Sinead Ryan: 'Laying ghosts of All Hallows past to rest'
When I was a child, Halloween was about homemade costumes using a bedsheet and a box, loo-roll tubes and Sellotape or a cheap plastic mask bought in the supermarket. It was about filling a plastic bag with monkey nuts and apples you would never eat and throwing out the sodden mess a week later. All the kids on our road descended on the neighbours at the same time and nobody expected anybody else to have a 'bought' costume or even face paint.
There was one older man, however, who lived alone and had no kids of his own. He obviously didn't get the point of Halloween because he never bothered to get in supplies, but handed out 2p, 5p or even 10p coins to every child that called but we had to go into his hall to claim it.
It must have cost him a fortune, because we savvy kids who favoured the sheet/ghost ensemble could run around the corner and then back to his door to claim another haul without him recognising us. I once got up to 50p before word got around and my mother turned up at the end of his driveway to tell me off. These days, of course, that story would be a lot creepier than it was back then.
Anyhow, all this nostalgia reminds me that I really don't like Halloween. With no kids left, and a job gratefully accepted in Cork that means my train won't get in until 8.30pm, I can, without any guilt, leave the house in darkness and assume 'Grumpy Old Wan' status.
I'm not sure anybody will notice the difference.
Life imitates art as 'House of Cards' returns
Friday sees the return of 'House of Cards' for its sixth season. If there were ever a series where life imitated art, this is surely it. It had to be re-written, delayed and adapted, once allegations against its star, Kevin Spacey, emerged, propelling screen-wife Robin Wright into the Oval Office.
We'll never know the original story line - this was always going to be the final season. But it has had everything from a despotic megalomaniac Commander in Chief to its real-life #MeToo moment along with misogyny, betrayal and hate crime. A bit like watching the news, really.
The original season-six episodes had to be dumped while writers desperately scrambled for a new storyline. In truth, it had lost its sheen after season three, but I kept watching.
I wonder now how many will download the final series just to see what they've done with it? Spacey's character Frank Underwood is, by all accounts, mysteriously dead or disappeared although without a body, how will we know? Or perhaps care?
Mum's voice never failed to scare me out of bed
According to a recent study from the 'Journal of Paediatrics', a mother's recorded voice is more likely to wake a child in a hurry than a smoke alarm.
Monitoring 176 children aged five to 12, scientists trained the children to get out of bed and leave their room if they heard an alarm, and fitted them with EEG electrodes until they were fast asleep.
Half woke to a bell alarm, taking five minutes on average to rouse, but 90pc shot awake and were out of their room in 30 seconds when the alarm was replaced by their mother's recorded voice instructing them to get out.
They're now studying whether in fact any human voice will work, or if a mother's voice has a particular resonance.
I'm going to go with the latter - on the odd night I stay in my old childhood room I still get an urge to jump out of bed and into a school uniform when I hear my mother's 'good morning!'.
Now there's a scare for bedtime!