Land of Fantastic Names
by Gordon Dioxide
Tom was 9 years old and he wished he had a longer name.
"I'm 9 years old," he said "and I wish I had a longer name." Told you so.
"I wish I had ten letters in my name, or even fifteen, or even fifty or a hundred." But he was wasting his breath because no one was listening.
One day he was sitting in the middle of a field talking to himself as usual. He was muttering something about how short his name was, when suddenly he heard a voice behind him,
"Oh, do shut up!" said the voice "All you ever do is moan, moan, moan, about your silly name. Why don't you get a proper life?"
Tom looked round to see a tree coming towards him. The tree carried on talking "Every day you come up to my field. Every day you sit there going on and on about names. Well I'm sick of it. If it’s really that important, why don't you change your name?"
"Change it?" said Tom "But how? How would I think of a new name?"
"Go and get one from the Land of Fantastic Names of course" said the tree.
"The Land of Fantastic Names? Where's that?" asked Tom.
"Just north of Oxford on the A34. Don't you know anything?" said the tree.
It was clear that the tree was starting to get a bit irritated, so Tom made a hasty exit and set off to find the Land of Fantastic Names.
He caught the 11.30 train from platform 4 at London Paddington and, after changing at Reading, arrived in Oxford just after lunchtime. He hadn't had lunch himself, but that didn't matter because he'd had some yesterday.
He caught a bus from Oxford station that took him directly to the Land of Fantastic Names, where he saw a man standing on a corner of the street counting all the people as they went past.
"Congratulations!" he said to Tom "You are the one millionth person to walk down this street this year."
"Have I won anything?" asked Tom.
"No I just thought you might like to know" said the man.
The man said his name was Raymond Snodgrass Junior, which Tom thought was a great name.
"How can I get a name like that?" asked Tom.
"You need to go to the Land of Fantastic Names" said Raymond Snodgrass Junior.
"But this is the Land of Fantastic Names" said Tom.
"You're in the right place then" said the man.
"Well, what do I do now then?" asked Tom.
"You need to go and see Gumbo Mulroney ChopFace. He's in charge of giving out fantastic names. He's over there selling newspapers."
Tom saw a short fat man with a bald head, and walked over.
"Do you want to buy a newspaper?" asked Gumbo Mulroney ChopFace.
"No" said Tom.
But the man gave him one anyway.
"This newspaper has got fish and chips in it" said Tom.
"Yes, I always think fish and chips taste better in newspaper" said Gumbo.
Strange man, thought Tom.
"My name has only got three letters in it," said Tom, "can you get me a better one?"
"No I can't. You need to go and see Terry TickleFace the Third. He's over there counting the number of people that walk past."
"That can't be Terry Tickle-whatsit," said Tom "that's Raymond Snodgrass Junior."
"Oh yes, so it is" said Gumbo Mulroney ChopFace "it must be Terry's day off."
"Where does he live then?" asked Tom.
"In his house of course" said Gumbo Mulroney ChopFace.
"And where might that be?" asked Tom.
"In the same street as my house" said Gumbo Mulroney ChopFace.
"And where is your house?" asked Tom.
"In the same street as Terry TickleFace the Third's. I just told you that!"
Tom realised he was getting nowhere with this man so he looked up Terry's address in the phone book. He lived in PigPigPog Avenue, so Tom went round there straight away.
"What do you want?" asked the thin fat man who opened the door.
"New name please," said Tom.
"What new name would that be?" asked the man.
"Umm, I don't know. I thought you might be able to help me think of one," said Tom.
"I've got some new ones growing in the garden if you want to have a look," said the man.
So they went round to the back garden. Tom was amazed to see names everywhere. They were growing on trees, in bushes, and some were even growing on the lawn.
The first name he saw was Betty Beedlebum.
"Nice name," said Tom "but it’s a girl's name. I'm not having that."
"Of course it’s a girl's name," said the man "that's a female bush you're looking at."
"Oh!" said Tom "where's the boys bush then?"
The man went to the boys bush and started to read the names.
"Barry Bighead the Boring Beekeeper"
"No, I'm not keen on that one" said Tom.
"No, that's even worse."
"Jason Jeremiah Jellytooth"
"Clumbo Clipper Clop Clap Clop"
"No, I've already got a name like that, it’s boring."
All of a sudden, a name fell down from a tree and landed on Tom's shoulder. Tom read it, and was very impressed. It was a brilliant name, just the sort of thing he was looking for.
"I'll have this one" he said.
"What is it?" asked Terry TickleFace the Third.
"Sargeant Skeleton Stink Squirter"
"Excellent" said Terry TickleFace the Third "it suits you. You can have it, but you must leave your existing name here."
So Tom put his Tom name on a bush and went away with his new name. When he got back home it was nearly time for supper.
"What would you like for supper Tom?" asked his Mum.
He didn't answer, so she asked him again. Still no reply.
"Why aren't you talking to me Tom?" asked Mum.
"Tom's not my name anymore. I changed it in the Land of Fantastic Names."
"Oh yes" said Mum "and what might your new name be?"
"Sargeant Skeleton Stink Squirter"
His Mum fainted on the kitchen floor.
Dad came home and went upstairs to get changed. He saw a new sign on Tom's door that said "SARGEANT SKELETON STINK SQUIRTER'S ROOM".
There must be some mistake thought Dad, that's Tom's room. When the Sargeant told him about his new name, Dad was so amazed at what he was hearing that his ears fell off.
The next day, Stink Squirter went back to school. All the other kids laughed at his new name. Even the teacher sniggered. But Stinky didn't care. He was proud of himself. He was different to all the other kids and he didn't intend to be upset by their comments.
After a few weeks, everybody got used to his new name and they all stopped laughing at him. In fact, some of the kids were getting quite jealous. They started to wish that they had interesting names as well.
So one day they asked Sargeant Squirter if he would take them to the Land of Fantastic Names, just north of Oxford. This he did, and while the other kids were all changing their sensible names into ridiculous ones, Stinky picked his old name, Tom, off the bush.
"Mmmm," he thought "I think perhaps my old name wasn't so bad after all."
So he took his old name back. Now he was Tom again, and everybody else had silly names.
The next day at school, the teacher had great trouble reading the register without laughing. It went something like this ...
"Billy Bathwater" - "Yes Miss"
"Harry Head-Bandage" - "Yes Miss"
"Kylie Kangaroo Kettle Keeper" - "Yes Miss"
"Larry Lipstick" - "Yes Miss"
"Tooooooooo TigTigTig TunkyTunkTunk" - "Yes Miss"
"Tom" - "Yes Miss"
After that, Tom never went back to the Land of Fantastic Names. He was happy with his proper name and thought that his parents were very kind to give it to him.
Here are some questions to delay your sleep even longer:
Where is the Land of Fantastic Names?
At what time of day did Tom arrive in Oxford?
What was unusual about the newspapers being sold by Gumbo Mulroney ChopFace?
Where did Terry TickleFace the Third live?
What happened to Dad when he heard about Tom’s new name?
What silly name would you like to be called?