A week or two after the inaugural parade for the Hooting Yard website, as long ago as December 2003, I received a plea in the post from a concerned reader. Dear Frank, my anonymous correspondent wrote, I have heard it said that Blodgett always maintained an alphabetical contents in his duffel bag. Is this true, and if so, can you give an example, drawn from a typical Blodgett day?
I have not ignored this question, but coming up with an answer has taken a lot of research, sometimes perilous. If you have undertaken perilous research, on any topic, you will know how it can make you a bit wobbly on your pins. Anyway, I did finally manage to find out what Blodgett kept in his rucksack on a typical day, and now that I am less wobbly on my pins, I can at last respond to that long-ago question.
Yes, Blodgett did always maintain an alphabetical contents in his duffel bag.
Aniseed. BlÃ¶tzmann diagrams. Cake. Dust. Ectoplasm. Flippers. Grease. Hinges. Incunabula. Jam doughnuts. Kaolin. Linctus. Marmalade. Nothingness. Orpiment. Prunes. Queen Esmereldaâ€™s Toilet Water. Ransom money. Sandpaper. Turps. Ullage. Vinegar. Wax. X-Ray Spectacles. Yeast. Zinc blobs.
I once got into the habit of carrying nothingness about in a duffel bag until one day I found myself in serious trouble when going through customs at the airport of a small island in the South Atlantic. Having been taken for some sort of French dissident, I was forced to give up my nothingness to a stern-faced customs officer who looked like a cross between Francis Bacon – the painter – and Francis Bacon – the Elizbethan philosopher (although I didn’t tell him that). Had I been Blodgett, no doubt I would have taken the opportunity to replace my nothingness with duty free noodles. As it was, I settled for mere emptiness instead (which takes up less space).
J-P-S : Interesting that you make the connection between Blodgett and noodles, particularly those of the duty free variety. “Blodgett’s Noodles” is the name of an unreleased track by prog rock giants Gratuitous Umlaut, which is said to include – appropriately – over fifteen minutes of noodling on guitars, Moog synthesisers, and crumhorns.
Didn’t Frank Zappa once have something to say about noodles in music?
Would Zappa and Dobson have gotten along? Perhaps he was more Blodgett’s speed.
Simon : As far as I am aware, Dobson was tone deaf. He is known to have had a thing about Esther & Abi Ofarim.
It was Francis Bacon (the painter) who gave the world this splendid imaginary portrait of Pope Pious, a.k.a. Hitler’s Pope of whom Frank has said a great deal:
http://images.google.co.uk/images?q=“Imaginary Portrait of Pope Pius XII”&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&sa=N&tab=wi
I ought also to put in a good word for the third famous Francis Bacon, talented engineer and creator of the ever-popular hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell. Sometimes I have weird dreams in which I too am called Francis Bacon, with a part-time job at the local post office, and a cocker spaniel called Othello.
Apparently, sometime in the early 70s (or late 60s) a befuddled secretary mistakenly invited all three of the famous Francis Bacons to the same dinner party. This understandably caused some confusion – and not just because one of them had died in 1626 (in a curious act of solidarity, it seems that the other two both died in 1992). Francis Bacon – the painter – may or may not have commemorated this happy occasion in the following painting:
I now use my Blodgett duffel bag to carry my copy of Befuddled By Cormorants as the only guarunteed means of keeping this prized possession free from damp, mildew, verdigris and sundry agues brought on by the wild wandering witches who have of late taken to frequenting the area in which I live. The Isle Of Dogs has this effect on people. One of them told me I’d be unlikely to fit the next volume of Frank Key prose in the same bag but clearly the haggared harpy is grossly ill informed as to the capacious nature of Blodgett duffel bags or she would have refrained from making such a crass comment.
So,a second volume of your prose is it now? I shall buy 3 copies as before as soon as it is available. The first volume has already proved its worth. Trung and Luc spent the whole of Sunday by Shoeburyness light house eating their mashed potatos and stopping only occasionally to pay silent homage to Ms Gilliblat for her timely advice. I was unable to accompany them so I stayed at home and played one of my favourite CDs: Lighthouses Of England & Wales by Benedict Mason, probably the only composer (other than Bohuslav Martinu) to write an orchestral piece (it may even have been an opera) about football. The Martinu piece I refer to is Half Time, of course although like you I am also fond of that marvellous Concerto For String Quartet & Orchestra. Enough of this twaddle!