Sulky Bulgarian Poets

Along with the Undimmed by Death postcard, I unearthed another set of six cards from the same era. These are hand-drawn and hand-written, and collectively titled Sulky Bulgarian Poets. Unfortunately, the drawings are cack-handed and the “poems” are atrocious – with one exception. Number 5, “In Fish And Shipping”, is attributed to sulky Bulgarian poet Elvis Targnegescubit, and, though it pre-dates Hooting Yard, I think it is a worthy addition to the canon.

In despicable visions of
An unholy refrigerator,
Another refrigerator,
In implacable discussions of
A swordfish,
A carp,
An enormous schooner,
A small schooner,
A tiny ship, ship-ette,
In all these I have said,
Irrefutably, not once,
But with venom,
I am a very fat man.

A Postcard From The Last Century

In 1982 I spent much of my time making postcards, which I sold for a pittance to eager punters from what would now be called a pop-up stall in Norwich. Below is an example of the sort of thing I was doing.

The source material for both words and images was a huge pile of National Geographic magazines from the 1950s and 1960s acquired from various second-hand bookshops. To create the captions I employed a cut-up technique akin to that used by William S Burroughs and David Bowie, but far more amusingly than either of them ever did, particularly the former, a tedious gun-toting drug-addled uxoricide.

Younger readers may find it difficult to fathom, but in Norwich in 1982 it was well nigh impossible to find an affordable colour photocopying facility. I thus sent my originals to my friend Peter Ross in London, and Peter organised the copying and sent me the results by post. I then employed scissors and glue to mount the hysterically funny images on to card, ready for sale to East Anglians.

I think Peter is still in possession of most of the original artwork, but this one came to light the other day. The captions read as follows:

Undimmed by Death

Who were they?

In this convivial land, trendy youngsters like Walter And Jorg searched the ground for clues.

Walter and Jorg are each identified by separate name captions.


Boxing Day

One of the most fab of Boxing Day traditions is the annual gathering around the bottomless viper-pit at Shoeburyness. Forming a circle around the pit, and holding hands, the participants come dressed in motley, with trimmings of gimp passementerie. Eyes fixed steadily upon the viper-pit, they then recite passages from various works by Alain de Botton, before singing, to the accompaniment of bassoon and piccolo, “More Than A Feeling” by Boston. They then remain in silent contemplation until sunset, at which point they disperse, all except one, bent on self-obliteration, who is taken by the wrists and ankles and flung, voluntarily, into the pit.

I attended today, as I have done for countless years past, and I am pleased to report that a fine time was had by all. The sole disappointment was that, as usual, not a single viper slithered out of the bottomless pit to grace us with its vipery Boxing Day presence, dammit!

Cetacean News Roundup

I am grateful to reader Theo Gott, who reminded me of this seasonal squib which originally appeared here six long years ago.


The television presenter Adrian Chiles read the newspaper headline Porpoises rescue Dick Van Dyke and was consumed by jealousy. Ever since he was tiny, Chiles had hankered to feature in an exciting news story alongside sea creatures, and now his thunder had been stolen by the octogenarian pretend chimney-sweep! It was too much to bear.

Yet, rather than turning his twisted mental havoc upon Dick Van Dyke, the West Bromwich Albion-supporting anchorman began to plot vengeance against the very sea creatures which until now had fascinated him. In his mania, he decided to obliterate the largest sea creature he could obtain, to obliterate it in the most disgusting way, by eating it. And he decided to make of his revenge a festive occasion, by arranging his foul dinner to take place on the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

What demons swept through his maddened mind, to so finesse his unutterable act? Alas, no hint was given of his motives in the newspaper report which followed, in the cheaply-photocopied Weekly Cetacean News Roundup, under the headline A Whale’s Christmas In Chiles.

Slow Djinn

There was an item on Radio Four’s Farming Today this morning about a slow djinn. I have no idea why, in the run-up to Christmas, the BBC’s premier agricultural radio slot is banging on about a dull-witted Arabian demon, but I suppose it must be something to do with “diversity”.

181 Pamphlets (Out Of Print)

From his banishment in a pompous land, Hooting Yard devotee Mike Jennings keeps tabs on the out of print pamphleteer Dobson. Specifically, Mr Jennings acts as Dobson’s bibliographer, maintaining a catalogue of all known pamphlets, and adding to the list whenever previously overlooked titles come to his attention in these pages.

Here is his latest update. You can find links to all the earlier lists, comprising pamphlets numbered 1 to 168, here. Please note that, like the previous 168, all the pamphlets listed below are out of print.

169. A Magisterial Exegesis Of My Resounding Failure As A Novelist, With A Surfeit Of Adjectives And A Ham-fisted Watercolour Plate Of Ida Lupino.

170. Parp. Toot, Hooter, Tooters, Parpers And Tots : A Complete Guide For The Bewildered.

171. Several Potentates Of The Ancient World With Collapsed Lungs & Their Concubines.

172. How To Make Your Own Packet Of Half A Dozen Smokers’ Poptarts For Tuppence-Ha’penny.

173. A Comparative Study Of Speckles And Splodges And Smudges.

174. Half A Dozen Reasons Why Birds Sometimes Become Encrusted With Filth.

175. Everything You Ought To Know About Hay, And Words Beginning With Hay-.

176. Several Anagrams Of OO NOOKY, Informed By My Unique Insight Into Popular Culture

177. Dictionary Of Fruit- And Nut-Related Jazz And Blues Nomenclature

178. Fortune-Telling By Interpreting The Patterns Created By Crockery Smithereens Smashed According To The Dusty Springfield Method.

179. Breakfast Favourites Of The Austrian Empire Foreign Ministry 1809-1821.

180. Arithmetic For The Blind.

181. Marmalade : Does It Come In A Jar Or A Pot?

Critical Insight Of The Year

There are startling similarities to be found in the film characters John McClane in Die Hard and Ellen Ripley in Alien. In particular,

both have formative traumatic experiences in air ducts: arguably, both heroines are born within the air ducts.

Just one of many nuggets of wisdom scattered throughout “Making fists with your toes: Towards a feminist analysis of Die Hard”, an essay by Zoe Stavri, aka Another Angry Woman. Make sure you read it before watching that magnificent film for the umpteenth time.

Thanks to Roberta Mock for drawing this to my attention.

Christmas Appeal 2016

This year’s Hooting Yard Christmas Appeal is for the Relief of Distressed Half-Blind Out Of Print Pamphleteers. We are hoping to raise about 47 New Pence, but more – indeed, considerably more – would aid the Relief Committee in their important work of keeping that confounded wolf away from Mr Key’s door.

If you have been entertained, diverted, instructed, or otherwise had the cockles of your heart warmed by Hooting Yard this year, or over the past god knows how many years, please give generously. The “Donate” or “Subscribe” bits over to your right, beneath all the books, will lead you to Paypal. Feel free to empty your bank account should you feel strangely compelled to do so.

All donations will be received with genuine gratitude.