Dear Readers, I have something of an ambivalent relationship with Halloween, having been inundated with over 300 separate visits in four hours when I once left a pumpkin outside the door. All that sugar! All that waste! But how the children seem to love it. This year, there is going to be a Halloween Trail in our area – participating people will leave pumpkins or other ‘spooky’ things in their windows, and every time a child spots one, the parents will give them a sweet. No knocking on doors, no gathering in crowds, no traipsing the streets in a green wig and a mini-skirt pretending to be a ‘sexy alien’. This has been a tough time for every one, but my heart really goes out to young people, the older ones trapped in their rooms on university campuses all over the country, the younger ones too little to understand what the hell is going on.
Another reason that I find Halloween a bit suspect is that it trivialises a time which, in previous generations, was much closer to the idea of the beginning of winter, the fading of the light, and the nearness of our ancestors. In some cultures, people would set a place at table for their beloved dead and in the not too distant past, farm animals would be walked between bonfires to protect them from evil and to help them last through the winter. It’s all a bit of a far cry from plastic pumpkins and that blooming horrible spray spiders-web stuff that is still stuck in the hedges in April. And don’t get me started on the fireworks, which kick off for Diwali in October and don’t end until after the New Year. My poor cat is on high alert for the whole time, sneaking from room to room with her belly to the ground like a furry commando.
Harrumph. But nonetheless, humans do love to be scared in a safe environment, and so some perfectly innocent animals have been designated as ‘spooky’. So on to this week’s quiz. Here are a selection of UK animals associated with Halloween. Let’s see if you can identify them all!
As usual, answers in by 5 p.m. UK time on Thursday please, if you’d like to be marked. As some people are extremely speedy with their answers, write your responses down on a piece of paper if you don’t want to be influenced :-).
Choose your answers from the list below. So, if you think that critter a) is a brown rat, your answer is 1) a) (and a visit to the optician is probably called for 🙂 )
a) Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
b) Cellar Spider (Pholcus phalangiodes)
c) Giant House Spider (Tegenaria gigantea)
d) Noctule (Nyctalus noctula)
e) Harvestman (Phalangium opilio)
f) Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis)
g) Black Rat (Rattus rattus)
h) Ladybird Spider(Eresus Sandaliatus)
i) Greater Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum)
j) Woodlouse Spider (Dysdera crocata)
k) Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes plantarius)
l) Pipistrelle species (Pipistrellus)
m) Noble False Widow Spider (Steadota nobilis)
n) Brown Long-eared Bat (Plecotus auritus)
o) Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus)