Tea and Cake with the Voting Gnome

The Ergates thi ant interview

Bascule bumps his head on the doorframe as he enters the Gnome's bungalow. (I rely on Bascule a lot. It is difficult for ants to get around.)

The Voting Gnome sits Bascule down and offers him tea and cake. The Voting Gnome is a short, plump figure, with reddish cheeks and a jovial disposition that immediately puts an ant at ease. And he serves excellent cake, as I discover when Bascule gives me a crumb of his.

Is it a lot of responsibility being the Voting Gnome, I ask. He considers carefully before replying. "Well yes, I guess it is," he says, munching on his cake. "If you look at it that way. I don't really have to think about it much, because I always take the advice of my Buddy," he adds. You've had a lot of buddies in your time, I put to him. "People seem to like me," he nods. "Maybe it's just because I vote the way they ask me to, but I'd like to think that there's some genuine friendship there too," he says, laughing.

I ask him if he enjoys his job. "Very much so," he says. "It's a lot better than my old job." When I ask him what that was, he gestures at a fishing rod on the wall. "I used to be a Garden Gnome. People don't realize, it's a tough life. Whether it's raining or snowing, I had to keep fishing. And I never caught anything either," he says, wistfully, "except colds!" Bascule chokes on his tea, and spills some on his latest proposal, which he has been working on during the interview. "You might be my Buddy soon," laughs the Gnome, "if too many of those things get voted down!" Bascule looks annoyed, and I quickly change the subject.

I ask the Gnome about other Nomic entities not currently recognised in the rules. "Oh yes, there's plenty of others," he says. "Players sometimes don't look hard enough. I was pleased to see that the Right-Handed Grapefruit was found recently." He is interrupted by a bleeping noise, which turns out to be his mobile
phone. "It comes with the job," he says before answering it. "Got to go, I'm afraid. Techno's going to vote, and he wants me to be there."

As we are leaving, I look at Bascule's tea-stained proposal, and think that he could do worse than have the Voting Gnome for a Buddy.