The fairies have left me some cushions…

I am gradually catching up with Tech, although of course Tech keeps moving on, further and further into the darkling realms of the incomprehensible, further and further beyond my reach…

But I have just learned how to make lists on my smartphone. It has taken me a decade or two to learn the smartphone. The lists, only a few minutes. I have an app. It is called Simple Lists or List-So-Simple – something like that. Now of course I am thinking of all manner of To Do’s that I was managing to forget about, and therefore never having to get round to doing, before.

There are all sorts of weird things on my To Do lists. Under Organisation, for example, is ‘Round up single duvets and wash’. This kind of implies that a herd of single duvets are cavorting round my house, getting grubby. In fact, I have only two single duvets and I have just rounded the second one up. It was lurking in the garage, in a giant-size Bag For Life, inside the metal garden incinerator I bought but never quite managed to use (effectively).

Anyway, this is not about duvets, but cushions. In searching for duvets I happened to look inside the far right door of the wardrobe. There are many doors I do not open. To open this one I had to gently slide a somnolent, one-armed cat a couple of feet to the left. Ah, I thought, another duvet – for there on the top shelf was one of those blue duvet-dry-cleaning bags. When I opened it, however, it was four 16 x 16 inch cushions with dull, open-weave, sea-greenish fabric covers. You could have knocked me down with a feather, because

although I occasionally stumble across an item I thought I had lost, I have always up till now remembered them once I saw them, ie some sort of back-story popped into my mind.

Oh, the builders’ rule Dad gave me, or

Oh yes, that awful ornament I didn’t quite know what to do with or

Oh, that arctic explorer jacket I thought I might need if another ice age were to strike, but which was in fact so bulky and noisy to wear that I never actually wore it, but it cost so much money I didn’t like to throw it away, because after all there still might be another Ice Age…

But these four cushions – I could have sworn I had never seen them before. This is worrying because…  dementia. There’s Mum, and the worry that all of us ‘children’ are now saddled with, that one of us might be next. 

I have never worried too much about being forgetful because I have always been forgetful. All my life, objects have lost themselves around me. I don’t have any sense that I am getting more forgetful over time. But finding an object you could swear you have never seen before – now we’re heading into wipe-out territory.

I must have seen them before, but if so how did I manage to zip them into a blue, duvet dry-cleaning bag (which I do recognise – I can even picture the dry-cleaners, next to Tesco, that supplied it all those years ago) and push them to the back of my wardrobe without noticing? Was I sleep-walking? Where did the cushions come from? They don’t match anything, certainly not my sofa.

There can be only one explanation: it must have been the fairies. Just as fairies are known to exchange fallen milk-teeth for sixpences and good human children for very bad fairy children (or, so I read in Folklore Myths and Legends of Britain, ancient, toothless fairies cunningly disguised as human babies, thus providing for them a luxury retirement home) so they must bring cushions. Fairy cushions!

Luckily I am making cushion-covers at the moment – very, very slowly – and I do not have any 16 x 16 cushion middles. I could therefore make a set of fairy patchwork cushions, somehow…

Ah well, that’s that sorted out.

fairy cushion

We’re having a heatwave…

Further to the tooth-fairy post, I was reading one of Godmother Betty’s donated Woman’s Realms this lunchtime (never admit to buying this yourself, unless planning to roll it up and beat somebody on the bottom with it *) and on the problem page discovered another yet another interesting snippet of tooth-fairy lore. Here is both the question and answer:

My grandson is about to lose his first tooth. I was talking to my daughter-in-law and I asked what they were going to leave him from the tooth fairy. She said nothing, as it’s made-up nonsense and she doesn’t want to fill his head with rubbish. I think that’s a bit mean.

Of course, it’s her and your son’s decision whether they do this or not. The tooth fairy is a very old tradition: it was believed that burying the tooth would ward of evil spirits and protect the child. This seems a bit outdated now. But will this single him out from his peers at school and how will they react if he says it’s all made up? It might not please other parents!

I think many people do this as a reward for their child who’s moving into the next phase of their life. For some children, it helps them to manage the discomfort of both losing a tooth and the new one growing. They know that alongside the bad parts of this experience, they will get something nice. Maybe your daughter-in-law could focus on this bit, rather than the fairy.

What interests me is the daughter-in-law, and the subtext: some kind of power struggle going on between these two? Or echoes a very unhappy childhood.

They used to believe, in Victorian times, that children were Empty Vessels and it was the educator’s job to ‘pour’ knowledge into them. Alternatively, children were a Blank Slate or tabula rasa, and it was the educator’s job to write useful facts on that slate. Since both a Vessel and a Slate have finite capacity, it might well be possible to waste valuable space in in/on them with rubbish. But this concept has long since been discredited. Children seem to be perfectly capable of sorting fact from fantasy, as they get older. They just re-categorize things. And what would childhood be without fantasy?

Well, I’ve had a rubbish day today. Things are supposed to go to plan but they never do. According to the internet the local Post Office is open on Sundays. I got there, it wasn’t.

According to the internet Boots the Opticians in a distant town are supposed to be open on Sundays, so I could have collected one of my new pairs of glasses and had a week without headaches rather than with. However, I got there, I paid for parking – it wasn’t. Barriered off, with a little handwritten note impaled on the barrier: We are not open on Sundays any more.

The loo in the car park was closed, it being Sunday. The loo in BHS was closed, it being the final week of their Going Bust Sale and so Frankly, My Dear they no longer give a damn about the public’s convenience.

I sat in Tesco’s car park and ate an overpriced egg-and-cress sandwich and a chocolate bar. The chocolate bar was mostly melted by the time I got to it since the temperature inside the car, even with both windows open, was at heatwave level. No hint of breeze. The water in my water-bottle, which I had foolishly left on the passenger seat, would have been warm enough to wash my face in. My face felt in need of a wash, but thirst won.

On the way back from the far distant town with the air-conditioning on full blast, I got stuck in a traffic jam. I crawled home, listening to Gardeners’ Question Time. I now know all about New Zealand flatworms. They look like British worms, apparently, but somewhat flatter. Did you know they eat the British worms? Yes, worms are their diet. They are also slimier than ordinary worms, and the slime is pretty nasty stuff; not good to get on your hands. And the way to trap them is to stack old plates and saucers under a tree or in a cool, damp place, whereupon the New Zealand worms will worm their way in between and await their eventual fate at your vengeful hands.

In between all this driving, I spent an hour at the home with Godmother Betty, watching Mum eat half a bowl of cornflakes very slowly and drink half a mug of tea even more slowly. A shrill alarm sounded constantly. That’s when someone in one of the rooms has tried to get out of bed. There are alarms under the carpets. The carers ignored it. The other old folks ignored it. The home’s enormous tabby-cat ignored it, waiting for a triangle of sun to get round to his spot on the carpet. Luckily Mum is stone deaf.

And tomorrow I start training for a new job, back in that far distant town, which means I’ve got to get up at five in the morning for the next four weeks, and probably won’t get back till seven in the evening.

Ah well. Onwards and upwards!


* The Ballad of Barry and Freda: Victoria Wood

What does the tooth fairy do with all the teeth?

It just never occurred to me to ask this question. You lose a tooth, it gets wrapped in a handkerchief and put under your pillow and in the morning there’s a sixpence. Simples!

I waggled any loose teeth surreptitiously and vigorously in order to get my sticky little mitts on the sixpence, but wouldn’t have gone to the lengths our handyman went to, at the solicitors’ office. He had a loose tooth and in order to rid himself of it drank the larger part of a bottle of spirits and pulled it out with a pair of pliers. I doubt if he sterilised the pliers. It was one of his front teeth, and he was not a pretty sight next day.

I suppose I just trusted my mother. She said there was a fairy that collected children’s teeth, so there was. End of. I was more interested in the sixpence. Now, of course, with my mother in no fit state to answer questions about the tooth-fairy, questions about tooth fairies come flooding in on me.

Question 1: If a tooth fairy is teensy-tiny how does she lift the tooth? A baby tooth must be the size of a planet to a tooth-fairy. Is she equipped with a special tooth-lifting winch, maybe? Possibly tooth-fairies work in teams, carrying between them some kind of sling. Or maybe she/they has/have a specialised tooth-truck or motorised tooth-sled.

Question 2: Tooth-fairies inevitably seem to be female. If there are no male tooth-fairies how are further tooth-fairies engendered? Maybe a tooth-fairy lives forever.

Question 3: Having collected a tooth where does the tooth-fairy/fairy tooth-removal team take it?

Question 4: Are removed teeth stored, at their destination? I mean, is there a mountain of baby-teeth somewhere in fairyland similar to the slag-heaps next to coal-mines in Wales?

Question 5: Above all, why? Why collect teeth at all?

I thought I would look on the internet for this one, since the internet has a million contradictory answers to everything, apart from the Meaning of Life. Even the internet is clueless when it comes to that.

According to the internet, these are just a few of the things a tooth-fairy does with teeth. She:

  • makes furniture with them;
  • builds castles using the teeth as bricks and toothpaste as mortar;
  • gives them to little babies who don’t have any, ie recycles them;
  • gives Mummy and Daddy the first tooth to keep, then grinds the rest of them into sand on the beach;
  • grinds them down to make fairy dust;
  • puts them in a high box out of reach, as she hasn’t decided what to do with them yet;
  • puts them in a museum in fairyland;
  • makes necklaces from them to give to other fairies;
  • ‘disperses the teeth back into the grasses that milk cows eat so that hydroxyapatite gets reused’ (methinks Daddy is a biochemist, lacking a sense of humour).

Straying into darker territory now, she:

  • uses them to make her maracas;
  • donates them to medical research;
  • extracts stem cells from them;
  • barters them away with the Finger Fairy.

The Finger Fairy! So, does that mean…

What exactly does that mean?

tooth fairy.jpg