20th April 2020

Being stumped momentarily but not willing to walk without the umpire’s decision Alice took the remark under advisement.

“My first school lesson was of course subtraction.”

“Ask him why Alicessss, ask hims whys.”

Not wishing to disappoint the Griffin more than necessary Alice obliged with the question.

“So the length of lessons can get smaller of course.”

“That is mere frippery!”

Alices response was understandable but in the specific circumstances unfortunate. She realized her blunder as soon as the words popped out of her pearly whites and Prometheus was reduced like a large stock cube into pools of watery sobs.

“I said frippery, FRIPPERY!”

Prometheus continued to sob tragically, and Griffin simply shrugged his wings.

“Frippery, flippery, all very much the same when you stand within the pot holding the bouquet garni.”

Griffin had a habit of speaking upwards as if elevating his remarks towards some imagined presence in the sky. He would lift his beak away from the comfort of his crop and with his small slim rather pointy tongue flapping expound and sermonize with great solemnity. Alice wondered if he had ever worn a powdered wig and black robes, he did seem terribly judgmental.

“Philosophy was my favorite subject of all you know. Debating the meaning of life and all creation…….  Minutiae never really interested me, I preferred generality if at all possible.”

Both Griffin and Alice were so surprised by the Mock Turtles continuation they simply sat and stared as if startled deer.

“My teachers were superficially extremely wise if a little extravagant with theorizing, often transposing their own conjectures for the words of those supposedly being studied. They were also inclined to confuse abstract thought with rigorous logic, as if trying to balance the ethereal with science, a most perplexing course, attempting to interlock opposing complex idioms.”

Alice nodded in complete agreement with Prometheus’s conclusions. Her own tutor, a remarkably able mathematician was also inclined to taint pure calculus with strains of the divine, contriving to assuage his ever-clinging dog collar. Times was rum indeed as attempts were made to correlate ideas acceptable in eons past with the cold bright light of the growing industrial complex. Machines were quickly overcoming man’s frenetic attempts to manufacture productively, perhaps soon challenging his sentient skills of thought, reasoning and memory. Alice liked science, it was both rational and persuasive but often as she wandered amidst the strange and illogical brethren of her living daydreams she wished perhaps for less understanding and factuality, allowing adequate space for the wonders of imagination and art.

Tells Alices about the playtimes. The singings and dancings. The wonderful pickinickys.

Griffin was forever the agent provocateur, drawing a little further gravy from his friends ever full boat.

“My teachers made games and sport of most every little chore in order to indulge our need for amusement. I remember dear Professor Cox, my Latin tutor, spinning me around by my ears in a most roundabout way when I forgot the amo amas amat.”

“That sounds a little frightening to me dear Prometheus.”

“It was all in good fun you understand. My ears were always my finest point of access to the hands of the educator.”

Ands the dances, donts forgets the dances.”

“Such gay affairs, as good as any palace ball.”

“You like to dance Prometheus? I adore to dance, to waltz, quadrille, minuet.”

Fars too short for a dance that issss.”

Alice gave Griffin a stare that dared him to continue.

“A minutes is !”

Griffin had dared and Alice pinched him hard upon the knee, A good a place as any to pinch a Griffin.

“Tut tut Griffin, even for you too pecking a pun by half.”

Mock Turtles admonishment cut Griffin deep causing him to look aghast, the expression of course returning poor Prometheus to the rock of woe immediately.

“I so want to hear more of the dances! Did you sing songs too?”

Alice had decided that the best course by half was to ignore the Mock Turtle’s tears, which seemed more crocodile than anything else and just soldier on in her enquiries.

“Yes, songs galore. Wonderful songs, light opera, shanties, comedic and even amorous.”

The Griffin seemed somewhat uncomfortable at the new subject of conversation.

“You don’t sing Griffin?”

“I do nots. My voice issss rathers too specializeds for such melodiousssss couplets.”

“He is more Eagle than anything else, was for that very reason we were doomed to meet.”

The Griffin looked aghast and ashamed once more. Even when Prometheus took his taloned paw into his hoof the mythical creature still shivered remorsefully. 

“There there dear friend, those times are past and almost forget apart in fable.”

Alice had noticed the pattern of scars from peck marks on the lower back of poor Prometheus’s shell and their similarity to the pointy hook of Griffins beak. The chains that remained still affixed to the rock where Mock Turtle leant probably told the balance of the unfortunate tale.

“Will you sing a song for me, Prometheus?”

“Yes, do dear chaps I so enjoys your wistfuls larynxs garglings.”

‘Fifty-seven types there are

Each one a thing of joy

To please the tastes of any one

Of man and girl and boy

But best of all and held most dear

The finest soup supreme

Is the one that did creator form

From out this mixed up dream.

Thick and creamy

Green and steamy

Salty to the taste

Broth and meat

Head and feet

Not a drop to waste.

Dished from out a splendid shell

Supplied with loving care

Poured into the finest bowls

That any potter shared

Sipped and swallowed joyfully

A meal to feed a king

No bone or gristle will you find

Or leg or breast or wing.

Thick and creamy

Green and steamy

Salty to the taste

Broth and meat

Head and feet

Not a drop to waste.’

Having got into his stride the Mock Turtle showed no indication of stopping. The Griffin had an almost mystical expression in his eye and had commenced pecking at the distracted Prometheus’s back whilst repeating the same thing over and over again.

“Liver, liver, liver, liver.”

Alice had every intention of listening fully when her attention was drawn to a crowd of small creatures running past carrying placards in Gothic Script.

“Where are you all going?”

A small vole was polite enough to take the time to stop and reply.

“To the primary of course. Be quick or you will miss it.”

Alice followed the crowd with the Mock Turtles sad yet strangely beautiful refrain still ringing in her ears accompanied by the nutcracker rat atat tat of Griffins beak.

‘Thick and creamy

Green and steamy

Salty to the taste

Broth and meat

Head and feet

Not a drop to waste.’

The primary was still a short distance away when Alice found herself distracted by what can only be described as the strangest game of croquet she had ever spied.

Thirst can prove a pernicious marker with its constant demand for alleviation, hunger equally problematic through nagging insistence upon assuagement. All human desires are inclined to become problematic, flying unwelcome banners, shouting watchwords, displaying an indication towards the inability to combat any manifestation of humankinds’ intrinsic desire for situations that incline towards sociability.

The ascetic, anchorite, hikikomori, recluse is no longer misanthrope or the uncongenial but rather hospitable, neighborly, agreeable even societally desirous. Altruism is perversely exemplified by egregious distancing as opposed to commonality. Much as humankinds continued existence after any catastrophic event has required profound adaption, transformation, so the present pandemic would suggest an ongoing rigidification of social structure, a redefining of normalcy, a reappraisal of manner.  As the shadow of previous plagues cast shade on behaviors prior to two thousand nineteen, so post twenty twenty will bear the ongoing effects of this year’s happenstances for decades to come.

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