Alice Part 3


This wood was different from the last. It was large and dim and the trees were more real-looking. Here and there were giant mushrooms that glowed faintly with a dim phosphorescence. Alice wondered if she would bump into any other famous characters soon.

After a time, she heard what sounded like drunken singing somewhere ahead, and the clinking of china cups.

Surely it couldn’t be…?

She came out into a clearing in the wood.

There was a large wooden table, set out as though for a tea party, and at the head of the table sat the Mad Hatter. His eyes were closed as though dozing, but he nodded along as if in a trance to some jazz music that came from a small digital radio. The March Hare was dipping crumpets into a bowl of cream, hiccupping and singing softly to himself. She noticed the Dormouse curled up on the table, snoozing next to the teapot.

When the March Hare saw Alice he started, and threw a crumpet at the Hatter. The Hatter’s eyes snapped open and focused on Alice.

“Alice!” he cried. “How lovely to see you!”

Alice had that odd, out-of-place feeling again. “There must be a mistake,” she began, “I’m not your Alice –.”

The Hatter looked down and patted his pockets in confusion, then checked himself.

“I never said you were, I just greeted you as Alice because I know you are an Alice!”

“He calls everybody that,” said the March Hare, hiccoughing.

“Please, sit down, sit down, and have a cup of tea!” said the Hatter.

Alice sat at the table, the opposite end from the Mad Hatter. She pushed a pile of dirty cups and saucers away from her.

“You must have been here a long time. There are cups and plates everywhere.”

“Time?! There is no Time here, Alice, except the present. For here it is forever five, and forever tea-time! Will you have a crumpet?”

“Um, okay,” said Alice, hoping secretly it would be served on a clean plate.

The March Hare threw her a crumpet, which she caught one-handed, and he giggled.

“Be a lamb, old sport, and throw her the butter too,” said the Hatter.

“It’s okay!” said Alice. “No really – I’ll get it myself.”

As she rose to get the butter, she looked around the table and saw there were many empty places with clean cups and saucers set in front of them, as though they were expecting guests.

“Who are they for?”

“Why, they’re for us. We merely move on a place when we’re finished.”

“What happens when you run out of places?”

Here the Hatter looked alarmed, and the March Hare started singing loudly while banging the table with his teaspoon:

“Twinkle, twinkle little bat!
Twinkle, twinkle little bat!
Twinkle, twinkle little bat!
Twinkle, twinkle little bat!”

The Dormouse stirred and mumbled in his sleep.

“Don’t mind the Hare,” the Hatter said confidentially to Alice through the uproar. “He has OCD.”

“Now, let’s change the subject,” he said, louder this time. “How about a riddle? They’re always fun! Pray, can you tell me, Alice, why a raven is like a writing desk?” The March Hare quietened down.

“I know the answer to that!” Alice said eagerly, thinking that here was a riddle she could answer at last. “It’s because Edgar Allan Poe wrote on both.”

The Hatter’s eyes widened and he took a small tatty notebook from his waistcoat pocket. He flicked through its pages and said, “That’s quite a good answer. Better than the one Mr Carroll gave… He said they both produce a few notes, though very flat, and you can’t put either of them wrong-end-first…”

Alice’s ears pricked at the mention of “Mr Carroll”.

“Wait – “Mr Carroll”? Do you mean Lewis Carroll?”

“The very same.”

“Is he here then?”

“Oh no, he’s not here. You can’t see him, can you? He lives in the White Tower.” And as he said it Alice could hear the capital letters dropping into place of their own accord.

“Yes, a nice chap,” The Hatter continued, “An inventor.”

“He invented you,” thought Alice.

“Tart?” said the March Hare.

Alice started. “What? Oh, no thank you.”

“Bread and butter? Battenberg? Biscuit?”

“I’m fine, thank you, really.”

“How about more tea?”

Alice looked at her empty teacup. “I haven’t got any tea yet. How can I have more?”

“You can’t have less. But you can always have more than none.”

Ah, semantics. Alice decided not to argue, and reached for the teapot instead.

“Selfie!” cried the March Hare, and he produced a smartphone from his waistcoat pocket and snapped a photo of them at arm’s length.

“This can go on my Instagammon account,” he said, looking at his phone.

Well, this was a Wonderland full of surprises.

The March Hare then pulled out a bottle of whiskey from his other waistcoat pocket.

“A drop of whiskey for your tea?” he asked Alice.

The Mad Hatter giggled like a twelve-year-old who was in on something naughty.

“I’m fine, thank you,” said Alice.

“Suit yourself,” said the Hare, and he took a big swig from the bottle, then passed it to the Hatter. The Dormouse hiccoughed in his sleep.

“I think now would be an excellent time for a sing-song!” announced the Hatter. “Who’s with me?”

And here the March Hare consented with a drunken “Hurrah!” The Hatter did not wait for further encouragement, but leapt up onto the table, upsetting tea things as he did so, and he began to caper about as he sang, merrily:

“Oh, better far to live and die
Under tea’s influence – I fly! –
Then play a well-betrodden part
With a hatter’s head and a hatter’s heart.
Away to the “normal” world go you,
Where people still lace-up their shoes
But I’ll be true to the thing I be
And shout: “A hatter – that is me!”

“For I am a hatter – hurrah!
And it is, it is a glorious thing
To be a hatter! Hurrah!

“When I sally forth to pour my tea
I call myself the royal “we”
And eat a few more tarts, it’s true,
Than a cultured hatter ought to do.
But even the Queen on her high-class throne,
If she wants to call her crown her own,
Must manage somehow to get through
More scrumptious tarts than ever I do.

“For I am a hatter – hurrah!
And it is, it is a glorious thing
To be a hatter! Hurrah!

“For I am a hatter – hurrah!
And it is, it is a glorious thing
To be a hatter! HURRAH!!!”

Alice was left with a slight ringing in her ears after this little display. Amazingly, the Dormouse hadn’t woken up. She wondered how he could sleep through such a racket. She gently prodded him with the end of her teaspoon. He giggled, said “Fudge!” then carried on snoring.

When they had settled down again (although the March Hare kept intermittingly banging the table and shouting “Hurrah!”) she asked the question that had been on her mind.

“How do I get to the White Tower from here?”

“You must go through the Dark Forest yonder,” said the Hatter mysteriously, waving an arm in a vague direction behind him.

“Is it far?”

The Hatter took out a pocket watch and consulted it.

“Seven steps from here,” he said decisively.

But Alice knew the tower was more than just a few steps away.

“The White Knight will show you the way,” continued the Hatter.

“Seven steps,” muttered the Dormouse in his sleep. “Seven steps”.

It made no sense to Alice, but she wasn’t going to argue with these eccentrics. At least she had something to go on: she knew she had to go through the Dark Forest, and the White Knight would show her the way – or was the Hatter simply talking nonsense? If ever there was a warning for the effects of too much caffeine, he was it.

She rose from her seat.

“Don’t go!” cried the Hatter. “Stay and have your tea!”

“Or at least a Bakewell tart,” said the Hare.

“I want to find Lewis Carroll. I need to speak to him,” said Alice. And as she said it, she knew it was true, though she didn’t know why.

“At least don’t go without provisions!” cried the Hatter. “You’ll need all your strength in the Dark Forest.”

And here they began to ply her with biscuits and cakes, cramming them into the pockets of her cardigan. The March Hare tried to give her a teapot to carry, but she flatly refused this. And so, with her pockets full of crumbling sweetmeats, she thanked them for their kindness and went on her way.

“What do they do if they need to sleep?” wondered Alice. For she got the strong impression, you know, that they never left that table.

Alice Part 2

I’ve decided to publish my Alice novelette in sections here on my blog, every Wednesday and Sunday. Any comments and constructive criticism are welcome! To read the first part click here.


…She followed another bend, and then it was straight ahead of her: the exit to outside, through which fresh air and beautiful golden light came pouring in.

Alice walked towards the light…



And emerged into a beautiful garden. There were tall flowers all around her, and bees buzzed busily through the air.

“What a beautiful garden!” thought Alice. The grass was soft, and the air was warm. If this place was a dream, she wanted to stay here a while.

Not far away she could see a neat little house, which the garden must belong to, and beyond the garden there was a forest. Through the treetops poked the top of a tall white tower. Alice decided she had to go there; she didn’t know why. It seemed to pull her somehow.

“Still, I might stay in the garden a while longer,” she said to herself.

Though there was something strange about this world. The air felt curiously soft, if such a thing can be understood. Like marshmallow-air. And the birds sounded different, as though they were singing in a foreign language.

“Where on Earth am I?” Alice wondered.

As she walked, she brushed past a large bush with flowers on, and the flowers flew off and turned into butterflies. Very strange. Certainly like no butterflies Alice had ever seen.
As she was walking, she caught sight of the birds that were singing as they flew from tree to tree.

“Oh! A bluebird!” said Alice. “And a pinkbird! And, a greenbird! And an-an orangebird –” She shut up now. It sounded ridiculous, even to her own ears. There was no such thing as an orangebird, even though, indeed, the bird she had just seen was bright orange. They were all the colours of the rainbow, in fact.

Just then, a gigantic puppy came running and barking over the grass towards her. It looked like a chihuahua, but was the size of an elephant. She didn’t much like the size of its mouth – she was afraid it might eat her. So, she dashed out the garden gate and ran into the lane.

A sign pointed down a path into the woods. It said, “This way!”

So she followed it into the woods, where the path was too narrow and the trees too close together for the puppy to follow her in.



“Whew! That was a close one!” said Alice. Still, she was disappointed she didn’t get to spend much time in the garden. She would have liked to stay there a while; it was much nicer than anywhere she knew in real life. But at least she could look for the tower.
But where exactly was she? And why did all the trees look exactly the same?

“What a strange place!” Alice said aloud.

“You might well say that,” said a voice from the trees, “as you are living inside an artificial reality.”

Alice stopped and shook her head like a cartoon character. Did she just hear a voice? She wasn’t sure – it was almost on the edge of consciousness.

“Did someone just say something?” she asked out loud.

“I did,” said the voice.

“Where are you?”


Who are you?”

“That’s a very personal question. Who are you?”

“I’m Alice,” said Alice, after only a moment’s hesitation.

“Are you sure?”

“I-I think so. Though I’m not quite sure where I am.”

“Then how can you be sure who you are?”

This seemed such an odd question to Alice, that she had to pause and think about it for a moment. All the while she kept on walking through the trees, and the voice seemed to follow her, though she never saw the speaker.

“I’m still me,” Alice continued, “I just don’t know where I am.”

“Who’s to say that a person is the same person if they are in a different place?”

Alice was getting slightly vexed now. “Look, I don’t want a philosophical discussion!” she said, perplexed. “I just want to know where I am!”

“You already know,” said the voice, simply. Then it didn’t speak again.

A giggling sound came from above her. Alice looked up. It was a squirrel, looking down and laughing at her. Who knew that squirrels could laugh? But Alice was already getting used to the extraordinary, and she kept on walking, musing over what the voice had said. Where was she? Surely not – surely not –? Was this place inside her head?

There was the sound of a piano being played somewhere, rather strangely and off-key. But the sound was soothing, nonetheless. As she walked through the wood, she seemed to be getting closer to the source of the music.

All the trees really were exactly the same, she realised. Not like real trees, but more like trees in a computer game or something.

The piano sound was getting nearer.

Finally, the trees started to thin and she could see a bright silvery stream crossing the path ahead of her. The piano was really loud now but she couldn’t see a piano anywhere. She reached the end of the wood and emerged onto a grassy bank. An arched wooden bridge crossed the shallow, silvery stream that rushed past, tinkling over rocks…

And that’s when she realised the piano sound wasn’t a piano at all but the sound the stream made as it rushed over the rocks. Well, of course. Alice shrugged and crossed the wooden bridge to the other side.



On the other side of the stream was another grassy bank and more woodland ahead, but it was fenced off, so Alice kept walking along the bank, following the bend of the wood, with the stream on her left-hand side. She stooped to look at some flowers in the grass. They looked as though they were fake. She picked one and it crumbled to dust in her hand. This place was certainly very odd.

She started as a large yellow-and-purple bee flew past, whistling merrily.

“Morning,” said the bee, as it bumbled past.

“Morning,” said Alice, after a moment’s hesitation. Well, of course the creatures could talk. Hadn’t she just seen a squirrel laughing?

After a while she saw, sitting on a picnic blanket, a very familiar nursery-rhyme figure. True, his appearance was much altered, as he was criss-crossed all over with bandages and band-aids, but there was no mistaking that distinctive shape: it was Humpty Dumpty.

As Alice approached, Humpty Dumpty watched her warily, as though he was afraid she might attack him.

“Hello,” said Alice. “Are you Humpty Dumpty?”

“Of course I am!” said Humpty Dumpty. “Who else would I be?”

Although he said this with some irritation, Alice noticed he trembled as he spoke, and his eyes were wide and wary.

“I’m sorry – please forgive my intrusion. It’s just I’ve never met a celebrity before. I don’t really know what to say.”

Humpty Dumpty seemed mollified. “It’s okay,” he said.

“Excuse me for asking, but are you alright? You have an awful lot of bandages on you.”

Humpty Dumpty flinched and said, “I’m okay – just fell off a wall, that’s all.”

He looked so downcast as he said it that Alice couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

Humpty Dumpty said nothing.

“Do you know where this place is?” Alice asked him.

“Of course I do,” said Humpty Dumpty, “or I wouldn’t have come here.”

“It’s just, I’ve come here, but I don’t know this place at all.”

“Then why did you come here?”

“I didn’t mean to – it was an accident. The Cheshire Cat yawned and I fell down his throat.”

Humpty Dumpty scrutinised her suspiciously. “What an odd thing to say! Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

Alice didn’t like his scrutiny.

“You know,” she said after a pause, “I’m not quite sure that I am. Forgive my intrusion Sir – good day!” And here she curtsied. She felt it was expected somehow.

Humpty Dumpty nodded goodbye and Alice continued walking along the bank.

“If this is a dream,” she ruminated, “why don’t I wake up?”

She tried to remember how she normally woke herself from dreams – say if she was having a nightmare. She tried pinching herself, but it didn’t work.

Then she squeezed her eyes tightly shut and said, “Wake up, Alice! WAKE UP!”

She opened her eyes. But she was still on the grassy bank. Something wasn’t right – if this was a dream, it felt very real. But how could it be reality?

Up ahead, she saw a shepherd boy sitting against a tree. But, instead of a flock of sheep, he had a small herd of green pigs (if ‘herd’ was the right word for pigs – Alice wasn’t sure). The pigs snuffled and frolicked merrily on the bank, while the shepherd boy watched some nymphs bathing and playing in the water. It made for a slightly strange pastoral scene.

Alice approached the shepherd boy. “Excuse me,” she said, “Is this a dream or am I awake?”

The shepherd boy didn’t even look at her. “That depends on what you mean by ‘awake,’” he said, looking towards the river.

“Why must everyone speak in riddles here?” thought Alice.

Alice was distracted then by the nymphs’ squeals of laughter. She turned to look at them. They were difficult to make out somehow – their silvery forms reflected the light so it was difficult to focus the eye on them. They whispered to each other and splashed water at Alice. Alice walked away, their laughter ringing in her ears, feeling odd and out-of-place in her office clothes.

Then she spotted a gateway into the wood, with a large signpost over it that said:

Well, that was a clear enough message. She opened the gate and walked though.

An Alice. In Wonderland?

Bored? Got a few minutes to spare? Here is the intro to my soon-to-be-published novelette, a spin-off of the Alice stories by Lewis Carroll:


It was a sunny, late September day. The clouds were fluffy and far up in the bright blue sky. Alice sat at her desk by the window in the open-plan office, playing Solitaire and daydreaming. Once again, she had been left behind by her work colleagues to answer the phones while they all attended an important meeting. Alice was okay with this, though, honestly: she was used to being the odd-one-out.

There were no phone calls this morning though and all was quiet. Alice looked at the big clock on the wall. It was an unusual clock to have in an office: old-fashioned and very large, and the seconds seemed very loud. Endlessly ticking life away, here in the dreary office, when Alice would much rather be outside enjoying the sunshine and reading a book. The minute hand of the big clock was coming up to twelve.

Alice sat and played Solitaire on her computer, waiting for the inevitable moment when her peace would be disturbed. Already, her eyes were growing heavy – she had stayed up late last night. She had a habit, you see, of staying up too late so she was tired for work the next day. As she recalled, she had been doing nothing in particular; just browsing online, and had ended up researching Mad Tea Party ideas, Alice in Wonderland-style. She only wished she had enough friends to invite to such a party.

She carried on stacking the cards: red, black, red, black – she glanced at the big clock: less than a minute to twelve. Any moment her work colleagues would be back, and then she’d have to look busy.

The clock was so very loud. It echoed through her head as though the inside of her skull was a large, empty hall:


She jerked her head up suddenly. Had she been dozing off for a minute there? She really needed to start going to bed earlier. She blinked her eyes and focused on her computer screen. Where she saw the big face of a stripy cat looking at her, with big yellow eyes, grinning. It looked very much like the Cheshire Cat, from the Alice stories. Its teeth were very sharp. Why was the Cheshire Cat on her computer screen?

It looked at her for a moment, still grinning, and then it said:


It grinned even wider, then yawned. And it yawned and yawned; sucked up so much air as it yawned that Alice was being pulled towards her computer screen, towards the Cheshire Cat’s mouth, which opened like a gaping tunnel before her. This was very irregular! She tried to scream, but –



She was falling, down and down, head over heels.

Tumbling down through darkness that had no end. She was falling, but falling very slowly. It wasn’t very scary, but Alice felt she ought to scream, for posterity.

So she opened her mouth, but no sound came out.

Instead, letters formed in the air like smoke. They said:


And then:


And then, for some reason:


Alice stopped trying to scream. It was pointless. What was the point in screaming if no one could hear you?

So she was falling, floating, down in the darkness without end. But she could see outlines of objects now in the gloom around her. She could hear the ticking of clocks, echoing, reverberating, and then she saw them: clocks of all shapes and sizes, floating around her. Even cuckoo clocks.


She could hear laughter echoing in the darkness, and she was pretty sure it was the Cheshire Cat laughing at her. Then she could see other objects as she was falling past them: bookshelves crammed with books – “All that knowledge!” Typewriters too; “I really must get around to writing my novel,” she thought to herself.

As she was trying to make out other objects in the dark, she became aware of a black-and-white chessboard coming up beneath her. It got bigger and bigger as she fell closer, until she realised it was a black-and-white-tiled floor coming up to meet her.

Alice landed lightly into a heap on the chessboard-floor. She got up, brushed down her office clothes, and peered around. The darkness was so intense she couldn’t make out anything around her, only the chequered floor.

“Perhaps my eyes will adjust in a moment,” she thought to herself.

Suddenly she saw a pair of eyes blinking at her out of the darkness. They were the beady eyes of some sort of animal.

“Hello?” Alice said uncertainly, and realised she could speak again. She stepped gingerly towards the pair of eyes. Then she could make out a tunnel behind the animal, and the creature turned and bumbled off down there.

“I wonder where I am?” thought Alice, following the creature.

She was in a large tunnel – large enough for a human to walk through. It was just light enough for her to see that the eyes around her were the eyes of badgers. They stopped and snuffled at her curiously as she went past, seemingly unafraid of her.

The tunnel seemed to go on forever. She lost sight of her guide around a bend, but it didn’t matter, because she realised she was getting close to daylight – the tunnel was growing lighter, and was that birdsong she could hear?

She followed another bend, and then it was straight ahead of her: the exit to outside, through which fresh air and beautiful golden light came pouring in.

Alice walked towards the light…


Photo by on

This will be the last post on my blog this year, so I thought I’d make it a festive one. I am looking forward to Christmas this year; looking back on the past year, I have made some important improvements in my life, and I’m genuinely excited for the next decade, despite the political turmoil my country is in. I’ve always thought my thirties will be my most exciting decade, which sucks for my later ones, I guess, but I can be excited for it now, anyway.

So, I’m feeling better this Christmas than I was my last one. Here is a poem I wrote last December, which reflects the more sombre mood as that year drew to a close:



Sparkling lights on dark days. Grey mist and snow upon the hills. Fog and rain. Carols on the radio.

Frantic crowds, caught up in the national wave. Propelled by an imperative.

Christmas pudding by the fire. Walks through dark streets, home.

A collective memory, of childhoods long ago. The excitement of Christmas Eve. Grandparents coming around. Sitting on the carpet, expectantly. The smell of Granny’s tights.

To be that excited again…

Nostalgia for the years gone by. Gone, into sepia. Into dust. Into wine.

A time of looking back to the trodden path; it glistens, overlaid with dew of new days, obscuring the grain.

And looking forward, to the clock that chimes on New Year’s Eve.

This is the passing of the days; the ancient days. When all the world seems to stand still. In peace, in collective memory.

It’s a bit rough around the edges, I know. I might work on it a bit more. But I thought it was good enough to put up.

On that note, have a good Christmas, everyone, and don’t forget to crack open the Baileys! (Or other sinful beverage of your choice).

I’ll see you in the new year (2020! We’ll be in the future!)

Shameless Plug: Autodestructsuperstar

woman wearing black leather jacket holding camera


Boatman, take me to Avalon

Welcome to the world of Autodestructsuperstar, where nothing is as it seems. A world projected through mirrors and cameras, smokescreens and camera filters (Please, please, please look at me…).

A world Obscura; Autodestructsuperstar is an exploration of idolatry and celebrity in the 21st century.

Are you ready to set sail?

Well, let’s start wasting, let’s start preparing for the last dance, my darling. Let’s make it a romance, a thing to remember…

Pamphlet on sale for just £3 a copy. Will discount multi-buys. Please use the contact form or email me at to get your copy. Support a starving artist, say nuts to Amazon, and indulge/vindicate your distaste for modern culture at the same time.

Sad (God in the Computer Screen)

I am so sad —
I squeeze my soul out for you to see;
Wring it out like a flannel —
Wring out those very words that haunt me.
Read my heartbreak, my memories —
How sad I am, how unique,
Living in this modern world
Where loneliness has swallowed me.

What more can I do, but
Reach God through my computer screen —
And pour out the words for you to see:
Reflections of a bleeding heart;
A shattered mind —
Liberate in poetry.

From my forthcoming poetry collection, Autodestructsuperstar.