Hooting Yard: Bird-recognition skills

O what can ail thee, horoscope reader, alone and palely loitering? Make sure you treat yourself to an electric bath and a session in a sensory deprivation tank. The Bale of Gas in your House of Stupidity has incalculable effects. You will stand on the steps of the Insane Asylum, and hundreds of men and women will stand below you, with their upturned faces. Among them will be old men crushed by sorrow, and old men ruined by vice; aged women with faces that seemed to plead for pity, women that make you shrink from their unwomanly gaze; lion-like young men, made for heroes but caught in the devil’s trap and changed into beasts; and boys whose looks show that sin has already stamped them with its foul insignia, and burned into their souls the shame which is to be one of the elements of its eternal punishment.

A less impressible person than you would feel moved at the sight of that throng of bruised and broken creatures. A hymn will be read, and when the preachers strike up an old tune, voice after voice will join in the melody until it swells into a mighty volume of sacred song. You will notice that the faces of many are wet with tears, and there will be an indescribable pathos in their voices. The pitying God, amid the rapturous hallelujahs of the heavenly hosts, shall bend to listen to the music of these broken harps.

  • Thoughts on Cardinal Ratzinger
  • Module one of “Bird Recognition Skills”, “The Beak”
  • Brain Exercise: How to think of things other than the Pope
  • A Parlour Game
  • Potted biographies of a marine hue #1: Captain Flask
  • Mister Scrimejour’s Aviary
  • Bats
  • Your horoscope for today

First broadcast on April 20th 2005.