on 5 July 2013
Now I'm not a racist, and I'll be the first to say that anyone who comes to this country with the intent of working hard and paying their taxes has as much right to be here as I do. You ask anyone and who knows me and they'll tell you that.
But there's one thing I won't stand and that's a lack of common courtesy. I don't usually write product reviews, but after what I've been through I wanted to let the world know that if there's one book out there that can bring common decency back to this country it's How to See Faeries.
But I'm rambling on ahead of myself and should go back to the beginning. You see my wife and I live in the country, where exactly doesn't matter, just know that it's a quiet place. We moved from the city ten years ago after our youngest daughter left for university. It was always our dream to have a country house and my wife has always wanted a big garden with chickens. I just wanted some quiet if I'm honest. A bit of peace from life in the city and somewhere where my Blackberry wouldn't have any bloody signal!
So that's what we did. We bought our dream house and we enjoyed our retirement for three wonderful years. Then, one morning in September 2011, everything changed.
I've gone and run ahead of myself again. Let me paint the picture first. Our house is a good ten minute walk from the centre of the village and sits by itself behind a small grove of Ash and Apple trees. There's a sizable grassy knoll on the eastern boundary; we wanted to buy it, but the council won't give planning permission for it. Apparently it's a breeding ground for endangered newts or some silliness like that.
In any case, I'm partial to drinking my tea in the conservatory in the morning and looking out over the knoll to get a feel for the weather. On this day I noticed something; a glimmer of light, no thicker than a dewdrop, just dancing softly across the grass. I dropped my mug and didn't hear it break.
Now if you're not a country person you won't know what that kind of light means, especially in September. But let me tell you if you're a home owner it's your worst nightmare come to life in front of your eyes.
That kind of light is only made by one thing: Faeries. The 'Little Folk'. Tiddlywidgers. Stiffy Mifflers. Pompadom Clitsticklers. The Fey. Whatever you want to call them they were there, sure as the sun was in the sky. I knew it in my bones, knew it all the way down to my soul. I called the council right away to get them evicted.
Now you may think I was overreacting. You may even think I'm a specist or a hate monger, but it isn't like that. Some of my best friends are foreigners - ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you that. I even took an Indian cooking course with my wife a few years ago. Made some lovely chutney.
But faeries are different, you see. Faeries are nomads, they lack basic common decency and they don't even bother trying to be good citizens. They leave their rubbish all over the place, their children are mischievous and out of control and they don't respect any property rights. Seems to me the more the government tries to integrate them the farther they move away from normal society.
Give a fairy a council flat and you'll arrive the next week to find the walls stripped, dead animal parts scattered around the place and sparkles bloody everywhere. Try and give them a painting job and they'll disappear into the walls with your copper wiring before you can blink.
Anyway I've run ahead of myself again. Someone at the council picked up the phone and I was told that it would be impossible to evict them before the end of the summer. I'd just have to live with them. That's what they said. `Just live with them.'
I don't mind telling you I was livid. Absolutely livid. Once my wife calmed me down I decided I'd go over and talk to them, man on faerie. I left my garden gate at dusk and walked up the knoll. I remember calling out. There was a rush of light and ten of them popped up in front of me, giggling and twirling and doing god knows what behind me.
"I've just come to say hello," I told them, "Just to let you know it's a quiet village and we aim to keep it that way."
They all ignored me. All but one that is. She did that... thing.... they do where they suddenly grow taller. She was wearing old clothes from at least two hundred years ago, hand me downs I suppose. She wasn't more than three feet tall after she did her expanding, but then again none of them are. She walked up to me and put her finger to her lips and with the other hand she raised up what I can only describe as a crystal ball filled with shiny milk. She looked at it, then she looked at me, then she giggled.
I said something along the lines of "You just keep to your side and I'll keep to mine" and walked back down the hill.
Now if I was livid earlier that day you want to have seen my wife when I got home. She didn't know whether to hit me or to kiss me, and once I got it out of her I saw why. I'd been gone for ten days. Ten days! It had only been a few minutes, I was sure of it! But that's faeries for you. They don't respect rules like the rest of us so why should they bloody well respect time?
I was fuming, I'd missed the finale of Dr Who and two Champions League games and those prancing nightmares were laughing at me, I knew it.
I took to sleeping in the conservatory, watching them, waiting for them to make a mistake. But they knew my game and they'd all gone invisible. It was impossible to know whether they were there or not by looking but you knew it from the music. Oh, the bloody music! All night long they'd play their stupid flutes. I saw five different people wander aimlessly into the knoll - didn't matter if I tried to call out to them, they run up the slope dancing like lunatics and disappear into the darkness.
One day my wife opened the door to find a baby on the step. Left by the bloody fairies, I'm sure of it. We took it in and called child services, but it took them two days to arrive and you've never heard a racket like it. The baby was sickly and its eyes were slightly too far apart. Above that it had a strange air about it, something a bit off.
Well, that wasn't the end of it. Not by a long shot. I could tell you about the stolen milk, the whispering you'd hear in the house during the day, leaked pipes and finding our satellite dish covered with holly brambles. But I won't, because if you're reading this chances are you know what faeries are like. Instead, I'll tell you how I got rid of the little devils.
Let me back up for a moment. I didn't decide overnight that I'd have to exterminate them. That's not an easy conversation to have with yourself. Not at first at least. But you try listening to fairy music for every night for three months while you sit up in the conservatory with a bottle of whiskey and then tell me how much your morals matter. Any man would have done the same.
I started off by doing research, trying to find a way to get them off the land without killing them, if I could. Nothing I turned up was any use for that. Apparently they don't like citrus, but it's hard to douse them in it when you're flinging lemons from your roof and all you can see is twirling lights and giggles sweeping across the wet grass.
That's when I realised; if I couldn't see them, I couldn't beat them. That's when I found How to See Faeries. I'll never forget the moment I opened that Amazon package and held it in my hands. It was like water to a man lost in the desert, and once I opened it it was a bloody oasis.
It only took me three days to train my eyes to see the residual energy trails they leave behind them, and the useful tips in the book also helped me to create a topographical map of the knoll to mark out their most likely hiding spots. Once I'd done that, I went about learning how to make napalm. You see, a regular flame thrower won't really cut it for faeries, and don't even get me started on bear traps. The advantage of napalm is that it sticks to them, and if you're lucky it'll spread to the whole tribe if one of them panics and runs down their hole.
I bought an old but reliable leaf blower and rigged it with two large tanks of napalm. With my dog-eared copy of How to See Faeries stuffed into my trousers, I kissed my wife goodbye and set my Sky + box to tape three weeks of Downton Abbey. I walked slowly up the knoll and when I reached the top I could see every last one of them.
I don't remember much about what happened after that. I do remember the smell of searing wings, their terrified screeches, and the uncontrollable laughter that seemed to take me over. They say that every man has a bloodlust in him waiting to come out, and by god did it come out and I'm not ashamed to say I liked it. The last one I killed was the female who'd presented me with the strange globe. She almost got away, but How to See Faeries had trained me too well. I saw her from my enhanced peripheral vision, trying to hide in a gorse bush. I doused her with the last of the napalm and walked through the scorching knoll back to my house.
Happily the whole thing had only taken about a month in human time, so I only missed one episode of Downton and I imagine my daughter will be buying me the box set for Christmas this year anyway. More importantly, since that day we've been able to slip back into our peaceful retirement. Oh one last thing - the sheer quantity of napalm also killed all the endangered newts and rendered the land barren for at least thirty years, so the council is rethinking our application for planning permission. Thank you How to See Faeries. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.