Surprises may get out of hand, but gnomes are a sign

I'VE always aspired to sneakiness.

No, not the Today Tonight, out-the-front-of-your-house-going-through-your-bins sneakiness. (And don't panic, Mayor Gail - if the council media crew knows your bin night, they're holding it very close to the chest!)

No, my preferred sneaking is of the secret-keeping, stealth-requiring, jumping-out-and-saying-surprise variety.

I'm not very good at it.

While the delight of keeping secrets came at an early age, a houseful of seven kids wasn't conducive to stealth. (My journalistic tendency to broadcast everything didn't help either.)

Once grown up, I had mixed success.

There's been a surprise party or two - at the very least, the recipients feigned delighted shock. I didn't tell my Grandma I was coming home from nine months of travelling, and casually wandered into the kitchen.

I noticed a mate's car had a parking ticket, and slyly removed it, to stop a bad day getting worse. (Best intentions of actually paying it got sidetracked - so then I had to sneakily knock over the infringement notice he got three weeks later.)

It all pales, though, to the paragon of sneaking.

While unattainably both fictional and French, the sweet cinema hero Amelie manages to creep around Paris, playing tricks for the betterment of friends and family.

One of many sneaky campaigns, she steals her depressed dad's garden gnome, and sends it on an around-the-world tour, with gnome happy-snaps sent back. (He took it as a sign he should go travelling.)

So, what should I make of it, when not in Paris but Gladstone, a gaggle of gnomes show up in my front yard?

Arriving home after dark last week, I found two gnomes had appeared at my letterbox - or more accurately, at the feet of my plastic flamingos.

Two more were at my door, and quite a few heads peeked out of overgrown weeds.

The sneakiness!

Bafflement reigned briefly, but Facebook investigations found the culprit - the 15 little fellas were a whole roller derby team, sneakily placed by a couple fellow skaters. (The grand sneaky scheme was inspired by said flamingos.)

Perhaps it's a sign I shouldn't go anywhere.

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