Picture a little white-haired lady, Joyce, sitting at the front of a tourist coach travelling through Switzerland. As they passed through the picturesque villages with their picture-postcard houses and lovely gardens, the driver remarked on how neat the lawns were and how so many were full of gnomes. Joyce quietly replied that the gnomes were there to look after the gardens ‘they cut the grass with nail scissors by moonlight’, she said, ‘and keep things neat and tidy.’ Out of the side of his mouth, the driver said to the tour manager, ‘Nutter on board’, and he continued to mock gnomes and their owners and their owners for the rest of the day.
The next morning, after everyone had boarded the coach as usual, the driver found a note on his dashboard from the ‘Gnomes R Us’ union, warning him that being a ‘gnomophobe’ in Switzerland carried heavy penalties. Throughout the rest of the week, every time he disparaged a gnome, there would be another note – one even appeared on his pillow in the hotel room!
The messages became more outrageous and one particular day the note warned the coach driver that the police had been informed of his behaviour. By coincidence, that same day, he was waved down by the police routinely checking vehicles. The coach was detained for an hour – apparently the driver did not have all his papers with him – so the passengers found it highly amusing when they saw him sink to his knees and that the police when he was finally released. When he returned to the bus, he found his dashboard crowded with every kind of gnome the passengers had been able to buy.
For their final evening together, everyone met at a lakeside restaurant. As she entered, Joyce sensed an atmosphere in the restaurant and when she turned to collect a drink, there were two life sized gnomes serving drinks – the driver and the tour manager!
Joyce finally confessed that she was the instigator of the gnome campaign. He laughed and said ‘it has been the best week of my working life.’