Wednesday, 17 July 2013
Monday, 18 February 2013
Thursday, 26 January 2012
It is testament to the fickle nature of celebrity that little is known now of Wiggan Roxitty, yet for forty years he appeared on our television screens as the only panellist of the game show ‘Call My Bluff’ to appear in every episode.
Details about Roxitty’s disappearance from our screens, our memories and popular culture at large are scarce. The only indication given is from a leaked health report from 2006, indicating that he had been hospitalised – suffering from a form of madness that comes from a lifetime of lying to people for a living. Some might recall that Wiggan Roxitty only ever held ‘bluff’ cards on the show and falsifying information became his stock-in-trade. It seems that he found it more and more difficult to separate fact from fiction in real life and almost always lied in conversation.
His co-star, Frank Muir, recalled in his autobiography (in a chapter now sadly excised from current editions):
“Taking Wiggan to dinner was a minefield. The waiter would approach and a typical conversation would play out thus:
‘Ah, Mr Roxitty, how nice to see you again!’
‘Again? I’ve never been here before, and who’s this Roxitty character you’re talking about?’
...and this would continue well into the evening. On being presented with the dessert menu, he would invariably fall into his ‘Bluff’ routines and insist on reading the list to me, with spurious definitions of the puddings on offer. ‘Frank (if that is your real name),’ he would say, ‘SYLLABUB’ – a shart pointed stick used by the Elders of the Masai tribe.’ I would laugh at his cunning and amusing definitions, but there was a sadness behind his eyes which suggested he actually meant it all.”
Documents recently discovered at the BBC show that later host of the show, Bob Holness and team captain, Sandi Toksvig, were baffled as to why Roxitty was invited back to return as a panellist when the show was revived in the Nineties. There seems to be some suggestion of medical input into the decision as the memo from the producer has a hand written note attached saying, “If we don’t put him here, we can’t put him anywhere. It’s for his own good”, followed by a drawing of a frowning face.
The only publicly available record of Wiggan Roxitty now is his (out-of-print) autobiography, “The Life and Times of Leonard J Campanile – Horse Burglar”.
Friday, 20 January 2012
From our new range of action figures
Three different models! Let your kids pick their favourite Rossiter! Better yet, buy all three and let them work out finally, who is the greatest of Leonard’s creations.
· Rupert Rigbsy – comes complete with ‘Vienna’, his lovable feline companion and interchangeable cardigans.
· Dr Andrei Smyslov – the zany Russian scientist from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Pull the string and this fully-poseable figure speaks some of his wacky catchphrases, “A serious epidemic has broken out at Clavius!”
· Reginald Perrin – Comes with fully removable clothes, for when Reggie wants to go for that ‘special swim’! Optional accessories include: The Martin Wellbourne outfit. A Hippopotamus. A selection of novelties from ‘Grot’.
Yes! Kids will love seeing who can most effectively portray a creeping sense of self-doubt or futuristic suspicion of governmental cover-ups!
Also coming to soon to Foghorn Toys:
· Callaghan Cabinet action figures: For the first time you can now collect the full range of Jim Callaghan’s 1979 Cabinet ministers! Listen to Jim’s crazy catchphrase, “Crisis, What Crisis?”, and then watch his expression change to beleaguered as you go on strike! Comb Denis Healey’s real-hair eyebrows! Frighten your friends with the Tony Benn doll, complete with real wobbly hand arm gestures!
WARNING: Tony Benn doll may overheat and explode if “manic arms” function is left switched on for more than ten minutes.
Currently unavailable due to excessive demand: Harold Lever (Chancellor Of The Duchy Of Lancaster (1976-1979))
And as part of our range of board games:
· Porridge: The Movie: The Board Game : Board game based on the movie based on the TV series of ‘Porridge’. Trade snout to build up points – the more points you gain, the more celebrities you can attract for the prisoners vs. celebrities football match! Then, after Gordon Kaye takes you hostage, the race is on to break back into Slade prison! Who’ll be the first to get back in? But uh-oh, make sure that Mackay doesn’t spot you’re gone, otherwise it’s game over! Comes complete with ‘activity cards’ ( ‘Can you hide Godper’s tin of cling peaches?’ ) and ‘catchphrase cards’ featuring all your favourite phrases (like “Naff off Barraclough, I’m trying to have a w*nk!”)
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Dear Points Of View,
I wish to complain about the biopic 'Curry & Duncan' which was recently screened on BBC4. My wife and I are good friends with Mark Curry and have been on holiday to the Norfolk Broads with him several times. He is a polite, genial man who only very occasionally shows signs of manic-depressive behaviour and is nothing like the character portrayed in your dramatisation. The suggestion that Peter Duncan left Blue Peter because of a feud with Mark is completely untrue, and to suggest that Mark deliberately fed some rabbit livers to Peter at his BBC leaving do, despite knowing that Peter was allergic to them, is possibly libellous. Also, Mark didn't have green wallpaper in his kitchen until 1988 yet you clearly showed a scene, supposedly set in 1986, where his kitchen wallpaper was green and not brown. Would you have treated Valerie Singleton so shabbily? I think not! Overall, it was a highly disappointing evening's viewing for me and made me question what exactly I'm getting for my licence fee.
Hubert De Jong (Mr.)
Dear Points Of View,
I wish to complain aboult a recent episode of 'The Apprentice' where Lord Sugar made a joke about one of the contestants which suggested that he (Lord Sugar) was wholly supportive of voluntary euthanasia in certain circumstances. May I remind the BBC that it is supposed to remain impartial on contentious issues such as this? One certainly doesn't want to see a repeat of the furore surrounding the coverage of the Maastricht Treaty!
Jeremy St. Tremble
Dear Points Of View,
I am writing to express my disappointment in Monday's edition of your flagship regional news programme, 'Look North North-West'. Your reporter spent several minutes filming an interview with me at the recent Brampton Show where we discussed how my parsnips had triumphed in the Root Vegetables (Best Newcomer) category. However, it would appear that the producers of the show dropped the segment in favour of another news story. It's a sad day when my prize-winning parsnips are deemed to be less interesting than a bomb blast at Carlisle railway station! Can the BBC confirm that my interview will still be shown at a later date?
Dear Points Of View,
I was hoping you may be able to settle a dispute that has been ongoing in our household. My wife insists Jeremy Paxman is real and refuses to believe me when I tell her that he is merely a character being played by an actor. She also gets annoyed when I tell her that 'Newsnight' is a satirical drama and the events shown have not actually happened. Please can you help me convince her, as sleeping on the sofa bed is proving to be detrimental to my sciatica?
Dear Points Of View,
I am writing to complain about an unfortunate incident that has arisen as a result of one of your TV shows. I have never seen the show in question but I am led to believe that you are currently screening a series on on Saturday nights where Andrew Lloyd-Webber is auditioning for a contestant to star as 'Peggy Suicide' in his forthcoming musical based on the Julian Cope album of the same name. It appears that Mr. (I refuse to call him Lord) Lloyd-Webber says goodbye to unsuccessful contestants with a catchphrase of "You're not welcome here any more, Peggy".
Unfortunately, our son is called Peggy and Lloyd-Webber's antics and catchphrase have led to him being subjected to a certain degree of name-calling, teasing and abuse, both in the playground and at home. Perhaps he might like to consider using a nicer catchphrase, such as "Thank you for having a go, but you're not quite what we're looking for on this occasion. Best of luck in your future endeavours though!" I have little hope that you will use this though, given your desperation to embrace cheap sensationalism in order to attract viewers.
Monday, 26 September 2011
In a recent intriguing news story we learnt all about Menlove Cappelmeister – the young man who wandered into a police station in Peebles claiming to have lost his memory. Subsequent police investigation failed to uncover any details of his life and he was finally referred to stage-hypnotist and party-wizard, Henry Le Grande. Most of what was revealed was either (a) too shocking or (b) too dull to repeat here – but finally, British Foghorn Investigations can reveal the key features of Cappelmeister’s story.
“I think I was born in Bonn. My mother was a water-diviner and my father merely a shadowy figure who would leave hastily scrawled notes at the end of my bed, saying things like ‘You divvy’ and ‘Why don’t you get a shave, you ponce?’. I was five years old.
“I think I was born in Bonn. My mother was a water-diviner and my father merely a shadowy figure who would leave hastily scrawled notes at the end of my bed, saying things like ‘You divvy’ and ‘Why don’t you get a shave, you ponce?’. I was five years old.
I remember being taken to a local school in our three-wheeled car. It was supposed to have four wheels, but one fell off when we hit that dog. I stood in the corner for the first week. I hadn’t misbehaved, but no-one had told me to do anything different. I discovered I was allergic to chalk and couldn’t complete maths problems on the board without throwing up.
It was at the age of twelve that I remember first meeting Harrison. He wouldn’t give me any more of his name, but he was a brute of a man and would regularly punch down brick walls when they wouldn’t answer him. He was a knob, but he helped me complete my project on the Water Cycle and I was given a gold star.
Harrison took me from my parents, who no longer cared and spent all their days in bed drawing pictures of milk bottles. We went to live in the woods and he taught me how to gouge my initials into the back of a bear without it noticing. Also mushrooms.
It was 1985 when Harrison finally revealed himself to be the Druid King of Canterbury, but this time I’d had enough of his wild fantasies and I slew him with his own sickle. Disgusted with myself for this act, and my subsequent wearing of his skin, I decided to report to the authorities. It was then that I fell.
The rest is blackness.”
*** STOP PRESS *** Relevant police authorities have now matched Menlove Cappelmeister’s details against a missing persons report filed in February of 1973. His birth name is Derek Glover and he is an idiot.
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Jools Holland describes his troubled childhood where he was abandoned by his parents and raised and cared for by an owl. Jools talks candidly about his struggle to overcome his owl-like behaviour in later life, and how the only legacy of it today can be seen in the 360 degree tracking shot of the studio that opens every episode of 'Later....' whereby Jools is inexplicably able to keep his face pointing towards the camera during the full 360 degree rotation.
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Hi. My name is Jack Huntingman. You'll probably know me from my hit TV series, “Jack Huntingman is Hunting Man”. If you don't, well then, I don't want to know you. I was raised in the wilds of Norfolk and learned to survive on eels and moorhens. I spent three months living in a nest in Oulton Broad. Why? Because I could. I want to invite you, city boy/woman/OAP, to join me on an exclusive Huntingman retreat, where I will teach you all the skills you need to survive in extreme situations and high-powered business meetings.
Some of the skills you will learn, probably, are:
TRACKING – how to identify MICE, VOLES and other FURRY LITTLE GITS. These squeaky little bastards have had it TOO GOOD for TOO LONG. You'll learn how to find them and knacker them up, proper like.
NESTING – You won't always have a tent with you when you need protection from the elements. I'll teach you how to weave a nest out of bullrushes and your own spit.
COMMUNING – Be one with nature and nature will be one with you. Swim with the fishes. Then catch the fishes and poke their cold eyes out of their faces. I hate you, you steely-minded aqua-devils!
HUNTING – Everyone should know how to track and kill animals for food. Especially if you're going into high-powered business meetings like I sometimes do, if I'm striking a new TV deal, or visiting a lawyer or surgeon. There's loads of ducks in Norfolk. Too many. Together we'll wipe the smiles of their stupid beaked faces. With guns!
FORAGING – We don't do this. You can't gather berries with guns, so why bother?
So, if you're like me and you want to know how to tame the environment and make it work for you, especially during high-powered business meetings, then join me, Jack Huntingman on my exclusive Huntingman retreat. We'll meet nature HEAD ON, then kick the shit out of it.
Monday, 9 May 2011
Traditional Farmhouse Bastard
A warming winter broth, that uses potato, leeks, carrot and a special something to leave you feeling as though you worked on a farm with someone who is a bit of a bastard.
This is to do with an owl.
Creme de la Chapeau
This was developed exclusively for us by our chief Soupeteer, Cyril “The Hat” Barnes – so called because he always has that feeling that he’s got a hat on, even when he hasn’t. And that’s the feeling you’ll get when you eat this creamy soup!
This is water taken from an Oxbow lake. The location of the lake is a very closely guarded secret. As a result stocks of this soup are extremely low.
Gaz’s Pacho Soup
We sent television presenter Gareth “Gaz Top” Jones to the town of Pacho in Columbia to source ingredients for a whole new soup! We’ve yet to hear anything back from him.
Thursday, 28 April 2011
Old Larry’s Dead Neck – 6.5%
Pale ale with an aroma that can only be described as Interminable. Kiwi Fruit overtones mingle with a subtle Castrol GTX base to create a drink that can be enjoyed at any time of the day, but not at night.
Drink with: Meat, Fish, Thesauruses, Santa, Breadknives
Cribbins Station Porter - 7.4%
A dark, mysterious drink with subtle hints of chocolate and unsubtle hints of aluminium. Based on a recently discovered recipe for a hastily improvised antiseptic used on casualties in the Boer War. Pleasant on the nose but a terror on the mouth. Not to be taken more than 4 times in 24 hours.
Drink with: Low expectations
Mimsy – 3.2%
Introduced by Greater Brabblesham Brewery as a light beer to appeal to the female palette, all that can really be said about this drink is that the ingredients are mainly air, soap and lavender.
Drink with: Enemies
Chuckle Brothers Brewing Company Elixir Of Life - 4.2%
Drink with: Stuffed pheasant. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRINK WITH ANY OTHER FOODSTUFF
Denathor’s Bag o’eyes – 4.8%
A combination of dark roasted malts, ginger biscuits, marmite and Hate combine to produce a beer that has been known to crack the porcelain around sinks when spilt. A Christmas Favourite.
Drink with: Caution in a remote lighthouse, sandwiches.
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
For many years I was just Mr. Average Joe, just like you. No prospects, no hope and a job at the toga factory that was going nowhere. Sometimes I can’t help but feel it was cruel of my parents to christen me “Average” when my surname was Joe, but feeling sorry for myself was going to get me nowhere. I decided the only thing for it was to embark on a spiritual journey to find myself, so I quit my job, quit my wife and set off for Tibet.
Whilst I was there, something amazing happened to me. I was hit in the face with a giant haddock. I won’t go into the details of how that happened (except to say that if you’re ever in Lhasa I can give you the name of a seafood restaurant you would do well to avoid). However, when I finally regained consciousness I found something amazing had happened to me. I found I had the ability to tell the past.
I’ll say that again in case you thought you’d misunderstood. I could describe in detail random events that had already happened.
Let me explain how it works. After the fishy collision, I found myself with an unspeakable urge to write poems. Here’s an example:
East of Ipswich the hotelier stalks,
Waiting for destiny’s embrace,
How will history view his plans?
Will he disappear without a trace?
What marvellously enigmatic prose, you’re probably saying. Well, you’d be right! But I urge you to look again. After all, “hotelier” is almost an anagram of Hitler! And, isn’t Germany East of Ipswich? It turns out that this poem accurately describes Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s. Pretty spooky, eh?
I know there’ll be some Cynical Cyrils amongst you saying “That’s just a coincidence”, or “Stop wasting my time” or even “When I’m going to get my Strimmer back?” To which my response is, all in good time Barry, all in good time. I just need to finish the privet on the back lawn first. But for the few of you that aren’t convinced, how about this:
Slimy mangroves on the ning-nang-no,
Crabalocker fishwives, hey-ho let’s go,
A simple couplet that appears to describe the ENTIRE HISTORY OF POST-WAR POPULAR MUSIC! I know, it freaked me out too. Still not convinced? How about this:
He lands in the sand where eights are repeated,
New empires rise and old ones defeated
You don’t need me to tell you that this clearly describes American athlete Bob Beamon’s record breaking 8.80m long jump at the 1968 Mexico Olympics!
I’m sure by now I’ve given you enough evidence to convince you of my amazing powers. Here’s how I can help YOU. Now I’ve been blessed with such amazing powers, I have a duty to share them with you. If you send me some information about things that have happened in your life and a cheque for £250, I’ll write you a personal “life poem” and interpret it for you to give you information about some of the things that have happened in your life. Send me £300 and I’ll you’ll send you some towels as well (or whatever else I can find in the shed). What are you waiting for?? You’re just days away from finding out what life has had in store for you!
Since this article was published the amazing Chakademus has been helping police with their enquiries.
Friday, 8 April 2011
Friday, 19 November 2010
- THE TIVERTON CLOUD-TESTING MYSTERY
- CAN DOGS SEE THROUGH GLASS, AND OTHER POSERS
- THE TWELTH INTERNATIONAL SOUWESTER ALMANAC
- DO ELEPHANTS DRINK WINE, AND OTHER BRAIN-TEASERS
- LESTER PIGGOTT’S BLACK HORSE DOWN
- A MILLION MILES FROM FROME
- JAMES BOND BABIES
- MY FATHER, THE WILDEBEESTE
- A COMPREHENSIVE HISTORY OF ESTONIAN PAPERWEIGHTS (18TH FEBRUARY 1974 - 23RD MARCH 1974)
- BIGGLES PLAYS POP!
- THE DA VINCI COD, AND OTHER RENAISSANCE RECIPES
- JEREMY VINE's FANTASTICAL TRIP TO THE LAND OF THE MAGIC FRUIT
- HOW TO GET AHEAD IN DRY STONE WALLING
- TESS OF THE BASKERVILLES
- IDIOCY FOR DUMMIES
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Christmas is approaching and we at Foghorn Publishing thought you might like to know about some of the fun christmas books we’re publishing. Any of these titles would make a perfect gift for a husband, uncle or friend of the family. Even ‘women’ can read them too - thanks to our unique no-slip double-strength dust covers, in a range of attractive shades! No more cake mix, make up or gravy powder on your favourite titles, gents!
The Tiny Arms of Seigfried Velodrome
Brah’s latest historical offering tells of the discovery of a set of miniature pistols in the Seigfried Farnon memorial velodrome in Thirsk. Brah’s greatest creation, the historio-physicist, Nigel Lahst, discovers they belonged to none other than the legendary pirate, Blue Peter. Does his ghost still haunt the wheels of anyone who dares ride their bicycle round and round a slopy oval? Two deaths, a series of broken chains and a load of dubloons lead the way to the truth...
“Believe me, I never get into bed without a Brah. Hello.” Mark Lawson, Front Row, Gaumont Cinema, Stepney
Mitchell and Webb’s Road Trip
Designer of the spitfire, Reginald Mitchell and composer of “Galveston” and “Macarthur Park”, Jimmy Webb team up for this hilarious once-in-a-lifetime road trip around the castles and follies of Great Britain. Told in extracts from their diaries it offers an enlightening and sometimes touching story of two men who were worlds apart being drawn together by their shared love of Crenellated battlements.
Foreword by Bill Black and Carol Decker
Jimmy Carr Jimmies Cars
There’s nothing more hilarious than being shown how to wrench open a car door, except being shown how to wrench open a car door by funny-man and presenter of 8 out of 10 Cats, Jimmy Carr.
A Joke A Day Calendar 2010
Why not brighten up your day at work with this hilarious calendar. Every day features a joke or slogan guaranteed to bring a smile to your face!
January 23rd “An apple a day... makes you fed up of apples!!!”
March 19th “Man: Doctor, Doctor I feel like a pair of curtains! Doctor: You look like one too, you flappy fabric git!!!”
September 28th “If you’re down and feeling blue, here’s a thing for you to do, think of friends and family too, and then you will be smiling too!!!”
The PERFECT gift for your husband, wife or chief police officer! Features selections of the funniest animal pictures we could find!
“Undeniably the finest calendar in the universe!!!” Exclamation Mark Monthly
Ted Hankey’s Ted Hankies
There’s nothing more hilarious than being shown how to sew a handkerchief for your teddy bear, except being shown how to sew a handkerchief for your teddy bear by darts legend and 2009 BDO Winner, Ted “The Count” Hankey.
The dark romantic tale of teenage vampires, set in the world of a publishing house with a very bad proof-reading department.
* If you are interested in any of the above titles, please contact Foghorn Publishing, PO Box 123456789, 10, 11, 12, Keynsham, stating your choice of title, shoe size, wasp-to-lamp ratio and national insurance number. Please note, only 3 copies of the Joke-A-Day calendar available per customer.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
In Nuneaton, something equally earth-shattering occurred. Roddy Boing was born. Christened Zakary Epheseus Flame, he spent his early years in a two-up, two-down, forty-eight across terraced mansion in the midlands, where he practiced his working class accent in between polo lessons, latin and badger baiting. It was at the tender age of sixteen that his father tragically passed away, choking on goose-down, and young Zak inherited his title, his estate and his Hammond organ.
Lord Zakary Epheseus Flame the third played his first gig in Nuneaton civic hall on the 23rd September 1957. It was here that he met and signed with his manager, Cyril Klean, who immediately persuaded him to change his name:
“Well, kids were never going to buy records by anyone with a name as naff as Lord Zak Flame, especially not when his backing band is called The Firestarters. I just couldn’t see how that would appeal to a sixteen year old audience….I told him he needed something different, something dangerous.”
So Zak Flame became dangerous Roddy Boing. “Boing suggested bouncing,” Klean was later to explain, “and bouncing suggested dancing. That was dangerous at the time. Especially in Nuneaton”. Recently discovered papers in Klean’s hand (they were nearly buried with him) show some of the earlier suggestions for names. These include Jimmy Sweaters and The Cardigan Boys, and Fred Leaps and The Jumpers. It seems that comfortable clothing was much on Klean’s mind. He’d made his fortune after inheriting his fathers woollen mills in Meltham and, of course, his first success in the pop business came from Emma Gloves and The Bobble Hats. It is ironic to note that this was the only group who retained their original name.
Eventually Zak Flame & The Firestarters were renamed Roddy Boing and The Bouncers. The Bouncers immediately quit and from this point on Roddy was a solo artist. In 1963 The Bouncers renamed themselves The Doormen and helped to kick-start the British Ska movement when they took up residence at their energetic but woefully ill-attended “You Ain’t Coming In” club nights in Truro’s top nightspot, The Stable-Door.
NEXT TIME: Roddy Boing, Royalty, How to Hurt a Hammond and “God?”
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
But why would you trust me? Well, I’m Pete Harness and you’ll probably remember me from my hits with my band, the Twelve Doves. Remember “Catch A Train To Tap-Town”? I’m awful proud of that one and it features on this CD, with an all new vocal from me that brings this classic back to life in an all new way!
Here are just some of the choice “cuts” on this “far-out”, “grooving” and “hip-happening” CD collection:
Pete Harness & his Twelve Doves - Catch a Train To Tap-Town
Roddy Boing - Don’t Disturb Me!
The New Dinosaurs - She's Alright (But I've Had Better)
Candy Pellets - I Dream A Dream of Dreamy Dreams
Hallelujah Ape! - Warts & All (Theme)
The Threefour Five - Branch Line Love (Preview video below!)
Carnaby Rudge -Heavy Dosage
General Addlesham & The Hour Of The Marzipan Clocks - Grandad's Pyschedelic Trip On The Omnibus Of The Third Eye
Incense-tuous - Peppermint Fingers
The Awakening - (Everyone's Invited To) The Whitstable Sit-In
Order now and we’ll also send you “Pete Harness Sings Songs That Singers Sang” – a collection of my personal favourite musical moments, captured for you in all new digital recordings, and backed up by some of the hottest young musicians around, featuring all new modern “Classics” such as my heart-breaking cover of country classic, “Pedalo On The Decking” by Johnny Wasp and “Don’t” by MC Satchel and the Breadwinners.
Don’t delay – ‘phone today! Or better still, e-mail us – hey, it’s not the Sixties anymore, y’know!
Love and Peace
(Mr Harness appears courtesy of Foghorn records, when we decide to up his dosage and let him out of his cell.)
Thursday, 13 August 2009
MADAME TWOSPOONS HOUSE OF WAX: Celebrate the lives of some of York’s most famous sons and daughters, brought to life through stunningly accurate waxwork recreations. Enter the ‘Hall Of Disappointment’, containing the world’s largest collection of Steve McLaren waxworks! Visit the ‘Seven Sheds Of Shed Seven’ – seven garden sheds each containing a lovingly recreated tableaux of the band performing their hit single ‘Going For Gold’! Meet Dench-o-tron – a 20ft tall animatronic waxwork of Dame Judi Dench with laser beam eyes!
(MADAME TWOSPOONS regretfully announces that Dench-o-tron is currently unavailable as it recently turned feral and was last seen heading towards Selby dressed as Queen Victoria. If you see Dench-o-tron, please back away slowly and avoid making any sudden movements.)
JORVIK SUPERMARKET CENTRE: Experience what life must have been like for people visiting a supermarket in 1986! Get ready to don your apron and travel in specially designed cars up and down the aisles of this branch of Morrisons, recreated to look the way it would have done back in ye olde 1986! Imagine a land before Pop Tarts! Breathe in the authentic smells of the deli counter! Buy some Opal Fruits in the gift shop!
LOCAL RAILWAY MUSEUM: Founded by embittered ex-employees of the National Railway Museum, the Local Railway Museum is a small affair containing a ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’ Hornby train set and some photos of one of the staff members holidaying on the North York Moors Railway. Take the guided tour and hear how ‘Mallard isn’t all it’s cracked up to be’!
THE HAUNTED TOWER OF GUIDO DE LOMBARD: In 1605, notorious gunpowder plot conspirator Guido De Lombard used this tower as his hideout until one night he vanished without trace, leaving only a bloodstained codpiece and a shoe. Rumour has it that Guido’s ghost still stalks the tower, avenging the terrible events of that fateful evening. Come and take the tour if you dare! But what’s that noise? Is that Guido coming back for one final act of vengeance? Well, seeing as we’ve made up the character of Guido to fool particularly gullible American tourists, probably not. It’s more likely to be the plumbing.
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Its inability to form a substantive opinion of threats has left this lizard high on the endangered list. Scientists believe that the key predators of this scaly idiot succeed due to the tendency of the lizard to ‘not believe’ that there is any real danger when they approach. Its distinctive cry of ‘Naaaah’ also helps to identify it.
The Nominated Mongoose (Galerella Singularis)
Although not truly a sub-species of it’s own, this name is given to the Mongoose that is ‘elected’ by a pack of Mongooses to do all the admin work and speak to people who come to the door, or behind the desk when they’re returning things to Argos or Pound-Stretcher. Mongooses are notoriously shy when meeting new people and seem to have developed this unusual behaviour to compensate for this very fact. The Nominated Mongoose is endangered as its role also encompasses being the one who sticks its head out of the nest to see if everything’s okay.
The Croquette Pig (Porcus Caseus)
A freak of evolution has left this pig at a distinct disadvantage to its porcine brethren, as its natural milk often curdles in its guts producing a hard-to-acquire, but extremely tasty cheese. The main food for this species of pig is wheat kernels, which it strips from the stalk and then breaks open by rolling around on the kernels. Unfortunately this leaves the pig’s skin with an unnatural, almost ‘breadcrummy’ texture. Combine this with the cheese contents of the gut and you soon discover that the reason this pig is endangered is due to it’s being extremely tasty when roasted.
Thursday, 16 July 2009
Spot the odd one out?
Naturally many people will say Belmont on account of it being a type of 1980s Vauxhall whereas the others are 19th century classical composers. However, Englishman Edwin Belmont was also a 19th century composer. On the 100th anniversary of his death in July 1909, British Foghorn takes a look at some of the works hidden away in this forgotten corner of musical history.
Edwin Belmont (born in Tewkesbury in 1861) produced his first notable work in 1884: the 1882 Overture. This is a musical depiction of an afternoon Belmont spent lazing around in the garden. To reflect this, the music Belmont composed starts peacefully but it is not long before it slowly seems to drift away from the subject matter. By the time of the ferocious finale (which involves several canon shots being fired, the simultaneous sounding of 12 gongs and the deployment of a timpani full of dynamite) the piece seems to have nothing to do with Belmont’s pleasant afternoon. The opening performance at Birmingham City Hall was disastrous, largely because the canons had been mistakenly loaded with actual cannonballs. Shots started to blast through the exterior walls of the hall and rain down on passers-by causing many to believe that the French had covertly started a war by disguising themselves as an orchestra. This view was reinforced when three timpani idly rolled out of the City Hall into the adjoining square and exploded, leading to the so-called “Symphonic Wars” (1883-1885).
Many of Belmont’s works were musical depictions of actual events, another notable example of which is his 1893 ballet Preston North End 2 Aston Villa 1, inspired by the popularity of a match in the still relatively youthful Football League. The Manchester Guardian described the football match inspiring the ballet as “a gloriously orchestrated performance of 22 players, each moving in synchronicity with each other as though their tackles, passes and dribbles had been scripted by a divine being”. This should have made the match an ideal event to transfer to the stage but, sadly, the same newspaper described the opening performance of Belmont’s ballet as a “violent mudbath”. After three ballerinas broke their legs in dangerous tackles, the ballet was never performed again. The performance was not entirely without merit though – by playing the oboe section deeper in defence, rather than as traditional centre halves in the middle of the pitch, Belmont had hit upon a tactic that Herbert Chapman would use to lead Huddersfield Town to three successive league titles in the 1920s.
In 1903, inspired by hearing a performance of Mendelssohn’s Song Without Words Op. 62 at the Gloucester Assembly Rooms, Belmont composed his Piano Sonata No. 14 (Without Notes), perhaps his most famous work. This consisted of a 20-minute sonata split into three movements, each consisting of total silence.
Early performances of the sonata were understandably met with rabid hostility by audiences, but it can be argued that Belmont was a man substantially ahead of his time. John Cage’s famous piece 4’33” from 1952 (which requires a perfomer to sit at his instrument without playing a note for four minutes and thirty-three seconds) is said to have appropriated much of Belmont’s work. The extent of the similarly led to a notable court case, where Cage was sued by the owners of the Belmont Estate claiming that the 3rd minute of silence in Cage’s piece was a direct theft of the 2nd minute of silence in the final movement of Belmont’s sonata. The court action to establish the legal ownership of silence was further complicated by a counter-claim from the owners of the British Library Reading Room who felt that their claim on owning the copyright on silence carried more weight than either Belmont or Cage.
The case dragged on for two months until it was established that no-one could claim copyright on an absence of noise. This came as a relief to the people of North Carolina, who for the previous few months had been constantly shouting for fear they would have to pay royalties to Cage if they fell silent.
The failure of the piano sonata deeply affected Belmont and he returned to his native Gloucestershire. A broken man, he lived the remainder of his life in solitude until killed in a freak weather balloon accident in 1909.
The Belmont story does not end there however, as in 1919 the score of one of his final pieces of work was discovered. The untitled piece of work came to be known as the Unfinished Symphony and crowds of people attended its debut performance in Bath in November 1919.
The recital began with the whole orchestra playing a short A minor chord and then promptly leaving the stage. Sadly, it turned out that the symphony was substantially more unfinished than people had realised.
Edwin Belmont’s ‘Piano Sonata Without Notes’ is available as a limited edition release on British Foghorn Records for £17.99 and on all blank CDs for substantially cheaper.