During the past few days, postie has been struggling along the lane towards Haemoglobin Towers heaving a sack filled, not, I am afraid to say, with seasonal greetings cards, but with tear-stained letters from listeners to the Hooting Yard radio show on Resonance 104.4 FM. Lazy writers, and those of a hackneyed bent, are fond of describing tears as “copious”. I thought I had the full measure of that word until postie tipped out the daily sack of correspondence. By god, every single envelope was drenched, drenched with the salty sobbings of ungovernable anguish. I had to make use of a sponge and a mop before I could open them and read the scribbled lamentations therein.
The cause of all this misery is that this year I failed to record a Hooting Yard Christmas Special. A twelvemonth ago, if you recall, Resonance broadcast my reading of Sylvia Townsend Warner’s selection from The Natural History Of Selborne by Gilbert White detailing the activities of Timothy the Tortoise, and the year before that I was given a whopping three hours of airtime to recite, with Germander Speedwell, Christopher Smart’s poem Jubilate Agno, a reading which proved to be an historic piece of radio.
Alas, come this year’s festive season I simply could not alight upon a suitable text. I pondered reading bits from A Withered Garland Of Mawkish Pap by Prudence Foxglove, but somehow it seemed too withered and mawkish. I was tempted by the idea of broadcasting two of Richard Nixon’s Six Crises, but was unable to choose among them. For a while I even considered devoting a programme to the latest sorry outpourings of beatnik poet Dennis Beerpint, but neither I nor the radio station could face the prospect of the inevitable legal proceedings. So, with some regret, I threw in the towel, which was a pity, because I could have used it to more effectively soak up the tears contained in postie’s sacks. The sponge and the mop only did half the job.
Anyway, all I can do is to apologise, and to suggest to the bereft that they hie on over to the Wikipedia page for Jubilate Agno. Scroll down, and there at the foot of the page, you will find a link to my and Ms Speedwell’s reading, preserved forever on the interweb. May I recommend listening to it in its entirety, at top volume, every day?
Oh, and I have exciting news! After untold years in preparation, Jubilate Agno : The Motion Picture is due to be screened at your local multiplex early in the new year. Directed by Mel Gibson, starring Christopher Plummer and using old footage of Valentine Dyall and Basil Rathbone, this epic production has already won plaudits from my favourite film critic, the grunting and snaggle-toothed peasant with a rusty spade who stands, mysteriously, under an elm tree at the edge of the cemetery, spitting at crows.