Wednesday, April 29, 2020

1. The Wabbit and the Red Bag

The morning was more than brisk and the Wabbit took the opportunity for a constitutional hop. He was between adventures and that was time to relax and recharge. He took the long route around the town, where canals passed through the fields. He found the water peaceful and always stopped on the bridge to watch for a while. Usually not much happened. He would ponder geometry and imagine the network that took water across farmland towards Venice. But there was something in the water. That was unusual enough. But for the occasional passing of a heron, nothing of any excitement took place. He took a closer look. Just beneath the bridge, a bright red bag lay abandoned on the bank. It looked new. The Wabbit thought for a moment. "Where there's a bag there's usually an owner." He glanced around and became aware of a solitary figure that seemed to be standing in the water. "Hello there!" he shouted. "You've lost your bag." The figure didn't move. The Wabbit shouted louder. "Your bag's here, shall I get it for you?" He made his way along the bridge to slide down the bank, but when he got there the bag had disappeared. He looked up the canal and there was the bag lying under the water, just by the figure. The figure stood stock still, then solemnly waved. The single, slow sweep of its arm was like the seconds hand of a clock. The Wabbit waved back. The figure fished in the canal for the bag and finding it, turned and waded through the water. The Wabbit watched until he was out of sight ...

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Wabbit and his Adventure Caffè

The team gathered for their Adventure Caffè discussion. It was at Eataly in Lingotto and they were looking forward to it. Skratch slid in late as usual and raised a paw in greeting. "That was a fine adventure we just had," he purred. Lapinette stretched out both paws in welcome. "But exactly what kind of adventure was it?" Wabsworth's eyes gleamed. "It was at the very junction of the symbolic and the imaginary!" The Wabbit tapped the table lightly with a single paw. "You're talking about suture." Skratch meaowed pleasantly. "Well you're both quite right. The articulation of a signifying chain of episodes operates through the absence constituted by the subject." Lapinette's laughter was like a stream washing lightly over rocks. "That's Stephen Heath, as you well know, Skratch." Now Skratch purred with delight. "Our adventure was all jump cuts and blind spots." Wabsworth was very happy to have been in this adventure and his circuits whirred. "You know, I have a pristine copy of Wide Angle Film Quarterly." Skratch nearly fell over. "It's worth a fortune. Which one?" "Volume 10 No. 3," replied Wabsworth. "My goodness, said Skratch, "Do you keep it in a safe?" Wabsworth chortled. "I got it in a market for one euro, fifty. No-one knew what it was." "Or meant," laughed Lapinette. The Wabbit poked Skratch. "And who is this absent one of whom you speak." "The reader of course," stated Skratch. "Oh him," shrugged the Wabbit. "Her," corrected Lapinette.
[Skratch is talking about Stephen Heath. (1981) Questions of Cinema, The Macmillan Press, London.]

Saturday, April 25, 2020

10. The Wabbit and the Fast Train Home

The yellow box was a good as its word. The team boarded the train and made for the dining car where a sumptuous banquet awaited. The train was empty, it was only for them. But the Wabbit lingered behind and snuggled into his favourite single seat at the end of the coach. The train powered up and moved out of the station. The Wabbit gazed at the platform. He could see their footprints in the snow and a thought crossed his mind. "I have a vague feeling we'll all be back ere long." He realised he'd said it out loud and that Lapinette was behind him. "Do you reckon?" she whispered. "I know it in my waters," murmured the Wabbit. The train roared along the track to Torino. Skratch's voice meaowed from the speakers. "We're all waiting in the dining car. Please report. Drinks are on the table." The Wabbit thought it was time to venture an apology to Lapinette. "Sorry about that red button." She laughed. "Where would we be without them?" "Middle of nowhere," grinned the Wabbit. They both looked out of the window. Trees and telegraph poles and pylons blurred past. They watched them for a while. "How long have we been having strange adventures?" pondered Lapinette. "More years than I care to remember," shrugged the Wabbit. The train sounded its klaxon as it pounded through a station. "I'm hungry," said Lapinette. The Wabbit's tummy rumbled and he patted it. "What's on the menu?" he asked. "Prosecco," smiled Lapinette. She pulled the Wabbit to his feet, and paw in paw they made their way to the dining car.

Friday, April 24, 2020

9. The Wabbit and the Red Button

The Wabbit looked at the sign. "This really is the middle of nowhere." Then he paused. "And look, there's a yellow box that says stop just like the one at the tram halt." Lapinette took a good look at the box. She sighed. "Wabbit, it doesn't say stop. It says SOS." The Wabbit sulked. "Well, I spoke to one, and it said it could stop things." Wabsworth chimed in. "Probably it can. It can stop a tram." Skratch meaowed from further along the platform. "Or in this case ... a train." Skratch knew all about signs, signifiers and what they signified. The Wabbit smiled. "Maybe this is an emergency. I'm going to press the button." Before anyone could say anything, his paw jabbed the button and a voice spoke from the speaker. "Ah it's you. Did I stop you being bored, Wabbit?" Everyone pointed at the Wabbit and shouted at once. "This is all your fault!" Lapinette hopped up and down. "Boredom is not an emergency!" The Wabbit waved everyone aside. Then he turned and addressed the box. "Can you stop us being stranded?" "I can indeed" said the box. They heard the tootle of a horn in the distance. The tracks rumbled. Lights changed. A station announcement began. "Arriving at Platform One, special non-stop express train for Torino, Porta Nuova. The Wabbit grinned at Lapinette with all of his 28 teeth. Lapinette stamped a foot. "There'd better be a buffet on this train." "A banquet awaits you in the dining car," crackled the yellow box, "I think you all deserve it." Behind them, a train slid into the station and doors hissed open. But there was another sound. "That box laughed," said Lapinette.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

8. The Wabbit and the Deserted Station

Under a lowering slate-grey sky the train braked to a halt in a lonely station. Snow began to pelt down and lay thick on the platform. The Wabbit sprinted and skidded down the train. He pounded on the compartment door which was well stuck, then he sprinted back to the cab for the wrecking bar. If there was one tool the Wabbit liked it was a wrecking bar, and he set upon the door with vigour and good faith. A crack opened. Then with a hiss, the door slid open - more or less. Lapinette flew through first. The Wabbit pointed up the platform and urged her on, although he didn't know why. He just had a feeling in the pit of his stomach. Skratch was next and halted to ask a question, but the Wabbit shouted and waved him along. Wabsworth looked groggy as he tottered out. The Wabbit pushed him forward and yelled, "Everyone, get to the other end of the platform." He threw the wrecking bar between the sliding doors but it was too late. The doors slid shut just as the train powered up and left the station in the opposite direction. They watched it as it careered down the line, left the rails and hit a dilapidated railway building. The bang was deafening. The train buckled and lay groaning in the snow. Tendrils of smoke rose. Shards of metal dropped through the snow. "There goes our ride home," sighed Lapinette.

Monday, April 20, 2020

7. The Wabbit and the Emergency Brake

The Wabbit dived into the cab and searched for the emergency brake. He pulled every lever he could but the train still rumbled on. The brake handle was stuck and the dead man's switch was nowhere to be seen. He tried brute force and ignorance but that didn't work either. The train roared down the tracks at enormous speed. Vibration shook every bone in his body. He slumped down on the seat - and felt something give way. So he threw himself on the floor of the cab and groped underneath with both paws. There was something there - a red switch, jammed with a brick. He tried to dislodge it, but the switch stuck fast and every attempt to loosen it made things worse. The Wabbit jumped up and down on the seat to no avail. He sat down and gazed through the windshield. The tracks looked like a maze. Stations strobed past. A train loomed in front, but they passed straight through it. "OK. Plan B," shrugged the Wabbit. He rummaged through the cab and pulled out everything he could. Then he searched the compartment behind. "Aha!" he breathed. Standing in the corner was a wrecking bar. He seized it and lurched to the front. Then with a mighty cry he swung the bar under the seat like a scythe. The seat toppled off its plinth. "Grrr," growled the Wabbit and he set about the jammed switch with both feet. It came off too. But he felt the train slow. Then he heard a squeal and smelled the acrid odour of burning brakes. He grinned and muttered to himself. "This is the next stop of this train. Please ensure you take your belongings with you."

Saturday, April 18, 2020

6. The Wabbit in the Runaway Train

The train shrieked along the tracks like a runaway ghost. It flew through a misty mesh of signals and stopped for none of them. It shuttled through points and dissolved through anything it met. Twin lights cut a path through an iron landscape. Stations blurred past. Nothing could stop it. Inside, the team wrestled with connecting doors but they were all locked. They sat down and thought hard. "What about the alarm chain," suggested Lapinette. The Wabbit jumped at the chain and pulled it. It came away in his paw and clattered on the floor. Wabsworth tackled a window and with a touch of hydraulic pressure it moved. "Along the roof?" said the Wabbit. Everyone nodded. He shrugged, then Skratch lifted him up. With a hop, the Wabbit pulled himself through the window. Wind tore at his fur. He searched for a grip, found it, and vaulted onto the top of the carriage. Pylons flashed by. He gritted all of his 28 teeth and held on as a train pounded past on the opposite track. He ducked as the train flew under a bridge. The mist tasted like old broccoli and it battered his lungs. He gasped. But bit by bit he pulled himself towards the motor coach. The roof was damp and slippery and several times he slithered to the edge. But the driver's cab was in sight. Clinging like grim death, he threw a leg over the side and kicked until he heard glass smash. Then he dropped and vaulted inside ...

Friday, April 17, 2020

5. The Wabbit and the Train to Nowhere

The Wabbit climbed the stairs to the to the upper compartment. He flopped down, but soon realised he had company. "Wabbit!" yelled Lapinette, "What are we doing here? Is this one of your stunts?" He heard a meow from behind him. "What's going on?" purred Skratch, "I was about to watch a film." Lapinette was breathless. "I was collecting wood for your shed when everything shook and I ran and now I'm here." The Wabbit shook his head and he scowled. "Well, the tram was late so I pressed an intercom thing on the platform." They heard the clang of approaching steps. Wabsworth appeared from the lower compartment, moaning as he climbed the stairs. "I was having a quiet diagnostic when I found myself spatially dislocated." The train swayed and he grabbed the rail. He pointed at the Wabbit. "This is your fault, isn't it?" The Wabbit dismissed him with the wave of a paw. "Not guilty," he shrugged. The train got faster. Skratch looked out but stations, poles, pylons and trees blurred past. "This is the back of beyond." The Wabbit nodded. "That's more or less what the guard said." Lapinette jumped up and down. "You met a guard!" The train's PA system crackled into life. "This is the Guard. We are now approaching the station after the one before." A station blurred past. "We didn't stop!" yelled Lapinette. The PA crackled again and the Guard spoke. "There are no further stops of this train. Please have your tickets ready." The train rattled onwards ..

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

4. The Wabbit on the Foggy Platform

The Wabbit was no longer at a sunny tram stop. He was on a foggy rail platform and he shivered in the cold air. A train thundered in and the platform shook as wheels shrieked to a halt. Station announcements barked information. The Wabbit recognised none of the stations but one thing was certain. He was a long way from home. He didn't like the look of this at all - and he shook his head with vigour. The doors opened with a loud hiss but the Wabbit declined to get on. He hung from a platform light and waited. The guard's door opened, and a man stepped out. He looked up and down the train, and when he caught sight of the Wabbit, he said, "All aboard now, all aboard." The Wabbit shook his head again. "Where is this train going?" he asked. The guard beckoned. "Come on now. There won't be another train for quite some time." The Wabbit was reluctant. "I've got no ticket." He hopped back a little. "The guard waved a machine. "No bother, I'll sell you a ticket when we're underway." The train blasted its horn three times and some of the doors hissed closed. "Last chance," said the guard. The Wabbit hopped back once more but the guard pressed him. "Look all around. Do you see anything?" "No," confessed the Wabbit. "This is the middle of nowhere," shrugged the guard. He waited. "Join all your friends on board," he suggested. That was enough for the Wabbit and he hopped on. The doors hissed shut behind him as the train took off and hurtled into the fog ...

Monday, April 13, 2020

3. Skratch and the Shaking Stairs

The day was hotter than expected. It was only April but it seemed like a scorching day in August. So Skratch the Cat went in search of air conditioning. "Where else but the cinema?" he thought. He wandered down Via Nizza and strolled into 8 Gallery at Lingotto. It was very quiet and Skratch smiled to himself. "Excellent," he murmured. But when he reached the sales desk there was no-one there. "Afternoon break," he thought and prowled on. As he made his way down to the auditoriums, he could just hear movies playing above the rumble of the escalators. "I'll pay on my way out," he meaowed. Although the atmosphere was electric, he met not a soul. The place was as empty as the devil's heart. "I must be in a  film." Skratch hissed. His purring increased along with his heartbeat. "This is so weird," he growled. He adopted a crouching posture, just in case. Then the escalator lurched and the whole cinema began to shake, pitching him forward. Amid the chaos, the escalator kept going but with enough noise for three. Perspex panels vibrated and tiles fell from the ceiling. Skratch sprang forward and out of the way as the escalator stairs groaned, coiled and collapsed behind him. He twisted in mid-air, landed on his feet and looked back. Then he grinned. "Good thing I'm a cat..."

Friday, April 10, 2020

2. Lapinette and the Construction Site

Lapinette hitched a lift on the hoist of a building site. She knew the Wabbit needed wood for his shed and a friendly contractor had promised as much as she wanted. The crane operator lowered her down. "Bit to the left, bit to the right," she yelled. Lapinette sniffed the air. Something wasn't right but she didn't have a clue what it was. Something fell and the load shook. She looked up but the operator was no longer there. The load swayed outward and tilted. Lapinette clung on to the chain as it swung back and glanced down. It was a long way to the ground. A plank fell from the roof and missed her by a centimetre. A link broke on the chain, followed by another. Lapinette looked at the scaffolding and calculated the distance. Then she jumped, clung on and clambered inside the scaffolding as the load dropped to the street. But the scaffolding shook too and the bolts that attached it to the framework of the building began to pop. First one, then a second, then all of them. The scaffolding sagged and dropped with Lapinette on board. She jumped again and rolled along the sidewalk in a cloud of dust. Behind her, the scaffolding folded like a concertina. Metal struts fell around her like rain. She picked herself up but the ground under her feet trembled like a leaf. She looked for cover but every building warped to and fro. Then the noise and the shaking suddenly stopped. Now Lapinette found herself listening to the loudest silence she'd ever heard ...

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

1. The Wabbit and the Tram Stop

The Wabbit waited at the tram stop a long time and eventually he got bored. It was so long that he wondered whether all the trams were cancelled. Things seemed too quiet, but it occurred to him that it had already been a busy year for mild peril, in which he'd encountered Tremor worms, monster fish attacks and bad dragons. Maybe it was OK to be quiet for a while. He hopped up and down the platform, hoping his radio would crackle into life. Nothing came through. He studied everything intensely, but eventually he found himself reduced to counting fence posts. "May as well walk," he thought. It was then that he spotted the yellow box and he was uncertain why he'd never noticed it before. He looked it up and down. It had a red button and a loudspeaker so he stretched out a paw. It lingered over the button. "To press or not to press?" he mused. He looked at the arrow that said stop. "What's the worst that can happen?" he murmured. It was a short jab but it was effective. The speaker shrieked with a deafening alarm and voice spoke. "What would you like stopped?" The Wabbit covered his ears and yelled, "Stop the alarm please." The alarm stopped and the loudspeaker barked. "Anything else you'd like stopped?" The Wabbit thought of lots of things, few of them practical. "I'd like a tram to come." The speaker barked again. "It's not my job to start things, only stop them." The Wabbit considered. "Maybe you could stop me being bored." The speaker chuckled in a malevolent tone. "No problem, Commander Wabbit ..."

Monday, April 06, 2020

The Wabbit at his Adventure Caffè

It was fun and games at the Adventure Caffè. Wabsworth produced a vial and told everyone it was full of bad dragon drops. No-one believed him and they all pushed the vial around. The Wabbit laughed and laughed. "But what sort of adventure was that what we just had?" he asked. Skratch leaned back and draped a paw across the back of his chair. "I'd say it was irreal." Wabsworth draped his paw in exactly the same way. "As opposed to unreal?" Lapinette poked the vial again. "Dragons are real enough and symbolic too." Skratch meaowed long and hard. "Then your story was but a structure of signification." Wabsworth was now quite excited. "A concept signifies - but a thing is expressive and a dragon is a thing." Lapinette span the vial round and round. "That's Metz. And he would want to know what kind of dragon thingyness you mean." Skratch butted it. "Your story sequence of images is a horizontal fluid discourse in which thingyness occurs." The Wabbit rapped on the table and the flask jumped up and down. "Therefore our episodes present a sequence of discontinuity which mobilises discourse through construction." Lapinette shook her head because it was beginning to spin. She was getting thirsty and felt in need of a drink. "Wabbit, sometimes you go to far." The Wabbit looked at Wabsworth. "I take it that vial no longer contains bad dragon drops." Wabsworth snatched it back and grinned. "Well I wouldn't recommend drinking it!

Friday, April 03, 2020

5. The Wabbit and the Last Bad Dragon

The Wabbit wandered through a strange landscape, clearing up bad dragons. Without their leader they were a spent force and the 400 Rabbits took care of most of them. But an enclave remained in Lingotto and since the Wabbit was especially fond of the area, he'd gone to supervise. With a happy heart, he slung his Snazer gun over his shoulder and whistled a merry tune. The atmosphere was yellow with dragon fumes but now it was clearing and that's how he came to see the shadow. With a terrible roar, a shape loomed over his shoulder breathing fumes. The Wabbit didn't bother to turn. With his paws behind him he pulled the laser's trigger and it fired a salvo that blasted a dragon to shreds. Bits dropped all around him and all over the car park. The Wabbit found himself looking down as a severed head with a tongue that continued to snake in and out as it tried to speak. The Wabbit shrugged because he was tired of bad dragons. "Any last words?" The tongue waggled to and fro. He nudged the dragon head with a foot and it rolled back and forward like a football. The Wabbit sighed. He took the Snazer from his back and pointed it. The head lurched forward and its tongue moved once more. This time it spoke. "We'll be back." The Wabbit leaned forward to look it in the eyes. "And on that occasion, we'll be ready." The eyes closed. The tongue lay still. The Wabbit shrugged again. "I hope .."

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

4. The Wabbit and the Dragon's Ointment

The Wabbit and Lapinette racked their brains for a way to defeat the dragons. They scoured the Internet and unearthed ancient tomes to locate a suitable method but they came up with nothing. Lapinette looked up. Dragons of various hues circled the skies but there was one bigger than the rest and he seemed to be in charge. She pointed. "We have to bring that one down." The Wabbit held up a paw. "I think I have it. Dragons are impervious to magic, but can't stand ointment." Lapinette rummaged in a drawer and clutching a new tube of ointment, hurried to the hanger where Susan the Biplane was ready to take off. Susan circled just below the ferocious dragon. It batted it's giant wings and flew straight towards them but Susan was nimble as only a biplane could be. "What's that ointment for?" asked the Wabbit. "Eczema," snarled Lapinette. "That'll peel its scales," chuckled the Wabbit. Lapinette scrambled onto a wing and unscrewed the cap. Susan hung in the air and waited. "Here it comes," yelled the Wabbit. The dragon's tongue snaked towards Lapinette's head and it was just the moment she'd been waiting for. The tube spat ointment on the dragon's chin and into its mouth. A cry of anguish rose to the heavens. The dragon's neck twisted and thrashed but it couldn't get rid of the ointment. Then its wings drooped as it it turned tail and fell screaming to the city below. "Flew in the ointment?" laughed the Wabbit.
[Dragons (except for Terni the Food Dragon) are courtesy of ]