for them anymore. Oh no. They needed to go further. They needed to go European. And then one day, while thinking about some of their favourite things, inspiration hit them. The answer was obvious. The Sound of Music museum in Salzburg.

But then even Europe wasn’t enough. Almost as if the stapler was being passed from colleague to colleague, America came calling. What better place for someone on the run with a stapler than the land of freedom, opportunity, baseball, tall buildings and Disney World?

Back in England, a hole punch tried to get involved. It didn’t work out. Nobody paid much attention.

Back on the fourth floor, paper was everywhere. With no way of properly filing their work, the staff had descended into chaos. They lost track of time, they forgot to go home, they broke off into two warring factions. One defending the photocopier, the other prized the nice big corner window overlooking the canal.

It was hard for the stapler thief to care about all this from their sauna in Helsinki.

And One Direction helped them remain oblivious to the trouble they’d caused back in the office.

They even took the stapler scuba-diving. Their constant need for adrenaline making them risk the life of the stapler itself* by exposing it to elements that could rust it so easily.

By this point the two tribes of the fourth floor had started to invade the other level of the building. Some say they’re searching for the stapler, others claim they’ve simply gone delirious and would take any stationery in the hope that it would restore order.

As for the stapler? It’s still out there somewhere. Seeing the world in ways many of us can only dream of. We hope it comes back soon, if only for the sake of the fourth floor.

*of course, being a stapler it has no life to put at risk. But still.

How Selina became Sealiona

It's difficult to get excited about a colleague's holiday. They get to jet off somewhere sunny while you’re stuck at the same old desk, fiddling with the same old spreadsheets. So when Selina headed to the Galapagos Islands recently, we said how happy we were for her and then proceeded to complain amongst ourselves for the entire time she was away.

When she returned we followed proper office etiquette and asked her how it went. “Oh, it was great,” said Selina as we all smiled politely. “I even have pictures.” Someone at the back audibly groaned.

But then we saw the pictures. We all owe Selina an apology. She never told us there would be sea lions. Wild sea lions at that. Wild sea lions that would walk up to you and hang out with you. Wild sea lions with whiskers.

Just look at them. With their rolled up necks.

This one’s had a busy day at the office and decided to go to the beach for a rest. Keep up the good work, sea lion.

We suspect this sea lion is actually on holiday. It’s the only explanation for it being on a sun lounger. Only people on holiday are allowed on them.

Selina even explained the difference between seals and sea lions. “Sea lions have external ears,” she said. “Seals, I don’t know where their ears are, but it’s not the same.” Thanks, Selina.

Of course, it goes without saying that Selina is now called Sealiona throughout the office. Let nothing stand between us and an obvious joke.

the rise of the plastic bags

Have you ever wondered why you always forget to take a plastic bag with you when you go shopping? Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe it’s the bags? Maybe they’re making you forget?

Individually their psychic powers are weak but the more bags you have, the stronger they are. Soon, without even realising it, you’ve invited hundreds into your home.

And now they're ready.

“We have been patient,” they say. “We have used the humans’ own forgetfulness to infiltrate their homes. We are in their cupboards. We are under their sinks. Thousands of our kind have sacrificed themselves for the cause, allowing their bodies to be used as empty vessels to hold yet more of us. They hang, limp and  on the backs of doors, filled to the brim with their brothers and sisters.

“But today, with their 5p charge, humankind are making their move. They are finally admitting just how much they value us. They think their Bags For Life will save them. They think they are sturdy. They think they are strong. But they are few and we are many. They don't stand a chance. We will show them what we are worth. Today we go to war.”

So be careful, everyone. Beware of places where the bags might be hiding. Check the bottom of your bin and the boot of your car.

And, whatever you do, don't open the cupboard under the stairs.