Welsh-born sportsman and iconoclast Reginald Bakeley first came to the attention of American audiences in 1998. Bakeley had long held the editorial post at the venerable overland croquet periodical Phooka, and that year, Wonderella Printed was chosen to produce four quarterly issues of the magazine.
Aside from his literary duties, Bakeley’s true passions lie in the management of a peculiar portion of the natural world. Since childhood, Bakeley has been able to see and engage with the good people—beings comprising a kingdom populated by fairies, gnomes, and the like.
It is Bakeley’s contention that the fairy kingdom presents an incalculable peril to mankind, responsible for calamities ranging from strife between nations to the oversteeping of tea. He has therefore devoted his life to rigorous control over the seelie and unseelie elements of this other world. This fall, the purveyors of the marvelous at Berkeley’s Castle in the Air present a special exhibit of Woodland Fauna from the Collection of Reginald Bakeley.
Interested parties are encouraged to examine these photographs from the exhibit (complete with commentary by Reginald Bakeley), and to visit the display in person at:
Castle in the Air
1805 Fourth Street
Berkeley, Calif. 94710
“Trophies Collected from Gnome-Hunting Expedition”
Reginald writes: What you see here are some artifacts from some recent gnoming excursions in Britain. I am very pleased to be exhibiting an pristinely intact gnome hat. So often they blow off or are otherwise destroyed during capture. Also shown here is a selection of vials of fairy phlegm, which has become more common since the publication of Percival Dwight’s article. (See “Murphy’s Smear” in the Little Wonder Series.)
“Goblin Eggs (Sterilized, Completely Safe)”
Reginald writes: Please don’t think for an instant that I would allow any unsterilized goblin eggs to be brought before the public. Such reckless disregard for human health would be unimaginable. The goblin eggs in this exhibit have been made safe through rigorous cleaning methods which also preserve the eggs for close scientific examination.
“Please Do Not Tease The Captured Gnomes”
Reginald writes: It is a risk, I know, to display live gnomes anywhere. The blighters are known to cause such strife wherever they go. Fortunately, the gnomes in this jar are kept sedated through moderate applications of Irish whiskey. I am asking that patrons of the exhibit refrain from tapping the glass or otherwise distracting the gnomes here, because once they shake off their stupor they become unpredictable.
Reginald writes: This particular exhibit borders on the macabre, admittedly, but is important from a research point of view. What we have in this jar is a specimen of the pixie race, from Cornwall. When alive, the pixie is dangerous, to put it mildly. When dead, as this one plainly is, the pixie is an even greater peril because of the deadly miasma which rises from its corpse. I have prudently tied the lid to the jar with string, and urge no one to loose it.
“Woodland Fauna from the Collection of Reginald Bakeley”
Reginald writes: All right, this is a bit of an embarrassment. Between the time of installation and the taking of photographs, two of my prized preserved gnomes went missing from this display case. I had verified them dead weeks before, during a jolly outing in Shropshire. It is my sincere hope that there was an avid gnomer among the crew installing the exhibit. As bad as it would be for someone to have purloined the specimens, I shudder to think that the gnomes were exhumed by escaped members of their own species.
About Reginald Bakeley
Best known for his long-standing editorship of British magazine Phooka—the Journal of the Overland Mallet Club—Reginald Bakeley embodies that publication’s three-fold mission of espousing spirited croquet, sampling the best in malt whiskys, and reporting on the unending battle between modern man and the denizens of the fairy kingdom who would be our undoing.
In 1998, Wonderella was fortunate enough to spend Phooka’s 107th year working with Bakeley and his associates. The resulting collabortaion produced four issues and coincided with the inaugural year of the Berkeley chapter of the Overland Mallet Club.
Following issue No.428, Bakeley took the Phooka reins in his capable hands, steering the woolly beast back to Wales, where he continues to this day to publish Phooka for the British members of the Overland Mallet Club.
Bakeley occasionally collaborates with Wonderella on pamphlet projects. The most famous of these are the Little Wonder Series of “On Gnoming,” “Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop,” and “Lewis Carroll’s Croquet Companion.”