In Competition No. 3004 you were invited to submit an extract from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Trumpland. As I was listening to Kellyanne Conway’s alternative-facts interview earlier this year, Humpty Dumpty’s words from Through the Looking-Glass floated into my mind (‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less’) and it struck me that Donald Trump’s America might be a good candidate for the Carollian treatment.
In what was another closely fought contest, Chris O’Carroll and D.A. Prince were unlucky losers. The winners take £30 each and the bonus fiver is Brian Murdoch’s.
After crossing the sea, Alice noticed that a tea party was in progress on the shore. ‘Might I have some tea?’ she asked.
The orange-faced gentleman spread his tiny hands in curious attitudes and said: ‘No way. This is the Boston Tea Party. We threw away the tea. Sad. Loser.’
‘Who are you?’ said Alice.
‘I’m the Mad Tweeter. The Trump card. I won. Bigly bigly.’
‘Why do you use such short sentences?’
‘My brain only holds 140 characters. Why is a raven like the internet?’
‘I don’t know,’ said Alice.
‘They’re both big black birds. Certain.’
‘But that isn’t true.’
A dormouse popped out of the teapot and shrieked: ‘Alternative fact! Alternative fact! Contrariwise!’ and went and hid in the rose garden.
‘Am I going mad?’ wondered Alice.
‘Of course you are. I’m mad. Everyone is mad. They all voted for me. Millions and millions and millions. Hashtag loonytunes. Fact.’
‘You are old, Mr President,’ Alice now said.
‘And your hair is improbably yellow.’
‘In not many years you will surely drop dead,
And yet you’re one hell of a fellow.’
‘Pray how do you do it? You tweet and you twitter
Regardless of spelling or grammar.
Are your messages mild? By no means. They are bitter.
And thud like the strokes of a hammer.’
‘In my youth,’ said the sage, ‘I was callow and keen
And I piled up a mountain of money,
And since I can challenge the party machine,
They no longer suppose I am funny.
I did for the Hillary, had her on toast.
And ditto her Washington army.
They squitter and squeal from the coast to the coast.
What the hell if they think that I’m barmy?’
Outside the white house stood a Piper and a Fox listening to a tootling trump.
‘What a funny noise!’ remarked Alice.
‘It doesn’t make sense,’ said the Piper. ‘It makes news. Fortunately, I can read music.’
‘And I can read between the lines,’ added the Fox.}
‘But there’s nothing between lines,’ said Alice. ‘It’s blank.’
‘All the easier to read,’ said the Fox.
Just then a yell went up: ‘Mole! Mole!’
They rushed to the spot, but there was no mole, only a small mound of earth.
‘A mountain!’ cried the Piper. ‘A news Piper’s dream.’
‘Nonsense,’ said the Fox, sweeping it aside with his brush. ‘It’s just dirt. The Fox pop will ignore it.’
‘You are a curious pair,’ said Alice.
‘Of course we are,’ said the Piper. ‘If we weren’t curious, how would we learn anything?’
Before Alice could think of a reply, the tootling began again.
‘If I say it is true, it is always true, very true, so true,’ remarked The Donald, helping himself to pie.
‘Even when it is an outright lie?’ said Alice, carefully.
‘Especially when it is a lie,’ replied The Donald, pressing thumb and forefinger together. ‘I am The President, you know.’
‘But surely,’ began Alice cautiously, ‘it is wrong for Presidents to tell lies.’
‘George Washington DC did. He said he had not chopped down the cherry-tree.’
‘But he admitted it!’ cried Alice.
‘Fake news! Fake news!’ yelled The Donald, face turning from orange to purple. ‘He told a lie, and billions agree with me.’ He turned to an aide. ‘Lock her up,’ he insisted.
‘But what have I done?’
‘The opposite of what you have NOT done,’ replied The Donald, and began to tweet. ‘Have you met The Covfefe?’
‘There’s no such…’
‘Fake, so fake,’ murmured The Donald.
As the angry Tweets flew away, Alice asked, ‘Why did they attack us?’
‘They don’t think you’re real,’ replied the Washerwoman.
‘But I AM real!’ replied Alice. ‘At least, I was this morning.’
‘Hereabouts, if the King of Trumps says you’re fake, you are, and contrariwise.’
‘How could I be fake while thinking I’m real?’ objected Alice.
‘Don’t be unpatriotic. Come on!’ ordered the Washerwoman, roughly tugging Alice’s arm.
This time, Alice found that she could easily cross the Beltway and pass the Swamp. Soon, they came to the Washerwoman’s cottage.
‘There are only dollars in your washtub!’ observed Alice.
‘They’re the dirtiest, so they need the most washing, silly!’ retorted her guide. ‘I expect you’re wondering about that post. Well, that’s my Washing Post.’
It was certainly a very important-looking post and, what was curiousest, wherever Alice stood, it seemed to lean to the left…
No. 3007: CAT CALL
You are invited to submit a poem about Larry the Downing Street cat. Please email, wherever possible, entries of up to 16 lines to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 12 July.