There is a beginner piano piece called Dance of the Gnomes by John Thompson – not to be confused with Gnomenreigen (Dance of the Gnomes) by Franz Liszt – which I listened to a young girl playing at a junior school music concert the other day.

I have never been a fan of garden gnomes and have often wondered why people have them in their gardens. A route I used to follow often passed a ‘garden gnome factory’ of sorts where a range of rather large ones were visible to all passers-by. As my children used to think that it would be wonderful if we were to give one of these gnomes a home, I would accelerate slightly or find some distraction that would allow me to pass without having to discuss the issue yet again – and to deny them the vicarious pleasure of owning a gnome yet again. A nightmare scenario would be for me to be on the receiving end of a garden gnome as a gift for my birthday or at Christmas against the beaming smiles of my children and a knowing shrug of the shoulders from my husband. I warned him. And I warned him. And I warned him not to give in to their pleas.

We moved towns. Years passed before I arrived home one day to find these two scamps peeping out from under what was then a large lavender bush on my front steps. Where did they come from? No-one was telling. I had my suspicions, but what can one do. I didn’t really want them, yet feelings could be hurt and so they stayed. Gnomes are meant to bring one good luck, I have been assured, and are meant to watch over one’s garden. Perhaps. I actually grew rather fond of them as one ‘watched’ over the vegetable garden and another ‘guarded’ the pot plants.


Then one disappeared. Just like that. Gone. Stories of gnome-napping that made the headlines during the 1980s sprang to mind. People would remove gnomes, take them on a journey and some would eventually return to their garden of origin. The adventures of one gnome in England in 2006 apparently took him on a trip that included 12 countries on three continents. He was returned 11 months later accompanied by a detailed photographic account of his adventures. Then there is a French group that made the headlines too. The Garden Gnome Liberation Front ‘liberated’ thousands of garden gnomes in the late 1990s and placed them in forests where they could be ‘free’.

Not in our town – surely not in this sleepy hollow! But, it was gone.

About three years later the little gnome on the left of the picture above reappeared looking worse for wear having been dug up in our vegetable garden when a new bed was being prepared. What story could it tell if it could talk? How did it get buried? Who buried it?

We will never know.

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