The Sick Fairy

According to David Attenborough on BBC Radio 4’s Tweet Of The Day this morning, the sound made by the storm petrel has been described as “like a fairy being sick”. Conversely, in Lands of Faerie, for example in Cottingley, where the fairies are made of paper, a fairy being sick is compared to a storm petrel.

One might find it hard to imagine a fairy, especially a paper one, vomiting. But the Land of Faerie is (mostly) invisible to (most of) us. It is a parallel world where, could we see it, much would be familiar to us, albeit skewed and distorted. So, yes, fairies are sometimes sick, just as we are sometimes sick. But what they vomit up is not the same as what we vomit up. Yes, fairies shop for groceries in supermarkets with an increasing number of self-service tills, but they buy different groceries, in supermarkets which dimly resemble our own, and the protocol for self-service tills is like something from the fourteenth century. Fairies travel on buses, but not on our buses. I could go on.

Do you want me to go on? Or would you rather I shut up, so you can put on a pair of stout walking boots, and hike out to the seaside, in hope of finding a colony of storm petrels, so you can make a tape recording of their cries, and, later, back home, play it while reading a bedtime story to your tinies, that much-loved story from your own childhood, the one about the oh so delightful fluttering paper fairy that caught a stomach bug and vomited up a mess of fairy pottage, into a fairy bucket, in a little fairy cottage in Cottingley, and they called for a doctor, and the doctor who came hurrying across the fields with his black bag was Dr Arthur Conan Doyle?

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