Monday, 31 December 2007

A good New Year....

The Gnome sends greetings to all his blog chums and wishes them a fab 2008.

He assures the HB that he's entering the New Year with optimism and delight. Hurrah!

And lighter of one illusion, as well.

That stuff about the lava lamp being energy-saving.

Baloney, it turns out.

But its retro pointiness more than compensates. So, Hurrah anyway!

Which, of course, could be a motto for 2008....

Sunday, 30 December 2007

To infinity

Retro, sparkly and pointy....

It ticks all the right boxes. How could Mr G fail to be incandescently in love with this delightful Christmas gift?

Green too. This ingenious device runs on spare energy from the HB's computer, via a handy usb cable link.

Gifts galore

Mr G and the HB have relished - with immense gratitude - this year's bumper harvest of Christmas gifts....

How to describe the variety of good things that came their way?

They thought of 'random' - but have opted for the slighlty more upmarket description, 'eclectic'....

More simply, a bit of everything.

Some faves are pictured above:
  • gnome-related merchandise
  • so-useful bus timetable
  • fab book about the Bard
  • devotional toastmaker
  • velvet covered holy statuette (doubling as a savings box) - hurrah!

Monday, 24 December 2007

Santa pause

Mr Gnome greets all his blog chums with a cheery, festive 'Hurrah!'

He's signing off for a short Christmas break. But he will return to the 'blogosphere' very soon, energised and peppy.

Pip pip!

Friday, 21 December 2007

This gnome's gotta brand-new bag...

Few are more aware than Mr G of the healing, health-promoting power of the humble sequin....

What, he queries, would life be like without scintillation, style and sparkle?

And, of course, he is speaking both literally and metaphorically.

Twinkle, everybody, twinkle....

(This meditation was prompted by the item photographed above, a sparkly mini-purse that's about to be given as a tiny Christmas gift.)

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Calm down....

The ever-tranquil Mr Gnome is finding his sang-froid tested as the HB starts his pre-Christmas flap.

Here come the same old symptoms: he's losing things, worrying without cause and firing off last-minute cards to fill those inevitable 'I've just remembered' gaps.

'For goodness sake, ' murmurs Mr G, 'Take a powder, relax - does it matter...?'

The gnome, as always, is right.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Ties that bind

Preparing for a job interview some years ago, I decided to zhuzzh up my image with a new tie, choosing the floral number pictured above.

The dark suit and plain shirt would say 'responsible, mature and reliable'.

But the tie would complement that impression with 'creative, original, daring'.

For all the good this ploy did me, I might as well have turned up for interview in my pajamas.

Hey ho.

After my toe-twistingly embarrassing performance in front of the panel, I mooched head-down and defeated into the nearby city centre in search of tea, cake and solace.

A young woman, in the shabby trappings of a street person, approached me.

'Spare a few pence, guv?'

I blanked her, lowered my chin and plodded on.

Hearing her draw breath, I quickened my pace, certain of the inevitable low-level insult that was coming my way.

But in her small, hoarse voice, she said: 'Groovy tie....'

Yes, I turned back - and slipped a pound coin into her hand.

But I reckon she gave more.

And she gave first.

Monday, 17 December 2007

GP consultation...

Inspired by his South American guinea pig chum, Mr Gnome is trying hard to give a fair-trade focus to some of his Christmas shopping.

Fortunately for him, that's not too difficult. He has made several festive forays into Birmigham's splendid Shared Earth shop on New Street.

It's a glittering Aladdin's cave of splendid items, decorative and useful.

Mr G was particularly taken with some small-scale (there's a surprise) nativity sets from Peru. He bought two.
Tiny problem. He likes them so much that he's reluctant to give them away.

So much for altruism. Tsk!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Inclusive church

Mr G's afternoon visit to Birmingham included a pause to relish the tranquillity and beauty of St Martin's Church, at the heart of the Bullring shopping district.

People of all sorts clearly enjoy coming to the church and absorbing its peace - and they are made to feel welcome.

Mr Gnome made a few last min shoppings at the Muji store, source of all sorts of cool household and 'desky' items.

He wishes that the staff serving the HB had been a little more interested in serving the customer - and a little less interested in chatting to one another.


Small note...
Mr G has been in discussion with the HB regarding the content of the blog.

Mr G feels that the time has come to make postings a wee bit more incisive.

He told the HB: 'I'm intrigued by that feisty American adjective "kickass". I'm wondering if, in 2008, my blog should adopt that word as its inspiration....'


Roughly eighty singers raised the roof of Leamington Spa's parish church last night performing celebratory songs from around the world - to a house-full audience.

Conducted by the charismatic Bruce Knight (festively costumed as a shepherd, foreground above), this is no ordinary stand-and-deliver choir.

For a start, there are no auditions and no printed music is used. The singers learn by listening, repeating and gradually building up the layers of harmonies under Bruce's cheerful, encouraging guidance.

Many of the singers have never sung in a choir before, having had negative experiences at school or eleswhere.

The HB, an enthusiastic recent convert, never believed that singing was something he could even begin to think of enjoying. It was definitley for 'other people' - the musical ones.

But Bruce's choir is based on the inclusive principle: 'If you can walk, you can dance; if you can talk, you can sing.'

Liberating, or what?

Finding a voice, and liberating his inner bass has been one of the top experiences of 2007.

By the way, the concert raised money for the excellent devlopment charity WATER AID.

Thursday, 13 December 2007


Mr G recently heard the following story concerning the late Queen Mother.

In her old age, HM QE the QM was a fan of American telly soaps.

She was watching such a programme one evening in the company of longstanding lady-in-waiting who happened to be a wee bit deaf.

At the climax of a typically fraught scene, a young male character announced: 'Gee, I feel so much better since I came out of the closet!'

The lady-in-waiting turned to the QM: 'I'm sorry, Ma'am - I didn't catch that. What did he say?'

The Queen Mother didn't miss a beat: 'He said that he's feeling much better since he came out of the wardrobe.'

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Jessye + guinea pig - they work for us...

Ever persistent, kindly-but-firm Mr Gnome has at last succeeded in motivating the HB to crack on with Christmas preparations.

The record player has been cranked up and the sumptuous strains of Jessye Norman's Christmas Album provide the background to this year's frenzied card-fest.

Should energy levels dip, the Village People are standing by.

Cards are plunking through the letterbox at an alarming rate - all of them delightful.

Mr G's favourite so far is pictured: a charming guinea pig sporting a dashing knitted hat.


Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Monday morning boost

Some like to be soothed into the start of a new working week. But not Mr Gnome. He relishes some cerebral stimulation.

Hence his enjoyment of AN Wilson's weekly World of Books column in the Daily Telegraph.

It's the equivalent of a brisk tutorial with this interesting, provocative writer.

This week, for instance, Mr W recommended four worth-reading titles on the much-discussed topic of fundamentalism.

As a result, Mr Gnome is urging the HB to read The Islamist, by Ed Husain.

Discursive Mr Wilson also managed to comment on the popular telly series Cranford, casually dropping in a daringly incendiary remark, particularly so given the fact that he's writing in the DT.

Did he make a controversial statement about Islam?

Nope. Far, far more shocking.

He outed himself as a shameless non-fan of Cranford's star turn, actress Judi Dench.

In fact, he was really rather rude about the semi-divine Dame.

Rude about Dame Jude? And in the Telegraph?

What next?

Monday, 10 December 2007

Doris! For goodness sake....

Always eager to keep up with kulcha and literature, Mr Gnome made a point of tuning in to tonight's Radio 4 interview with Nobel prize-winning novelist Doris Lessing.

Well on in her eighties, the determinedly grouchy Mrs Lessing was firing on all cylinders, making the most of a day that had clearly begun with an exit from the wrong side of her bed.

Was she honoured, delighted, humbled, thrilled to have received the world's most prestigious literary prize?

Was she heck.

Dismal Doris took every opportunity to snipe at the 'stupidity' of the prize givers, at the inanity of her citation and at the overblown swankiness of the whole jolly jamboree.

Mr Gnome was a wee bit taken aback.

Of modest literary pretensions, Mr G adores all forms of 'positive feedback'.

He still glows from his teacher's 'VG' scribbled in the margin of a schooldays essay.

What, he muses, could provide more positive feedback than a Nobel Prize?

The Archangel Gabriel dropping in at your next book-signing session?

Consequently, he's bemused and befuddled at La Lessing's seeming ingratitude.

And - don't faint, Doris - he has removed her name from his 'must read' list.

In short, a very big 'Tsk!' indeed for this delightfully grumpy old lady.

By the way, the prize is worth a cool-ish £763,000.

Hurrah for Matt...

Mr Gnome usually starts the day with a laugh thanks to the Daily Telegraph's peerless cartoonist Matt.

Morning after morning, Matt's splendidly deadpan figures come at the news with an eccentric originality that's frequently laugh-aloud funny.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Radio daze

With a few exceptions, Mr G's attitude to television programmes is one of languid indifference.

But radio is a different matter.

Consequently, he's a massive fan of his HB's rather spiffy digital radio.

Crystal-clear reception and all those extra channels. He's going to get around to exploring them as soon as he can tear himself away from the pleasures of digital-only Radio 7.

Mr G, unsurprisingly, is a Radio 4 chap. But he's a frequent visitor to 5 Live, Radio 3 and Radio 2.

Classic FM? He has tried - valiantly. But he doesn't really 'get it'. Music as fridge magnets, he murmurs.

Currently giving him wireless pleasure:
  • Intriguing daily documentary focusing on rural life in south-west Midlands - the HB has suggested that this is, in fact, a scripted drama. Naive, or what?
  • 5 Live presenter Rhod Sharp's world-ranging Up All Night. Mr G thinks of Rhod as a friend....
  • Sean Rafferty's life-enriching bletherings on Radio 3's In Tune.
  • Garrison Keillor's Radio Show - woe, be gone! (Radio 7)
And much, much more....

Apologies to non-UK readers for whom this post may be a wee bit opaque.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

The eye of the master maketh the horse fat

Mr Gnome rattled along the rails today to visit the historic port city of Bristol.

The HB improved the shining hour with some Christmas correspondence.

Mr G was privileged to be granted a behind-the-scenes glimpse of an up-and-coming local eatery - THE MAGIC ROLL.

It's located at 3 Queen's Row, a short step from the University. Do try. SO not a chain.

Mr G declares an interest. His HB is related to co-proprietor JPK.

A colourful expression emerged.

JPK noted the importance of a gently watchful management style in a business that employs many people with cash-handling responsibilities.

One doesn't have to mount a heavy surveillance operation. One simply has to be around, taking an interest and letting people know that you are aware.

Since he's been doing this, cash no longer goes astray - the tills balance.

He remarked: 'Old proverb: 'The eye of the master maketh the horse fat.'

Wise words from a wise man.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Birmingham brilliance

The sounds, the smells, the tastes and the delicious dazzlement of Birmingham's German Christmas market have lifted Mr Gnome to a pinnacle of pre-Christmas pleasure.

He urges all to hasten towards New Street to participate in this annual celebration of mid-winter light, colour, sparkle and innocent delight.

Hurrah indeed!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Plinth Charming...?

Usually eager to 'accentuate the positive', Mr Gnome is uncharacteristically disappointed by a new piece of public art.

This less-than-life-size portrait bronze stands on the South Bank of the Thames in central London, immediately outside the National Theatre.

It shows the great actor Sir Laurence Olivier as the Prince of Denmark, in costume and pose drawn from the 1940s film of Hamlet, which he also directed.

Mr G says: 'From my point of view, this work misses every target, capturing none of the energy, stature, presence and sheer dramatic oomph of this remarkable thesp - and it makes nothing of its site. Bland-tastic, really.'

Pop to Mr G's post on the new statue of John Betjeman at St Pancras Station for a cheering-up view of a tip-top piece of public art.

Diva fever?

As a micro-celeb himself, Mr Gnome casts a gently sympathetic eye on the follies of 'celebrity culture'.

The HB was recently recounting a long-ago 'meeting' with the peerless American operatic soprano Jessye Norman.

The HB seems to have valued the meeting to the extent of having engineered a picture of himself with the Diva, which, almost twenty years on, remains a treasured item.

If Mr Gnome thinks 'Sad', he keeps his own counsel.

But he did gently point out two easy-to-miss aspects of the picture.

Background right. Has spooky-ish lady gazing over HB's shoulder wandered in from the set of a Harry Potter movie?

And what about the splendid gent, left background?

Munching happily on his fish and chips, and beaming cheerily into the lens, he's clearly in no doubt that this set-up is about no other celeb than his own remarkable self.

Hurrah for random celebrity, says Mr G.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Shire delight

Mr Gnome strikes a Tolkienesque pose beside one of his HB's most treasured volumes.

The HB recalls: 'I bought this with my pocket money at a school book event in the spring of 1962.'

(The enterprising bookseller was also briskly shifting under-the-counter copies of Lady Chatterly to the older boys.)

'Puffin had the rights for a relatively brief time and I believe this paperback edition is something of a rarity. The cover is by Pauline Baynes, the illustrator of the Narnia books.

'Discovering The Hobbit was one of those very special childhood moments.

'I felt that the author had written the book entirely for me.

'I found myself reading slowly, not wanting the story to end.... '

Monday, 3 December 2007

Product placement

Mr Gnome isn't at all sniffy about 'brand name' coffee shops. He likes them.

Here he is planning a jaunt in Leamington Spa's Caffe Nero.

Or Caffe Nerd, to some.

Friendly staff, good coffee, pleasant ambience, newspapers, open all hours.

What's not to like?

Cardy gnome

Constant communicator Mr Gnome is a massive fan of the cult phenomenon known as Moo Cards.

Here he is with a selection of his current collection of colourful calling cards.

He's yet to meet anyone who is less than delighted to receive a card from him or his HB.

Not yet received a card from Mr G?

Be patient....

Find out more about Moo Cards at

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Current affairs

Micro-celeb Mr Gnome tonight helped bring twinkling illumination to a Midlands street by switching on the famed Banbury family Christmas lights.

Mr G said: 'What an honour! I'm galvanized, electrified and dynamized to have been chosen to perform this joyous task.

'The Banbury family brings light into the lives of many people. How appropriate, then, that their home at Christmas should be transformed into a glorious glitterball of a zillion coruscating points of light.


Saturday, 1 December 2007

Earth has not anything to show...

Another Saturday in London, this time with a distinct hint of winter. The river and skyline always makes provincial me pause with something like wonder.

Sorry, Mr W. I was gazing from Waterloo, not Westminster, Bridge....

Mr Gnome ponders...

Mr G's boundless self-confidence makes him proof against bouts of dreary introspection. That said, he occasionally pauses to ponder....

He says: 'I'm small, bearded and a proud wearer of a splendidly pointy red hat.

'As if you hadn't noticed.

'My name and my appearance match my status - Mr Gnome is indeed a gnome.

'Strange, then, that many HBs seem reluctant to notice or acknowledge my "gnomehood"

'It doesn't bother me. But occasionally I feel rather sad at the assumption that, for them, there's something unacceptable about being a gnome....

'They assume I'm a rather small, pointy-hatted, bearded HB.

'Or maybe they know I'm a gnome. But they don't like the idea of having a gnome in their midst. So they pretend I'm an HB.

'I play along. It's simpler. Gnomes are a minority group, after all. The HBs hold most of the cards. (Not all!)

'But I'm not an HB.

'I'm a gnome....'