We can go over now to our reporter on the ground, Praxiteles Hubbard . . . Prax, what is the situation there on the ground?
This episode was first broadcast on the 2nd 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.
To the Director
I have come to enquire if I have anything left on account with you. I wish to change today my booking on this ship whose name I don’t even know, but anyway it must be the ship from Aphinar. There are shipping lines going all over the place, but helpless and unhappy as I am, I can’t find a single one – the first dog you meet in the street will tell you this. Send me the prices of the ship from Aphinar to Suez. I am completely paralysed, so I wish to embark in good time. Please let me know when I should be carried aboard…
Thus Arthur Rimbaud’s last recorded words, dictated in a delirium to his sister Isabelle from his Marseille hospital bed on the eve of his death on 10 November 1891. As Charles Nicholl notes in Somebody Else : Arthur Rimbaud In Africa 188-1891 (1997)
Another thrilling of Accidental Deaths Of Twelve Cartographers.
The previous section can be found here.
The parents of the great cartographer Ken Buttercase were employed by a small railway in a remote country. They lived in a wooden hut which served as a signal-box. A threadbare curtain of rep divided the hut into two halves. In one half, the Buttercases ate and slept and baked and washed; the other half contained the signalling controls and was also used to store an ever-changing collection of broken locomotive machinery. Once a day, at noon or thereabouts, a cart would trundle to the door of the hut; two railway workers would deliver some broken bits and pieces and take others away. Mr or Mrs Buttercase would sign one chit for the deliveries, another chit for the pieces removed, and help the two officials – one of whom was tubercular – to load and offload the invariably rusty pieces of metal.
Their duties left them little time to devote to their only child. Let us examine these duties in some detail. The railway itself was not busy – the one train passed the hut four times a day; heading north at 4 a.m. and 4 p.m., and heading south at 10 a.m. and 10.15 p.m. Before its passing, the signals had to be set; the cranks, winches, levers, pulleys, knobs, fulcra, and transistor motors all had to be adjusted with frightening precision. In order for this to be done, the broken locomotive-parts had to be shoved out of the way, into the other half of the hut. They could not be kept outside, exposed to the elements, as the company regulations forbade such a practice. Nor could they be stored permanently on the other side of the rep curtain, as not only was this – as we have seen – the family’s living quarters, it also served as the work-room devoted to carrying out the many other tasks they had to perform, which we shall examine in due course. Once all the broken stuff had been moved out of the way, the signalling equipment could be set. Readjustment, back to the original coordinates, took place once the train had passed, after which the day’s conglomeration of broken bits and pieces could be shifted back to the other half of the hut.
I am angry, I am ill, and I’m as ugly as sin. My irritability keeps me alive and kicking.
That was me, sitting bolt upright in bed upon waking at dawn, singing my little heart out, like a chaffinch or a linnet. I sang A Song From Under The Floorboards by Magazine. Now, regular listeners to my radio show on Resonance104.4FM, Hooting Yard On The Air, will be well aware that I cannot sing for toffee. Recite prose, yes. Sing, no. But while I would never dream of assailing the ears of an unsuspecting public by singing – or attempting to sing – on the airwaves, there is no reason why I should not do so in the privacy of my own home.