26 june 2018
All original writing
2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 Ian McLauchlin
THERESA’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND
"I had sent my heroine straight down a rabbit-
Theresa was feeling low. She was sure she was doing the right thing but, having no best friends to talk it over with, she had the occasional niggling doubt. "I need to take my mind off things" she thought. So, against her better judgment, which applied to everything she judged, she decided to give in to his constant pestering (even though she'd been told not to talk to strangers) and go out for a picnic in a boat with Lewis Camoron.
The sun was shining and she could smell the new mown hay. That always brought back happy memories. Everything was peaceful. As the boat drifted slowly down river, things seemed unreal and Lewis began to tell her a story.
The boat swished through the rushes and a moorhen paddled quickly out of the way. Startled, she saw a white rabbit on the bank.
"Bless my beard and whiskers" said the rabbit, who had a familiar look about him. "This watch says it's nearly March 2019 and I mustn't be late."
"That's a strange way for a watch to tell the time" she thought. I wonder what Lewis has to say about it.
"Calm down dear, there's plenty of time and besides, nothing will happen. And when it does, we'll all be much richer. Well I will."
The rabbit beckoned her and, being a follower not a leader, she naturally went after him, leaving Lewis in the boat without her, counting his money and his speaking engagements.
She spotted a fluffy white tail disappearing down a hole in the ground and rushed to catch up. She wished she had worn sensible shoes, not the long yellow ones with black spots. And the leather trousers were chafing too. Never mind, it was a thrilling wheeze wasn't it. Besides, she hadn't had this much fun since frolicking in the wheat fields as an even younger girl.
The hole turned black and she could have sworn she saw a fleeting image of Stephen Hawking, and wasn't that a defeated Huntsman too?
After following the rabbit round a few more U turns, she saw a table with a blue pill on it. A notice said "Swallow me". Underneath, it assured her that the table was strong and stable and, incidentally, would rhyme with anything she said for the next few weeks. Those in charge had decreed that blue pill makers must declare side-
"Taking this pill causes you to believe anything you want to believe." Her heart gladdened as she had been having strange beliefs for a while now and, very occasionally, doubted they could be true.
She swallowed the pill quickly and heard blue birds singing, thrilled at the angel voices in perfect harmony, and recognised people she'd been convinced were her real friends. She quickly felt taller, more assertive and dominant, which she realised was what she'd been wanting all along. Everything was suddenly fine and wonderful. She'd be happy to leave the rabbit hole now and get herself back into the real world and stride it manfully. But where was the way out?
Then she saw a sign. "Exit means Exit".
Through the door lay the world she had recently left and it was all going to be OK again (except it wasn't). But before she could reach the door, there, in a clearing, appeared a tea party in full swing. Next to fields, she loved parties.
"Have a cup of tea" said the Mad Hatter. "Everything will be even better than it's ever been. All you have to do is cross your fingers and hope. No need for anything else, like preparation, reality, compromise, common sense or any nonsense like that. And if you can do it in secret so nobody knows that you're doing nothing at all, so much the better."
"That's the truth" said the dormouse, and went back to sleep.
The March Hare declared something very profound, very loudly, as usual, but nobody could work out what it meant, as usual. Besides, no-
"No you're not and nobody will read it" thought the dormouse.
Out of the corner of her eye, up in a tree, Theresa thought she saw a cat. It had a large grin which masked the small intellect. She looked again, but it had gone, apart from a mop of hair. Then it re-
"Who are you?" she asked.
"Wibble wobble, whiff whaff, mugwump" said the cat and disappeared, at our expense, to foreign parts.
"Thank goodness for that" she thought. Then, in case she ever needed the cat again, though she couldn't think why, she wondered how to get it back. "Go whistle" said the Hatter. Curiouser and curiouser she thought.
She'd never seen such a strange set of people before, but had she? . . . No that was just a dream and THIS is reality. She was sure of it.
The door was getting further and further away now and she wondered whether she'd ever be able to find it again.
Suddenly, round the next corner, she came across another couple of people, who also looked strangely familiar. They were holding hands which tells you something.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"We're Tweedlefox and Tweedlewerrity" they helpfully replied.
We're all in it together, especially on our trading trips together, our hotel stays together and our taxpayers expenses together. And the best part is, we come home having nothing whatsoever to show for it. Apart from some forged ID documents which we got from the mad ID man ID Smith.
"Would you like to do it again?" she asked.
"Only if we could do it together" they replied, thinking of all the wonderful times they'd had in bars around the world, meeting all the despots and arms dealers who were, in fact, very nice people if you forgot all the torture and killing.
Then she heard the cry of gulls and the breaking of waves. And there was salt in the air and shanties on the wind.
"The time has come" the walrus said "to talk of many things. Of shoes, Barnier and Merkel and of piggies and their wings."
"Who was that, and why and where and who" she thought, startled again. Then she saw a beach. That's a nice change from wheat. Perhaps I'm on my holidays. Oh no, that would be an alpine scene.
"Oysters? What oysters? They may look like oysters to you, but to us walruses they're constituents and general public and they're for squeezing, bleeding, fooling, trampling on and fleecing."
"Ooh yes please" said the oysters. "We love the way you take away our jobs. And the cost of living has wonderfully increased under you. We love trotting down to the food pools because we can't afford to eat. You're so powerful and we're so lucky. And your masterful way of running down our services is magical to behold. We have one favour to ask though. Could you possibly see your way clear to boiling us all in white wine? Some lemon juice and maybe onions would be nice too. Thank you thank you."
"Did somebody say something? Was it you?" said the walrus to the carpenter, having no recollection of any oysters or anything else for that matter. And, in common with all his fellows, having no idea that actions have consequences . . .
The tide was coming in now and so Theresa quickly left the sand and rockpools and, back in the forest now, she saw a whisp of smoke rising. It was the cheshire cat back again, this time in another guise and still shambolic and unfathomable.
"We guarantee that our mushrooms and toadstools will be tariff free and not soaked in chlorine at all, well hardly at all, well if you insist, totally soaked in chlorine. (Did I hear the sound of chlorinated chickens coming home to roost just then?)" And in a puff of smoke the cheshire cat/erpillar disappeared again, apart from the oafishness, and of course the hair.
"The cat was making more sense now" she thought, "or maybe the smoke was stranger than usual."
Just then someone jumped out from behind a tree. Then someone else and someone else. They're all the same!
"Where have you come from?" asked Theresa.
"We've been listening to the Sky" they said in unison. "And now we're painting the NHS" they declared gleefully.
"What colour are you painting it?" asked Theresa.
"Invisible" they said while dancing round it, splashing invisible paint everywhere. "Mind my shoes" said Theresa, but by then they'd moved on to paint all the doctors and nurses.
"What a strange place this is" she thought. "All these people. Everyone knows I hate people. And it's even stranger than the real world. I really feel out of my depth here." (So in some ways it was exactly the same as the real world.)
"Off with her head" cried the Queen of Hearts. "Could she mean me?" thought Theresa suddenly frightened.
"Yes you, because you haven't had any babies."
Suddenly she wasn't having fun any more. This Wonderland place is more frightening than she thought. Nothing's what it seems. Everyone she meets is either against her or not for her. Everything she's thought about planning (but not actually planned as that was beyond her) is turning into a nightmare and the things she'd imagined were simple are seeming impossible now. Even her colleagues weren't so supportive any more. She pulled a face. There were many to choose from. Maybe my usual strategy of going to ground isn't such a good idea after all.
The white rabbit, who'd been keeping an eye on her all along, lolloped into view. "Follow me" it said. "I'm late, and therefore you're late too."
"Late for what?" she wondered.
"Late for the party" said the rabbit, who could always tell what she was thinking. "Late for the party to end all parties."
"Am I invited too?"asked Theresa.
"Only if you've agreed to all the conditions" muttered the rabbit.
"Conditions?" said Theresa. "Only I'm allowed to make conditions, because . . . well . . because I'm right and that's what I believe and the blue pill really confirmed it for me."
"So, do you want me to show you the way back to the real world or not?" asked the rabbit.
"Well yes please, and take me to the party too don't forget" said Theresa.
After a long trek through forests and caves, over streams and under tree roots they finally found the door and stepped out into the bright sunlight. Exit really did mean Exit after all.
She blinked. "Where's my party then?" asked Theresa.
"Let me introduce you. Theresa Party. Party Theresa."
"But that's extinct" she exclaimed. "Yes, you've been away longer than you thought" said the rabbit and disappeared back down the hole.
And we all lived unhappily ever after, even little Theresa who, true to form, kept even that a secret and declared repeatedly that nothing had changed. Though in many ways it had.
Images from http://www.victorianweb.org/art/illustration/tenniel/