On perms, mermaids and being over the hill

I met a heroine of mine the other day: the Little Mermaid!

I’ve always loved Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about a young mermaid who is willing to give up her life in the sea and her identity as a mermaid to gain a human soul (and a prince, though the less said about him the better – he’s actually a bit of an idiot and treats her like a pet).

Re-reading the original fairy tale, and not the Disney adaptation (if you’re a fan of Ariel and her hair-forks and attempts to kiss people in boats, look away now), also reminded me that the 1837 fairy tale isn’t particularly suitable for reading to small kids enamoured by mermaids. It’s seriously gruesome: people dissolve, get stabbed, have oysters attached to them, and suffer all manner of other charming fates.

But I digress: my mum sent me a photo of when we visited Denmark’s famously winsome statue on a family holiday sometime in the 1980s. Once I’d got over laughing at my permed hair, I showed the photo (the bottom one) to Son1.

The Little Mermaid

“Who do you think that is?” I asked him.

Blank face.

“You’ve no idea?”

“Two boys?” ventured Son1, puzzled.

“One of them is a girl!” I exclaimed.

“Ah, right.” He peered at my phone again, using his fingers to enlarge the photo. “The one with the small head and big hair?”

“Yep – so who is it?”

He shrugged.

“It’s me – your mummy! When I was just a bit older than you.”

This raised a belly laugh – then, from left field, he came out with, “I didn’t think they had colour photos in those days.”