My brother always was the crafty type;
as a kid, his favourite pastime –
painting by numbers, and then
he’d flog them down the market
as his own signed originals.
In fifty years he hasn’t changed much
and I do not lie; to this day, he doesn’t
bat an eyelid about putting Constable’s
name to his own interpretation of
Cast your mind back, if you can,
to nineteen-fifty-five – plaster-of-Paris
modelling, all the rage. My brother
hatched a plan to make us ‘quids in’
as he temptingly put it.
Me – I was more into jigsaws, Triang
scooters and hula-hoops, whilst he
was into pond-side, garden gnomes;
poised – ever-ready to bag the odd bite.
Kitted out with rubber mouldings –
he got busy and soon his first garden gnome
trundled off the production line. A run
of a hundred was his aim – each a signed
and authorised limited edition.
Trouble was – Droopy, his number one
wasn’t frost-resistant, as discovered
by Mrs. Jones, our next-door neighbour
who just happened to be conned
into being its unlucky recipient...
Keen, as she was to encourage
resourcefulness in kids –
especially round Christmas time.
Hence – my brother, true to form,
was forced to modify his prototype
and in the meantime said he cared enough
to make, at no extra cost, three flying ducks
for her living-room wall; weatherproof,
and frost guaranteed...
But only if she promised she’d keep schtum
about Droopy, the garden gnome...
and his rod dropping off.