Mini-rant of the day – car rental companies, airlines, Amazon and telemarketeers who either want me to buy something or to invest in their mutual funds - who use my first name without my permission. If they knew me well enough to use my first name, they would know that no one - except a dear 95-year-old lady in Liverpool – addresses me by my baptismal first name – the name that before PC used to be called the Christian name – because I don’t like it and use it only on my tax return. So please, can we quit with the unauthorised mateyness.
(But then telemarketeers - who do have my sympathy because no one should have to do such an unpleasant job – are a special mini-rant for another day.)
Let’s hear it for the FLNJ. It’s the registered acronym of Le Front de Libération des Nains de Jardin – or the Front for the Liberation of Garden Gnomes. Even the British arm of the organisation calls itself FLNJ because it sounds vaguely political - and I suppose FLOGG would look silly. It is an international movement whose mission is to put an end to the abduction and enslavement of garden gnomes.
Hallowe’en seems to be the official opening of the gnome-liberating season. Last week 79 were sprung from the banks of a river in the Limousin region. No wonder homicides in France go uninvestigated – the flic are too busy retrieving gnomes.
If any of FNLJ investigators are reading this, there’s a couple in Beaulieu crying out for liberation. You’re not likely to notice them unless you’re standing at the bus-stop opposite because if you’re walking by, your eyes will be distracted downwards, intent on dog-poo dodging. But there they stand, feet set in concrete, one female and one male, atop twin gateposts – a sorry sight, seeming to appeal to passers-by to call the FNLJ.
The German chapter, Bewegung der Befreiung der Gartenzwerge, have tended to do things on a more official scale. In the 1990s customs officials confiscated 300 gnomes at the Polish border, and on another occasion seized a consignment of 11,000. Since then, in what are suspected as racially-motivated attacks, Czech-made gnomes have become targets of garden desecration. Blue-eyed, Aryan gnomes go unmolested.