|The third and final of our three special reports on the Evil of International Gnomery
|Gnomes Show their Hand
“Don’t just clutter up the place—make me a cup of tea would you, Tree old chap.” The clipped, arrogant tones of Chairman Tenji rang through the two up, two down party headquarters of the National Satirist Party of England. “I’ve got to get this gnome crated up ready for posting.”
In the kitchen Tree’s normally round and amiable countenance twisted slightly at the sound of his chairman’s voice. “Bloody man, just you wait,” he muttered as he warmed the pot before measuring out the loose-leaf Orange Broken Pekoe which was Tenji’s particular favourite. The boiling water splashed into the pot and a smell redolent of rain on a summer morning filled the small, sunny room. “Just you bloody wait,” he repeated as he placed the bone china cups, saucers and milk-jug on the tea tray. Then, wearing the white pinafore he always used when performing his domestic chores, Tree carried the tray into the front parlour where the black booted figure of How Tenji was bent over a small cat basket in which a terrified gnome was cowering.
“You're walking a bit stiffly today, Tree. Leg giving you gyp again, is it? Nip and get yesterday’s Telegraph—I need something to put in the bottom of this cage in case the little sod pisses again.” Tree turned to go to retrieve the paper from the kitchen.
“Pour the bloody tea before you go, man!” Tenji exploded. With shaking hands Tree poured the tea and handed a cup to his leader before hurrying away from the room as fast as his stiff legs would carry him. Tenji regarded the gnome thoughtfully. “Looks like you got away with it you little bastard. Someone has ransomed you so it's back to the garden pond for you. But don’t think you’ve heard the last of me!” Tenji picked up the teacup and sipped his tea, only to expel a mouthful with a strangled gasp.
Tree reappeared with the Telegraph and a sugar bowl. Tenji paced up and down the room in a state of agitated rage. “Never in all my years have I seen so much bloody incompetence bundled in one person, Tree. If I could find anyone else to work for me for no money—anyone at all, you would be out on your ear so fast it would make your head spin.” A shower of spittle left Tenji’s mouth as he fumed. “Good God, what are you doing, man?” The Chairman stopped in the middle of his diatribe as Derek (Twiggy to his old school friends), Tree removed his pinafore and slowly unbuttoned his shirt. “What is the meaning of this, Tree? Suppose someone came in? Put your clothes back on for pity’s sake.” Tenji became increasingly uncomfortable as his loyal sidekick began to remove his trousers.
Tenji ran to the window and looked out. Sure enough, in every garden, in every window box and clustered around every water feature, he saw gnomes; gnomes of every size and shape from the tiny plastic through to the four-foot high deluxe, concrete paint it yourself ‘king of gnomes’. Every gnomey eye was fixed implacably on Tenji; every gnomey lip was curled in undying hatred. Turning back from the window Tenji saw that the long combinations were now undone, and beneath them gleamed not the pale and hairless body that Tenji remembered from the disastrous Brighton naturist beach photo-opportunity at the previous January’s party conference, but rather the green jerkin and brown trousers of a garden gnome.
The gnome stooped and swept up an indoor gardening rake as he continued to advance. Tenji backed into the corner of the room brandishing the poker. Feeling to his side he snatched up a large cushion from the arm of a chair and held it out in front of him.
Tenji struggled to rise, but again the gnome was too quick and a sharpened fishing rod was at the Chairman’s throat, pushing him back to the floor.
“Homeland, you racist bastard,” spat the gnome. “Do you think a few acres between the gas-works and the bus station are going to satisfy 100 million gnomes? It would become a living hell. No room to swing a fishing rod in, gardens churned to mud by thousands of gnomey feet, endless arguments about decking versus hard landscaping. It would be like Groundforce for all eternity; but without the witty banter or Charlie Dimmock's magnificent chest.”
Tenji cautiously eased himself from behind the fishing rod and slowly sat up. “I can’t find you a spare country just like that. You will have to be reasonable.”
Tenji sniffed; his human nose could detect nothing but the stale smell of damp newspaper coming from the cat box on the table, but it was clear that the gnome had detected something on the breeze. The gnome ran to the window and what he saw made him exclaim.
Tenji rose to his feet and smoothed his immaculate, black jodhpurs, “Oh, believe me I would stoop a lot lower than this.” Walking to the window he looked out and saw Tree driving an ice-cream van filled to the gunnels with potted shrimp. Beside him in the cab, Professor Matthews was holding an open jar and wafting the unmistakable aroma over the gnomes that had surrounded the Satirist's headquarters. Gnomes were now leaping over walls and throwing themselves from window boxes in their eagerness to reach the shrimps. Thousands of gnomes followed the van as it slowly rolled along the road. As he passed, Tree gave the satirist’s one fingered salute to his leader.
Tenji responded in kind with a sardonic laugh.
Tenji turned triumphantly to his caged hostage. “Not you, you’ve caused enough trouble, it’s the post for you tomorrow.”
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Story © COPYRIGHT How Tenji. Illustration and design © 2006 utterpants.co.uk / 110406