Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Lazy Fairies and Laissez-faire

My mother-in-law is a housewife extraordinaire. She cooks, she cleans and she bakes so well that just the thought of any of her pastry dishes causes Hubby’s eyes to take on a dreamy far-away look. If ironing was an Olympic sport, there is no doubt in my mind she would be the captain of the English team.

My father-in-law, who, let it be said, is a dab hand in the kitchen himself, reaps the benefits of her daily efforts. Something, I am sure, he is eternally grateful for. However, from time to time he fails to see the necessity of her spending hour after hour behind the ironing board and kindly asks her to sit down with a cup of tea instead. To which she will call out “In a little while, dear”, gaze over at the still half-full laundry basket, sigh, roll her eyes, and mutter under her breath “You know, he thinks the fairies will do it!”

Now, my father-in-law is not a dim-witted man – quite on the contrary, I think most people would agree – and that had me wondering. What if he was right?
The idea that there are little hardworking fairies out there, ready to leap to my assistance, held great appeal to me, for we could certainly do with some extra manpower around the house at the moment.

The existence of fairies, house helpers or other kinds, has of course been debated throughout history. Many otherwise intelligent people believe in them. The great Arthur Conan Doyle even thought he had found proof of their existence. Many of you, I’m sure, are familiar with the story of the Cottingley fairies, caught on camera by two little girls in 1917. The cousins Frances Griffith and Elsie Wright apparently liked to play with them in their garden. When they borrowed a camera, their little winged playmates willingly posed as models for five photographs. These quickly achieved worldwide renown and were taken by many as evidence for the existence of supernatural creatures. A photography expert, Harold Snelling, who examined them declared they were "genuine unfaked photographs of single exposure, open-air work, show movement in all the fairy figures, and there is no trace whatever of studio work involving card or paper models, dark backgrounds, painted figures, etc."
In other words: The real deal.
It wasn’t until the late 1970s that the ladies finally gave in and admitted they were really cardboard cut outs – all except the last photograph of the fairies sunbathing... They also maintained that they really had played with fairies.
Now, what to make of that story is up to each and every one of us. I for one was sorely tempted to believe.

Being somewhat less extraordinaire around the house myself (I strongly doubt I would be deemed worthy of representing my country in the ironing Olympics.), plus being under the pressure of deadline at work, I have to admit that housework hasn’t been high on the agenda lately. Consequently, the whole house was rapidly drowning in dust and clutter. In the hope of getting some help, or at least some moral support, I pointed this fact out to Hubby. But his uncomprehending expression as he looked around in total astonishment saying “What?? Where???” told me there wasn’t much to be gained there. I simply had to put my faith in the fairies.

So for the past week I’ve applied the laissez-faire principle to housework. In other words I haven’t lifted a finger. Every morning I have scanned the house, eagerly looking for evidence of some nocturnal activity by little helping hands, but to no avail. I did get really excited one day as I came home from work and found that half of the enormous pile of laundry waiting to be ironed had actually halved in size, but it turned out it was just Hubby who had done his shirts, bless him. Apart from that, the house looks worse than ever. If the fairies have done anything at all, it’s just contributing to the mess.

So, from this experiment I think we are able to extrapolate the following:

     - If there indeed are any fairies dancing around in our garden, they are not domestically inclined;

     - The housework will not do itself;

     - Hubby will actually try and do his share;

     - and my mother-in-law really does deserve to sit down with a cup of tea.

LAZY LITTLE BUGGERS. It seems fairies are only good for causing mischief and frolicking around in gardens. They appear to show absolutely no sense of responsibility for housework of any kind.

Photos are borrowed from the Museum of hoaxes website.


  1. Why would you expect fairies to do your housework? What have you ever done for them? That is so very unreasonable!

    Yah... Prod dad with a sharp stick... ;)

  2. Good point there, Fi. :-)
    Somehow I thought believing in them was all I had to do.