Articles on this Page
- 10/30/19--08:48: _As the Help to Buy ...
- 10/30/19--09:31: _How to be an activi...
- 10/30/19--09:55: _The purple shampoo ...
- 10/30/19--09:55: _Mum emotionally tha...
- 10/30/19--11:07: _Uber driver buys cl...
- 10/30/19--11:18: _‘House of horrors’ ...
- 10/30/19--11:19: _Man rescues abandon...
- 10/30/19--14:01: _Are there risks wit...
- 10/30/19--22:00: _Where did Halloween...
- 10/30/19--23:30: _Happy Halloween: Jo...
- 10/31/19--00:03: _Halloween-loving co...
- 10/31/19--01:00: _My Label and Me: I ...
- 10/31/19--01:04: _How I Save: The 24-...
- 10/31/19--01:54: _Woman who identifie...
- 10/31/19--02:49: _Why do we go trick ...
- 10/31/19--02:54: _Man accidentally ad...
- 10/31/19--03:00: _How to hate Hallowe...
- 10/31/19--03:21: _Fired editor of Gay...
- 10/31/19--04:11: _Shiba Inu burned in...
- 10/31/19--06:13: _Care home welcomes ...
- 10/30/19--09:31: How to be an activist at Halloween
- 10/30/19--09:55: The purple shampoo challenge: Could it damage your hair?
- 10/30/19--11:18: ‘House of horrors’ that went on the market for £1 sells for £180,000
- 10/30/19--11:19: Man rescues abandoned bunny and they become the best of friends
- Preterm Labour/delivery
- Low birth weight
- Intrauterine Growth Restriction (when an unborn baby is smaller than it should be because it’s not growing at a normal rate inside the womb
- Gestational Diabetes
- Placental Abruption
- Foetal loss
- 10/31/19--01:00: My Label and Me: I refuse to believe being sensitive is a bad thing
- £232.50 on my half of the rent
- My share of the bills, usually around £80
- £102 on a monthly travel pass
- £10 on phone
- 10/31/19--03:00: How to hate Halloween and get away with it
As we’ve seen from pretty much all of the answers to the same question on our What I Rent series, the outlook on home ownership for many renters seems bleak.
Particularly if you live in a big city and are already paying extortionate rents, it just doesn’t feel realistic to be able to save for a monumental deposit into the tens of thousands.
There are schemes out there to help ease this stress, but one of the most popular ones – the Help to Buy ISA – is about to end, so you better snap it up quick.
Like many people, you might have buried your head in the sand about the possibility of saving for a deposit.
While that’s absolutely understandable, this ISA has big benefits and means that this seemingly insurmountable task is actually doable with a little hard work.
That’s why it’s important to get in there now, to take advantage of all the benefits it offers. Here’s what you can get, and how to get involved before the deadline.
What is a Help to Buy ISA?
The Help to Buy ISA is essentially a special type of bank account where the state adds up to 25% extra on top of your savings for a house.
As well as that, these ISAs have a higher interest rate than most savings accounts, so you could get 2.58% interest tax-free on what you put in.
How does it work?
While unlimited free money would be ideal, there are some limits.
In the first month of your ISA, you can put in up to £1,200, which the government will give you your 25% bonus on. After that, the limit is £200 (which again will have the bonus).
Although you can open the account with less than the £1,200 limit, the best way to maximise your bonus is to put in as much as you can first time around.
If you maximise the savings limits, you can make £3,400 into at least £4,250 not including interest.
The maximum the government will add in total is £3,000, and you need to have saved at least £1,600 to get any bonus at all (which will net you £400 extra).
Although the deadline to start the ISA is coming up, the government has stated they’ll continue the scheme until 2030, so you could continue paying into it until then.
Even if you’re buying in the near future, though, it’s absolutely makes sense to start saving through a Help to Buy ISA, as there’s no minimum amount of time you can save for – again, you just need the minimum £1,600 saved to get your top-up.
You do have to use the money for a property, too. As it’s targeted at first-time buyers, you can purchase any home under £250,000 – or £450,000 in London – as long as you’re taking out a residential mortgage (rather than buy-to-let).
Unlike some Help to Buy schemes, you don’t specifically need to buy a new build or have a Help to Buy mortgage (although you can if you want, of course).
Who is eligible for a Help to Buy ISA?
Any first-time buyers who are over 16 can open a Help to Buy ISA.
Those who already own a home aren’t able to, which seems pretty fair really given you’ve already got a sweet, sweet property.
Can you get a Help to Buy ISA if you’re a couple?
You can’t get a Help to Buy ISA as a couple, but you can get them individually as long as each of you are eligible.
As long as you’re both first-time buyers, you can each open them separately, saving up to £400 in total.
If your partner already owns property, you can still open a Help to Buy ISA yourself, putting away up to £200 a month.
What are the downsides of a Help to Buy ISA?
As mentioned before, you can’t get a buy-to-let mortgage if you use a Help to Buy ISA to buy your property. If that’s part of your dastardly plans, this isn’t the scheme for you.
Another downside is that, as a government scheme, it could be subject to change in the years ahead. Although you technically have 30 years to do your savings, if the law changes in this time it might mean you’ll get no more ‘free’ cash.
While not the end of the world, it does mean you should try to save as much as possible (up to the aforementioned limits) as quickly as possible. This will also help you make the most of your cash before prices rises over the years.
There’s also a caveat in that the 25% top-up that comes from the government won’t actually go through until the sale is completed.
So, while you can use the money you’ve personally put away as part of the ‘exchange deposit’, which is handed over when contracts are exchanged, and instead get the bonus as part of the ‘mortgage deposit’ that goes through upon completion.
Basically, you’ll still need either 5% or 10% of the purchase price of your house up front (before the bonus) in most cases, but talk to your broker or bank to make sure.
For those of you unsure on buying a house, it’s worth noting, too, that you won’t get your bonus if you decide to take your savings out without purchasing. You will get your money back, as well as any interest due.
You can also make partial withdrawals if necessary, but the bonus will only be applied to the amount you have in the account when you do buy a house.
Do your homework first, check if it’s the right option for you, and get in there quick if it is.
Why the Help to Buy ISA is being stopped and when it ends
The Help to Buy ISA closes to new savers on 30 November 2019.
This is to be replaced by the Lifetime Isa or LISA, a similar product for first-time buyers or those saving for retirement.
If you manage to get your foot in the door (with up to £1,200), however, you’re able to keep saving until November 2029, and claim your cash bonus from the government until November 2030.
How to set up a Help to Buy ISA
You set up a Help to Buy ISA as you would any other bank or savings account.
Different banks will offer different interest rates and benefits, and you don’t have to open yours with the same bank you’re already with or the one you plan on getting your mortgage with.
It’s worth checking on comparison sites first to get the best deal for your needs.
How to claim your bonus when you buy a home
Rather than simply going straight into the ISA as you save, the government 25% top-up has to be claimed when you buy a house.
You’ll need to let your ISA provider know that you’re buying a house, at which point they’ll close the account and transfer over the money you’ve saved.
They’ll also send a letter to your solicitor that’ll allow them to claim the bonus for you, and this will be transferred upon completion.
Saving money for buy home concept
A few Halloweens ago, I decided to get creative with my costume. I found a dolphin outfit, procured some fake blood and made a sign that read ‘SeaWorld Sucks’.
I was a little concerned that a ‘dead dolphin’ might cause some controversy, especially in a busy nightclub, but my statement costume was a big hit.
Through documentaries like Blackfish and The Cove, I’d learned about the appalling abuse of dolphins and whales for marine ‘abusement’ parks like SeaWorld – dolphins left traumatised when hunters wrench them out of their ocean homes and orcas dying decades short of their natural life expectancy.
I was so sickened, I knew I had to do something to get the word out to others.
All through the night at the club, people approached me – some to tell me that they’d seen Blackfish too. Others came up to ask what was wrong with SeaWorld: did animals actually die at those parks?
For many, activism is part of day-to-day life. The rise in activist activity over the past few years is undeniable: from climate strike action like Extinction Rebellion to the #MeToo movement and the 350 per cent rise in vegan eating, people are taking a stance to try to save our planet and improve the future of its inhabitants.
For others, Halloween is the one night when they’re not afraid to make a bold statement.
Covering yourself with fake blood, wrapping yourself in cling film and adding a fake meat label will remind others that meat isn’t ‘made’ in supermarkets.
Speak up, whether it’s a quiet conversation or shouting from a hilltop.
A wool-free jumper, headband with ‘lamb ears’ and a smearing of fake blood will draw attention to incidents of cruel treatment of sheep by UK wool industry workers. Just like humans, sheep visibly express emotions and can recognise different facial expressions in people.
The billions of animals suffering in laboratories, on factory farms, in abattoirs and in other desperate situations need every single person who cares to take action. With one costume, you can speak up for them.
One of the best things about Halloween is that no one is afraid to ask who or what you’re dressed as so it’s a real opportunity to give a voice to campaigners and activists that at risk of being forgotten by history.
Mary Gawthorpe was pivotal to the Suffragette movement yet not everyone knows her name and few people know what she looks like. Use people’s lack of knowledge to your advantage: this conversation-starter could be the ideal moment to inform someone about women’s rights.
If you’re a passionate environmentalist, it’s important to remember that it’s not just what you dress up as but how. A lot of costumes are made from synthetic materials that are not biodegradable and added extras, like glitter, have been highlighted as being toxic for the environment. Looking for sustainable materials or recycling items is an act of environmentalism in itself.
Of course, if costumes aren’t your thing, there are more subtle ways of getting involved in activism.
Be active on social media, set up an information table, hand out flyers or join a local protest. Hold a vegan dinner party and get that conversation going.
Take every opportunity – not just on Halloween but every day of the year – to inform people and help them make kinder choices. Speak up, whether it’s a quiet conversation or shouting from a hilltop.
This year, I’ve chosen to dress as an ‘evil’ scientist – bloody lab coat, ‘sad’ rabbit toy, conical flask of ‘poison’ – to highlight the plight of animals subjected to cruel experiments at the hands of experimenters.
All around the world, hundreds of thousands of people care deeply about the very same issue you’re fighting for – and we’ve all seen the impact we can have when we act together. We shouldn’t disregard how powerful our own individual actions can be, too.
Whatever your social justice cause, I believe it’s time to put the tired skeleton onesie away and kick your social conscience into gear this Halloween.
Dolphin Halloween Costume-4f15
The purple shampoo challenge is the newest social media trend doing the rounds.
This time it’s TikTok users leading the charge, with content creators showing off transformations to their hair after using home toning products.
In the videos, a large amount of purple shampoo is added to the hair, with some people leaving a full bottle on for 24 long hours, with the results shown afterwards.
The hashtag #PurpleShampooChallenge has now been viewed on the platform a whopping 70 million times, with some of the specific videos getting tens and thousands of likes.
Despite being just a bit of fun, many of the commenters are (understandably) confused as to why the shampoo is being left on for such a long time as if it’s a dye, with the potential ‘benefits’ being called into question.
It was also brought up that a number of brunettes were taking part, even though the shampoo is designed to be used by blondes to get rid of brassy tones.
The conclusion from colourists? While purple shampoo is great in moderation, you could be damaging your hair by copying these challengers.
Marco Coccia, Senior Colour Technician at WhiP London calls the shampoo ‘one the best products to “scare” the yellow away from your hair.’
‘It is very effective on all types of hair but it is specific for blonde high lifted hair or natural grey hair,’ he continues.
‘The strength of this product changes according on the brand, the lightness and porosity of your hair and on how many times you use and for how long you leave it in for. I wouldn’t say that it’s alternative to a proper toner but it helps keep the brassy tones away or to maintain a silver/white toner.
‘Like everything the over use of it it could, with time and depending on the level of the blonde/grey leave lilac stains and end up with the hair losing its brightness. It always good if you want a perfect blonde to go to your hairdresser and ask them about the best way to use the silver shampoo for your type, shade, texture of hair (for your individual case).’
Katie Allan, Founder of MAYFIVE Hair echoes these statements: ‘Purple shampoo is great for keeping yellow out of bleached hair. The violet tone contracts the yellow which leaves a much cleaner blonde.
‘If the hair is more orange than yellow then purple shampoo wouldn’t necessarily work – you would need a toning shampoo that is more blue based to neutralise the orange.
‘If there is no yellow in the hair and the hair is creamy and light blonde already then the shampoo will deposit purple and you will be able to see it in the hair.’
Basically, as with any beauty fad, if you’re taking it into your own hands you could see vastly different results to those influencers get.
While there’s nothing wrong with using a salon-recommended purple shampoo every so often to neutralise the yellow in your hair, a more measured approach is once every week or fortnight.
Putting literal shampoo on your hair for that amount of time could dry it right out, and that’s before we even talk about the implications to your colour.
Not to sound like your mum, but please don’t copy everything you see on the internet. That is unless you want your hair to be a purpley dried-out mess.
The purple shampoo challenge: Could it damage your hair?
A mum has thanked the kind stranger who helped when her baby had a tantrum as they stood in a long queue to go through customs.
Katy Montgomery Vassaur, partner Jace and their daughter Marley, one, were flying home to Glenpool, Oklahoma after a holiday earlier this month.
They had been on one flight but had to go through customs to get their last flight home.
Katy said the line was incredibly long and after a long day of travelling, Marely was restless.
But with the help of the woman in the queue named Ashifa, they were able to calm her down.
The woman held the baby right until the other side of customs to give her parents a break.
Katy posted on Facebook thanking the woman for the random act of kindness.
Calling her a ‘real life angel’ Katy said: ‘The line was OUTRAGEOUS .. like, hundreds more people than I had EVER seen waiting at customs before .. at this point Marley was DONE and proceeded to have a total and complete meltdown.
‘Jace and I are doing everything we can think of to soothe her.. passing her back and forth .. people are starting to stare and get agitated and she is just SCREAMING at the top of her lungs and there was nothing we could do. To say it was awful would be a huge understatement.
‘THEN, we pass by this beautiful young woman named Ashifa.. we had obviously never seen her before and as we go by she starts kind of talking to Marley.. well, to everyone’s surprise Marley stops crying and reaches out for her! This wonderful lady held Marley ALL THE WAY through the customs line and Marley was just as happy and content as she could be in her arms the entire time.
‘Ashifa — you have something truly special and I honestly do not know what we would have done without you yesterday. What you did was completely selfless and truly an act of kindness. THANK YOU SO MUCH for loving on our Marley Jo and giving this mom & dad (and everyone else in line) a much-needed break. The world needs more Ashifas.’
The post received over 20,000 shares and over 81,000 with people commending the woman for what she did.
One said: ‘We need more people like her. She is beautiful on the inside and out.’
‘There are still wonderful people out there. What a sweet and kind person,’ another added.
Kind stranger settles baby when she has a tantrum in a very long customs queue
When one mum was going to the hospital to see her sick baby, she was overwhelmed with her taxi driver’s act of kindness.
Uber driver Belinda Smith bought 30 outfits for the baby after hearing the family’s story.
Nikki Ihus and her husband Joe had welcomed baby John Henry on September 19.
They knew he would suffer from a rare condition called a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, where the muscle that separates the chest and the abdomen doesn’t form properly, causing the stomach, intestines or liver to move into the chest.
The family are from Kansas City but chose to have John Henry at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. over 1,200 miles away so he could have specialist care.
When he was born. doctors were able to treat him quickly and got him onto extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, where a pump moves blood through an artificial lung outside the baby’s body.
But on October 12, after Joe had returned home for work and Nikki’s mum who had been with them since the baby’s birth, was also out of town, so Nikki took an Uber to a nearby shop to pick up supplies.
She started chatting to her driver Belinda about her baby, as she was struggling because John Henry had deteriorated earlier that day.
Although he was now stable, she was feeling the stress of being alone in Florida while he was still in the hospital.
By the end of the ride, Nikki admits she was crying.
Belinda dropped her off but it wasn’t the end of their interaction.
Once Nikki was gone, she turned Uber off and went and bought 30 new outfits for the baby including one that said ‘I’m a superhero’ on the front, before finding the new mum to give her the gifts.
Nikki was touched by the act of kindness.
She told Yahoo: ‘It is hard, nowadays, to make money and stay afloat.
‘Belinda had mentioned that Uber is her second job…to stop working, to help a complete stranger out, is so incredibly selfless.
‘She really touched my heart and I will cherish the clothes that she purchased and helped me pick out.’
Now the pair have become friends and Belinda has met John Henry in hospital.
A ‘house of horrors’ that went on the market for just £1 has sold for £180,000 just in time for Halloween.
On first looks, the exterior of 93 Douglas Road, in Acocks Green, Birmingham, had looked like a smart starter-home.
The Victorian terrace house features a gable porch, a trimmed hedge and a newly painted front door.
However inside, it’s a bit of a mess – with piles of rubbish, a broken toilet seat and a smashed up kitchen.
On the ground floor, the property has a hallway and kitchen and two reception rooms, with 1930s fireplaces.
The front room has a large bay window, while the rear reception room has French windows leading out into the garden.
Upstairs there are three bedrooms – two with original cast iron fireplaces – and a bathroom.
Outside there is a small yard at the front and a good-sized rear garden.
The street also boasts shops and close links to a railway station and is just six miles from the centre of Birmingham.
The house went on the market for a knockdown price, but was sold at £180,000 and the buyer plans on giving it a huge refurb.
Auctioneer Andrew Parker, from SDL Auctions Bigwood, said: ‘We knew this property would attract some serious bidding and were not disappointed.
‘Serious property developers relish a challenge and will have looked beyond this house’s outward appearance.
‘The property actually has a lot going for it.
‘Although it’s in a pretty poor state right now, it retains some beautiful period features such as cast iron fireplaces, a bay window and picture rails.
‘I’m sure the new owner will work their magic on it and it will be unrecognisable from the ‘house of horrors’ you see today.
‘The foundations are all there for a lovely family home to be revealed, admittedly after a great deal of work and investment.
‘But the rooms are well proportioned, the bathroom is upstairs – a bonus in a property of this age – and there’s a garden at the rear.
‘Combine this with a great location within walking distance of shops, amenities and Acocks Green Railway Station, and you have a property which, once completed, will make a great family home or rental property.’
A man is best friends with his bunny, and we’re here for this friendship.
Sean Harrison rescued the poor little bunny after he was found abandoned in a hutch at the back of an old people’s home in Sean’s home town of Reading.
When Sean found him he was cold, wet and alone, and so he just had to save him.
Sean had never been an animal-lover prior to rescuing the bunny, but he soon fell head over heels in love.
39-year-old Sean named the bunny Chief Brody after a character from his favourite movie, Jaws.
The pair have been living together for the last three years, and have become the very best of friends.
Sean who manages the Instagram account @manandbunny said: ‘Chief came to live with me in October 2017.
‘Chief and I have been best pals ever since I rescued him. We love to share biscuits.
‘There’s only one boss in the house now and it certainly isn’t me.’
What should you do if you find an abandoned bunny?
According to the RSPCA, a mother rabbit will close her bunnies into a burrow, returning to nurse around once a day. The baby bunnies, known as ‘kittens’, will start to emerge from the burrow at about 18 weeks, when they look like teeny adults.
If the bunnies are found above ground, with their eyes closed, they will be too young to survive on their own and will need rescuing and taken to your local wildlife rehabilitator.
If, like Sean, you find a rabbit abandoned in a cage, or in a bad condition, or you are worried about them, contact the RSPCA and your local vet ASAP.
Gemma goes into labour on a cable car while enjoying a day out with boyfriend Chesney Brown in North Wales.
Viewers are now concerned that something might happen to the quads born unassisted in the air.
One person wrote online: ‘Those babies will be premature and need special cots if not incubators.
‘The thought of them being born in a cable car with no proper facilities fills me with horror.’
So to those wondering, what exactly are the complications with delivering four babies? And how common is it to have identical quads?
The NHS recommends a hospital rather than a home birth for anyone having more multiples.
In the case of quadruplets, doctors and midwives need to be on standby in case complications arise.
Most common complications for multiple baby pregnancies
If you’re pregnant with multiple babies, the risks of certain things increase.
Growing two or more babies places greater demands on your body than a normal pregnancy.
You’re more likely to have pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (gestational hypertension) than if you were expecting a single baby.
Pre-eclampsia is a complication related to high blood pressure that can happen in later pregnancy.
It’s more common in multiple pregnancies because having more than one baby places extra strain on the placenta or placentas.
Pre-eclampsia is at least three times more common if you’re expecting twins, and nine times more common if you’re expecting triplets, than if you were expecting one baby.
Your midwife might ask to take pee samples to check for evidence of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure and protein in your urine can be early signs of pre-eclampsia.
Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) is another condition that could affect quads.
Multiple pregnancies grow at approximately the same rate as single pregnancies up to a certain point. In twin pregnancies, growth begins to slow down at 30 to 32 weeks.
For triplets, it’s around 27 to 28 weeks. And quadruplet pregnancies begin slowing at 25 to 26 weeks.
IUGR seems to happen because the placenta can’t handle more growth and because the babies are competing for nutrients.
Your doctor will monitor the growth of your babies by ultrasound and by measuring your abdomen.
While twins may be delivered vaginally, the typical recommendation for more babies is via caesarian.
But delivering twins naturally depends on the position of the babies.
Quads are pretty rare but the rise of fertility treatments are becoming more common.
Quads can be identical, fraternal (when two separate eggs fertilized by two separate sperm), or a combination.
Many sets of quadruplets contain a mixture of identical and fraternal siblings such as three identical and one fraternal, two identical and two fraternal, or two pairs of identicals.
If they’re fraternal (multizygotic) then it means four different sperms fertilised four different eggs.
Quads are identical where there’s a fertilised egg that splits into two or more embryos – it’s possible for a split to occur more than once (monozygotic).
In the latter case quads are almost always the same gender. In some cases you can get a monozygotic triplet plus one (which may be three girls and one boy or vice versa).
But as mentioned above, quadruplets are pretty rare.
Risks of giving birth to quadruplets
In the words of Danny Elfman’s song from the seminal seasonal classic The Nightmare Before Christmas, this is Halloween.
Halloween, aka All Hallows’ Evening, Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Eve or One Of The Most Important Holidays In The Calendar Year, is finally here.
While these and other modern Halloween traditions are great fun, in honour of the holiday, here’s a look at where it all began…
Where did Halloween come from?
The Celts believed that, on the night of Samhain, the door between this world and the next was open and spirits could cross over as the line between the living and the dead became a thin one.
To mark Samhain, the Celts would burn crops or animals in a bonfire as a sacrifice to their deities and would wear animal heads and skins as costumes.
When the Romans conquered the Celts, Samhain ended up being combined with the Roman festival Feralia, which was an October day on which the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead.
October 31 is the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day, also known as All Saints’ Day.
All Saints’ Day originated in the eighth century when Pope Gregory III said 1 November would be dedicated to honouring all saints and martyrs.
This is why October 31 became known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween.
Trick or Treating began in Ireland, Scotland and Wales when people started dressing up and going door to door to ask for food.
Poems would be recited or songs would be sung in exchange for the sustenance, by 11th century, the tradition evolved into children saying prayers in return for ‘soul cakes’ – which were similar to hot cross buns and intended to represent a soul being freed from purgatory when eaten – in
This evolved again by the 19th century into a tradition where children would tell jokes, sing songs, and read poems instead of reciting prayers for pieces of fruit and money.
Later still, children started playing tricks on people to get them to hand over confectionery, and when immigrants travelled from the UK to America, they brought this tradition with them.
Man has acid thrown in face after opening door to Halloween trick-or-treater dressed as ghost
Something wicked this way comes as today, Thursday October 31, is Halloween – the spooky celebration of all this ghostly and ghoulish.
Whether you’re planning a fancy dress party, carving a pumpkin, heading out trick or treating or just planning on watching Hocus Pocus at home for the 100th time (what, just us?) there are a multitude of ways to make sure you don’t miss out on Halloween themed festivities this year.
In honour of the spooky season, here are some of our favourite Halloween Jokes, memes, images and quotes to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve…
Q: What is the most important subject a witch learns in school?
Q: What do mummies like listening to on Halloween?
A: Wrap music
Q: Why did the skeleton cross the road?
A: To get to the body shop.
Q: Where do ghosts like to trick-or-treat?
A: Dead ends.
Q: Why are ghosts so bad at lying?
A: Because you can see right through them!
Q: What do ghosts use to wash their hair?
Q: What is a vampire’s favourite fruit?
A: A nectarine!
Q: What kind of dessert does a ghost like?
A: I scream!
Q: What do birds say on Halloween?
A: Twick or tweet
Q: What do you get when you cross a Cocker Spaniel, a Poodle and a ghost?
A: A cocker poodle boo.
Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
Q: Where do ghosts buy their food?
A: At the ghost-ery store!
Q: Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road?
A: He didn’t have any guts!
Q: What room does a ghost not need?
A: A living room!
Q: Which ghost is the best dancer?
A: The Boogie man
Q: What do you call two witches living together?
Q: What do you call a witch who lives at the beach?
A: A sand-witch
Q: What do ghosts eat for supper?
Q: Why are ghosts so bad at lying?
A: Because you can see right through them!
Q: What do you get when you cross a duck with a vampire?
A: Count Quackula!
Q: Why did the ghost leave the Halloween party?
A: They ran out of boos
Halloween images and memes
‘Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep…’ – Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984
‘Something wicked this way comes.’ – William Shakespeare, Macbeth
‘I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color.’ – Wednesday Addams, The Addams Family
‘Nothing on earth is so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night.’ – Steve Almond
‘On Halloween you get to become anything that you want to be.’ – Ava Dellaira, Love Letters to the Dead
‘Shadows of a thousands years rise again unseen, voices whisper in the trees, ‘Tonight is Halloween’.’ – Dexter Kozen
‘Sticky fingers, tired feet; one last house, trick or treat!’ – Rusty Fischer
‘There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch.’ – Robert Brault
‘Werewolves howl. Phantoms prowl. Halloween’s upon us now.’ – Richelle E. Goodrich
‘Every day is Halloween isn’t it? For some of us.’ – Tim Burton
‘Ghosts and goblins come to play on October’s final day!’ – Rusty Fischer
‘When there is no room left in hell, the dead will walk the earth.’ – Dawn of the Dead, 1978
‘It’s Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good scare’ – Sheriff Leigh Brackett in Halloween, 1978
‘Phone Voice: Do you like scary movies?
Sidney Prescott: What’s the point they’re all the same, some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can’t act who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door, it’s insulting.’ – Scream, 1996
Full Frame Shot Of Illuminated Jack O Lanterns At Night
Okay, so you’ve spent hours carving a jack o ‘lantern and have the perfect topical costume prepared.
But there’s no way you can be the biggest Halloween lover around.
That title needs to go to Alexis and Jeff Peabody, 36 and 39, respectively, who adore the spooky season so much that they made their wedding Halloween themed.
On Friday 13th October 2017, Alexis and Jeff tied the knot dressed as Frankenstein’s monster and his bride in front of 180 guests, all wearing costumes.
They hired a professional costume make up artist to transform their family and friends and got married in front of a ghoulish graveyard backdrop.
There were skeletons popping from makeshift graves and a seating chart was laid out as a cemetery.
They handed out potion bottles and adorned the walls with classic horror movie posters – all adding to the spooky vibes that made their day so unique.
They said their family and friends said it was the ‘best wedding they’d ever been to’.
Jeff, a print production manager, from Detroit, Michigan, said: ‘Despite my wife being dressed as a monster, I’ve never seen her looking more beautiful!
‘It was the perfect day.’
Alexis, a cleaner, added: ‘We’ve learned from being together that we love Halloween a lot more than most people.
‘For one night of the year, you can be whoever you want to be and just have fun – what’s not to like!’
Alexis and Jeff met through mutual friends in 2010 and spent their first date watching the horror movie Halloween.
They quickly discovered how much they both loved the 31st of October. Each year they celebrate by decorating the garden, handing out sweets to trick-or-treaing kids, and meticulously plan their costume for the day. They reckon Halloween is ‘much better than Christmas’.
They decided to make their wedding Halloween themed when they realised their wedding was booked for Friday the 13th.
‘We hadn’t planned to have a Halloween themed wedding, but this felt like a sign – and we’d always wanted to throw a huge Halloween party so we thought why not tie the two together,’ said Jeff.
‘We both love Halloween, so when we saw there was a Friday the 13th in October, we knew it was a no-brainer and had to have a Halloween-themed wedding!’
Alongside hiring a professional makeup artist to make sure everyone had a horror movie themed look, the couple had bridesmaids dressed as The Creature from The Black Lagoon and The Mummy and the groomsmen were Dracula and Wolfman.
Alexis’ dad walked her down the aisle as the Phantom of the Opera, and the couple were married by none other than Dr Frankenstein himself.
The professional makeup artist was the biggest expense of the whole day, costing over £2,000 – but the happy couple says it was ‘worth every penny’.
‘Our families loved getting made-up for the ceremony,’ Alexis said. ‘It was great seeing the transformations.’
They started their makeovers at 7.30am, and spent a total of six hours in make-up – making them an hour late for their own wedding.
The rest of the ceremony, held in Pontiac, Michigan, was DIY, with the venue dressed from head to toe in Halloween themed decoration.
Alexis and Jeff decorated it all themselves to cut costs – but no corners were cut on the creativity.
,The best part is that everything can be used to decorate our home and garden for future Halloweens to come,’ Alexis said.
‘We can look back as we get them out of the loft every year and think back to our wedding day which is pretty special.’
‘Zomboys and Ghouls’ signs hung above the toilets, and handmade packets of ‘Boo-Hoo’ tissues were available for guests to wipe their tears.
The ‘Boo-ffet’ table was labelled with ‘gorederves and vampitizers’ and warned that the food was poisoned – despite being a delicious array of cupcakes and canapes.
After the ceremony and evening meal, all of the ghoulish guests took to the dance floor for a night of dancing – even performing the Monster Mash.
‘Instead of people clinking their glasses for the speeches and to get us to kiss, we made them howl like werewolves,’ Alexis said.
‘It was so fun having a chorus of costume-clad guests howling at us – the atmosphere was electric!’
The end result was a glorious day of fun.
The couple said: ‘We loved how laid back and nontraditional it was.
‘It was like we threw a huge Halloween party for everyone we know and love!
‘It was great to see our friends and family in costume, and we loved it even more when they told us that it was the best wedding they’d ever been to.
‘People from the other weddings in the venue ended up coming into ours because they heard how great it was.
‘I don’t think we’ll ever live it down!’
They plan to throw another huge party on their five-year anniversary when Friday 13 October comes around again, which promises to be just as legendary as their wedding day.
The adjective ‘sensitive’ is a tricky one. Its meaning can shift from the positive (‘he’s so caring and sensitive’), to the negative (‘you’re being over-sensitive’), to the faintly patronising (‘she’s a sensitive little soul’) in the blink of an eye.
But I’ll admit I have a vested interest in trying to figure out what it really means to be sensitive since it’s a word that people have used to describe me all my life.
My mum recalls the five-year-old who cried during Disney movies and all of my old school reports read with some variation of ‘Kate is rather shy…’
When I think about it, I probably have to agree. I am sensitive. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t find aspects of the world bruising – from casual, thoughtless comments that hurt my feelings far more than they should, to a genuine dislike of situations that are too loud or busy or bright.
It’s hardly an unusual event in our house for me to cry at the evening news, but if I’m honest there are days when I’m just as likely to cry at a sad advert, too.
And I’m a chugger’s dream, reaching for my credit card faster than you can say ‘sick donkeys.’
Even as an adult, I’m careful about the films and TV shows I choose to watch… trial and error has taught me that temporary entertainment isn’t worth the nightmares that follow anything too graphic or brutal. And though I love music, a sad song can leave me with a disproportionate sense of melancholy.
It’s strange because as I write this, I feel the need to qualify these statements… to prove somehow that I’m not just a weepy mess – that I can be tough and funny and brave, too.
Maybe because on balance, the negative definitions of sensitivity seem to be more prevalent than the positive ones right now – and sensitivity is too often equated with weakness.
It’s particularly hard to embrace this label when its derivatives have become the ultimate insult in this post-Brexit world… am I a snowflake I wonder? Too easily upset and fragile to function as a proper adult?
I’ve wrestled with this idea, but ultimately, I reject it. Being sensitive doesn’t have to mean being entitled or demanding, insisting people tiptoe around you to avoid accidentally giving offence.
Sensitivity can mean the strength to remain connected to the reality of the world, despite a constant onslaught of horror and bad news.
Sensitivity can mean that you’re the person in the room who notices when someone else is upset and can, therefore, do something about it.
Sensitivity means seeing the beauty and the ugliness of the world around you in equal measures – yes, there are lows but there are highs, too.
A few years ago, I came across the theory of the Highly Sensitive Person and it’s been genuinely helpful in terms of making my peace with this particular label.
Its proponent, Elaine Aron, argues that innate sensitivity is a key trait for 15-20 per cent of the population – and that it includes features such as a rich inner life, a powerful imagination and the ability to recognise and appreciate life’s subtleties, as well as the more obvious challenges.
She also makes the key point that sensitivity is valued differently in different cultures – but that these external assessments don’t change its inherent worth.
My husband now jokes that her book on HSPs is essentially an instruction manual for being married to me… and actually, it probably has helped him to understand some of my sensitive ‘quirks’ more clearly.
In fact, I now realise that some of my best qualities – my empathy and my creativity – stem from my sensitivity too. But there can be an odd disconnect between this and a lifelong instruction to ‘stop being so sensitive.’
Ultimately, labels can be destructive when we feel that they are somehow restricting us, defining us against our will, or worse, passing some sort of value judgement. But learning to accept that sensitivity can be a strength has allowed me to feel in control of my identity again.
Yes, I’m sensitive, but I choose how to express that. And I choose whether to make it an issue – or a superpower.
Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled – whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity — positively or negatively — and what the label means to them.
If you would like to get involved please email email@example.com
How are you managing your money?
It’s pretty likely you fall into one of two camps: The brilliant organised one with a budget and a savings plan or the person who means to save but keeps finding they have too much month at the end of the money.
What these two camps have in common is a worry that they’re doing everything wrong.
How I Save sets out to soothe money worries and open up the conversation around personal finance. Each week we track someone’s spending and saving, then get them some expert advice on how they can save better. The idea is that we can all learn from their bank balance and personal saving techniques, while also seeing that we’re not alone in our saving struggles.
This week we’re following Charli (not her real name), a 24-year-old communications executive living in Birmingham.
How Charli saves:
I earn £21,000 a year. In my savings account right now I have £9,450.
I’ve saved this much money by making sure the first thing I do when I get paid is put between £450 to £600 in my savings account, depending on how expensive I predict the month being.
I’m saving for a house deposit. I’m one year into a five-year plan culminating, hopefully, in purchasing a two-bedroom house with a garden somewhere in a picturesque part of the West Midlands with my boyfriend. We spend a lot of time browsing Zoopla and it definitely helps motivate our saving! Once I hit the £10,000 savings mark (a completely arbitrary personal goal I’ve always wanted to say I’ve achieved) I’m going to open a LISA (Lifestyle Instant Saver Account) and try to max out those savings and government bonuses. Not all my savings will go on the house, though; I’m also saving for general life emergencies.
The main way I save is by having a frugal outlook! I grew up poor, and my natural instinct is to squirrel away as much excess as possible because you never know when you suddenly won’t have that regular income.
I was made redundant last year and although I found a new job relatively fast, my savings buffer did my mental and financial health a world of good in a hugely stressful time. My boyfriend is equally careful with money, and saving is ingrained in all our decisions. When we moved in together, we chose the cheapest flat possible, and made it cosy with furniture and furnishings found mostly for free, and we do regular big online food shops based around weekly meal planning.
I also love vouchers and cashback offers, do my Christmas and birthday gift shopping throughout the year to spead the cost, and get most of my clothes from charity shops and eBay – I get a genuine thrill from bargain hunting and upcycling, plus I offset new purchases by selling clothes I no longer wear back onto eBay and keeping my ‘clothing fund’ separate in PayPal, away from my main bank account.
I do still sometimes struggle with saving though, because I don’t always keep track of the little purchases – coffee and pastries being the prime, if clichéd, example! Coffee shops were the one financial frivolity my parents had when I was growing up – we’d spend hours people-watching over a hot beverage – and now I have a regular income I find myself on the go, getting coffees, pastries and general snacky bits without really noticing how quickly those little things add up.
I also get frustrated by just not having a higher salary but frankly, who doesn’t?
How Charli spends:
A week of spending:
Monday: It’s a rare day out of the office on a client visit today. I spend £4.45 on a pain au chocolat, Weetabix drink, fruit bar and spare pack of pens. The meeting is long and awkwardly timed, and I have no choice but to get a late lunch at Pret on my way back – a dissatisfying £3.98.
In the evening I swing by the big Primark for underwear – mainly winter tights – which comes to £9.50, then some bits for dinner from Sainsbury’s, costing £3.70.
Total spent on Monday: £21.63
Tuesday: I get a pain au chocolat and fruit bar en route to work, costing £1.45. I made a packed lunch, which makes me feel slightly better after yesterday.
The weather is awful, so I Amazon Prime one of those sturdy umbrellas that supposedly can’t be blown inside out, which sets me back £14.70 but has excellent reviews and was on a limited time offer.
Total spent on Tuesday: £16.15
Wednesday: I start the day with a hearty bowl of porridge at home – if I eat too many more pain au chocolats this week I’ll start to look like one. I go out for lunch with my colleagues, which comes to £7.75, and win a skirt on eBay costing £4 including postage, although this comes out of my PayPal account so doesn’t affect my actual bank account.
Total spent on Wednesday: £11.75
Thursday: Breakfast at home and a packed lunch today. No money spent, and a refund for a faulty jacket comes through from eBay in the evening, meaning my PayPal account ends the day £7.90 better off. Result!
Total spent on Thursday: £0
Friday: Feeling queasy and running late this morning, I skip breakfast and don’t have time to make a packed lunch. There’s a pop-up street food market near my office today, so I head over there for lunch instead. It costs me £4.50 and the nice lady on the stall throws in a couple of free vegetable spring rolls as well.
On the way home I impulsively spend £2 on chocolate because it’s That Time Of The Month and the bars are on offer.
Total spent on Friday: £6.50
Saturday: I’m heading up North to visit a friend this weekend. My return train ticket costs £43.85, then a bus ticket from the city centre to her house is a further £2.50.
We debate going out out but the weather is grim (that umbrella I got on Tuesday serves me well) and freshers’ flu has landed among her housemates so we decide to stay in, watch Netflix, and make pizzas instead. She pays for all the ingredients which is very kind and makes for a wonderfully cheap Saturday night!
Total spent on Saturday: £46.35
Sunday: My friend and I venture out a little further today, visiting a mini zoo that costs £7 to enter. We spend a happy few hours wandering around looking at meerkats and crocodiles, among other things, and have lunch out too, which costs me a further £7.30.
We have to take several buses over the course of the day, so I buy a £4.50 day rider ticket. I also spend £5 on some Quorn bits for dinner that evening as I’ll be the only vegetarian in the house.
Total spent on Sunday: £23.80
Total spent this week: £126.18
How Charli could save:
We spoke to the experts over at money tracking app Cleo to find out how Charli can save better (and what we can learn from her spending).
Note: the advice featured is specific to one individual and doesn’t constitute financial advice, especially for a London budget.
Here’s what Cleo said:
The perfect blend of frugal and frivolous. You set a fine example for us all. Applause.
If we’re being picky, we’d like to know a bit more about those breakfast buys. Are they making your mornings feel glamorous, or would you actually (secretly) rather have porridge at home?
Also, maybe double-check that your “clothes fund” is definitely there to help you control your spending, and not to help you convince yourself it doesn’t count.
By no means a vice, but if you’re after a higher salary, are there any training courses or skills you’d love to learn that would help you justify a pay rise?
Where you’re going right:
Pretty much everywhere.
Whacking over 30% of your pay into savings each month is truly stunning work.
We’re not fans of the ‘dissatisfying’ £3.98 you spent at Pret, but we love how emotionally in touch you are with your spending. Being quick to match a post-spend mood to a purchase helps you understand what’s actually adding value to your life. Financial frivolities can be great value for money, as your coffee shop memories prove.
For anyone reading: Ever tried looking back over your week’s transactions and sorting your purchases into ‘happy’ and ‘unhappy’ spends? It’s handy for working out the real suspects behind all your money regret.
We don’t think you really need help here, but your excellent saving habits made the maths really easy.
Safe to spend: £460 a month. This includes your monthly expenses, a breakfast fund and any lunches you have out.
Safe to save: Let’s go for your upper saving limit of £600 a month. This means you’ll exceed your £10k savings goal next payday!
Safe to burn: £425 is safe to burn each month. Use this for your clothes fund, umbrellas, and financial frivolities.
You’re doing a brilliant job. We’re so excited for you to kit out your new place in that picturesque part of the West Midlands.
How I Save is a weekly series about how people spend and save, out every Thursday. If you’d like to anonymously share how you spend and save – and get some expert advice on how to sort out your finances – get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A woman who identifies as a cat by dressing up as one, climbing and drinking from a bowl says it’s her ‘true self’.
Kat Lyons from Colorado has been a kitten since she was in high school and says it has helped her bond with her boyfriend.
The 31-year-old met her partner aerospace engineer Robrecht Berg, 52, at a comic con eight months ago.
Despite their 21-year age gap and judgment from other people over Kat’s roleplay, the couple says they are happily in love.
The model works at Cat Girl Manor – a residence in Colorado Springs which hosts animal roleplay at BDSM events.
She says seeing other women dress like cats and embrace their feline side helped her to own her identity.
Boyfriend Rob, who doesn’t dress up as anything else himself, organises roleplay events and is enthusiastic about Kat’s roleplay.
Kat said: ‘I have always been different. I just always had a fascination with cats and I felt myself, I’m a cat. I go through life being a cat – it’s just who I am.
‘I’ve always worn cat ears. It started when I was in high school, I don’t remember exactly what age I was but it [came from] an anime.
‘I was like, “Oh, that’s cool. I want to be that in real life”. So I just started applying that to my real life. I don’t think I started the ears, tail, the collar, and all that stuff until later on.’
When she first started dressing as a cat, she was bullied in school.
It was later on, when she came across the Cat Girl Manor, she started doing it regularly.
Rob, who works as an artist, didn’t think it was that peculiar when he first met her. He said: ‘She might have been wearing ears at the time but I didn’t notice that.
‘It wasn’t until talking to her on Messenger later that I found out that she was more into the kitten side of things and did that regularly since she was a teenager.’
‘Everyone has something different that they do. I see it as another outlet for a person to enjoy, relax, be themselves and be creative.’
In their relationship, Kat is submissive while Rob plays master.
Though the set-up works for them, Kat’s family was concerned, particularly with her kitten identity.
‘My family and certain people are not accepting and they don’t want to know anything about it,’ Kat said.
‘It’s hard but I’m going to be who I am no matter if people are going to be accepting of this lifestyle or not. I’m just going to be who I am.’
Regardless, Kat adds that being a cat is her happy space.
‘Growing up I had to pretend to be normal and not be the cat person but now I get to be myself,’ she explains. ‘I get to express myself, I get to climb, if I want to climb, I can if I want to drink out of a bowl, I can if I want to wear a collar, if I want to wear my ears, I can do it.
‘I don’t have anybody stopping me saying: “Okay, well, you need to be normal”. Now I can just be myself.’
My Girlfriend Identifies As A Cat
In the words of The Nightmare Before Christmas, ‘this is Halloween’.
And that means a whole day of ghoulish fun lies ahead, from dressing up in all manner of costumes (although Kevin Hart seems to have won Halloween already), playing spooky games and, of course, going trick or treating.
In fact for many younger Halloween fans, that’s the highlight of the day – but just where did the tradition of heading from house to house in costume in search of bucketloads of candy actually come from?
Here’s what you need to know – and also when to set out if you plan on trick or treating tonight.
Why do we go trick or treating on Halloween?
Although trick or treating in its current form didn’t really become a part of Halloween until the 20th Century, it has its origins in ancient history.
During some Celtic celebrations of Samhain – a harvest festival marking the beginning of winter – villagers would disguise themselves in costumes meant to ward off spirits, as well as leaving tables of food out to placate them.
The practice of ‘mumming’ – dressing up as ghosts, demons and other creatures and performing short scenes from plays in exchange for food and drink – was also popular in the Middle Ages.
This is thought to be an ancient forerunner to modern day trick or treating, with suggestion the custom may have come from the belief that the souls of the dead roamed the earth on Halloween and needed to be appeased.
Another custom, souling, saw poor people visiting the homes of wealthier people at the start of November and asking for food in exchange for praying for the souls of the dead.
However, trick or treating as we know it was first seen in the US around the 1920s, as immigrants to the States brought the customs with them.
Although it’s unclear where the ‘trick or treat’ name came from the custom began in the western US states and Canada before spreading across the country.
It was paused during the Second World War on account of sugar rationing, but returned in the 1950s and has been big business ever since.
A report from the National Confectioners Association in the US estimated in 2015 that around 64 per cent of Americans will go out trick or treating on Halloween.
The practice has also become increasingly popular in the UK, although some still aren’t too keen.
According to a 2006 survey, over half of British homeowners will turn off their lights and pretend not to be home on Halloween in a bid to keep trick or treaters at bay.
What time do people start trick or treating?
There are no official hours for trick or treating, but it traditionally happens in the evening after sunset.
Most people – especially those with young children – will go in the early evening, and with the clocks having gone back it’s dark by around 5pm, giving plenty of opportunity to go at that time.
While trick or treating has become more popular in the UK, it’s also worth remembering that not everybody wants to be called upon.
A useful rule is that if a house is displaying Halloween decorations or has a pumpkin in the window, it’s usually safe to assume those people are celebrating Halloween.
However if a property does not have decorations or has a No Trick Or Treaters sign in the window, it’s likely they want to be left alone.
Trick or Treat
Texting the wrong number can provide lots of laughs… or just be met with confusion.
One man whose number was accidentally added to a group chat decided to play it cool and get involved in the conversation.
A guy named Bobby was added to the chat of the Garret family,who were discussing the birth of a new baby.
Zachary Garret and his wife were at the hospital preparing for the arrival of their newborn.
When they went to update the family in the group chat which included an adorable ‘meemaw’, they were alarmed that a stranger had been part of it.
But luckily for them, nice guy Bobby was honoured to be involved and even offered them a gift.
He sent a selfie and wrote to the Garrets: ‘Don’t know how I got added to this group, cause I don’t think I know anyone in it!! LOL But anywho CONGRATS ZACH!!
‘My name is Bobby by the way,’ he added. ‘Shoot me your Cashapp info and I will donate to the diapers.’
Zach was a little taken aback by the response but was touched by the stranger’s kindness.
The new dad was apologetic to Bobby for the mishap, which he felt embarrassed by.
He told Bobby that it was their grandmother (Meemaw) who added Zach’s old number from his military days.
Bobby, the new owner of Zach’s old number, didn’t mind so much. He insisted on getting the new parents a present.
He wrote to them: ‘Anytime another life comes to us is a blessing and a beautiful thing!.
‘Just happy to see people happy! I’m serious tho, I will donate to the diapers cuz you can’t ever have enough’.
Zach found Bobby’s selfie hilarious and was honoured to receive money for nappies for his new child.
He told Romper: ‘When we first heard from him I was a little embarrassed that me and my grandmother were talking away with him stuck in our group chat, but his selfie brought so much humor to the situation.
‘We all had a good laugh! Bobby could have been really rude or told us to take him out of our chat but he didn’t. He was so nice about it!’
What a good sport.
Man accidentally added to family group chat sends money to new parents
Or you could stay inside your home, eat all the sweets on your own and get on with your day as if nobody has draped their front door in spider webs.
Some of us just cannot get into the ghoulish spirit on October 31 – and that’s absolutely fine. I wholeheartedly support your right to be a Halloween Grinch. I once went to work as Taylor Swift’s cat and frankly I don’t think I’ll ever top that costume, so I won’t try.
Inevitably, one or some of your friends will want to celebrate, though – and all power to them.
But your Halloween-loving pals are likely going to want you to join in, even against your will and better judgment.
So, how do we navigate the most frightening prospect of all this time of year: losing a friend over a ridiculous, pumpkin-scented festivity? Let’s talk it through.
Unless your mate is an actual ghost, you don’t have to go to their Halloween party
Do you have to show up at your friend’s Halloween bash? In a word: nah. You really don’t have to go if you truly don’t want to.
If it were your friend’s birthday, an engagement party, a hen do or a child’s birthday, I’d encourage you to attend – because these events have some sort of emotional connection to the person you call your friend.
It is important to be there on the days that matter, when we can, and an RSVP ‘yes’ is a lovely little gesture of support for someone you love.
Halloween does not fall into this category.
Unless your friend is a literal ghost or for some reason has an extremely sentimental attachment to this spooky day, you can excuse yourself from the festivities if that’s what you’d prefer.
Would a vampire or a ghoul spend a moment of their immortal lives worrying about disappointing their friend by not turning up to their shindig? No, they would not.
Stay home or do as I am going to do this year: go to an Italian restaurant with a lovely friend and gorge on delicious pasta, without once mentioning the fact that it’s Halloween.
Buy a packet of Fangtastics on the way home, if you want to get in on the sweets-eating aspect of the day, which is truly the only thing that matters.
It’s OK not to make any effort with your Halloween outfit (or to skip it altogether)
So you have decided to actually attend your friend’s Halloween party. The next question, naturally, is about whether you have to go in fancy dress.
The answer, again, is pretty much: nah. I don’t condone a dress code that makes people feel uncomfortable.
You’re welcome to go half-hearted with your costume, like wearing a scary hat or drawing a skeleton shape on your face. You could go with a low-key costume, like going as Clark Kent before he transforms into Superman.
The best Halloween hack is to turn up in your completely ordinary clothes and claim you’re dressed as an off-duty celebrity, or whatever. Dress as a sensible human being who doesn’t like Halloween, if you want – they can wear whatever they like.
If your friend is angry with you for not properly getting into the spirit of Halloween, then may I suggest she find a better way to measure your loyalty than by commitment to a fancy dress theme?
Truly, if she’s gauging how good a friend you are by your willingness to suit up, wear false teeth or paint your face in Day of the Dead designs, then she’s going about this whole friendship thing wrong.
Excuse yourself from the dress code and don’t feel bad about it, but if you’re worried you might feel awkward, chuck on a witch’s hat, a cape or something else that’s cheap and easy to find.
Your friends should respect that you don’t like Halloween
If Halloween spooks you out or you just don’t want to get dressed up, simply say so to your friend.
She or he should absolutely respect your objections and/or laziness here.
Personally, I am comically easily frightened, have a phobia of blood and do not like vampires, ghosts, ghouls, skeletons or corpses.
Sure, I’ll check Instagram to see what Neil Patrick Harris, his husband and their children wear this year because they’re the most extra famous family at Halloween and I find it amusing – but otherwise I’m opting out, and so can you.
If your friend doesn’t take you seriously – or worse, makes fun of you – for objecting to Halloween, you have three options. Confront this person for being rude, enjoy someone else’s company or go home and have a nap to recover from having to defend your perfectly normal holiday preferences.
Tell your friends that you have no interest in their parties, their fancy dress codes or their frightening makeup tutorials.
It’s entirely valid to be morally allergic to Halloween, and your friends should respect that. If they don’t, they don’t deserve any of the Haribo sweets.
Make a big enough deal about hating Halloween this year and you’ll get away with missing it every year, if you want to. Enjoy your night in.
Josh Rivers is sorry, and he wants you to know that he means it.
The 33-year-old become the first BAME editor of Gay Times before he was fired, after only a month in the role, in a very public scandal when a string of old antisemetic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist tweets were brought to light.
The tweets were bad… really bad. Now, Josh says he’s more than willing to pay the price for what he said.
‘I will apologise as long as I need to. An apology is the least I can do,’ Josh tells Metro.co.uk.
‘But you have to back up your apologies with work, then people need to be able to see a demonstration of your remorse, of your regret, of your grief, of your apology. Otherwise, it’s nothing.
‘There aren’t a lot of great examples of people who are owning their mistakes and then doing the work to rectify that.
‘People seem more concerned with protecting their reputation.’
So, what is Josh doing to actively demonstrate his remorse and regret?
He has rededicated his efforts to amplify voices from his community; the queer black community. He launched a podcast – Busy Being Black – to start the vital conversations that he says would have helped him to feel less isolated when he was growing up.
His episodes discuss reconciling homosexuality with religion, the connection between transphobia and anti-Blackness, questioning if there’s a space for queerness in hip hop.
Josh says the response to the podcast has been overwhelmingly positive – he tells me how he called his mother in tears after receiving a message from a listener who said one of the episodes made him feel proud to be black and gay.
This validation is much needed. When the news of the offensive tweets broke, Josh found himself in the firing line of everyone he had pissed off – which was pretty much everyone – and it almost broke him.
‘It was devastating, obviously,’ Josh tells Metro.co.uk.
‘I don’t think anyone wants to have their mistakes made so public. But I did make them very publicly. So it kind of follows that this kind of thing might happen.’
He calls what he said on Twitter in his early to mid 20s ‘heinous s***’. He says people responded ‘as they should have’, with outrage.
‘I think that people’s response to that was, for the most part, fair,’ he continues. ‘If people weren’t upset by what I said, that’s kind of a problem, right?’
We live in a moment where our every action, opinion, argument is played out in the public sphere. An ill-thought-out comment or poorly-judged tweet can lead to an online pile-on, a mass public shaming that can cause anxiety, reputational damage, or even get you fired.
‘Cancel culture’ can be corrosive and damaging, but the flip side of that argument is that it also allows for people in prominent positions to be held accountable for their actions.
Josh doesn’t think what he went through can be conflated with ‘cancel culture’ or ‘outrage culture’. He says it’s all too easy for people to call out the unfairness of public reaction, rather than take responsibility for what they did.
‘I think that I paid a dear price, but the right price, for my very public mistakes,’ says Josh.
‘It’s right that we speak up when someone makes a mistake. And the onus really is on the person who’s made that mistake to go; “I’ve really f***ed up, how can I make this better?”
‘This “cancel culture” thing is almost like a disavowal all of our individual responsibility. The issue is not that people are calling you out for your bulls***. The issue is that you’re galloping around the world like a d***head. That’s the issue.’
Josh is certain that he’s doing the work to put things right. Both for himself, and, more importantly, for the people he wants to help. He says that regaining the trust of his community is one of the biggest challenges for him.
‘I’m really interested in making sure that the people I’m here to serve trust me,’ he says. ‘And know they can rely on me to work in service of them and our collective liberation.
‘I do consider myself an activist. My activism is amplifying the voices of people who have historically been silenced.
‘I operate at the very specific intersection of queerness and blackness. That’s where I do my work. And that is who I’m doing this work for, so I’m not interested in what the people I’m not aiming to serve think or say.’
Josh says losing the support of the community he identifies so strongly with in the aftermath of getting fired was ’emotionally devastating’. He had spent years of his life devoting his career and personal life to be an active part of the queer community, and he felt like he lost it in a matter of hours.
‘But in some ways, it kind of made it easier for me to focus,’ says Josh. ‘I was like, right, you’ve been knocked off a path, but your purpose is to serve people. What are you going to do now? Now what?’
Now what, was building a new platform to centre black queerness.
‘I’m speaking this into existence: Busy Being Black will be a multimedia platform for queer black voices and experiences,’ says Josh.’
But is it a consolation prize after losing a position at one of the most influential gay publications in media? Josh doesn’t see it that way. He says this podcast is a powerful amalgamation of ‘collective and collected wisdom’.
It means a lot to him because it was born out of struggle, and with the help of the people who were there for him during one of hardest times of his life.
‘I was surrounded by all these incredible queer black people who were admonishing me, saying; “you really f***ed up”, but were also holding me up at the same time, telling me I was gonna be okay, I was gonna get through this.
‘It was less about me and my very public mistakes, but rather about this remarkable wisdom that they were sharing with me. I just felt like people need to hear this.
‘There will be other people who have made really public mistakes, or private mistakes, that they regret, they will be searching for something. I thought; maybe I can take this experience that I’ve had and turn it into something useful, positive and good.’
What has Josh learned in the two years since his very public fall from grace? He says he has spent time looking inward and addressing the root causes of his behaviour.
He says he had a distinct lack of role models when he came out; he doesn’t say this as an excuse, but hopes it at least offers some explanation.
‘My idea of gay culture was very white. It was very acerbic and it was very mean,’ Josh tells us.
‘I think I learned growing up, as did many of my generation, that to survive being gay, you had to be this incredibly witty, sardonic, devastating person in order to protect yourself.
Josh says he never had any black, gay people that he could look to for inspiration, or guidance – and that is what he is hoping to change for the next generation.
‘As I’ve come into my own, had various awakenings about my queerness and my blackness, and the very particular intersection of both, I think it has been so important for me to make public, some of my own learning, mistakes, failures, hopes and dreams, so young brown boys don’t feel so excluded or lost.’
Josh Rivers Headshot BW-3fd7
Dogs are an amazing pick-me-up even at the best of times. Who could resist a cuddle with a furry friend?
When that dog knows you’re struggling, however, and has even been through the exact same thing as you, it’s an even bigger help.
Taka, a nine-year-old Shiba Inu, knows only too well what the burns victims he works with have been through. That’s because he, too, was injured in the same way.
In October 2018, Taka was burned in a house fire, losing fur on his face and going through emotional trauma as a result.
He was adopted by his vet, Crystal Lesley, but began to act out and fight her other dogs due to his emotional problems.
Crystal told news station WRDW, from their native Georgia, ‘I didn’t know if I was going to be able to keep Taka and it was breaking my heart.’
Things began to look up, though, when he began training. Crystal had initially thought this wouldn’t be effective due to Taka’s age, but he took to it right away.
Mandy Foster, who trained Taka after his accident, said: ‘He’s nine years old and he has flown through his training. He’s brilliant.’
One of the main things she’s worked with Taka on is his ability to focus while distractions are happening around him.
The first stage of his qualifications to work for local burns centres will be to get his Canine Good Citizen award from the American Kennel Club.
This will show that he’s able to complete certain commands and react well to situations like being left alone for short periods of time or meeting and being petted by strangers.
From there, Mandy says she’ll work to get Taka up to standard as a therapy dog for those who’ve been through similar things to him.
‘He’s got the right temperament for it,’ Mandy said.
‘Of course he has the scars to show for it and he can relate to a lot of the people there so I think it’s going to benefit both him and the patients there.’
As well as training to help children, he was honoured this month at a benefit for burn foundation families and patients called I’m With the Band.
He was named the official ambassador for the JMS Burn Center, and was named as one of America’s Dogs of the Year.
Crystal is delighted at the changes Taka has gone through. She said: ‘Because of [Mandy] I can keep Taka.
‘To see that he could be an encouragement or at least a light at the end of the tunnel for a child or anybody that has gone through what he’s gone through is what all of this is about.’
Keep up the good work, Taka!
Shiba Inu burned in house fire becomes therapy dog for human burn victims Picture: Care More Animal Hospital METROGRAB
These older people aren’t content with a life of bingo and knitting needles just yet.
Residents at Sherwood Grange, a care home that provides full-time residential and dementia care, in Kingston Vale, London, were more interested in another hobby.
The home allows residents to take up any activities they fancy – so when they requested the opportunity to draw a nude model, the care team immediately set to work to organise one, even asking the budding artists what type of model they would like
They requested that staff find ‘a nice handsome’ man to visit them alongside an artist so they could get in touch with their creative sides.
Some have already been on a sketching trip in France and taken part in watercolour painting at the home and at the nearby Dorich House Museum but they wanted a new challenge.
With the help of professional artist and life drawing teacher Robin Rutherford, the 12 residents learnt how to sketch the body in a new way.
Sherwood Grange is part of the Care UK group, who is sponsoring a month-long festival called The Big Draw.
The festival promotes drawing as a tool for learning, expression and invention, with more than 60 care homes across the UK taking part, but as the team and residents at Sherwood Grange have a special love for painting and drawing, the staff decided to do something memorable to mark the end of the Big Draw festival.
Rick Mayne, home manager at Sherwood Grange, said: ‘Most people expect life in a care home to be a certain way – but here at Sherwood Grange we’re keen to ensure that there are no limitations and every day can be different and fun.
‘Life in our care home is all about helping people to enjoy more independent and fulfilling lives – and today that meant expanding people’s experiences and doing something out of the ordinary.
‘It’s fair to say we’ve never had a nude model at the home before – but based on the response we may well do again!’
The residents loved their class, with one commenting that they loved how the class hadn’t been ‘dumbed down’ for them, while another asked for them to hold another class with a different model soon.
Artist Robin Rutherford said: ‘I found the residents and team members at Sherwood Grange to be really welcoming and it was a privilege to work with a group of open-minded people keen for new artistic experiences.’