Matt Chorley: The Emperor's New Clothes (22/07/12)

A gnome in the rockery! Who could defend such vulgarity? Cue our own comical ornament...

Share
Related Topics

David Cameron's father was a banker. John Major's father ran a company that made garden gnomes. You see, you're warming to the little red-faced chappie already aren't you? And I don't mean our current Prime Minister.

It is almost a national sport to hate garden gnomes. True, they are the ceramic equivalent of a sign that says "You don't have to be mad to work here... But it helps". It advertises zaniness, when the occupants are often rather zaneless. But at least someone with a miniature bearded fisherman perched on the rockery is using their garden to say something about their personality, instead of signing up to the Titchmarsh doctrine: decking, blue fence, water feature.

Gnomes have been banned from Chelsea Flower Show for nearly quarter of a century. They have rules on these things. "Brightly coloured creatures" are not allowed. Yet they let Vanessa Feltz in.

It was the dying wish last year of 82-year-old Veronica Pratt to have gnomes lining her funeral route in Pembrokeshire. The family put 30 on a roundabout for the cortege to drive past. And 'Elf and Safety killjoys from the council took them all away. You see, whose side are you on now?

Surely not on the side of madcap funsters who steal or gnomenap little men in red hats? The only thing more irritating than someone who collects garden gnomes is someone who thinks it amusing to take one hostage. And then, instead of doing something marginally worthwhile like respooling a cassette with a pencil or reading a whole Ed Miliband speech, puts together a "ransom" note using letters cut out of newspaper headlines.

Last week, it was reported that Lorraine Dearing from Swindon had been sent a photo of her "beloved gnome" Norman, with a knife at his throat. The kidnapper, clearly no mathematics wizz, demanded she pay a ransom of 1,000p. But Lorraine, rightly, told them to get stuffed.

Despite originating in Germany, garden gnomes are just harmless, old-fashioned British fun. And what could be more innocent than a red-faced man emerging from the bushes with his rod in his hand?

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to very rich people

Terence Blacker
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence