The Herald - The Herald Magazine

Gnome affairs


I DON’T want to be controvers­ial, but I must confess I’m ambivalent about garden gnomes. You are aghast. Moi, a lover of elves, dwarves and hobbits in JRR Tolkien’s great works of philosophy, not on board with garden gnomes? What’s the problem?

I’m not knocking those who own them, and neither – unusually for me – am I calling for their arrest. Indeed, I have toyed with the idea of gnomes on my demesne. It may yet happen. It’s just that I’m unsure if mass-produced items sold in supermarke­ts and garden centres are respectful of the species.

This week, we learned that sales of garden gnomes have risen 20 per cent in the past year, meaning there are now 6 million gnomes in Britannia’s gardens.

Although garden gnomes may resemble Tolkien’s dwarves, he disliked the wee, twee image accorded them. I live my life according to Tolkien. So if ever I do buy a garden gnome, it will be neither fishing nor mooning nor wearing a football strip. It will be a dignified creature in a large red hat.

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