This audio was recorded (badly) at Brewer’s Bar, Dalston, London. 9th March 2016.
If you are lucky enough to get a non-counterfeit ticket and still be in possession of all your limbs, you are certainly in for a treat! Down to the riverside you go, past the field where the Picnic For Detectives is in full swing. The spectators’ area on the riverbank is muddy and sloshy and the stink of unnameable effluence wafts through the foul air. There are the rowing boats! They are empty, of course, at this stage, just before dawn on the day of the regatta. You tuck in to your official regatta snack of compressed reconstituted meat ‘n’ gristle slices on a bed of contaminated lettuce leaves in a basket. Headphones jammed into your ears, you listen to your iFry, tuned in to Stephen Fry’s pre-regatta commentary. In recent years there have been moves to replace Fry with someone less ubiquitous, but, as so many others have learned, resistance is futile. You slurp your can of Squelcho! You leaf through the official programme, sponsored by Dignitas, casting your eye over the beautifully-executed mezzotints of the vagabonds, reading up on their form.
This episode was first broadcast on the 4th October 2012.
Natty Dread. Like it or lump it, it has become clear to any thinking person that Emperor Haile Selassie, or Ras Tafari, was indeed a living god. Admittedly, the thinking done by those persons is conducted with brains ravaged by pot, but that does not make their thinking any less cogent. Well, it does, and perhaps they might think a teensy bit more cogently with clearer heads. But they would surely reach the same conclusions regarding Haile Selassie and Jah Rastafari and the escape from Babylon and all that business. Natty Dread indeed.
This episode was first broadcast on the 9th August 2012.
To see properly pointy buildings, of course, one need go no further than Pointy Town. Now there is a place where the architects and builders do not fight shy of true pointiness. There is not an edifice in Pointy Town that is not pointy, certainly pointier than the Shard. Not just buildings, but statues, street appurtenances, people’s hats, even the very landscape itself – all as pointy as can be. For those keen on pointiness, it is very heaven. I am not sure if Pevsner ever went to Pointy Town, but had he done so, he would have been in raptures at the sheer profusion of pointy bits, if, that is, he was pointy-minded, which I am equally unsure whether he was or not. Let us say merely that he damn well ought to have been. “Pevsner”, after all, is a curiously pointy name, at least one suggestive of pointiness, in comparison to a name like, oh I don’t know, Stalin, for example. In spite of its meaning of “steel” or “steely”, which might evoke pointiness, “Stalin” has a softer, more rounded quality than “Pevsner”, to my ear. And Stalin himself was of course pocky, of which more later.
It was in February 1651 that a London tailor, John Reeve, received a commission from God. He explained to Muggleton, his cousin, also a tailor, that they were the two witnesses spoken of in the Book of Revelation 11:3, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” Reeve died a few years later in 1658, leaving Muggleton to continue their work, and to give the sect his name.
What was that work? It was one of the key tenets of the Muggletonians that, having created Man, God took a step back and took no interest whatsoever in our everyday doings. Muggletonians did not preach, nor proselytise. They had no form of organised worship, and indeed hardly any organisation at all. What they did do was meet up, usually in taverns, and talk – often rancorously – and sing Muggletonian songs. They also had holidays, where they might choose a picnic spot instead of a tavern for talking and singing, on the 19th of July, and on the “Great Holiday”, from the 2nd to the 4th of February, celebrating Reeve’s initial revelation.
This episode was first broadcast on 19th July 2012.
At some point, into the room padded a huge black spittle-flecked hound, which planted itself in front of me, growling, quite obviously preparing to pounce and sink its fangs into my little infant throat. I wanted to cry out for help, but was so frightened I could neither move nor make a sound. I was eventually rescued by Mrs Flack popping into the room, seeing my stricken state, and leading the ungodly beast – which had not, after all, attacked me – away, assuring me it was a loveable harmless pooch. In subsequent years I have noticed that dog owners always make such assurances, which I treat with deserved contempt. I remain convinced that the vast majority of dogs mean me harm, and would tear out my vitals given half a chance.
This episode of Hooting Yard was first broadcast on the 12th July 2012.
The raking of gravel in the grounds of a rented country cottage is usually the lot of the handyman-gardener who comes with the property. You will first meet him when he comes to the railway station to meet you off the train. He will load your luggage on to the brake after the briefest greeting, and drive like the clappers along twisting bosky lanes. When he has debouched you outside the cottage, and unloaded the luggage, he will drive off again to park the brake in a nearby barn. You will not see him again for some hours, until evening, when, looking out of the cottage window, you will spot him raking the gravel.
This episode of Hooting Yard was first broadcast on the 28th June 2012.
Let us imagine you are sitting at home, in an armchair, with your feet up, listening to Scriabin on the radio perhaps, or reading Martin Amis’s very sensible new novel Lionel Asbo : State Of England, or simply gazing vacantly into space, like a dimwit or a simpleton, though you need not actually be a dimwit or a simpleton, merely dozing, half-asleep, at the border of the Land of Nod. Then imagine that your poppet rushes into the room, from the front garden, crying “Dennis! Dennis! Come and see!”
Whatever you have been doing, or not doing, you sit bolt upright and ask “What is it?”
“Come and see the shoveller!” cries your poppet.
This episode of Hooting Yard was first broadcast on the 21st June 2012.