In the comments on the piece entitled It Pays To Increase Your Word Power, reader Fitzmaurice Trenery makes mention of fruitererâ€™s adhesive. This reminded me of a little-known story that is told about Tiny Enid, in which the plucky club-footed tot devised a method of placating wolves through the agency of fruit-based gas sprays. Yes, yes, I know that a gas spray is a different order of thing to a fruitererâ€™s adhesive, but given that most fruitererâ€™s gums and pastes are made from mashed bananas and the pulp of tangerines, and that Tiny Enidâ€™s gas spray was formed, at least in part, by a gas derived from the pulp of bananas and mashed tangerines, I think I am on pretty safe ground in forging the link.
The weird woods of Woohoodiwoodiwoo, near where Tiny Enid spent some time in a boarding house, were infested with packs of fierce and dangerous wolves, packs which had savaged any number of innocent woods-hiking types who blundered foolishly into the weird woods of a weekend. The heroic infant was not herself a hiking enthusiast, but she had a curious sentimental affection for hikers, with their thick woolly socks and social ineptitude. Alarmed by reports of wolf attacks, she took it into her head to do something about them. The attacks, that is, not the reports of the attacks. She sighed and left it to someone else to take on the task of correcting the slapdash grammar, misspellings, and vile prose in which the reports written by the cub reporter on The Daily Wolf Attacks In The Woods Clarion were couched.
Tiny Enidâ€™s first impulse was to slaughter the wolves, one by one, in hand-to-paw combat, or with pebbles and a catapult, or with her trusty blunderbuss. She had got as far as driving towards the weird woods in her souped-up jalopy, flying a banner emblazoned with the words â€œDeath To The Wolves In The Woods!â€ daubed in blood, when she had to brake sharply and slew off bumpety-bumpety-bump into a field to answer an urgent message on her metal tapping machine. Tiny Enid was an independent sort of girl, but she had a mysterious mentor whose advice she often took. It was this mentor who suggested to her that rather than killing the wolf population she instead seek a method of placating them. â€œI have no particular love for wolves,â€ came the tapped-out message, â€œBut we must be ever mindful of biodiversity, Tiny Enid. The earth can support both wolves and hikers, just as it supports both fruit flies and fruit.â€ The diminutive adventuress was not wholly convinced by this analogy, but on this occasion she deferred to her mysterious mentor, possibly because she had been reading up on the Gaia theories of James Lovelock, drawn to them by her interest in the primordial and chthonic deities of the Ancient Greek pantheon. Never forget that Tiny Enid was a girl of broad education, even if the only book she ever learned by heart was Atlas Shrugged by the postage stamp collector Ayn Rand.
Faulty as the fruit and fruit fly analogy may have been, it obviously set Tiny Enid to thinking how fruit might help her placate the wolves of the weird woods. She turned her jalopy round and sped back to town to consult some encyclopaedias in the library. Unfortunately, thick-headed Andy Burnham had got there before her, and the reference section had been turned into a chill-out zone for feral teenagers. There was not an encyclopaedia to be seen, just games consoles and reconstituted patties of meat in buns. Tiny Enid felled a handful of youths with pebbles fired from her catapult before heading off to the laboratory of her pal Professor Fang, a man who knew a thing or two about fruit and wolves, as he knew about everything else in the universe, everything, that is, except for hiking and thick woolly socks, for he was an indoors type.
â€œI want two things from you, Professor Fang,â€ announced Tiny Enid in her shrill shouty way, â€œFirst, a method of placating wolves with fruit, and second, a way of reprogramming the spongiform grey blob that passes for the brain of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Due to his thick-headed ways I have had to use my stock of pebbles just now, and will have to waste precious time collecting further catapult ammo. Who knows how many hikers will be torn apart by wolves in the weird woods of Woohoodiwoodiwoo while I am scrabbling around at the allotments replenishing my pebble supply?â€
â€œGive me fifteen minutes,â€ replied Professor Fang.
So it was that, in the time it would take to read a chapter of Atlas Shrugged, the madcap boffin devised both the spray of banana pulp and mashed tangerine-based gas with which Tiny Enid was able to placate the wolves, and a similar gas, derived from tomatoes and conference pears which, when injected into Andy Burnhamâ€™s head through his ears, would allow his brainpans to work properly.
History â€“ and hikers â€“ tell us that Tiny Enid succeeded in becalming the wolves and making them less savage. After the heroic club-footed infant had clumped from one end of the weird woods to the other spraying her gas, not a single hiker was ever attacked again. The Daily Wolf Attacks In The Woods Clarion, having no news to report, was forced to close down, and its cub reporter became a bitter enemy of Tiny Enid, feeding spurious stories about her to The Independent On Sunday and other downmarket rags. Not that the tiny one cared, for she was forever after the champion of beardy men and batty women with maps in protective cellophane pochettes on lanyards, safe at last to tramp through the weird woods of Woohoodiwoodiwoo.
As for the terrible tale of Andy Burnhamâ€™s brain, that is unsuitable for family reading, and will have to wait for another, more ghastly, time.