Somehow A Repeat Of This Story Seems Strangely Appropriate

My Uncle runs a factory in Oxfordshire manufacturing plastic garden gnomes. He's done quite well for himself over the years, but business has taken a downturn recently. It all started about five years ago, with a sudden large influx of cheaper substandard gnomes coming in from Eastern Europe and the FSU.

So Uncle Alf decided that the only way he could match them on cost was to double production. He spent thousands on a special plastic gnome widget prefabricator, brought in from China. He extended his warehousing and was soon producing more gnomes than you've ever seen.

Business was brisk, garden centres all over the country wanted 'Alf's Gnomes' and he was also exporting gnomes all over the world. Then one day the government introduced some new legislation that meant that BP, Shell et al were going to be forced to make bioethanol out of plastic gnomes.

Imagine Uncle Alf's joy!

He put in six new special plastic gnome widget prefabricators, at a cost of £50 million, and got a loan from Ocean Finance to spread the cost over twenty-four easily-affordable repayments.

He extended the warehouse to cover half of Oxfordshire, employed 500 new gnome manufacturing operatives and pretty soon was producing fifty million gnomes a year!

Unfortunately for Uncle Alf, rival gnome manufacturers all over the world also cranked up production to unprecedented levels. The Shell and BP gnome refineries were either slow to start-up or didn't get built at all. In short, the arse fell out of the garden gnome market.

Suddenly, nobody wanted his gnomes, and he had a warehouse bursting at the seams, full of fifty million of the buggers, an entire year's production. Russian and Ukrainian gnomes flooded the market. Egypt were buying gnomes that were really only elves with forged papers.

Spain took a few off his hands, they have a problem with gnomes melting under the hot Spanish sun, and are always in the market for replacements. But apart from that he was stuck, the UK market had dried up as people cut back on gnome-related expenditure in the face of the credit-crisis.

What, oh what, was Uncle Alf to do? Gnomes were his life, that's all he'd ever done.

That's right, he decided to produce even more of the buggers the following year, pinning all his hopes on the magical intervention of the gnome fairy. She'd visited once before in the last two hundred years, maybe she would come back twice in quick succession?

He now lives in a pauper's prison near Abingdon.