It is called The Channel. Not a street. Not a road. Not even a lane. It is called The Channel because it runs alongside – and plays overlapping games with – Flowton Brook and is the base of a deep cut in the earth.
And this is where strange things can happen. Particularly where the road curves sharply near the ford. A curve you cannot see what is around of until whatever awaits you springs into view. This is where Jay Diamond – toy Colobus monkey come to life – first meets a Gromlin.
Jay has come down the steep hill at some speed on his tricycle and has just realised that the brook does not go under the road as it crosses, but gurgles and splashes a turbulent path over its surface to a depth that will submerge his wheels to the rims. And thus the brakes. The brakes which are already damp from the wet weather.
He grabs handfuls of them and prays and prays and prays and squeezes and squeezes and squeezes.
His tricycle finally comes to a squealing stop about half a yard from where the brook fords The Channel. Jay breaths out and looks across to its source as the sound of laughter filters though to his consciousness. Leaning against the railing of the footbridge, arms folded, one boot nonchalantly braced against a pillar, watching and smiling, is a small man. Standing less than two foot tall and thus just a tad shorter than Jay, he is dressed in green clothes that match the hue of nettle stems and echo the garb Jay has seen in pictures of old gamekeepers.
"What's the matter?" the little man says. "Afraid you'll melt?"
"Who are you?" Jay says.
"Thaddeus Monk," he says. "I'm a Gromlin. And I'm responsible for bringing you into this world. I'm the one who gave you life."
Try not to do the stupid things stupid people do.