The Tacky Garden Gnome – why oh why?
In a world of divisive politics, orange presidents and Brex-shit, we can at least agree on one thing. Garden gnomes are tacky.
Christmas 2016. A red-hatted gnome appeared among the Agapanthus in the front garden. Solar powered fairy lights glowed around him. As if he were on a stage. Which, in a way, he was.
I protested. The gnome belonged to my partner and, as we know, it’s all about compromise. Grudgingly, I agreed. The gnome could stay until Christmas was over. Then he’d be put back in the shed to hibernate for another year.
In a Disney-style moment, my resolve crumbled.
Through partially closed Venetian blinds I saw a young girl pulling her mum towards the garden. She was entranced. ‘Come on. That’s enough of the gnome for today’ the mum said. Trying to move her daughter along. ‘We can come back again tomorrow’.
More young fans followed. Peering through the bars of the railing. Just for a few minutes, parents indulged their children on the walk home from school. The gnome had become a feature of their day.
The Tacky Garden Gnome – creating memories
As kids, when my parents took us to the seaside, Bridlington or Scarborough, we’d pass a country house with 2 teddy bears in the window. Arms in the air. Waving. My dad called out ‘the teddies are coming up! Are we ready?!’ We all waved back. Even when the house was sold new owners kept the teddies. Maybe our gnome would create similar memories for these children?
I couldn’t bring myself to remove the gnome. I’m grumpy, but not that grumpy. If he was to stay, I’d need to embrace the gnome. Pimp him up. Amuse grown-ups as well as the kids.
Rummaging in the shed, I found a thick stick. I shaved it to a point and nailed it to a small, flat piece of wood. A small, gnome-sized, wooden sign. Several coats of blackboard paint later, it was ready to go.
Gnome puns. That was to be his shtick.
I checked no one was around outside before climbing over the bushes. I pushed the sign firmly into the ground.
The Tacky Garden Gnome – so it starts
Pun number one: Gnomer Simpson. Pretty good I thought.
This may all sound a bit eccentric. But our neighbourhood, Newtown in New South Wales, is exactly that. My favourite mailbox, for example, has Barbie dolls dressed as a foxy policewoman and tennis player. Standing on AstroTurf, either side of a tennis net. No Junk Mail on a tennis ball swinging out in front of them.
Serendipitously, as I described the diverse nature of the neighbourhood to a visiting friend, a cyclist passed by. A woman with brightly coloured hair and a floor-length red velvet dress. Bubbles plumed behind her from a machine in the basket behind her seat.
The gnome’s pun changed regularly. More kids and parents stopped to say hello. Lone passers-by stifle a smirk.
Gnoming Me Gnoming You, the Abba song, was another of my puns. A couple stopped my partner to tell him, spookily, serendipitously, they’d been singing that song that very morning.
The Tacky Garden Gnome – stolen
As the gnome gained notoriety events took a sinister turn. He was stolen during the night. Gnome-napped. I put out an SOS on the local community Facebook page (‘Have you seen this gnome?’). We found him nearby, just out of sight, down an alleyway. The back of his head smashed in. A prank gone wrong I reckoned. Not a malicious assault. Cranial surgery, a big Band-Aid, and he was back on duty.
A few weeks later, another nighttime incident. Two more gnomes mysteriously joined him. One wearing a Hawaiian Leis, the other bunny ears. I didn’t even want one tacky gnome. Now I have three.
The gnome has become an Instagram star. His moniker: YourGnomieHomie. Follow him if you like gnome puns. (A niche market admittedly)
Embrace the gnome. You gnome you want to.
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