The Dolls House

By Daryl Green

Releasing a tiny latch thrust me into a double fronted miniature world which could hold me spellbound for hours. I knew nothing about the Victorian era, but with a child’s unquestioning acceptance, I bathed the plaster baby in a hip bath and helped the fat rosy cheeked cook place a whole ham in the metal range. Miniscule pots and pans would be set upon diminutive shelves and the table in the parlour laid with plates of painted food. I used to bounce the husband and wife, in their stiff, unfamiliar clothes, up and down the stairs where they occasionally admonished their children in the nursery. In my imagination I lived in that house, always being the mother and mistress of all I surveyed. It was a fairly happy, harmonious family where everyone eventually did as they were told.

When I tired of this I would make additional items from objects I found in my normal sized house. Empty matchboxes would be glued together and painted to make a chest of drawers. A hair roller, belonging to my mother or sister, when painted gold, would become a birdcage, and toothpaste caps, painted red, would be rowed outside the front door to represent flower pots. I spent my pocket money on small tins of Humbrol paint which could magically transform the most mundane object into a thing of beauty.

But my dolls house had another dimension. At night it was inhabited by fairies. I knew this because one morning I was delighted to find an ‘Elephant’ exercise book inside. There was also a note written in capitals in my mother’s thinly disguised handwriting.

‘Dear Daryl. Here is a present for you for being such a good girl, Love from Titania, Queen of the Fairies.’

The book was red and shiny and had handy maths tables on the back. They were incomprehensibly called ‘Avoirdupois’ which I read as ‘avoidapuss’. Apparently something to do with keeping away from cats. I soon learned the relationship between rods, poles and perches and how many yards there were in a chain. I filled the book with writing and drawings and kept asking Titania for more. My mother apparently eventually tlred of buying them, as a terse note from Titania appeared one morning informing me that she had other children apart from me to provide for.

I was desperate to meet these fairies. My mother told me that they didn’t appear until midnight, long after I had gone to bed. I made her promise that she would wake me so that I could see them for myself, but somehow this never happened. I worried that the fairies might be hungry so I left them crumbs of food on the tiny plaster plates. When it was still there in the morning I wasn’t sure whether it was because their wispy, ethereal bodies had no need of food or because they were unable to see it in the dark. Being a resourceful child, I found a candle stub which I lit and left in the parlour before I went to bed. The dolls house was kept in the hall and luckily my parents discovered what I had done before they went to bed themselves. The candle flame had been in the throes of licking the ceiling. Any longer and the little house may have burned down. The following morning, a final note in the blackened parlour advised me that fairies and flames didn’t mix and they would be finding somewhere else to live.

(More about Daryl)

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