The Auntie Doris Years: 1917

Fairies1917 goes down in history for many reasons, the Russian Revolution, America joining the War, and the Royal family changed its name to Windsor. But the most amazing event of 1917 came when two young lasses borrowed a camera from one of their fathers and used it to take a picture of the fairies at the bottom of their garden. And people believed that the pictures were real too! Who could possibly believe that fairies actually exist? Its almost as daft as the idea of the spirit of a dead old lady inhabiting the body of her still living nephew and forcing him to wear her old tights. But that’s not daft. Its ridiculous. I never forced him to do anything, and they are not even my tights anyway. But one person who believed that the pictures were real was none other than Sir Arthur Ruddy Conan Doyle. The inventor of Sherlock Holmes, the most logical and brainy figure in fiction until Gene Roddenbury invented Mister Spock, half a century later.

Conan Doyle persuaded others to believe in those photos too. He even sent some copies to the people at Kodak, who were the world’s experts in photography, and well on the way to inventing the instamatic camera. They verified that there was no way they could have been forged. My Uncle Godfrey already knew that fairies existed. In fact, according to Auntie Beryl, he spent much of his time away with them. The only thing that surprised him about the photos was that they showed the fairies frolicking in a garden with young girls, rather than in a public convenience with middle aged men.

Anyway, when the girls grew into old ladies, which most girls ordinarily do (I know I did), they let it be known that the photographs were indeed forged, in that the fairies were cut out of a picture book, and stuck to card before they posed them for the camera. All but one, which they insisted was a real photo of fairies. So they allowed a little magic to remain, and gave some credibility to those people (long haired hippies) who imagine that they can tell the future with Fairy Liquid. Obviously, anyone with any sense knows that this is ridiculous, as the most effective way to foretell the future events is through Tea bags or Tarot Cards.

Doris’s Pop Pick of 1917 “A Bachelor Gay” by Peter Dawson. How language changes! This jolly song was enjoyed by hundreds, long before the word “bachelor” referred to a member of the singing group who had hits with “Charmaine” and “I believe” or to the manufacturers of “Cup a Soups”. In 1917 “bachelor” quite simply referred to the kind of gentleman who prefers bowling from the pavilion end.

The Auntie Doris Years: 1916

lloyd-georgeIn December 1916 David Lloyd George became Prime Minister. This was an interesting development to our family, as Lloyd George knew my father. Not that my father liked him, by all accounts he was dismayed to see the man achieve the highest office in the land. Even years later, whenever he heard Lloyd George on the radio, he would scowl, knuckles whitening, and often find some excuse to shout at my mother or nip one of us children, hard. Usually me. Both my mother and father met him when he visited Yorkshire in the December of 1913. In fact my mother was given the honour of showing him around the Nonconformist Chapel where father was a lay preacher. Perhaps he had been irritated that he was left looking after Pearl whilst she performed the favour. Of course he didn’t let on at the time, as he was impressed by the fact that the man was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and had the power to grant organisations such as the chapel some favours in the forthcoming budget. It was only later that his dislike inexplicably grew. Lloyd George was possibly the filthiest prime minister that this country has ever known. In fact he would even make America’s President Clinton seem like a choirboy in comparison. But unlike Clinton, Lloyd George was not one for messing around with Cigars. Those who knew him referred to him as “the Goat” Because back in 1916 that was the preferred name for filthy so and sos who couldn’t keep their John Thomases under control. Lord Kitchener, the Field Marshal of “Your country needs You!” fame, claimed that he didn’t like to share military secrets with the cabinet because he was worried that they might tell their wives. He then said that he wouldn’t tell Lloyd George anything, because he would tell everyone else’s wives. Shortly after saying this, Kitchener was killed when the HMS Hampshire went down near the Orkney Islands. Lloyd George was unable to give an alibi, but it is thought that this is because he was secretly with Margot Asquith, wife of the ex-prime minister, inspecting a Nonconformist Chapel.

Doris’s Pop Pick of 1916: “Roses of Picardy” by Elsie Griffin. “And the roses will die with the summertime, and our roads may be far apart, But there’s one rose that dies not in Picardy! ‘Tis the rose that I keep in my heart!” All the chaps in the trenches used to sing it whilst thinking of their sweethearts back home. It was so well known that back in Blighty, the poor beggars who had lost the power of speech through shell shock were coaxed back into using their voices by being encouraged to sing it.