So when it comes to free thought, mine may be closer to connected that one might think. Last night, around bedtime, the General wanted to know what I was doing and I said: “I’m winding clocks.” Think it through. I’ve got eight clocks that chime at fifteen- minute intervals. At some point shortly before bedtime, I noticed that one of the clocks had stopped running altogether and that another wasn’t in proper sync with the correct number of chimes at fifteen-minute intervals. Subsequently, in getting it wound and properly set, the rhythm or rotation was slightly off. Consequently, I inadvertently went passed the actual time before it was chiming and striking at the correct intervals and reflecting the current time. Long story short, getting it correct was a time consuming process. Unfortunately, I didn’t start the process until bedtime.
Almost with the thrill of a kid in a candy store, befor I actually went to bed last night I was elated that all eight clocks were once again operational and doing what wind-up clocks are designed to do. It was more than three-part-harmony. It was more like two quartets of clocks melodiously singing their sound into the night. Yet before everything was in sync, I was moving from clock to clock advancing each at fifteen-minute intervals. I had the thought: “I’ve become the Mad Hatter.”
Maybe it all ties back to my friend’s plan to take his two grandsons from Texas to Nebraska so they can absorb 1 minute and 52 seconds of the sun playing second chair to the moon and darkness enveloping parts of the earth. How’s that for a layman’s explanation of the total eclipse? You are probably thinking I’m bonkers. Bingo! – That is the correct answer. Didn’t folks think the Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland was also bonkers?
Okay, so what’s the connection? Wasn’t Alice in Wonderland originally from Kansas? Do you get my drift and see where I’m going with this? Be careful how you answer? You might find yourself on a list (perhaps a very long list) of folks needing a mental health assessment related to cognition. Okay, so it is contagious and it does relate to cognition. Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz was from Kansas. It wasn’t Alice at all! Alice was the English girl who fell into a rabbit hole and discovered a fantasy world filled with strange characters.
Of course, the Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland was more than a little strange. Okay, so he was very strange. It was one of the pitfalls of the vocation. After all, how many poisonous chemicals can one work with in the course of a career track without having unintended side effects? Reportedly, the Mad Hatter portrayed in Alice In Wonderland, a story made for children carried a subtle message for the adults who read the story to their children.
Didn’t everyone know you’d have to be crazy to work in a British hat factory? There was something about the long-term exposure to mercury used in the creation of felt hats that took its toll on the cognitive abilities of those involved in that trade. If you lost your cognitive abilities it was explained away as “mad hatters disease” or so the story behind the story goes.
I guess you can read almost anything into a storyline, but some think Alice in Wonderland was actually written as a satire on the 19th century British social system. It was easily understood that the Queen of Hearts could refer to Queen Victoria herself. With that as a given, all of the characters were representations of various British personalities. The Mad Hatter represented environmental dangers that could be found in the workplace of many.
It is similar to the concept that you can usually almost always get by with saying anything as long as you remember to laugh as you share the punch line. Integrate a subtle cautionary warning to adults through the storyline that includes children as the intended audience and the message gets by without question.
What about the nursery rhymes that we learned as children? Was Baa Baa Black Sheep a story line for children or was it an acceptable form of protest related to taxation? Some think it had to do with the medieval wool tax imposed by King Edward in the 13th Century. It was a lofty tax. King Edward got a third, the church got a third and the farmer got a third. The little shepherd boy who lives down the lane didn’t get anything but a responsibility to occupy his time.
Do you remember playing or singing Ring Around the Rosie as children? Who would have thought the storyline has to do with the 1665 Great Plague of London? The “rosie” related to the rash of those suffering from the bubonic plague and the “pocket full of posies” were need to camouflage or neutralize the smell of death.
What about the line: “Mary Mary Quite Contrary How Does You Garden Grow?” Oh My! Who would have thought the story had to do with religious conflict? Reportedly Contrary Mary had to do with “Bloody Mary”, the daughter of King Henry VIII. She was given the tagline “bloody” because of her influence to torture and murder of Protestants. I guess you could say she was a devout Catholic who thought the kingdom was better served with fewer Protestants. Her garden was reportedly the graveyards which were filling with Protestant Martyrs.
Getting back to the Mad Hatter, in Alice in Wonderland, some think it was a reference to one of the author’s friends. He was a man by the name of Theophilus Carter who spent a good portion of his day standing in the doorway of his furniture shop. He predictably was always wearing a top hat. He reportedly was a bit eccentric and folks in the neighborhood gave him the nickname, “The Mad Hatter.”
Theophilus Carter is credited with inventing “The Alarm Clock Bed”. What better way to wake up than being dumped into a tub of cold water? Thanks, but I think I’ll pass. I don’t know if that makes him the mad hatter, but I’d definitely be mad at the hatter if I awakened by being spilled into cold water.
All My Best!