Lefty Hip Magi

[Thanks again to R.]

There is a song on Hex Enduction Hour, the 1982 album by The Fall, entitled “Hip Priest”. It was a great favourite of the Phosphorescent Family, particularly of Old Pappy Phosph, who, in a certain light, from a certain angle, on certain days of the week, at certain times of day, bore a passing resemblance to Mark E. Smith, through a glass darkly.

One evening at a family singsong around the phosphorescent fireplace, Old Pappy struck up an a capella version of “Hip Priest”. Now it had not escaped the notice of tiny Mopsa Phosph that, when listening to a tape loop of distant pig gruntings, one of her sisters had keened and wailed that she wanted a pig of her own, and the very next day Old Pappy abducted one for her. (See The Family Pig for further details.) So Mopsa in turn keened and wailed that she wanted a hip priest, then burst into tears.

But as Old Pappy began to make reassuring cooing noises, and seemed on the verge of promising that he would abduct a hip priest for her, Old Ma Phosph put her foot down.

“We will have no Papists in this family compound!” she cried. In common with about two thirds of the Phosphorescent Family, Old Ma was a devout Zoroastrian. But Mopsa had a cunning beyond her years, and immediately revised her keening.

“I want a hip magus! I want a hip magus!” she screeched, until Old Pappy becalmed her by promising to stride out across the fields first thing in the morning and abduct one for her.

Then two of tiny Mopsa’s tiny sisters piped up, demanding that they be given hip magi too. Old Pappy, who remembered his Bible stories, thought it reasonable that magi should come in threes.

“Don’t you worry, girlies,” he said soothingly, “Tomorrow morning I will abduct three hip magi and bring them back to the compound. We can keep them in one of the outbuildings next to the phosphorescent fence.”

And Old Pappy was as good as his word.

Unfortunately, within a few days the Phosphorescent Family were much disconcerted by the activities of their hip magi, who did a lot of shouting and waving of banners and placards outwith the outbuilding. It soon became apparent that they were lefty hip magi, forever banging on about the iniquities of the Americans and the Zionists and prescribing infantile and witless solutions to social and economic issues. Old Ma Phosph, in particular, was none too pleased. She was, after all, a Fascist as well as a Zoroastrian.

“The hip magi will have to go,” she announced, “If they are not shouting and protesting they sit around in their armchairs reading Chomsky and John Pilge. Old Grampy Phosph must be turning in his grave to see such things happening within the family compound he built with his bare phosphorescent hands!”

So Old Pappy and Old Ma took Mopsa and her sisters aside, and explained to them, very patiently and tenderly, that the hip magi would have to go. There were tears, of course, and keening and wailing, but then Old Pappy had a brainwave.

“I tell you what, girlies! We can have a great deal of fun running the hip magi off our property, pursuing them across the fields with pitchforks and blazing torches and trapping them in Loopy Copse, where I have already dug a pit to chuck them into. And then, as a special treat, I will go and abduct Mark E. Smith of The Fall, and we will keep him in the outbuilding! You can feed him on the scraps left over by Baptiste the Family Pig. What do you think of that?”

And the tiny Phosphorescent girls whooped cries of delight and skipped and gambolled off across the lawn. Peace settled once more upon the Phosphorescent family compound, and the filthy magpie swooped down to perch on Old Ma Phosph’s pippybonnet.

5 thoughts on “Lefty Hip Magi

  1. Hooting Yard meets The Fall: my life is complete!

    Incidentally, (true story) the song ‘Hip Priest’ can be heard playing in the background at the psychopath’s house in the film ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. Rumours that Robert Harris’s working title for the original novel was ‘The Grunting of the Pigs’ have, sadly, yet to be substantiated.

  2. 1) WOW. Just WOW.

    2) You write the way I’ve sometimes wanted to write in my giddiest most sugar-crazed dreams. Hell, you write like Mark E. Smith himself (no wonder you pay homage to him in your stories. You do LIKE him, don’t you? I’d be disappointed indeed if you didn’t actually like him).

    3)Mark E. Smith IS a hip magus; I’ve always thought so. I actually came across your story because I was searching for “Mark E. Smith AND I am a magus” because I was trying to find an interview I seem to recall reading once where he defined himself as a magus, or a warlock. Anyway, I think this was a great story, and you’re a great writer.

  3. Dear Frank:
    Thanks for approving my comment, and for writing back to me. I must say, though, there’s LOTS of people who don’t like Mark E. Smith. Some people have the gold-plated brass to say that he can’t sing and that the Fall can’t play. These people don’t know anything about anything, of course, but still, there ARE a lot of them. There’s even more people (and these people annoy me even more than the Mark-haters) who don’t even know who he is, and [worse!] when you try to enlighten them by playing a few Fall songs for them, just stare and shake their heads and then say, “Huh.” Not even “huh?”, which would at least indicate some shock or surprise on their part, but just “huh.” Believe me, ’cause I’ve seen it happen. I’ve actually had that happen to me TWICE last week, with two different people.
    But of course, I know you know (and you know I know you know)that there’s lots of people who don’t like Mark E. Smith. As the song says…HE IS NOT…APPRECIATED!

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