Americans have ruined Halloween, says Melanie McDonagh in The Spectator. Irish emigrants took All Hallows’ Eve to the New World and it has returned “hideously” changed. A night for ghost stories and simple games turned into a “gore fest” of chocolate and “too big, too garish American pumpkins”.
Growing up in Ireland, we had the real deal. We carved turnips, not pumpkins. We collected nuts, apples and loose change from our neighbours, and ate barm brack, a yeasted fruit bread with a ring inside – the person who found it would be the first to marry. “Boo to pumpkins and all they stand for.” It’s time to bring back “proper” Halloween.
The generation who can’t stand phone calls
This week a hiker from Colorado got lost up a mountain for 24 hours. You’d think that when the phone rang, our lone walker would see it as a saving grace, says Emma Loffhagen in the Evening Standard. “Au contraire.” The hiker repeatedly declined the calls because he didn’t recognise the number, and spent the night on the side of the mountain before finally reaching safety.
“I think I could make a pretty accurate guess at your age range by whether your response to this is ‘what an idiot’ or ‘Yeah, relatable’.” If it’s the former, you’re a boomer, if it’s the latter you’re a millennial or Gen Z – “aka the generation who can’t stand phone calls”.
It’s because we’ve lived our lives with the ability to text. We’re so accustomed to “the comfort of having a conversation at our own pace, thinking through what to say and how to say it”, that a phone call feels like an ambush. The hiker in Colorado is the ultimate example. Sometimes “the idea of perishing in the wilderness might be preferable to the anxiety of answering a spontaneous phone call”.
I’ve got the hump about women’s bumps
Call me old-fashioned, but I’m going to continue using the phrase “pregnant women”, says Helen Lewis in The Atlantic. I say this because there is a growing movement to replace it with “pregnant people”, to account for transgender men and non-binary people. Inclusivity is important – but it doesn’t trump everything else. Substituting people for women obliterates “the history and theoretical basis of feminism”. Women are a “particular kind of people” who have been historically denied the vote and excluded from public life.
The medical journal The Lancet pushed this nonsense into the mainstream, describing women as “bodies with vaginas”. Why, I wonder, does nobody insist on giving men similar monikers: “ejaculators”, say, or “testicle-havers”? Of course, being a minority is hard. But “trans men and non-binary people are being swept up in a fight we need to name: the war on women”.