Evidence that one vowel can make all the difference to a fairy tile
One morning, the three beers were having breakfast. Things weren't going well. Yet again, Mother and Father Beer were perturbed. 'How come,' they said, 'we have a son who is exactly the same size as us? What the hell happened to hierarchy?'
It was true. Baby Beer, at the tender age of seven, was as tall and as wide as both parents. When they went shopping, and Mother Beer met a friend, it was always awkward, introducing Baby Beer. When she said, 'And this is my son,' her friends sniggered behind their hands, and patted the heads of their own diminutive offspring indulgently.
Every morning, the Beer parents awoke, hoping that in the night some miraculous process would have returned Baby Beer to a normal size. They dressed him in age 7 pyjamas, even though it was a strain to get the buttons done up. They put him in a child's bed, even though his froth hung over one end. They read him bedtime stories such as Thumbelina and Flat Stanley. They showed him films they thought would help, but when Baby Beer threw their well-played copy of 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' against the wall and shouted 'Can't you just accept me as I am?' they wept in frustration. For, no, they couldn't.
His parents visited the doctor to ask for help, but he took one look at Baby Beer, said to them, 'What ales you?' and collapsed into unkind mirth. They walked out of his surgery with as much dignity as they could, considering they were unsophisticated alcoholic beverages in unprepossessing glasses bought from Asda, £3 for six.
Each morning, whatever they did, Baby Beer awoke looking just the same. 'You ought to think yourselves lucky,' he yelled at his parents. 'I've been reading Kafka, and there's a chap who woke up as a giant beetle. How would that go down when you took me down the High Street?'
One good thing about it all was that the disappointment of finding Baby Beer still the same size, day after day, distracted the Beer family from other minor issues such as burnt porridge, broken chairs, and, once, a blonde girl with pigtails they found sleeping in Baby Beer's bed. None of this seemed significant, compared to the fact that, at parties, doting relatives were stuck for something to say to the child, the old fall-back of 'Haven't you grown?' seeming crass.
The only thing to do was to wait. And wait. And wait.
So they did, until Baby Beer was a teenager, and they could walk proudly into town, with Baby Beer's shoulders on the same level as theirs. They no longer needed to worry that someone would point and say, 'Is he "lager" than you expected?', and hold their sides in amusement, thinking that they were the first person ever to make the joke.
That problem solved, though, meant that suddenly, what had seemed the minor issues .... disastrous breakfasts, destroyed furniture, and that little girl they found snoring beneath Baby Beer's duvet, took on more major significance.
But that's another story.