Friday, March 16, 2007

Blame it on the March Hare

I’ve been feeling gloomy this past week, a passing gloom, but a gloom nonetheless.

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice finds a small cake in which the words “Eat me” have been written with currants. So she eats the cake expecting something astonishing to happen, because lately all kinds of hocus pocus has been going on. To recap: she sighted a rabbit wearing a waistcoat rabbiting on about being late, and so she followed him down a hole, discovered an underground world and drank a potion which made her shrink. So she thinks if she eats this cake something weird and wacky will happen. But in fact, when she bites the cake, momentarily nothing happens.

`But Alice had got so much into the way of expecting nothing but out-of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on in the common way.'

[perhaps if she'd tried a hash cake from one of those cafes in Amsterdam before, she would know that that there is usually a delay before things start to happen after one eats cake]

I guess this is a bit like Simone de Beauvoir must have felt in her early hanging-in-bars days. In the first volume of her memoirs: Mémoires d'une Jeune Fille Rangée where she describes her rebellion against her petit bourgeois and catholic upbringing, her cousin Jacques tells her that `you just have to hang out in the bars, you just have to be there and something interesting always happens'. But when she first escapes her vigilant mother and hangs in bars from Montmartre to Montparnasse, grand things just don't happen, there is no hey presto magic. She sips on her gin-fizz and nothing happens.

I was spoilt for quite a while in Paris with fanciful events and coincidences crashing into each other, clouds making significant signs at me and gargoyles whispering prophecies. And now. suddenly, I’ve been walking out on the street expectantly trying to conjure up magic, and nothing happens. So it all seems quite dull and stupid, this existence.

I mainly blame this current lack of magic on March. When I lived in Australia I always hated March. Nothing and no one was born in March. The dead leaves and dead days hurt my heart, as did the last voices leaving the water on Sydney's slowly wintering beaches. The plunge back into an early black sky used to always fill me with a sense of foreboding.

Of course here in France i've been flipped upside down, with March signifying the end, not the start, of Winter. But this year's spooky early Spring, with its sunshine on bare trees, gave me that old feeling of doom. And then when I read the UK news today saying that the scary spring is going to retreat and

Wildlife experts said animals such as moles, bats and hedgehogs that woke early from hibernation could be at risk of starvation because of the snow,

I couldn't shake my gloom.