Alice Day - Llandudno, 4th May 2012
There has been this persistent rumour that Lewis Carroll visited Llandudno- well now, it can finally be put to rest; both Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and Lewis Carroll did make a trip on the same day and for a special reason. Keith Wright was Charles Dodgson and I was Lewis Carroll at the Alice Day on the promenade at Llandudno on 4th May 2012, but what made it even stranger was a third Mr Martin Bland, the owner of St Tudno Hotel, came dressed as Mr Dodgson.
I arrived at Llandudno by train at 12.05 and changed into my costume in the loo at the station. When I reached the prom there was a brigade of young school children in a pairs dressed in Wonderland costumes and their teachers making their way to the event. I took a couple of photos of a group of characters from the 'Edge of Your Seat' theatre company who were happy to pose. There were an awful lot of people involved, mainly school children seated at tables. I found Keith and Liz Wright, Irene Rutter, and it was lovely to see Muriel Ratcliffe. The host (Ian Turner) invited Keith and me up onto the stage to enlighten the crowd on the life of Lewis Carroll which Keith certainly did, and I was happy to wallow in his reflected glory as a member of the Lewis Carroll Society.
The moment came for Nicol Thompson as Alice to make her entrance and was led onto the stage by an extremely tall and Johnnie Depp look-alike Mad Hatter who really engaged with the audience and she received a long rapturous applause. Nicol delivered a splendid speech with plenty of confidence and thanked everyone who had been involved with organising the event. The major then said a few words.
The host welcomed Cathy Rubin who had certainly travelled the farthest to be there, from the States, and she spoke about the inspiration for her book ‘The Real Alice in Wonderland a role model for the
ages.’ I believe she is related to Alice's son Caryl Hargreaves. This was very much a personal family project for she co-wrote the book with her daughter Gabriella Rose Rubin. Later she was signing copies at Waterstones.
"No room! No room!" they cried... "There's plenty of room!" said Alice indignantly....' That is just how we felt. We had all been sent an official invitation to sit at the top table with Alice but there was no place for us at all, the seats being taken by Llandudno and county council dignitaries. Certainly Keith and myself were not put out for we were too busy taking photos, but Liz, Irene, Thalia (Daresbury Alice) and her parents were away from the event by the railings. I’m not altogether sure what happened but I heard there had been some raised voices about who was to occupy those seats the day before.
There were a great many trays of jam tarts being passed around and once every person present had one the Queen of Hearts gave the command to 'go!' This was the very first attempt at a jam tart eating competition for the Guinness World Record and the target was over a 1000. The host after many false starts 'Is it over,’ proclaimed that over 1100 tarts had been eaten (I can't remember the exact figure). The competition was followed by a local all girl dancing troop.
All the different schools presented Alice with a specially made birthday cards and were photographed with Alice and a group of Wonderland characters before leaving the event. This event, I felt, was tinged with one sad note for the Alice Day and the Victorian Extravaganza weekend was to be one of the last duties for Nicol as Alice. I have got to know Nicol a little at the opening of the Lewis Carroll Centre and at the spring meeting in Daresbury, she has a sweet and bubbly personality, and I do feel sorry that it’s all over for her. But the Alice Day was a cracking way to end a very busy year in the post. Inside an envelope we were each given was a leaflet promoting the Miss Alice of Llandudno competition for 2012-2013 on 26th May 2012.
The Llandudno tourism are creating a new Alice trail around the town which consists of St Tudnos Hotel, three new mosaic murals, and the wooden sculptures of the Cheshire Cat, Mad Tea Party, and the King and Queen of Hearts throne in the wooded area of the Happy Valley, but since the closure of the Rabbit Hole, the demolition of the Gogarth Abbey Hotel (Penmorfa to the Liddell family), and the White Rabbit statue still caged up, it all seems a little half hearted.
For the Bank Holiday (7th May) the X Factor finalist Kitty Brucknell was to appear at Cayley Promenade at Colwyn Bay. She appeared as Alice at a Mad Tea Party with a variety of Wonderland characters when she sang Bjork's It's Oh So Quiet (15th October 2011).