Choccy bribe is ghastly

28th October 2005 at 01:00
I'm feeling weak. I've just bought a bag of chocolate pumpkins for my class, a half-term halloween present, if you like. But that's just it - I don't like this.

I wonder why? Do I feel that they should be falling over themselves to put chocolate on my desk? Well, yes, I do. But there's something more to this.

You see, giving sweets to children for doing things they should do anyway just isn't my thing. Never has been. And yet it seems to be a growing part of school culture. Gold stars? You must be joking! They want bribes they can eat.

Look at these bags of sweets balanced on files and stuffed into lockers.

"Well, they expect it now..." is something I often hear. And here's me, lamely giving in to their expectations.

Am I afraid of how much worse they'll behave if I don't buy them stuff when so-and-so gives them blah blah? You bet. This is giving with an undertow of appeasement. "They expect it now..." That sounds slightly creepy to me, as if we're keeping something dark and angry at bay.

Well, that's just what halloween used to be about. Giving sweets to children for spooky reasons has been going on for centuries. Across Europe, children once wore halloween masks to represent our dead ancestors. This wasn't just a costume: at transitional times of the year, it was believed that the dead came into close contact with the young.

We gave the children sweets to honour the dead. This satisfied them, sending them safely back to their world and keeping our own in balance. So, we give sweets to kiddies, who eat them for dead people, and this, er, keeps the world in order. Oh, yeah, World Order. The papers are full of that. Every other headline is "World Order kept - again".

Still, it's quite a thought. My bag of little pumpkins connects me with a folk belief in chocolate after death. Well, I want my chocs now, while I can still choose the ones I like.

What if when I'm dead some stupid child keeps bringing me all the coffee creams and lemon fondants that its mother doesn't like? Forget it. I mean, how would you choose chocolates from the grave? "Woooo! Be not afraid, my child. Hear me from beyond the great shadow... Bring me Smarties, but not the blue ones, and also something dark and chewy."

Too bad, kids. You're not getting these. You're no ambassadors from the dead, and this loot is mine. Chomp... 'urp.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today