Friday, January 29, 2021

6. The Wabbit disposes of the Box

The Wabbit took the box to the river to get rid of it. On the way he met Lapinette, who wasn't aware of the story. "Oh, what a nice box," she said. "Does it open?" The Wabbit was aghast. "I'm getting rid of it," he yelled. Lapinette didn't understand so the Wabbit gritted his teeth. "It's jinxed," he said. "You should dispose of it environmentally," answered Lapinette. The Wabbit prepared to throw the box. "You can't dispose of jinxes environmentally. It's going in the river." The Wabbit always pronounced it rivaaaah when he was annoyed. "What kind of jinx is it?" enquired Lapinette. The Wabbit's arms came back as he prepared to jettison the box. "It's a pain in the neck, insect jinx," he said, "If I don't get rid of it, the thing will hang around." The Wabbit threw the box with all his strength. It summersaulted once and landed in the water. Then slowly it began to move down river towards Venice. Lapinette looked sorry. "That's a shame, it's a pretty box." The Wabbit put his paws on his hips. "Pretty is as pretty does." Lapinette watched the box. The waves lapped around it. "Whatever does that mean?" she asked. "I've no idea," shrugged the Wabbit. Waves swept the box back and towards the Wabbit. "Maybe the jinx has washed away," ventured Lapinette. Just then a voice came from the box. "I'll be back, and I'll get you, Wabbit!" Lapinette put her paws in the water and tried to wash it into the middle of the river. "What an unpleasant box." The Wabbit laughed. "So, will you take the money or open the box?" There was no hesitation. "The money," said Lapinette.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

5. The Wabbit and the Dragonfly's Flight

The Wabbit waited because he knew about insects. If they flew out of the window, everyone was happy. But then they'd fly in again. He waited. Nothing happened. He thought he'd get some height and he climbed on the chandelier. He kept a close eye on the window, and he heard it before he saw it. The flapping of gossamer wings heralded the arrival of the strange dragonfly. It flew in the window and up to the roof. That was what the Wabbit wanted. He launched himself from the chandelier and nearly grasped the dragonfly, but it was crafty. It twisted away and the Wabbit twisted after it. He got a wing then lost it. He tried again. He managed to get a hold on its body and together they crashed downwards. "Get back in the box!" he yelled. "Can't make me unless you ask me properly," shouted the dragonfly. They spiralled down together. The Wabbit tried to think of different ways of saying it. "Please get back in the box." No effect. "Return to the box." The Wabbit was desperate. The dragonfly shook its head. The floor loomed. "Box in go," tried the Wabbit. The dragonfly laughed. They hit the floor and rolled and rolled. The Wabbit kept his grip. "Obey my command, get in the box." The dragonfly lost all its spirit. It dragged itself to the box and crawled inside. The box snapped shut. The Wabbit sighed with relief. He could hear a faint voice from inside. "You haven't heard the last of this, wascally Wabbit." The Wabbit grinned the weakest of grins and he made sure the box was fastened down. "You have to think outside the box."

Monday, January 25, 2021

4. The Wabbit and the Faulty Return

The Wabbit and Wabsworth agreed that the safest course of action was to take the box back, then keep an eye on it to see what transpired. That was a double bonus - because it was originally the museum's problem and any difficulties would accrue to the museum. So the Wabbit retraced his steps. But he couldn't help poking and prodding it. He was just built that way. There was another compartment in the top and he fiddled with the rings surrounding a strange looking iris. Without warning there was a hiss, the compartment opened and out sped a creature with beating wings. Although the Wabbit tried to catch it, it was much too quick for him. His paws swiped right and left but came nowhere near the beast. The Wabbit sensed trouble. He looked around. It settled on a horse's head and sat very still. But when the Wabbit approached, the creature - it looked like a dragonfly - flew up and off. The Wabbit was patient. He set the box down and stalked the creature. After about twenty minutes he managed to capture it in his paws. "You have trapped me," it said, "and now I must grant you a wish." There was something sly about its tone. The Wabbit shook his head and made his way back to the box. "Please don't put me back in the box," said the dragonfly. The Wabbit had heard it all before and he carefully opened the iris. He was about to put the dragonfly back when it bit him, and he dropped the box. The dragonfly made for an open window, and before the Wabbit could do anything it had gone. "That's torn it," muttered the Wabbit ...

Friday, January 22, 2021

3. Wabsworth and the Secrets of the Box

The Wabbit met Wabsworth in a Caffè which purported to have the best sandwiches around - and there, the Wabbit presented his find to Wabsworth. He handed it over with a smile and Wabsworth examined it top to bottom. But it was as he got to the bottom that the box slid from his grasp. The Wabbit was surprised because Wabsworth was an android and had never let anything slip from his grasp. The box jumped in the air, landed on a table and bounced upwards, breaking into segments. The segments hovered in the air, moving round and round until the Wabbit was dizzy. Wabsworth watched carefully. One segment formed an inner compartment and two floating keys locked into place. "Gotcha," said Wabsworth. He grasped both keys at the same time and twisted them - one way then the other. The segments stopped spiralling and became still. The box began to open. The Wabbit squinted at what appeared to be an empty space. "There's nothing in it!" he exclaimed. "Don't be so sure," said Wabsworth, "Nothing about this box is normal." The Wabbit jumped up and down. He desperately wanted it to be a great discovery. But he could smell fish and chips. "Are you thinking about food?" he asked. "Yes, fish and chips," said Wabsworth. "So maybe the box will reflect what we think about," murmured the Wabbit. He thought about sausage and broccoli and suddenly it was there on the table. Wabsworth turned the keys back, grabbed all the bits and reassembled them. "It could be dangerous," he said. "Think and eat?" said the Wabbit.

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 an 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. They 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 ...