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You've Got Wombles, Mate

In the cold light of day, a little light went on in my head, and I remembered the existence of the Wayback Machine.

And so, this, dear readers, is why Armando Ianucci is "the Womble bloke" and why, given half a chance, I totally would... because this still, even years later, makes me laugh.

You've Got Wombles, Mate

Monday June 1

Woke up at 3am to interminable scuttling sound coming from my loft. Rang Council Pest Control Offices in the morning, and they sent a man round with equipment and small cages. He took one look upstairs, then came down and said "I'm terribly sorry, but you've got Wombles." I said that couldn't possibly be true, and he said: "Yes it is. Haven't you noticed your house has been that little bit neater recently?" I thought about this for a minute, and realised I was dealing with something greater than all of us. I asked the man to leave his traps and show me how to work them.

Tuesday June 2

First tell-tale sign of Wombles. A mound of Womble droppings found in the snooker room. I can tell they're Womble droppings because they're little white pellets with a "W" written on each one. I lay my traps out upstairs, and put poison in each snooker pocket just in case the vermin characters fancy a game.

Wednesday June 3

Hear a sharp crack in the middle of the night and a heart-wrenching squeal. I run upstairs and find one of the traps has worked. Madame Cholet is lying juddering inside a metal box, her stomach severed by a line of razor blades attached to an apple. She is still alive, gurgling up moist felt from her throat and still trying to pick up litter. I watch her die in front of me and notice she is operated by a human hand inside her which stops moving at the moment of death. It is both frightening and beautiful. Wished I'd filmed it.

Thursday June 4

More success. Came down to the snooker room to discover Tobermory and Uncle Bulgaria dead from poison. They had been playing in the night, and choked on their own vomit. The carcass of Uncle Bulgaria was still frozen in the act of trying to use my cue to sweep the vomit into a neat pile. The stench from the children's characters is enormous. Find two partially decayed human hands in each one.

Friday June 5

Receive a letter from Smurf Liberationists telling me not to continue with the genocide of Wombles. It says the Liberationists once did nasty things to a cosmetics factory that manufactured make-up from Clangers' testicles. They show me two graphic photographs of the testicles. Each one is bleeding into a lipstick packet. I can see the remains of two tiny human hands working inside each one.

Saturday June 6

I find Tobermory's leg twitching in a trap. At the free joint are teeth marks, and traces of scuttling into a corner. I notice my dustpan and brush have gone missing. Yesterday's letter has frightened me. Am still determined to rid the house of the neat midgets, but feel I am interfering with balance of nature in some hideous way. For a while, ponder what I'm doing. Once fantasy and illusion have been poisoned what is left? Are we the human hand that sits inside the bumpy shell of puppetry? Take away the magic,-and is all you have left merely fingers? As I doze off to these thoughts, a baby Womble craps in my eye. I stare, and through the miasma of animated faeces see its miniature form scurry stupidly up a lamp looking for a mop as I think "No, they're real, and I want them out of my house." I smash the lamp to the ground and squish the infant with a book.

Sunday June 7

Early morning. Horrible. Too, too horrible. I wake up to find next to me in my bed the severed head of a children's entertainer. A note pinned to its chin reveals this to be another bloody warning from the Smurf Liberationists, who obviously had fatal access to Andy Peters's house. I am shocked but more resolved than ever to rid the planet of the monsters who did this. Can't help looking at Andy Peters's head and am puzzled to note that the insides have been scooped out, leaving enough room to put my hand in it and work it like a glove-puppet. The next hour or so provides enough amusement from this activity to more than make up for the earlier morning trauma in my bed.

Monday June 8

How can I recount the events of today without some sense of fear that the knowledge I'm about to pass on will destroy everything utterly? Let me tell you what happened. The man from the Council Pest Control office came back to see how I was getting on. He looked at his traps and cages and said he thought he could now trace the Wombles back to their source. He pointed at a small opening in my kitchen wall. Quickly we tore away the surrounding plaster and brickwork, and then we saw it, in a large hollow inside the wall - Bernard Cribbins doing the voices. He was wedged solid, and must have been stuck there for over a week, getting more and more dehydrated. He was lying in his own urine, apologising for the mess, and surrounded by a litter of six tiny Bernard Cribbinses. He had squashed three of them and eaten two;

One remaining tiny Bernard Cribbins was scuttling around, whimpering "'Hello' said Uncle Bulgaria'." In a thrilling mixture of fear, anger and horror I did the only humane thing possible in such circumstances, which was to smash Bernard Cribbins's head in with a hammer. And as he expired, I witnessed the first glimpse of the terrible truth, that his body yielded softly to the tool, and collapsed instantly as if hollowed out. As the skin burst, out came a line of 14 or so dejected rabbits, scurrying lamely in several directions. And that was all. No bone, no muscles. Simply rabbits.

I wish I had not performed my next act. But some weird intuition possessed me, and I had to know. Without a second's breath, I turned the hammer upon the Council official, and he fell snarling to the floor. On the fifth pummel I had my answer, as a fractured rabbit clawed out of his torn shoulder. And then another. And another. At least 60 rabbits must have been operating that official, leaving him a horrid sack of suit and skin. In torment, I smashed the hammer on to my left hand, and heard a shrill squeal of an animal coming from the finger. The skin is not broken, but I can still see a lot of running around inside.

So this is the awful truth. We are merely sophisticated puppets operated by rabbits for the amusement of animals. While things that look like puppets actually contain real human hands. I have as yet to work out the significance of all this, but I pray that God save us all.

© Armando Ianucci / the Guardian 1998.

posted without permission, but only to preserve such a fine work and keep it online somewhere other than hidden in the depths of the wayback machine.

March 30, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

Utterly fantastic - in every sense of the word.

Posted by: Gordon | Mar 30, 2004 3:32:03 PM

You totally would? He looks vaguely like Rob - what's that all aboot? o_O

Posted by: SiW | Mar 30, 2004 4:45:07 PM

I wonder if he could put down some poison for those damn teletubbies...

Posted by: Jez Stone | Mar 30, 2004 4:54:42 PM

Hilarious. So glad it's not originally yours, or I'd have to POTM it, and we've already started voting. That would just be a nuisance.

Posted by: Karen | Mar 31, 2004 8:41:47 AM

That guy's a genius. Great post.

Posted by: JonnyB | Mar 31, 2004 4:41:17 PM

Brilliant! Thank you for preserving that, agree it's a shame to have it hidden in the back of beyond.

Posted by: Daisy | Apr 2, 2004 5:20:13 PM

I was brought up in a very anti-television household. A news bulletin each evening, and a movie on Sunday afternoon was about my lot. 'Books' were my children's TV. So a lot of the references in Armando's piece go right over my head. But it still raised a laugh or two thanks to how well-written it is.

Posted by: jim | Apr 2, 2004 5:40:11 PM

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