In my recent article entitled Wanderlust [display], I pointed out that the first recorded case of a traveling gnome prank occurred in Sydney in 1986. I happened to be working at the Curtin University in Perth at that date, waiting for the America's Cup season to start, and I remember hearing of that strange gnome affair on the other side of the continent. Last night, I received an email from a woman who runs a blog about gnomes, entitled Gnutty for Gnomes [display]. She asked me the origin of the anecdote about the gnome Bilbo. Well, it's mentioned explicitly in a Wikipedia page on gnome pranks [display].
In July 1986, my son François had joined me in Fremantle. At the Bastille Day ball in Perth, he met up with a Franco-Australian girl name Francine, and they became instant friends. The following year, I returned to Paris. For my birthday in 1987, Francine and François sent me a tiny Australian gnome named Rupert. Seven years later, the gnome moved down here to Gamone with me, where he spends a lot of time climbing around on rocks and searching for mushrooms.
Rupert is so small that, whenever he's out on the lawn, Sophia has to be careful not to walk on him.
In fact, it's reassuring to know that Sophia is there to protect him if ever Rupert were to be attacked by the many elves and leprechauns that inhabit the mysterious Vercors mountains. Meanwhile, I often wonder if Rupert might suddenly decide to fly off, one of these days, on a tourist trip to his native Antipodes.