Sunday, 8 November 2015

The newly discovered 'Alice' manuscript - all 5 passages in one.

Stunning literary find: under the floorboards of a room at Christchurch College, Oxford, an electrician has found a manuscript thought to have been written by 'Lewis Carroll' (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). Some of it is hard to decipher and it's clearly incomplete. Here are the five pages found so far...


"Come in,' said a woman in a loud voice.

Alice walked in to a large room at the Compartment of Edification.

Sitting in front of her, staring into the middle distance was the Blue Queen.

'How old are you?' said the Blue Queen.

'I'm seven years old,' said Alice politely.

Sitting next to the Queen was the Gibblet.

'Seven?' said the Gibblet, 'Seven? Test her.'

'Test her,' said the Blue Queen.

'Test me?' said Alice, 'but we've only just met.'

'And be robust,' said the Gibblet.

'And be robust,' said the Blue Queen.

Alice heard a scratching sound.

She looked round and observed a row of scribes scratching the word 'robust' on their scrolls.

'Why are you doing that?' enquired Alice.

'To tell the world the good news about robust tests,' they chorused.

'But how do you know 'Robust Tests' is good news?' asked Alice politely.

'Because the Blue Queen said it is,' chorused the scribes.

'Just because someone says something is something, doesn't mean that it is the thing they say it is,' said Alice.

'Test her!' shouted the Gibblet.

Test her!' shouted the Blue Queen.

'Robustly,' said the Gibblet.

'Robustly,' said the Blue Queen.

'Why do you keep repeating what he says?' said Alice.

'How else would I know what to say?' said the Blue Queen.

'You could think for yourself,' said Alice.

'No, no, no!' screamed the Gibblet. 'That's why we have the tests.'

'What? To help people think for themselves?'

'No, the opposite, you little ninny,' screamed the Gibblet.

'I like opposites,' said Alice. 'I like thinking of things that don't have opposites, like a cupboard, or a coal scuttle.'

'You go on like that, you'll fail the test,' laughed the Gibblet.

'You go on like that, you'll fail the test,' laughed the Blue Queen.

'As far as I'm concerned you've both failed,' said Alice. She turned round and walked out.



Alice came to an old stone building. She walked in and saw some people sitting round a table. On the table were books and papers, and the people had put rings round some of the words.

One of the people, a friendly-looking Wombat pointed at one of the words and said, 'It's a subjestive!'

Some of the people in the room clapped.

A Frog, just as friendly, looked at it and said, 'It's not a subjestive.'

All the others who hadn't clapped before, clapped now.

Alice came over and looked very hard at the word.

'What do subjestives do?' she asked.

'They subjest,' said the Wombat.

'Is it subjesting now?' Alice asked.

'Yes,' said the Wombat.

'No,' said the Frog.

Just then the Gibblet walked in.

Everyone went very quiet.

'Have you done it?' the Gibblet said in a very disagreeable way.

'Yes, we have,' said the Wombat, 'it's all done except for the last one: the subjestive, so because it's not done and we can't agree on it, we would recommend, sir, that we leave it out of the Spadge.'

Alice felt her head going round: first it was the subjestive, now it was the Spadge.

'It will not be left out of the Spadge!' shouted the Gibblet, his giblets shaking with rage.

'But sir...' said the Wombat, 'we cannot ask children to find a subjestive when some of us don't think it's there.'

'Oh yes we can,' said the Gibblet, 'it'll be there if I say it's there.'

'Oooh,' said Alice excitedly. 'Sometimes I say my Boojum is there. And then it's there.'

'That is nothing like subjestives, girl,' said the Gibblet, 'I'm beginning to find you very, very annoying.'

'Oh,' said Alice, 'what are subjestives like then?'

The Gibblet went red.

It all went quiet. The Gibblet got out a little leaflet which was called 'The Spadge'. The Gibblet studied it, turning it over and over.

After a silence that seemed to Alice to be much too long, the Gibblet said, 'Subjestives are things that you find in the Spadge when it says, ' Here are four sentences. Underline the sentence that has the subjestive'.'

Alice got excited again.

'Oh I love those, because when you don't know the answer, all you have to do is guess one of them, and one time out of four you'll be right!'

The Gibblet stood up.

'You will not repeat what you have just said anywhere ever, ever, ever!' he said sternly.

'Don't worry,' said Alice, 'I don't need to. We all do that choosing-any-one-of-the-four trick every time we play parlour games. Everyone does.'

'Do they?' said the Gibblet in a shocked voice.

'Well not everyone, actually,' said Alice. 'It's just a trick that some people know. People who don't know end up not choosing any. Then they'll never find the subjestive, will they? So they'll be wrong. It's a shame really. Quite often when I do it, I end up with the right answer.'

'But - but - ,' spluttered the Gibblet, 'you might not know which one really is the subjestive.'

'And clearly, you don't either,' laughed Alice.

'And while we're doing 'and',' said the Frog, 'can I ask why the subjestive is in the Spadge when we haven't finished advising you on what should be in the Spadge ?'

'You people make me sick,' shouted the Gibblet. 'Borogove was right. You are the Blob. You are all the Blob.'

And he stormed out.

Alice looked at them all.

'Are you the Blob?' she asked, looking for something blobby.

'It's like your Boojum, ' said the Frog, 'if the Gibblet and the Borogove say the Blob is there, it is there.'



The Blue Queen was sitting with her scribes.

Alice sat watching them.

'Today,' said the Blue Queen, 'I'm telling you how it works.'

'Oh good,' said the First Scribe.

'Oh good,' said the Second Scribe.

'Oh good,' said the Third Scribe.

'I know what you're going to say,' said Alice to the Fourth Scribe.

'Oh good,' said the Fourth Scribe.

'How does it work?' said the Queen to the Gibblet.

'You're going to convert all the black and white chess sets into brown and yellow chess sets,' hissed the Gibblet.

'Why?' whispered the Queen back to the Gibblet.

'So that they'll play chess better,' said the Gibblet.

'Will they?' said the Queen.

'Not necessarily,' said the Gibblet.

'So why are we doing it?' asked the Queen.

'Because we hate the black and white chess sets,' said the Gibblet furiously.

Alice heard all this and wondered what the Scribes would make of it.

'Now,' said the Blue Queen to the Scribes, 'we're going to convert all the black and white chess sets into brown and yellow chess sets.'

'Hurrah,' said the Scribes, 'this will make chess better. Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah.'

'Not necessarily,' said Alice.

Is what that girl said true?' said the Scribes to the Blue Queen.

'Say 'We're making chess better!',' whispered the Gibblet to the Queen.

'We're making chess better,' said the Blue Queen.

'But will turning the black and white sets into brown and white sets make chess better?' said Alice.

'We're making chess better,' said the Blue Queen staring into the far distance.

Alice suddenly realised something: something can look like an answer, sound like an answer but not actually be an answer.

The Blue Queen is making chess better,' chorused the Scribes.

Alice picked up a very large stick and....

[here the manuscript is indecipherable



As Alice walked along she could hear the sound of soldiers being drilled. At least, that's what she thought it was.

She came round a corner and saw something that looked to her like an octopus marching to and fro.

The Gibblet was calling out the orders, while the Blue Queen looked on with a fixed stare into the middle distance

"Standards RAISE!' shouted the Gibblet.

The octopus raised its standards, two large flags on which were written 'Standards'.

'Not YOURS!' shouted the Gibblet, 'The Rabble's. Raise the Rabble's standards!'

The octopus now ran towards the Rabble. Alice could see that the Rabble was made up of groups of people - children and grown-ups reading books together.

The octopus was on to them in a flash, snatching the books off them with four or five of its tentacles and handing them brightly coloured little booklets with its other tentacles.

Alice walked over to the Blue Queen.

The Blue Queen nodded at her and said, 'That's my elite squid. 1500.'

'1500?' said Alice, 'But there's only one.'

'!500,' said the Queen.

'It's got 8 legs,' said Alice.

'!500,' said the Queen.

The Gibblet came slithering up.

'And you see what the Rabble have got now?' he said to Alice.

'Brightly coloured booklets?' Alice asked.

'Yes,' said the Gibblet, 'brighty coloured booklets full of dry gaffes.'

'Dry gaffes?' said Alice.

'Yes,' said the Gibblet, 'how else can you read, if you don't learn your dry gaffes?'

'Oh,' said Alice, 'I learned to read without learning my dry gaffes.'

'Then you didn't learn to read PROPERLY,' said the Gibblet.

'Did you learn your dry gaffes?' said Alice.

'No,' said the Gibblet.

'So you didn't learn to read PROPERLY, either,' said Alice to the Gibblet.

The Gibblet hissed loudly.

Alice turned to the Blue Queen.

'What are dry gaffes?' Alice asked her.

The Blue Queen looked into the middle distance and said, 'Dry gaffes are gaffes that are dry.'

'Did you learn your dry gaffes?' Alice asked her.

'The elite squid will raise standards,' the Blue Queen replied.

At which, the squid once again raised the flags marked 'STANDARDS'.

'Not YOURS!!!' screamed the Gibblet, tearing at his giblets in rage.

Alice walked on.



As Alice walked along, she was delighted to see that on one side of the road there was a beautiful old building with the word 'Library' on it. Oh, that's just what I need right now, she thought. After all these awful conversations, she was beginning to feel tired and irritated. I could just go inside, sit down on a comfortable chair and read a book.

But just as she walked up the steps to the Library, a frightening creature with big jaws and claws and a giant pair of scissors in his hands, jumped out from behind one of the pillars and roared:
'You can't come in. I have locked the doors. This library is closed.'
'Oh,' said Alice, 'that's a pity. Are you saying that the library is closed for now, or forever?'
'For forever,' said the frightening creature.
'Do you have a name?' said Alice, who had learned that when people say that you can't have something it's always a good idea to find out who they are.
'I am the Georgerwock,' it said, 'don't you know the poem? “Beware the Georgerwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch, the scissors that cut, snip, snip, snip!"'

Alice thought for a moment. Yes, she did remember a poem that went something like that but something was different...
'Well, Georgerwock, I think it's a great shame the library is closed. I wanted to read a book. Did you close the library?"
I did,' said the Georgerwock, 'we have to live within our means.'
'What does that mean?' said Alice.
'It means we can't spend more money than we have,' said the Georgerwock.
'That seems very sensible,' said Alice, 'but a shame all the same I can't read a book.'

The Georgerwock was just about to say something when they both heard a clinking sound. It came from a building next door to the library. Alice looked across to it. It had a big sign outside saying, 'The Counting House.'
'What's that?' said Alice.
'No need to worry your little head about that,' said the Georgerwock.
'Oh I'll look for myself, then,' said Alice and she walked over to the Counting House with the Georgerwock flapping along behind her.

Inside was the King and he was counting out his money.
I'm sure I've heard about that before, thought Alice.
Alice looked through the window at the pile of money sitting on the table in front of the King. It was enormous. And there were sacks more of it sitting behind him and piles on the floor too.
'Are you going to spend all that?' said Alice through the window.
'Good Lord, no,' said the King.
Alice turned to the Georgerwock, 'So why can't we use some of that money to open the library?'
The Georgerwock and the King looked at each other and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.

'What I mean,' said Alice to the Georgerwock , 'is when you said 'we', 'we' had to live within our means, did you count the King in with that 'we'. Is he part of 'we'?'
Again the two of them laughed and laughed and laughed.
'Of course not,' said the Georgerwock, wiping tears of laughter from his face.
'Now you run along, little girl' said the King, 'and don't...'
'....bother my little head about such things?' said Alice in a mocking sort of a way.
'Exactly,' said the Georgerwock.
But Alice thought she would like to find out more about all this.