[Part 1 of Alice’s Adventures in Warmerland is here]
Tweedledum and Tweedledoom
Tweedledum and Tweedledoom,
We are the best of friends;
One of us is full of gloom,
The other makes no sense.
One thinks outside the box,
The other’s keen on socks;
One thinks inside the square,
The other likes bugs that stare;
One has done the hard yards,
The other’s keen on leotards;
One makes castles in the air,
The other tends to stand and stare;
One’s a high priest of Climate Strange,
The other has a dog with mange;
One’s upset by Bozone Warming
The other’s into global mourning;
One drives an ancient Cadillac,
The other’s a thermo-maniac;
One has bouts of flatulence,
The other’s fond of frankincense;
One’s a student of inner gases,
The other’s keen on Sunday masses;
One likes things cut and dried, with chilli,
The other’s only happy when he’s being silly.
[The Tweedle Duet ]
Alice and the Magic Pudding had not gone far into the Old Growth Forest when they came to a junction. It had an odd signpost. There were no distances marked on it, only directions. What should they do now? Finger-signs pointed to Blind Freddy’s Bungalow, Barney Bull’s Fields, Tweedledoom’s House, Kevin’s Tree-Ring Circus, and Tweedledum’s House. If they turned left, a path would take them to the Green Queen’s Grotto.
“Which one ought we follow, Albert? The Tree-Ring Circus sounds fun. I’d love to meet the Green Queen too. But look, the finger-signs for Tweedledoom and Tweedledum point in the same direction. Maybe they live in the same house? Let’s go and find out. I promise to be quick. I’ll just call in and say: ‘Hi!’”
“We’re wasting time, Alice. If you want to find the White Rabbit, you’ll have to go to Flatulencia. He’ll be heading for the Royal Academy of Concerned Rabbits. It’s full of watches, thermometers, alarm bells, hockey sticks and razor wire. They have some big computers too, with names like BUNFUN, GENIUS, MANIAC and BLACKBOX."
“What’s going on there?” asked Alice.
“They’re cooking up something, something big.”
“Cooking up something?”
“They want King Hot to get rid of Barney Bull and his four-legged friends. I mean really get rid of them.”
“Why? Where’s the harm in eating grass, making milk and minding your own business? What’s wrong with regurgitating partially digested food from stomach to mouth for a second chewing? Lots of my school friends are doing it.”
“No harm at all, Alice. Eructation’s not a crime here – yet. But it doesn’t look good for Barney and his battlers. The bunnies claim they’re polluting the air with their Bozone. The King said if something isn’t done soon, it’ll be too late. We’ll “lose the levers of control”. Anyway, that’s what I heard in the Royal Kitchen.”
It wasn’t long before they saw Tweedledoom and Tweedledum. They looked like twins. Each had one arm around the other’s shoulders. Alice could tell who was who in an instant. One had a frown and DOOM embroidered on his collar. The other had a smile and looked as if he had just eaten the other’s ice cream. He had DUM on his collar.
They were standing under a tree singing a duet. Alice was close enough to hear them. “I’m a high priest of Climate Strange,” sang one “I’ve got a dog with mange,” sang the other. “I’m upset by Bozone Warming.” “I’m a student of inner gases”. “I’m keen on Sunday masses.”
After what had happened since she fell down the rabbit hole, Alice was not surprised to hear music. It seemed to come from the nearby trees. She looked closer. They were swaying and rubbing their branches together like a group of fiddlers.
“I don’t like the look of this lot,” whispered Albert. “If anyone’s likely to want a big slice of me, it will be two fat schoolboys that sing silly songs and eructate until the cows come home. Why don’t we split up? It’ll be harder for the King’s men to find us. Besides, I have unfinished business with Blind Freddy. Let’s meet at the Mad Hatter’s Party in time for tea.”
“But how will I find him?” asked Alice anxiously.
“The Tweedles should know the way!”
Before Alice could protest, Albert had turned around and was walking back to the junction. He was singing as if he hadn’t a care in the world.
You’ll all have a slice, bye and bye,
At His Royal Banquet up there on high;
If you work and pray and live on hay,
You’ll get your pie in the sky one day;
You’ll get your pie in the sky one day!
If we’re to fry bye and bye,
Don’t be blue, don’t ask why,
And don’t forget to say goodbye; goodbye!
When Tweedledoom and Tweedledum saw Alice, they stood so still she wondered if they were alive. She was trying to see if the word TWEEDLE was written on the back of their collars, when a funny voice came from the one marked DUM.
“If you think we’re waxworks,” he said, “you ought to pay up. You can’t look at wax-works for free.”
“On the contrary,” said the other one, “if you think we’re alive, you ought to speak.”
“Hi, I’m Alice. Your duet was great. But what’s Bozone Warming?”
“You don’t know?” asked Tweedledoom.
“I haven’t been here long. A White Rabbit told me it’s getting warmer. But it’s always warmer this time of the year. Isn’t that why summer’s called summer?
“Bozone’s the burning issue in Warmerland, summer and winter. There’s just too much of it. It’s getting worse every day. We’re reaching a tipping point. Everything could collapse at any time.”
“Wow! So it’s some kind of poison?”
“On the contrary,” replied Tweedledum. “It’s a harmless gas. If it was a poison, it might be one. If it were so, it would be. But as it isn’t’, it ain’t. That’s logic.”
“What you said isn’t logical, ‘Dum,” protested Tweedledoom. “Bozone’s a poison.”
“On the contrary, ’Doom,” said Tweedledum. “Bozone’s less than a cat’s whisker of what’s in the air. How can it be poisonous?
“Less than a cat’s whisker….? Having very little of something doesn’t make it harmless. One microgram – one millionth of a gram – of bozonium chloride in a standard glass of ‘hair of the dog’ is enough to wipe out at least 10,000 people.
“What hair-raising nonsense, ‘Doom. Having a lot of something doesn’t make it harmful either. There are a lot of sharks in the sea, but it’s still safe to go swimming. If some folk drown in water, it’s sad. But should we try to get rid of clouds before they drown us in our sleep?
“Jumping up and down and making a lot of noise won’t change the facts. Bozone’s not a deadly nerve gas. You can’t fit size twelve feet into size six shoes.”
“It’s nothing to do with shoes, ‘Dum. Even Blind Freddy knows Bozone’s causing dangerous Climate Strange,” replied Tweedledoom.
“Does he really? You have asked him? Please, please engage brain before opening mouth. You wouldn’t know nonsense if you stepped in it.”
“What’s Climate Strange?” interrupted Alice.
“The Academy says Climate Strange happens when the climate’s stranger than usual. Dangerous Climate Strange happens when Climate Strange is not only stranger than usual, but also more dangerous than usual.”
“But what’s usual? Hasn’t the climate always been a bit strange? My mother said it was a lot stranger a long time ago. How do the rabbits know it’s stranger than usual today? And if it’s really a lot stranger now, how do they know Bozone’s causing it to be stranger?
“King Hot and Queen Cool told us. They said it not once, not twice but three times,” replied Tweedledoom. “Whenever they say something three times, it’s always true. When they say – “Off with their heads!” – it’s doubly true.”
“How can anything be ‘doubly true”?” asked Tweedledum. “It’s either true, ‘Doom, or false. Sometimes it can be truly false, but it can never be falsely true!
“I’m not afraid of losing my head.” said Alice. ”You can’t lose it for just asking a question, can you?”
“Oh, yes, you can. You’re in Warmerland!”
“On the contrary, ‘Doom, there’s nothing bad about Bozone. Where’s your evidence? Even kings and queens can’t fit size twelve feet into size six shoes.”
“The evidence’s everywhere, Dum.”
“Oh, good, the evidence!” said Alice. “I can’t wait to tell my sister about it.”
To be continued.
Part 1 is here