There is huge excitement at Bodger’s Spinney as we look forward to this weekend’s annual Spinney Wreck Competition. Rival teams have been preparing for months, in utmost secrecy, their re-enactments of The Wreck Of The Deutschland and The Wreck Of The Hesperus. As ever when the Jesuits meet the Hiawathas, there is a sense of age-old blood feud, and volunteer ambulance-based medicos wearing special armbands will be on the alert from before daybreak.

Old Farmer Frack’s cows will be mooching in a nearby field to add an air of bucolic charm, and Mrs Gubbins will again be wearing the referee’s chapeau. In an exclusive pre-contest interview she told our reporter, “I am hoping things pass off with due decorum, but I have made sure we have enough tourniquets on site this year. No one wants to see a repeat of the time we had to send urchins scampering off across the hills to Old Ma Bagshaw’s Bandage Shop.”

Mrs Gubbins was made referee-in-perpetuity after she single-handedly sent packing a gang of rogue Opium-Eaters who tried to sabotage the contest with a wholly inappropriate, because shipless, re-enactment of The Household Wreck.

The latest odds are available from the illegal gambling den behind the illegal butcher’s shop on the plaza.

Gubbins Music

If you hear news from Haemoglobin Towers that birds are dropping dead from the sky and cows stand stunned in the fields, it can mean only one thing. Alas, Mrs Gubbins has a new musical fad. The octogenarian crone has taken her dusty hi fi system down from the shelf, opened the windows, and is blasting out the latest acquisitions from her record collection, day and night, over and over again.

Last time this happened, her undiluted enthusiasm for The Fall meant that the peasants thereabouts had to put up with the complete works of Mark E Smith cranked out at ear-splitting volume for weeks on end. La Gubbins only grew tired of the self-styled “Northern white crap that talks back” after it was pointed out to her that Smith is slowly but surely turning into Anthony Burgess – Mancunian, drunk on words, and frighteningly prolific, of course, but the most compelling evidence is the physical resemblance.

burgess1.jpg smith.jpg

La Gubbins had always harboured a deep if irrational hatred of Burgess, so she burned all her Fall records on a pyre and silence reigned. But now she has discovered the work of Swiss maestro Blinky Guido, laid her hands on every single record he ever made, and is in the throes of madness. Hence the dead birds and the stunned cows.

Blinky Guido will be known to some of you as the man who created prog-wop, an unholy alliance of progressive rock and doo-wop which some enlightened lands have made illegal. You may have sat through the full twenty-minute horror that is Why Do Fools Fall In Love In The Magic Kingdom Of Elves or, even worse, These Little Eldritch Unicorns Of Mine. Someone swears they saw Mrs Gubbins smuggling a mellotron into her room the other day, which doesn’t bear thinking about.

Perhaps the only way to bring an end to this nightmare is to doctor a photograph of the Swiss prog-wop pioneer to make him look like J B Priestley, another writer who elicits from Mrs Gubbins a strangulated cry of loathing.

All Hail Yoko!

Today is a very special day at Hooting Yard. It’s Yoko Ono’s 74th birthday. Just as the people of Tanna, in Vanuatu in the South West Pacific, worship the Duke of Edinburgh as a god, we here at Hooting Yard recognise the divinity of Yoko.

Our devotion took a bit of a battering a few years ago when Mrs Gubbins dallied with Yokonetics, but a course of brain-sluicing with Baxter’s Terrible Fluid and a visit from Yoko’s lawyer set her back on the true path.

If anyone wants me, I shall be spending this special day in that field near Blister Lane Bypass, sitting in a bag with wool wrapped round my legs, screaming.


Films About Bees

One of the most eagerly-anticipated awards in the arts calendar is Hooting Yard’s Best Title Of A Film About Bees Made Within The Last Five Years. We only make this award after a rigorous selection process, fuelled by many, many cups of piping hot tea in Mrs Gubbins’ space-age kitchenette parlour.

I am delighted to announce that the 2007 Award goes to William Bishop-Stephens for Bee Control In City Parks. He wins a toffee apple with bite marks which, a dentist tells me, could well have been made by fictional athlete Bobnit Tivol immediately after he won the 1966 Blister Lane Bypass Sprint Hurdles Cup And Saucer in a then record time of eight hours, sixteen minutes and forty-four seconds.

Well done, Will, and I am sure all Hooting Yard readers will take the opportunity to watch your splendid film.