The Little People

Photo by Zhen Hu on Unsplash

Once upon a time, under a red capped, white spotted toadstool, sheltered by a fallen oak tree riddled with the bore holes of wood lice and beetles, in a green fern shaded glade in the woods near Penponds, lived a Pixie tribe headed by a matriarch called ‘Joan of the Wad’. Joan looked after a whole tribe of pixie families and dispensed advice and admonishment from her throne. This was a mighty piece of furniture, hewn out of a granite and quartz  stone, and always decorated with flowers of the season. Bluebells were her personal favourite. Normally the families of pixies would be found in the high granite moorland of Bodmin, or making homes in menhirs, stone circles, dolmens and ringforts. Joan spent her days roaming around visiting the homesteads of the pixie families under her guidance. All welcomed her over their hearths, especially on feast days which for pixie families was every day. A pixie pasty or piece of hevva cake was a treasure, a thing possessed of magic and worth far more than any gold washed up in the Moorland streams. Joan knew how to make both. It was why she was Queen of the pixies. 

Well, that and because her rival for the throne, Hilda, had met a mysterious end after a particular feisty pixie piss up in Pixie Hall in the Bluebell wood at the vernal equinox. What happened was at the end of the dinner, when the mead had been flowing like a torrent, Hilda Elderberry-Leafing had slipped out the back for a crafty fag, and was leaning up against a large fern stem. Gazing up through the oak branches to the white moon gazing back down, she thought she saw a shooting star.

“Reckon that’s Shoemaker Levy-9 slamming into Jupiter”. 

No one heard her, and she would never get it confirmed for just at that moment, she belched. Normally this would be fine. Normally all that would happen is a ‘tut tut’ or someone else joining in with a belch of their own. If there were enough Pixies present at the first belch, this would have set them all off, culminating in close harmony belching of the pixie national anthem. To the Big People’s ears this would be heard as a far away song of the nightingale. Anyway. Hilda had belched and was just about to lift a cheek when darkness descended and Hilda was to belch no more. The reason was that an Owl, alerted to the sound of the belch and the light of the fag, swooped down from behind, grabbed her by the sharp talons in her fat midriff and bit her head off, before flying back to the nest to finish an Owl supper. But no one saw this. All that was found later was the now damp fag end nestling in among some primroses.  Not even a spot of blood gave a clue as to Hilda’s demise. There was no silent witness to help out. 

Hilda’s loss was Joan’s gain.

Being Queen came naturally to Joan, the crown fitted her head as if it was made for her. A pixie crown is made from the feathery down of a duck’s arse, sewn over a hawthorn twig, and bent in shape. For jewels it uses the twinkling of midnight starlight on the surface of a still lake which can only be gathered by the light of the full moon at summer solstice. Pixies can walk on water and can gather the reflected twinkles in well, a twinkle of the eye. The lake has to be still however as even the slightest ripple can result in drowning. In 1856, the pixies of the river Tiddy came to grief when, just as they thought they’d gathered enough starlight, an owl’s tail feather detached itself from its host and floated down onto the still backwater pond and caused, what was to pixies, a tsunami. 

The last recorded words of Robin Lightly-Weeding were “Oi, look out, that looks like a fu….”. The sentence never finished, as it vanished along with Robin under the ripples of the Tiddy. Pixies from that moment onwards never trusted owls. Even today, on certain nights you can still see a trail of starlight on the water, starlight that spilled from the buckets of the River Tiddy pixies of 1856.

Joan’s crown was decorated with the starlight gathered from the Tamar, the Fal and the Cober. It weighed nothing, in fact it was so light that whenever Joan wore it at pixie pageants and suchlike it always felt like her head was being gently lifted up from her shoulder. Which indeed it was, for the starlight wished always to return to the stars themselves. 

Joan was musing on the properties of starlight as she wandered the glades and ferns. When she came across the family of pixies living under a red topped, white spotted toadstool, sheltered by a fallen oak tree riddled with the bore holes of wood lice and beetles, in a green fern shaded glade in the woods near Penponds. 

“A fine faerie morn to you, woodland folk living under a red capped, white spotted toadstool sheltered by this fallen oak tree riddled with the bore holes of wood lice and beetles in a green shaded glade in this wood of Penponds!”




It was the voice of Dennis Slightly-Flushing, the head of the household. 

“This is 42, owing to the fact it’s the 42nd red capped, white spotted toadstool along from the Hart’s Tongue Fern, resting on the bottom broken branch of the fallen oak riddled with the bore holes of wood lice and beetles in the green shaded wood of Penponds.”


“So you only have to say 42 and not the whole ‘woodland folk living under a red topped, white spotted toadstool sheltered by this fallen oak tree riddled with the bore holes of wood lice and beetles in a green shaded glade in this wood of Penponds’  bit. Tedious, see?


“Although I liked it when we used to say red capped, white spotted toadstool sheltered by this fallen oak tree riddled with the bore holes of wood lice and beetles in a green shaded glade in this wood of Penponds. Sort of poetic isn’t it?” 


“My father use to live at rotting pine cone covered in moss sheltered by the ferns near the ants nest by the running stream in the woods at Tehidy,”.

Did he now…”. Joan’s voice was beginning to lose its air of bonhomie uttered at the first ‘Hello’.  

 “3, because it was the third cone…..”

“I think I’ve got it”.

His father used to live….” 

“I think you can stop now before I become just a little bit teasy and find the need to insert my fist into an orifice”. 

Dennis was not sure what an orifice was but he did not like the sound of ‘insert’. Or ‘fist’ for that matter. He remembered his old drinking partner Rodney Mostly-Ferreting in an unguarded moment, after a long drinking session at the ‘Acorn and Truffle’ in Kennel Vale woods, babbling into his mead about being taken by surprise at a request to ‘go to a fisting party’, which afterwards he realised was not a wise decision.  

“Sorry. Got any hevva cake…or a saffron bun…a pasty perhaps?”

“Ah yes, I was coming to that…a pasty”.  

The little people absolutely loved a pasty. Every day if they could. They also liked to drink a cup of sugary tea with them, but the ‘tea’ was not the green leaved bush found in India and elsewhere. No, this tea was a distillation of Psilocybin (magic) mushrooms and morning dew. Thus it was that after a decent pasty and nice cup of tea, Joan and the other pixies would spend the afternoons off their “bleddy tits” in a wild kaleidoscopic reverie of enchantment and story telling. That was also why they liked a pasty.

Who does not like a pasty? The pixie folk of ancient Kernow invented them at a time when the first tin was yet to be discovered, the first woodland cleared for human settlement and before the very first Denzil drew his very first picture with a bit of charred wood on a pale stone in order to impress his female companion, Bianca. He should have invented a pasty. That would have worked on Bianca. Owing to fact that the pixie people had not yet passed on the pasty making secret, Denzil was reduced to drawing the very first cock and balls ever on a pale stone.  The stone now rests in the County Museum at Truro, next to a slate with ‘Denzil is a cock’ written in runes scratched into it. 

It is lost in history how the secret pasty recipe was passed on to Humans. Some say the pixies told it to the faery folk, who told it to the ‘bottom of the garden fairies’ who often partied hard all night dancing to Drum and Bass with the woodland Elves off their tiny minds on cocktails of mandrake and honey. After a few centuries the Elves reluctantly told it to the dwarfs of the tin caves after the King Dwarf Axeblood Harbinger threatened to separate the Elven King from his scrotal sack with a rusty shovel. The Dwarfs it is said passed it on to the Knockers, a race of two foot tall scallywags, who would hang around mine shafts and steal miner’s food and tools. It then passed on to humans. One day, back in 1746 ‘Boy Trevaskis’ of Geevor, caught one of the Knockers (called Malcolm) making off with his croust tin. This was his lunch of prawn sandwiches, smashed avocado and a Jaffa cake. 

“You bleddy little bugger, I’ll ‘ave ‘ee!”, Boy Trevaskis had thrown a lump of tin and and bounced it off the back of Malcom’s head. Dazed and realising the game was up, Malcolm gave the recipe in exchange for the removal of a boot from his throat. 

And that is how the Cornish pasty came into the hands of the Cornish Miner.  We have to thank the little people, such as Dennis Slightly-Flushing and Joan of the Wad for starting it all and avoiding owls. 

Another story is that Boy Trevaskis’ mother was at home one afternoon bored of making “they same bleddy sarnies every day” in 1683 in her kitchen in the village of Trewellard. The Inn across the road was selling decent cider and so to while away five minutes ‘Black Bess’, as she was known on account not of the raven glossiness of her hair (she was bald) but because of the dirt in her fingernails and the colour of her teeth, decided to slake her thirst. Well as we all know, one cider can lead to another and before you know it the afternoon has descended into singing, swearing and general bawdiness, especially if the Parson turns up, “   Well, ’ee’s a bugger for the piss” was the general verdict. On this particular afternoon, Bess was proper tanked up and was singing ‘Going up Camborne Hill’ arm in arm with the Parson, whose red nose shone like a baboon’s arse, until she ‘got a bit nibble on…’. There was only soup available that lunchtime at the Inn, and it just happened to be mushroom soup. 

Not any old mushroom soup, mind. To the normal chestnut and button mushrooms, chef had added a few psilocybin mushrooms…the same as that known among the pixies as ‘magic’ mushrooms. And so it was Mrs Trevaskis, after a few ciders and a hearty bowl of soup, fell into her own rainbow reverie in which she was transported to strange enchanted lands in which the twinkling of stars were collected by little people, where owls flew in the purple and the blue and the shimmering silvery moonlight, in which singing and dancing could be heard throughout the woodland, in which a tiny belch danced across the tree tops, and in which a red capped, white spotted toadstool was sheltered by a fallen oak tree riddled with the bore holes of wood lice and beetles, in a green fern shaded glade in the woods near Penponds. As she lay her head down among the soft moss, Mrs Trevaskis ‘dreamed’ she heard a conversation in which a pixie Queen shared a strange recipe for a pastry based meat, onion, turnip and potato foodstuff with someone she would swear later to ‘Boy Trevaskis’ was “an annoying little bugger called Dennis”. 

A week later, when she had recovered from her ‘dream’ and retained a modicum of continence and apologies, Mrs Trevaskis had an idea. 

“You done me croust, mother?” Boy Trevaskis said before heading off to the mine at Geevor.

“ ‘appen I have, boy, ‘appen I have!” She looked upwards and winked. 


Published by Lance Goodman

Freelance writer, bon vivant and all-round good oeuf.

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