The Teenpersons’ Guide To Hooting Yard (Part One)

I am delighted to report that there is a school in this land, or perhaps in another land, where a pedagogue uses Impugned By A Peasant & Other Stories as a teaching text. A class of young teenpersons was supplied with tales from the book and asked to provide a brief introduction and an additional paragraph as an imitation or extension of the prose. My understanding is that their work was intended to be read aloud, rather than as finished pieces of writing. Herewith some of their contributions. A second selection will follow. [N.B. sic throughout.]


The characters consist of The Woodcutter, The Charcoal burner, The Popinjay, and the Creatures of The Wood.

The story is about a woodcutter. This woodcutter has a “burning sense of injustice” and doesn’t like talking to people or letting them visit. He has hatched a plan to take over the forest by training some forest creatures which he had stolen from a nest of a forest being matriarch. And taking over the forest. While the charcoal burner and the popinjay have a plan to get back at the woodcutter. But they are all oblivious of the fact that the eggs are hatching below them in the cellar. And the woodcutter also doesn’t know that the creatures, (who can grow to the size of trees) cannot be trained.

The tone is rather descriptive, especially of the creature. “Creaky and crumpled and covered in hoar frost” or “can grow to the size of trees.” From the extract, it also makes the story sound like the creatures are going to kill the woodcutter, the popinjay, and the charcoal burner. Although from the extract I don’t know what will happen to them. But again, the tone is rather suggestive that there is no hope for the other creatures in the wood and the strange forest beings are going to destroy everything.

Although the story sounds rather dark and makes the future look gloomy, the title is called “The Woodcutter” so I would imagine he has a further part to play yet. Personally. I think this would be and interesting and enjoyable to read. And I think I would probably buy this book. Although I found it hard to grasp the whole idea of the storyline at first, after reading it through a couple more times I began to grasp the idea of it.

A Trip From Throm To Bosis

The “Lord”, described in paragraphs 2 and 3, was often mistaken as the “God of the Christians,” but in fact he was a native of Throm, and is thought to have dug the “very first shaft of what was to become the fantastic sewage system.”

Clothgard, a Bosisite of the highest peasantry, the very person who was entrusted with the Lord’s sack full of all the insects in the world. She is instructed to “take this sack and throw it into the sea.”

The tone is very inflated, with this small event, the meeting between the Lord and Clothgard, being exaggerated to make it seem as if it was some spectacular event which changed the course of history. This whole event is summed up by the sentence at the beginning of the fifth paragraph “Thus is the close link between Throm and Bosis explained.” The close in that extract is the word which led me to this conclusion, because without it, this phrase could mean anything from extremely close link to a weak link between these two places.


But this was not the end of this tale, for the Lord had many adventures in the lands in and around Throm. One day a small man of whom if any smaller, would be classified as a dwarf. His beard was followed by a swarm of flies, which acted as a shroud that covered his jaw and mouth. His hair appeared to contain red mud of the highlands of which Throm and Bosis were first erected. His clothes were no more than rags draped over his small, bony frame. His skin was pale, with flecks of mud and horse faeces. His voice was surprisingly deep for meagre height.

Advice Regarding Vinegar

I think the tone of this piece is comical. The story itself is based on a strange subject but written in a very serious way which, I think, is what makes it so outrageous and indeed so funny. ‘When the cows come home they may be disconcerted to find you in their meadow, with your tilted head, and some of them may become fractious.’ This is a good example of the strange topic and serious feel that the author has given and as a result has created something that is so funny.

The whole piece revolves around how to deal with the certain problems which arise when one is having an acolyte pour vinegar into one’s ear. However, the reasons or benefits of having this done are never actually explained.

It is not totally uncommon for the acolyte to miss your ear, resulting in too little or none of the vinegar actually entering the ear. Should this happen, it is advisable for you to return home having the other acolytes carry both you and the vinegar-pouring acolyte, as he may be in such a state that he is unable to walk himself. Actively choosing to stay in the field may be dangerous to you and to the cows, if they did decide to come home, as the vinegar-pouring acolyte may become so distressed that he may begin to scream. For anyone who has never heard a vinegar-pouring acolyte scream, it is a bit like a cross between nails being scraped down a black board and the spine-tingling sound of cotton wool as it is pulled apart, but a thousand times louder. I do not wish this experience upon anyone, not even my worst enemy.

While you are in the cows’ field, led on your side, with your head tilted and an acolyte is pouring vinegar into your ear, you may wonder why. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to wonder, after all, you are led in a field, on your side while an acolyte is pouring vinegar in your ear. The only problem being, there will be nobody with you who is able to answer this question, except possibly the cows if they did decide to come home and even if they did, I wouldn’t imagine they would be able to answer this question. Let’s face it; there is nothing worse than going to huge amounts of efforts such as the effort of arranging this whole process and then wondering why on earth you did it and what benefits you will receive; so I will tell you.

Upon entering the ear, the vinegar travels along the ear canal and coats the ear drum. This will result in the sweet sound of ant’s feet pattering ever so gently over a sticky surface but louder, as if they are actually in your ear. Of course, this is because they are in your ear. They would have been attracted by the scent of the vinegar and gather in their hundreds there.

If you are not careful, this could lead to other small bugs being attracted, and then spiders, and then small birds, and then cats, and dogs, and so on. To prevent this, I would recommend ear muffs, or even better, an old piece of net curtain stapled to the outside of your ear.

Binder: The 49 Symphonies

This piece of writing, in my opinion, could be called a poem or a story. It is set out like a story in the way that one sentence follows another but it could be described like a poem because there is repetition of the numbers in almost every sentence and when I read this it was easier to read than the normal tone of writing of a story.

It is about a man called Binder and his 49 symphonies. Most of it contains a list of the symphonies with each one being described a little. Binder’s character is rather odd based on what his symphonies contain. For example symphony number seventeen ends with the cracking of a plank. This is strange because the cracking of a plank is not usually associated with symphonies or music.

This poem is comical because it is strange. It manages to put sentences next to each other that don’t link but at the same time being funny. For example ‘The twenty-second has to be heard through a hat with flaps. The twenty-third is obstinate, like a mule.

Disfigured Nuncio

The tone of this piece of writing is serious yet it has a very distinctive flavour; it is funny but supremely bizarre. It expects you to understand precisely what it’s talking about: “So when, on that blistering Thursday at the dog-end of August, my factotae announced that a nuncio had come to see me,” but I mainly didn’t. The author writes this piece as the narrator; it is strange to a reader like me because it uses a wide range of vocabulary that is either foreign words or just words that are hardly ever used in my dialogue.

The characters in the piece range from a disfigured nuncio to the narrator’s dad, who emptied his bank account “and fled to Uruguay with his floozie.” The narrator of the story doesn’t trust anybody, after what his dad did, and when the nuncio comes to him he is rather quick to make the assumption that this nuncio would be “of the Papal sort”, which, at the time, made no sense to me, it only made sense after I had finished the story and I had put two and two together. The range of characters is vast, something I have been told never to do when writing a story, keep it simple, as I was always told. But this writer breaks this rule, as the story gets stranger by the paragraph.

The world in the story I read, is rather strange; it includes strange people who carry messages to each other, which shows a lack in technology, unlike our world. The place the story is set, I believe it is Rome, is very religious. The narrator talks about his practising religion and his thoughts on the nuncio’s religion.

A paragraph I have written to slip into the story somewhere:

I first met Ned, Ned and Ned when I was exploring the possibility of hiring a top-of-the range factotae, I didn’t know what to expect, as the human race outside of my own four walls are a weird lot, they are corrupt and evil, and spending time with them is like a trip to the waxing parlour. I visited a “visitor’s centre” in the vague hope of finding somebody on my wavelength, but three strange men waddled up to me and I knew they were the ones, I named them Ned, all of them. My three little factotums fill me with the heavenly joy that all semi-human beings deserve; their miserable faces, ruffed-up clothing and long forgotten feelings just fill me with glee.

Impugned By A Peasant

The tone of this piece of writing seems sarcastically serious, as it describes what is happening in great detail, but with words not normally used by the average person. For example, it uses impugned, invective, and argot, all of which are not used on a day to day basis by most people. The subject is quite different from most books which makes it compelling to read, as it is unexpected. For example, during the piece is the sentence “Would my peasant still be there? Would he impugn me again?”. Another interesting point to make would be that the time in which this is set is rather confused. This is shown because the man in the story is wearing a cravat, something normally associated with the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries, and he has a bouffant, a hair style that was very popular in the eighteenth century. He also however talks about the book Death in Venice which was written in 1912, and Love And Death On Long Island, which was written in 1990. This makes me think that either this person is living in a parallel world in which the timings of these particular things collide, or he is simply very old fashioned in his style of dress.

The main character in the story has been written to speak in a way that people do not normally speak. He also seems very self obsessed, as he likes to “primp his bouffant, and modify his trudge to a flouncing prance”. This is odd as he becomes so engrossed with the peasant who is so filthy and ancient. That is the twist is the story, the way in which he is different from the average human being. I think that however great he thinks he is he still isn’t pleased with himself. For example, after being impugned by the peasant, he says that he is a milksop (a timid and indecisive person), and a weakling. At the end of this story our character tells us about a model that he built of this peasant. This is a bizarre twist, because why would you want to remind yourself in so much detail of a time which was very humiliating? I believe that he does this because he wants to remember that day exactly as it was. He wants to remember becoming so obsessed with something so different from himself.

The very next day, after meeting my peasant, I returned to see if had come back to inhabit his fence, or if would simply be those impossibly attractive youngsters. As I approached, my mouth dry with unwanted anticipation, I found myself almost praying for his presence. His filthy clothes and hair almost seemed attractive as I saw him in my minds eye, walking between those aspens and larches.

Chucking Out Time At The Cow And Pins

I read through “Chucking Out Time At The Cow And Pins” with little difficulty, except for a few unknown words. E.g. salubrious. The feel of the story is satirical and shows the way that pubs change under new “management”. The story starts off by describing the pub as it was; this is very brief. The story then continues to describe its current owner Babinsky. He was an ex-customer who now operates the pub due to the fact that the killed the old owner “chopping up the existing incumbent with an axe and feeding him to the pigs”. He is also described as being “psychopathic”.

The second chapter shows the way that the pub itself changes under new management; it’s primarily bad changes. Babinsky starts with the decorations, the “showbiz memorabilia” which are all taken down and replaced with psychotic scribblings. This is being satirical by talking about the way that pubs change the traditional decor into what some would describe as “modern tat” After describing this Key continues with the jukebox. It shows the way that Babinsky smashes the jukebox with his axe and changes its output to the screams of hell. This is satirical of the way that pubs change their music into newer things for good or for worse… it continues along these lines. From the way that pubs change from their usual brew into a new modern “bilge”.


Upstairs, Babinsky took his axe and smashed all of the beds and chairs and nailed the pieces together in a huge, twisted totem, upon which he would carve a chunk out for every person he killed. And would hammer in another nail for every night that he survived the rounds of the

From Wivenhoe to Cuxhaven By Way Of Ponders End

This is one of the short stories written by Frank Key. This story was odd; the storyline was not completely told which left you confused to why the main character had to get to Cuxhaven and the subject changed randomly, for example ‘Should the bees in Cuxhaven have at me with their stings. I hoped they would not, for I resolve not to take their honey. In Cuxhaven, I had sausages.’

Key uses unusual language for everyday objects; this makes the story harder to understand, but it also makes it more interesting, for example ‘Other than the sea crossing, for which I commandeered the skiff and its skiffer.’ This adds character to the story. The story also concentrates on things that people normally find completely irrelevant, for example ‘When it was humid my goggles steamed up. I carried on walking, as if in a mist.’

Key also uses the towns Wivenhoe and Cuxhaven. I think that he chose these places because they both have large names with complicated sounds; also these places are not very well know so they could be invented by the author. It is only when you research these towns that you realise how far away they really are; Wivenhoe is in Essex and Cuxhaven is in north Germany.

This story was based on one character and his journey from Wivenhoe to Cuxhaven. He seems to be very odd, carrying a bicycle pump to blow away midges and a wooden god to beseech whenever his goggles steam up.


I had paid the skiffer an extra pouch of honey to skiff me faster. He was so easily persuaded; the honey that I had kept aside had clearly done me a large amount of good. Once the skiffer had skiffed me across the sea I hurried towards Cuxhaven. I had no time to take in the sights of my travels for I had to get to Cuxhaven in time. Instead I fantasised about the things that awaited me in Cuxhaven; the sights, the people and the sausages. I’d never been so excited in my life.

With My Fife and My Drum

When I first read this story I found it imaginative, “I was happy in the hills until I was attacked by a flock of putti”, but still realistic at the same time, “I took shelter in a recently-vacated bivouac”. I think that it is aimed to be an interesting folk story because it shows how you can be rewarded and it contains parts that are like folk stories, “with my fife and my drum I wandered in the hills”. I could see it being passed down traditionally through word of mouth, through many generations. This story is very interesting and to my surprise, it was very gripping. When I first saw the title I thought that it would be a boring and diary styled piece but in fact it was very well written. This story is based upon the real world, “I was wondering in the hills, for I had been banished from town”, but it still contains parts where it is completely unreal, “I was attacked by a flock of putti.”

The main character is calm, “I accepted this and wandered into the hills,” and he/she seems to be reasonably annoying and talkative, “It was an actual line”. He/She narrates in a chatty tone, “I am as happy as a sandboy, although I am not entirely sure what a sandboy is”, and I like the way that the author has kept the main character private so that you can imagine how they look but at the same time have given you characteristics and the attitude of this character. This is a good balance between your own imagination and views and how the author is conveying the feel of the character, this then influences the feel/tone of the story. Without the characters annoying tone the story would be uninteresting and repetitive. This character also seems intelligent or at least they think that they are, “You should always take care, in the hills, when occupying a vacant bivouac”, and he/she uses some complex words, “such ogres are averse to a din”, this adds to the feel of the character. The only other individual character in the story is the well educated and successful but grumpy, Horst Gack. This character is a German film director who the main character speaks of very highly, “presiding genius of the cinema of Belligerence,” but at the same time the main character seems slightly surprised and shocked at the attitude of this film director “given his grim demeanour”.


At the film festival in Ülm, I saw Horst glide down the steps of his flashy private jet; I waved to my acquaintance but through the crowds of paparazzi I was hardly visible. I suddenly found myself feeling small and unimportant to anyone, except my mother, who to everyone’s surprise was fussing over me like a bee collecting pollen! Yet on the flight she had truly embarrassed herself in front of the apparent “strapping young steward” by talking to him about her brand new florist shop and the Rose’s tournament in the summer, which I had already heard about. Still, she seemed not to care, yet the steward looked at me with utter fear that he would never escape the rambling on from my mother.

Gravediggers’ Glade

It is unbelievable, it is not a magical story, it is not a religious story but it is almost historical and very repetitive. I say almost historical because it would not really happen. If the gravediggers came form far away every night then that would be pointless, they’d have no time for their families or tending to their donkeys so that the donkeys would be ready for the next days work. It, also, is almost historical because it is not a historical story like “The life of the Tudors” but it shows what gravediggers used to do after work, yeah right! The historical side of it is that the writer says “there used to be” (a gravediggers’ glade). It is in the past tense. It is very well written in the sense that it uses tremendous vocabulary. Mr Key says words like trudge instead of walk or venture or journey and pannier instead of fixed baskets or boxes and wending where I would use winding or long and twisting.

The characters are all gravediggers, hence the name of the piece of writing. Line 7 suggests that some of the diggers, coming from far away, are almost “Christlike”. Donkeys are mentioned, a very little amount. It mentions Christ a lot on the first page, only in reference. The story also mentions Thomas Hardy, it says “Thomas Hardy wrote about such things”, referring to the sentence before that which was talking about “peasants lolling about and tilling their crops and patches”.

It is very much detailed and structured. For example he does not just say that they lean their spades against the trees, he says “leaning their spades against the larches, laburnums and sycamores”. He uses specification and says the names instead of colours or relating objects. The feel is almost boring because I don’t care about a gravediggers meeting place from many years ago. Nothing exciting happens in it. It is simply an explanation of a journey that is not likely to ever happen.

Potter’s Arch or Potter’s Crank?

This story is about the arch of a bridge. Under this bridge is the only way to get down to the train station and it is the tobogganist’s favourite hill. The title is very obscure and misleading “People walk down the hill but if you crash into the pillar of the arch, you will never be found.” This is what the story is about and is repetitive but serious.

The station officers are very strange characters and are mysterious. The reader doesn’t get very much detail about them. They seen very accounted to their job, and don’t worry about anyone else who might have nearly made it to the train station but they crashed into the arch, and even when you are expected to be at the train station, they wont come looking for you. This is odd because we generally we think that we should help other people in need. You know nothing about the tobogganist, except they toboggan


When the passengers do get down the hill, they usually find out that the train is delayed and they will have to wait, in the poor company of the officials in the hut if your lucky, but outside if your not. This treatment is expected everywhere on the north line track.

5 thoughts on “The Teenpersons’ Guide To Hooting Yard (Part One)

  1. This is glorious.

    It is unbelievable, it is not a magical story, it is not a religious story but it is almost historical and very repetitive. I say almost historical because it would not really happen.

    The story itself is based on a strange subject but written in a very serious way which, I think, is what makes it so outrageous and indeed so funny

    They’ve certainly got you pegged, haven’t they?

  2. Brit : They have indeed. As I wrote in an email to their pedagogue, they seem to grasp the Hooting Yard approach instinctively, unlike some older more experienced readers (present company excepted).

  3. I want to echo Brit. This is glorious. This proves the point that the only thing worth reading on Het Internet other than Hooting Yard is writing about Hooting Yard.

    After reading this, I am beginning to think all readers of Hooting Yard should employ the same analytic approach to each and every post. I never thought of Babinsky’s tenantship of the Cow and Pins as a comment on the refurbishment of pubs into a ‘modern tat’ style. And, the dating of the various elements of the milksop who was impugned by a peasant is a piece of scholarship that yet further enhances my appreciation of the piece.

    The imitation passages are brilliant. The sic throughout is also particularly endearing

    I don’t have Impugned by a Peasant (yet), but I’m wondering if I should use any of the other Key books at my local community education hub in the instruction of the teenpersons in my charge.

  4. Phil : I too am impressed by many of the insights shown in Parts One & Two of this postage, and am considering writing a separate item about them, but fear this might be a spot of navel-gazing too far.

    I am shocked that you are not already using my books to instruct teenpersons.

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