Hooting Yard: The Ogsby Steering Panel

Were you lucky enough, when you were a tiny tot, to receive an Ogsby’s Steering Panel as a birthday gift? I was. I still remember with absolute clarity waking on the icy cold morning of my tenth birthday, and finding at the foot of my bed a rectangular object wrapped in old newspaper, on which either my father or my mother had scribbled in crayon “Happy Birthday To Our Ten-Year-Old”. I was a dutiful and pious child, so before tearing the package open I repaired to the bathroom to brush my teeth and plunge my head into a sink full of icy water, and then I went downstairs to find my parents.


My mother was in the garden slaughtering insects. I thanked her for my gift and asked where my father was so I could thank him too. She gave me a woebegone look and patted me on the head, mussing my hair in which icicles were beginning to form.

“I am afraid your father had to take the dawn train to a secret military establishment at an undisclosed coastal location – towering cliffs, monstrous waves, shingle – where he will be cooped up for the next six months helping to devise counter-intelligence techniques for use against an enemy so powerful, so ruthless, so fiendish, that it beggars belief,” said my mother, and she tapped the side of her nose, indicating that this startling news was to be kept under my hat, had I but a hat to keep it under.

  • The Ogsby Steering Panel
  • Saving your Swan From Bird Flu
  • Gluten-Free Jabbering Man
  • A Buttercup in a Field, and an interview about buttercups.
  • Custard

This episode of Hooting Yard was first broadcast on the 22nd of Febuary 2006. Please visit Frank Key’s Hooting Yard Website for a complete transcript.