Yeah I know, these ones are from just before Halloween, and it’s already December. Halloween, alright grandad, that’s so fifty years ago, we’re decorating gingerbread houses now. The Friday night before Halloween, some of the players from our youth soccer team went to a pumpkin patch (we had a tournament the next day in Roseville, in which teams traditionally wear costumes; we had Spider-Man uniforms, many of the others were really elaborate, one team we played were dressed as Pac-Man ghosts, others dressed as robbers, one team were all cow-girls (the coaches had inflatable horses), one team were aliens, and there was even one team all dressed as Jake from State Farm (the coaches dressed as Flo form Progressive) (they were popular; people like adverts. One team even got the current zany Spurs away kit and all dressed as that. If I hadn’t been coaching that tournament, I would have enjoyed sketching everyone. Unfortunately our team ended up being drawn against some high-level opposition and we lost all our games, but at least the costumes were fun to see. I say high-level, because two of the teams were two divisions above us, while the other one literally play in the foothills of the Sierras, at a higher altitude than Davis. A bit like playing Bolivia, or West Brom. Anyway, the night before we went to the pumpkin patch and I drew some pumpkins, and this big old hearse, which was being driven by a skeleton. Bobby Dazzler’s is the place, it’s just outside Davis. Here are some pumpkins I drew as well. I had to draw them quickly because they were going to turn back into carriages. I’d never been to Bobby Dazzler’s before, it was pretty good. I suppose it made me think of Bobby Davro, a TV light entertainer and panting mimer from the 80s in England, and also leader of the Daleks if memory serves (nope, memory doesn’t serve). Bobby Dazzler is the sort of thing people would say in the old days up north, “he’s a reet Bobby Dazzler” they’d say, in the working mens’ clubs. Also, they are both the names of X-Men characters, Bobby and Dazzler. Maybe Bobby Dazzler is the younger brother of Adolf and Rupert Dassler, the founders of Adidas (short for Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler) and Puma (Rupert’s spin-off which is short for for Poo, Man) (actually Puma was going to be called ‘RuDa’, true story, after Rudolf Dassler, but everyone said that sounds RuBbish). Maybe Bobby was the youngest Dassler and maybe he could never have a voice with his siblings so instead he voiced his sibilants. Ooh that was a stretch. Anyway enough rambling. They also have a Christmas tree farm in November and December and so I might go back up there again. I won’t get a tree though, because our Cat Overlords don’t allow such things, we just re-use our old plastic one.
So, Happy Hallowe’en folks. I might be the only person in America who spells it with an apostrophe. That’s ok. This is the smaller of our two pumpkins, this is the baby one for my toddler son. He tries his best to say ‘Jack-a-Lantern’ but it comes out as ‘Gelarkajah!’ which is infinitely cuter.
So October is over. Not been my favourite October ever, but, you know. November begins tomorrow. I will not be attempting the NaNoWriMo novel writing challenge this year because it will be interrupted by a trip home to draw things in England. Shame because I have an idea for a story; maybe I’ll motivate myself to write it one day. Or maybe I’ll draw pumpkins.
My first week living in America, and I have tossed my first pumpkin.
It happened on Saturday, at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, a gathering of wine-sipping apple-farming hicks which, a bit of a culture shock to a boy from Burnt Oak. Having tasted prize-winning Zinfandels and Chardonnays from all over the County, and chuckled at the hilarity that is the Wolrd Championship Grape Stomp, we put our names down to see who could chuck pumpkins the furthest. My wife chose a fairly small one, and managed to throw it an admirable ten feet; my one, on the other hand was huge. Now people had their methods – some threw it like an American Football, some held the tip and launched it, while one Chinese fellow tried to swing around and shot-put it and failed, managing a measly half a foot. I wanted to performs a footy-style throw in, but when my time came, I cannot even remember what I did. I did get a few claps though: I managed a very respectable eighteen and a half feet. Not bad for a beginner. I got a ribbon – next year I’m going for the trophy.
And so, we are finally back in the land of the huge car, the wide road, and the beating sun. After all of my emotional goodbyes, this first week has been one of conflicting feelings, a swim in a choppy cultural sea that has left me in need of a snorkel, or at least driving lessons. It is impossible to do anything here without a car. You have to get a car to go and get a car. There are freeways in even the smallest of towns because people do not like driving through the town, they would prefer to sit in traffic on a freeway than face a couple of stop signs. Fast food is everywhere – when you can’t be bothered going to the supermarket, it is a hugely easy option – nobody really wonders why everybody is fat here. I am living on doughnuts (or ‘donuts’, rather – they love to contract their words here, to leave more room for their Big Gulps), burritos and massive sodas. And uber-patriotism – only last night there was a country and western song on the radio that glorified invading other countries (particularly non-Christain ones) and raining hell-fire down upon them (“I’ll put mah boot in yaw ass”) so that we can be ‘free’, like we wouldn’t be free anyway (in fact, I wish we weren’t free to invade other countries willy-nilly sometimes, then they wouldn’t hate us so much).
Ah, it’s all an adjustment to a new way of life. People here are politically charged, be it uber-right or uber-left. If there were any more polarization they’d be throwing snowballs at each other. I’m going to sit back, listen, try not to start fights, and report it all here. This blog will now be my own ‘Letter from America’, and I’ll try to update every week.
Y’all come back now, y’hear?!