Alice turns 150 this month! And I think we would all agree that she has staved off the ravages of time quite well, both physically and literarily.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published in July 1865 and there are celebrations galore to mark the 150th anniversary. I wish I had been in Oxford on Saturday 4th July for Alice’s Day as I could have applied to be one of the 150 official Alices running around the gardens and might have danced the Lobster Quadrille with a crowd of enthusiasts.
By the way, you can go to the following link if you wish to learn and perform the Lobster Quadrille in the privacy of your own home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqyTrOQNHDI
(I said ‘privacy of your own home’, Mum. Don’t do it publicly. It would be worse than that line dancing fad you had in the 1990s.)
Of course, Oxford is not the only place marking this important anniversary. There are Mad Hatter tea parties, Mad Hatter cocktail parties, storytelling events, musicals, puppet plays, lectures, postage stamp releases and art exhibitions taking place all over the world - except Australia, oddly enough.
Which made me think that I should do something special to mark the event in my own little corner of the world. I considered holding a Mad Hatter’s tea party but that seems so obvious - as does a game of croquet in which I use flamingos as mallets.
Then inspiration struck. I should focus on the part of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that has always had the greatest impact on me - the episode where Alice drinks the bottle labelled ‘DRINK ME’ and grows so much that she fills an entire room and cannot get out. I have claustrophobic tendencies and this episode starts an anxious fluttering in my chest, a sticky sweating in my palms, every time I read it or see the John Tenniel illustration. Even as a child, I thought this the greatest trauma Alice faced as she adventured through Wonderland. Far worse than almost drowning in her own tears or being in the presence of a queen whose favourite line is, ‘Off with her head!’
So, in honour of the 150th anniversary of the great book, I have decided to squeeze myself into a tight place (beneath my doona in bed, for instance) where I will reread Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, while sipping cordial from little bottles labelled ‘DRINK ME’ and eating tiny cakes iced with the words ‘EAT ME’ …. purely out of respect to the great Lewis Carroll.