It being Easter there’s a story from long ago that I should have told much before this.
I must have been about 7, maybe younger. It was probably the Thursday before Easter, and I was at school – in this case, Thornbury Primary School. We were sitting in class attending to whatever lesson we were being taught when, glancing towards the window, I saw a pair of pantomime rabbit ears pass by.
As we were in an elevated classroom that’s all I could see – a pair of disembodied, stiff white ears bob by as if the Easter bunny, or his proxy, was out for a leisurely stroll ahead of the frantic egg delivery period. Given my age and time of year that’s all I needed to see. If there were ears then there was a bunny attached, and of course it could only be the Easter bunny. I’m guessing I was startled, though happily so. And surprised that no-one had yet spotted him. I watched breathlessly as the innocent ears went by, before reacting.
I can only blame my youth, and possibly a latent belief in the Easter Bunny for what happened next. Without regard for the teacher I pointed and yelled something like “the Easter bunny!”, and without a second thought had slipped from my seat and was charging from the room after this magical figure. Naturally the whole class followed me, every screaming boy and girl.
In the years since whenever I recall this moment a smile comes to my face. I can’t help it. When I was older our chase of the poor character in the bunny suit reminded something of the chase every episode of Benny Hill had over the end credits. I imagined the Benny Hill soundtrack as we wild bunch of chidren went after the harried bunny like a pack of hounds after their feed. In those later days I imagined a teacher within the furry outfit, probably one of the more junior teachers innocently agreeing to play this part as a bit of fun, before, quite unexpectedly, and counter to plan, he is chased by screaming kids desperate to catch up. What went through his mind then as he sweated up inside the heavy suit? Had he been a little shorter – and his ears not poked up; or had I been a little less alert, then none of the madcap chase would ever have occurred. Life is full of such might have beens, and instead what followed was an anarchic, chaotic and hilarious escapade.
Imagine if you can about 25 unruly children chasing after someone in a rabbit suit through the playground. We kids screamed and hollered, and soon other classes joined us. He zig and zagged, he tried outrunning us while our teachers sought to rein us in. We kids were having none of that. There was delight ahead of us, and mystery, and maybe some Easter eggs!
Eventually he outpaced us. He slipped into a building and disappeared. I imagine now how frazzled he must have felt as he removed his rabbit head, and maybe just a little traumatised. This was not what was planned.
We kids went home to the regular Easter festivities, chocolates and hot cross buns and all the rest of it, buzzing with our unexpected encounter with Mr Easter Bunny himself. As for Mr Easter Bunny, I like to think he and his colleagues had a laugh about it after hours, a beer in their hand: how crazy was that? I wonder if they still remember.
There’s always the possibility I guess, that he was the real thing. Or just maybe the rabbit from Donny Darko doing a bit of time travel.
Whatever. This is one of my favourite Easter memories.