fairy in flight

My sister asked her Miss Nearly-three what sort of cake she would like for her impending birthday. Her mother hopefully showed her a picture of a cake in the theme of her new all time favourite television show “Bluey” (her psychopathic devotion to “Peppa Pig” having waned of late).

“Nah!” said my niece. “I want a FAIRY cake”

… And in that moment the family circle was complete.

Don’t mess with the GOOD Fairy

Miss Nearly-three’s grandmother had been required to play a fairy in a school play back in her kindergarten days. She had not wanted to play a fairy… she wanted to play the farmer. So when her moment in the spotlight came, out she stomped on stage and delivered her line:

“I’m THE GOOD FAIRY” she snarled.

It was a performance never to be forgotten.

But the family’s connection with the sylvan world went back much further than my mother’s generation. Her paternal grandparents both died before she was born but in their day they were great socialites and hosted many genteel garden parties at their Fremantle residence somewhat incongruently situated opposite what at the time was a very much operative Fremantle Prison.

Carrie and Albert Grigg in their garden c 1925

On more that one occasion musical items were performed by and for the guests. One such diva of the vocal variety graced her audience with a standard made popular by Hollywood actress and performer Beatrice Lillie during the 1920’s called “There are Fairies At The Bottom Of My Garden” penned by Liza Lehmann. The whole concept of fairies had been popularised a decade before that by the pretty-damn-obvious-in-hindsight fake fairy photographs of Cottingley that completely sucked in Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle.

It must have seemed an appropriate choice for the venue for the Grigg family’s backyard was lushly verdant. What the singer had not taken into account was that Fremantle Councillor Bert Grigg and his wife Carrie had two young sons and that at the very rear of their Hampton street residence was the outhouse.

Jack Grigg (left) was my grandfather. On the right is Ede, his sister-in-law.

My own grandmother, who later married one of those two young boys, had a strange verbal tic I could never comprehend. I presumed it was a euphemism for modesty’s sake. My grandfather died months after I was born so I never got to know him. It was only many years after my grandmother had also passed that I finally discovered the truth. The outhouse at Hampton Street still stands. By outhouse I mean the bog, the crapper, dunny, water closet or shithouse.

Joy Turton (soon to be Grigg) acting the goat c1928. One of the joys of family history research is discovering these sorts of things.

Whenever my grandmother had need to announce she was going to the toilet, she would say: “I’m going to the fairies”

Where the fairies lived. Hampton Street in 2018.