Thursday 2 March 2023

Alice's Adventures in Blackpool - a poem for children that's best read aloud

Writing Magazine's recent competition was to write a poem inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice adventures. If you've been following my book reviews, you'll know that last year I read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for the first time. The competition asked for "a poem on any aspect of the Alice stories, from a re-imagining of their contents to the facts and myths that surround their writing, illustration and publication." I imagined Alice transported to Blackpool to see her distant working class relatives, the Ramsbottoms. You might recall that Albert was swallowed by Wallace the lion after poking the big cat's ear with his stick with an 'orse's 'ead 'andle. The story was immortalised in verse by Marriott Edgar.

Well, I wrote and I wrote, and by the time I'd finished, my poem was too long for the competition. So here it is for you, dear reader. I hope you enjoy it.

Alice's Adventures in Blackpool

It'd been such a very long journey
to Blackpool, and right after tea
young Alice was feeling quite drowsy,
so declined to go paddling in t'sea.

She was just nodding off when our Albert,
who was always a one for horseplay,
tapped his stick with its 'orse 'ead 'andle
on her shoulder and then ran away.

Alice jumped up, saw Albert retreating
out the door and across the back yard.
As fast as she could she ran after,
and found herself on t'promenade.

The sea winked and twinkled in t'distance,
beyond the sand's great golden sweep.
"Let's 'ave some adventures," laughed Albert.
"They're best when you don't fall asleep.

But first we must fill up our pockets
with 'ard, sticky, pink Blackpool Rock.
They mine it wi' small toffee 'ammers
and sell it in souvenir shops."

The Rock had some words written through it.
"Will this make us shrink?" Alice asked.
"Of course not," said Albert, "you're thinking
'bout dreams that you've 'ad in the past.

Come on, now! We'll go to the funfair.
You'll love it in Looking-Glass 'All.
In t'mirrors, we'll grow short and fat, or
stretch up very skinny and tall.

And then to the beach to see Jack Ass,
a donkey, it can't be denied,
but more fun than Smart Ass, 'is brother
who often takes folk for a ride."

Alas Jack Ass looked very woeful.
His long face was glum and bereft.
He'd been to the Teller of Four-tunes
who'd said there was no music left.

A gala was planned for that evening:
The annual Grand Crystal Ball.
They'd seized every trot, jig and four-step,
the jitterbugs, quadrilles and all.

Of course all three Peers were invited:
Lord North, Lady Central, Earl South,
and by the time Jack Ass learned of it,
the tickets had all been sold out.

"Come on now! We'll go and see Wallace,"
cried Albert, who rushed on ahead,
while Alice, fed up of his orders,
dilly-dallied and dawdled instead.

She'd heard how the lion ate Albert,
she knew it had coughed him up too,
and thought it a strange, curious story,
believing it couldn't be true.

She sat on a bench and considered
her own weird and wonderful dreams
of Gryphons, Mock Turtles, Mad Hatters,
of Unicorns, Lions and Queens.

Just then someone tapped on her shoulder.
"'Ere, Alice," she heard a voice say,
"Stop dreaming. Wake up! You're in Blackpool!
Let's 'ave us a wonderful day."

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