by Angus Von Stulpnagel Jnr.
Fergal McFlumper was a special kind of gnome. He was not like your average garden gnome, with a red pointy hat and long white beard. For a start he had a wee blue cap, and was much too young for a long white beard, he was only 178 years old and had only just started to get bits of fluff on his chin and top lip (gnomes live to be very old, and 178 years old is just a boy in the gnome world).
Another thing that made Fergal McFlumper different was that he was reckless and carefree. Normally gnomes are very careful not to be seen by humans, and will stand perfectly still for hours and hours, pretending to be rocks or fallen logs, but Fergal would jump about and sing. Have you eve heard a gnome sing? No? – well that just proves how rare a sound it is. It was singing that nearly was the downfall of Fergal. He would sometimes be heard singing, “I wanna car, I wanna car, I wanna I wanna…” or, “Your lucky, lucky, your so lucky.” Despite being a wee gnome, and only being a foot and a half tall he loved Italian racing cars and would have loved to have been called Enzo, or Mario (or probably anything which ended in an o or an i).
Well anyway, one day he was sitting at the foot of a bush on the edge of the village of Moniaive, singing his songs, and watching the cars go past in the distance, when he saw a red sports car zoom past, chased by the village policeman puffing along on his bike. Fergal thought this so funny he couldn’t help but jump up and down and shout: “too many cakes and not enough horsepower – you’ll never catch him”. Just at that he was caught…. by the gardener.
“I’ve got a hold of yon daft wee gnome mister. What will I do with him?”
The gardener’s boss came out of the big house and looked at Fergal who was still squirming about to see where the sports car had got to, and if the police man had gone for a cup of tea to recover from the chase. The boss, called Mr Alexandrei, took hold of Fergal by one ankle and dangled him, upside down, in front of him. After a few minutes when Fergal had calmed down, and just hung there, with his arms folded, and looking sideways at Mr Alexandrei, he said:
“Well are you going to put me the right way up, or are you waiting for my eyes to pop out?”
“Oh, sorry, I was just thinking, you’re a funny wee fella – even by Moniaive standards,” said Mr Alexandrei.
“Well funny or not, it is only fair if we are both the same way up if we are going to talk. So how about standing on your head, or turning me round?” retorted Fergal.
Mr Alexandrei, who was a very tall, and thin, gentleman could not see himself upside down, so he turned Fergal round, and sat down on the grass with Fergal standing next to him, so that they were closer to being the same height.
“So, tell me what was so funny then, little fella?”
“My name is Fergal McFlumper, not ‘little fella’, and what was funny was a man on a bike trying to catch a sports car… did you see it?… did you see the red paint?… and it flying along… and it’s engine… and… and…”
After a couple of minutes Mr.Alexandrei still hadn’t said a word, but very politely sat and listened, with a little smile on his face. The gardener had long since wandered back to his garden, shaking his head. Fergal stopped going on about the car, and said. “Have you got a car?” hoping there might be a sports car hidden in the garage.
“Sort of,” said Mr Alexandrei, “it’s old and doesn’t go at the moment. I’ve got a bike though – but it’s old too.”
The two of them had a bit of a giggle, but Fergal was disappointed. After a couple of minutes of silence, Fergal started to hum one of his tunes, and Mr Alexandrei tapped a couple of sticks together in rhythm. They very soon realised that they might not have sports cars, but that they both had a love of songs.
Mr Alexandrei was a businessman, who travelled abroad a lot, and loved to hear different music. Fergal loved to travel through the valleys listening to the birds and animals, to the wind in the trees, and the water in the rivers and waterfalls, to the old Gnomes singing their old songs and to the farmers in their farmhouses in winter singing old folk songs.
Fergal and Mr Alexandrei sat on the grass for a very long time singing their different songs, making up new songs, and rhythms with sticks and logs.
The gardener would look up now and again, and mutter things like, “great, two dafties in the garden now,” or, “songs will no get the tatties out o the ground”.
Fergal and Mr Alexandrei didn’t care, they were having a great time. Eventually Fergal heard a rustle in the bushes, and knew his mum had come to fetch him home, and give him a big row for speaking to humans. Mr Alexandrei could also smell his favourite soup and his housekeeper clatter about in the kitchen, so they just winked at each other and went their separate ways.
I think Fergal and Mr Alexandrei met up quite often after that, and probably still do. Maybe, if you listen very carefully, after a red sports car has zoomed past you can hear a couple of voices singing in the distance.