When I was telling you how to make a life-size wolf out of marzipan, I pointed out that it made a splendid teatime treat for both one’s extended family and for smaller kinship grouplets. This prompted a letter from Miss Dimity Cashew, who chided me for excluding those poor lonely souls who have neither. Curiously, she picked as an example the Grunty Man, that monster of children’s nightmares who lurks alone in his horrible cave, without a Mrs Grunty or anyone else to share his grunty depravities and/or delights. I say “curiously”, because quite why one would want to present the Grunty Man with a marzipan wolf, or with any other kind of gift, unless it be an offering to assuage his grunty depredations, is a moot point.
Anyway, I tossed Miss Cashew’s letter into my bakelite “pending” hub and thought no more about it. But now, correspondence from a different correspondent raises the issue of whether in fact the Grunty Man does have some kind of family ties.
Dear Mr. Key, writes Tabitha Brown, I am writing to you concerning two legendary bogeypersons, first the Grunty Man, and second Mrs Grundy, about whom Emily Post wrote in her Blue Book of Social Usage, at least in the earlier editions (as the more recent incarnations of the manual regrettably make no mention of her). Apart from having similar names and delighting in the destruction of the young, are these two characters related in any way? I eagerly await your response, which I hope will prove to be edifying. Thank you for your consideration upon this matter.
Ms Brown helpfully enclosed some snapshots, which I reproduce below, and which can be enlarged to gigantic proportions by clicking on them.
I have not yet been able to do all the research necessary to provide a definitive answer to the question. However, the fact that Emily Post’s Mrs Grundy has a pet magpie and a pet jackal is telling. The Grunty Man, too, is known to keep pets, among which may or may not be a magpie and a jackal. Nobody has ever dared enter his horrible cave to carry out an inventory of such beasts as he keeps as pets, and he rarely allows them out of the foetid gloom. Clearly there is more work to be done on this important subject. In the meantime, it seems that Miss Dimity Cashew can put her mind at rest, albeit tentatively, regarding the Grunty Man’s possession of kith and kin.