A 12-year-old boy named John wakes up one morning and finds a tiny man in his room, who has invited himself to stay. John spends the next few days half-willingly, half-grudgingly waiting on his new guest. The Man is opinionated, messy, demanding and manipulative, with a fondness for specific brands of tea bags, milk, bread and especially marmalade, which John is obliged to spend most of his pocket money acquiring.
The Man soon begins to outstay his welcome, but he and John nevertheless form an Odd Friendship. All the while, John tries to keep his guest a secret from his parents, who blame him for the Man's antics, and are bemused by their son's recent odd behaviour; buying his own expensive food, singing along to the morning service, arguing with himself, and coating the house with marmalade.
It was later released as an audiobook, with Michael Palin voicing the title character.
- As the Good Book Says...: The Man reads The Bible and quotes verses from Job.
- Batman in My Basement: A 7-inch-high man hiding in my bedroom.
- Berserk Button: The Man is prickly about being called little, but really snaps when John threatens to phone the authorities and have him put in a care home.
- Change the Uncomfortable Subject: The Man does this a lot, particularly when John questions him about his species.
- Character Title
- Death World: The world is this for the Man and his kind. They are too small to lead normal lives, and almost everything is hazardous. Even making a cup of tea almost costs him his life.
- Downer Ending: John is heartbroken when he awakens to find the Man has gone.
- Hypocrite: The Man lectures John on the importance of hygiene and cleanliness, but goes two days without bathing and begins to smell.
- Jerkass Has a Point: The Man does have a point when he suggests that John took him in and cared for him not out of kindness, but because he is small and a novelty, like a pet.
- Last of His Kind: The Man remarks that there are not many of us left and implies that there are just two.
- Manipulative Bastard: The Man knows how to exploit his size and get what he wants. John even points this out.
- Minimalist Cast: There are only four speaking characters.
- Misanthrope Supreme: The Man dislikes vegetarians, health food, foreigners, wine drinkers, art, stories, films, and even human beings as a whole.
- Naked on Arrival: The Man turns up stark naked.
- No Name Given: The Man's real name is never revealed. He claims not to have one.
- Noodle Incident: At some point before the story begins, the Man had an emergency which entailed losing his clothes, but doesn't go into specifics.
- Picky Eater: The Man dislikes most of the food in the house, dismissing it as "health muck." He insists on John buying his preferred brands of milk, bread, sugar, marmalade and tea bags.
- Pinch Me: John has this moment when he first sees the Man.
- Product Placement: A lot of British brand names are mentioned: Coco Pops, Bran Flakes, Mother's Pride, Frank Cooper's Oxford Marmalade, After Eights, Guinness, and PG Tips.
- Scavenged Punk: A variant of this. The Man wears clothes made out of a sock with an elastic band for a belt, and uses a toothbrush made from a stylus brush from a record player.
- Toxic Friend Influence: The Man asks John to steal some beer and place a bet for him.
- Unsatisfiable Customer: The Man is a serial complainer.