Good evening. My name is Big Ears. You may know me from the books about the wooden toy Noddy written by Enid Blyton, in which I feature quite prominently. It should go without saying that I am not a toy myself. I am a brownie, also known as an urisk, tomte, domovoi or Heinzelmännchen, depending on which part of Europe you are familiar with. In other words, I am a sort of hob, or hobgoblin. That being so, you may wonder what I was doing living in Toytown and hobnobbing with a wooden toy like Noddy. If you read Mrs Blyton’s biographical sketches of Noddy with due care, however, you will recall that the toadstool house in which I resided, at the time, was outside the town. One could say that it was in the hilly, lumpy, bumpy part of town outside of town, very similar to the location in which a half-eaten corpse is found in John Paizs’s film Top Of The Food Chain (1999), although in that case the town was Exceptional Vista rather than Toytown. As far as I know, Noddy never went to Exceptional Vista. I have certainly never been there myself.
You may wonder what a hob was doing living on the outskirts of a town of toys. Would I not have been better off spending my days somewhere more suitable for one of my kind, such as a stream or a waterfall or a disused underground railway station? Well, of course I would! But I had no choice. You see, although Mrs Blyton never mentioned it, I was banished to the outskirts of Toytown after falling foul of the Parley of the Spout, the hobgoblin assembly under whose jurisdiction I fell. For many years, nay, for many centuries, the parley was well and responsibly run, but in 1922 there was a concerted effort, eventually successful, by a bunch of hot-headed hobs to stage a parley-coup. These whippersnappers had all come under the spell of the poet T S Eliot who, in that year, published a poem called The Waste Land, though so fanatical were the coup leaders they had got hold of an earlier draft which went by the title He Do The Police In Different Voices.
It is only fair to point out that Mr Eliot was completely unaware of this particularly fractious hobgoblin groupuscule, and bore no responsibility for the manner in which they twisted his words.
I myself had always been on good terms with the Parley of the Spout, but when the new regime began flexing its muscles I swiftly became hobgoblin non grata. It was decreed that my ears were too big, a preposterous charge, but one I had not the resources to rebut. The stripes on my trousers were subject to criticism. My cap was either too pointy or not pointy enough. And the last straw came when Lil’s husband got demobbed and the wind crossed the brown land, unheard, and the nymphs departed and at my back in a cold blast I heard the rattle of the bones and the sound of horns and motors and burning burning burning burning and the agony in stony places, the shouting and the crying, prison and palace and reverberation of thunder of spring over distant mountains, and other withered stumps of time were told upon the walls. I was brought before a special session of the Parley’s Star Chamber.
“What do you have to say for yourself, Big Ears?” they snapped.
I said “I swear, I can’t bear to look at you. And no more can’t I,” I said.
This did not go down well, and after a horrible hobgoblin screeching of “Twit twit twit Jug jug jug jug jug jug”, so rudely forc’d, I was shoved in to a sealed compartment on a train, like the psychopathic mass-murderer Lenin on his way to the Finland Station, but in my case, my ears were deemed too big and I was heading across mud and moorland for the station at the edge of the Enchanted Wood just outside of Toytown, a banished brownie, a brownie banished.
I spent seven long years in my toadstool house before taking the wooden toy Noddy under my wing. Some say I should have spent my time plotting against the Parley of the Spout. I once asked Mrs Blyton her opinion of the matter, but she was too busy typing, her food laid out in tins, out of the window perilously spread her drying combinations touched by the sun’s last rays, on the divan piled stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays. She was so distracted she mistook me for Tiresias, an old man with wrinkled dugs.
I would like to thank you for inviting me to talk to you this evening. I am sure we can yet topple the regime, if we strive together with vim, gusto, and our improbably enormous ears!
“Hobgoblin non grata” – i must find a way to use that in my lessons.