When making counts and comparisons of those in employment, the canny statistician knows to take account of seasonal work. Labourers are taken on to harvest crops in late summer, even in this age of mechanised agriculture, and temporary Christmas workers boost December’s employment figures. Late October is not a common time for seasonal work, but I saw just this on a trip to London yesterday. I walked past a fancy dress shop, with a queue of customers 60 metre long standing outside. There were three black-jacketed security guards, one at the head of the queue with a megaphone and a cigarette (1), two others chatting near a door that had been demarcated exit-only. One came over to megaphone man, and they had a chat (2). These guys had been brought in* to manage that new festival of consumer capitalism, Halloween**.

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* and so I admit they were not ‘seasonal workers’, properly defined, being employed by the security firms for other events; I used the term ‘seasonal work’ to make the point that many work tasks are not jobs for life.

** a non-commercialised version of Halloween, and (more devilishly) Mischief Night goes way back to a time before fancy dress shops were around to hire out sexy Zombie costumes.