Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The rabbit with the face of a man

The strangest dream? I'm sitting in a beautiful garden, the kind of Edwardian English country garden that you often see on television. With climbing roses and a kitchen vegetable patch and a area of grass scattered with wild flowers and budlia bushes festooned with red admirals. And I'm wearing a starched crinoline petticoat under a bright blue dress. The stiffness of the dress makes it flare out, so that it is difficult to sit demurely on the picnic blanket, without looking like an upturned funnel filled with legs and frilly pantaloons. But somehow I manage to remain decent. Because that's what happens in dreams.

And it's incredibly quiet in the garden. Not in a eeiry way, nor in a fashion that suggest that something is about to happen. There is no anxiousness about this lack of noise. And I am not at all bothered by the lack of bird song, or the gentle buzzing of summer's insects. The calmness seems fitting here and the discomfort of my dress is but a passing thought.

But although I am sat on a picnic blanket, there is no finger-food banquet. Not even a solitary jam sponge. I feel a little bit cheated.

As I wonder which direction would most likely lead to the kitchens, a highly-couffiered magnolia bush bristles and shudders, and the silence of the garden changes timbre. Apprehensive now, I peer through the thick summer's air, fearful of what creature might greet my gaze. And a small brown rabbit appears. Only, he has the face of an old man. Wrinkled and liver-spotted and grey. As grey as if the creases of his face had been allowed to gather dust for a number of years. And these greying folds of skin merge seemlessly into the soft downy rabbit's fur of his neck. And I can't see the join. And I know that it's not just a man in a costume of fur. Because the rabbit is rabbit-sized. And the man's face atop it, is also rabbit-sized.

But the worse part is the ears. The long, twitching rabbit's ears that reach heavenwards, are mirrored by the large, flat, disk-like man's ears that also occupy his cluttered head. A head overcrowded with ears. Both sets far too big, with the lobes of his man's-ears stretching almost to the fur at his throat, as if they were melting clean off his head. And the rabbit's-ear soft and velvet-lined, like a magician's jacket, stretch and writhe and twist, searching for danger that may never come.

And I feel sick at the sight of so many ears on one head. And the proportion of man's face rabbit-sized. And fact that this most definitely is not simply a man in a costume.

Then, he cocks his head, and looks me square in the eye. And, with the voice of Bill Nighy, he splutters genially,
"Terribly sorry, I didn't know this plot was in use." And scampers back through the undergrowth.

I think I might be allergic to sleeping.

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