One blustery and bitter springtime morning, Tiny Enid decided to make a goodly supply of bathtub gin. The plucky tot was wholly ignorant about the distillation of spiritous liquors, but she was a resourceful girl, and so she clumped with great determination along the streets, past the duckpond and the hazardous waste facility, to her local library. Now, it may surprise some younger readers, but in those days of Tiny Enid’s tinydom, libraries were filled with books, and had not yet become chat ‘n’ snack zones for diverse and vibrant hoodie teenpersons. So the heroic infant was able to gen up on all she needed to know about the making of bathtub gin by consulting a selection of large and impressive volumes in the reference section. Having crammed her sparkling brain with information, Tiny Enid picked up all the things she would need as she made her way home, taking a different route which took her past the badger sanctuary and the moonshine supplies emporium.
With her usual excessive, if not deranged, zeal, Tiny Enid set to work, and soon had a bathtub full of gin. This she decanted into a jerrybuilt vat, and proceeded with a second bathtubful. Only when the vat was filled to the brim with rotgut gin did Tiny Enid relax, sitting down in her favourite armchair, smoking a cheroot, and listening to gramophone records of Xavier Cugat And His Orchestra.
While at the library, Tiny Enid had taken the opportunity to borrow an instructive book, by Gabbitas, entitled Large-Scale Sabotage Of Civic Plumbing Infrastructure. She speed-read this while gobbling down her supper of jugged hare and bloater paste sandwiches, so that before bedtime she was able to pipe her vat of bathtub gin into the local water supply.
By the afternoon of the following day, Tiny Enid was pleased to note that the whole town was a scene of moral degradation and unparalleled debauch, a Hogarth print come to life. She checked that her vat was now empty, readjusted the piping system back to normal, plunked a cloche hat on her head, and went out into the teeming streets to set the world to rights.
Many, many years later, when she wrote her Memoirs, Tiny Enid explained:
It can be difficult to imagine the frustrations of a brave, adventurous tot, such as I was, growing up in a peaceable, indeed an idyllic, little townlet. Those who have read Lark Rise To Candleford by Flora Thompson, or watched the television adaptation, may have some idea how few opportunities I was granted to perform acts of heroic derring-do, when everybody was basically quite well-behaved and knew their place. I much preferred situations of chaos and abandonment, in which I was able to assert my Fascist Supertiny persona. The poisoning of the town’s water supply with bathtub gin was one of my more successful provocations. And while some might have used it to preach and hand out temperance tracts, I had a good deal of fun kicking people in the head and shouting my head off until they all sobered up. After that, they began to realise who they were dealing with. They even struck a medal for me, to commemorate the way in which I dragged the town back from the brink of moral collapse.
My oh my, she was a proper caution, that Tiny Enid.
The pint-sized provocatress!
Do you suppose Tiny Enid ever encountered Pindar Widgery (whose obituary you published in March 2006)?