I have been wondering if it is time for Hooting Yard to obtain a kitemark.Â Readers from overseas will wonder what on earth I am babbling about, so let me explain. Every single person in this country, man, woman and child, upon seeing a little picture of a kite, knows viscerally that whatever it is that the picture of a kite is attached to is an absolutely fantastic thing, and they can confidently begin to drool with glee. Why this should be so is not quite clear, but is probably bound up with age-old traditions of bureaucratic twaddle.
When the cows come home they may be disconcerted to find you in their meadow, with your tilted head, and some of them may become fractious. Fractious cows can be dangerous, so it will help if you have your acolyte armed with some sort of cow-protection device. This might be made of corrugated cardboard, or alternatively of tin foil. Best to consult a catalogue of cow-protection devices beforehand, with your acolyte at your side.
Jean-Paul Sartreâ€™s trilogy The Roads To Freedom has fallen out of fashion somewhat â€“ as if that mattered â€“ yet it remains a classic. But for a book with a bit more existentialist heft, I recommend Pebbleheadâ€™s bestselling paperback The Roads To Jaywick. That blighted, benighted, dilapidated seaside town, has of course, provided fodder for any number of potboilers, including Jaywick â€“ West Of Clacton and The Sordid Sands Of Squalor, but Pebbleheadâ€™s is a fundamentally serious work, and there is a lot about cows in it, which is always a good thing.
I do not know who awaits me in the upper chamber, although I now know that whoever it is will half expect me to be carrying a wafer. I can use the filthiness of my gloves as an excuse for not doing so.
Ordinarily, when we think of harpies we think of Aello, Ocypete, and Celaeno, or as she is sometimes known, Podarge, the three sisters of Greek myth, bird-women who kept stealing, and befouling, food from Phineus and were generally vicious, violent and cruel. Tennyson called them “These prodigies of myriad nakednesses, / And twisted shapes of lust, unspeakable, / Abominable, strangers at my hearth / Not welcome, harpies miring every dish” but that may be more a reflection of the poet’s fevered mental state than of the destructive wind-spirits themselves.
After I posted the piece entitled Denktash Fugue Syndrome, in which mention is made of Mrs Gubbins and her knitted tea cosies, I was deluged with mail from younger readers who complained that they had no idea what I was talking about. The general tone of these missives was along the lines of â€œOi, Mr Key, what in the name of heaven is a tea cosy, for crying out loud, innit?â€
Without wishing to generate further controversy over what is, in any case, a pointless and trivial matter, I should add that I have recently completed a lengthy work, at fifteen volumes just one book short of Sabine Baring-Gouldâ€™s Lives Of The Saints. It is a comprehensive study, with lots of illustrations and diagrams, of all Dobsonâ€™s known and suspected hats. I conclude that not a single one of them was lined with lead.
Bring me a cuppet of foaming grog! And bring me some rags to mop up the spillage! Bring me a lantern to light my way through the gruesome lanes of your gruesome village!
Slipping out of a den of vice through a side door, slinking with surprising elegance along a night alley thick with the leavings of debauchery, he whistled Oh Danny Boy, attracting the attention of police officers.
In a thicket, with a compass, I am thinking about blubber. I use blubber for my candles. Iâ€™m the captain of a whaler. Some use tallow, I use blubber. It gets smoky in my cabin. Iâ€™m not in my cabin now. As I said, Iâ€™m in a thicket. Iâ€™m on shore leave for a fortnight. Iâ€™ve been hiking with the devil. Satan left me in a thicket on the wild and windy moors. But Iâ€™ve got my trusty compass and my pipe clamped in my jaws. I am smoking in the thicket. I hope to see my whaler soon. Donâ€™t go hiking with the devil. Keep your compass in your pocket. I am thinking about blubber. Blubber is my candle light. Itâ€™s a comfort in this thicket on the wild and windy moors to think of blubber candle light, for the devil trapped me in this thicket and it is a pitch black night.