Tall tales of a small man a big hit


A garden gnome who was kidnapped, taken around the world, and returned to his owner’s doorstep with an album of photos has become the star of a children’s book series.

Eve Stuart-Kelso (63) was stunned to find her gnome, named Murphy, back outside her Gloucester home seven months after he was taken, carrying a note blaming “itchy feet” for his globetrotting.

The album of 48 photos showed Murphy abseiling down a mountain, standing in a shark’s mouth, swimming in the sea, and riding a motorbike.

His story gripped the world in August last year and now his adventure has bee immortalised by children’s author Gordon Volke. His namesake in the tales visits Ireland, Thailand, South Africa, China and Australia, just as the real Murphy did.

Ms Stuart-Kelso, a Civic Trust guide, said the books were “lovely” and had received a rapt reception when she read them at a local nursery. The first in the series is called Murphy And The Magic Passportand the stories aim to educate young children about foreign countries.

Ms Stuart-Kelso said: “The leprechaun went missing many, many months ago and I had forgotten about all it.

“Then I opened the door on Thursday and saw he was back. It was such a shock. I thought, ‘Well, it’s a bit of mischief but at a least he hasn’t been put through the window.‘

“Murphy was quite badly damaged and there was a tightly wrapped parcel next to him. My curiosity eventually overcame my alarm, because I did wonder if it might explode," she said. “Then I saw it was a beautifully-bound photo album and opened it up.

"His feet were missing, but that’s no real surprise given that he was sent abseiling down a mountain! It was the strangest gift I have ever received.

“I just keep thinking how funny it is. It makes me smile to see all the people he met on his travels. It was a wonderful surprise and of course it’s so nice to get some good news.

The bizarre crime echoed the French film Ameliestarring Audrey Tatou in which a gnome belonging to Amelie’s father is taken around the world and photographed, to show him how much he is missing out on in life.

Student Simon Randles, from Reading, was later revealed as Murphy’s kidnapper.