Short story: Buckingham’s Good Fairy, by Richard Gallimore

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When Jack left his West Country school without a GCSE to his name the future looked bleak.

Then his mother sent him to work on her brother’s Buckingham farm. He’d hardly arrived when Buckingham’s good fairy took pity on him.

“Jack, I know how hard it’s been for you so I’m going to change everything: but on condition you promise to give something back to Buckingham.”

“Anything, good fairy,” said Jack as he struggled to herd the cattle.

“Very well Jack. I will give you a silver tongue and an acute mind with prescient capabilities to make you Buckingham’s first billionaire and philanthropist. Now go to your building society, draw out all your savings then visit the Daily Express in London where I’ll make sure you’ll get a job.”

Jack did as told and by the time he’d reached the newspaper’s offices he was as articulate as any MP claiming expenses. His brain was also changing from one that had been little challenged to a fine-honed mind.

Thanks to his love of sport he was soon helping the football reporters. They were amazed how he could forecast results and were soon heading for the local bookmakers and placing bets – part of the reporters’ winnings would always be given to Jack, which he banked.

Then the newspaper’s racing tipster heard of Jack’s abilities and asked him what he knew about horses and racing?

“I know about horses, sir,” replied Jack.

“That’s good enough for me now take a look at tomorrow’s runners and tell me who you’d tip,” said the racing editor.

Jack selected a dozen horses and as soon as he’d left the office the racing editor scurried off to the bookmaker.

Within a week the Daily Express’ sales had shot up, the local bookmaker’s manager was suffering a nervous breakdown and Jack was benefiting from his share of the racing editor’s winning bets.

News of Jack’s uncanny abilities reached the city editor who summoned him to his office.

“Jack what do you know about the City and Stocks and Shares?” he asked.

“Very little sir.”

“Well it’s about investing money but at the right time and right place. Like to try it?”

Jack mentioned six company names and as soon as he’d left the office the city editor was illegally buying into the companies’ shares and trusts as an inside trader before giving recommendations to the readers.

The good fairy’s wish was now producing serious financial dividends for Jack who wisely banked his money across several accounts.

On his 17th birthday, Jack became a millionaire. Just as he was leaving one of Buckingham’s banks, the good fairy tapped him on the shoulder.

“Jack you need to speed up your earnings rate. On your return to London I want you to go to one of the merchant banks where I will make sure they’ll give you a job.”

Jack did as instructed and within a week was one of the city’s stars pocketing £1m a day with monthly bonuses of £20m.

It was on his 18th birthday that Jack officially became Buckingham’s first billionaire as the town’s good fairy met him while visiting his uncle’s farm.

“Jack, I’ve helped you become a billionaire. You’ve provided for yourself and family by building a tailor-made home with its own helipad on the outskirts of town, now I want you to be a good philanthropist and help those less fortunate than yourself,” she said.

“What would you like me to do first?” replied Jack enthusiastically.

“Build a new hospital for Buckingham. Then I want you to establish a modern community centre with organised events such as tea-dances for the elderly and discos for the youth.

“Next you must establish several public toilets and create a three-in-one adventure playground for toddlers, teens and adults. Then I want you to fund the town’s car parks, so it’s free all-day parking to help local traders, and will you also arrange for the river to be cleaned throughout and have the Grand Union Canal spur reopened complete with marina.”

Jack wrote all this down and began to spend his money for Buckingham’s benefit and the good fairy looked on approvingly.

“How else can I help the town?” asked Jack as he saw his investments working.

“Build a free-to-use tramline linking Buckingham with Oxford and Milton Keynes,” instructed the good fairy.

Thanks to Jack’s generosity Buckingham was now both the most desirable town in England and free of all county restrictions – it was this which prompted the evil fairy of Aylesbury to confront him.

“It’s time to share everything in Buckingham with Aylesbury, and more,” she snarled.

Jack was afraid and concerned that everything he’d done was going to be lost and he told the good fairy of his encounter.

“Oh Jack, I’m exhausted from helping you perform so many good deeds for Buckingham. There’s no way I can face down Aylesbury’s evil fairy. I’ll have to talk to my cousin who’s the good fairy of Milton Keynes,” she said heading off for MK.

The two good fairies were deep in conversation at their Nash fairydrome and coming to agreement when the good fairy of MK said: “We can do a deal to protect Jack and Buckingham from Aylesbury, but there’s a condition.”

“And that is?”

“MK was disappointed not to get awarded city status during the Queen’s jubilee period of celebrations. It’s an ambitious town and should therefore be the new county capital. Support us and we’ll support you – High Wycombe, Wendover, Beaconsfield, Amersham and Chesham have already agreed to our ambitions. If you do the same we’ll see off Aylesbury’s evil fairy.”

Buckingham’s good fairy immediately agreed to her cousin’s terms.

And so it was, Aylesbury’s evil fairy ceded her town being the county capital.

As Aylesbury’s townspeople started to leave for pleasanter pastures in the Vale and southern Bucks, all that remained in town was the evil fairy leaving Jack, his family, Buckingham and the good fairy to live happily ever after.