I was delighted and charmed (a rare thing for me to be both of these things at the same time - probably due to my ineptitude at multi-tasking - so the cause of such a marvel must be truly remarkable) to discover a treat of a long-surpressed childhood memory belonging to a companion of mine. We were on t'Heath of an early evening, chatting as one does about Devon, when his eyes grew wistful and he embarked upon a lovingly rendered account of bygone days at Gnomeland, waxing lyrical about this remembered idyll.
And it is no wonder the time he spent there has stayed with him all these years, still conjuring a smile to his now ageing and jaded features. It sounds amazing. Visitors have to wear Gnome hats in order to fit in with the community, so as not to alarm them (obviously) or in any way excite their wary natures to perceived danger. They can be viewed in their natural habitat, going about their chores. All aspects of their lives are open for observation. There is even a Gnome graveyard. It is better to be educated on matters of life and, indeed, death at an early age. And how better to do this than through Gnomes? The hierarchical nature of a working, productive society is even in evidence, with the hard labour being the job of the Pixies. Pixies are represented as lower-class citizens, and are treated with suspicion by Gnomes. It is interesting to note that it is possible to purchase souvenir figurines of Pixies in the Gnomeland gift shop, but not Gnomes. My companion, who I imagine to be the spitting image of Chuckie from 'Rugrats' in his extreme youth, has such a figurine in his attic at home. There is also a wicked Troll present in Gnomeland. Apparently he is always hungry. Hmmm... Demonisation of the needy, perchance? An attack on those who look and act differently, perhaps? Gnomeland serves to be a true microcosm of the greater world methinks.
Yet it was also a fun day out for my companion. One that has gone down in the annals of time as a Thoroughly Good Holiday. Now I understand why he is so attached to his felt-tip picture of Gnome Coward - an interpretive work of art drawn by his flat mate's fair hand after hearing an account of a particularly vivid dream. It should be framed, forever a reminder of a wonderful, and educational, place.