Become Immortal!

With two days remaining before bidding closes, I must remind you of this year’s Hooting Yard auction item for the Resonance104.4FM fundraiser. The highest bidder will be immortalised forever by having their name (or that of a loved one) incorporated into the title of an out of print pamphlet by Dobson. And not only that! They will also be invited to attend the Resonance studio for the live broadcast of the show when Mr Key reads the as yet unwritten story on air, and to go and have a cup of tea with him afterwards.

As I write, the top bid is £50, a paltry sum when you consider the prize on offer. And do remember that every penny raised goes straight into the pockets of ResonanceFM, from where it will be disbursed in manifold ways to ensure the continued existence, and improvement, of the world’s finest radio station.

There are many other items still to bid for, so do please check on all of them here.


It is fundraising week at ResonanceFM, and I do encourage you to empty your bank account accordingly. There is the annual auction of enticing things, not least of which is a copy of the legendary Malice Aforethought Press paperback Twitching And Shattered, signed by Mr Key just the other day. Do remember that Resonance is a shoestring operation, that none of us who make the programmes get paid a penny, and that without your support the whole thing will go down the drain. Be generous!



Make sure you tune in to Resonance today, between noon and midnight, for the second half of the Fundraiser Weekend Marathon. Mr Key will be on air from 1.30 to 2.00 PM announcing the auction of Derek The Dust Particle, Bring Me The Head Of Derek The Dust Particle!, and a complete set of Massacre, issues one to five of the anthologies published in the 1990s. I think bidding for items, by telephone, email, or metal tapping machine, continues until midnight, but all will become clear if you listen carefully.

Important Announcement

Here is an important auction announcement. This coming weekend, May the first and second, sees ResonanceFM’s fundraising marathon. From noon to midnight on Saturday and Sunday a series of guests will be trooping into the studios offering delectable items to be snapped up in live auctions.

Mr Key will be on air between 1.30 and 2.00 PM on Sunday, eliciting bids for a pair of uberrarities, the books Derek The Dust Particle and Bring Me The Head Of Derek The Dust Particle!, written by Perry Natal and illustrated by Frank Key, published two decades ago by Indelible Inc.

So turn on, tune in, drop what you’re doing, and bid as if your life depends on it. Resonance needs you, almost as much as you need Resonance.

A Solemn Promise

The calling of a general election means that for the next month the ether will be clogged with a miasma of vacuous twaddle. This sceptred isle will ring with the outpourings of brain-dead pointyheads and vox pop riffraff alike. And I shall lap it all up, with the enthusiasm of a cat pouncing upon an injured starling.

But but but. Much as Hooting Yard readers may faint with pleasure at mentions of cow-attack Blunkett and diminutive Great Helmswoman Blears and those curious little Milibands, I have been asked to make a solemn promise not to babble about such tosh. This means that you will be deprived of thirty-odd days of a Hooting Yard Election Watch, unless of course I crack.

Apparently, if I do crack, and break my vow, and start bloviating on matters electoral, I am likely to find myself in a similar position to this hapless peasant:


… which is a reminder to readers with more money than sense to take part in the auction.

Rare Pamphlet Auction!

It is Easter Sunday, so not only has Christ risen from the dead but Mr Key has resurrected the Hooting Yard Auction! A stupendously rare pamphlet, issued sixteen long years ago, is now up for grabs on e-Bay. Go here to place your bid, or if for any reason that link doesn’t work, head off to e-Bay and type “Rare Frank Key Pamphlet” into the search hub panel.


Rare Bobnit Tivol Mezzotints

You will be perplexed, or perhaps even sick with worry, at the unaccustomed lack of postages over the past few days. Has Hooting Yard been ravaged by some kind of toxic gas? Has Mr Key fallen down a mineshaft? Readers, fear not. All is well, but I have been terribly, terribly distracted, and in the best possible way.

On Saturday, as is my habit, I sat down at my escritoire, or its computer age equivalent, before dawn. I wrote:

There is a tavern in the town.

The tavern was the Cow & Pins, the town was Pointy Town. I was going to embark upon a quite breathtaking architectural survey of the tavern, its beams and rafters, its cornices and lintels, but before I crafted the second sentence my attention was caught by the singing of a siskin outside my window. According to the Royal Society For The Protection Of Birds, the siskin is an attractive little finch, small and lively. Obviously I was keen not simply to listen to the bird, but to commune with it, in what might be termed a Frank Key-bird-mind-meld. So I jumped up creakily from my chair, slipped on a pair of trendy footwear items, and headed out, making for the tree where I thought the siskin was perched, singing. Alas, I stepped in a patch of filth, and was disconcerted. Rummaging in the pockets of my windcheater to see if I had upon my person a rag suitable for wiping the filth from my footwear, I chanced upon a forgotten scrap of paper on which I had once copied out a Spirograph™ drawing, the one devised by the mentalist Gaston Freakorb. Yes, that one, the drawing that plunges the viewer into a fugue state. I made the mistake of uncrumpling the paper and peering at the drawing for three seconds. Thus did my Saturday morning become unmoored from reason, from common sense, indeed from memory. The architectural glories of the Cow & Pins were forgotten, as was the attractive little finch singing its heart out on a sycamore branch.

When I snapped out of the so-called Freakorb Mind Miasma, it was midday on Sunday and I was standing in a queue. To my distress I noticed that both of my trendy footwear items were now covered in filth. Luckily, there was a Regency bootscraper right next to me, so I scraped and scraped. By God, it was fun. I thoroughly recommend the scraping of filth off one’s footwear on a Regency bootscraper, particularly when one’s footwear is as trendy as mine.

There was no sign of the scrap of paper bearing the Spirograph™ drawing, so I was fairly sure I could keep my wits about me. I wondered what I was queuing for. Glancing up and down the line, I noticed that an alarming number of my fellow queuers were wearing cummerbunds. Was I about to enter a Spandau Ballet revival meeting? Then I recalled having read somewhere that the cummerbund was part of the uniform designed for “new modern technicians” to which the Prime Minister would refer in his upcoming conference speech. But I am a scribbler, not a technician, new and modern or otherwise. I had no business here, surely.

It turned out to be a complete coincidence. I learned that some of the cummerbundiasts were indeed new modern technicians-to-be, some were raddled old New Romantics, and some simply sported the cummerbund as, in their own witless words, a “lifestyle choice”. To find all this out, I had to interrogate each person individually, making notes with my pneumatic notemaking contraption, and in so doing I lost my place in the queue. Rejoining it, I found myself standing behind a twinkly elfin chap dressed all in green, though minus a cummerbund. Suddenly he spun around to face me, and he cackled, and shouted in a weird reedy voice.

“Guess my name and I’ll tell you / What you’re doing in this queue. / If you guess amiss three times / I will cease to talk in rhymes. / I will scream and shriek and howl / And you’ll be turned into an owl.”

Then he cackled again, daring me to challenge him. I did a stage yawn. I think I did it rather well.

“I suspect,” I said, “Your name is Rumpelstiltskin. Am I correct?”

The little chap shrieked, then, but it was not a shriek of triumph. Far from it. I had rumbled him and his feeble fairytale poltroonery, and his shriek was one of becrushment. Just before he scampered away with smoke billowing out of his pointy ears, he told me what I was queuing for. I was delighted to discover that I was in line for an auction of rare Bobnit Tivol mezzotints. I was even more delighted when, fumbling in my pockets, I found a wallet crammed with banknotes. It had not been there when I left the house to commune with the singing siskin, so it must have come into my possession during my fugue state. I made a mental note to write a thank you letter to Gaston Freakorb when I got home, and slowly made my way towards the front.

I was, of course, aware of the set of mezzotints of fictional athlete Bobnit Tivol made by the noted mezzotintist Rex Tint at the very beginning of his career. Commissioned by the fictional athlete’s coach Old Halob, paid for with the proceeds from an orchard-planting scam, the twenty-six mezzotints were no sooner completed than they were scattered to the four winds, and had never since been gathered together. Nor were they now, alas, but it was quite something to have three of them up for sale, along with an even rarer mezzotint purporting to be of Old Halob himself. I had so much cash in my fugue-wallet that I easily outbid everyone, even the creepy agents deployed by Rex Tint’s sworn enemy, he who is the man they call “Sting”. I admit I was rather dismayed to be handed the mezzotints rolled up into a cheap cardboard tube, but it has to be said it was a fairly slovenly auction house, as auction houses go.

Anyway, when I got home I flattened each of the mezzotints out on my kitchenette table, and spent hours upon hours poring over them, while outside the siskin, that attractive little finch, sang and sang. That is why I have not had time to post anything. I have been transfixed by my mezzotints. So let me show them to you, in the form of rough copies I have made, just in case the pebbles weighing them down are dislodged and they are scattered once again, to the four winds.


Here we see fictional athlete Bobnit Tivol as a Christ-like figure, flanked by a couple of thieves, just as in the crucifixion. It is thought the mezzotintist Rex Tint made some sort of arrangement with his local prison to have a pair of miscreants pose for him, hence the startling pelfeusement of the portraiture. As for fictional athlete Bobnit Tivol, he’s just great, isn’t he?


In this mezzotint, Rex Tint has captured the one occasion when the fictional athlete was disqualified for cheating. It shows him winning the fourth heat of the qualifiers for the 1926 Scroonhoonpooge Farmyard Polevaulting Tin Cup, where, notoriously, he vaulted without using a pole.


Rex Tint uses his vivid imagination to show how things might have been, depicting the same vault but pretending fictional athlete Bobnit Tivol had used his pole. Old Halob tried to use this mezzotint as evidence when seeking to overturn his protégé’s disqualification, a ruse which failed and led to the cantankerous coach being locked up in the eerie barn at Scroonhoonpooge farmyard for half an hour. He was never the same man thereafter.


It is claimed that this mezzotint shows Old Halob himself, pausing on the way to his favourite tobacconist.

The World-Famous Food-Splattered Jesuit


This is a detail from a picture which appeared long ago in the Hooting Yard Calendar 1993. I reproduce it here partly on a whim, and partly to alert readers to the fact that in the new year I will be auctioning the artwork from one or more Hooting Yard Calendars. Given that the successful bidders (if any) will be buying the original pen, pencil, Tippex, and what have you drawings, I’m hoping the sales will attract “art” prices… you know, stupid amounts of money. It could be that I’m living in a fool’s paradise, but even if that’s the case, I would like to ask readers to post expressions of interest in the Comments, so I can get an idea whether to go ahead with this harebrained scheme. An expression of interest is just that, not a commitment, and by all means post anonymously if you so wish. Oh, and I haven’t yet decided whether to auction single drawings or a whole calendar’s artwork as a set, so you might want to suggest a preference.

Smooching With Istvan

We were out chopping wood, we were out chopping wood. We were hacking, we were hacking, then we went to the docks. We took the wood to the docks, the wood we’d been hacking. We took the wood to the docks, we had hacked. At the docks, we put the wood on to a boat. When the wood was on the boat, the boat set sail, the boat sank. But the wood remained afloat. When the boat sank, the crew swam. The crew clutched at the wood, the wood remained afloat. We had hacked the wood, the crew grabbed at the wood, and then they made for the shore. On the shore were the docks, and we were boozing at the docks. We’d been out chopping wood, now we were boozing at the docks.

That shanty was originally published twenty long years ago in Smooching With Istvan, the second Malice Aforethought Press anthology of writings and drawings by Mr Key and Max Décharné. Well do I remember creating the covers by spraying sheets of card with seven or eight different colours of car spray paint in a closed room. I should have opened the windows. Incidentally, it is within the pages of Smooching With Istvan that the words “Hooting Yard” appeared in print for the very first time. I will shortly be auctioning an exceedingly rare copy of this one hundred page collection of bran tub scrapings on eBay, but before doing so I will accept bids here, until noon on Saturday 19th May. A full eBay-style description of the book is added in the Comments. Taking advice from the kinds of people who advise me on such things, the starting price is £100.

Hiatus And Auction

Hmm. Another hiatus. I would like to report that I have been away at the Vatican, making use of the Latin language cashpoint machine* and giving the Pontiff tips for his speech on Hell, but alas, the truth is more mundane, so mundane in fact that I shall spare you the details.

But excitingly, there is another Hooting Yard auction! Now you have a chance to get a copy of The Immense Duckpond Pamphlet, one of only fifty copies ever produced. It’s on eBay, so off you go!

*Here is that cashpoint machine. Click for a superb enlarged view.


Hooting Yard Auction Number One

As promised last week, here is the first in a series of Hooting Yard auctions. This is in the way of an experiment. I might use eBay in future, but I thought I’d keep this one on home turf and see what happens. Unlike the Resonance auctions, proceeds of this one go to the Hooting Yard Mercy Fund For Distressed Out Of Print Pamphleteers. Make your bid(s) in the Comments. Closing date is a week’s time, midnight on Sunday 1st April.

And what are you bidding for? A mint copy of Sidney The Bat Is Awarded The Order Of Lenin, which Mr Key will sign and add a note thanking the successful bidder. A5, 8 pages, illustrated, originally produced for the legendary Counter Productions’ Yuletide World o’ Wonders box in 1990.

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