TO date, Harry Horse's involvement in television has been a complete joke, notwithstanding the fact that he had a money-spinning No 1 hit on small screens all over the United States for a fortnight around Christmas 1996. But now that Harry has returned to his adopted home town of Edinburgh, all that is about to change.

Harry Horse: who he? A man of many, many talents. Scottish music-lovers, for instance, will remember Harry Horse as the charismatic frontman of crazed Caledonian-Cajun pioneers Swamptrash, the band who in the nineties grew into those Celtic-hoose cross-over heroes Shooglenifty. On a different tack, readers of Scotland On Sunday will recall the six-year-long centre-page residency earned by Harry's coruscating political cartoons.

American computer-game buffs will praise the name of Harry Horse for having created, designed, and written Drowned God, a point-and-click puzzler which won't have been off their PC monitors since its successful launch two Yuletides ago. Additionally, throughout this month, everyone who enters any British branch of Waterstone's bookshop will be made aware via copious advertising for his latest children's novel, The Last Gold Diggers, that Harry Horse is one of their featured authors of the month.

Meanwhile, the mere mention of Harry's name will induce a terror-stricken cold clamour amid such telly notables as Nick Owen, Anne Diamond, and Eamonn Holmes. First things first, however. Where's Harry Horse from? Where's he been? What's he up to right now? Where's he going?

As a confused teenager, Harry ran away to Auld Reekie from his parental home in rural south Warwickshire in 1978. He wound up staying in Scotland, mostly in Edinburgh, until 1993 when his increasing workload as an illustrator of children's' books drew him London-wards.

He's currently working on five books, illustrating four by other people, three of which are re-prints of children's works by Dick King-Smith, the creator of silver-screen super-piglet Babe. The other book is Harry's own, The Last Cowboys, the conclusion of a wise and funny trilogy which began with The Last Polar Bears, soon to be transformed into a half-hour TV animated film, and continued with the aforementioned Last Gold Diggers.

Issued by an offshoot of the mighty Time-Warner organisation, Drowned God is the spooksome CD-Rom artefact which has brought Harry his widest audience so far. ''It sold 17,000 copies a week during its first two weeks on sale in the States, with a total so far of 60,000 copies,'' Harry reveals.

Had things gone entirely to plan, Drowned God would by now have been an even bigger global hit. ''I began working on it four years ago, ie well before big successes like The Men In Black and The X Files, elements of which also feature in Drowned God. It's a conspiracy game, based on an alternative history of the world, which draws on UFO-ology, the Tarot, the secrets of the Pyramids.

''At first Time-Warner were saying things like: 'A computer game about secret societies and aliens? No-one will be interested.' I pointed them towards the Internet, which is filled with people theorising about secret societies and aliens. Six months after, Time-Warner signed me up because they liked Drowned God's art-work, which is subtle granite greys and mossy greens and browns rather than your usual lurid computer-game colours, The X Files appeared, making them a lot happier.''

Not that it's been an easy ride. The British launch of Drowned God has been delayed by the business failures of three separate companies, leading to the game acquiring a cult status (and a hefty black-market price tag). Moreover, the game might have gained even greater success had it been narrated by the voice of outlaw novelist Williams Burroughs. ''He'd agreed to do it, but a few days before recording, he died.'' Harry's next computer game will be set amid the alien-abduction taxi-rank which is Area 51 in Colorado.

But why, pray, have you fallen back to earth in couthy Edinburgh, Harry?

''I'm aware that Scotland, lacking self-confidence, can sometimes be unkind to its children who go away to bigger countries and then return . . . 'Why's he back here? He must have failed!' But now Scotland's a nation again, we needn't lack that kind of self-belief anymore.

''Really, though, the simple fact is that Scotland features so much in my creative work, that I couldn't live without it. The name I've made for myself is as a Gothic artist, and Edinburgh is a Gothic city. And I've missed the acerbic wit of my friends in Edinburgh pubs.''

And we've missed you, too, laddie. Almost as much as we've missed the legendary hoax phone calls you've made over the years, usually pretending to be a confused octogenarian, to daytime TV shows. That one where you exasperated the deadly duo of Nick Owen and Anne Diamond by claiming to be their show's No 1 fan. Without ever having seen the show before! What a ripper! Enough to bring a tear to the seat of the stoniest trousers!

Typically, Harry managed to bluff his way through an on-air mini-quiz about the show's history sufficiently well to win the top prize of a lampshade. Within weeks, Nick and Anne were gone from our screens. That was no coincidence. Harry Horse-power did it. Because Harry Horse can do anything.