Mystic Woo In Bognor Regis

There are cream teas, and then there are… psychic cream teas.


I have questions.

1. Is the cream tea a mere addendum to the psychic reading?

2. Or is the cream tea itself imbued with psychic woohoohoodiwoo?

3. Does one partake of the cream tea and become psychic?

4. If so, for how long do the effects last?

5. Why is that squiggly graphic shoved so far off-centre?

6. Was this psychic cream tea available at the same countryside fair as Robert Fripp’s legendary “Toyah” cake sale?

Many thanks to Outa_Spaceman for providing me with this important snap.

Real Orghast

More from Phil Baker’s biography of Austin Osman Spare, one of the chief pleasures of which is its plethora of anecdotes and asides. Such as this:

In the 1960s Ted Hughes and Peter Brook attempted to develop a language called Orghast, effectively a magical language where words would have “a more inevitable relationship to reality”. For example, the Orghast for “darkness opens its womb” (“staple of any phrasebook” as a cynic writes) is BULLORGA OMBOLOM FROR.

I would like to learn and become fluent in Orghast. Apparently it has a vocabulary of some two thousand words, but of these only about fifty count as “real Orghast”, according to Ted Hughes, and he should know. I wonder what the Orghast is for “By ‘eck, Sylvia, when you first kissed me you drew blood”.

I hope, when I have mastered the fifty magic words, that I do not have the dismissive attitude of Rayner Heppenstall towards another invented language

I had never thought highly of Esperanto (my father had once tried to make me learn it, but when I found the word for bird was ‘birdo’ I could no longer take it seriously).

Dismantled Wooden Myrna Loy Revisited

Back in April, when I posted the words of “Dismantled Wooden Myrna Loy”, I suggested to Outa_Spaceman that perhaps the world was ready for a new setting of this traditional folk song. And lo! he has recorded a splendid version with The Midnight Car Park Ramblers. Listen and, with the aide memoire of the words reposted below, sing along…

Dismantled Wooden Myrna Loy by Outa_Spaceman

He came, clutching an Alpenstock, from the far Tyrol.

He joined the Baader-Meinhof Gang, along with Astrid Proll.

He joined an English folk group, and sang a Fol De Rol.

And no one ever realised that he was a wooden doll.

His name was not Pinocchio, a different wooden boy.

Our hero’s name, quite weirdly, he shared with Myrna Loy,

That siren of the silver screen who brought filmgoers much joy.

Our Myrna was a terrorist and a folkie, a simple wooden toy.

Pinocchio’s nose, you will recall, grew longer as he lied.

But Myrna Loy’s did not, he took truth as his guide.

Well, he only did so after Ulrike Meinhof died.

For on that day his revolutionary fervour was cast aside.

He cast aside the folk group too, hey nonny nonny no.

He met a man in a field, one man who went to mow.

He lay down on the fresh-mown grass, he had nowhere else to go

And Myrna Loy, when winter came, was buried under snow.

He lay there until springtime, a wooden boy, frozen, dead

Until he was found by urchins, who carried him to a shed.

They dismantled him piece by piece, the urchins Lars and Ned.

And then they had a game of football with his wooden head.

So when you tour, with your Alpenstock, the fabled far Tyrol,

Say a prayer for Myrna Loy, the dismantled wooden doll.

Spare On Crowley

If the press notices [of Austin Osman Spare’s first West End gallery show] were calculated to put many visitors off, there was something about them that would prove positively attractive to a few. Among them was the so-called Wickedest Man in the World, the self-styled Beast 666; and so it was that Aleister Crowley came striding through the door of number 13 Bruton Street, grandly announcing himself to the shy and awkward artist as the “Vicegerent of God upon Earth”… Spare thought he looked more like “an Italian ponce out of work”, or so he told a friend years later. Perhaps with the benefit of four decades of hindsight, he said this was what he had told Crowley at the time.

From Austin Osman Spare : The Life And Legend Of London’s Lost Artist by Phil Baker (2011)

In Pointy Town

In Pointy Town, when they bury a dead Pointy Towner in the Pointy Town cemetery, they dig a pointy grave using a pointy shovel. The gravediggers have pointy spades, too, but they are not as pointy as the shovels. The shovels could not be more pointy.

There is a price to be paid for all this pointiness. It is a price paid sometimes in blood, sometimes in coinage, and sometimes in toads. Pointy Towners will roam the marsh flats outside Pointy Town collecting in baskets the toads that live there. Most of the toads have pointy bits, though perhaps they are more knobby than pointy. Pointy Town’s genetic engineers are working hard to breed a pointier toad. If and when they succeed, the knobby toads will become worthless as currency and will be left to go about their toady business in the marsh flats undisturbed.

Mr Key And Dr Fang

MR KEY goes to see DR FANG, a wholly imaginary expert in the field of distempers and maladies of the cranium.

DR FANG – Good afternoon, Mr Key, and what brings you to my consulting room on this fine day of overcast skies and drizzle?

MR KEY – I suffer greatly, Dr Fang, greatly!

DR FANG – Plop yourself onto that ergonomic beanbag and unburden yourself of your sorrows, Mr Key. I am all ears.

MR KEY – I am experiencing a debilitating attack of vacancy-between-the-ears, Dr Fang. It is as if my brain is empty.

DR FANG – You have suffered such symptoms before, I think, Mr Key, if I am not mistaken.

MR KEY – Indeed I have, Dr Fang. Whereas usually my brain can be relied upon to emit fumous babblings which I then, via a keyboard, tippytap on to what our Belgian chums call Het Internet, now I find myself staring like a mongoose into a vacuum.

DR FANG – Hold that thought, Mr Key, hold that thought. I am not sure it means anything, which could be a sign of your distemper and malady of the cranium, the field in which I am, as you know, an expert, albeit a wholly imaginary one.

MR KEY – Yes, Dr Fang, that is why I have come to see you.

DR FANG – A sound decision, if I may say so, Mr Key. What you must understand is that even an empty cranium can eject or spurt forth mighty prose, or babblings, whichever term one prefers.

MR KEY – But how can that be, Dr Fang?

DR FANG – Do not forget, Mr Key, that though your head be empty, like the Basket of Saint Dymphna, much, oh! much has gushed from it heretofore, if I am using the word heretofore correctly. Thus, for example, only recently from within your cranial integuments there burst forth a rather amusing bagatelle about Robert Fripp and his wife and his sister and the bard Sinfield. You recall it, do you not?

MR KEY – Yes, yes I do!

DR FANG – Well then, Mr Key, what could be simpler than to let brew in your brain something inspired by another titan of prog? To pluck a name at random, how about Ian Anderson? Could you not consider the gestation of a piece where the Jethro Tull frontman is, let us say, invited to give the keynote speech at the annual convention of the Association Of Flautists Who Stand Upon One Leg While Tootling?

MR KEY – Well… I suppose I could, Dr Fang.

DR FANG – Do not just suppose, Mr Key, do! Act! As Father Hopkins said, Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here Buckle!

MR KEY – You are right, Dr Fang. I shall indeed Buckle!, as in Buckle down to the task.

DR FANG – That’s the spirit! Now haul yourself up from my ergonomic beanbag and get ye hence! Ian Anderson won’t write that keynote speech himself.

MR KEY – Thank you so much for your help, Dr Fang.

Outside, the skies were still overcast, and the drizzle still spat. MR KEY made his imaginary way homeward, past ditches and puddles and bracken and muck. As Anderson sang, more than forty years ago, it was a new day yesterday, but it’s an old day now. How true that was, in a very real sense, how true…

Biblical Cormorants

In that piece from seven years ago reposted yesterday, I quote from the Book of Isaiah (King James Version). It is there we meet the so-called Isaiah Cormorant, one of four cormorants to be found in the Bible, the four most culturally important cormorants ever to have existed. Anybody who is serious about cormorants, and about culturally important cormorants in particular, ought to be familiar with them. It may well be true, as Charles Bradlaugh (1833-1891) observed, that the books of the Bible had their origins in the ravings of “illiterate half-starved visionaries in some dark corner of a Graeco-Syrian slum”, but few would deny that those ravings have had profound resonance, especially, but not exclusively, in cormorant-world.

What of the three other Biblical cormorants? Well, there is the Leviticus Cormorant, which appears in this passage:

These are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; Every raven after his kind; And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.

The Deuteronomy Cormorant is not dissimilar, as we learn here:

Of all clean birds ye shall eat. But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and ossifrage, and the ospray, And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind, And every raven after his kind, And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan, And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant, And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten. But of all clean fowls ye may eat.

Then there is the Isaiah Cormorant, which we met yesterday, and finally the Zephaniah Cormorant:

Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword. And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness. And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he shall uncover the cedar work.

So similar are the Leviticus Cormorant and the Deuteronomy Cormorant, on the one hand, and the Isaiah Cormorant and the Zephaniah Cormorant, on the other, that some theologians and cormorantologists have argued that there are only two cormorants in the Bible, not four. The cultural and historical implications of this view are immense, even world-shuddering. If your brain is made dizzy by just thinking about it, I recommend a thorough study of Dobson’s pamphlet How Many Cormorants Are There In The Bible? (out of print).

Seven Years Ago

Seven years ago at Hooting Yard, this…

People often wonder why a bird sanctuary was created at Bodger’s Spinney, for it is a somewhat gloomy spot. The moving spirit behind this avian paradise on earth was one Merrill Stubing, a man who, incidentally, was later to share his name with a fictional character. Although they had nought else in common, this was the name of the captain of The Love Boat, an exciting television series of the 1970s, long after the real “Bird Man” Stubing was dead.

Besotted with birds, Stubing lit upon Bodger’s Spinney as the perfect place for his planned sanctuary after accidentally wandering across it when he got lost on a Sunday morning jaunt with his colleagues from the Pastry Works. Hurling his considerable energy into the project, Stubing called for a meeting of interested parties, where he outlined his vision as follows:

And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever; from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it; and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.

And that, children, is why there is a bird sanctuary at Bodger’s Spinney.

Dabbling In A Bran Tub

Dabbler-3logo (1)

This week in The Dabbler, my cupboard contains a bran tub of bittybobs. To give you some idea of what I am talking about, here is the Oxford English Dictionary definition of bran-tub (with a hyphen) which, as you can see, leads directly to its definition of bran-pie (also with a hyphen), a term I confess is entirely new to me:

bran-tub n. = bran-pie n.; also fig.

1858    C. Parry in E. Parry Mem. (1870) vii. 173   It quite reminded me of the bran-tub itself as I unpacked each separate article.

1909    Westm. Gaz. 22 Apr. 8/2   Sideshows will contain the ever-popular phrenologist’s tent and bran-tub.

1963    Times Lit. Suppl. 26 Apr. 313/3   This is a mathematical bran-tub.

bran-pie n. a tub full of bran with small gifts hidden in it to be drawn out at random, as part of festivities at Christmas, etc.

1877    Cassell’s Family Mag. May 377/1   In the last division of the tent we had‥a bran-pie.‥ The bran-pie was an oblong washing-tub‥filled with bran, in which were hidden‥small articles.

1889    Peel City Guardian 28 Dec. 7/4   Sometimes what is termed a ‘bran pie’ is employed‥for storing the presents in.

1904    Daily Chron. 27 Feb. 3/2   The bran-pie‥is the receptacle of second-rate presents: gifts not quite showy enough to be displayed upon a Christmas tree.

1916    Daily Colonist (Victoria, Brit. Columbia) 4 July 4/4   All sorts of seasonable refreshments will be served and the blue ribbon girls will have an attraction in the form of a bran pie.

1931    V. Woolf Waves 236,   I think more disinterestedly than I could when I was young and must dig furiously like a child rummaging in a bran-pie to discover my self.

I am disconcerted to learn, however, that neither bittybob (without a hyphen) nor bitty-bob (with a hyphen) is defined in the OED. Can such things be?, to quote Ambrose Bierce.

Obsequies For Lars Talc, Struck By Lightning


This is the cover of Obsequies For Lars Talc, Struck By Lightning. It was published in an edition of twenty-five copies in 1994, under the Hooting Yard Press imprint and – save for a brief, rewritten, extract posted here some years ago – has never again seen the light of day. It was the last piece of prose I completed before my descent into the maelstrom, or the Wilderness Years, or whatever one wants to call that period of ruination from which I eventually emerged with the launch of the Hooting Yard website in 2003.

I am planning to republish Obsequies, with the original text unaltered, as the second volume in the Out Of Print Pamphlets Reprinted series, later this year. Meanwhile, I have decided to read the whole thing on the radio, starting with this evening’s episode of Hooting Yard On The Air on Resonance104.4FM, continuing next week, and possibly the week after. (I’m not sure how long it will take.)

Turn on, tune in, pin back your ears, and listen.

Yvonne The Cow

There are many details to savour in the story of the Bavarian cow fugitive, not the least of which is that the cow is named Yvonne and her sister is Waltraut. Clearly the dairy farmers of Bavaria have a grasp of cow nomenclature second to none. I am also fascinated by Franziska Matti, the Swiss “animal communication expert” who is in telepathic communication with Yvonne, and says:

I spoke to her yesterday and she said that she was fine but didn’t feel ready to come out of hiding. She said she knew that Ernst had been waiting for her but that she was scared. She said she thought that humans would lock her up and she would no longer be free.

I would be greatly interested to learn in what language Ms Matti and Yvonne speak to each other. Does Ms Matti moo, or does the telepathic realm grant Yvonne a smattering of German? Also, with all of Bavaria seemingly agog with the thrill of the hunt, intent either on rescuing Yvonne or shooting her down, how could Ms Matti be sure that the cow with which she was in mystic mental contact was actually Yvonne, and not, say, Waltraut, or Ernst, or any of thousands of other Bavarian dairy cows? If she remained in her fastness in Switzerland while sending out telepathic signals, her ability to pinpoint Yvonne is truly remarkable. One wishes, however, that Ms Matti had asked the simple question, “Whereabouts are you, Yvonne?” With an answer to that, we could be sure that we were hearing from Yvonne herself and not from some telepathic impostor cow intent on muddying the waters, with a motive either benign or, more likely, malign.

I suppose telepathic communication with cows knows no national boundaries, but I do wonder how much work comes Ms Matti’s way. Do dairy farmers throughout Europe come a-hammering at her door whenever one of their cows goes astray? And is she able to use her powers to speak to other farmyard animals, such as goats or hens or pigs? What about non-farmyard animals, giraffes, for example, ostriches, ants, and axolotls? Does she speak to these in their own tongue, for want of a better word, or can they all speak telepathic German?

There is much left unsaid in the newspaper report, so I may have to fire off a letter to Franziska Matti, or, better yet, attempt to communicate with her over the mystic aether. I shall do my best to make my thoughts heard over the telepathic hubbub of mooing and bellowing and cooing and grunting of her other communicants.

The Fripps, Episode 94

Dramatis Personae:

ROBERT FRIPP, modest and bashful egghead electric guitar wizard

TOYAH WILCOX, pint-sized popstrel, his wife

PATRICIA FRIPP, executive skills coach and motivational speaker, his sister

PETE SINFIELD, magician who weaves spells with words, King Crimson lyricist

Scene One. Toyah’s so-called “Yoko House”, a property devoted entirely to storage of archives and memorabilia of her glittering career. Toyah is sorting through a pile of old videotapes of her appearances on Top Of The Pops, three decades ago.

Enter Robert Fripp, carrying an electric guitar.

ROBERT FRIPP : Hello, pint-sized popstrel wife!

TOYAH WILCOX : Hello Robert. Have you invented a new electric guitar technique today?

ROBERT FRIPP : Not yet, my dear, not yet.

TOYAH WLCOX : You’d better buck your ideath up! The world lookth to you for thintillating electric guitar innovationth.

Robert Fripp passes a hand over his startlingly intelligent forehead, momentarily overcome by the weight of his responsibility.

ROBERT FRIPP : I can’t come up with something as fantastic as Frippertronics every day, sweetie.

TOYAH WILCOX : I don’t thee why not. You jutht took a thimple feedback loop thing already practithed by many experimental guitarithtth and called it Frippertronicth with your wonderful modethty. I’m thure there are thome other techniqueth lying around that you could altho lay claim to.

ROBERT FRIPP : (sighing) I don’t know. Sometimes I think my gigantic brain has taken the electric guitar as far as it can go. Perhaps I need a brand new field to which I can devote my pulsating intellect.

Scene Two. The executive boardroom of Cakes R Us, a major player in the cake manufacturing industry. Patricia Fripp is addressing the assembled executives.

PATRICIA FRIPP : OK, still the hubbub! I know I have been described as “one of the ten most electrifying speakers in North America”, but right now you have to stay calm and concentrate on cake sales figures. Let’s kick some ideas around the flagpole and push envelopes into a box. Brainstorm, guys!

The executives brainstorm in various little grouplets or “idea silos”.

Scene Three. Toyah’s “Yoko House”.

TOYAH WILCOX : Robert, give me a hand with thith pile of coloured vinyl copieth of my hit thingle “It’th A Mythtery”.

ROBERT FRIPP : Will do, poppet, just as soon as I have finished cogitating.

The telephone rings. Toyah picks up the receiver.


She listens for a while and then puts the phone down.

TOYAH WILCOX ; Well, Robert, that wath very exthiting. It wath your thithter Patrithia, calling from a very important conferenthe of cake executiveth in North America. They want to expand their cake buthineth to the UK by holding cake thaleth at countrythide fairth and bazaarth and jamboreeth. Patrithia thinkth you would be the perfect perthon to add gravitath and therebral heft to thuch eventth.

ROBERT FRIPP : You mean I should cast aside the electric guitar and devote myself to innovations in cake-selling?


ROBERT FRIPP : It would certainly give me a whole new area to which to apply my giant egghead brain! I must go and see Pete Sinfield at once!

Scene Four. The palatial residence of Pete Sinfield, whose lyrics have been intoned by top prog artists such as King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Leo Sayer and Bucks Fizz. Pete is sitting at an escritoire, writing the lyrics for a pop song with a quill upon parchment.


PETE SINFIELD : Hello, Robert. It’s a good job my residence is palatial, with huge doorways wide enough for your superb bespectacled egghead to fit through.

ROBERT FRIPP : I need some lyrics about cake for my new project.

PETE SINFIELD : Hmm. Let the Muse descend. “The lady in white robes floats o’er the mystic lake / And on the wind are borne towards her many sorts of cake”.

ROBERT FRIPP : Brilliant! Thanks, Pete.

Scene Five. A countryside fete, somewhere in England. Inside a marquee, beside a sign bearing his wife’s name, Robert Fripp proffers a tray of cakes to passers-by.

ROBERT FRIPP : Roll up, roll up. These aren’t just cakes. They are an entirely new teatime snack I call Frippocakeys.

TOYAH WILCOX, PATRICIA FRIPP, & PETE SINFIELD (looking on in awestruck admiration) : Truly, Robert Fripp has brought something entirely new and original to the world of cakes.



Thanks to Marina Organ for alerting me to this superb photograph.