The Optimism Gnome passed on 4th February 2011 suddenly, after a very short illness.
There are few real facts known about the Optimism Gnome. Most of what is known is a mixture of conjecture and fairy-tale. Some say that there have been, like James Bond, or Batman, several Optimism Gnomes, whilst others claim that the Optimism Gnome is a being almost 200 years old. Whatever the case may be, he has been a constant companion of the Welsh rugby fan for a considerable period of time. There have been various periods where he was believed to have passed, the 70’s being a notable occasion. But as coaches come and go with considerable and depressing regularity the Optimism Gnome has been a constant.
The Optimism Gnome was born, some say, at the turn of the 19th century. As a small boy he excelled at very little, and, even as a middle aged Gnome lacked a clear idea of his life path. However, life’s ups and downs had little effect on the Optimism Gnome, for he was the, well, Optimism Gnome. The inspiration for both Michael Landon’s Angel in Highway to Heaven and the Littlest Hobo, the Optimism Gnome would sneak into difficult situations and create hope all around him.
In 1854, he is alleged to have snuck into Lord Cardigan’s tent and quietly whispered “You can have ’em bois, go to it.” Later in 1879 legend has it that the Optimism Gnome had convinced a sleeping Lieutenant John Chard that, “FFS mun, do ’em mun. Ewe are hard as and those lot need a good slap.”
And so it began. But soon, in the late 1880’s the Optimism Gnome found his real calling as the one who would create a swelling of, frankly, astonishing belief in the supporters of Welsh rugby. He was there at the best of times, he was there at the worst of times. He sat in the stands at Wembley. He made visits to every home following Canada, Samoa, Fiji, Samoa again, Fiji again. And Fiji again. Never did he tire of making us believe. In 2005 and 2008 the gnome saw his dreams realised, but he did not tire. He continued to work with prid and passion, hwyl, spunk and guts.
The Optimism Gnome never tired of bringing his unique brand of self belief. It defied common sense and rationality but it continued to throb at the very heart of every single Welshman.
But on the 4th February 2011 it all became too much. As Mongo kicked ahead late in the first half the Gnome dropped stone dead. Just prior to his final breath he was heard to say “FFS, I can’t even blame CeriG.”
And so the legend came to pass, no more will we look for our lucky pants, drink specific drinks in specific halves, crank up Bread of Heaven in the lead up to the match on iTunes. The gnome is dead. Gone forever.
But, perhaps, there is hope. Perhaps the Gnome is not optimism. Perhaps optimism is the gnome. Perhaps, the smallest amount of self belief will see the stone rolled back from the tomb and the casket where the gnome now lies, empty. Perhaps, he will return.
Optimism Gnome is survived by his wife Dorothy and cat Owen.