23 March 2017
When I went to Japan last time, I gave a talk at a university there about Creative Responses to Alice. I intended to begin my talk with the following image

tattoo leg

It was literally hours before my talk when I realised that in Japan, there is a strong link between tattoos and crime. I am sure that many Japanese people are aware that in the west tattoos are now a fashion accessory, but still, I thought the image might give the wrong message, so I pulled it and replaced it with a more innocuous one.

And how I regretted not thinking of this before, as I struggled, in a hurry, to change my PowerPoint using a Japanese computer keyboard..... something I had never used before, and hope never to have to use again!



I thought of this when walking through Spitalfields market recently, and I spotted this (below) hanging on one of the stalls, and smiled at the memory.




10 March 2017


I was in the graphic novel/comic bookstore "GOSH" and saw "Alice in Comicland" - but for some reason I hadn't seen it before. It was published in 2014, in the USA, and I can hardly think it's taken that long to get over here... so either I'm just unobservant or else I've been looking in the wrong places.

Actually, I'd have thought it would have been in the bookstore of the Comic Museum when they did their fantastic "Alice in Cartoonland" show. If you want to read more about the background, this interview with compiler and comic historian Craig Yoe will fill you in on more of the details.

28 February 2017


A while ago I wrote about Cellophany's eight cello performance of Alice in Wonderland.

A recording of this piece, partnered with a version of The Wind in the Willows, and both narrated by Simon Callow, is now available with Colchester Classicsm price £12. There are further details here

08 February 2017


"Mad Hatter Tea" is a useful Alice related gift, (although as tea goes it is quite expensive). It's good quality tea, though, so I thought I'd pass on the news that they have a Facebook competition running till 10 February to win some Mad Hatter string-and-tag teabags, a pack of Café Wonderland 'Alice House' ground filter coffee, a packet of waffles and a Mad Hatter Tea mug. The link is here If you win, please let me know!
23 January 2017
I just heard from Mark Davis, (who runs excellent Alice river cruises in Oxford) and he sent me this press release.

NOTICE

OXFORD AUTHORS' AUCTION – Wednesday 8 February

A remarkable collection of Alice in Wonderland books and memorabilia, among the largest in the world, goes on sale in Oxford next month. The Oxford Authors Sale at Mallams on February 8 includes more than 3000 Alice items acquired across a 25-year collecting odyssey by the late Thomas Schuster and his wife Greta. 
Thomas E Schuster, who died in 2013, aged 76, was an international antiquarian books and prints dealer based in Maddox Street in Mayfair. His interest in English children’s literature were first ignited by a client in Japan and he became a recognised expert in the works of Kate Greenaway, Beatrix Potter and the Enid Blyton character Noddy. He published the Kate Greenaway catalogue raisonne in 1986.
But it was the Victorian writer, photographer and mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, who proved a lasting passion for both Thomas Schuster and his wife. Buying at auction, at antique fairs at home and abroad, and through specialist dealers, Alice in Wonderland was the couple’s shared hobby for more than a quarter century.
Highlights from the massive collection (to be sold in 300 lots) have been exhibited publicly on two previous occasions: at the Schuster gallery in the late 1990s and at the Tate Modern Liverpool in 2012, as part of an Alice in Wonderland exhibition that later moved to Italy and Germany. However, Mallams’ sale will provide the first opportunity to view the collection in its entirety - the myriad books, porcelain, artwork, posters, toys, dolls and ephemera that have surrounded the cult of Alice since the earliest years. They range from the rare and academically important to the downright bizarre. 
Greta Schuster and son Chris have chosen to sell the collection in Oxford for its intimate associations with the Alice story. It was famously during a boat trip on the Thames in 1862 that Christ Church College don Charles Dodgson first entertained the 10-year-old Alice Liddell and her sisters with the tale of a girl who fell down a rabbit hole into a world called Wonderland.
Dodgson was persuaded to write down the story, with the book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland first published in 1865. Every year Oxford celebrates all things Alice, with the annual Alice's Day celebrations scheduled this year for July 1.

For further information contact department specialist Mary Lloyd: 01865 241358
mary.lloyd@mallams.co.uk

The catalogue will be online at www.mallams.co.uk on Monday January 23 (although it's not on as yet, I have just checked)

The sale will be on view at Oxford saleroom from:
Saturday February 4 - 9am-1pm
Monday February 6 - 9am-5pm – followed immediately by a short talk by local historian and author Mark Davies, who will highlight some of the Oxford realities which informed Lewis Carroll's imagination, and make reference to some other famous Oxford authors featured in the auction.
Tuesday February 7 - 9am-5pm
Wednesday February 8 - morning of sale from 8.30am )
23 December 2016
Goanna eat some Alice cookies ....



And hope your Christmas is majestic!


12 December 2016


Just been sorting out the photos of the Alice in Wonderland coffee shop in Tokyo- must be one of the most unusual "Alice" themed places around and we had a really nice visit there, with a group of Japanese Carrollians. That is my friend Yoshi outside, and the ceramic sign says "Koseto" which means Old Seto pottery. So as well as being about Alice, it's also about pottery.



As you see, the interior is quite traditional in style, with the dark wooden walls, horizontal lines and calm atmosphere. There is pottery of all types - from the multifarious teacup designs to some one-off items like a splendid curved pottery plant holder which is at least a metre high! But the potter had a special love of Alice, so that is the main theme.





We had fun choosing the cakes



...mostly of the sweet and sticky variety...



And the staff created a complete work of art - just as well we had a bit of time to sit and chat - this place is the opposite of fast food, which is part of which gives it such a relaxing atmosphere



When the food came it was fun - complete with a cheerful little ceramic dog.





I was puzzled by this, though - a little bottle with a golden stopper...



I was amazed to find that it contained brandy - to go in my tea. At first, I thought it must be to go on the cinnamon toast I had ordered.

I've never heard of brandy in tea, (although it went very well) and the Japanese hadn't heard of whisky in coffee, so perhaps next time any of them come to London we will try that!


01 December 2016
zoonation

Ooh my ears and whiskers!! Zoonation hiphop dance company are having a Mad Hatter's Tea Party in the Roundhouse! This unusual Camden Town venue, once an old railway turntable shed mouldering away in NW London, is always fun to visit. And Zoonation's crazy show is definitely bringing Alice up to date. It's suitable for all ages, they say, so get yourself over to this link and take a look at what they say - there is a trailer on the site, too. Tickets are £15 and the first performance is on 30 December. It runs till 22 January.
29 November 2016


So who is this lady with the sunshade, and what is she doing?

You'd be forgiven for not knowing. But she is supervising the door into one of the most unusual shops in Tokyo. It is called "Alice on Wednesday."

When I first visited Tokyo, in 2014, I didn't manage to get into "Alice on Wednesday." It had only opened two days before my visit, and the initial demand from customers was so high that anyone who wanted to go had to reserve tickets on the internet before turning up.

I have just returned from a second trip to Japan, and this time I did get into "Alice on Wednesday." Obviously, the internet tickets aren't necessary now that the novelty has worn off, but, two years on, the shop has done very well and now seems to have become one of the fixtures of Tokyo life. It's in the attractive Harajuku area of the city, down a side street, and when we arrived there were only about ten people waiting, so we joined the queue...



It's a very tall, thin shop, and you have to enter through that rather tiny door you can see on the right, and begin by climbing all the stairs to the top floor. It's not unlike going up the rabbit hole, in fact, for there are all kinds of curious things on the way. I didn't notice cupboards with jars of marmalade in, but there were toadstools towering above your head...



and strange illuminated pictures on the walls...



When you reach the top floor, it has quite an "attic" feeling. It's very small and Victorian in style, and most of the daylight filters through a stained glass window...



whereas the lampshade, as you see, is a large top hat.



There really seems everything that an "Alice" collector might want. I don't collect myself but even I bought myself a cool little Mad Hatter handbag mirror.

Most of the mechandise is specially designed for the shop, and is not just a collection of things you can get elsewhere. The website, here, is only in Japanese, but this gives an idea of the kind of items they normally sell.

If I hadn't been watching the weight of my luggage, I would probably have bought a mug - I like the one to the left, with the door and a handle like a key.



And I always fall for fancily packed eatables or drinkables. These are mostly to be found on the bottom floor, where you pay.



These rather luridly coloured bottles look as if they really might alter your perceptions a bit.



And the biscuits are most beautifully lettered.



I haven't seen a rabbit-hole cake before, but the ones here seemed to be selling well.



"Alice" is popular and well known in Japan, but it's interesting that here in England nobody has had the idea of producing a shop as creative and original as this. I wonder if the Japanese company will set up a branch in Oxford?

....maybe, one Wednesday, they will.

18 November 2016
It's so sad to hear of the death of David Delamare. I have remembered his wonderful video "Beware the Jabberwock" ever since I first saw it. Here it is below.



If you want to read a tribute to David, go here.

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