One Generation To The Next

Ashley Noel
4 min readNov 27, 2020
Photo by Alice Alinari on Unsplash

Recently I wrote a short story titled Heart Attack, which I published in Storymaker. I mentioned it to a colleague at work, and she asked about the genre. I replied it’s a thriller — with a what goes around, comes around story-line. Even to my ears, that sounded dull, what I should have said is my story is based on what my father famously calls The Bad Fairy Theory. Way more interesting.

The Bad Fairy, What’s that? Who’s he? The Bad Fairy is like a folklore creature. In an imaginary world, it is his job to catch human beings misbehaving and dish out suitable punishments.

Say for example a burglar sneaks into a bank, but as he makes his way towards the safe he slips on a piece of paper, falls over and sprains his ankle. Yep, you could say the Bad Fairy got him. Or another situation might be when a person eats too many sweets, then becomes sick because they were greedy. Again, the Bad Fairy got him.

I first heard about the Bad Fairy as a child. My dad told me about him. The Bad Fairy was his invention.

As a child, I don’t remember ever feeling threatened or scared by The Bad Fairy. I never worried he might suddenly appear and strike me down. I knew he wasn’t real. Although when I think of him now, I imagine a small delicate elf dressed in a blue fairy outfit with big white wings. On the move, he’s skipping serenely down the street, smiling, while his pointy ears are twitching as though he’s listening out for trouble. And there you have it The Bad Fairy bought to life.

Beware, everyone, toe the line or he’ll get you.

Many fairytales are based on The Bad Fairy technique -

Goldilocks And The Three Bears — Goldilocks sneaks into the house of the three bears. When the bears arrive home she becomes frightened and has to make a run for it so she won’t be eaten. Of course, if she hadn’t been there, to begin with — The Bad fairy got her.

The Tortoise And The Hair — The Hair boasts to anyone who’ll listen that he’s the sure winner in an upcoming running race between himself and the Tortoise. When the race begins the Hair races along the pathway but then stops; first he plays, then he falls asleep. The Tortoise continues to plod along. He ends up reaching the finishing first. Of course, if the Hair hadn’t been so full of self-importance, to begin with — The Bad Fairy got him.

Other traditional stories with The Bad Fairy theme are:

The Three Little Pigs

Little Red Riding Hood

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Photo by Azka Nurakli on Unsplash

My father’s ancestors came from Ireland. As a child, his extended family often came together for story-telling nights. Many of the aunts and uncles told Irish folklore stories about fairies, leprechauns and the little people. Dad said that’s where the seed for his Bad Fairy grew.

I am so glad Dad was able to experience these magical evenings. It is my opinion that if children are exposed to great story-telling from a young age, they’ll also develop the skill. My dad used to tell me bedtime stories when I was little. He always told structured stories with happy endings. The characters were colourful, the scenery believable. And lastly, there was always a problem to solve.

As an adult, I too developed these skills. I recall once at a Toastmasters meeting I was approached by one of the members who told me I was a terrific storyteller. He asked me about my family heritage, and when I revealed I had Irish ancestry, he nodded his head and said, yes, yes, I should have guessed. The Irish are unique in how they tell stories. It was a nice compliment.

So there you have it a bit of background information about me, Ashley Noel. Please remember, if you ever happen to be writing a thriller with a what goes around, comes around story-line and someone asks what the theme is, answer with a, why it’s The Bad Fairy Theme, of course. And while they’re still trying to wrap their heads around what you’ve said, quickly launch into a description of how The Bad Fairy operates. If that doesn’t pique their curiosity, I don’t know what will.