THIS week, I have been scolded by a girl of around nine years of age - "seriously?" - after admitting that, no, I didn't know which film character she was dressed as.

As she and her garishly garbed friends cheerfully helped themselves to Halloween treats on the doorstep of Weekender Towers, I conceded more quickly than I would have wished - to avoid an embarrassing silence - that I didn't have a clue.

Thus the abyss of ignorance that occasionally opens up to expose my fast-diminishing store of pop cultural knowledge, swallowed me whole. An unforeseen trick played despite my largesse with the confectionery.

Most tiny visitors who knocked on our door on October 31 wore traditional spooky outfits - witches, ghosts, glowing skeleton suits, Frankenstein, Dracula, etc.

But, there's always one. One who likes to be different to the rest. One who likes to stand out a little. One who, having made the effort to stand out, likes to let you know they're standing out.

"Who do you think I am?" she demanded, door barely open, her pals chorusing "trick or treat?"

"Erm, er..."

It was something sci-fi, judging by the fading print of a control panel on the front. But what...?

Eager not to appear completely dim after the precocious one's put-down, I sought to excuse my apparent cluelessness.

"But I thought Darth Vader wore a helmet," I said.

"Yes. But my mum's wearing that," she retorted, in a manner that suggested I ought to know that too.

I sought mum out over the heads of the treat-takers, but alas, she seemed to be skulking in the shadows.

I felt for her. And maybe she felt as I did - as little Darth Vader's merry band trudged back down the garden path - that this Halloween lark is getting out of hand.