Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
Come on Barbie
I hope Britta doesn't mind me reproducing this picture of 'The Princess and the Pea', done by her son when he was 5 or so, but I love it so much that I really want a better copy (maybe you could scan it for me, Britta?). I expect she will like it, proud mother that she is, or at least was - a bit of water must have gone under the bridge since this was painted.
I showed it to H.I. who - as you may know - is a professional, and she loves it too. To me, there is something of the Rothko about it.
As far as I remember, the story involves a little girl who insists she is a princess, and in order to test whether or not she is telling the truth, they place a dried pea under (in this case) eight, feather mattresses, then get her to lie on top of them. She complains that she can feel a lump beneath her, and in this way proves that she really is a princess.
This story is very old - I don't know how old - but was obviously written by the parent of a demanding and precocious little girl of the kind who timelessly still exist today. We have all met them in the past and some of us have even brought them up from babies. I was playing table football with one last night, and the only concession she made in playing a boy's game in a boy's world was to wildly celebrate each time she scored an own-goal.
I suppose the archetypal male equivalent would be for a boy to sleep on a cannon ball without noticing it.
There is a lot of fuss about toys sold in shops which are gender-related (Barbies and Action Men, for instance), but these things have a way of sorting themselves out in the long run.
Try as you might, you will never be able to stop your little girl from going through a pink phase if she has her heart set on it, and you will just have to get through it, all the while reminding yourself that your children are not - or should not be - an outward extension of yourself through which you express your supreme coolness. If they want to wear an outfit which makes them look like an orphan from Disney World, then that's their business.
Some years ago, there used to be an establishment here in Bath called, 'The Fairy Shop', and it is important to say that it was run by a very camp and very gay man who obviously saw an ever-renewing demand in the market for lacy wings, pink chiffon skirts, wands, tiaras and all the other requisites that make up the outfits of all wannabe fairies between the age of 2 - 8.
My unusually large grand daughter came to visit one day, at a time when she was going through the pink fairy phase, and demanded a set of wings to go with her wand with the star on top.
I went into The Fairy Shop and asked the bloke for a set of wings. Astutely realising that these were not for myself, he asked how old the child was. I replied '6', and he produced a tiny pair which were only a little bit larger than a real insect's ones, so I cut to the chase and asked to see the biggest he had.
He gave me a sideways glance, obviously trying to decide if I was not really shopping for myself, then reached below the counter to pull out a pair which were obviously made for an older child whose learning difficulties kept them in the fairy-phase for a little longer than most.
"They'll do" I said, and he put them into a large, pink bag.
Before I had even noticed it and before I could stop him, he reached into a bowl of glitter next to the till, grabbed a generous handful and threw it in to the bag all over the receipt and wings, with a flourish that could have been appreciated from the back row of a large Christmas pantomime.
I still see little sparkles from the corner of my eye when the sun hits the floor of our compact but adorable city apartment, all these years later.