Why pumpkin success comes back to haunt me on Halloween

When it comes to pumpkin carving and I, the phrase ‘peaking too soon’ hits the nail on the head.

I was as good at art at school as Albie is at standing up currently without falling on the floor with a dramatic thud.

But education failed to uncover my niche, instead trying to hone my hopelessness in the art of watercolours and still life.

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The kind of face I expected had I not made an effort carving something decent into Albie’s first pumpkin

They never taught pumpkin carving, did they! No grabbing the gourd and letting our imaginations run wild.

Four years ago, for one night only, I found my spark of artistic talent.

Every year I bang on about this Gruffalo pumpkin – famous in my little world for being the one time a Picasso-like vision in my brain didn’t turn out to be a massive failure, like when Prue Leith told everyone who won Bake Off a day early.

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Gruffalo. Pumpkin. Yes!

In my appalling art ‘career’, it’s the only thing I have to hold onto which was a success. The thing actually looked like the Gruffalo!

But back then I was childless. Now, as Albie approached his first Halloween, I had to try to pull something out of the bag to get some way towards my past success.

Clearly, I’d have been a terrible parent had I carved my usual stickman design into the pumpkin we’d hand picked the other week , only for him to complain when he was bigger that I’d made tonnes more effort when he wasn’t here.

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Calm before the storm

Last year we were preparing to go into hospital to begin what would become a mind-numbing couple of days in a stuffy ward, twiddling our thumbs during a failed induction process – before finally meeting Albie courtesy of a C-section.

On reflection, the boy was lucky I carved him a pumpkin at all, and didn’t instead mark the occasion with a reconstructive walk round and round…and round Worthing Hospital, pointing out the same posters we saw during that fruitless induction.

But not having thought this through, I set upon trying to emulate the pumpkin performance of 2014.

Mike Wazowski of Monsters Inc fame was the ambition. As with the Gruffalo, I looked up the best of the internet’s efforts and attempted to replicate freehand what they had produced.

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Here’s how it SHOULD have looked…

Using a stencil (or even proper tools), always seemed a bit of a cheat. In hindsight it would have been a sensible approach, given the main issue behind me becoming a journalist and not the next Monet was the lack of ability to draw.

Struggling to draw symmetrical circles – even on paper – also made spherical Mike a terrible candidate…but this is what I came up with:

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Yeah, well remarkably people guessed what ‘it’ was!

I’d like to say our first Halloween was a memorable family occasion, however I fear Albie is a bit too young to have acquired the patience for a well crafted pumpkin.

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Early enthusiasm quickly waned…

He was present for the photocall, like all good public figures. He stayed for the food (rice cakes, mostly thrown on the floor), had a nibble on some raw pumpkin before wisely consigning that to the floor, too, and left me to my own devices while he relaxed in front of the TV with his Mummy.

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And back to revel in the glory

Keen not to only celebrate my victories, I shared this slightly disappointing effort on Facebook. Remarkably, some people clocked the resemblance.

Cheques to those quick to reply are in the post!

Parents – a word of advice: start simple and stick simple. You’ll regret creating a monster in future years…