Further Notes

That conversation, continued…

Elberry : what pillow do you use? is it stuffed with the feathers of birds or the skulls of mice?

Frank Key : An admixture of cotton wool and sand, wrens’ feathers and wolf hair

Elberry : and the sand, can you expand on its provenance? do you use the sand from the Alamogordo Test Range, or common or garden sand? is it related to the sand nightly deployed by the Sandman? Is it sand from the sandy road of Eliot’s Waste Land?

Frank Key : It is coarse sand, dredged from the vasty deep, then spread out, by much raking, to dry under a Panglossian sun, before being poured into the pillowcase through a gorgeous ornate metalwork funnel

Elberry : How do you do the dredging? Do you have an industrial dredging machine?

Frank Key : I use a mighty concrete dredger barge, built to Lambot’s original design rather than the later Gabellini or Edison models.

Elberry : i used to teach at Zeppelin, i think they make dredging machines but i am unsure if they are suitable for vasty deeps. Could you just use a spade? i ask as i thought about doing a bit of light dredging, to keep fit

Frank Key : Use of a spade beneath the vasty deeps is fraught with risk, but will undoubtedly boost your manliness. Or you might drown.

Elberry : Heroes don’t drown, they dredge.

Notes On A Chuckle

Further to my report, last Saturday, of a Facebook Facecloth postage and subsequent comment, here is another. I will not be making a habit of this, but last night’s brief exchange of comments with Elberry is, I think, worth noting here.

I chuckled at a comment I read appended to a postage on the Grauniad’s Comment Is Free site, and so, on Facecloth, noted

A Comment Is Free comment over at The Grauniad : “Groan, and so the Guardian descends still further into being an upmarket version of Black Flag for the under 16s.” I chuckled.

The subsequent dialogue with Elberry went as follows

Elberry : more on the nature of this chuckling please, the sound, duration, effect on passers-by, etc.

Frank Key : Grating and somehow tragic, forty-nine seconds, solicitude, offers of loose change, thumpings.

Elberry : does it excite frenzies, sexual or otherwise?

Frank Key : Only in the raddled hearts of the unseemly

Elberry : is it pure to the pure, if the pure are privy to these terrible eruptions?

Frank Key : Alas, there are tincts

Elberry : would you consider removing these safeguards, so the many- headed rabble may hark to your mirth, and take heart therefrom?

Frank Key : I will consider it, while my head is upon the pillow, and I snooze, imminently

After tippy-tapping which, I retired to bed, rested my head upon the pillow, and snoozed. Alas, I did not after all consider removing any chuckle safeguards.

Dreaming A Dream

Last night I dreamed, not that I went to Manderlay again, yet again, yet again, but that I was hanging out with Emerson, Lake, and Lake’s mother, but not Palmer, of whom there was no sign. It was uneventful, as dreams go, but when I woke I did wonder what it might mean, and I decided to ask that question on Facebook Facecloth.

Answer came from William English, who wrote : “After careful consideration it seems obvious that by omitting Carl Palmer, drummer with Atomic Rooster, and substituting him with Lake’s mother, you are erasing traumatic childhood memories of a “pram cellar” (being an anagram of Carl Palmer). Am I right?”

Eek! It has all come flooding back. I shall now undergo rigorous recovered memory therapy.

“After careful consideration it seems obvious that by omitting Carl Palmer, drummer with Atomic Rooster, and substituting him with Lake’s mother, you are erasing traumatic childhood memories of a “pram cellar” (being an anagram of Carl Palmer). Am I right?”
Eek! It has all come flooding back. I shall now undergo rigorous recovered memory therapy.


Emerson (present), Lake (present), Palmer (absent), Lake’s mother (not shown)

ADDENDUM : A particularly bewildering point about this dream is that I was never an aficionado of the band John Peel invariably referred to as Emerson, Lake & Parker, and have never owned any of their music in LP or CD form, nor indeed in cassette or 8-track or mp3, nor in any other format yet dreamed up by sound reproduction boffins.

The Eerie Cult Of Krishnan Guru-Murthy

Compare and contrast these two snaps. One shows a trio of carvings from an “Indian cemetery” (reportedly), taken in 1900. The second shows a trio of Channel 4 newsreaders performing a musical number at a charity event (reportedly), taken last week.


channel 4 newsteam

Dullwits and dunderpates would say “Well, Mr Key, so what? The only thing the two photographs have in common is that they show three figures. You could find thousands, nay, millions of similar snaps. What point are you trying to make?”

The point I am trying to make is that this is the first, albeit flimsy, evidence I have discovered of the cult surrounding bumptious newsreader Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Oh, there are flaws in my reasoning, many, many flaws. But I implore those of you who think I am talking twaddle to watch “KrishGM” (as he likes to be known… why???) very, very carefully in the coming months. The cult has something planned, I am sure of it.

[Indian cemetery snap from Dull Tool Dim Bulb. Cult offering from Channel 4 News.]

The Young Person’s Guide To Music Appreciation

A friend of mine posted a Facebook Facecloth message, saying she is DJing tonight and has no idea what records to play, asking for tips on what “the kids” are listening to these days.

I replied: “It’s not what the kids are listening to, it’s what they should be made to listen to. I recommend Scriabin’s ‘Poem Of Ecstasy’, Op.54.”


Scriabin : tiny little hands

In Which Mr Key Foretells The Future

Last night I watched the first episode of Derren Brown’s new television series “The Experiment”. Is it possible, he asked, to hypnotise someone into carrying out an assassination, and for them to have no memory of the deed? This being a Derren Brown show, the answer was of course a resounding “yes!”. We watched as a harmless, affable young IT person was supplied with what he thought was a loaded gun, placed into a trance, and then, in a crowded theatre, calmly “shot” a celebrity. The target was Stephen Fry.

It was all very entertaining, but whereas we know (and he himself cheerfully admits) that Derren Brown is simply a showman with a bag of tricks, it was evidence that your very own Mr Key is a seer who can foretell the future. Back in the summer of 2009, I put these words into the mouth of the bestselling paperbackist Pebblehead:

You will recall Digby Smew, the fascist podcaster who first appeared in my book The Assassination Of Stephen Fry.

Cue eldritch, spooky music as I stalk off into the mist in my cape and wizardy hat.

Matters Bloggy

Recently there has been prattle in certain corners of Interwebshire predicting the imminent demise of the blog. It is, we are told, an outmoded form, due to be tossed into the dustbin of history, conquered by the implacable might of social networking, wittering and twittering. Such a prediction is quite obviously ballocks (as Beckett would spell it). The blog will continue to thrive, at least in this neck of the woods, for your beloved Mr Key long ago realised that it is absolutely the perfect medium for the outpourings of his puny and pea-sized brain. And I am of course not the only one whose blatherings could never be constrained by arbitrary twitter-lengths and similar barbarities.

This by way of preamble to news of a brand new blog for which I must take a small measure of responsibility. It is not Hooting Yardy in any way, rather the result of protracted cajoling and mental thumping on my part. Believing, as I do, that some of us were born to blog, I have finally managed to bash some sense into the noggin of a friend, who until now has been writing indefatigably but shoving everything into a drawer to moulder unread. What on earth is the point of that in the era of Het Internet?

Thus the birth of BlackberryJuniper and Sherbet, wherein we are promised “waffling” about such matters as “modern neo-paganism, established religion, food, animals, astronomy, history, books, music, pub quizzes, TV, films, philosophy, psychology, and my feeble beginner attempts at gardening”. I told you it wasn’t Hooting Yardy. What it is is an individual voice, babbling away in inimitable fashion, and allowing the babble to be read, rather than muffled and hidden and forgotten in that dust-choked drawer.

I commend it to your attention. Start here, lap it up, add it to your RSS feed, and don’t forget to post your comments.

Dream Tribunal

In my dream last night, I attended, as an observer, a revolutionary tribunal held in a sort of warehouse, where the members of Henry Cow were arraigned before a committee of hardline Irish Maoists, charged with imperialist deviation. I am afraid to say it was decided that Chris Cutler be taken out and shot.


The members of Henry Cow at the Annual Henry Cow Roadside Picnic

Ill-Spent Hours

I really ought to avoid Facebookcloth, though I find myself popping in regularly for the simple reason that certain persons of my acquaintance seem to have forgotten the ancient art of email. Keeping in touch with them necessitates reading their Facecloth postages. The danger is that, at times, one gets sucked in and embroiled in lengthy and increasingly witless exchanges. Today has been one of those times, what with the riotous state of the nation. Here, then, are edited highlights from a few ill-spent hours.

Let us begin on a high note. Oh, before doing so, a word about “friends”. All contacts on Facecloth are “friends”, irrespective of the nature of one’s acquaintanceship. I prefer the Google+ approach of “circles”, which can be of friends, family, work colleagues, and so on. Best of all, one can define one’s circles, which is why the six people I “know” on Google+ have all been put into a circle called “Honorary Captains Pursuivant Of Hooting Yard”. This is likely to remain a decisively elite group until such time as there is a mass migration from Facecloth to Google+. We shall see.

Now, where was I? Ah yes, that high note. In among much blather about the riots, one friend of mine made the definitively sensible comment: “I think the rioters just need to calm down and listen to some Soft Machine”, to which was appended a link to Hibou, Anemone and Bear from the dazzling second album.

Pondering how else the feral hoodie teenpersons might be better occupied, I was reminded of a comment made three years ago by Elberry on his now defunct Lumber Room. Fortunately, I quoted it here at the time, so it has not vanished entirely into the ether. He was writing about knife-crime rather than brick-throwing, looting and arson, but his point holds good:

I imagine there are several thousand, or hundreds of thousands, of young men carrying knives ‘in self-defence’ who will, however, pull it as soon as they imagine a confrontation is in the air. They would be far better to carry expandable batons, and far less likely to accidentally kill someone. They would do even better to stay at home reading Sir Philip Sidney.

This always seemed to me a sensible, practical, and realistic suggestion, and I was happy to quote it in rioting context on Facecloth. Cheering, too, that a number of my friends “liked” it and, as one commented,

I said (almost exactly) that to my partner. Why are they not at home reading a book? Any book, even.

I am afraid this led me to give vent to my inner misanthropic reactionary (as tends to happen on Facecloth), and I immediately replied:

Probably because their teachers were too busy with the self-esteem and diversity lessons to get round to teaching that “reading” thing.

There is a serious point here. We are always hearing the teenpersons and their adult representatives complain that “we have nothing to do”. No doubt this has been a teeny moan since time immemorial, but it is of course bollocks. Certainly in a city like London there is a myriad of “things to do” that don’t cost money, even if one is reluctant to sit at home reading a book.

But why bother making so obvious a point when there is drivel to be spouted? Perhaps it is the (Facecloth) company I keep, but I have been astonished by the attempts to dress moronic footwear-thieving barbarism in politico-intellectual clothing. This, for example, ought to have left me speechless:

just back from Hackney, nostrils full of the aroma of burning rubber, zone superlatively tense yet totally a-okay… aside from some poor fuckers with insurance claims… platitudes re: lumpen-prole mindless thuggishness = a vulgar simplification by mainstream media (who were barely visible)… TSG chest-beating all night but totally ineffectual… subjective experience too complex to analyse right now, I think.. complex .. and fast.. and slow..

Alas, instead of remaining silent, I felt impelled to respond:

Will it be exciting if [your area] is next and [your trendy and with-it workplace] gets trashed and burned?

To which came the reply:

I never said it was exciting, c’mon Frank

I then said that “superlatively tense yet totally a-okay” sounded to me almost like a definition of “excitement”, but this was denied. Suffice to say that the exchange continued until both of us, I am sure, were only too pleased to retire from the fray, neither having changed our minds one whit. It really is a foolish way to spend one’s time, and I ought to remember that.

Still, hanging around on Facecloth did at least mean that I saw this, wholly unrelated, link, posted by another friend:

Matchless. And, as the friend pointed out, note Alfred Hitchcock doing his cameo role in the background.

Lapel Accoutrement Poll Update

At time of writing, Krishnan Guru-Murthy has nudged ahead of Yoko Ono in our poll to decide on the luminary most deserving of a complimentary Hooting Yard lapel accoutrement. Could it be, I wonder, that the email I fired off to him at Channel 4 News the other day bore fruit?

Dear Mr Guru-Murthy

You are currently in second place (behind Yoko Ono) in a readers’ poll at Hooting Yard to choose the luminary most deserving of a complimentary Hooting Yard lapel accoutrement. Might I suggest you vote for yourself and encourage others in the Channel 4 newsroom to cast their votes in your favour?

Clearly something is going right, as many of my readers may be under the impression you are a fictional character, and they still vote for you!

Yours sincerely

Frank Key

Some readers may be appalled by what they see as a morally reprehensible attempt to influence the outcome of the poll. Let me assure these virtuous souls that I fully intend to fire off similar letters to De Botton, Huffington, Tempah, and Ono. But not Balls, for Christ’s sake, not Balls!

Lapel Accoutrement Luminary Poll

Here at Haemoglobin Towers there is much whirring and clanking as the finishing touches are put to your favourite book of the year, the annual Hooting Yard paperback. The publication of this mighty tome is imminent, imminent I tell you!

Meanwhile, never resting on our laurels, and determined always to extend our global reach, possibly into extraterrestrial zones, the thought occurred to present one of the new and gorgeous Hooting Yard lapel accoutrements to a living luminary. This lucky luminary could then act as our ambassador when hobnobbing with the great and good and with that Fry person. But upon which luminary should we bestow this signal honour? Readers, you decide!

The most deserving luminary to receive a complementary Hooting Yard lapel accoutrement (25mm across) is


Friday Quiz

I snap my fingers and, foof-la!, inaugurate the Hooting Yard Friday Quiz. (It is likely, not to say inevitable, that tomorrow I shall snap my fingers again and, foof-la!, abolish the Hooting Yard Friday Quiz, so make the most of it while you have the chance.)

This week’s challenge is to identify correctly the forty-seven fictional characters listed yesterday in the piece Unhinged By Cream Crackers. You need to provide the title of the work, be it a novel or a play or a film or what have you, where the character first appeared.

The first person to post a full and correct list in the Comments will win a modest prize. I do not yet know what it will be, but I will think of something, and it will not be a world cruise aboard the HMS Corrugated Cardboard.

Scenes Of Domestic Bliss, No. 1

It was an overcast morning in July. Pansy Cradledew was up and about at an ungodly hour. Some time later, her inamorato woke up, and, glugging his morning coffee, asked:

“So what have you been up to so early in the day, my sweet, my darling dear?”

“Oh, I pulled the head off a bat,” replied Pansy.

Her inamorato spluttered a mouthful of coffee and almost choked, until it became clear that the bat in question was not some flesh and blood and sinew pipistrelle, but a model bat made from terracotta-coloured modelling clay. Pansy, it transpired, had fashioned a figurine of the hideous bat god Fatso, his “look” based on the equally hideous bat god Camazotz, and the removal of the head was a temporary measure to expedite the drying and setting process. Nonetheless, her crack o’ dawn activity led to the conversational exchange reported, causing much merriment and the splitting of sides.

Cupcake O’ The Future

I hesitate to tread into that realm where blogging and cupcakes collide, as it is territory where Brit at Think Of England stands proudly alone, far above the petty doings of mere mortals.

I do think it worth mentioning, however, that next month I shall be taking a trip to Mortlake, where I shall be served with a nice cup of tea accompanied by a cupcake emblazoned with the Monas Hieroglyphica of the Elizabethan magus Dr John Dee. See below, for the mystic symbol, if not the cupcake, which I assume has yet to be baked. A full report on this extremely sensible outing will follow in due course.