Babbling About An Ogre

Yesterday’s episode of Hooting Yard On The Air was the final show for the Year of Our Lord MMXVII. As a special treat for listeners’ ears, it included a rather marvellous rendition of The Cuthbert Spraingue Song, for which Mr Key was joined by the dulcet tones of Pansy Cradledew. Thereafter, there was a lot of babble about an ogre, and Dobson, both on an atoll and in a pickle. Plus an end note on Italian fascist Benito Mussolini.

Meanwhile, don’t forget that ancient episodes of the show are being regularly added to an archive on YouTube.

Tilly Losch Song

I had a cuppa with Tilly Losch
Just tea, the caff was out of nosh
It cost an awful lot of dosh
Then we went to a pit to mosh

Oh Tilly! Such a smashing gal
Nowadays she’s my penpal
We swap letters ‘cross oceans wide
Oh Tilly! Tilly will abide

Abide with me
Abide with Ned
Young Edward James
Shared Tilly’s bed

Soon enough the pair did part
Ned collected surrealist art
Some influenced by old H. Bosch
But he never forgot Tilly – Tilly Losch!

Puny Vercingetorix

See Vercingetorix. Vercingetorix is puny. Hark! Hear Puny Vercingetorix clank. Wherefore does he clank? It is the clanking of his armour as he marches. Puny Vercingetorix is marching in his armour o’er the hills and far away.

So puny is Puny Vercingetorix that he has fallen behind the other marchers. Yes, there are other marchers. He does not march alone. Puny Vercingetorix is merely one tiny puny cog in a martial host. It is an army, clanking o’er the hills and far away. Puny Vercingetorix is bringing up the rear, having fallen behind, so far behind that even if his vision were piercing he could barely see the host ahead. But he is short-sighted as well as puny. He is short-sighted and has no spectacles, for nobody in the army is allowed spectacles. It is like the court of King George III.

What usually happens when a straggler falls far behind the marching host is that they are waylaid and carried off by marauding bears. There have been countless newspaper reports of such occurrences, most distressing, most distressing. But Puny Vercingetorix, though he is puny and myopic and neurasthenic and prone to terrible fits and something of a halfwit, is nevertheless possessed of a singular quality which, in his current circumstances, is as valuable as a chest crammed with precious stones. Puny Vercingetorix speaks the language of bears, at least the language of the bears that roam these hills far away.

He was taught to speak with bears when tiny, attached to a travelling circus.

Now, if as a straggling marcher cut off from the host he is waylaid by bears, Puny Vercingetorix will tilt his head to the appropriate angle, and raise one eyebrow, and make significant passing movements with his hands, and from his throat will erupt the most extraordinary noise. And the bears, rather than carrying him off to their lair, there to do him unimaginable harm, will each of them flop to the ground and flail about, beatific smiles on their faces. In the parlance of Doddy, he will have tickled their funny bones.

Up ahead, the host is clashing with a rival host, an army terrible with banners. Puny Vercingetorix is well out of it. He sits on a clump, and takes from his pouch his curds and whey, and snacks upon them, waiting for bears. It is the first Thursday of the fifteenth century.

And that piece first appeared in the first month of the Year of Our Lord two thousand and fourteen.


Further to all the guff I mentioned about Hooting Yard housekeeping last week, there was a little flurry of concern regarding the vanished ResonanceFM podcasts. As a result, I have embarked upon a foolhardy yet I hope rewarding project to upload hundreds of past episodes of Hooting Yard On The Air to YouTube.

Et voila! Here is the first fruit of my tireless efforts – the very first show, broadcast all those years ago on 14 April 2004. Malachy O’Neill was the sound engineer.

I am hoping that further episodes will appear on YouTube on a regular basis, until the whole damned lot are there. This will take time. I am open to offers of help, should there be any devotees out there thrumming their fingers idly on the windowsill and staring into space, in need of some useful unpaid occupation.

ADDENDUM : Episode Two (21 April 2004) also added.

ADDED ADDENDUM : A link has been added to the sidebar to take you straight to the Hooting Yard home on YouTube. When you get there, press “Play All”, sit back, sluice out yer lug’oles, & listen until the cows etrcetera etcetera …

Emblems Of Inanity

The Emblems of Inanity are vivid, blindingly so. Gold leaf is used sparingly. Most, but not all, are the work of Ferdinandodooda Gulbenkian Mukherjee, of whom little is known, and that little, spurious. Bird motifs are used sparingly, but not as sparingly as gold leaf. Tremendous splattering is de rigueur. The viewer’s headaches thump and throb.

Mukherjee’s own headaches are one of the few non-spurious things we know of him. There are documents. The gulf between head and ache was sometimes as wide as one of those big expansive seas one finds in the wet parts of the earth. Dust covered some, but not all, of the emblems. One thinks of a jester’s cap and bells.

Hanging where they do, or tacked up with metal tacks, the emblems gain moral heft. Several ditches were emptied of mud. That crocus-scented one has particular significance, though it is one of the emblems Mukherjee denied moulding. It lacks gold leaf, a bird motif, even dust. Always wiped with the same rag.

Frostbitten, the maker or moulder or what you will was bitten by more than frost. One need only examine the pins under a microscope. The apron was baize and bore tremendous splatterings. Its strings may have been those of Mukherjee’s dead mother, bobbed hair preserved in a jar on a shelf, an unsettling memento.

When horsemen came roaring across the plains, these emblems were their purchase. Rough, dun, spelt, and plenty of hammers to pound. We can discern in certain emblems pocks. The juddering of a type of vibrational praxis or bedevilment. This is what Cugat was referring to in the lectures now lost. Swollen blobs of poor ink.

Lupine howling, or awe, as a response, preclude proper digestion. Mukherjee had a special basin for Christ’s sake. Content and context fly at each other, fangs bared. One thinks of the barbarian horsemen. In only one case is the bird motif done in gold leaf. A pretty little chaffinch, a worm dangling from its beak, its beak golden, the worm a pink that nauseates.

Sometimes lamps dazzle rather than illuminate. The viewers’ eyes scrunch and the headaches return. The gulf widens. That sea is wetter than ever. Shoes that had been laced with boggling expertise tread on golden slabs. The cumulative effect is sub rosa, and not just rosa. The deeper the delving, the shabbiness baffles. A torch might be an improvement on the lamp.

What Mukherjee saw was arguably not without airlessness. He may have grown to manhood in an iron lung. There are more documents. Beneath the innocent streets run mile upon mile of tunnels, forlorn and unmapped. Mukherjee’s longings ought not detain the more sombre student of his work, cut to the quick. He had a pet mole.

Pound writes somewhere of Swartest night stretched over wretched men there and it is the “there” that these emblems, at both their best and worst, and middling too, inhabit. More are frankly middling than otherwise. None is swart, unless at a stretch. Fixed to a torturer’s rack, with metal tacks, they could be stretched, if one insisted upon it. Mukherjee did not.

There are times when oars groan in the water, like living things. Suffering is a given. It may be that the nauseating pink worm gnaws at the emblems’ core. Hunter and hunted, in sun or snow. There is a pallid cast to those who shuffle in circles in the prison gang. Look carefully at the more vivid of the emblems and blindness wears a trickster’s hat.

In the end, inanity brooks no lop.

Hooting Yard Christmas Gift Guide

This gift guide appeared seven years ago. All the items are still available, albeit they are now covered in layers of dust.

I am disconcerted, on trawling back through the archives, to note that every Yuletide season has passed without the appearance of what one would have thought was essential, a Hooting Yard Christmas Gift Guide. God alone knows how you lot have coped! Anyway, following an exclusive commercial tie-in with the most gorgeous department store in the known universe, Hubermann’s, I can now rectify this terrible omission. Here, then, are five superlative gifts, available at bargain bin prices from a bin outside the bargain bin basement of Hubermann’s “beacon” store in Pointy Town.

Jumbo Sack O’ Agricultural Waste Matter. The perfect gift for the peasant in your life. A mind-numbingly gigantic burlap sack absolutely cram-packed with noisome slurry and farm filth.

Wandering Mendicant’s Collapsed Lung, Preserved In Jelly. Surgically removed by top doctors from the corpse of a wandering mendicant, this collapsed lung has been expertly preserved in special jelly. Is what it says on the jar.

Two-In-One” Marionette. Made from old coathangers, rags, and solidified puff pastry, this fascinating puppet looks just like Yoko Ono until you turn it round and tweak it a bit, when, voila! you have a lifelike Bernard Cribbins doll! Hours of fun with two of your favourite non-fiction characters. (Provide your own string.)

Grow Your Own Marsh. Transform your living room into an eerie marsh, complete with mephitic vapours, inexplicable darting lights, and pipe-smoking marsh sprites. Simply sprinkle the contents of the sachet on to your carpet and watch it dissolve, before sinking up to your armpits and flailing hopelessly, just like Sabine Baring-Gould!

The Radiating Lance Of Saint Poppo. If you have any Belgian Catholics in your family, they will treasure this miniature plastic toy lance, radiating fire from heaven just like the lance of Saint Poppo (977-1048), one of the first Flemish pilgrims to the Holy Land.

Thoughts On Presenting Hooting Yard On The Air For Years & Years

‘Twas brillig, and I babbled guff
Until my listeners cried “Enough!”
And stopped my gob with a plug of dough
And then it was that I knew woe.

A woe such as I’d never known
Not e’en when I was skin and bone
In starveling days of pimply youth
Before I grew so fat forsooth.

Fat and loud and babbling guff,
All roister doister swagger and puff,
Puffed up like one of those eerie toads
That leap at you from beside the roads.

Well, at least, they leap at moi.
I wrote of them in my memoir,
The text of which is what I brayed
Hoping to make my listeners afraid.

Instead they plugged my gob with dough
And brought me down so very low
That now my life is full of woe
And it is time for me to go.

Go where? To the seaside I suppose
To my seaside chalet o’ prose
To thump my typewriter’s leaden keys
And write of hornets, wasps, and bees.