Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Royal Croquet Club, Melbourne

Sofia in Wonderland 

“Get to your places!” shouted Broadsheet in an authoritative tone, and Melbourne began running about in all directions, tumbling up against each other; however, they got settled down in a minute or two, and the game began. Sofia thought she had never seen such a curious croquet-ground in her life; it was all Pimms and pendant lights; the fare was Miss Chu’s, the lobster rolls from Mr. Claws, and D.O.C and Meatmother had to work in fast-forward to keep up with demand for pizza and lamb chops. 

The chief difficulty Sofia found at first was finding a place to sit: she succeeded in skipping over the raised referee chairs, obstructed by children, leaving the shady tables to those already there, and just as she was about to give up, found a Yalumba decking up some secret stairs that gave her not just a view of the red and yellow-striped circus tent below, but of the entire, glorious, sparkling city: besides all this, there were far too many people laughing in the sunshine and listening to music, and, the desire to feast on all the food was getting in the way of her standing up and walking off to other parts of the ground. 

Sofia soon came to the conclusion that the Royal Croquet Club was a very wonderful way to spend a sunny day indeed. Sofia began to feel very uneasy: to be sure, she had managed to consume a small ocean of Pimms, savouring the fizzy cucumber slices that refused to be captured, but she knew that at any moment, the sun and food and drink might all get too much, “and then,” thought she, “what would become of me? They're dreadfully fond of people here; the great wonder is that there's any one left anywhere else in Melbourne!” 

She was looking about for some way of escape, and wondering whether she could get away without being seen, when she noticed a curious sign in the distance: it puzzled her very much at first, but, after watching it a minute or two, she made it out to be a menu, and she said to herself, “It's the Cheshire Can: now I shall have somebody to talk to.” 

“How do you fancy peanut gelato with Oreo custard, lashings of cream cheese mousse and pretzel crunch waiting at the bottom?” said the Can, as soon as she popped open the lid.

Sofia waited ‘til she hit the first Oreo chunk, and then nodded. “It's no use speaking to it,” she thought, “it doesn’t have any ears.” 

In another minute, the Can was empty, and then Sofia put down her spoon and began an account of the day, feeling very glad she had someone to listen to her. “I don't think they play at all fairly,” Sofia began, in rather a complaining tone, “and they all eat and drink and dance so constantly one can't hear oneself speak—and they don't seem to have any rules in particular; at least, if there are, nobody attends to them—and you've no idea how confusing it is all the food being so tasty; for instance, I had to go back and order beef wrapped in betel leaves after my buttermilk ranch lobster roll—and after February first, the whole thing simply goes ‘poof’ and disappears!” 

“What are you ever going to do?” said the Can in a low voice. 

“Nothing at all,” said Sofia, “I suppose I’ll just have to come back,” and she hurried off to write about it. 

Where: Birrarung Marr, by the Yarra River 
When: Until Sunday Feb 1 
Hours: Mon-Thu 4pm-11pm; Fri 4pm-1am; Sat 12pm-1am; Sun 12pm-11pm 
Jan 25-26 (Australia Day weekend) & Feb 1 (closing night): 12pm-12am


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