Wednesday, January 20, 2021

2. The Wabbit and the Magic Box

The Wabbit paused on the way out because he couldn't resist a closer look at the box. He needed better light, so he hopped up on a ledge by a window and pulled it from his fur. It was a strange looking affair - roughly square but not quite. And there was a device on the front that looked like a knob. The Wabbit fiddled with it. Nothing happened.  He turned it upside down and shook it - but to little effect. The knob clicked round and round - but didn't open the box. He looked closer. There were numbers etched on the side. "A combination lock," hissed the Wabbit. He was secretly thrilled with his find. A box was one thing but a box he couldn't open was another. He made a few attempts starting with 000. To the Wabbit's knowledge, all combination locks had a row of zeros as a default. There was no result. The Wabbit tapped the box and then gave it a good whack. Nothing. "This needs an expert," he thought. For a moment he tried to think who that expert might be but there was only one - Wabsworth. Since Wabsworth was an android, he reasoned, finding the combination would be a piece of cake. For a moment he could smell a sweet cake which he particularly liked. "Panettone," he murmured. Then the smell was gone. "Curious," he thought, "but I'd rather have Rum Baba." For just a second the smell of Rum Baba wafted through the air. In fact, he could almost taste it. "This needs looking into," he said to himself. The smell hung in the air and then vanished. His stomach rumbled and he tried to drag the top from the box. It resisted all efforts to open. "Grrr," he said, "I don't employ an android for nothing." Then he vanished in search of Wabsworth. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

1. The Wabbit's find, high up in the Dome

The Wabbit was at a loose end and he decided he'd potter in the Royal Museum. As usual he decided to go somewhere he wasn't really allowed. He spotted ladders - so he climbed high up into the dome and edged his way along the scaffolding. Repairs were in progress and he watched the workers. Their patient work would ensure everything stayed together as it was supposed to. The Wabbit knew it wouldn't do to have things fall on his head. He grinned in satisfaction. Things were in progress and while the workers were concentrating, there was always the chance of finding something interesting. He looked at every nook and cranny. Nothing much except the dust of ages. He tried to recall when he'd last visited. "I think it was 2011," he mused to himself. Lapinette was in hospital and he'd prowled the length and breadth of Turin in search of stuff to do. And he'd certainly found it. He smiled to himself and edged out a little further to look at the scene below. Workers scurried back and forth carrying materials. It was then he noticed something in a corner, something that had been discarded. No-one seemed to care. It looked in danger of being discarded so the Wabbit thought he'd better secure it. The corner was difficult to access but he persevered. He stretched out a paw. The object looked like a box with serrated sides. He tried to open it, but it was complicated. So he tucked the box into his fur and made his way down. He nodded to the workers on his way past. "Everything all right Commander?" said the foreman. The Wabbit shoved the box further into his fur. "Perfectly hunky dory," he smiled. "Tip top," said the foreman ...

Friday, January 15, 2021

The Wabbit at his Adventure Caffè

Far from Rome, at a Caffè in Sal Salvario, the team gathered to discuss the recent adventure. Skratch the Cat was late as usual. As he scrabbled his way onto the remaining seat, the Wabbit asked him the question, "What was that for a sort of Adventure we just had?" Skratch meaowed a massive meow. "It resembles others I've seen - but with one distinguishing feature." They waited with baited breath. "It had an anti-war vibe right in the middle. In that respect it is anti-war story." Wabsworth grinned and rapped the table. "There's no such thing as an anti-war story in my opinion." Lapinette was sceptical. "You are misquoting Truffaut. He said that to show something was to ennoble it." Wabsworth shrugged as if he'd proved his point. The Wabbit decided to contribute. "So the officer's noble grunt was just another way of ennobling war?" Skratch held up a paw. "War can be represented as spectacle, the eerie display of soldiers up to their waist in snow and the determination of the soldiers to advance. That is ennobling too." Lapinette demanded attention. "No one asked about the stripped-down buildings that provided our rather inhospitable destination." Wabsworth's memory banks whirred. "Guy Debord would have appreciated it." "Ah yes," said the Wabbit, "The Situationists may have recognised industrial set design." Skratch smiled and meaowed, "Paulo Ventura might have said something about that too." "Since he designed it," laughed Lapinette. "He designed it," said the Wabbit, "but he's never actually been there!" "I didn't see a bar there," said Wabsworth. "More's the pity," laughed the Wabbit. "We would have stayed longer."

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

8. The Wabbit and Sideways Home

Lapinette got into the car, slammed the door and switched on the heater. "Brrr," she said, "Let's go home." The Wabbit was cold too. He turned the heater up to maximum. Lapinette looked at the adapted gear lever. "Which way?" The Wabbit didn't have a clue but he suggested the other way from before. "Opposite direction, sideways," he said. Lapinette crashed the lever over. The car shimmered and shook. Then it warped in a lateral direction. The felt the pressure. Then it was gone and they sailed over the rooftops. The Wabbit looked down. Colours changed, but the sea continued to crash silently on a long- forgotten beach. "What was that place?" asked Lapinette. The Wabbit pondered while he gazed and then he said, "It's not a place, it's a different space. We inhabited it for a while. Now it's gone." Lapinette sat in the driver's seat but there was nothing to do but wait for the car to make its journey home. "It's a relaxing drive," she said, "but I'm looking forward to an aperitivo in a proper city." "Why don't we have one here and another when we get there," smiled the Wabbit. He fished a hip flask from his fur and handed in to Lapinette. "I come prepared," he grinned. Lapinette lifted the flask to her lips and took a hearty swallow. "Chilled Aperol Spritz," she murmured, "my favourite. What time do we get back?" "Same as when we left according to Dr Strangeglove," replied the Wabbit. They progressed through various colours. Suddenly the scene cleared. They were staring at the Rome traffic - and before long they were parked outside the Pasticceria Siciliana Svizzera. "Happy Birthday!" said the Wabbit. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

7. The Wabbit and War and Peace

The Wabbit and Lapinette made their way to street level but what they found surprised even them. An army moved slowly along the street sinking deeper and deeper into snow. It made a sound - as if it was a slowed down recording. The Wabbit saluted because that was demanded by protocol. Lapinette followed suit. One of the officers turned to look and spoke to the Wabbit. It sounded slurred and unintelligible to Lapinette but the Wabbit had a universal translator and the sound fed through it, becoming almost normal. The voice asked why they were there. The Wabbit replied that they came by coach to have a look. He whispered in Lapinette's ear. "It looks like stage set from Erwin Piscator." Lapinette nodded. "He worked with Brecht you know," added the Wabbit. Lapinette nodded again. The Wabbit was knowledgeable in that department. "What war is this?" He addressed the officer directly but the answer was a long time coming back. "Napoleonic," he replied. They looked bitterly cold. The officer spoke again. He was shivering in the freezing temperature. "Are you from the future?" "Sort of, but not as you might think," replied the Wabbit. The atmosphere cut through him like a knife and the Wabbit shivered too despite his fur. "Will we be victorious?" asked the officer. "Winter is coming, worse than this," replied the Wabbit and he shook his head sadly. The officer shrugged and raised his hand in farewell. "War is Hell," he said and moved on. The Wabbit and Lapinette saluted once more and the army moved slowly past. I'm freezing," said Lapinette, "let's go back to our coach." Then together they climbed back to the roof ...

[I am indebted to Paulo Ventura and his excellent exhibition in Turin Photo Museum. The exhibition is extended into this year.]

Friday, January 08, 2021

6. The Wabbit and the Flat Roof

Lapinette set the car down. "You don't call this car by his old name?" said Lapinette. "It's your car now, he needs a new name," replied the Wabbit, He got out of the car and strode to the parapet. "Radicchio," suggested Lapinette. The Wabbit looked back. "If you like," he said. He laughed for a minute because it was a funny name for a car. He looked over the edge. Lapinette joined him. Buildings stretched into the distance. Behind them the sea rolled out and in without a sound. "Someone's got to live here," said the Wabbit, "Someone pays the rent." Lapinette looked doubtful. "What would you set the rent at?" The Wabbit thought about it. "Tenement by the sea? A thousand euro." Lapinette gasped. "That's a bit steep." "Everything's a thousand euro now." insisted the Wabbit. Lapinette nodded sagely. Then she thought of something important. "What does Radicchio run on?" "Hydrogen," said the Wabbit, "so no worries. Then there's the anti-matter backup." Lapinette looked sceptical. "It's not to going to blow us all to Kingdom Come." "Not yet," replied the Wabbit. "Kingdom ain't coming for a bit." They both looked down into the empty streets below. "I thought I saw something move," said Lapinette. "So did I," said the Wabbit. "It looked like a flag." Like ghosts, a sea of flags moved through the silent streets. These flags didn't flutter but stayed quite rigid. "I don't like the look of this," said the Wabbit. "Better investigate," said Lapinette. "Could be fun," shrugged the Wabbit. "Is it safe to leave the car?" joked Lapinette. "It has an anti-theft device," responded the Wabbit. Lapinette looked at the Wabbit with horror. "It vaporises assailants," shrugged the Wabbit.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

5. The Wabbit and the Place by the Sea

Lapinette left the control lever where it was as the vehicle lurched into a different land of colour. The car bent and warped and shimmered and shook as it progressed sideways through a spectrum they'd never seen before. The scene cleared and the car warped back into shape. There was an island. And on the island, there were buildings. Nothing looked quite right. They looked completely deserted, uninhabited, not as much as a mouse. The sea rolled incessantly. The island smelled of the tropics but there was no sound. All was silent. "Some place for a holiday," said Lapinette. "Peace and quiet," quipped the Wabbit. He was about to say you could lie on the beach - but there was no beach. They skimmed the rooftops looking for a place to land. Each terrace gave way to another terrace. "Getting tired of terraces," said the Wabbit. "Great to witness catastrophes from," grinned Lapinette. "That's a cheery yet privileged thought," replied the Wabbit, "This is a catastrophe waiting to happen," commented Lapinette. The Wabbit thought that was correct, but he didn't feel an answer was appropriate. Instead, he said, "It feels like ambush country!" Lapinette took a chance on the throttle and sped forward. "I see a flat roof over there." Lapinette edged round and down. "I think I can land the jalopy." The Wabbit looked all around for hostility. His ears twitched back and forward and to the side. There wasn't any sign of an ambush - or of anything. "Let's get this baby off the ground." Lapinette looked at all the switches on the dash. "I'm looking for one that says soft landings, flat roofs." The Wabbit smiled. "That's what Buzz Aldrin said."

Monday, January 04, 2021

4. The Wabbit and Lapinette meet Traffic

Lapinette shifted the lever sideways and the car went likewise. But then with enormous speed it burst into the traffic. It continued to slew sideways and they watched as everything passed. Things were fractured. They just missed a motorbike as the traffic went every which way. Lapinette tried to bring the lever back but it wouldn't budge. The Wabbit gritted his teeth. "Exciting," he murmured. Lapinette muttered something rude about the controls. With enormous effort she shifted the lever and it swung back to dead centre. They seemed to be at a standstill but the traffic came forward towards them and they moved with it. Lapinette wrestled the controls and managed to move it sideways but in the other direction. The car swung round and lifted a bit. The traffic was still fractured. "It's the first run," observed the Wabbit. "I thought you said the car travelled in time," said Lapinette. The Wabbit nodded at the traffic. It was going backwards now and they followed it. But the traffic diverged and the car came to a standstill. "It's looking for instructions," said the Wabbit. "I'll  give it binky instructions," growled Lapinette and she threw the lever forward. This time it engaged. Now the traffic seemed to be streamlined, and filaments attached to every vehicle. The car started to turn on its axis. The cockpit was so small that the Wabbit and Lapinette stayed more or less where they were - but they turned with the car. "Interesting," said the Wabbit. "Very," said Lapinette through gritted teeth. The car continued to turn until the traffic blurred into a single colour. They made their way backwards through the colour, then  left the colour behind. "Where are we now?" asked Lapinette. "The Other Side?" replied the Wabbit. 

Friday, January 01, 2021

3. The Wabbit and Lap's Birthday

The Wabbit brought Lapinette to St Peter's Square and there was no need for subterfuge. The car was in place by kind permission of ex Cardinal Lapin. He always authorised Bond movies so he could hardly turn the Wabbit down. "New car, Wabbit?" she asked. "It's yours," said the Wabbit, "Happy Birthday!" Lapinette looked at the car, "Haven't I seen this before?" The Wabbit grinned his widest grin. "Modified," he whispered. Lapinette took a step back. "You shouldn't have!" "It was nothing," said the Wabbit. He looked at the ground. Lapinette jumped up and down. "No, I really mean you shouldn't have. Your modifications are well known." The Wabbit tried to set her mind at rest. "Doctor Strangeglove did the whole thing," "That's reassuring," she replied - with more than a hint of sarcasm. Lap walked round the car and came back. "How do I get in?" The Wabbit shrugged. "With a little bit of difficulty. You lean back, swivel and drag your ears in behind you. I'll climb in after you," "Cosy," said Lapinette. She placed her paws on her hips and waited. "One other thing," said the Wabbit, "It travels in time." Lapinette leaped in the air. "I knew it!" Nonetheless, she eased the gullwing doors up and got inside. The Wabbit crammed in after her. "What's that lever for? "she asked. "Forward for the future, back for the past," replied the Wabbit. "And sideways?" Lapinette was interested at last. "Better not to push it sideways," said the Wabbit, "It's still at the developmental stage," But it was too late, Lap pushed the lever. The car wheels turned silently on the wet cobbles and it crept sideways. "It doesn't do much," said Lapinette. Suddenly there was a blinding flash ...

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2. The Wabbit and Strangeglove's Machine

Doctor Strangeglove called the Wabbit to see what he'd done. He'd been working in the Wabbit's shed to build a surprise present for Lapinette's birthday and the Wabbit was on tenterhooks to see it. The Wabbit was surprised. "That's Wab!" he yelled. "Oh Wabbit, I found it under some covers in a corner and adapted it. I hoped you wouldn't mind." The Wabbit was a bit embarrassed. He'd borrowed it in 2011 for a race and quite forgot to give it back. He thought about it for a bit and decided if they hadn't asked for it back, they didn't really want it. "That's OK," he said, "We've improved it." Strangeglove smiled. "We certainly have. Under the bonnet is an anti matter unit of my own design." The Wabbit patted what passed for a bumper. "What about controls?" Strangeglove nodded his gloved head. "There are three main controls. Forward to the Future, Backward to the Past - and Sideways." The Wabbit was intrigued. "Where does Sideways go?" "I don't really know!" shrugged Strangeglove, "so better not touch it." The Wabbit looked alarmed but said nothing more about it. "It has inhospitable climate control," said Strangeglove and I also put in a make-up case and a fur drier." "Very wise," nodded the Wabbit. Then he noticed the bow. "That's a nice bow, I thought you didn't do bows." Strangeglove looked embarrassed. "I found that lying around too. I stuck it on, and it wouldn't come off." The Wabbit knew where it came from. It had been attached to a present given to him by Lapinette. "I suppose bows all look the same," he chuckled. He rubbed his paws together. "Now I have to find a way of getting Lapinette round here." Strangeglove laughed and laughed. "Just tell her it's surprise," he said. "She'll be suspicious," replied the Wabbit. Strangeglove drew himself up to his full height. "Send a red rose by courier pigeon." "That'll work," agreed the Wabbit. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

1. The Wabbit and the Emergency Present

The Wabbit was stuck. He'd left it too late to get a present for Lapinette's birthday and didn't know what to do. There were only a few days left and all the shops were shut. But he had an idea that it could be something technical, so he tracked down Doctor Strangeglove to his lair. "Pleased to see you Wabbit," said Strangeglove, "I was just tuning up this engine for the electrical people." Dr. Strangeglove was in ebullient mood. Let loose on anything electrical, he was very happy. The Wabbit explained his predicament. Strangeglove smiled. "You want it to be a surprise?" The Wabbit nodded his head but looked rueful. "I should have thought of it before."  Doctor Strangeglove paced up and down, thinking. "Something technical you say?" The Wabbit nodded. "Something she hasn't got already?" added Strangeglove. The Wabbit nodded with vigour, because that was the main problem. No matter what he thought of, Lapinette had it already. The Doctor came up with an idea. "A time machine?" The Wabbit was astonished. "You could get me a time machine?" "Of course," said Strangeglove. "By Friday?" asked the Wabbit. Dr Strangeglove thought for a minute then he nodded. "I could do it for Thursday evening if I have the designs." The Wabbit was sceptical - but Lapinette did not have a time machine. That he knew. "Will it go into the future and come back?" "Anyway you like," smiled the Doctor. The Wabbit asked his penultimate question. "Will it have a seat?" "Yes," said Strangeglove, "Two seats if you want." The Wabbit wondered how much he had in his dinosaur fund. "I can build it from scrap," said the Doctor. The Wabbit had one more question. "Can you gift wrap it?" "No, I'm not that good," said Strangeglove.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Wabbit at his Adventure Caffè

The Wabbit said he'd give everyone a surprise and took them to a Caffè he knew in Venice. It was very dry this year and they didn't have to wear Wellington boots - so Skratch was very pleased because he hated getting his feet wet. Lapinette and the Wabbit went ahead to order the drinks, because that was the way things worked. "Over there by the canal," said the Wabbit, "our drinks will be here in due course." Skratch was anxious to answer the question about the goings on with the letters and Wabsworth posed the question. "What on earth was that that for a sort of adventure?" Skratch was duty bound to respond. "It began as a satire about words and their meanings, but quickly changed to a discourse on the structure of words themselves." The Wabbit was disappointed. "Is that it?" Skratch meaowed a long and plaintive meow, "Certainly not. The discourse circulated around the power of the dictionary and, in essence, demonstrated that the letters had little power at all." Wabsworth grinned his android grin. "All the letters were caught in the dictionary's control of the word."  Skratch was on home territory. "And a word only has meaning as a place in a signifying chain." Lapinette laughed. "Stuck in a concatenation?" "At the station!" added the Wabbit. The rest all looked at him and groaned. "In other words it hardly mattered," said Wabsworth, "the lower cases and the upper cases are at the mercy of sound-images." The Wabbit wanted the last word. "They say the unconscious is structured like a language," Lapinette did get the last word. "Desire is therefore always left unsatisfied." "I desire my drink," said the Wabbit. Then they laughed and laughed and laughed.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

7. The Wabbit inside the Word Drum

As they walked into the vast halls of Dictionary House, a door slammed behind them and things started to revolve. The gothic interior gave way to the clean lines of a washing machine and it started to fill. One by one, all the letters they'd met joined them and started to gyrate. Everything ran and colours shattered, merged and separated again. Lapinette's kilt turned into coloured arrows and swept across her face. Only the Wabbit seemed happy. He'd been twirled before, so he lay back and let the wash do its work. Capital A got very small then big again then small. The lower-case letters swam  in the exotic brew. Now they were bigger than the capitals and they seemed happy too. "What's happening?" yelled the A. "You're being decapitalised," laughed the Wabbit. The wash got more violent and everything swirled around. All of a sudden it stopped. Then it began to twirl the other way. The letters became the same size. "Give me back my kilt!" shouted Lapinette. The tartan became tartan again. Lapinette breathed a sigh of relief. Now that they were the same size, the lower-case letters smiled benevolently on Capital A. "Join us brother," they yelled, "Join us in the heady brew of language." The Capital A shrugged. "I may as well," he said. "I was getting tired of always being at the front. Perhaps I could be in the middle." Small b smiled. "Perhaps you could be at the back," he said. "That's OK," said A, "I've been rather stressed always beginning sentences." The Wabbit dried his fur by blowing on it. "Now that your all palsy-walsy, perhaps we could get out of this drum." The door swung open. The gothic halls beckoned. "So many letters, so little time," said Lapinette. "Always time for a drink," said the Wabbit. "How do you spell that," laughed Lapinette.

Monday, December 14, 2020

6. The Wabbit and Dictionary House

The Wabbit and Lapinette carried out painstaking research but found nothing. So they took with them a python list of dictionaries and went to Dictionary House. The House lay deep in the Bavarian Quarter, a little-known part of Turin. The python list was a way of finding things out but that was a far as the Wabbit could go. It was a collection of unordered values accessed by keys. They keys had to be hashable, floating point numbers, strings and tuples. When the Wabbit got to tuples he bowed out. Of course, Wabsworth would have known all about it - but the Wabbit was determined to sort the matter out himself. "You don't need that," said Lapinette. The Wabbit asked why not. "Because," replied Lapinette, "the answer isn't there." The Wabbit nodded gravely. "Of course," he said. He waited but Lapinette said nothing. "OK where is the answer?" said the Wabbit. "The answer is in common usage," said Lapinette. It was the Wabbit's turn to say nothing. He nodded as if he understood everything. "Many languages do not have capitals at all," said Lapinette. The Wabbit waited. "Arabic, Hebrew, Korean or Japanese" (The Wabbit understood all that.) "The matter is quite complex," continued Lapinette, "but the lower-case letters appear to be demanding an end to mixed text." The Wabbit shook his head. "I don't think anyone will agree to that, but I have an idea." Lapinette shrugged. "Everything will be in upper case but very small," said the Wabbit. "I've seen it done," said Lapinette, "but I don't think the Upper Cases will agree." The Wabbit thought for a while. "What about Studly Caps mixed case?" Lapinette snickered. "Like the hidden message in HoTMaiL? They might just go for it ... let's go inside and ask."
 [HoTMaiL: HTML]

Friday, December 11, 2020

5. The Wabbit and the Rumble Letters

The Wabbit and Lapinette chatted amiably to the letters and told them they would make a case for their demands. But as they passed along Via Nizza Capital A sprang out at them. He's acquired some wheels and so he'd made good speed down the redundant cycle lanes that had sprung up. He kicked the w to the side. "Oh you big bully!" yelled Lapinette. She tried pushing him but he wouldn't desist. He swept the o to the side and laid into the letter s with venom. The letter s was having none of it and he clattered the Capital A with a left jab. "You little fool, your no better than a snake," shouted Capital A. He tried to trip the s up, but only managed to stub his base on the sidewalk. The s bounced back. "Your tyranny ends here, you moron," he shouted. The s jabbed again and again. Ever watchful from the side, the letter b shouted in support. "Take that for your trouble," he screamed, "And that and that." Encouraged by Lapinette's push, the letter o came back fighting. He rolled over the Capital and ground his wheels until they were flat. The Wabbit hadn't got involved up until now. His role as peace maker seemed to be in danger so he strode into the midst. "Quieten down now, you letters." His voice as far from soothing, especially when the w accidentally hit him in the eye. The fight was becoming something more than a rumble but remained less than a donnybrook. So there was hope. Eventually the Wabbit and Lapinette managed to separate them. The Wabbit dabbed his eye. "You've have got to make an accommodation," he said, "Or you'll all be dead letters." Lapinette had her pad and pen at the ready. "I'll dash a note off to the dictionary people to see what they say." The Wabbit nodded. "Stay clear of four-letter words!"