Correspondence Received

An entertaining letter arrives in the Haemoglobin Towers postbox from, I think, the United States. It is headed “The Hooting Yard Effect”, and sounds a cautionary note for podcast listeners. Here it is, in full:

Dear Mr. Key,

In late May of this year, I was pointed toward Hooting Yard (in the metaphorical sense of having the Hooting Yard podcast suggested to me as an enjoyable listening experience, as opposed to the more literal sense of being given directions to the physical location of Hooting Yard). After listening to a few shows, and being introduced to the works of Dobson, Blodgett, and Pebblehead, learning about Bonkers Maisie, Marigold Chew, fictional athlete Bobnit Tivol, Mrs. Gubbins, and diminutive adventuress Tiny Enid, and being exposed to some highly suspect, albeit scrupulously alphabetical, soup recipes, I felt a bit lost and resolved that perhaps if I listened to the complete archive of Hooting Yard shows, I might gain a more thorough understanding of the world of Hooting Yard, and possibly even learn how to spell “Bibblybibdib’s.”

I have now completed my task, and in the space of little more than two months, have listened to all 140 shows that I was able to find on the internet. Whether or not this effort has noticeably improved my understanding of Hooting Yard, its environs, and inhabitants is a matter open for debate. However, I have noticed an unusual side effect of absorbing so much Hooting Yard over so little a time: I find that my “internal voice,” when applied to odd bits of prose I come across in the course of the day, now sounds exactly like Frank Key.

For example, I was recently in San Diego, California. In want of something to do, wandering the Old Town section, I happened across an old, restored cemetery. Most of the graves were marked by blank wooden crosses, with small interpretive signs made of deteriorating photocopied text sandwiched between glass plates. One of these signs read, as best as I can recall:

This grave marks the resting place of the Unknown German. This man came to San Diego from Germany in 18– [terminal digits illegible]. Very little is known about his life here. How and why he came to San Diego, as well as how he died, is unknown.”

I read this, silently, to myself. But the voice I heard was plainly Frank Key’s. This doesn’t happen with newspaper articles, magazine stories, street signs, short stories, or novels. It occurs only when I read unusual bits of prose like that above. I would caution any other Hooting Yard listener contemplating ingesting a large amount of your shows in a short period of time. The effect, while not unpleasant, is unusual.

Thank you for the hours of entertainment you’ve provided.

Very respectfully,
Dr Jeffrey Chilton

5 thoughts on “Correspondence Received

  1. Dr. Chilton,

    The symptoms you describe are, of course, the first indications of a progressive condition that is all to familiar to those of us who visit Hooting Yard on a regular basis…
    As the condition advances you will quickly become aware of how the “reality” you have experienced to this point is, in fact, a spurious construct…
    As the veil falls away Hooting Yard will become your reality and your reality will become Hooting Yard…

    It’s a one way ticket…


  2. (in response to Dr. Chilton)
    After subjecting yourself to 140 shows in less than two months, it comes as no surprise that Mr Key’s voice has crept into your head – the only surprise is that it should only make itself heard at irregular intervals. During a period of illness a few years ago I fell under the influence of a well-known British institution known as ‘Test Match Special’ (ostensibly a cricket commentary show, though cakes and pigeons are also covered). For months afterwards, I could not read through Shakespeare’s plays without assuming the voices of various cricketing personalities. Reading Henry V’s St Crispin’s day speech with Geoffrey Boycott’s voice in your head turns out to be a bewildering experience.
    One wonders whether we could develop our “internal voices” to offer new perspectives on the literary classics. If I could channel the voice of Grace Kelly through my reading of, say, Lucretius – who can say what will happen?

  3. When I come across artefacts that have cleary fallen out of Mister Key’s head I go into a ten second fugue during which I’m aware of nothing but the mournful sounds of the ‘Caucasian Lullaby’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.