This week was Halloween and we had lots of spooky fun at The Madhouse, baking and dressing up then going round the neighbourhood trick or treating. We always try to set out about 4pm then head home when it starts getting dark, partly because we don't want to be wandering about in the dark and secondly because most people don't like opening their doors to strangers after dark.
We started off with a visit to our old childminder who lives literally just around the corner, 100 yards from our house. She was delighted to see us, told Pierre he looked great, gave him a kiss and went to get her bowl of sweets. We stayed on her doorstep for about 15 minutes catching up and having a good old chinwag. As soon as she went to get her bowl of sweets, a group of about six boys - a couple of years older than Sophie so probably about 16, still what I'd class as kids - descended on the house. It was good natured, they shouted "ooohh sweets" and jostled to get to the front to get the loot. She laughed and said "oy, the little ones first" then rolled her eyes when they wanted to change the flavour of sweets she'd given them.
One of them was holding a box of eggs. I said "Hmmm don't like the look of the eggs, that's not really in the spirit of Halloween, is it?" and our childminder said "Keep them away from my windows, I don't fancy cleaning that off thank you". He grinned then chased off across the car park after his friends, some of whom were on bikes and had already set off.
We said our goodbyes and started going house to house trick or treating for a couple of hours, heading for home as night fell around 6.30pm. As we got back to the corner of our road, we could see flashing blue lights and some ambulaces with a sheet up, a couple of doors down from the childminder's. We actually thought someone had fallen in the big ditch in the road where they are replacing the water pipes.
We were shocked the next morning to discover that it was a stabbing and hearing the details made my blood run cold. A group of "over and under 18's" had just thrown or were about to throw an egg at a man. He didn't appreciate the joke and had a knife in his pocket or went home to get one (the online reports varied depending on the time they were posted so I guess new information was being uncovered) and stabbed two of the adults in the shoulder and a 14-year-old five times.
We can't be sure it was the group we saw but this happened just opposite the block of flats they came out of so I wouldn't be at all surprised. If it was them, the "adults" can't have been any more than 18 and the 14-year-old is only a year older than Sophie. That's scary.
I'm not condoning the throwing of eggs - it's stupid and unnecessary - but for it to end in a stabbing is mindblowing. The lad is still in hospital but apparently (thankfully) his life isn't in danger. It could so easily have ended in a senseless waste of life though. The scariest part is, if the man did go home to get the knife, he must be one of our neighbours as he wouldn't have had time to go far. (The back gates of the houses in that road open onto our road.) He's still on the run and I can't help wondering if it's someone we know.
The moral of this story has to be not to do stupid things (or allow your kids to do stupid things) that can so easily spiral out of control. Enjoy the Halloween trick or treating but don't get involved in the practical jokes. It only takes a second for things to go wrong but a lifetime to live with the regrets.
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