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“The Minutes of the last meeting” he said imperiously. The White Knight asked which Minutes he wanted. “The Minutes that go on for days and days, the Minutes that go on for hours, or the Minutes that go on only for seconds?”
“Pretend to.” said the Mad Hatter.
Alice looked around the table. It was a well attended meeting. The March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, the White Queen, The Knave of Hearts, Caterpillar, Tweedledum and Tweedledee were all in their place. Dormouse was under his.
The two professional members looked down on the lay members. Their chairs were six inches higher. Accordingly the lay members looked up to the professionals
“There’s meetings”. “Great.” said the Cheshire Cat. “New partnerships.”. “Wonderful.” said Caterpillar. “And there’s much more delusion.” said the Mad Hatter. “Don’t you mean Inclusion?” said the White Knight. “A Freudian slip” said the Mad Hatter with a wry smile. “More Inclusion at a rate of 20 per cent per anum.”
“Don’t you mean per annum?” Interjected the March Hare. “Well it definitely says per anum” replied the Mad Hatter.
“It’s a bit of an enema” said Tweedledum. “Enigma” said Tweedledee.
“Either way I move we buy it” said the Mad Hatter with some finality.
“Can we afford it?” asked Dormouse suddenly waking up.
“We don’t need to consult anyone do we?” Asked the Cheshire Cat, almost rhetorically. “Roundabout midnight any day next week would be suitable” replied the White Knight. “I just don’t understand” said Alice, looking very bemused by all this.
The Mad Hatter turned to the Knave of Hearts “Would you explain to Alice our consultative procedures?”
The Knave of Hearts was something of a magician. One of his favourite tricks was to make people completely vanish. Another was to make people appear who didn’t exist at all. He quite liked to don his pointy wizard’s hat on these occasions.
This time however he conjured from thin air a mortarboard and a somewhat tattered black gown. There was no limit to the things that he could conjure out of thin air. Most usually it was facts, figures and concept papers that bore no great relation to reality Ever since he came across the Latin tag De minimis non curat Lex, he had called these his tiny mini mice. He much preferred this to his small porkies.
The Knave of Hearts, in a somewhat didactic mode, then conducted a short tutorial. “To understand our consultative procedures you must understand the meaning of consultation. The word consultation derives from the two words ‘con’ and ‘salutation’. I am sure you know the meaning of both. All you have to do is to put the two together.”
“We have actually written to the Ogre Queen respectfully suggesting that Christmas Day should be designated an Annual Consultation Day when all the year’s consultation can take place. Is there another day in the calendar with more salutations than that one?” Alice felt that she had to agree. “No there isn’t” she said. “And it is a day of goodwill” chipped in the March Hare “and we need as much of that as we can get.”
“But we have not reached that eminently sensible state of affairs.” continued the Knave of Hearts, ” So the next best time is when people say goodnight to each other. I suggest that we consult next Sunday night.”
“Agreed” said the Mad Hatter.
“Why isn’t he here then?” asked Caterpillar. “He’s back in hospital with post traumatic shock . . . seeing things for the first time knocked him gaga.”
At this point the March Hare intervened. “I second the motion.” he said firmly. “I have the evidence. I’ve been given a piece.” “Where is it then?” asked Alice unable to contain her curiosity. “I’ve swallowed it,” replied the March Hare. “And I’ve swallowed the hook, the line and the sinker that came with it.”
Alice’s curiosity turned to incredulity. “You swallowed the sinker? Wasn’t it a bit indigestible?” “It was the very first time I swallowed it,” replied the March Hare, “but you get used to it. It is now a part of my regular diet.” Tweedledum interposed “That’s my experience too.” And Tweedledee agreed. “Me too” he said.
“Well” said the Mad Hatter “two people have said that the Moon is made of cheese, one has actually eaten some. Can there be any reasonable doubt here? I frankly will go further. I think that the Moon is made of the best English cheddar.”
Alice was still unconvinced. “What about the moon-rock brought back from the moon landing?” She asked. “American propaganda against the Russians” replied the Knave of Hearts. “The landing was filmed in the Nevada desert and that’s where the rock came from.”
When he finished, he asked whether the motion was agreed. “Nemine contradicente” said the White Knight. And with nobody quite knowing what that meant, they all nodded their heads including Dormouse who was still nodding away quietly under his seat.
At this point a very strange thing happened. The small black fly on the wall behind the Mad Hatter’s chair suddenly took off, whizzed three times round the room at great speed, buzzing all the way. Then, Alice noticed, it suddenly turned into a wasp and stung the Mad Hatter right on the tip of his nose. ….. The meeting was then adjourned.