I have a vivid memory of being eight years old, tucked into bed by my grandmother in her guest room. The room seemed very grand to me, with its huge bed and decorative wallpaper, and its balcony overlooked the river where boats lay on silver sand, with names like The Lady Kay, which made me think of Arthurian tales and far-off places. The view was in the eyes of adults marred by a junkyard on the far shore, but to my eyes the mountains of twisted metal and looming dinosaurian cranes were equally fantastical. I’d wake to the distant sound of crashing metal and draw the curtain and look across the water and watch the great claw endlessly lifting and dropping piles of scrap.
But it was bedtime, and my grandmother was tucking me in, and I asked her if I could read to her a little before I went to sleep. I wanted to read to her from the Battle Bestiary, and I wanted to find in it something she could relate to. I knew that in the study nearby were old hardcover books of Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, with beautiful John Tenniel illustrations, so I read the entry on the Jabberwock.