Newspaper Column

As The UK Clock Changed, Milliband Almost Got Sacrificed for Halloween

By Babajide Alabi

On the last Sunday of every October , the UK clock is set back by an hour. Three Sundays ago, on the 26th October, 2014, we observed this act which signifies the start of the British winter period. No surprise therefore when after this annual “set back” the cold settles in immediately. This year was a bit different though, winter did not set in as fast as it does yearly. The sun is still out and the cold is bearable with a light jacket.

It sounded strange to me when at the turn of the millennium I arrived in Edinburgh the last Saturday of October and I was informed that the clock would be turned back in the night.. As a born and bred Nigerian I never knew the clock could be adjusted to suit the weather. You only “set” the “grandfather’s clock” forward or backward when it has missed its “beat” or you forgot to service it for a long time. So, to me, you don’t fiddle with clock when there is no need to. However, it is said, when you are in Rome you behave like the Romans.

Among the events that come on the heels of the clock change is the Halloween. I heard about Halloween while in Nigeria. I read it was a night for pagans to celebrate witches. As a result of the “dark” connotation to it, I did not take much interest in it. Though it was not uncommon to see some Nigerian “celebrities” dress up as “masquerades” in the hot weather and pretend to be halloween “buddies”. To me, while in Nigeria, I always thought they all needed psychiatric evaluation.

HERE COMES HALLOWEEN

As a JJC in Edinburgh, I noticed immediately days preceding the Halloween that all stores stocked and displayed the “ingredients” of Halloween – from pumpkin, cobwebs, witches’ hats, fireworks, costumes to good bargains on beer and spirits, especially cider drinks. Every where I turned to, the spirit of Halloween lurked. Schools encouraged children to come dressed in their halloween costumes. And every kid on the street was looking forward to the “trick or treat” which to them is a classic event that gives the liberty to knock on neighbours’ doors and demand sweeties or gifts. For strange reasons, this brings back, every year, the memories of my youth – Christmas in the village visiting Uncles and Aunts.

After I witnessed my first Halloween I tried to justify the hype about it, but till this moment I still cannot understand. And every year, I try very hard not to scream “get away” on the hapless kids that keeps the age long tradition of “trick or treat” going when ever they knock on my front door.

BONFIRE NIGHT

In the same season is the Bonfire Night. My initial idea of a bonfire night was the type we engaged in as Boy Scouts. Go into the bush, sing a few war songs while dancing round an open fire. I was wrong.

There were preparations both by individuals, corporate organisations and local councils before the D-day. The police, fire services etc are usually involved in the planning. My first experience of Bonfire Night was indeed a teachable moment, one that lives on in my mind.

Bonfire Night in Edinburgh was on a different level. I have asked myself many times if it was because that was my first experience. No, I usually answer myself. For five years of the family’s residency in Edinburgh, we made it an annual event to look forward to. I will confess, the impression of the first night was the magnet that always drew me to Bonfire Nights. I was mesmerised by the colourful firework displays. I saw fireworks display like I had never done before in my life. Edinburgh was lit up by fireworks. It was very captivating a spectacle for a Nigerian who had just “landed” in the UK.

After moving to England, I have always enjoyed the Bonfire Night, but none has been as good as my first one in Edinburgh or the subsequent ones I attended in the city. Last week Wednesday was this year’s Bonfire Night and as usual it was a fun night.

FUEL PRICE REDUCTION

Moving on from the Bonfire Night you woke up to the good news that four supermarkets have cut the prices of petrol and diesel. I sighed to myself and said “good things are coming out this season.” These four supermarkets decided to cut one penny off each litre sold. This may “seem” rather small a cut, but it is indeed a big deal, considering the fact that drivers in this country pay one of the highest in Europe for these products. This is why any reduction in price, whether in fraction or whole does have huge impacts.

The recent reduction was however indirectly forced down the throat of the oil companies by government pressure asking them to pass on the benefits of the falling oil prices to UK drivers. It took the intervention of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the Chancellor, George Osborne, to influence these oil companies’ price reduction. Still we need to thank the supermarkets for bringing forecourt prices to under £1.20, the lowest in recent years.

HALLOWEEN SCARE FOR ED MILLIBAND

The Labour leader got seriously ruffled when news leaked last week that some Labour MPs were calling for “his head” and already lining up behind candidates to replace him. It has always been said that Ed MIlliband is not a Prime Minister material, principally for his failure to connect with voters. This recent threat was set off some weeks ago by a story in a leading UK newspaper claiming that former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed concern that if Ed remains as the party leader for the 2015 election Labour is as good as losing to David Cameron. Although the Blair’ camp denied this, analysts felt that was an honest assessment of the situation.

The events to unseat Ed is still unfolding. However, there are strong indications that the election date might be too close for Labour to change Ed for the likes of Andy Johnson or Yvette Cooper or better still Andy Burnham. Moreover the party constitution would have to be changed for this to happen.

I do not pity Ed though. His emergence as Labour leader did leave sour taste in the mouths of some long time Labour supporters. Some have not forgiven him for the “card he dealt” his brother David MIlliband during the election.

It is not as if Ed is not trying though, it’s just that he is seen more as an illusionist than a Prime Minister in waiting. And to be frank, Labour Party does need a fighter as a leader to shrug off UKIP trying to “encroach” it’s domain.

The time shall pass for The Man called “Wallace”.

– See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/11/uk-clock-changed-milliband-almost-got-sacrificed-halloween/#sthash.JHkcPoPp.dpuf

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