On the Air And In The Dabbler

This is a brief reminder that each week’s episode of Hooting Yard On The Air is now posted on Mixcloud almost as soon as it has been broadcast. Delve through the archives and you can listen to Mr Key babbling into your eardrums until the cows come home. Yesterday’s show includes a sort of homage to David Bowie on his 69th birthday, and the text appears in today’s Dabbler, so if you wish you can read and listen at the same time.

Furrowed Brow

Yes, yes, I know there has been an unseemly silence at Hooting Yard for a while. There are a number of reasons for this, the only one of interest to you lot being that I have received the page proofs for Mr Key’s Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives, to be published (at last!) by Constable in September. This is my final opportunity to proofread the text of this classic reference work, so you can imagine your beloved Mr Key peering myopically at the pages, brow furrowed in concentration, trying not to dribble, and having to go and have a lie down in a darkened room every once in a while.

Meanwhile, for those of you suffering from Too Few Postages At Hooting Yard Mental Imbalance Syndrome, I ought, belatedly, to let you know that ResonanceFM is now uploading editions of the radio show on to its Mixcloud page almost as soon as they are broadcast. That link takes you to all the Resonance programs – this link is to the Hooting Yard shows currently online. (If it doesn’t work, just search for Hooting Yard from the main page.) That should keep you occupied for the time being.

Back soon, with unfurrowed brow.

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.

An Elocution Lesson

When I was first invited to present a show on ResonanceFM, way back in 2004, my immediate enthusiasm was tempered by a certain anxiety. I was fretful that perhaps I did not have a “radio voice”, and that, as soon as I was stuck in front of a microphone, I would screech like a screech-owl. Listeners would lunge towards the off-button, desperate to stop the hideous caterwauling and lapse into blessed silence. So before accepting the offer, I took myself off to an elocutionist.

Miss Blossom Christsblood’s establishment was on the top floor of a tall and ramshackle and quite possibly condemned building in an insalubrious part of town. It did not enjoy a lift, and by the time I had lugged myself up the stairs I was breathless and panting. Before she even said hello, Miss Blossom was intent on exacting payment from me, in cash, for my first lesson. I emptied my pockets of coinage, which she immediately squirrelled away in what looked like a battered tobacco tin.

I was given to understand that my lesson would begin when I stopped panting, which I duly did several minutes later. During this time, Miss Blossom paid no attention to me whatsoever, but busied herself with her birds, innumerable birds housed in innumerable birdcages hanging from innumerable rafters. I am no ornithologist, but I think at least one of them was a screech-owl.

Eventually my lesson began.

“When speaking aloud,” announced Miss Blossom, in a screech, “The most important thing is the formation of the vole sounds.”

It was at this point I decided to cut my losses and leave. Over a decade has passed since that unfortunate episode. In that time, I have continued to present Hooting Yard On The Air every week, with the occasional lacuna, and I do not think that at any time I have found it necessary to imitate the sound of a vole, nor a beaver, nor a shrew, nor even an otter.

Glub… Glub… Glub

I was exceedingly pleased to receive as a Christmas gift The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, a splendid scholarly edition of selected works by the troubled genius of Providence, Rhode Island. It is packed with informative footnotes, but one was missing, so I am taking the opportunity to provide it here as an addendum.

Among my favourite snippets of Lovecraft is this passage from The Thing On The Doorstep. My footnote is appended.

It began with a telephone call just before midnight. I was the only one up, and sleepily took down the receiver in the library. No one seemed to be on the wire, and I was about to hang up and go to bed when my ear caught a very faint suspicion of sound at the other end. Was someone trying under great difficulties to talk? As I listened I thought I heard a sort of half-liquid bubbling noise – “glub… glub… glub” – which had an odd suggestion of inarticulate, unintelligible word and syllable divisions. I called “Who is it?” But the only answer was “glub… glub… glub-glub.”

NOTE : In the early 1990s, “Glub … glub … glub” was the recorded answerphone message of Ed Baxter, benevolent despot of ResonanceFM.