Hot Air Balloon Imperilment

She was a plucky tot, a heroic infant, and a little fascist… but was Tiny Enid also a feminist pioneer? On the face of it, the answer to that question seems self-evident. How else would one describe the club-footed young gal, pootling about in her clapped-out jalopy, puffing away at cheroots, essaying deeds of matchless valour, and giving a variety of malefactors a good kicking? Yet such were the constraints imposed by society on what was deemed seemly, Tiny Enid oftbetimes made great pretence of being a helpless weedy flibbertigibbety waif, ready to swoon away or throw a fit of the vapours. Sometimes she put on such a show even while performing one of her brave deeds. In this picture, for example, it looks as if Tiny Enid is about to topple from a hot air balloon basket, and is being saved by a pair of tender-hearted ruffians. She is, of course, acting out the part expected of her in a patriarchal culture. What is actually happening here is that Tiny Enid is cleverly distracting the ruffians – card-carrying members of the Communist Party, no less! – for, moments after the sketch was completed, she was back in the basket, her big black boot stamping on the neck of one ruffian while the other flung himself overboard in a cowardly escape from the tot’s righteous wrath.

balloon trauma

Picture courtesy of Agence Eureka

Tiny Enid’s Unhatched God Egg

“Now certain Nations there be that account beasts, yea, and some filthie things for gods; yea and many other matters more shamefull to be spoken; swearing by stinking meats, by garlicke, and such like. But surely, to beleeve that gods have contracted mariage, and that in so long continuance of time no children should be borne between them : also that some are aged, and ever hoarie and gray: others againe young and alwaies children: that they be blacke of colour and complexion, winged, lame, hatched of eggs, living and dying each other day; are meere fooleries, little better than childish toies.”

Pliny The Elder, The Naturall Historie, The Second Booke, Chap. 7. Of God in the 1634 English translation by Philomen Holland

One person who was very familiar with the ancient idea that an egg might serve as a childish toy, and that from the egg would hatch a god, was Tiny Enid. On the day of her birth she was presented with an egg by her mysterious, unnamed mentor, and as soon as she grew old enough for childish play it became her favoured toy. It is easy to forget, given the plucky tot’s many deeds of heroism and derring-do, that she was still but a tot, and, when time allowed, she played as other tots do. She played games such as Hide The Egg In The Pantry, Roll The Egg Down A Gentle Incline, and Balance The Egg On A Precipice Over A Yawning Chasm.

It is not entirely clear when Tiny Enid learned that her egg contained an as yet unhatched god. It is also perfectly possible that it did not, and that the venturesome little fascist simply invented the idea for purposes of self-dramatisation. Either way, we do know that one hot summer’s day she stopped treating the egg as a plaything, placed it in a carton, put the carton on her mantelpiece, and spent many hours watching over it, waiting for it to hatch.

Several writers – better to call them hacks – have devoted vast swathes of psychobabble to the suggestion that Tiny Enid was convinced, or convinced herself, that by embarking on ever greater feats of infant heroism she could somehow persuade the god to crack open its egg and burst forth into the world, ushering in a new dispensation under the cope of heaven and, not incidentally, installing the tot as its Archangel. In this reading, Tiny Enid is impelled to acts and adventures of ever greater recklessness for purely selfish reasons. The hacks who peddle this stuff never stop to consider two blindingly obvious facts. One, it makes no sense whatsoever, and two, there is no evidence that, at the end of each of her adventures, Tiny Enid dashed back to her mantelpiece to check on the egg. On the contrary, she was notorious for sticking around to receive plaudits and medals and cups and cash prizes and to watch parades pass by in her honour, and on occasions when these things did not happen, she would bash a few heads together, literally, until she considered due gratitude was displayed. These are not the activities of one who hankers for the imminent intervention of the divine, whether from an egg or from anywhere else.

Indeed, a better case could be made that a child as self-possessed and drunk on her own reputation as Tiny Enid would consider the arrival of a new god as fatally stealing her thunder. It is worth asking what sort of god she was expecting to hatch from the egg on her mantelpiece. Although she was not a religious girl, it is a matter of record that she had, like the Swiss skiing ace Woodcarver Steiner, great ecstasies. During these entrancements, did she have visions of her egg-hatched god? It is a great pity that she never left us an account of at least one of her great ecstasies in her Memoirs. The egg itself is mentioned, over and over again, at first in references to its status as a plaything, as here, on page 47:

I passed many a happy hour playing Carry The Egg Towards The Pond and other delightful pastimes

and then, from page 88 onwards, she constantly reminds us of its numinous presence:

Before revving up my jalopy to speed to the rescue of the stricken and the maimed who had been attacked by the giant lobster being, I paused to look at the egg in its carton on the mantelpiece. It had not yet hatched.

for example, and

The next Thursday was a particularly dull day without any opportunity for daring rescues of those imperilled. I spent much of my time contemplating the egg in its carton on the mantelpiece, from which no god had yet hatched.

In her lifetime, no god ever did hatch from the egg, but I suppose it is not impossible that one might still do so. For though Tiny Enid herself grew old and died, she always kept the egg with her wherever she roamed in her long life, and at her death it was found among her effects. Carefully catalogued by those who keep her flame alive, the egg, in its carton, is now kept in the Tiny Enid Museum, recently established in a cavernous hangar on a so-called “rustic industrial estate” on the edge of the mephitic marshes on the outskirts of Pointy Town. If you visit, and pay through the nose for an entrance ticket, seek out the egg in its refrigerated chamber, and who knows?, perhaps while you are there you will see the shell crack, and a god hatch out, come blind and trembling into the world.

Impenetrable Mysteries

There are certain impenetrable mysteries which tug at our imaginations and allow us no peace of mind. I am sure I am not the only person to be kept awake at night, tossing and turning, chewing the pillow, my brain fuming as I ponder in perplexity for the umpteenth time whether, for example, Badge Man was a living, breathing, armed maniac or merely a trick of the light, whether the Loch Ness Monster truly exists or is just a figment in the minds of socially inept men in anoraks who like to spend their time sitting in the lochside drizzle with Thermos flask and binoculars, whether it is permissible simply to wipe over one’s socks when performing wudhu. These are all terrifically mysterious matters, and there are many more, so many more it is a wonder we are not stunned into mental collapse.

Every now and then, we stumble upon some fragmentary clue which promises to shed light where previously there has been only darkness, ignorance, and numbing stupidity. One of the greatest puzzles gnawing away inside my head has long been to find an answer to the question: what did Tiny Enid do, once she had grown up and was no longer tiny? Though I am still unable to give a full account of her adult doings, I can, today, say one thing with a modicum of confidence – she dressed up as a bat.


There remains some doubt whether this really is Tiny Enid. It may be an impostor, or even a hallucination brought on by a surfeit of lampreys. I am clutching at straws, dammit, but sometimes that is all we can do.


OutaSpaceman dropped me a line to inform me that when he searched Google Images for “moorhen”+”mezzotint”, nearly all the results linked to Hooting Yard. I explained to him that all interweb searches lead eventually, by twists and turns, back to here, for it is the uberhub lying at the centre of the entire network, a sort of throbbing pulse from which all else emanates. What I must do, one day, is to discover which single Hooting Yard postage lies at the very core of the hub, is the glistening jewel which, by who knows what mighty and mysterious forces, has generated everything else on the interweb. I would not be surprised to find that the postage in question is something to do with plucky tot Tiny Enid.

Speaking of whom, here is a rare picture of Tiny Enid in later life, taking a break from writing her Memoirs.


Tiny Enid’s Bathtub Gin

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.

Piling Ossa Upon Pelion

My appointment with destiny, or dentistry, I forget which, was cancelled, and I had an afternoon to play with, so I thought I would try my hand at piling Ossa upon Pelion, as the Aloadae did in the old story. In some versions, they piled Pelion upon Ossa, so to be on the safe side it seemed best to attempt both. Now obviously my withered limbs and general puniness prevented me from literally piling one mountain on top of another. I had in mind to construct miniatures, to scale, out of cardboard and rags and cotton wool and glue.

Before turning my hand to this exciting if pointless project, it occurred to me that it was just the kind of thing Tiny Enid might have done when she found herself at a loose end. The plucky infant fascist could not bear to be idle, and it was quite possible that, between adventures, she might have piled Ossa upon Pelion, or vice versa, although in her case I am sure she had the resourcefulness to tackle the real mountains instead of small lightweight copies. Had she ever passed the time in this fashion, I was keen to pick up any tips, so I consulted the literature. Ever since the publication of Mavis Gasball’s majestic Complete Reference Guide To All The Doings Attributed To Tiny Enid, In Twenty Volumes, With Rotogravures, it takes even the dull-witted a matter of minutes to track down the most obscure episodes in the life of the heroic tot. The afternoon was still young when I slammed the books shut, satisfied that there was nothing Tiny Enid could teach me about the task ahead. There was mention of neither Ossa nor Pelion in the index, nor of the Aloadae, nor of Otus nor Ephialtes, and the sole reference to Mount Olympus led to a thrilling, yet unrelated, account of Tiny Enid setting fire to a paper aeroplane upon its pinnacle at the culmination of the affaire désagréable in 1955. I was too familiar with this to reread it, so I replaced the books on the shelf, buckled up my boots, and pranced off across the greensward to the hut wherein I kept my cardboard and rags and cotton wool and glue.

Was ever a hut so cherished as mine? It is filthy and in a state of collapse, but to me it is a kind of paradise.

I switched on my radio to listen to Cardboard Mountain Modeller’s Playtime as I worked. They were playing Scriabin. How curious, I thought, that so accomplished a pianist had such tiny little hands! My own hands are leaden and fat and clumsy, more’s the pity. I am afraid that after an hour or two of inexpert fumbling and mashing and prodding I had created a quartet of shapeless compacted clumps. A quartet, because I strived to make two model Ossas and two model Pelions, that I might pile Ossa upon Pelion, and pile Pelion upon Ossa, simultaneously rather than consecutively. Perhaps, in so doing, I was overambitious, and would have obtained better results had I been satisfied with a single pair, the positions of which, Ossa atop Pelion, or Pelion atop Ossa, I could have switched as often as the fancy took me, or, indeed, never, were one tableau more pleasing to the eye than the other. As it was, all I had to show for an afternoon of strenuous cackhandedness were four almost identical messes of cardboard and rags and cotton wool and glue, a fuming temper, an overheated radio set, and a sense of defeat I would struggle to shake off for years to come.

I bundled my Ossas and Pelions into a burlap sack and, on my way home, chucked the sack into a pond, where it floated for a while, until it was eventually destroyed by the ferocious pecking of swans.

The Non-Doreen


Outa_Spaceman rightly calls into question the caption on this photograph. “Surely this is none other than Tiny Enid?” he asks. Indeed, it is almost certainly the plucky little fascist, and one wonders why the captioneer felt the need to pretend it was a tot called Doreen. Note that the besuited chap in the background is holding the heroic infant’s lit cigarillo and bakelite prize ashtray behind his back.

There have of course been innumerable attempts to rewrite the true history of Tiny Enid. Readers are advised to rely solely on the accounts given here. We know what we’re talking about at Hooting Yard.

Googie ‘n’ Bee

The two most consistently popular search terms leading interweb hikers to swing open the gates of Hooting Yard, far ahead of all rivals, are bees and ectoplasm. Occasionally, some befuddled soul gets here after searching for bee ectoplasm. Another favourite, much to my delight, is Googie Withers, though the 92-year-old screen siren gets misspelled as Google Withers in some searches, which makes one wonder what is going on inside some people’s cranial integuments. And then of course there are the search terms which are arresting in their singularity. Today someone came to Hooting Yard because they wanted to find out about character flaw of mediaeval peasant.

Anyway, perhaps I should write a piece in which Googie Withers, taunted by a particularly pesky bee, paralyses it with a splurge of ectoplasm. Or, alternatively, a bee taunted by a particularly pesky nonagenarian actress stops her in her tracks by emitting a jet of ectoplasmic bee goo.

Either scenario could provide heroic tot Tiny Enid with the perfect pretext to come clomping club-footedly to the rescue, of either Googie Withers or the bee.

Which scene warms your cockles? Vote now and vote often!

In which scenario would you prefer to see plucky tot Tiny Enid intervene?

Another Tiny Enid

We already knew there was a hen called Tiny Enid. Now it has come to my attention that, in the USA, there is a Dalmatian puppy also named after the plucky tot. Matt and Mandy (whomsoever they may be) are to be congratulated on their excellent pet-naming skills. Visit their Drop My Straw blog and you can see both a photo and a video of the canine Tiny Enid.

The Pavilion By The Shore

There is a pavilion by the shore. I do not go there any more. I used to visit every day on my clomping horse with its rattling dray, and I’d hammer my fists upon the door of the pavilion set beside the shore, but I do not go there any more. I cannot go there any more.

I used to clomp along the lane lined by beech and larch and plane, but something went wrong in my brain and now I languish in the drain.

I languish in a drainage ditch. I’m smeared with grease and tar and pitch. I’ve lost the use of my lower limbs and at the mercy of vermin’s whims.

All sorts of vermin suck my blood as I lie sprawling in the mud, and others gnaw my skin and bones while I groan my dramatic groans.

Above me, a hot air balloon will be arriving very soon. I’ll be winched up by a length of rope, and washed with disinfectant soap.

The balloonist will sing rousing hymns to cure my withered lower limbs, and we’ll hover in the boundless sky eating a snack of lemon meringue pie.

Then I’ll be dumped back on the lane, a few tweaks putting right my brain, and then I shall return once more to the bright pavilion by the shore.

I’m sure there’s something, before I go, that you are very keen to know. The balloonist’s name – don’t be a clot! It was Tiny Enid, the heroic tot! 

Scenes From The Past Lives Of Tiny Enid

During one of her thrilling adventures – it may have been the time when she rescued some ducks from a toxic puddle – Tiny Enid suffered a clonk on the head. Thereafter, every so often, she began to have visions, and she became convinced that she was seeing tableaux from her previous lives. It had never before occurred to the plucky tot that she might have lived before, under other guises, and that “Tiny Enid” was but one character her Gaar, or essence of being, had inhabited. Her mysterious mentor, whom we have a very vague picture of from earlier Tiny Enid adventure stories, pooh-poohed her visions and recommended that she eat heartier breakfasts, but Tiny Enid was wedded to her morning milk slops and had an independent spirit. Although she valued her mysterious mentor’s sage counsel, she also thought him a bit of a doddery old foolish person, and she picked and chose which pieces of advice to follow. In many ways Tiny Enid’s personality was akin to that of Charles Lindbergh, the aviation ace, daring and reckless and with a fascist bent. Chronologically, of course, it was impossible that Tiny Enid could be the reincarnation of Lindbergh, and in any case, in all her past life hallucinations she was a girl. Most of the time, too, she was tiny.

Contemporary fans of the heroic infant, those who keep her memory alive, often seem embarrassed by this aspect of Tiny Enid’s character. They prefer to think of her as level-headed and no-nonsense and gritty, and of course she was all these, but drawing a veil over her post-head-clonk belief in various types of ethereal woo does her a disservice. To see Tiny Enid in the round is to accept that she thought her Gaar was as real as a pebble she could hold in her hand and as important as a telegram alerting her to the imperilment of some ducks in a toxic puddle.

One Tiny Enidist who is keen to pay due attention to this sort of guff is Basil Groove. The name may be familiar to those of you who grooved to the fab sounds of the sixties, for Basil was a member of the psychedelic pop group Turquoise Eye Of The Lobster King. Having hung up his plectrum, Basil Groove has been scouring the world’s picture libraries seeking illustrations which depict figures who may be Tiny Enid avant l’Enid, as it were. He has compiled these into an album to be published later this year, entitled Scenes From The Past Lives Of Plucky Tot Tiny Enid, and it is with great pleasure that we are able to show one of the drawings here. It shows a small female child, armed only with a pin-cushion and a pencil sharpener, confronting a dreadful knight. She may not have a club foot, but, as Basil Groove says, “who else could this possibly be than the fearless infant heroine whose venturesomeness delights us all?”

Tiny Enid And The Dustbin Of History

One misty morning, Tiny Enid was reading the latest issue of her favourite comic, The Ipsy Pipsy Woo, when, in a speech bubble hovering over the head of a character called the Very Reverend Prebendary Septimus Widdecombe, she came upon the words “the dustbin of history”. Specifically, she learned that every now and then there were people or institutions or events that were consigned to this dustbin. Tiny Enid thought this was a very sad state of affairs, but she was not a mawkish weepy kind of girl, so she did not sob into a napkin.

A helpful footnote in the comic explained that the existence of the dustbin was first revealed by a beardy bespectacled Russian revolutionary who ended up with an ice-pick in his head. Such a gruesome fate did not bother Tiny Enid one iota, for she could herself be ruthless as occasion demanded. She was alarmed, however, to read that the dustbin might not be a dustbin but a mistranslation of ash heap. If that which was consigned to it was incinerated, she reasoned that it would be beyond salvage. For already, you see, being the impetuous infant adventuress she was, Tiny Enid had decided to find the location of the dustbin of history and to rescue its contents. This seemed exactly the kind of mission for a plucky youngster who had been twiddling her thumbs in idleness for an entire fortnight, without a single daring escapade to speak of.

Casting The Ipsy Pipsy Woo aside, Tiny Enid took down an atlas from the bookcase. It was such a huge atlas that it probably weighed more than she did, but she managed to slam it down on to her lectern. The lectern was a full size one, donated to Tiny Enid by a grateful vicar whom she had rescued from the jaws of death in the jungle where he had a bit part in a Werner Herzog film, and she had to saw off part of the base to make it just the right height for her diminutive stature. Deciding not to worry overmuch about whether the dustbin was actually an ash heap, she skimmed hurriedly through the atlas looking for places where a pretty large dustbin or ash heap might be concealed. Although neither the speech bubble nor the footnote in her comic suggested that the dustbin of history was hidden away somewhere, Tiny Enid intuitively felt that must be the case, and she often relied on her intuition, which, as she explained to those who asked her, was not feminine intuition so much as heroic club-footed infant intuition, a different kind of intuition entirely, and far more accurate. It was, after all, her intuition which led the brave tot to track down the vicar on location in the jungle with Werner Herzog rather than, say, elsewhere with a director such as Jean Luc Godard or Guy Ritchie.

Pinpointing a large, flat, windy and uninhabited area on one of the continents, Tiny Enid packed her pippy bag with supplies and vroomed off in her jalopy towards the aerodrome, terrifying geese and ducks and roadside mendicants as she drove pell-mell along the winding country lanes. Hopping into her bi-plane, she roared away, out of the mist and up into the immense blue firmament, begoggled and begloved and chewing on a radish. She thought it would be a good idea to contact her mysterious unseen mentor to let him know what she was up to. We first encountered this mentor in an earlier story where he was introduced for intricate plotting purposes, without any clear idea of his identity. No need to worry about that now, however, for when Tiny Enid reached for the pneumatic speaking funnel she realised it was clogged with dust and pebbles. Even if she did manage to get a signal, all her mysterious mentor would hear from her would be mangled mufflement. She threw the funnel aside and revved her engines with renewed derring-do.

There was much turbulence during the flight, and much turbulence too inside Tiny Enid’s head. We think of her as a self-possessed and unflappable heroine, and she was, but often that resolute exterior masked inner turmoil. Like any of us, Tiny Enid was subject to entrancements and ecstasies, to sloshes of despair and to cranial hullabaloo. Weirdly, rather than planning what she would do if the dustbin of history turned out, after all, to be an ash heap, and an ash heap in a flat windy area where the ashes would be blown and scattered, she was instead mulling over something else she had read in that week’s Ipsy Pipsy Woo. In his weekly column, Father Ninian Tweakling had set a moral conundrum. Faced with the choice, which would you save from a burning tower – a half-starved yet impossibly cute puppy, or the horned and cloven-hooved incarnation of the Devil himself? This was precisely the kind of daring rescue Tiny Enid could imagine herself making one day, but she had to discount her immediate response, which was that she would cleverly extinguish the fire, carry the puppy directly to a dog hospice, and return to save the Devil, but bind him in chains and make him promise to mend his ways. Father Tweakling made plain that there was a choice to be made, between puppy and Beelzebub, and a great moral lesson to be derived from the making of it. Tiny Enid had been turning it over in her mind for a couple of days now, and it continued to busy her brain as she soared through the sky towards where she hoped she would find the dustbin of history.

She had still not come up with an answer when she brought the bi-plane down on to a landing strip attached to an apricot pericarp testing station. From here, she would have to hike across the plains, but first she stopped in at the station and asked the fruit scientist based there to give her a cup of tea.

“Tell me,” she asked in her shrill, fearless way, “Am I right in thinking that about fifty miles west of here across the plains I will find an enormous dustbin?”

The fruit scientist paused in his tea making, fixed the plucky tot with a watery gaze, and said, “Ah now, miss, some say as there is and some say as there ain’t. And me, I wouldn’t rightly know neither way. Milk?”

“You speak more like a bumpkin than a fruit scientist, sir!” shouted Tiny Enid, “And yes please, milk in my tea, thank you.”

Even though she was irritated by the fruit scientist’s semiliterate drivel, Tiny Enid never forgot her manners.

“Why might you be looking for a big dustbin all the ways out here then, little one?” asked the fruit scientist.

“Because, O man of apricot pericarps, I am resolute and intrepid,” replied our heroine.

And soon enough, as good as her word, Tiny Enid was on her way across the plains. As she thumped her way westwards, she wondered if the fruit scientist had been putting on an act in a misguided attempt to warn her off. Could the dustbin of history be a dangerous dustbin? If it was, Tiny Enid would be not cowed, she would snub her nose at it and carry on regardless, for she was frightened of nothing. She stopped at a place that was a bit less flat and windy than the rest of the plains and sat and smoked a cheroot, taking from her pippy bag the gazetteer she had packed earlier. Consulting the index, she saw that there were entries for neither Ash heap nor Dustbin but under History she found an illuminating survey of everything that had happened upon the plains for the last thousand years, from the battle of the boppityheads to the hunting to near extinction of the lopwit to droughts and floods and windiness to the establishment of the apricot pericarp testing station. It was all very interesting, and Tiny Enid lodged it in her memory banks. One day, she knew, she would no longer be tiny, and adventure would lose its allure, and she pictured herself grown and a bit dotty, sitting in a cottage writing her memoirs, and she wanted to forget nothing, for she was determined that she herself would never be dropped into the dustbin of history.

And then she sat up with a start. It suddenly occurred to her that, when she found the dustbin, and peered down over its edge, she might lose her footing and topple into it! Perhaps it had a greasy rim, or lethal uneven patches where it had been gnawed by wild animals. She rummaged in her pippy bag and blasted the heavens that she had not brought a goodly length of mountaineer’s rope and clambering hooks. Well, she had faced peril before and would face peril again. Stubbing out her cheroot and crushing it under her corrective boot, she pressed on into the west.

The sun was sinking when Tiny Enid arrived at a compound surrounded by a security fence. She smiled to herself at the thought that, though she may have neglected to bring mountaineer’s rope and clambering hooks, she never went anywhere without her razor sharp security fence slicing shears. Dipping into her pippy bag to get them, she read a sign affixed to the fence. Large Flat Windy Uninhabited Plains Municipal Hygienic Waste Disposal Chute Compound, it said. Tiny Enid stamped her club foot and let out a shrill cry. The dustbin of history was neither a dustbin nor an ash heap but a chute! This put an entirely new complexion on her adventure. To salvage those things that had been deemed historical irrelevancies, she would have to find where the chute terminated, somewhere subterranean, and she had not brought a spade. One option, of course, was to fling herself recklessly down the chute, but that would be like toppling over the edge of the dustbin. She put the shears back in her pippy bag and sat down to think. She wondered if the lesson to be learned from the answer to Father Tweakling’s moral conundrum could help her now. A burning tower, a starving puppy, the Devil incarnate, and now add a hygienic waste disposal chute…

All of a sudden, Tiny Enid knew exactly what to do. She raced back to the apricot pericarp testing station, felled the fruit scientist with a few well-aimed kicks to the head and the stomach, clamped a bleeping tracker device around his ankle, shoved him into a wheelbarrow, pushed him west across the plains, disabled the municipal compound alarm system, sliced a hole in the security fence, and dumped the fruit scientist down the chute. Popping a radish into her mouth, she snapped open the tracker device palmpod, and watched as the fruit scientist’s avatar, a cartoon head bearing a striking resemblance to Ringo Starr, tumbled, beeping, deeper and deeper down below the windy plains, tumbling and beeping, until at last it came to rest at what the coordinates told Tiny Enid was the earth’s core. So this was the dustbin of history.

Tiny Enid had attended enough geology lectures to know that the centre of the earth is a ball of ferociously hot boiling burning magnetic rock, and that pretty much anything tumbling out of a chute on to it would not survive for a moment. She knitted her brows, fretful that her daredevil mission looked set to end in failure, a word, of course, the diminutive adventuress neither acknowledged nor understood. Turning on her heel, she clumped back across the plains to the landing strip, and steered her way across the skies until she was home, and she sat at her table scoffing down a bowl of milk slops, resting her club foot on a dimity cushion. By the time she had drained her bowl, she had a plan. Part of it would have to wait until the next issue of The Ipsy Pipsy Woo came out, wherein she was sure a moral conundrum from Father Ninian Tweakling would lead her on the correct path, once she had solved it. But the other part of her plan could be set in motion immediately. Lurching over to the desk upon which her metal tapping machine sat polished and gleaming, she transmitted a message to her mysterious unseen mentor.

I must journey, Jules Verne-like, to the centre of the earth, she tapped, and clearly such an expedition will cost a bob or two. Please start a fundraising appeal immediately. Yours sincerely, Tiny Enid.

And thus did the venturesome mite’s next hectic and compelling adventure begin.

Concealed In The Hollow Head



















One thing is abundantly clear. I am going to have to write a story to which this picture can serve as an illustration. I expect that in my tale Tiny Tim will be cast aside and replaced by Tiny Enid. The plucky heroine has not, to date, found herself concealed inside the hollow head of a mechanical man, so it is about time she did.

You can see the original source of the picture at Monster Brains.

Wolves And Fruit

In the comments on the piece entitled It Pays To Increase Your Word Power, reader Fitzmaurice Trenery makes mention of fruiterer’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 fruiterer’s adhesive, but given that most fruiterer’s gums and pastes are made from mashed bananas and the pulp of tangerines, and that Tiny Enid’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 Enid’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 “Death To The Wolves In The Woods!” 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. “I have no particular love for wolves,” came the tapped-out message, “But 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.” 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.

“I want two things from you, Professor Fang,” announced Tiny Enid in her shrill shouty way, “First, 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?”

“Give me fifteen minutes,” 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 Burnham’s head through his ears, would allow his brainpans to work properly.

History – and hikers – 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 Burnham’s brain, that is unsuitable for family reading, and will have to wait for another, more ghastly, time.