Tuesday, 1 March 2011


Nice lizard - well I thought so and am putting it up here to stare at you all for ever more. After all staring is what lizards do well - along with eating flies (or in this chap's case something rather larger and birdlike I suspect).

Anyhow lizards remind me of Bill (who was a lizard after all), one of the finer examples of jobsworthiness and general do-as-you're-told-ness:

Where's the other ladder? Why, I hadn't to bring but one; Bill's got the other

Bill! fetch it here, lad!
Here, put 'em up at this corner
No, tie 'em together first, they don't reach half high enough yet
Oh! they'll do well enough; don't be particular
Here, Bill! catch hold of this rope
Will the roof bear? Mind that loose slate
Oh, it's coming down! Heads below!' (a loud crash)
`Now, who did that? It was Bill, I fancy
Who's to go down the chimney?
Nay, I shan't! You do it!
That I won't, then!
Bill's to go down
Here, Bill! the master says you're to go down the chimney!'

`Oh! So Bill's got to come down the chimney, has he?' said Alice to herself. `Shy, they seem to put everything upon Bill! I wouldn't be in Bill's place for a good deal: this fireplace is narrow, to be sure; but I think I can kick a little!'

She drew her foot as far down the chimney as she could, and waited till she heard a little animal (she couldn't guess of what sort it was) scratching and scrambling about in the chimney close above her: then, saying to herself `This is Bill,' she gave one sharp kick, and waited to see what would happen next.

Wonderful stuff - Bill sails out into the air and the story continues. There is no point to me retelling this bit of the story - it's just words (as Humpty Dumpty would have put it - and then put said words in their place) but nevertheless I like the sense of rebelliousness underlying Alice's adventures. We tend to focus on the growing and shrinking, on the officiousness of the authorities in Wonderland and on the idiocy of the language.

We don't think about Bill the Lizard flying through the air after a swift application of Alice's boot - of the sense of doing something naughty this implies. It's like pressing that big red button on the back of the bus that stalls the engine or tieing the vicar's shoelaces together. Fun but naughty.

Bill - for all that he was bullied into climbing down the chimney wouldn't have done these things - too timid, too willing to please, too keen to climb the pole. Perhaps he should?


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