Archive for the 'Little Severin The Mystic Badger' Category

Little Severin, The Mystic Badger

Those very sensible people at Unit have released a new double CD entitled “Civil Disobedience”, described by the fanzine Fracture as “the most relentlessly depressing pop album ever released”. I am delighted to tell you that it includes a three-minute instrumental entitled “Little Severin, The Mystic Badger (For Frank Key)” which you can listen to here:

♪ ♪ ♪ Little Severin, The Mystic Badger ♪ ♪ ♪

I would urge you to go straight to the Unit website and buy the album, but online purchase does not appear to be possible. Perhaps a Unit-person will add a comment telling readers how they can obtain this essential recording.

Those Reading Groups

An inexplicable circumstance has been drawn to my attention.

Dear Mr Key, writes Dimity Cashew, You seem to think that all your devotees belong to Hooting Yard Reading Groups, groups which meet to discuss your works long into the night, until one among them remarks how late it is, how late, and the cows come home. Well, I for one am a member of no such group, though I am a loyal devotee who has been reading your mighty prose since time immemorial, or thereabouts. I devour your outpourings daily, reading the postages on my comp-yoo-dah, or via the special app on my iHoot, or by poring over your splendid paperback books. Sometimes I even listen to the podcasts, where I might be fortunate enough to hear some of your stories in between all that coughing and spluttering. The point is that, however I choose to ingest your blatherings, I do so alone, and I never discuss the experience with another living soul, not even with Little Severin, my pet badger. (Actually, I must confess that I did once express an opinion on one of your pieces to Little Severin, but being a badger, he neither comprehends nor is able to imitate human speech, so that was something of a fool’s errand on my part. It is true that he is a mystic badger, but his mysticism is confined to prognostications of the future derived from scrubbling about in undergrowth, akin to the way a haruspex would read the hot and bloody entrails of a recently slaughtered poultry bird.) I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to sit around with a groupuscule of other Hooting Yard readers, babbling about your prose off the tops of our heads. The thought had never even occurred to me. Now it has, I am quite intrigued. Do you have any tips on how I might set about organising such a group, including some guidance on what manner of refreshments I ought to make available? Please note that I am currently residing on a remote and barren atoll, plopped somewhere in the middle of a wild and wanton sea, with only a ragged tarpaulin for shelter, and Little Severin for company.

I am pleased to inform Ms Cashew that I have made special arrangements for a jet aircraft to zoom over her atoll later in the week, spelling out clear and comprehensive instructions for the setting up of a Hooting Yard Reading Group by means of ingeniously-patterned vapour trails emblazoned across the blue, blue, cloudless sky.

Badger And Cherries

Important news from Reuters’ Berlin bureau:

A badger in Germany got so drunk on overripe cherries that it staggered into the middle of a road and refused to budge, police said yesterday. A motorist telephoned police near the central town of Goslar to report a dead badger lying in the road – only for officers to turn up and discover that the animal was alive and well, but drunk. Police later discovered that the badger had eaten cherries from a nearby tree which had fermented and given the animal diarrhoea as well as a hangover. Having failed to scare the animal away, officers eventually used a broom to chase it from the road.

What the report fails to mention is that the “animal” in question was Little Severin, The Mystic Badger. How in heaven’s name do you think he is able to make all those devastatingly accurate mystic prognostications? Painting him as a simple drunk is a travesty. Little Severin had, of course, gorged on fermented fruit as a trusted method of inspiring a shamanistic – or rather, shabadgeristic – hallucinogenic trance. I must admit it is not entirely clear why he then chose to sprawl in the middle of an Autobahn, imperilled by the products of the mighty Teutonic car industry, rather than engage in his usual scrubbling about in the muck, but far be it from me to question the ineffable wisdom of Little Severin. After all, the last person who did so was turned into a toad, and not just a toad, but a blind toad with rickets and pins and needles. As, indeed, was foretold, by the Mystic Badger himself, during an earlier cherry binge.

Mystic Badger Prophecy

The other day, Little Severin the Mystic Badger was seen scrubbling around in a patch of wasteland. It rapidly became apparent that his scratching and snuffling were in fact mystic prognostications about next week’s G20 summit in London. We asked an expert to translate Little Severin’s prophecies into human prose.

And lo, people wearing woolly hats will take unto the streets. And there will be among them many young folk of the middle classes. And in the streets they will shout imprecations at anyone wearing a tie and they shall shout slogans also. And all the omnibuses carrying poorer people to their work will become snarled up in the jams of traffic. And there will be much incoherence and smug self-satisfaction. There will be the throwing of pebbles and the smashing of glass and the claims of oppression. And in the leafy streets of north London, in large houses, there will be nodding of approval from academics and media folk equally oppressed. And there will be no focus to the rage of those in woolly hats save their enjoyment of unfocused rage. And in Bishopsgate the more well-heeled of the young folk will set up a “climate camp” and shout ill-thought-out demands. And many of these persons will fly off around the world in the summer on their “gap years”. And it will be seen as a great victory when many people are inconvenienced or bloodied. And in the days succeeding much twaddle will be written and spouted by those of the airhead persuasion. All this I foretell.

Denktash Fugue Syndrome

Mrs Gubbins, the octogenarian crone given to knitting and villainy, has recently come under the supervision of a doctor. It will not be too long before she becomes a nonagenarian crone, and though she is in terrifyingly tiptop health for one so aged, there have been signs that all is not well. First there was the abduction of Little Severin, the Mystic Badger, after which she went on the run for several months, holed up in a dank cave guarded by bats and owls. This was followed by her becoming smitten by the unlikely figure of Mark E Smith, and her habit of playing the complete works of The Fall at ear-splitting volume on a brand new Bang & Olufbangbangbang hi-fi system, with her windows open, at all hours of the day and night. A dawn visit from Blunkett and Blears, respectively sightless and diminutive, and somehow all the more minatory for being so, set her back on the straight and narrow.

A couple of weeks ago, La Gubbins’ knitting circle invited Rolf Harris to give a talk. Unable to attend, yet honoured to be asked, Harris instead sent a tape recording of an entertaining address in which he spoke for some hours about various Rolfs and Ralphs and Rafes and Raufs. Fatefully, at one point he mentioned the name of Rauf Denktash, the one-time President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Hearing those two syllables, denk and tash, together, Mrs Gubbins was propelled into a fugue state, from which she has yet to emerge.

Denktash Fugue Syndrome is a thankfully rare condition, so rare that Mrs Gubbins is only the second person in history to display the symptoms. It was first identified by the Victorian mountaineer and eccentric Dr Henry Hyde Hargreaves Hopton Hibbingdibhoondoon during a sojourn in Tashkent. The journals in which he wrote of his discovery have long been lost, or disfigured by potato mould, depending on who you believe, but the basic facts were retailed by Dobson in one of his early pamphlets. Atop a Tashkent mountain one day in 1862, the doctor’s brain was ravaged by mysterious fumes, and, when he tried to say “Tashkent” it came out as “Denktash”. With him upon the peak was a dumpy, bearded sage, a man not unlike the Beatles’ pal the Maharishi in appearance, who, when he heard the word “Denktash”, was sent into a fugue state. In his journal, Hibbingdibhoondoon spelled it “foog”, but it is clear what he meant.

What remains unclear is for how long the sage remained so affected. Dobson’s account simply peters out, in that annoying way he had, and which can make his early works such a trial to read. Also unclear is the nature of the fugue itself. In Mrs Gubbins’ case, it appears to take the form of dribbling, staring vacantly into the fireplace, and absentmindedly unravelling not only the tea cosy she has herself been in the midst of knitting but also those of her compañeros in the knitting circle.

Doctor Drainditch, who has been called in to treat the loveable yet spiky crone, claims to be the only living expert on Denktash Fugue Syndrome. Unfortunately, the treatment she recommends consists of a two-week retreat in a dank cave guarded by bats and owls with an abducted badger for company, followed by a therapeutic course of listening to the complete works of The Fall at ear-splitting volume. So round and round we go, it seems.

If you, or anybody close to you, is suffering from Denktash Fugue Syndrome, there is a helpline number available. Premium rates apply, and if you manage to get through you might be lucky enough to hear a pre-recorded message from Rolf Harris telling you not to worry yourself sick. All callers are entered in a raffle, with the chance to win one of Mrs Gubbins’ tea cosy knitting patterns. You must tell your parents before placing the call, and if your parents have passed to the ethereal realm beyond our puny understanding, there is a range of ouija boards and ectoplasmic goo on special offer at Hubermann’s department store.

Robust And Transparent

It is ever more apparent that Hooting Yard needs to be both robust and transparent. I want to move the debate forward, and that is why I am making arrangements for someone – possibly the octogenarian crone Mrs Gubbins – to clamber up a ladder on to the roof of a large and imposing building and to shout, through a loudhailer, a robust and transparent message. The message will be shouted in a transparently robust manner, from behind a transparent screen, made of robust glass. It’s a big ask, but I think it’s important to begin the conversation. One benefit of such robust transparency is that we might, as a result, be invited into the government’s big tent of all the talents. Asked to predict the likelihood of this, our resident prognosticator Little Severin The Mystic Badger scrabbled around in a pile of twigs and muck and came to no definite conclusion. Perhaps he is insufficiently robust. Nor, of course, is he transparent, being a badger.

Head To Head

Barring cancellations or hissy fits, next week will see the first of Hooting Yard’s new Public Seminars where matters of great import will be debated by a mix of experts, intellectuals, charlatans, rascals, and persons of fecklessness.

The topic of our first debate is Life Beyond Death, and will be an exciting head-to-head pitting the enormously wealthy best-selling author Deepak Chopra against Hooting Yard’s very own Little Severin, The Mystic Badger. Mr Chopra will argue that he has spiritual insights into life after death, based on his rigorous and expert understanding of quantum physics. Little Severin will scrubble about in the undergrowth and snuffle the air in his mystic way, thus proving a worthy opponent. Claims that the debate is weighted too heavily in Mr Chopra’s favour can be summarily disposed of. Little Severin knows just as much about quantum physics as his human opponent, if not more so, and to suggest that the badger will be outwitted is plain wrong. You’ll see.

The debate will take place in a tent in the middle of a field near Sawdust Bridge. Tickets to see Little Severin are free, but unfortunately you will have to pay through the nose to see Mr Chopra’s segment, for so high a spiritual plane has he reached through use of Transcendental Meditation and other techniques that it takes an enormous cashflow to keep him bobbing up there in the mystic aether. In addition to a wallet packed with cash, please bring some grubs and roots to donate to Little Severin’s cupboard.

Goofy, Macabre

One of the difficulties that beset Joost Van Dongelbraacke throughout his career as a so-called “suburban shaman” was the ruinous cost of insurance. Having been dragged through the courts by a Pointy Town quantity surveyor who claimed emotional distress, disfigurement and loss of earnings after being entranced into a week-long state of whirling ecstatic frenzy, Van Dongelbraacke vowed never again to practise his mystic arts without being covered. His first approach was to a greasy insurance agent with an unfortunate cowlick of hair who dithered and faffed and seemed more intent on his executive desktop bonsai garden than on the urgency of the suburban shaman’s business. The next three people he consulted were by turns lost in wistfulness, egg-bound, and unseemly, and one of them failed to provide Van Dongelbraacke with a suitable chair in which to sit during their appointment. He was ushered into a seat that emitted pneumatic hisses and tilted and swivelled on tubular steel pistons. It was, Van Dongelbraacke thought, the most unshamanic chair in which he had ever tried to sit. He judged each of the three to be unsuitable.

And then one evening in a tavern the suburban shaman struck up a conversation with a mountebank who was passing through Pointy Town on his way to a seaside psychic smorgasbord. Ferns and berries decked the brim of this mountebank’s hat. His visage was half flesh, half mascara. At a certain angle you could have mistaken him for the god Baal. It was difficult to imagine that he had once been an actuary, but that was indeed the case, and he had maintained many friendships with past office colleagues in the insurance industry. Listening attentively to Van Dongelbraacke’s plight as the two of them sank pint after pint of diluted rosemary-and-hibiscus syrup on the tavern balcony, looking out over the filth-strewn fields which stretched unbroken to the horizon, the mountebank eventually took a card out of his pocket and handed it to the shaman.

“This is the man you need,” he said, “His premiums are ridiculously expensive, you may be alarmed by his taste in cloisonnée enamel ware, and never, ever try to make him laugh. But those things aside, he is as fine an insurance man as you will find on the terrestrial globe.”

Van Dongelbraacke was puzzled by this reference to a globe, for in his belief system the earth was cylindrical, tapered at one end and ineffably mysterious at the other. But he liked and trusted the mountebank, whose pincer-liked perspicuity appealed to him, as did the hat-brim decked with ferns and berries, a look which the suburban shaman was to ape in the coming years.

Six weeks later, after a particularly exhausting session of communal hysteria around a bonfire in one of those filthy fields, Van Dongelbraacke took the bus to O’Houlihan’s Wharf. He had the insurance man’s card in his pocket, and berries on the brim of his hat. The ferns, he decided, would have to wait. At the time of which I write, the pier at that brine-soaked hellhole had not yet collapsed, and it was in a booth at the far end, a mile or more out to sea, that the suburban shaman came face to face with Jean-Claude Unanugu.

It’s a name you might know, especially if you are an aficionado of the kind of insurance man who spends his leisure time as a creative genius. Charles Ives, Wallace Stevens and Franz Kafka spring to mind, and Unanugu can be added to their company. Acerbic, battered, chippy, Drambuie-soaked, eerie, foolish, grunting, and hot-to-trot, Jean-Claude Unanugu was the self-styled “Grand Master of the Goofy and the Macabre”. In his numerous pulp paperbacks, he explored with forensic precision the narrow territory where that which is goofy meets that which is macabre. Sometimes, in his work, goofiness wins out. At other times, he favours the macabre. At his best, the two modes, or registers, or styles, or styles, or modes, or registers, or styles are inextricable, melded and fused and joined and inextricably fused and melded, in a joinment of characteristically Unanuguesque inextricability. It can be hard to see where the goofiness falls off and the macabre begins, just as it can be hard to see where the macabre ends and the goofiness takes over, so inextricably fused are they in Unanuguesque meldment.

Now, you might be tutting irritably that I am repeating myself, or at least writing in a peculiarly annoying and inelegant manner. In fact, that was a clever pastiche of Unanugu’s early style, seen to best effect in early trash like The Macabre Thing From Goofy Town or The Goofy People From The Macabre Village. Later in his career he devised new tricks and quirks, and I am not alone in thinking that no other writer has ever made such fantastic use of italics, block capitals and exclamation marks. One of the great pleasures of a middle period Unanugu novel such as The Macabre Yet Goofy Duckpond is the manner in which each sentence is given equal weight, every single one ending in an exclamation mark. It is the only book I know which, when read aloud, demands to be shouted out at the top of one’s voice.

Much like Stevens and Ives, but possibly not Kafka, Jean-Claude Unanugu kept his working and creative lives separate. When devoting his time to insurance, he set up in his booth on the pier. It was a small, cramped booth, of wood and canvas, with a tin roof which resounded under the rain, and as you know it often rained in O’Houlihan’s Wharf, for that was how the gods had ordered things. It was teeming down on the day Joost Van Dongelbraacke disembarked from the bus and made his way through the ill-starred streets to the pier. There were numberless booths and kiosks on the pier in those days, and the suburban shaman found himself distracted by all sorts of depraved enticements as he shuffled along, stepping carefully on the rotting planks. He passed by Edna The Squid Woman, Little Severin The Mystic Badger, The Astonishing Food-Splattered Jesuit, Kim Fat Goo The Evil Tattooist, David Icke, David Blunkett, Bonkers Maisie And Her Scrunched-Up Dishcloths, and the Poopsie Clutterbuck Sextet, who performed the latest news headlines in the form of madrigals. A gust came in from the west and blew Van Dongelbraacke’s berries off the brim of his hat into the churning sea. Far out, half way to the horizon, he could see the tell-tale silhouette of a tugboat. What, he wondered, was it going to tug out there? Closer to shore, he saw dozens upon dozens of buoys, red and yellow and blue buoys, each with its own chain. Van Dongelbraacke had always loved the sound of chains clanking at sea, and he stopped a moment on his prance along the pier to listen, but the faint clanking he heard was soon drowned out by the barking of a bedraggled Twinkly Twirly Man in the doorway of a nearby booth, who was manipulating a saucepan and a bus ticket in remarkable ways. Such antics, thought the shaman, had what Roland Barthes would call jouissance. Like almost everybody who uses the word, possibly including Barthes himself, he had no idea what it meant, but he was a shaman, a babbler of incantations, so why should he care? He tossed a coin at the feet of the Twinkly Twirly Man, told him that he admired his jouissance, and headed on.

Inside his booth, as fat raindrops pinged and panged on the tin roof, the Grand Master of the Goofy and the Macabre was blotting the ink on a freshly written insurance policy that was neither goofy nor macabre. It was, if anything, a piece of actuarial magic that the suburban shaman would have admired for its hallucinatory qualities. In Jean-Claude Unanugu’s suspiciously manicured hands, insurance policies became things of beauty. If Von Dongelbraacke’s beliefs were true, there is no doubt that Unanugu’s policies would have to be filed at the end of the earth that terminated in ineffable mystery. Blotting done, the insurance agent cracked open another bottle of Drambuie. His own credo allowed for a globular earth rather than a cylindrical one, though privately he held that this globe was, like his stories, both goofy and macabre. In that sense, he felt himself to be a realist, an attitude which had caused him no end of grief with the O’Houlihan’s Wharf Pier Booth Rental Authority, which preferred to rent its booths and kiosks to the non-reality-based community.

A mere six or seven prancing paces away from the booth now, Van Dongelbraacke too saw himself as a realist, although for him the “real” existed on an ethereal plane accessible only through whirling about around a bonfire while chanting gibberish. But, as he always liked to insist, it was very choreographed whirling, and absolutely specific gibberish. That was why a hapless goon like the litigious Pointy Town quantity surveyor could not just whirl and babble without the guidance of a shaman. And that was why the shaman needed insurance cover. And that was why Joost Van Dongelbraacke poked his head in through the entrance flap of the wood and canvas and tin booth on the pier and saw…

Why did I resort to an ellipsis? I did so partly in homage to late-period Unanugu, where the texts of such novels as Beyond The Macabre Yet Goofy Duckpond actually have more ellipses than words, and partly because I wanted to go and make a cup of tea before bringing this narrative to a close. Jean-Claude Unanugu’s work – both in fiction and insurance – was fuelled by Drambuie, but mine is dependent upon copious cups of tea. I make no apologies for that. It was Thomas De Quincey who said “tea, though ridiculed by those who are naturally coarse in their nervous sensibilities… will always be the favourite beverage of the intellectuals”. Whether or not I am an “intellectual” is but futile conjecture, but I suspect I have more chance of being one through regular tea intake than by bandying about the jouissance word. Now, that is quite enough twaddle. Let us return to that ellipsis.

Joost Van Dongelbraacke poked his head into the booth and saw Jean-Claude Unanugu, the Grand Master of the Goofy and the Macabre, sitting at a little fold-out camp table, swigging Drambuie and ready to sell him some hot-to-trot insurance.

And…

Joost Van Dongelbraacke poked his head into the booth and saw… his Döppelganger. For a split second he thought he was looking into a mirror. The resemblance between the two was uncanny. Indeed, it was macabre. Was it also goofy? Why, stap my chives, yes it was! And what happened next was goofier still, and even more macabre. For Van Dongelbraacke went into the booth and closed the flap behind him. There were witnesses to this, including the bedraggled Twinkly Twirly Man and David Icke, and though they were not realists, their accounts, painstakingly taken down by Detective Captain Cargpan’s doughty squad of gumshoes, were deemed reliable by the O’Houlihan’s Wharf Constabulary’s investigative überbrains. So we must accept that there were two men inside that booth on that sopping wet Thursday afternoon. Yet only one ever emerged. Was it Jean-Claude Unanugu or was it Joost Van Dongelbraacke? It was neither, or it was both. It was, we are forced to concede, an entirely new being, an entirely new kind of being. I know this may sound implausible to members of the reality-based community, but let me ask you this. Is there any other way to explain that, within days, the O’Houlihan’s Wharf Chamber of Commerce registered a new company which offered Shamanic Insurance Solutions, to whom fees could be paid in the blood of ducks and the bones of ospreys and in pointed sticks set afire?

Ice Chaos

[This story was written as part of a fundraising drive for ResonanceFM, and broadcast today on Hooting Yard On The Air. Listeners were invited, in return for a donation, to provide a sentence, a phrase, a string of words or a name which was then incorporated into the text. A list of those who so generously handed over their cash follows at the end.]

“Ice Chaos” was the headline in one of the newspapers last week. This followed a day when the unthinkable happened. A flurry of snow, that settled for about twenty four hours, in the winter, in Britain (a country in the northern hemisphere)! Chaos indeed. Or perhaps just a cold snap.

It’s true, though, that extreme or freakish weather conditions seem to be on the increase. There were tornadoes in London, Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami… (Incidentally, let us take this opportunity to recall the name of a seismologist involved in lack-of-tsunami warnings, Waverly Person.)

Now, it has been pointed out to me more than once that I am hardly qualified to talk about extreme weather conditions, as the only weather we get at Hooting Yard is rain, sometimes torrential, sometimes a drizzle, and this is true. What my critics fail to note is that, ensconced in a cabin somewhere over by Blister Lane Bypass, we have a superb forecaster. I speak, of course, of Little Severin, the Mystic Badger. When it comes to predicting the weather, Little Severin is second to none, not even to the BBC’s magnificent Dan Corbett. If you have not watched Dan, visit That’s The Weather For Now and be amazed. Little Severin the Mystic Badger has not yet been blessed with a fan site all his own, but it can only be a matter of time.

Before we go on, I want to make it absolutely plain that there is neither a jot nor scintilla of truth in the rumours that have been flying around. Little Severin did not pass through the catflap to the afterlife. In any case, he would have eschewed a catflap and sought a more appropriate badgerflap. Flaps for badgers, and indeed for stoats, pigs, wild hogs, otters and curlews, some of which are flaps to the afterlife and some not, are easily available, for example from Zip Nolan’s Flappery in Basoonclotshire. (That spelling is correct, as the name of the shire derives from basins, not from bassoons.)

Little Severin’s method of weather divination is simple yet brilliant. He is not known as the Mystic Badger for nothing. At various times of day or night, he emerges from his cabin and scrubbles around in the muck, like badgers do. Then he goes back indoors. Voila! Those able to read the omens and portents of his scrubbling know whether tomorrow will bring rain, downpour, or drizzle, and not only that, for Little Severin can predict more than just the weather. Few people are aware that he forecast both the Cod Wars between Britain and Iceland, which lasted for seventeen years, and the Corned Beef Wars between Ireland and Argentina, which lasted thirty, among many other world-shaking events. As far as I am aware there have not yet been any Oregano Wars. Bear in mind that a number of Little Severin’s predictions are retrospective, for as his name implies, he is only little. And mystic.

It is the mysticism which so upset Braithwaite, the one-time bus-seat companion of Clytemnestra Duggleby. It was Braithwaite, with his pipe, his face, his cheese, his keys, his rissoles, his cup, his roll-on-roll-off rim-fire thiamin, and that lip on him, the lip and the sculptured boy-hair, Braithwaite who called into question the accuracy of Little Severin the Mystic Badger’s paw-scrubbling weather forecasts. But what did he know? As Clytemnestra Duggleby attested in court after the incident with the wheezing scrivener and the invalid postscript font, he spent most of his time slumped in front of the radio, like some antediluvian beast, listening distractedly to The Sagans, (or Les Sagans) a long-running serial about husband-and-wife team Carl and Françoise and their thrills, spills, window sills and gas bills as they bring up their papoose Boo Boo. The show’s theme tune features the papoose Boo Boo singing “Meinen Mootzenzimmer” backed by an orchestra of massed banjos and ducks with electronic implants. Clytemnestra hated the drama, but adored the music, and hummed it as she went about her many and various janitorial doings in the town aquarium. It was a submerged aquarium, hewn out of the geological strata underneath the abandoned zoo, and it was rife with weird tentacled aquatic beings (actual size) including squid. According to the aquarium guidebook, “Squids are mammals, just like plants and clouds”, for the book had been compiled by Zip Nolan (he of the Flappery) in a break from writing his pot-boiler series of animal-flap related thrillers such as Creepy Raoul And The Partridgeflap, Creepy Raoul And The Beeflap (serialised in Harpy magazine), and the million-selling Creepy Raoul And The Ineffable Mystery Of The Pentecostalist Cormorantflap, which famously begins “Rendered placid by the sickening stifle, this cumbersome vision of Britney lolled like some spastic hound, a revolutionary Lolita trying in vain to calm my wayward reflexes”. Quite why Zip accepted the commission to compile the guidebook is as much a mystery as one of his thrillers, for he was no lover of waterworld – and I am not talking about the Kevin Costner film. Zip was a dry land sort of person, so much so that he avoided ponds and puddles, and made daily treks all the way from his Flappery in Basoonclotshire to consult with Little Severin The Mystic Badger about the weather, the weather, the weather.

Ah yes, the weather. Rainfall, wild winds, ice chaos. Cool-a-stoop and a heary blear, thunderstorms, tornadoes, forked lightning, slush and frost and winter sunlight, Dan Corbett, and Little Severin, the Mystic Badger.

[Those who donated money to help save ResonanceFM, and whose suggested words appear in “Ice Chaos” are, in alphabetical order: Pansy Cradledew, William English (on behalf of Fotheringay), C J Halo Goat Luncheon (anagram), aka John ‘Alcohol Nut’ Cage (also an anagram), Sandra Harris, Carolina Herbst, Lancton, Outaspaceman, Michael Pierce, Marvin Suicide, Chris Weaver, and others who wished to remain anonymous, which, as it begins with A, ought to have been at the beginning of the list, but wasn’t. I am pretty sure I have not forgotten anyone, but if I have, my profound apologies.]

NOTE : The episode of Hooting Yard On The Air including this story has been given an early podcast release. Go to the podcast archive to listen or download.