Lulu and the Gobble Monster
I wrote this in 1975, when Louise was four years old, and too busy to come to the dinner table. Weetabix is a British breakfast cereal. The three daily meals in England at that time were known as breakfast, lunch and tea.
It was one morning at breakfast that it first started.
Lulu ate one or two spoonfuls of her Weetabix, just nibbled a corner of her toast (despite mom’s very special spreading of butter) – it wasn’t that she didn’t feel hungry, just that there was always so much else to do, like playing games or drawing. There never seemed to be time to sit down properly to eat. In any case, she could come back and finish it in a few minutes.
Today was different. Something had changed. Across the table from Lulu was someone new. Well, he acted just like dad. He read the paper at breakfast just like dad, but all the time he was looking at Lulu over the top. Suddenly, he spoke.
“Good morning. I’m a gobble monster.”
Lulu was quite taken aback. She’d never heard of a gobble monster before. The gobble monster went back to reading his paper. He looked harmless enough.
Suddenly the gobble monster put down his paper. He looked about him, then he looked at Lulu. He looked mean.
“Gobble monsters eat things. Aren’t you going to finish your Weetabix?”
Lulu just looked amazed and shook her head. She didn’t really know what to say. “Eat what?”, she thought. “I hope he won’t eat me!” She didn’t really think he would. He looked quite friendly actually.
Suddenly the gobble monster dived forward across the table. “GOBBLE GOBBLE”, there was a loud noise, very fast. Lulu hardly had time to see what had happened but there, across the table, the gobble monster was licking the last remains of her Weetabix from around the edge of her dish. He was making quite sure there was nothing left. Then he put the dish down and smiled, a big wide grin. The gobble monster only smiled like that when he was quite full, which didn’t last too long.
Lulu thought she’d better eat her toast, so she took another bite. The gobble monster was leaning forward across the table, peeping from behind the salt & pepper pots. He was moving his head from side to side gently, all the time looking with his eyes wide open.
“Will you be finishing your toast?” asked the gobble monster in a polite tone of voice. He was licking his lips.
Lulu had only had two bites of the toast, but this was already more than she normally had at one time.
“I’ll just go and play for a few minutes”, replied Lulu. “I’ll come back and finish my toast later.”
“All right then.” said the gobble monster. He was smiling that big smile again, and he was still licking his lips.
Lulu climbed down from her chair, and was hardly out of the room, when “GOBBLE GOBBLE”, and then “GOBBLE GOBBLE”. She ran back to see the gobble monster just finishing the last few crumbs of her toast.
“I was going to finish that later!” protested Lulu. She was very angry.
The gobble monster was still smiling. “Us gobble monsters just eat everything”, he explained. He sipped some of Lulu’s tea too. “As long as you’re eating I’ll just watch, but if you leave it, I’ll gobble it all up!”
Lulu wasn’t really too bothered. She wasn’t very hungry anyway. But by lunch time she was feeling quite empty, and was beginning to wish she’d eaten some more at breakfast. The gobble monster was there at lunch time too, and he gobbled up most of her peas and quite a lot of potatoes.
At tea time she thought she wouldn’t let the gobble monster have anything. When mom called her, she would have come right away, but she thought she’d just watch TV for a couple more minutes…
“Lulu, are you coming?” asked mom. She sounded quite cross.
“Lulu, there’s a gobble monster looking at your tea…”
The gobble monster! Lulu had forgotten all about the gobble monster! She ran towards the dining room. She was nearly there when she heard, “GOBBLE GOBBLE”. She was too late. The gobble monster was just cleaning her plate. There was no tea left for her at all!
“I waited for you, but you didn’t come”, said the gobble monster.
Lulu was quite worried. She was feeling rather hungry, and now she had no tea at all.
“What can I eat then?” asked Lulu. The more she thought about it, the more hungry she felt.
“Well”, said the gobble monster, “I don’t think there’s anything left. You should have come when you were called.”
Lulu felt very unhappy indeed. Fortunately mom let her share her tea, and Lulu was careful to eat it all up, because the gobble monster was back behind the salt and pepper once again, just looking and smiling to himself.
And so it went on. For day after day the gobble monster would be there, behind his paper at breakfast, behind the salt & pepper at lunch, sometimes just sitting in the corner at tea time, but always looking, and waiting for some left-overs to gobble. Usually, Lulu would remember him, and eat all of her meal right up. If she ever started to play, or wander off at meal times, the gobble monster would go “GOBBLE GOBBLE” and there would be nothing left.
He was quite friendly, as monsters go, and would often chat to Lulu when she was sitting quietly eating. But because he was friendly, it didn’t mean he was any less watchful. Sometimes, right in the middle of a pleasant conversation, he would go “GOBBLE GOBBLE” and quickly consume any food he didn’t think Lulu was paying enough attention to.
Then one day the gobble monster just sat at breakfast, peeping out from behind his paper, and didn’t get anything to eat at all. Lulu ate all her Weetabix, and every last crumb of her toast. She also drank every drop of her tea.
At lunch time she was there waiting for mom to put her plate on the table. She ate every mouthful. The gobble monster was looking very closely indeed now. He edged the salt & pepper forward so he could get closer. He was looking for Lulu to only look like leaving something to get a chance to gobble it. He didn’t even get one chance. Lulu left nothing.
Then at tea time the gobble monster was looking worried. He no longer wore his usual self-contented smile. He’d pushed the salt & pepper right up against Lulu’s plate. He was leaning right across the table so that he’d miss nothing – the merest hint of leaving something was all he wanted.
But Lulu wasn’t going to leave anything. She pretended not to even see the gobble monster looking at her. She even had a second helping of apple pie when she’d finished. Now she was quite full!
The gobble monster had now lost his smile completely. He’d gone a whole day without eating, and gobble monsters need food regularly, in large amounts, to keep smiling.
“Would you like some of this apple pie Mr. Gobble Monster?” enquired Lulu. “I’m sure there’s some left.”
“Would you like cream on it, Mr. Gobble Monster?” joined in mom, who was enjoying the joke.
“Would I? Yes please!” replied the gobble monster. He tried to put a brave face on it, but he felt rather humiliated. If fact, for a gobble monster, this was probably an all time low.
“Thank you.” said the gobble monster when he’d finished. “I was really hungry…” and with that, he gave them a big wide smile, and walked out of the door.
And he never came back.