It was the era of cleansing and cleaning. It was the duty of all to clean every thing they owned. If it wasn’t the bathroom, it was the windows. If not the windows, it was the backyard. It is wasn’t the backyard, it was the clothes, and if they were to look at the clothes, there was ne’er a stain upon them. In this age, many people went to work. It was frowned upon if they did not go to work. There was no purpose to work except to buy more things that needed to be cleaned. It was widely said that the more things they had to clean, the happier they would be. But the wise woman of the sky could see that there was no happiness to be had in this age.
In the village of Knollswood, Mrs Pristine knew a thing or two about cleaning. She got up before the dawn and cleaned and cleaned until it was time for work. When she finished work, she returned home and cleaned and cleaned until it was time to go to bed. Her neighbours believed she was The Cleaning Inspector. Mrs Pristine always had a tale or two to tell about the things that were not scrupulously clean.
Mrs Pristine was a powerful lady. Her neighbours did not want to fall foul of The Cleaning Inspector’s watchful eyes. They followed her model example. They worked hard to buy more and more things. They cleaned and cleaned their things. They believed they were happy. But the wise woman of the sky could see that there was no happiness to be had in this age.
Then one day, a sadness came over Knollswood. A neighbour lost her job. It was the way of the world in that age. People called Bosses would give and take jobs. Bosses were in charge of companies. People worked in the companies and their jobs were to make more and better things and if they weren’t making them, they were selling them. And the Bosses made most of the money and had the biggest, most and best of all the things anyone could buy. This was seen to be fair. And the people were happy because things were fair. But the Bosses could take your job away. And in having no work to buy new things would make people unhappy. And the neighbour was unhappy. She was ashamed that she could not buy more things to clean. She moved away from Knollswood and the New Neighbour moved in.
Mrs Pristine kept a very close eye upon the New Neighbour. Her eye was extremely appalled. The New Neighbour never threw her rubbish into the bin, but instead put it into her backyard and left it there to rot! She covered the rubbish with smelly goo and Mrs Pristine didn’t dare to think what that smelly goo might be. Mrs Pristine was horrified when the New Neighbour did not sweep up the autumn leaves that littered her backyard. Mrs Pristine was very upset by this behaviour.
“She’s a Lazy Witch,” she complained to Mrs Prim. It was a name that was to stick.
Mrs Pristine worked even harder, bought more things and cleaned and cleaned. She hated the dirt that had moved into their neighbourhood. And dirt it was – thick, crumbly, malodorous dirt. There were nasty, elongated and slimy creatures squirming in the dirt. Mrs Pristine nearly fainted. She worked, bought things and cleaned and cleaned to make herself happy. But the wise woman of the sky could see that there was no happiness to be had in this age.
Then disaster struck. It struck Mrs Pristine first. She became sick. The sickness was sinister. It was endemic. Many had it when they thought they were happy. But it always struck them down. This sickness had the name ‘Stress’. When people had the Stress, they did not like to tell people they had it. They would pretend to be happy and disguise the Stress by working, buying things and cleaning and cleaning. But the wise woman of the sky could see that there was no happiness to be had in this age.
Mrs Pristine was followed by Mrs Prim who was followed by Mrs Spic and Mrs Span. They could not work. They could not clean. They could not buy things. And soon they could not buy food. Mrs Pristine, Mrs Prim, Mrs Spic and Mrs Span knew that they may soon leave the world and knew then that there was not happiness to be had in this age.
But Mrs Sullied didn’t have so many things to clean. She did not yet have the sickness they called Stress. She shook her head at the misfortune of her sick neighbours, and looked toward the backyard of the Lazy Witch. She blamed the Lazy Witch’s dirt. When bad things happen, you have to have something to blame. Mrs Sullied blamed the Lazy Witch and she had a mind to tell her so. Bravely, she marched over to give her a piece of her mind. But as she neared, Mrs Sullied heard the most beautiful sound. It memorised her and drew her closer. Hesitantly, she peered through the wild thicket of shrubs that had grown around the Lazy Witch’s backyard. She gazed in amazement at the vista before her eyes. It was not dirt that she saw. It was a veritable forest of food!
The Lazy Witch sat in her forest of food with a somewhat smug smile upon her face and beckoned her neighbour in. The Lazy Witch showed her neighbour the seven magical layers of food she had grown. The Lazy Witch showed her the fertile soil she had made with her rubbish. The Lazy Witch showed her how other creatures liked to visit and make their own homes in the forest garden she had made.
The Lazy Witch invited her neighbour to share the food. Mrs Sullied was surprised by this. In this age, people did not share their things. Mrs Sullied looked up toward the sky and felt the sun smile down upon her. She closed her eyes and the song of winged beings lifted her soul. She inhaled deeply and the aroma of the forest filled her senses. Mrs Sullied felt something upon her face she had never noticed before.
It was a smile.
She felt something within her heart she had never noticed before.
It was joy.
She realised something she had not noticed before. She had not been happy.
And the wise woman of the sky could see that NOW there was happiness to be had in this age.
This fable was based on ideas first expressed in