Who is Uncle?

Uncle is an elephant. He is immensely rich, and he's a B.A. He dresses well, generally in a purple dressing gown, and often rides about on a traction engine, which he prefers to a car.

He lives in a castle called Homeward, which is hard to describe, but try to think of about a hundred skyscrapers all joined together and surrounded by a moat with a drawbridge over it, and you'll get some idea of it. The castle is so large that parts of it are unknown to its owner. Many dwarfs live in the top storeys. They pay rent to Uncle every Saturday. It's only a pound a week, but it mounts up when there are thousands of dwarfs.

The main view from Uncle’s splendid house is marred by his enemy’s dingy fortress - the huge sprawl of Badfort. The Badfort crowd, led by Beaver Hateman, are Uncle’s chief critics and adversaries - a constant thorn in his side.

The Uncle stories tell of his adventures in the remoter parts of Homeword, his efforts to maintain order and his constant conflicts with the Badfort Crowd.
Originally from humble jungle origins, Uncle is a self-made elephant, who can be angered when reminded of his roots, particularly of an unfortunate episode when, as an undergraduate, he was accused of stealing a bicycle. But, through sheer dint of his own effort, he has become vastly wealthy, and acts with a sporadic and impulsive generosity. He thinks nothing of spending £1000 on a Christmas present for himself, or on treating all his Followers to high tea. However, at other times he can resent paying sixpence if he feels he is not getting value for money. Pompous, high-handed and often hypocritical, Uncle nonetheless has a roguish charm which usually sees him come out on top.

He is constantly surrounded by his Followers – loyal employees and grateful retainers – who rely on Uncle for their livelihood. Like Lord Reith at the BBC, Uncle has 'a most excellent and appreciated form of paternalism.' "Mine is a vast domain," he says in his portentous Johnsonian way, "and the responsibilities are great".

His life would appear to be an idyllic Eden, but there is a serpent in every paradise, and in this case it is the Badfort Crowd. Forever attempting to burst his self-righteous pomoposity by covering him with slime or pricking him with skewers, their dream is to enslave him and take over Homeward. Their most effective weapon is abuse: Uncle is incensed at being called Unc, and they often interrupt solemn occasions with cries of "Arch-bully, tyrant and boaster", "Old Snorty" and "the old crab of Humbug Lodge". His most effective retaliation is to "kick up" his opponents with one swift boot of his mighty foot.

Despite these fights, Uncle and the Badfort Crowd are more sympathetic to one another than appearances might suggest. Uncle recognises there is a lot of truth in Beaver Hateman's sneer, "You know jolly well that you would be bored stiff if we didn't have a dust-up occasionally", and is forced to acknowledge that there are times when he rather misses the attacks and criticising of his degenerate neighbours.

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