So, the long-eyelashed object of your affections, long swooned over in lectures or flirted with over formal during the opening weeks of term, has finally sashayed over to you and asked you out… Or perhaps, complacently coupled-up, you’ve neglected your beloved over the last few weeks in favour of essays, rowing, frolicking in theatres, procrastinating and the like, and need to arrange a special evening in order to put the spark back into the relationship… But your eyes fly to your calendar – now is the season of Hallowe’en, the time for ghosties, ghoulies, long-leggedy beasties, turnip lanterns, small children dressing up in white sheets and so on – surely the antithesis of romance? How can a date be arranged in such witchily unamorous circumstances? Well, of course, one obvious way round this would be to loftily ignore your calendar, and make your romantic plans as though it were an entirely unremarkable time of year – the middle of March, say. But surely it would be much more fun to embrace the spooky season in all its black and orange delights, and plan your love life accordingly?
Say you fancy a drink… Although the bar formerly known as the Vaults on Trinity Street recently changed its name to the altogether less mysterious-sounding, Depot, its series of interconnecting cellar rooms and its spindly wrought iron chairs still have a suitably gothic feel to them. Obvious drinks to order are a Bloody Mary, a Black Magic (vodka, blackberry Sambuca), or the charmingly named Frog in a Blender (crushed ice, vodka, cranberry juice and partially-blended lime wheels). Admittedly, ordering this last for your beloved would not be an excessively romantic gesture. However, if homemade cocktail-making is more your style (or if you’re particularly good at charming bartenders into making bizarre concoctions), you could try flirting over the following: a Dracula’s Kiss (black cherry vodka, grenadine, coke and maraschino cherries), a Corpse Reviver (apple brandy, cognac, sweet vermouth) or Jack O’Tini (vodka, pumpkin juice, orange juice and lemon juice, all served inside a baby pumpkin).
However, should you prefer your dates to incorporate food in some variety, try cooking a seasonal meal – not only will this earn you many brownie points from the recipient of your culinary efforts (assuming that what you have cooked is, in fact, edible – although alternatively you could argue, I suppose, that you were going for an authentically hellish-tasting experience), but there are many delectable Hallowe’en-centric delights to be served up – toad-in-the-hole, for example, followed by pumpkin pie. The autumn-bright pumpkin-shaped cakes currently sitting plumply in the window at Fitzbillies would make for a particularly scrumptious finishing touch. Served by candlelight and garnished with ghost stories told over dinner, all your ghoulish, romantic and greedy impulses should thus be satisfied.
Sadly, for those wishing to encourage their sweethearts to leap squealingly into the air in a cinema auditorium, there seems to be rather a dearth of horror flicks out at the moment. The slightly ludicrous-sounding ‘30 Days of Night’, which contains Josh Hartnett and vampires, seems the main thing the Cambridge cinemas have to offer. But when curling up with a suitably spine-chilling DVD, the potential for romantic interaction is high – in particular, the burying of one’s face in a lover’s shoulder in lieu of hiding behind cushions (though done to whimpering, excess this may be considered slightly anaphrodisiac), which conveniently allows a strong, comforting arm to be put around one. Hallowe’en, Scream, Dawn of the Dead, Event Horizon (which I have not seen, but has become enshrined in my mind as the scariest film ever after a particularly tough, black-belt-in-Judo friend of mine revealed that he was too scared to go downstairs by himself after seeing it) are all good choices – just bring popcorn, ice cream and a particularly enticing shoulder.
Finally, the great outdoors. Broadly speaking, walking through graveyards late at night has all the advantages outlined above, although with less ice cream. Hiding around corners and jumping out at your beloved, however, is very silly indeed and contains no romance whatsoever. Alternatively, the Cambridge ghost walk is a suitably spine-chilling way to spend an evening. Held every Friday at 6pm, the tour leads participants around Cambridge’s most haunted places, from the archway outside Peterhouse (exorcised twice) to the Rainbow Café (who knew?). Not so high on the romance stakes, perhaps, but spookily informative. And there’s nothing like the thought of a malign supernatural presence to make you lean just that little bit closer to each other on the way home…