My old friend Globular Van der Graff
For those of you who have been reading, and hopefully enjoying, the timeless tales I have been selecting from Glob’s anthology I have some welcome news.
For a long time now I have been meaning to create a paperback version of Goblin Tales for the few stick in the muds who still prefer a physical book, particularly those of you living here in the UK where the preference for paper still persists more so than anywhere else.
Well, you’re in luck. I’ve temporarily put aside my current book research project to begin preparing the tales to do just that.
Will the 3rd edition exclude ‘Goblin Speak‘ for those who place it in the too hard basket? Absolutely not! I promised Glob that I would leave any and all conversations involving him, Bejuss, Neo, Byz, Make and Mous in their own vernacular. Neither will I dumb it down from British English. This is an anthology set in ancient Britain, not North America. Nor will I change the way the lads behave simply to conform to the commonly held misconception that all goblins are bad!
To remind all of you, here is the description of all five goblin brothers and Bejuss. The more observant among you will see slight differences from the original:
All southern wood goblins have green leathery skin of differing hues to blend in with their surroundings and are very short in stature – normally no more than three feet tall. Their ears are pointed and broad. Their mouths contain sharp pointed teeth. They all wear felt jerkins, and willow bark boots stuffed with dry grass for warmth. In winter they wear squirrel fur mittens to keep their bony hands warm. Their eyes are normally chestnut brown. But when enraged, they turn blood red. None of them look old, despite their great age.
Glob is the oldest of the goblin brothers and their leader. He is slim, long suffering, dependable and worldly wise. His favourite pastime is fishing.
Byz is the youngest at barely five hundred summers, and the skinniest. Put simply he is a gentle idiot. His face has that look all simpletons have. He is apt to wander off if not tethered to his bed or to one or other of his brothers. Easily distracted, Byz plays beautiful music on his reed pipes and loves playing with spiders and all other kinds of creepy crawlies under his bed.
Mous is the accident prone member of the household and plump due to his love of honeycomb. His speech impediment forces him to substitute z for s when he speaks. Prone to sulking, he is the unofficial cook in the household. He often has bitter arguments with his best friend Make.
Make is the pipe smoking, laid back, fat and jolly member of the household. Normally content with his lot, not much fazes him. Make loves honeysuckle flavoured tobacco. His most prized possession is his briar pipe, or as he refers to it, his bestest briar pipe. Often, despite Mous being his best friend in the whole world, and often the butt of his jokes, from time to time he does accuse poor Mous of stealing his possessions when he mislays them.
Neo is the upright, no nonsense member of the household with a tendency to explode when angered, who does not tolerate foolish behaviour. Severely cross eyed, extremely bad tempered, and wiry, he makes an excellent mead and is responsible for manufacturing their willow bark boots, neatly sewing them together using a bodkin, and thread made from the best spider silk, despite his crossed eyes. When the chips are down, Neo is the one who will always guard your back. While he barely tolerates most kinds, he absolutely loves the old mare Miranda and the humin child Ylesse.
Bejuss is a one eyed, battle scarred, old lisping raven with a twisted beak and tatty feathers, who is absolutely devoted to Glob. His favourite pastime is pecking simple minded Byz who he can barely tolerate. His beak is partially twisted, resembling an old piece of rope. It happened when his mother accidentally stood on him just after he hatched from his egg. He later lost one eye on a twig sticking out of the inside of the nest, during a scrap for food with his brothers and sisters when he was a chick.
Here is the introduction:
For far too long in my humble opinion, your average southern wood goblin, or any goblin come to that, has been much maligned. Far from being the loathsome evil creatures portrayed in fairy tales by human authors like the Grimm brothers to frighten children in centuries past, with one or two exceptions they are entirely friendly. I have got to know the author of these tales – Globular Van der Graff, or Glob as he likes to be called, really well. I am of the firm belief that on the whole they are entirely misunderstood creatures.
In a time long past before humans began inhabiting the world; there was a magical land hidden away from prying eyes in the northern hemisphere. It was called Goblindom. It remained hidden behind a magical barrier when humanity first appeared. In those early times Goblindom fought the humans and won. But as the ranks of humans inevitably increased in number, and began to destroy every living thing they deemed inferior, Goblindom’s inhabitants retreated behind their magical barrier to prevent any further contact.
One of Goblindom’s kinds, the humins, who were the predecessors of humanity, treated all goblins abominably when they first discovered each other, two thousand summers before this anthology begins. But after that unfortunate meeting, both lived side by side in peace ever afterwards, keeping a weather eye on the warlike cousins of the humins living beyond the barrier.
The five wood goblins I met one day several years ago in a glade not far from here in the English county of Suffolk, when I was having a snooze in the afternoon sunshine, have existed till now, hidden away from humanity since those days thousands of years ago. They are Globular Van der Graff (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous) and finally, curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo). They continue to inhabit the most remote forests living side by side with all other woodland inhabitants, hiding away from my kind humanity.
These friendly little beings seem to have taken over my life in one way or another. At their insistence I began to write down what Glob dictated to me. He would often wake me in the dead of night by standing on my chest, raring to tell me of yet another adventure or some mishap or other that had befallen him or one of his brothers. Why he chose me for the task of translating and recording his tales, I still don’t know. Needless to say I am honoured to do so. It is not every day that a lowly human is given such an opportunity.
I have created for you an eyewitness history of their world which they shared with our forebears the humins, along with wizards of both black and white persuasions, griffins, wyverns, mountain gremlins, ogre’s, elves, trolls, dragons, the odd witch or two and an assorted collection of animals and birds. Among the many you will meet as you read Glob’s tales, is a singularly engaging character, a one eyed lisping raven named Bejuss.
At Glob’s insistence I have also left the conversations between the characters in their own peculiar ancient vernacular rather than modern day English. When Goblindom existed all the many kinds who lived within its borders spoke the same language.
This anthology is a snapshot of their lives, adventures and misadventures. I hope that when you read it, you will look kindly on these tiny woodland individuals in the future, should they choose to visit you.
PS – while there will be no individual illustrations for each tale, there will be a family portrait, thanks to my good friend Duncan Niall Boswell pictured below agreeing to give it a go after I had suggested it to him. Duncan is the one responsible for the fantastic Goblindom map above.
PPS – currently the word count stands at 84,782. It should pass 85,000 and beyond before much longer…