Monday, January 29

The Sands of Time

The Gnome’s experience of the performing arts is limited to trips to the RSC and the occasional visit to the ballet. The latter is entirely at the behest of Mrs Gnome, and is a visit to be endured rather than enjoyed. He finds ballet dancers distract him from listening to the band – particularly as the sound of all those feet thumping across the stage recalls the wildebeest migration across the Serengeti.

Still, a love of the arts is a sign of a cultured man and it was therefore not an unpleasant experience for the Gnome to find himself in the impromptu role of theatrical consultant to a West Country seaside resort.

Exactly how this situation arose is far too complicated to explain, but an offer of free tea and digestive biscuits was involved. There was a time when nothing less than a chocolate hob-nob was expected in exchange for his time and expertise, but now freelance, no biscuit-related offer can be dismissed. With control of one’s destiny must come sacrifice…

The artistic brief was to create a new summer spectacular, the current version looking tired and past its sell-by date. Given the average age of visitors to the resort, the same could well be said for many of the potential audience.

The Gnome’s contribution to the process was limited – his suggestions of avant garde productions such as ‘Tin Mining on Ice’ and ‘Songs from the Fudge Production Industry’ meeting with blank stares and polite, but firm, shakes of the head.

What intrigued him though was a palpable feeling of time and history passing by. The original show was a forties night – all big bands and sounds of the Blitz. To have been in your twenties in 1940, and therefore at the age where music and happy memories are most likely to go hand in hand, means being at least eighty now. Few visitors of that era are capable of making the trek to a fading seaside resort.

The upshot was the new show would be ‘Songs from the Sixties’ – still chasing the grey pounds of the sixty plus demographic, just changing the era about which they come to reminisce.

It struck the Gnome that in only another 20 years he will be in this demographic. Forced to sit in a bath chair, knees covered by a tartan rug, will he appreciate the irony of a tribute act called ‘The Marmalade’ playing ‘Going Underground’ as his life ebbs away like the tide from Weston-Super-Mare?

Wednesday, January 24

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Here at Gnome Towers there is a realisation you do not wish to miss a single one of the Gnome's thoughts. What is more you want those thoughts available to you as soon as humanly (or gnomely) possible.

It is an understandable need, but has been impossible to fulfil... Until now.

The Gnome has arranged for a small box to be added to his blog into which you can place your e-mail address (also name and country of origin if you so desire) and, by the magic of a technology far beyond his luddite understanding, every time there is a new post you will be e-mailed a respectful invitation to view it at your leisure.

The Gnome's reputation as a gentleman should be more than enough to convince you your e-mail address is safe in his hands, but if not let him give you a personal assurance of no spam, no passing it on to any other source, and no trouble if you should later wish to unsubscribe.

Never let it be said the Gnome does not look after you all...

Little Britain Tourette’s

The Gnome recently discussed a TV programme on Tourette’s syndrome. In it the main character, a burly Scotsman, was seen interacting with passers by in that peculiar way of Tourette’s sufferers, namely pointing out their inadequacies in a stream of foul mouthed abuse or, most amusingly, shouting “I have a bomb” at wary security offices patrolling potential terrorist targets.

One might suggest this is normal behaviour for any Scotsman, not just one with Tourette’s, but there remained a nagging concern at the back of the Gnome’s consciousness and it is only now that he has realised what it was.

For as soon as this gentleman was interviewed, all semblance of Tourette’s disappeared and he became articulate, well spoken and coherent. It felt exactly like the Little Britain sketch in which a supposed mental patient could only vocalise the phrase ‘Ah, ah, aaah…’ until taking a mobile phone call whereupon a perfectly normal conversation ensued.

Is this life imitating art, or art imitating life?

Turning into one’s Father

It is a well recognised fact that as life progresses one turns into one’s father. There is a moment when every man sees the face of his father in the shaving mirror, where he realises the comfort of slippers outweighs their lack of fashionability and the sudden articulation around the dinner table that reimposition of National Service might not be such a bad idea after all.

Conveniently, the latter usually occurs around the age of 35, when you come to the conclusion that even in the direst national emergency, your military career will be restricted to Dad’s Army style patrolling of the local bakery armed only with a pitchfork.

For the Gnome however, it is not the physical metamorphoses that are concerning, but the mental ones. For many years the young Gnome was annoyed by his father’s propensity to take an instant dislike to random members of the media for no apparent reason. The Gnome family would be happily settled around the TV when the appearance of some poor innocent presenter would ignite the wrath of Father Gnome. “I can’t stand that Jimmy Tarbuck/Angela Rippon/Ulrika Johnson/Matthew Kelly” he would say, provoking the Gnome to take issue and suggest it was a little harsh to dismiss them so readily without meeting them.

But now, the Gnome fears he has fallen into the same habit. Some ‘personality’ (ostensibly one to whom we should feel warm and friendly) will come to the forefront of the national consciousness and the Gnome finds himself hating them for no apparent reason.

Tuesday, January 23

More Lift Conversations

The Gnome can’t seem to help himself when in lifts – they seem to be a veritable hotbed of interesting conversations. Today, in the lift of a large council building he heard the following alarming news… “The bollard situation has now become critical – there are some people in this council who are working against us.”

A critical bollard situation? What could that be? Too many? Too few? The wrong kind? Is there a government appointed bollard tzar handling this critical issue on our behalf? Can we expect a bollard hotline to be set up, similar to the much lamented cone hotline initiative by the failing Major government of 1997?

And who are the insurgent forces trying to overthrow the existing bollard hierarchy? Are they like the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars – freedom fighters against the current bollard hegemony?

So many questions remain unanswered – contact your local councillor now, but be careful. He may turn out to wear a black full face helmet and breathe heavily through a respirator.

Tuesday, January 16

Dontcha wish...

White transit vans are hostages to fate. They are destined to be driven with no concern for other road users, by someone with more tattoos than a sailor after a particularly alcohol-fuelled shore leave, and to spend their lives covered in a thin layer of dust, dirt and general traffic-emission soot.

Something about this patina of grime attracts people of a certain sensibility to use it as a canvas for self expression, perhaps looking on it in a similar way Jackson Pollock did a clean white surface. It cannot be left alone... Something must be inscribed upon it...

Ninenty-nine percent of the time the imagination of the artist dries up after writing 'clean me' in the dirt, but recently the Gnome saw a comment on a muck-encrusted vehicle that, ever the devotee of popular culture, caused him some amusement.

Paraphrased into the rear doors the graffitti asked the Pussycat Dolls' iconic question of 2006... 'Dontcha wish your girlfriend was dirty like me?'

Going Mad Organ by Organ

You'll be glad to know the Gnome is feeling better after his Christmas medical escapades. It may well have been the ward visit from Santa Claus that did it, or perhaps the scintillating conversation from one of his bed neighbours on the unfortunate effect Christmas cake had on his bowel movements, but either way parole was granted within the week.

Once in the system though, they are loathe to let you go completely free and the Gnome was told to see his local doctor for further blood tests. To help this process they kindly gave him a packet into which tubes of his precious life blood could be sent to the labs.

Detailing the tests required, the form also had a handwritten note explaining the reason for the test, a note which read 'deranged liver'.

Does this mean if the disease spreads the Gnome could additionally find himself with an unhinged kidney, an insane gall bladder and a demented lung?

Monday, January 15

Hairdressing with Tourette's

A wonderful documentary on the TV the other night about a group of teenage Tourette's sufferers on a trip to Paris to visit the hospital where their illness was first identified and categorised.

Tourette's sufferers are of course well known for their verbal tics and unfortunate habit of shouting out swear words, but by far the funniest moment for the Gnome came not from the barrage of 'fucks' and 'bastards' but from a comment delivered to a hospital professor giving a lecture.

The professor, a middle aged gentleman with what can only be described as a 'Bobby Charlton' haircut, was speaking on the history of the hospital and its link to Georges Albert Eduardo Brutus Gilles de la Tourette when from the back of the room came the damning comment...


Sunday, January 7

Alan Bennett (Part II)

Seeing as the Gnome teased you all with the mysterious addition of 'Part I' after his recent Alan Bennett post, he felt it appropriate to actually get round to writing up 'Part II'.

Whilst wandering in the vicinity of Leicester Square many years ago (so many years ago in fact that Mrs Gnome was still Miss Pixie) the Gnome was crossing a small road when he was disturbed from his neglectful reverie by the tinkling of an old fashioned bicycle bell.

Looking up, not fearful for his life exactly but concerned he was about to become an accident statistic, he saw the bike in question slowing down to go around him. As you have probably guessed (and if you haven't you should consider remedial education) the considerate cyclist was Alan Bennett.

The Gnome's double take on seeing such a luminary of the arts pedalling towards him must have been so comical that it caused Mr Bennett to grin widely - not something the Gnome expected, as on television he seems never to break into anything more than a wan or wry smile.

Tuesday, January 2

Vampire Triage

The Gnome spent Christmas in hospital. Don't feel too sorry - although not self inflicted it was just one of those things. An unfortunate ingestion of viral particles from some unseen and forgotten source having a rather unfortunate effect on the liver. The Gnome has discovered nothing quite dampens a party spirit like the projectile vomiting of bile...

Lying on a gurney on Cristmas Eve in the local A&E (equivalent to the ED for American readers) the Gnome was of course attended by several medical staff as time went on. There seemed to be a very precise hierarchy of visits, starting with the lowly (but charming) triage nurse and slowly working up to the full force of a senior consultant, with a few Housemen and Registrars in between.

All of them tended to ask the same things, but there was a wording change in one question that perked the Gnome up. Previous medics had inquired "Are your eyes sensitive to bright lights", but this one registrar (and the Gnome kids you not when he says the medic in question was from Eastern Europe with an accent to match) looked him straight in the eye and said "Do you shy from the light?"

At that moment, it felt only a matter of time before the crucifix and garlic came out...

One Year On

It is exactly a year since the Gnome took to the Blogosphere as part of an attempted New Year's Resolution. With an unfortunate, but understandable, hiatus during his move from the US to the UK, he is feeling relatively pleased with his commitment to the genre. Last year a total of 46 posts ranging from wet snow to homeless lunatics were committed to the ether and (since June anyway) read by 337 people from around the world.

He acknowledges these are not earthshattering numbers, but was never aiming to compete with Lily Allen or Sandi Thom in the number of hits. However, the Gnome knows he must do better this year, and promises his few (but loyal) readers to be more profligate with his comments.

A happy 2007 to you all, especially those who take the time to write back with comments on the posts.