Gnomes in our homes

Agence France-Presse reported, some time ago, that a movement in Europe called the Garden Gnome Liberation Front was kidnapping garden gnomes “to free them from domestic captivity and returns them to their natural woodland habitat”.


Seven gnomes that disappeared from a Paris suburb were recently found hanging by their necks in a nearby wood. A note said they preferred mass suicide to captivity.

One of the many advantages about moving from a conventional suburban home into a gated community is that one can place ornaments, such as garden gnomes, in one’s garden and they will be safe because we SEI’s (secure estate inmates) have, first, security guards and, more importantly, a community spirit. A community spirit is quite rare in the suburbs with their walled-off, insular houses.

Some years ago, a suburban Benoni woman, having read something I wrote about the Gnome Liberation Front, e-mailed to tell me her garden gnome had disappeared. She wondered if the thief had been influenced by having read of the Garden Gnome Liberation Front. A week later she phoned. She’d received a postcard from Durban, purportedly written by her gnome. It read`, “Having a wonderful time in Durbs”. A week passed and she emailed me again. Her gnome had re-appeared overnight.  Somebody, with the aid of paint, had given it a deep tan.

But, please, spare a thought for gnomes. Always move them around. I shall explain why.

“Rumps” Rumpelstiltskin, head gnome at number 27, Fifth Avenue, stood facing the fence just as he had done for 25 years. With his limited angle of vision his sole distraction was seeing visitors coming through the gate and, once a week, the tumultuous arrival of shouting, whistling angels in funny clothes whom the house owners called “municipal dustbin men”.

In the same garden he could see a ridiculously tiny fishpond where dwelt another garden gnome, Cyprinus.
Poor Cyprinus, his pointy hat a faded pink, was condemned to sit holding a fishing rod with no line attached. His mind had long gone.

Rumps frequently pondered on human cruelty to gnomes and, in fact, their cruelty to metal birds too. These are usually in the shape of herons and are sold at the roadside. Householders condemn to stand on one spot until, mercifully, they collapse from rust and the bits are carried off to heaven by the shouting, whistling, weekly visiting angels.

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But some gnomes seem to go on forever.

Within communicating distance of Rumps was Amanita who sat on top of an artificial red and white spotted toadstool his arms around his drawn-up knees. He’d been sitting there since 1989. The sparrows used him as a perch so that most of the time he was whitewashed by their droppings. Nobody welcomed rain more than did Amanita.

Over the fence, next door, was yet another gnome, Pythagoras. He was stuck in a bed of agapanthus unable to do a thing when their pointed leaves tickled his noise.

Rumps recalled a smaller rather gloomy little gnome whose mismatched head came from a different body. He rarely joined in the banter of the other gnomes but, as Rumps explained, he was the product of a broken gnome.

Rumps often had to remind the more despondent gnomes that when they were irreparably broken – mercifully smashed by small children or hit by a lawnmower – they will go to heaven.

Their remains would be placed behind the house inside a large black rubber bin inscribed “Geen warm as”.
From there they would be wheeled to the gate and carried away with the chorus of shouting, whistling angels.

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