Alison Goulding: Halloween spam

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I AM worried. Like Julia Roberts in Sleeping with the Enemy I have allowed both man and monster into my home.

Except I am not talking about a man, I am talking about a coat.

The saga began on Saturday morning while browsing the charidee shops of Sunderland with a friend. It was all looking a bit unpromising until we spotted a sliver of something interesting between two matronly blouses.

It was a genuine 1970s carpet coat weighing at least 7lbs and oozing with tramp chic. I tried it on and felt my back buckle slightly.

“I don’t want it,” I said, as I handed over my credit card to the shopkeeper.

I was lying, I did want it – I wanted it more than I wanted to go out with the beautiful boy called Patrick in my junior school who had sooty eyelashes and a tan.

As soon as I got home I realised there was something to consider that I had not considered while standing in the shop and falling in love with The Coat and its natty leather trim

The pickle in the pudding is this: The Coat appears to be haunted by The Stink. It smells strongly of dust with undertones of dust and a keynote of ...dust.

It is the kind of smell that can only be achieved by a decade of absolute stillness in a very old and mothball-free cupboard.

Over the years I’ve had the jumper that came with the smell of pets, the scarf that came from smoker’s paradise and a leather wallet that whiffed of death and had a pocket stuffed full of obituaries.

The jumper went in the bin, the scarf went back to the charity shop and the leather wallet disappeared – probably when the ghost of its old owner came back to get her death notices.

Never before have I encountered the dust stink though – it is the kind of smell that taps you on the shoulder then pokes you in the face.

“The coat is a disaster,” I pointed out to the aforementioned friend.

“No it isn’t,” she said bluntly, “It’s amazing.”

Darkly I disagreed, though not aloud.

I then Febreezed it to an abnormally high level but to no avail. The smell of dust was as strong as ever.

It’s now been in the bathroom for three days, in the hope that steam and expensive bubble bath will permeate its dusty resilience. Every time I go in to clean my teeth I give it a sniff... so far, no progress.

The whole situation comes down to a choice. Do I care more about the coat and the way it looks or more about the nostrils that surround me on a daily basis?

I live in daily hope that The Stink will depart or I’m going to have to take serious action. But who do I call? The dry-cleaners or an exorcist?

HERE at the Echo we get sent some real random nonsense from promotion companies.

Two week ago the boss got a phone call telling him to expect a tin of ‘Halloween Spam’. There was no explanation about what might make it specifically Halloweeny, but presumably it was meant to be even more terrifying than normal Spam.

Sadly we will never know, since it never turned up. This did not stop the senders of the Halloween Spam making enquiries though, and they called on Monday to grill my boss on his thoughts about Halloween Spam.

He explained that the Spam had gone AWOL but they seemed distrustful of this.

“Look - you don’t forget Halloween Spam,” he said, and hung up. Never a truer word was spoken.