Monday, 7 December 2020

Never doubt your fairy-ness

I never doubted my fairy-ness

When I was a very little girl, I was convinced I was a fairy.  Looking back, it was really just about me, I did not see fairies, did not talk to them nor think anyone else was a fairy.  I was lost in my own world where I was the fairy, and that was that. 

 I was a solid, food loving fairy with blonde hair that stuck up straight in all directions until my very beautiful mother brushed it down and put pretty ribbons in it. I longed to be a delicate, flimsy wood sprite and thought I should wear my mother's net curtains and that everyone should do as I commanded.  It sounds like a very healthy attitude for a little girl with three little brothers and it did not stop there.  I made my two younger brothers dress up and play fairies and princesses with me as a special treat.  

 I remember longing for twinkles, and glitter, and colour, and long fancy dresses. I wanted feathers, and

gossamer, and frills.  My father who was academic and eccentric, and my mother's older sister Kit, a
My mother and my aunts made me
lovely dresses
brilliant artist herself, would read me fairy tales and fill my imagination with magical stories, show me gorgeous illustrations and let me smell and hold delicate plants and flowers in the garden.  My Aunt Kit had in her flat in Birmingham, rows of coloured glass on the sitting room window sill.  Light would shine through the deep blues, reds, greens and yellows of these glass bottles to create swirling patterns of light and beauty on the walls opposite, sending me into such wonder and joy. I wanted to live in these wonderful colours. Kit could create wonderful murals too, illustrations of fairy tales with castles, princesses, beautiful dresses and fantastical creatures.  They appeared on her walls, and disappeared as she painted over them, and appeared again in another room.  She made dolls clothes out of the remnants of cloth that she used to make her own clothes - fancy, twinkling turquoise materials, pink and yellow patterned cottons, and purple silks.  Kit, my mother and their sister Anne were beautiful, creative, fiery of temper and loved quality in all things.
  All of them made their own clothes.  As a fat funny looking little fairy, I was in awe of these wonderful women and they, and all my uncles, bless them, made such a fuss of me with pretty materials and ribbons and bows.  I must have amused them endlessly with my efforts to be elegant and walk with my head held high wearing as many bits of glittery cloth as I could manage.  I was deadly serious though.  I had standards to keep, and a role to play.  I was a fairy and had work to do.   

 Growing up as a fairy had its drawbacks though.  In the playground one day, when I was about six years old, a group of rather assertive girls told me that only those born in 1959 or 1961 were fairies.  How they knew this never once occurred to me.  All I knew was that I was born in 1960 and by these new rules, I was out.  But! they all said, ask the fairy queen who lives in a tree outside the sports hut.  Maybe she can make you into a fairy like us.  Go, they said, see if Esmerelda will appear to you in the tree.  

 Each lunch break for many weeks, I would stand under the tree asking for Esmerelda to come and make me back into a fairy.  It was lonely and stressful because Esmerelda never once appeared. The other girls would come and giggle, and I became more and more alone and distressed.  Eventually my mother asked me what was making me so quiet and upset.  The girls had made me promise to tell no one, they had made me do a thing called a Vow, which was more than a promise, and would be terrible to break.  But my mother was so kind, and so gentle, that I burst into tears and told her everything.  What had distressed me most was that Esmerelda had never shown herself, even though the other girls, the real fairies as they said, would tell me she had long chats with them all the time.  Oh dear.  I was so upset. 

 My mother hugged me, wiped away my tears, and told me all would be well.  The next day, to my great surprise, all the other girls came to find me to tell me I was a fairy, that Esmeralda said I was the best fairy, and from that playtime onwards, nothing was ever said about it again.  And, they were very nice to me.  I thought it was my fairy credentials that had finally got through to them but I now know that my beautiful Irish mother went into see the teachers and the headmistress and read them the riot act.  She had a fine turn of phrase and was deeply articulate.  I think she spoke to the girls themselves too, in the headmistress’s study.  The upshot was that everyone behaved very well afterwards.  

 I carried on oblivious to all this, back to being a fairy and living my magical life.

 Christmas is coming.  It is a time of lights and festivities, we have a set programme of decorating our houses and businesses, buying in lots of food, trying to see family (and be nice to them) and of course, lots of presents. 

 This year it may not be like this.  We may be alone and afraid.  We may weigh up that we would rather stay alive than hug our relatives.  We may find ourselves relieved that no one will come, and we will go nowhere, we may save money on presents and we may tell ourselves that we don’t want anything anyway because we fear it may kill us.

 Or, we may be happy to see each other, or to see just a chosen few.  Whatever happens, this Christmas is different and we feel we can’t do much about it.  I have been feeling very miserable about it all and thinking that if no one is coming, and nothing much is happening, I may just forgo the tree and the lights.  Why bother, I said to myself.

 And then I found a photo of myself as a child.  Deep in my world as a fairy.  I remembered the happiness of just being, and of never questioning, magic.  Of how I looked for and loved lights, glitter, and loveliness and I thought – of course I must have Christmas!  I must have my tree and decorations and have them for me!  The fairy is still in there, she is still longing to see the pretty things on the tree, the fairy lights in the hallway and the fun of making a special meal on Christmas day.  My fairy has come up from the depths and is taking over.  Make it special!  She says, cover it all in glitter!  Wear your fanciest of clothes!  Put on your jewels and let us have Christmas together!  Let us be magic.

 We will do just that, she and me and anyone else who comes by.

Ready to fly away.

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