Ann Allan: Ann in Wonderland (with apologies to Lewis Carroll)

imageIt was a pleasant Sunday morning and I was reading Newton Emerson’s piece in the Sunday Times. My eyes felt heavy and just as I nodded off I noticed a white rabbit beckoning me to follow him. Within a few minutes we were on the steps of Stormont. “You are looking for a job, I believe” he said.  “Well yes” I said, but I don’t think I’d get one here”.  “Have you stood for election? ” he asked. ” No” I replied. “Well you shouldn’t have a problem then, great jobs going here to non-elected personage ” I’ll bring you up to the members dining room. There’s a tea party today. You can see what you’d be letting yourself in for ” The White rabbit disappeared and I found myself in the dining room at the Mad Hatters tea party.
I felt a tap on my shoulder. ” I’m the ‘heed bummer’ here” , he said “Mitchel’s my name.” Having studied Ulster Scots at the University of Life I knew this meant he was a man not to be reckoned with. “Let me show you around ”  he said “but be careful,  Arlene, the Red Queen is looking to behead someone today. She found a tricolour flying on the roof this morning.” ” I will”  I said,” I will”. This is such a weird place, I thought.

The white rabbit suddenly appeared carrying a large clock.  ” What’s that for” I asked. “Well I need to know when the next deadline is for ending the tea party and there are so many I need to carry a clock to keep up ” ” Good thinking” I said. This was one intelligent rabbit!
“Ok” the head case, sorry the heed bummer said. ” This is the Mad Hatters Tea Party. Happens most days around three. ” Why are they not working? ” I asked.”  Er, yes, well, you see this is how we differ from the real world. We don’t actually work if we don’t feel like it. imageYou see the DUP over there. Some strange characters in that group.”
“Why are they wearing clothes pegs on their noses ” I asked. “Well they couldn’t stand the smell of some of the other parties and they couldn’t keep holding their noses and feed at the corporate trough at the same time, so Gryphon Poots came up with the idea of the clothes pegs.” I noticed one of their number had fallen asleep at the table and he was talking in his sleep. I think he was talking about how he was cleared of something and was going to vote for same-sex marriage to prove he wasn’t homophobic. Ok! Well it is a dream!
“That’s a very attractive lady pouring tea for the King ” I said. ” Yes, that’s little pengelly, the Kings favourite.” ” Why would that be? ” I asked. ” Rearrange this ” he said. ” skeletons, knows, are, buried, where.” Thinking back it dawned on me now  why security had a woman called Red Ruth in a strangle hold as she tried to march her way down the rabbit hole.
At that moment the dupers broke into singing

. 🎶 A very unhappy birthday to you, to you.🎶

” Surely that should be

🎶 A very happy unbirthday to you, to you 🎶 I ventured.

” Not when you are a member of the DUP ” he replied. They live by the word of the bible. ” But twiddledum Campbell and twiddledee Wilson are tucking into an open prawn sandwich” I said. “I don’t see any slaves, imagewell with the exception of Jeffrey the dormouse, and the only one with a beard is Simple Simon. ” Cherry pick quite a bit,  they do” he smiled and for a minute or two Mitchell disappeared leaving only the grin behind.image

Turning to the next table I saw a man dressed like a caveman. “Who is that?” I asked mien host who had materialised again.” That’s the Knave of Hearts, used to work in TV. Says he’s on the wrong side of history but he’s not exactly sure which era. Since he didn’t go to Specsavers he seems to have lost his way. Had a falling out with the King of Hearts. Used to be best buddies, even made a voting pact but then the Knave got ambitious and orchestrated a walk out.”

I was beginning to feel quite giddy and realised I hadn’t eaten for a while. There was a cake sitting on one of the tables with the words ‘EAT ME’ written on it. “Don’t” shouted Mitchel. “Stephen the Jabberwocky Nolan eats that before interviewing politicians on his radio show.  Makes him rant and rage and when he gives them a bite the whataboutery that spews from their mouths is unbelievable”  Yuck, I thought, I’ll give that a miss.image

“Would you like to say something on periscope?” came a voice from behind me. I’m on a submarine now I thought. But no it was one of the frog footmen. Basil was his name. He periscopes quite a lot and wonderland is an ideal place from which to broadcast. No idea why he had a pair of curtains behind him.

“Come with me,” said my host. He led me over to a table with a green, white and gold tablecloth. I was introduced to Marti the White King and Catriona the softly spoken White Queen. They were speaking in Irish and I was sorry I hadn’t studied it harder when I was at school. Sitting on the table was a little bottle with ‘DRINK ME ‘ written on it. ” What happens if you drink that “I asked Mitchel. “Well, we shinners take a sip of that every morning,” he said  ” It has amazing powers. It allows us to believe that every word we utter is true. Gerry the caterpillar drinks it by the imagegallon. I asked him if they understood English as I needed to say something to the lady shinners. ” Go ahead ” he said. “They’ll know what you’re saying. “Peter Mark is offering 20 per cent off cut and blow- drys at the moment.” I declared. “Off with her head” came the chant so I quickly moved off to visit the SDLP and the Alliance. They were sitting on fences rather than chairs. It seemed that they had been sitting there quite a while from the pained expression on some of their faces. There wasn’t much happening so I headed back to look for the White Rabbit.

I noticed then that there was a table far removed from everyone. ” That’s Jim the Red King. “Mitchell explained ” he likes nobody and nobody likes him. Always scowling, never lets his hair down, speaking figuratively of course.”

I heard a series of grunts and groans emanating from his direction. I got the impression this is one unhappy man.

I was beginning to feel uncomfortable in this place.  I knew I was dreaming but couldn’t wake up.  As I wondered around looking for a way out of the many doors in the room I passed a large caterpillar sitting on a mushroom. “Gerry’s my name “he said. “I’m waiting here to turn into a butterfly.”  He was knocking back the truth drink  in copious quantities and smoking on a hookah. “I wouldn’t hold my breath ” I said. He started throwing mushrooms at me and thankfully woke me up. Thank goodness I thought it  was only a dream. Happy that none of this could happen in the waking world I went back to reading  Newton’s article.

Only 10 days to save the Assembly read the headline. “Sugar” I thought “maybe I wasn’t dreaming after all”

With apologies to Lewis Carroll.

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