This morning at the library, I was writing a section of Wacky in which Damien is giving a lecture on frauds connected with spiritualism and things of that nature. (He points out, by the way, that the existence of frauds does not by itself alone disprove the tenets of a belief system, any more than the existence of counterfeiters disproves the value of legitimate currency.) At any rate, one of the stories he tells is about the Cottingley Fairies.
Not exactly spiritualism, but it comes into the story by way of Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the hyper-rational Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle himself went in for all sorts of mystical ideas, and like so many people who had lost loved ones in wars, he found consolation in the teachings of spiritualism, in his case, a markedly Christian version. He also defended the Cottingley Fairies, a set of 1917 photographs taken in of one another by a couple of young cousins, photographs showing them posing with the fairies they claimed to have seen at the bottom of the garden. Decades later, the girls confessed to faking the photos --- or almost all of them -- while still contending that they had indeed seen fairies. They claimed they delayed their admission for decades in part because the famous Arthur Conan Doyle had defended the story.
The photos are quite unconvincing to the modern eye, although true believers continue to reproduce them in books as proof of something or other. The girls had traced pictures from a book, colored them, cut them out, attached them to pins and stuck the pins in the ground. I suppose it was the photoshop of its day, but even so, one would think even a child could tell they were not real.
At any rate, when I packed up the laptop and headed home for lunch, I passed alongside the children's section of the library on my way. On a spinner in the aisle I caught sight of a book: Brooke, the Photographer Fairy. This slim volume is part of a series by Daisy Meadows. Brooke, apparently, is one of the Fashion Fairies and her magic camera has been stolen by Jack Frost. I did not investigate further, but I found no immediate connection with the Cottingley fairies. A missed opportunity on the part of Ms. Meadows in my opinion.
Daisy Meadows. To quote George Takei, "Really?!"
On the other hand, don't you think The Cottingely Fairies would make a wonderful name for a gay heavy metal band?