by Dawn Knox
spring water with vitamins
Previously: Jubbly the transgender, transnationality Gnome had the job of organising the Halloween Party snatched from under his nose. But he isn’t a Gnome to let a minor setback slow him down and when an opportunity presents itself, he’s your Gnome…
The highly acclaimed Halloween Party hadn’t been organised by Jubbly.
Whether the Mexican Fiesta that Jubbly would organise next year would be successful was likely—but not a certainty.
So, Jubbly knew people considered his organisational capabilities to be an unknown quantity and were still to be tested. Logically speaking there was no reason for Jubbly to feel so confident in them. But there had never been anything logical about Jubbly.
‘A Glimmer of an Idea’ was always enough to launch him on a new course in life, without taking the time to have ‘The Complete Idea’ or to worry about the details which would propel ‘The Glimmer of an Idea’ into a sensible scheme. So, no one was surprised when he announced his talents were wasted on pushing a wheelbarrow around the Garden and that he was going into business.
‘The Glimmer of an Idea’ had trickled into his consciousness one morning. Having selected a cream trouser suit and silky, red blouse with matching accessories, Jubbly turned this way and that, as he admired the softly draping, but rather figure-hugging, ensemble, in the mirror. And then he spotted it. He gasped in horror but there was no mistake. VPL. Visible Panty Line.
Yes, the outline of his knickers could be seen quite clearly through the cream fabric of his trousers and the more he rearranged his underwear, the worse it got. He rummaged through his drawers for different knickers but every pair he pulled out was the same—grey and heavily elasticated around waist and legs. Under a flouncy Mexican skirt, they could not be detected but the cream trouser suit was unforgiving and the elasticated lines just above his knees were quite unacceptable. Reluctantly he changed into a calf-length sweater dress which was thick enough not to show his VPL.
Something must be done, he thought. And the ‘Glimmer of an Idea’ was conceived.
Jubbly’s ideas were as varied as they were frequent and thus far, had never come to fruition, so no one was expecting much of this current ‘Glimmer of an Idea’. However, when boxes addressed to Jubbly began arriving by post, there was mild speculation. When each Garden Ornament received an invitation to Jubbly’s opening event, there was frenzied excitement.
The post-round of Deano, the Post Kangaroo, usually didn’t take long. In fact, normally there was very little post at all. But he’d just made a delivery to every single Garden Ornament, including the Hermit, who was most indignant at the thought of his privacy being invaded by a letter.
“All right! If you don’t want it, throw it away! Don’t get your knickers in a twist!” Deano said, which under the circumstances was rather amusing, although the significance of his comment didn’t become apparent to the Hermit until curiosity drove him to open his letter.
Deano prided himself on being a kangaroo who didn’t jump to conclusions but by the time he’d finished the unusual day’s delivery, it occurred to him that since all the envelopes were the same shade of pink and the handwriting on each was identical, they may have all been sent by the same person. The fact that on each envelope, “GARDEN” was misspelt as “GRADEN”, added weight to his theory. One thing Deano was sure of, was that so much mail from one person constituted spam, and the pink envelopes only added to his belief.
Crispin placed Sylvester’s letter in his cereal bowl so he wouldn’t miss it, then he carefully opened his own. Inside was a pink card, on which was written:
Jubbly & Sons International Ltd.
cordially invites you to the launch of Nundies,
on Saturday at 2.00 pm
in the Gazebo.
Nundies, for all your underwear needs.
From the scantiest of undies to undergarments for the more chunky-bodied
Ban VPL forever!
“You keep up with all the modern trends, don’t you? What does VPL stand for?” Crispin asked Sylvester when he finally appeared for breakfast, after having been called six times.
“Dunno,” Sylvester grunted as he poured milk into his bowl on top of his letter.
Jubbly had been unable to persuade any of the Garden Ornaments except Nina the Ninja and a few of the Fairies who lived at the end of the Garden, to model the undergarments for him, but Bartrum had put his foot down. Ever since he’d drunkenly chased Nina with a feather duster at a dinner party, Mrs Bartrum had been most unreasonable when it came to anything to do with Nina the Ninja.
“Perhaps Mrs Bartrum might consider modelling a few of the items,” suggested Jubbly.
“No,” said Bartrum and there was no arguing with that.
In the end, Jubbly made a rather tasteful display of most of his wares by draping them over flower pots. He placed a large bowl of nachos and a dip nearby and waited for the masses whose lives were about to be greatly enhanced. Yes, his name would go down in history as the eradicator of the VPL.
But things didn’t unfold as Jubbly had envisaged. True, there had been an excellent turnout. Most of the Garden Ornaments had accepted his invitation although predictably, the Hermit had declined. But, even so, Jubbly thought he saw a robe-clad figure hiding behind the lupins. However, sales at the launch had been extremely disappointing.
His post-launch analysis offered him a slight hope though. Firstly, he hadn’t realised that people didn’t understand the undesirability of the VPL—in fact, most people didn’t know about it at all. Now he’d pointed it out, everyone would be keen to avoid it and they would eventually come to him to buy. Secondly, there had been so much demand for mail-order forms, he’d run out.
If Jubbly’s business didn’t appear to have taken off, Deano’s post business certainly had. Garden Ornaments were now queuing up to buy stamps from Deano and letters poured out of the Garden. He tucked them in his pouch, hopped to the Post Office in the village and handed them to the postmistress. The following day, there was a pile of letters to be delivered to the Garden. A pile very much like the ones he’d taken to the Post Office the previous day.
“It’s going to take hours to deliver all of these,” he remarked to the postmistress.
“I don’t think so,” she’d replied. And she’d been right. It didn’t take any time at all because they were all for Jubbly.
The following day, a very weary and flustered Jubbly was first in the queue to buy stamps for a huge pile of parcels.
“Word got around quickly about Nundies,” he said to Deano, “although I’m a bit disappointed by the lack of support from my so-called friends in the Garden.”
It took several days for Deano to work out what was going on and he decided to ask the postmistress for her advice, after all, if he pointed out to Jubbly that all his mail-order customers were, in fact, Garden Ornaments who were having their goods delivered to PO boxes in the Post Office, both he and the postmistress stood to lose a lot of business. Demand for stamps had bordered on the hysterical and the postmistress had only met the demand for PO boxes, by using a pile of shoe boxes.
“No one would thank you,” observed the postmistress. “People are paying for privacy. And you can’t put a price on that. They’re all embarrassed to let their friends know they’re buying Nundies.”
“Nundies?” queried Deano, who didn’t live in the Garden and therefore hadn’t been at Jubbly’s launch, “What are these Nundies I keep hearing about?”
“Undies for the discerning,” said the postmistress
“Undies for Numpties!” said Deano scornfully.
“Don’t be so quick to mock,” said the postmistress eyeing Deano’s VPL and smoothing her hand over her VPL-less bottom. “They do what they say on the packet,” she added, sliding a Nundies catalogue over the counter to Deano.
“Really?” he asked, tucking it in his pocket.
“I see you took my advice,” the postmistress said, scrutinising Deano’s VPL-less uniform several days later.
“Yes, I’d no idea what a difference it could make! And I love those little lacy thingies with the feathers and ribbons…”
“I don’t need to know that,” said the postmistress quickly.
Jubbly’s lack of business acumen rapidly became apparent a few weeks after the launch of Nundies. If the returned customer satisfaction forms could be believed, his customers, whoever they were, seemed to be completely satisfied with their new purchases, and yet, sales had stopped. Why?
“What’s up?” Crispin asked a worried-looking Jubbly when he bumped into him.
“Ah, I see. Well, remember, they’re such good quality garments, your customers aren’t going to need to buy more for some time,” Crispin explained, smoothing his hand over his VPL-less bottom.
“But if everyone is so satisfied, why aren’t they spreading the word?”
“I think you’ll find people are happy to lose their VPL but are embarrassed to tell their friends how they did it.”
Crispin was right, people were pleased with their sleek silhouettes. However, they now had more pressing matters that needed attention. The initial delight at VPL-less reflections in the mirror had given way to dismay when it became clear that Lycra-clad bottoms were at best lumpy and at worst, definitely bulging.
If people were too embarrassed to admit to buying Nundies, they were certainly not going to reveal how much greater their body mass index was than they’d realised, so it might have appeared to be a bizarre coincidence that all the Garden Ornaments had suddenly taken up jogging around the Garden.
“Nurse Bludgett’s warning about everyone being unfit must finally have made an impression,” said Bartrum between gasps for air as he staggered along the woodland path. Mrs Bartrum could only wheeze as she stopped to bend double and catch her breath.
The newest resident in the Garden was Boggy, a rather zealous Eco-Gnome. Strictly speaking, he wasn’t a Garden Ornament as he’d never been purchased by Her Ladyship, nor placed in position by Mr Po Lin. He’d crept into the Garden and set up base camp in a tree, from which he intended to educate everyone in how to rethink, reduce, reuse, recycle, renew and any other useful word beginning with ‘re’.
Today, Boggy would begin his demonstration with banners and speeches and everyone would join him to save the planet. He’d chosen the location where he would spearhead his campaign carefully. After all, if you had to warn people about the dangers of greenhouse gases, where better to start than in a place with several large greenhouses? People needed to know they were at imminent risk of exposure to… well, he was a bit hazy on the actual details of what greenhouse gases did that was so dangerous, but you couldn’t argue with science, could you? However, if his message fell on deaf ears… well, he’d just stay in the tree and make a nuisance of himself until they saw sense. It was for everyone’s good. But he wasn’t looking forward to it. Of a nervous disposition, Boggy hated confrontation. Nevertheless, the survival of the planet depended on him and he was sure he was up to the task.
He’d painted ‘Save the Planet’ on a bed-sheet and step one in his campaign was to dangle it from the bough on which he was sitting. Unfortunately, he unfurled his banner at the same moment that Mrs Bartrum had recovered her breath and stood up straight. She’d run headlong into the sheet, tearing it from the bough, becoming increasingly tangled the more she struggled. Muffled cries of “Bartrum! Save me!” rang out through the woods.
Fortunately for Mrs Bartrum, most of the Garden Ornaments were seconds behind her on their morning jog and in no time, there was quite a gathering under the tree to untangle her.
Unfortunately for Boggy, by the time the wailing jogger had been freed, his banner was lying trampled underfoot and no one knew he was an Eco-Gnome who was going to save the planet. He looked down at the angry, Lycra-clad mob who were shouting at him, waving their fists—and his courage failed.
A pack of people dressed in similar clothes who seemed to have violent tendencies could only mean one thing—a gang. He’d inadvertently wandered into a gangland ghetto. He had to admit, they didn’t look like the traditional idea of a gang but the chance of so many people being in one place at one time in a Garden was unlikely unless it had something to do with organised crime. As his legs gave way, he plummeted to earth.
Even more unfortunate for Boggy, his braces caught on a branch as he fell, leaving him dangling slightly above the heads of the dreadful, colourful gangsters. A large little girl, who was taller than most of the Garden Ornaments managed to grab his foot, but by wriggling wildly, he slipped from her grasp. The force of her pull against the elasticated braces sent him hurtling through the air in a graceful arc. On the trajectory he was following, he would have landed in a pile of leaves—if it hadn’t been for the Shed of No Return. As it was, Boggy slammed into the front of the shed, striking the door with such force, it smashed to pieces. There was a shocked silence, broken only by a cheery “’Ello, mate!”
A pram emerged from the shed, followed by a green-clad figure, “Am I glad to see you! You got any food? I’m ‘Ank Marvin.*’”
At the sound of Peggy the Pram’s Cockney lilt, Sylvester and Crispin looked at each other in horror and sidled into the bushes.
“No, we can’t play hide and seek, Wendy, we’ve already explained we can’t be seen in public while Peggy the Pram’s around,” said Crispin with as much patience as he could muster. It was several days after Boggy had smashed open the Shed of No Return and it had been kind of Wendy to take them in and hide them in the Wendy House, but the prospect of another day of colouring, dressing up and I-Spy was more than he could bear. Perhaps it would be better to face Peggy and her Boys.
“But I told you, Peggy’th gone.”
“You didn’t tell us anything of the sort!” said Sylvester.
“Oh thorry. I thought I’d told you.”
“Aaargh!” said Sylvester, jamming his fist in his mouth in frustration.
“But I like having you two thtaying with me.”
“Where’ve you two been?” Jubbly asked as he jogged past Crispin’s Toadstool, “Peggy left a few days ago. Bartrum wants to see you both. You know he doesn’t like it when anyone leaves the Garden without permission…”
“We didn’t leave the Garden, we’ve been staying with Wendy,” said Crispin.
“Ouch,” said Jubbly sympathetically, “you probably both need a holiday. If I’d known where you were, I’d have come and let you know. Peggy seems to have lost her memory while she was in the shed, so it looks like you two are off the hook. And even better, she bought out Nundies! She bought all my stock and is going to London to set up a shop.”
“That’s wonderful news!” said Crispin, “Let’s celebrate!”
“Great idea! All back to my place for crispbread and cottage cheese,” said Jubbly, running his hand over his much reduced and VPL-less bottom.
About the author
Dawn’s two previous books in the ‘Chronicles Chronicles’ series are ‘The Basilwade Chronicles’ and ‘The Macaroon Chronicles’ both published by Chapeltown Publishing.
The Crispin Chronicles
Links to the previous chapters:
Chapter 1 – Her Ladyship’s Garden - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/04/the-crispin-chronicles-1-her-ladyships.html
Chapter 2 – The Letter from OFSGAR - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/search/label/The%20Crispin%20Chronicles%20-%20The%20Letter%20from%20OFSGAR
Chapter 3 -The Sweet Smell of Success - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/05/the-crispin-chronicles-3-sweet-smell-of.html
Chapter 4 – A Visit from Peggy the Pram - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/05/the-crispin-chronicles-4-visit-from.html
Chapter 5 – Nightly Disturbances - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/05/the-crispin-chronicles-5-nightly.html
Chapter 6 – Just Desserts - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/05/the-crispin-chronicles-6-just-desserts.html
Chapter 7 – A Little Girl at Large - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/06/the-crispin-chronicles-7-little-girl-at.html
Chapter 8 – The Halloween Party - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/06/the-crispin-chronicles-8-halloween-party.html
* Cockney Rhyming Slang. Hank Marvin = Starving