‘And so’ expounded Alice ‘lets just cut to the chase and fill in some of what’s been happening in the last couple of months, albeit in a surreal manner (as indeed and as usual, much has been surreal anyway)’
‘ Cut to the chase?’ The White Rabbit dropped his sandwich and wrinkled his pink nose in a contrary manner, which seemed to Alice to mingle both curiousity and disgust in equal portions.
‘Cut to the chase? Oh my goodness, her Majesty will be so distressed that language such as that is being used… oh my goodness!’
‘You sir, are a rabbit, and a conversing one at that, which is unduly strange, if not surreal in itself, and I will thank you to keep your opinions firmly to yourself.’
The rabbit muttered away inwardly as he scoured the tablecloth for the remaining crumbs of his sandwich, which had been lifted aloft and carried away by a battalion of extremely large ants garbed in scarlet uniforms during the brief exchange with Alice.
Alice scowled at this behaviour, and waited until the rabbit peered up at her again with his crumby snout before directing a steely gaze at him and intoning ‘Whatevah!’ in, Alice was deeply amused to think, a particularly ‘chavish’ manner.
Suitably chastened, the rabbit wiped his whiskers, glanced briefly at this pocket watch then sat at attention opposite Alice. Alice shifted a little, then from her apron withdrew a small gingham-wrapped package, which she placed carefully before them on the tablecloth before unwrapping it and withdrawing two small and somewhat dog-eared spiral bound notebooks.
‘Now rabbit, I ‘borrowed’ these from Mr. Skip’s desk, so I will thank you to refrain from mentioning it when next you have discourse with him.’
The rabbit sighed deeply before replying. ‘ He believes me to be a figment of his so-called feverish imagination in any case, so that should not be anything of an issue.’
Alice ignored this statement and opened the first notebook, and read aloud from the first page.
‘Conversations with J, volume 17, 2008’
‘Heard it all before! Heard it all before!’ snapped the rabbit. Alice knitted her eyebrows angrily at this interjection, but nevertheless closed the notebook and cast it to one side, picking up the second, leafing through the first few pages before pausing, nodding, clearing her throat and commencing to read. ‘ Today we mused on cockfighting…’ she began…

“J recalled the Saturday afternoon where he and A had firstly become embroiled in a circus procession along the riverfront, then had repaired to the Riverhouse to sip a late afternoon cocktail and muse on the flurries of activity happening across the road against the huge green corrugated fences bedecked with advertising hoardings which screened the river from gaze during the lengthy work being undertaken to replace the city’s ailing sewerage system. Wow, that was a lengthy sentence, wasn’t it? When they left a few minutes later and drove past the scene, they could see it was in fact cockfighting training taking place, there, in broad daylight, on one of the busiest thoroughfares in town. The following week, the Prime Minister outlawed cockfighting. Fortunately J and A had nothing to do with this decision, so they had little to fear from such as the deputy Prime Minister’s henchmen, as he was a breeder of fighting cocks and very upset by this new law. Perhaps, pondered J, a quorum of the National Assembly will outlaw the keeping of man-eating crocodiles and then it will be the Prime Ministers turn to be suitably aggrieved (if the stories are true) …
… and so to Khmer New Year, with J, A and O repairing firstly to Bangkok and then to Yangon for the celebrations, but unwittingly becoming embroiled in the Thai political crisis through being present at the taking of a tank by the redshirts one Sunday afternoon. Let J elaborate…

‘The briefest of tenures as a BBC correspondent (‘are you in Bangkok? Have you witnessed what is happening? Let us know!’ ‘Ehm, well not much actually. It’s a bit tricky to get to the shops, but mustn’t grumble…’) and puzzlement at the hotel staff being completely oblivious of the situation (‘no problem sir, all shops open, all safe’ – ‘I’m sorry, we can see from our room the entire city centre is closed and if you have a peek out of your foyer over there you can see two tanks and some armed soldiers. I don’t think it’s a fancy dress parade….’ – ‘oh, sorry sir…’) led to us decanting to the relatively sane insanity of the only place open in the entire Siam Square, the Hard Rock Café. The staff were amazing – they absolutely loved O, and he loved them back, delighting in water fights, balloons, playing drums, colouring in and more, as mummy and daddy struggled to devour the American –size platters on offer. The Hard Rock was a godsend, that and the Sky Train which O watched endlessly criss-crossing its way above the city from our vantage point on the 17th floor and appeared to be infinitely more interesting and diverting to him than the 27 violent cartoon channels available on the hotel cable TV. So it was good to escape from one madness, the factionalised Bangkok, to another, the water drenched craziness of new year in Yangon, Myanmar…’ “

Here Alice paused. The rabbit sat with his chin on his chest, apparently fascinated by the buttons on his somewhat admirable weskit, but Alice knew his quaint ways well enough to know that the bewhiskered one was actually asleep.
‘RABBIT! Awake!’ she screamed at the very limits of her lungs, and the poor creature physically leapt upright from his repose, eyes startled wide open, before falling backward to gasp upon the tablecloth, scattering the still marauding ants as he did so.
Alice laid the notebook face down and leaned over the unfortunate creature.
‘I fear we shall have to wait for the next part of this tale until you have sufficiently recovered your composure’ she hissed at the rabbit.
He sat himself up, blew his nose noisily upon his pocket-kerchief, and returned the fierce gaze of Alice with his own watery eyes. There was what appeared to be a lengthy pause before he answered.
‘Am I bovvered?’ he replied.