It's not easy to be a gnome. And even harder to be a PTLG, or Pedestrian Traffic Light Gnome. Now you may or may not know this, but we have to work for free now. Tradition, they call it. And if we didn't do it, who would? 'But why for free?' you ask. Well, let me put it this way: which city would write 'Pedestrian Traffic Light Gnome wages' on their expense sheets? What's that? Are you trying to be funny? Well, when my shift's over, I'm going to come and wallop you over the head with a baseball bat!

Anyway, my name is Berriwinkle, so you may call me that. It's not funny. Shut your face. I work the corner of Livingstone Avenue and Seagull Street. Thankfully, the lights start to blink at 1 am, so I can get a bit of rest until 5 the next morning. Of course we gnomes don't need to repose, but let me tell you, working for 24 hours straight really makes one an embittered little gnome.

Well anyway, check this out: last Saturday is the big derby. And as you may or may not know, my corner is just a spit away from the stadium. Naturally, traffic is a bitch around the end of the game, so a bunch of coppers are directing the traffic. In no time, fans are flocking the pavement where I work, wanting to get across. The coppers are doing a hosh-wash (or dilly-dally, if you prefer) job of directing traffic, totally ignoring the pedestrians. The fans want to cross the road, but don't know what to do, so from time to time they press my little buzzer. You know, the little button you press when you want to cross the road. So you may or may not know this, but the little buzzer produces a high pitched sound which only gnomes and dogs can hear (this is why dogs back away whenever you press the button). Anyway, there's this one Joe who's just pressing the buzzer like there's no tomorrow. You know, like those wankers who press the lift button because they think it'll make it come quicker. After about 10 minutes of this, I get round to wiring the buzzer, to give that bastard a right electric shock. But the coppers have overridden my controls. I feel I am about to lose my mind. So to avoid the impending lunacy, I step out of my box, and give the fella a proper souvenir: a sturdy headbutt in the shins. Naturally this Joe doubles over like he'd been headbutted in the shins. Of course, none of these people had seen a gnome before, except for in gardens. So I make like I'm a garden gnome. Now you may or may not know this, but garden gnomes are not made of wood or some such-like. They simply have a really slow metabolism. So I start moving really slowly, like about 1 foot per century.

This one woman, who seems quite in the money, picks me up and asks around who dropped me. If you're planning some wise crack here, keep a lid on it! Suddenly this Joe stands back up and sure enough starts throwing accusations at me. Let me interject here and explain that when I take revenge, I make sure the person knows it was me. So when I headbutted him, I made sure he saw who it was that was headbutting him. He starts explaining to the woman that it was I who had done the deed to him, and naturally everybody thinks he is a total loony. And my new complicitous friend puts me in her exquisite scarlet handbag, and walks off.

Now in the heat of traffic, especially with those coppers around and me not being in my pedestrian traffic light (PTL) and what not, walking off is not such a swell idea, and sure as you can say "Lightning Stephen and his magic horse", she gets sideswiped by a truck driver on a motorcycle. The motorcycle smashes into the PTL, making me cringe, and the truck driver and the woman (and I) skid down the street.

I come to in a dark room. After 5 minutes of wrestling with the zipper, the bag's zipper, you pervert. I told you, watch your tongue!, I step out of the handbag, and see I am in an old drawing room. I can see that someone was recently here; there's a warm, uneaten pizza on the desk, and the soda still has bubbles in it. I hear somebody scrambling with the lock, and assume the position of a garden gnome that has fallen out of a handbag. "Harumph," a man harumphs, and mumbles some more as he enters the room. He sets me right, and I can smell from his hands a strong mixture of Camphor and horse hide. He sits at the desk, quite animated, and, completely ignoring the pizza and soda, begins to write in his diary. He zealously scribbles and erases and scribbles some more for some 3 hours, by which time I realise that my dysfunctional PTL is probably creating some serious havoc on the corner of Livingstone and Seagull. Just as I am thinking of making my escape, this butler-shaped threesome comes in. The center one says "Good afternoon sir. Will you be needing anything?" And sir just harumphs some more.

"Incidentally, you're looking rather fresh this afternoon, sir." A backhanded compliment if ever I heard one, but sir just says, "Um, thanks, harumph", to the delight of the trio. They retreat.

Now my curiosity gets the better of me, and I sneak up behind sir, to see what he's scribbling on about. Oh dear. I see that he is in fact writing a eulogy to the nice lady, who apparently was killed in the accident while she was helping me out. Oh dear. But wait a minute, what's that? He wants to erect a monument where she fell! If he erects a monument there, I will be out of work. This will not do.

Naturally, I will have to kill him.

So I hurriedly search for the kitchen, which is rather hard to find, with the myriad rooms around. But I do find it, and upon entering produce my vial of Verruca poison, which, as you may or may not know, all gnomes carry on their person. But where should I put the poison to make sure he dies quickly? What do people always eat? And then I see it: a bottle of soy sauce, on the counter. Aha! One drop of my poison in it, and the soy will crush my enemy!

So now my life is back to normal. It didn't take much time to get the congestion off my pavement. I had been away for more than 10 hours, and I had expected there to be at least 5,000 people on the pavement, waiting for me to turn on the green light.

But I tell you, these days, nobody waits for the lights to change.

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