Bricks • Mortar • Imagination • Words

Story Museum Text

'Twas brillig and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in -'

Who said that?

As I was about to begin?

I had a sense that someone -

I'm not sure who -

Put words in my mouth

As I began to speak to you.

I'll try again and say:

Welcome to you all

Thank you for coming

And being with us in this hall.

I'd like to begin

'O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'

That voice again?

What can I say?

Have you ever seen

A certain Scottish play

Where a certain thane

Seemed to slay

Any noble or king

In the way of the throne?

And this same thane

Was wont (1) to moan

And (2) to get visions

Of a bloke he had slain

And to get these visions

Again and again?

You remember the one?

Looking all gaunt

Staring at the ghost

And yelling, 'avaunt!'

Now there's a thought -

What IS 'avaunt'?

Avaunt - an odd word

That rhymes with haunt.

Now don't me wrong

I'm not the credulous sort

But I have the feeling,

I have the thought

That we're not alone.

You may find this risible:

But do we have guests

Who've come?invisible?

Now, I don't suppose

I'm someone you'd thank

If I informed you

That I can hear a tank.

No, not the army kind

Or anything tawdry

I mean one belonging

To The Reverend Awdry.

Attached to an engine -

And they all had names:

Gordon, Henry

and James.

Was one called Graham?

I think it was Greene

That's greene with an 'e'

Not Graham I mean.

And he had an Engine

Not Harry or Ted

I don't know its name

But it was little and red.

Wassat?! That noise?

Coming from that hole

A mouse? A wombat?

A snake? A mole?

Excuse me madam

Am I driving you batty?

I don't want to badger you

Or make you ratty

But could you move

Out of the road?

I'm afraid to say

You're sitting on a toad.

Am I imagining it?

Would I? Could I do that?

Imagine an animal

As common as a cat?

But not really as common

A cat as all that

Because this is a cat

That would wear a hat.

But he's not here, that cat

with all his depravity

Nor is that other one

The one called Macavity,

Who was never there.

O my! O eureka

Who's that?

Not Mr Majeika?

No. My mind is racing,

Going faster and faster

It's no one to worry about:

Is it Demon or Headmaster?

And you sir, an American

I'd posit.

Did you see a lion

and a witch in the closet?

You look to me like

Some kind of ex-hippy.

Who lived on an island

In the Mississippi.

But does talking of rivers

Make you feel queasy?

As if your liver was great,

Grey-green and greasy?

Just so. I'm someone

Who can sympathise

But then I know someone

Who can't stop telling lies.

There she is! You have to pity

the poor creature.

Was she the one who had

A horrible teacher?

So horrible, in fact

She tried to make

A boy in her class

Eat a whole chocolate cake

Not the same girl?

I must be seeing things:

Parallel worlds;

and rings.

What was that noise?

It sounded like a cough.

Perhaps it came from

Some old scholar or prof

Who likes reading Beowulf,

but then can't stoppit.

Never lets up -

- can't kick the hobbit.

Is that the same don

I find hard to trust

Who I think is researching

Some kind of dust?

Impossible! But then

It was only last week

That I'm sure I heard

A statue speak.

Wilde talk, I know

But ever since

I've been sure the statue

Was of a prince.

D'you know who I mean

Have you heard of him?

I may be wrong

But I think he's called Tim.

Lovely little chap

Kept going to sea

Just like those others?

It's coming back to me

Ah yes, they were stranded

Did they get back?

Ralph and Piggy

And choirboy Jack

Was Tom there too?

And were his schooldays

really the best?

It's all a haze.

Did you hear that music?

Reminds me of my uncle

Who's that singing?

Not Simon and Garfunkel?

Not now, not here?

At this time of night?

Singing about things

That are supposed to be bright?

This conjuring-up lark -

It's becoming a habit.

If you paid me a Fiver

I'd pull out a rabbit.

You'd call a rabbit

A jumper not a jogger

But if it was dogged

You could call it Dogger.

Is this a Dogger I see before me?

Or a little baby?

Or can it be a machine

Like an astrolabie?

In my mind's eye

I can see it's for someone

Someone little

Called Lewis, my son.

Lewis? Are you there?

Is that your name?

Is that you?

Are you the same?

No answer.

It's not his name, you see

But I can see him

By the Tumtum tree.

He's been on the river

In a boat, you know,

But now it's over

He's got to go.

But no, he won't

Though he knows he ought

Instead he stands

In uffish thought

I may be wrong

But if you look

I think you can see

He's writing a book.

I can see that it's about:

Someone who's red.

Who's shouting very loudly

'Off with his head!'

Crazy stuff -

And what a scream!

But sad to say

It's all been a dream.

So that's it, folks

That's it my friends

You've had the story

This is where it ends?

?unless you can imagine

Some house or place

Where books have a life

And writers have a face.

With that thought

I wish you goodnight.

May your dreams be true

And your pants not tight.

Arts Council England
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