Nobody loves a fairy when she’s forty

My Dad used to sing this all the time, along with other rude songs or ‘ditties’ as they used to call them in those days. I suspect it’s sexist, and of course ‘fairy’ has since gone through a phase of meaning something else. The song refers to a pantomime fairy – an actress, now beginning to realise she may be getting too old for the part. Dad had other songs as well, and poems. Some of them are so non-PC in a variety of ways that I can’t – and wouldn’t want to – reproduce them here. Others are just silly.

Other favourites were ‘Nellie The Elephant’ (…packed her trunk and said goodbye to the jungle, off she went with a trumpety-trump…) ‘My Aunt’s Name is Ella Wheeler Waterbutt’ (…and she lives down at Burton-on-Trent. When she goes out riding on her bicycle she always gets the handlebars bent…) and ‘Oh, Jemima’ (…look at yer Uncle Jim, he’s in the duckpond learning how to swim. First he does the backstroke, then he does the side, and now he’s under the water swimming against the tide…!).

 Most of the time my father and I didn’t get on. He’d had a bad time in the war, I suspect, though he didn’t talk about it. I was his first child, and the worst possible species of child to have to make all one’s mistakes on. We seemed to spend most of the time firing off verbal missiles and screaming at one other. But one thing we did have in common was these old music-hall songs. He sang them frequently, knowing they would make me giggle, and because he was a show-off, a natural performer and communicator whose performing and communicating instincts had been disabled by my mother. We shared a kind of all-consuming rage, a history of hurt, a spikey, sensitive nature. We also shared an excellent memory and ‘collecting instinct’ for words, a love of the music they made and a keen sense of the ridiculous. A strange, sad, wasted combination. We could have been the double-act of the century.

  • (written by Arthur Le Clerq – 1934)
  • For years a fairy queen I’ve been
  • For years I foiled the Demon King
  • But alas I’m getting on the years have flown somehow
  • And I feel that Fairy Snowdrop isn’t wanted now
  • Chorus
  • Nobody loves a fairy when she’s forty
  • Nobody loves a fairy when she’s old
  • She may still have a magic power but that is not enough
  • They like their bit of magic from a younger bit of stuff
  • When once your silver star has lost its glitter
  • And your tinsel looks like rust instead of gold
  • Fairy days are ending when your wand has started bending
  • No-one loves a fairy when she’s old
  • For years I reigned in Fairy Dell
  • I waved my wand and waved it well
  • If I can’t do all I did I’m satisfied because
  • I’d sooner be a Has-Been that I would a Never Was
  • Nobody loves….
  • Nobody loves..
  • The face of this Immortal One to many has appealed
  • But gone is the illusion once you’ve had it soled and heeled
  • When you’ve lost your little fairy dimples
  • And the moth holes in your dress let in the cold
  • The Goblins and the Pixies turn their backs and say Hi Nixey
  • No one loves a fairy when she’s old.
  • Nobody loves…..
  • Nobody loves…..
  • As far as I can see they try to push you off the map
  • When once your wand has withered and your wings refuse to flap
  • When you can’t cast a spell without it spilling
  • And a fairy tale for years you haven’t told
  • You stand there shouting What O.. but they all pass by your Grotto
  • Nobody loves a fairy when she’s old.
  • Nobody loves…..
  • Nobody loves…..
  • Tessie O’Shea – Nobody Loves a Fairy When She’s Forty

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