Sir Henry At Rawlinson End - album (V. Stanshall)
Transcribed from the album by David Evers
The transcriptions on this site have been contributed by fans for fans as a
labour of love and as a tribute to the creating artists.
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[Theme: violin, piano, bodhran, mandolin.]
English as tuppence, changing yet changeless as canal water,
nestling in green nowhere, armoured and effete, bold flag-bearer,
lotus-fed Miss Havishambling opsimath
and eremite, feudal still,
reactionary Rawlinson End. The story so far...
The body of Doris Hazard's pekinese, unwittingly asphixiated beneath
her husband's bottom during a wine and middle-aged spread do at the
great house, after the ritual fortnight in the Rawlinson fridge, has
been given over to Old Scrotum, the wrinkled retainer, for indecent
burial under Sir Henry's giant marrow. This monstrous jade zebra veg
is the master's puffed pride, and by his stern instruction, the greedy
gourd is daily drip-fed with a powerful laxative. Thus,
"Should some rascal half-inch the blessed thing and eat it, it'll give
'em the liquorice for weeks!"
Now think on't, dot dot dot dot dot ...
[Theme fades out]
Great Aunt Florrie, toast crumbs specking the fine hairs gracing her
upper lip, teacup half-empty lukewarm in her lap, dozed in a cozy
Chippendale settle. An elfin tissue curdled her mind with muted
chimaera: through dancing dark, neon-bright saraband eels; gauzes
of filmy Fellini; glimpses further than the rocket fathoms,
rhythmic, fading and in unending procession.
It was chill, but a beautiful morning. During the night, soft snow
mattressed the vast acreage of Rawlinson, yet defiant, hoyden heralds
thrust emerald from the woodlands and window boxes of nearby
Outside, icicles crystalline and lovely pendant from his
nose, Old Scrotum, the wrinkled retainer, scrunched up the gravel
whistling a dirty song; and Florrie, gentle corset prisoner of the
flesh, started, and was alert as a skinless eye, when the old man, his
russet-burned country face smiling in wreaths, pushed open the back door.
"Prohworrh! Mornin' ma'm", he wheezed. "I filled in the grave nice."
Florrie nodded, and indicated the sink:
"Perhaps you'd... care to wash your hands?"
"Arr, no thank'ee ma'm, I already did that up against a tree afore I came in 'ere."
Florrie took a careful, purse-lipped sip of now-cold tea.
"Very well", she said, dabbing the corners of her mouth with a
lavender-scented hankie, "now I'd like you to set up the card table,
and put down some sawdust in the smoking room. Lord Tarquin Portly
and the Lady Phillipa of Staines are popping over this evening."
The wrinkled retainer hung up his greasy fez on a peg, and with joints
crackling like the screwing up of plastic egg-cartons, hacked, and
"Oo, arr, thrickett..."
..ed his way out into the hall.
A pale sun poked impudent marmalade fingers through the
grizzle-latticed glass, and sent the shadows scurrying, like convent
girls menaced by a tramp. Alone again, Florrie focussed on the
copper-gleaming coal scuttle, fogged, wool-gathered, and in seconds
surrendered to Erewhon. Peacefully, on tiptoe through grey spheres,
where shade has substance, whispers walk, and mire reigns...
(Vivian: piano, sarrusophone, talking drum;
Julian Smedley: violin & mandolin;
Steve Winwood: piano & celeste;
Pete Moss: accordian.)
- Wistful and lovely are walls with wisteria
- Clematis clambers on time-pocked walls white
- Stranger than larkspur or lupin, hydrangea
- Hydra-head mother-in-law's tongue, tied, fancy flight
(Vivian: recorders, talking-drum, percussion & euphonium;
Jim Cuomo: recorder;
Julian Smedley: guitar;
Steve Winwood: celeste;
Pete Moss: cello.)
Tendril-fragrant honeysuckle sucked and honey-babed, close to the
ancient limestone walls of Rawlinson; and Florrie, awake, bayonetted
her turkey head from its privy orifice. It was a lovely morning:
gorgeous beyond imagining were brassy hoars of
winter-depression-fierce daffodils, blaring yellow-white reveille,
and croci, gingering the lawns in tessellate Performing-Right-Society.
No need for wellies, Florrie, shawl about her sparrow
shoulders, took the interminable beige thing she was knitting into the garden.
Earth, having sipped its cold manna, merely "pssst... pssst..." and
crisped beneath pom-toed fastidious feet. Worms and wigglies
slumbered deep, and stirred not a bit, as didn't dead Mr. Cumberpatch
who, like all Rawlinsons or favoured servants, was buried upright in
the Victory Garden.
"No sense in wasting space", said Henry, "bags of calcium and
goodness in the buggers. You should've seen my sprouts when Baron
Tostoff, the ruined Pole, kicked it."
About Florrie, in stone postures various, were two hundred and seven gnomes.
(Vivian: vocal, banjolele, baconium, sarrusophone & percussion;
Jim Cuomo: flageolet;
Julian Smedley: fiddle;
Steve Winwood: banjolin;
vocal chorus: the Exishanshalliste Songsters.)
- Sitting in a sunken garden...
- Pinking in a sinking sun
- Thinking of a summer long ago:
- When one was twenty-one.
- Naming all the flowers so friendly...
- Shouting at the shrubs so thick
- Lo, behold, Lobelia...
- One bite and the Bishop was sick,
- How nice to be in England...
- Now that England's here,
- I stand upright in my wheelbarrow,
- And pretend I'm Boadicea.
- Hi Ho
- Hi Ho
- Shy goldfish shady in the green weed,
- By gad'flies giddy in the haze...
- Here I sit; I knit knit knit,
- With the garden gnomes, I say:
She noted that the gnomes were a length more obviously masculine than
hitherto, and now knew why Gerald had squandered so much pocket-money
on Plasticene. Poor boy spent too long observing the sun through a
telescope: his squint was permanent.
(Interior monologue:) "Dear me - daydreaming; and the Staines coming tonight!"
Almost noon, and she had yet to go the launderette in Concreton to
thaw out chickens in the spin-drier...
"Filth hounds of Hades!"
Sir Henry Rawlinson surfaced from the blackness, hot and fidgety,
fuss, [FX: fart] bother and itch. Conscious mind coming up too
fast with the bends, through pack-ice thrubbing seas, boom-sounders,
blow-holes, harsh croak Blind Pews tip-tap-tocking for escape from his
pressing skull. With a gaseous grunt, he rolled away from the
needle-cruel light acupuncturing his pickled-onion eyes, and with
key-bending will slit-peered at the cold trench Florrie had left on
her side of the bed. Tongue, like yesterday's fried cod: mind over batter?
"Tongue sandwiches? Yeeurgh! Eat what? But it's been in somebody
"You'll eat it and like it!"
"But why can't I have..."
"Because I say so!"
Black spot: the Blind Pews were now thrashing with their canes.
"God's turban and tutu; do I need a dare of the hog?"
He reached for the bell rope, yanked savagely to summon the
housekeeper, and discovered himself, nightie round his waist, turned
tortoise on the rug.
Paralysis lasted... scarce a blink, but with impotent rage, he bellied
his unwilling hulk to the wardrobe. Cold comfort, as his palsied hand
found the shotgun; good stock...
"Roll over..." - one action, commando stuff - "cock over!"
Safety off! Both barrels through the ceiling.
[FX: the same]
Stunned shock, and then Henry's eruptive bellow:
The plaster had not settled before the housekeeper stood,
lurcher-backed, at-your-servile-sir, in the room.
(Astonishingly nasal:) "Yiths?", she said.
(Furious:) "I don't know what I want, but I want it now!"
"Fried or fried, dear?"
"With or without dear?"
"Within! Get out!"
"Fried without... mmm..."
(Brightly:) "Off dear."
Apron flapping like a floral tongue, Mrs. E. descended.
(Vivian: vocal, bass harmonica, jew's harp, banjolele, percussion and sarrusophone;
Jim Cuomo: bass sax;
Pete Moss: fiddle & accordian;
Julian Smedley: fiddle.)
(Mrs. E. over intro, in the style of the "pepperpot" ladies in Monty Python:)
Dunno 'ow I got out of bed this mornin: I 'ad it all down one side.
Ooh, put me foot down - Gawd! it was like pluggin into the mains, it
shot right up an' I came over all giddy. I thought: Ooh no, I'm goin,
and it started swimmin, me life, before me, ooh smell the lilies, I
'ad such a good cry, it was lovely: I just wanted to lay back there,
course I can't really... recline, he's put me on tablets... it's a
constant fight to relax: Sunday last, I was heatin a drop of lemon,
just bent down to pull up me surgical stockins when - Ooh it slipped
out again... busy? Well, didn't 'ave time to straighten up! Course I
can't sleep, not since Mr. E. passed over: it's like 'avin yer leg
off - you think it's still there, in the bed, I mean, it was
thirty-three years last Tuesday: I'd just got used to 'is snorin, and
mornin's, 'e'd make me a, a herbal infusion, I used to love doin' for
- Darnin' socks, darnin' socks for your man,
- Darn darn..., oh darn, oh, big toe's through again
- [cockup: doh, no, oh never mind, I'll start again... no, no really I will...]
- Darnin' socks, darnin' socks for your man,
- Darn darn darn, big toe's through again
- Darnin' socks, darnin' socks, darn darn darn
- Darn there goes the door-knocker, I bet it's Mrs. Brown
- "Hello dear, come inside, 'ave a cup'o'tea"
- "Hope I'm not intrudin', you know me!"
- "Give you time to boil it: may I use your toilet?
- "Lookin' round, can I 'elp? Anything at all?"
- Oooh, matter of fact, come to think,
- I gotta lot of socks to darn & never mind the stinky stink,
- Me 'usband 'e's out farmin', farm farm farm
- Says 'e: "a bit o' muck never do folks any 'arm."
- Out in 'is gum-boots, plough plough plough,
- Muggins 'ere 'as gotta feed 'is big, fat sow,
- 'E tried it on this mornin', the saucy so-and-so,
- Get yer breakfast down you, and out you go.
- Just one little bit..
- [cockup: oh, shit, I've gone again, never mind, no, no, keep going, yeah...]
- Just one bit'o'comfort 'fore I lie inside me box:
- If the Lord wears trousers, the prophets never mentioned socks,
- And if an angel asks me for a little 'ole to fill,
- Well dear, darn darn darn darn
- Darn, I'll go to 'Ell.
On Sensible Common, Hubert Rawlinson, in his mid-forties and still
unusual, with his adventurous young nephew, Ralph, are playing
cricket. During a break, Hubert, his friend Reg Smeeton and the rest
of the team enjoy a chilled glass of Parafino in the shade of the
pavilion; but Ralph has determined he will rid the club of moles.
Hubert polished his trident with the sleeve of the white pullover
carelessly wrapped around his waist.
"You could see everything from the top of that bus", he said sadly.
"We were in Regent Street, and I was looking right into
I could see 'em all running around inside, catching diseases
and giggling. My father lent across to me and said: "You'll be in
there if you don't stop playing with yourself." He died of
chrysanthemum poisoning. They had to kill all his plants... You
know, he was the real author of A Pictorial History of Gargling. A
very great work."
Mr. Smeeton froze like a red setter. His conversation of the you
speak, I wait; you pause, I pounce variety, lent exaggerated ear.
"They strapped a bloom to his back, and it came up all blotchy. That's
why he drank. It was Brasso, mostly..."
Hubert struck an odd heroic pose. Smeeton twitched and stared up.
Hubert, although himself Karloff-soft-spoken, liked to hear other
people shouting. This he considered not only healthful, but just
might, if taken to its illogical conclusion, do away with telephones.
Thus, it was not only for speed, stature and far-seeing that
habitually he went on stilts: for also, he affected an ear-trumpet,
with the consequence that confidants stood on boxes or tip-toe or
jumped up and up to converse with him - Hubert all times straining,
craning, cupping his good ear, feigning non comprende, and muttering:
"Pardon? ... C..Come again? Do speak upwards,"
and etcetera, at the same time shaking uncontrollably giggling, as his
hapless companion empurpled and shrieked.
Reg Smeeton said:
(Brightly informative:) "Did you know there is no proper name for the back of the knees?"
Hubert gestured, with his trident:
"Look: there's Ralph,"
he said, with rare insight. With practised effort, Mr. Smeeton
behaved outwardly as he knew he must, and screwed his eyes hong kong
to the distant figure, microscopic and lifelike, shimmering on the
"He boiled roly-poly puddings in old socks..."
..said Hubert dreamily.
Hubert was unusual. In his adolescence, during the summer, in a
northerly direction parallel to the Earthly axis, he would throw
himself naked onto the lawn, and with that loathsome bluey Roman clock
face tattooed about his private parts, think about Jean Harlow very
hard, and from the shadow cast, tell the time with remarkable accuracy.
"Look! No hands, Aunty!"
..he would screech.
In the winter, he tried with birthday candles stuck in the end: was
hours slow, and Henry told him to put a sock on the sun-dial bit.
And so, he contented himself by waiting sentry in the hall, and
inviting visitors to stand on his feet. He would then give their weight, in a
"dreadful... mono... tone"
and present them with cigarette cards depicting early flying machines, or steam-engines.
P.C. Gibbon, the long arm of the law,
arrested him a few times, but now conceded he was harmless:
[FX: pheep pheep on police whistle]
(West Indian origin?) "De poor man got he head screwed on wrong."
Hubert insisted he was quite normal:
(Vivian: vocal, banjolele, cornets, trombone & percussion;
Jim Cuomo: bass & soprano sax;
Pete Moss: cello & accordian;
Julian Smedley: fiddle;
Steve Winwood: pipe-organ.)
- I'm confusing, 'cause I'm unusual: I imitate the Walrus in the tub
- Sometimes I swallow live goldfish, I follow my own bent, and there's the Rub.
- In uniquely... circus stances I execute exotic dances.
- With three balloons, I swoon and snake it, it's no Bo-Peep-Show: I prance naked.
- Bless me I confess, I've grown watercress in my ears - drum: rub-a-dub,
- I slim with sandpaper, shave my legs with paint-scrapers, smooth but raspberry red and there's the Rub.
- [Mechanical organ obbligato]
- Sporting different-coloured socks is thought unorthodox,
- Though I know which leg is where or which,
- This cock-a-doodle paradox cocks a snook at all the schmocks,
- I wink but they interpret: nervous twitch.
- My ridiculed bizarrerie is only awkward armoury,
- A squawking banshee yells "Beelzebub"
- 'Mid the Kalahari faceless, I'm a freak oasis, an outlandish oddity
- A cack-hand commodity, a crackpot, lack-top:
- Rub-me-up-the-wrong-way Hubert: there's the Rub.
Alone on the pitch in his creamy flannels, Ralph lay atop the
molehill [FX: leather on willow, polite ripple of clapping] like a poultice on a
green boil, trembling to the wild scrabbling of the blind beast
beneath his stomach.
"By Circe's rubber bra", he fretted, "if these things bite, one will be singing soprano!"
The wind in the willows ruffled the shepherd's-harp-gold hair of a
long-long-slumbering child within.
The wind in the willows, the will in the windows, the wails of the
widows in furry dark soft, overground, underground, tiddly-pom; comfy
and cosy tucked in for the night -
(Distraught:) "Mummy! My Teddy's stopped breathing!"
[FX: click] "It's all right dear!"
A great heaving halted this train of thought at the level crossing of
rude, heart-stopping panic. With violent shakes and horrid
snufflings, the brute beast surfaced. Edgar Allen Pot-pourri of
eldritch foul imaginings: snout, flailing claws and bristle. Reason
fled shrieking from Ralph's thrilling mouth. Aghast, dry-throated,
he drank in that that his mind could not comprehend: the thing was
grinning with savage glee: soiled and shabby about its shuddering
torso [FX: elf/pixie music] was a white coat, and on its head,
higgledy-piggledy were nine cricket caps, and in its paw it
brandished... a stump. Spasm, abyss: nightmare and swoon: beckoning
void, unsilence and danger...
Dan dan, dan, daan... Dan dan dan dan... Dan, dan daan.. Dan dan..
[FX: blow to the head]
Dan dan, da-dan dan dan..
Back at Rawlinson End, the table was still cluttered for breakfast -
and when Sir Henry broke a fast, you cursed double glazing.
"Awkward beasts, winkles," he grunted, stabbing at his plate,
"my brother Hubert uses 'em for earplugs."
Old Scrotum looked up from the ironing board, upon which he was
plucking the navel fluff and porcupine quills from his master's
"Turns my belly to see him of a morning, fiddling about in his lugholes
with a pin. Don't know why he bothers: never hears anything I say."
This was true: Henry's rhinoceros tyrrany had only the most
peripheral and incidental effect on Hubert's life.
There was a terrific crash, and a brick smashed through the window.
About the brick was wrapped a note which read, simply:
(Cork, Eire, or thereabouts:) "Hello now! I'm yer new neighbour."
Henry was plainly delighted:
"He seems a decent enough egg! At least he didn't have the
impertinence to present himself at the front door."
He swatted and stamped on a rather beautiful blue butterfly.
The room darkened, as a hang glider passed across the sun.
"Seems a novel enough way to commit suicide", observed Henry. "Pass
me m' pistol, and I'll see if I can't bring the blighter down into the lake."
With a weapon in his charge, the master of Rawlinson End was apt to be
very... sporting and unpredictable, and the wrinkled retainer took
cover behind a leather armchair, peeping through his fingers and
clutching a rosary.
"What're you doing, cowering down there?"
Scrotum tugged furiously at a long-vanished forelock:
"Ee..errr... it be out of respect, sirrr."
"Well you're supposed to love me, you vile jelly, take that!"
[FX: ivory on cranium]
Mercifully, Henry hit him with the soft end of the pistol. Scrotum
sprawled on the parquet flooring, and Henry strode back to the window
and took aim at the hang glider, now several hundred yards past the
lime trees and fast diminishing.
In sunshine, with the air full of wasps, and himself full of pink gins
and a half-bottle of Entre-Deux-Legs, it was an impossible shot, and
in a fit of bleary-eyed pique, Henry emptied the gun into the tyres
of a custard-yellow van parked in the drive.
Like the shock of fondling a raw sausage blindfold at a gay party,
the significance of the van was clear. In florid scriptiform on the
side was painted Nice and Tidy - Just Relax, and Let Us Do It; and
to the right corner, a crude drawing of the masks of Tragedy and
Comedy, labelled Before and After.
The gentleman owners of this vehicle lodged in the village and did
contract house cleaning, but they purported to be resting theatrical
artistes. Both were given to striped blazers, orange pancake, obvious
wigs, matching handkerchiefs, depilated legs and musical comedy; which
end-of-the-pier pointlessness they visited on the drinking fraternity
of the Fool and Bladder with unceasing enthusiasm - until, that is,
old Seth One-Tooth put a stop to 'em, claiming:
(Lancs.:) (Slurp) "I'm goin' as daft as an mahogany frying pan."
Aunt Florrie's credenda "all musicians are nice people"
prompted her to place at their disposal the vast dusty music room
where great brown spiders traced quiet geometric star chambers on the
chandeliers and crouched. Neither Nice, nor Tidy, could [camp as
Butlins] "Adam and Eve it"; and both confessed themselves "terribly
touched". But Henry's reaction to their presence now was primarily of
apoplectic astonishment: after all, you don't expect decent people to
take you up on an invitation - it's downright rudery!
"Well I'll see 'em off the premises m'self. The hounds are all fagged
out from yesterday's Jehovah's Witnesses, and we don't want blood all
over the lawns again."
There were cachinnate theatrical chortles from across the hall.
(Trans-apoplectic:) "Great Thing! Those simpering nancy-boys are in the house!
Get up you stinking blancmange, go.. lock the piano, pesi pesi, chop chop,
ah, those lickspittle wretches!"
But it was too late: a hint of cologne, pornographic discord and...
(Vivian: vocals & ukulele;
Steve Winwood: piano.)
[Note for the incorrigibly pedantic: the stereo suggests that Nice (to
the left) is playing piano, while Tidy (to the right) is playing
banjo. Subsequent events suggest just the opposite.]
- (Piano: jolly intro mit pornographic discord)
- (Duet: Tidy and Nice)
- Nnnice! and Tidy!... (Tidy and Nice): that's the way that we leave your hise,
- Upstairs, downstairs wherever we do, we guarrantee it will be tickety- (boo!),
- You put your feet up or go off to the shops,
- Just point us at the buckets and mops,
- Washing up (or wiping down), we are the tops,
- We're Nice (and Tidy), we're Nice.
- And Tidy [both:] may we vocalise?
- I'm Teddy Tidy... (and I'm Nigel Nice),
- Cleanliness is clearly an obsession we share,
- [Both:] You too will think we're both a right couple of pairs,
- We'll hoover the mats (or neuter your cats),
- To you, dear housewife, we waise our hats,
- [Both:] We leave your home so clinical, your friends will say that's
- Nice ( - and Tidy ) - that's Nice.
This unasked-for jollity in the middle of an English afternoon left
Sir Henry shivering with a red passion: his eyebrows like limp bats
and his face a crumpled tissue upon which a lobster might well have
wiped its bottom.
"All crime", he declared, "is due to incorrect breathing."
Grim faced, cold as fishwife's fingers, he snatched from the wall the
sickle-sharp boar tusks he used for defacing Readers' Digest, and in
moments crossed the hall, and flung open the doors of the music room.
Startled, Nigel Nice, straw boater askew, banjolele folderol,
mince-mince-minced across the room.
"Sir Henry! Nice to see you! To see y..."
Henry's glare throttled his hypocrisy at birth.
(Grim:) "Do you know what a palmist once said to me? She said "Will you let
go!" Gentlemen, I am a bulldog and you will know my bite is worse."
Teddy Tidy held the piano stool before him; Nigel Nice, attempting to
look invalid, put on his glasses and blinked.
"Do you bandy looks with me, you rascal? Limp-hand squids... prepare for wax!"
Stamping in frenzy, Henry bellowed the war-cry of the Zulu:
Suddenly, a half-thawed chicken caught him in the back of the neck.
[FX: the same.]
[Theme: intermission for clarinet and lips - Pigs' 'Ere Purse]
(Vivian: threeps, ululele, baconium, truncheon & percussion;
Juliam Smedley: guitar;
Jim Cuomo: bass sax & clarinet.)
Overleaf: Ralph has his upper lip pierced, so he can see where he is
going whilst whistling.
[Theme: 6/8 Hoodoo]
(Jim French (Terrier-man to the Costwold Hunt): holler & hunting-horn;
Vivian: bass harmonica, euphonium & tuba;
Julian Smedley: violin;
Jim Cuomo: soprano sax;
Pete Moss: banjo.)
(Over band:) "Pom pom pommmm, pom-pom pom pom, rrrromp pom pomp and circumindecision...
Pomp pomp, bags of sweat, mmmmm mm-mm, brbwbwbw, mmmm
uhhhmmccchh mmhmm... Urrgh, ahem..."
The gutters leaked like secrets, and the rain rain-rained like rain at
Rawlinson End. In the library, a log fire spat tracer over doomed
Dresden, and Sir Henry, now of a more tranquil kidney with glass in
hand and monocle at ease, having spent the afternoon chuckling over
the obituaries in The Times, was in expansive mood - well tanked up,
lolling in a cockpit leather armchair.
(Dambusters:) "Nrrrrowww, brrm brm, kcchhh-pbfff blm! Dan dan hhmmm!"
He glanced with difficulty over his shoulder, most of his huge top
half stiff with the wallop he'd received from the half-thawed chicken.
He was quite alone.
(WingCo:) "'Course there were troops in the city - thousands of 'em, massing for
counter-atteck. (Sniff) Death's-Head fanatics, the lot of 'em, heads
like peanuts... brmm brrm... brrrmmm... Glasgey... Nrrrowww
rrmm... Bad news Jock?"
(Jock, distraught:) "Aye, sir - eh, it's the wee puppies, sir - during the blackout Jerry
came over and... and the screaming, it went on, and..."
(WingCo:) "Now, now then man, nrerrr, pull yourself to... here, have a piece of
special chocolate, wurrr, and Professor... Professor Molebottom - where's he..."
(Jock, barely consoled:) "In the laboratory sir - all night, bouncing his balls across the tank..."
(WingCo:) "Wirrr... um.. uuerr!"
[FX: clank of poker falling on stone floor of fireplace]
(Douglas Bader:) "Damn this leg, by crikey! I'll make Corporal Carpet-Chewer choke for
this night's doing! (Sniff) Dan dan... (sings) Who put the bounce in
the bouncing bomb?... (Sniff) Molebottom did! dan dan..."
Silent as a smelly one, Hubert entered the room.
"Can I play too, Henry? I like taking orders."
Henry exploded with shock:
(Irate:) "Don't camarade me, you quisling! You're not in uniform, and it's dark!"
..roared the Führer of Rawlinson.
"But... I.. I'm in pyjamas, and I'm your brother!"
"I'm afraid this is going to be an understandable mistake"
shouted Henry, blowing strongly on a whistle, and with a nasty growl,
he was over the top.
Poor Hubert received a terrific thrashing, plus a crippling kick in
the fork, and disgraced, was condemned to his room.
To celebrate All Squids' Day, there was a face-jumping competition at
the Fool and Bladder. This ancient amusement involved leaping onto
volunteers' heads, lightly touching, then springing off. To draw
blood or squash a nose meant instant disqualification, and this was
the skill of it. Seth One-Tooth was unquestioned master of this
unusual sport, and he lounged, huge and work-stained outside the old
pub, explaining the rules to Reg Smeeton, newsagent and self-styled
A large red-faced farm worker with arms like tractors, stripped to the
waist, paced out an enormous run-up, before turning to thunder down on
his grinning partner lying on the green.
"Eeee... 'e's got no chance!" said Seth smugly. "Silly bugger's
wearing spiked running shoes!"
Reg Smeeton, floccose red wig like a kipper nailed to his bonce,
nodded with ill-feigned interest; but the butterfly flexions of his
face muscles argued the mental tumult within - urging fervid facts
chattering in Stockhausen tongues.
"Drawing from my vast, though admittedly unresolved catalogue of
general know-it-all, facts of interest etcetera, corroborated,
corroboree: a sacred or warlike assembly of aboriginals, may
I.. remind you of the exploits of one William Barker of Manchester?
In the 1890s, Billy cleared a canal thirty-five feet wide, making a
running jump, jack-knifing into a second to land, perfectly dry, on
the other side.
"I could clear a snooker table, full-length mind, from a standing jump
before 'operation", grumbled Seth. "I could've made a mint, had I
been a bit more shrewd."
"Did you know that the elephant shrew never closes its eyes."
Through the intestinal smoke of Seth's pipe, Smeeton's sweat-spangled
face, eyes straining with mad intensity behind glasses the shape of
Ford Cortinas, shuddered with the ungovernable maelstrom of
information, inessential, infantry and endless, that constituted the
grotesque furniture of his mind. Filing cabinets unlocked; thesauri
fell agape; data danced in strict formation, quick, quick,
quick-quick quick... puzzles fitted - it all added up: niggling,
self-edited, tumbling with clicking impatience, cross-reference and
erupting gathered beserk-fierce, heedless and torrential, howling for
outlet from his springboard lips.
Seth adjusted the strings about his knees, and unnoticed, a passing
wood-pigeon vacated onto Smeeton's Ploughman's Coypu-burger.
"I ent so nimble now", said Seth, "but I used to jump in and out o' t'
barrels of eggs, wi'out cracking a shell."
(Vivian: vocal, guitar, melodicas, euphonium, baconium, sarrusophone & jabbamok;
Pete Moss: cello;
Steve Winwood: mini-moog & organ.)
(Smeeton - interior dialogue for left and right brains)
I find that - truly engrossing, Seth...
Cleft... padlocks [?]
A.D. 79, no... 1889
Mohicans, Last Of
Bastinado, Chinese torture
Nasty bumpo [?]
(sings) Who's solly now?
Prints Bumper [?]
Quoting, boating, jolly boating weather
Printed in Bembo
Ink; found in 1440 by Henry VI
First catch your hare
Without John Wayne.
Isabella, or the pot thousand [?]
Keats, Shelley, Percy Bysshe
Chevis Rover [?]
The Bartered Bride
Monster ego, Id, I?
In the bitter cold, Old Scrotum had repaired the barbed wire about Sir
Henry's small but daunting prisoner-of-war camp, and having no more
duties till the evening, had slogged it across the fields in time for
the finals, and to down a couple of pints, or five.
"Aahhh - waste of good drinkin' time! I 'ad to go up and see if the
old girl 'ad finished 'er bloomin' breakfast!"
puffed Scrotum. The old girl was Sir Henry's mother, once a great
beauty, but now, unknown to Florrie, bedridden in a remote chamber at
"Well, ehhhh... 'a-a-ad she then? Finished it, like?"
"'Course not; nice bit of smoked 'addock been there by the side of the
bed gettin' cold for the last three years", said Scrotum, taking a loud slurp.
"By 'eck - three years? D-does she do 'owt?"
"'Course not - she'm just lyin' there, never sayin' nothin', with 'er
gob wide open catching flies and playin' with rats. Sir 'Enry says,
she'm not gettin' no more grub til she'm eaten the last lot."
Reg Smeeton, smelling strongly of newspapers, patted down
the back of his wig.
"Did you know, there is no proper name for the back of the knees."
(Over band intro:) What was left standing of the village band slurred into voice, and Old
Scrotum, now flushed and enlivened with his seventh mug of scrumpy,
needed small press to clamber onto a bench, for a lively, if
(Vivian: vocal, banjolele, euphonium, tuba & percussion;
Julian Smedley: violin;
Pete Moss: banjo & accordian;
Steve Winwood: mandolin;
Jim Cuomo: clarinet.)
[FX: wet thud - "Oooo.."]
- Out in the fields they farmers' boys are workin' 'ard, Sir,
- Old Sol scorches bumpkin leather necks.
- Our Rosie's pullin' pints down at the Fool and Bladder
- Where rustics will relieve themselves of aches.
- Last night drippin' custard on our rhubarb crumble,
- Now we'm drippin' sweat upon the soil.
- Wake up six and sevens, still we mustn't grumble:
- Weekends we forget about it all. Singing:
- Lay down yer spade, draw up yer will, tomorrow comes too quickly,
- Whistlin' Mad'moiselle from Armentieres,
- A wise man knows his onions are strong and pickly:
- Swill 'em down with dear old Rosie's beer,
- The village populace is jumpin' on faces, catchin' the javelin,
- Headin' the shot.
Florrie had spent a long time checking the bathroom and family necks
for tide marks, and when she'd done, it was evening. There was a
screech of tortured wheels, a bump, a loud splash, and a bubbling:
"That sounds like Phillipa and Tarquin now", said Florrie.
"Scrotum! Get the net - fish 'em out of the ornamental pond and
hang 'em over the radiators."
All was pregnant expectancy as the sopping Lord and Lady Portly
entered the house.
"Oh yelp!", he yelped as he bumped his head on the portcullis.
said Phillipa, tripping over the attractive boot-cleaner and getting a
warm coconut-matting welcome stamped indelibly on her face.
To see Phillipa was always a pleasure until she opened her mouth.
Those ivory dentures needed daily attention with a dilution of nitric acid.
By nine-thirty, dinner was finished, and the Rawlinsons and their
guests lallygagged over the syllabub, or sprawled back, blown out,
picking their teeth.
(Vivian: vocals, flageolets, ukulele, dum-dum and sarrusophone;
Steve Winwood: accordian & mandolin;
Pete Moss: banjo.)
- (Round: Tarquin, Sir Henry, Phillipa, Florrie, Scrotum)
- Bash the tables, fill the glass, stuff the pheasant right,
- P: steam the haggis right
- F: fill the clock, stop the past year right [?]
- S: go stuff yerself, you old shite
- Sod yer neighbours: sing out strong, tonight we all get tight.
- Bright the room with red festoon, green the bile to flow,
- Overland or undersea, O Rawlinsons, What 'O.
- H: Rawlinsons alone
- S: Rawlinsons 'allo
- Logs must crack when fire burns, Rawlinsons all roar
- Sing upstanding while you can, or bellow from the floor.
- Dress the trees with village rogues, let 'em smell the meat,
- Now bring in the village maids, while we're still on our feet.
- Break the wind & loose your stays: Ladies first to start,
- Gentlemen together, really let us hear you shart!
(Under the last few bars:)
"That was inedible muck, and there wasn't enough of it - blurgh!"
The curry lay heavy on Sir Henry's stomach like a royal corgi.
[FX: slowed-down belch]
"I say, how dare you belch in fwont of my wife!"
squeaked Lord Portly. Henry yawned:
"Sorry old man, I... (sniff) I didn't realise it was her turn."
This ungracious rejoinder left Lord Portly stupefied as Dr. Watson,
and to cover his befuddlement, he helped himself to a liberal glass of
"If I had all the money I'd spent on drink... I'd spend it on drink."
Lady Phillipa, herself nicely irrigated with horizontal lubricant,
leered appreciatively across at her host. Henry glanced meaningfully
at Florrie and put his finger to his lips. Florrie, understanding
immediately, went "brrbwbwbwbwbwbwbwbwbw", and Henry addressed his
(Vivian: vocal, ukulele, kazoo, trombone, mouth trumpet, talking-drum & tuba;
Julian Smedley: violin;
Pete Moss: violin;
Jim Cuomo : bass sax & clarinet.)
(Snort) - Aahh!
- (Sir Henry over band intro:)
- I love you... (sniff) Ah, yes I love you! Strong heady fluid essence
- I remember the first time we met, paradisical enchantress: a close
warm star-pimpled night; with one fur-tongued sip, transmogrification!
I wanted to... needed to quaff enough to soak a dart board.
- Avec a fizzy... gin and tonic, I become somewhat schitzophronic,
- Then I've... half a mind to shtop... and half a mind to have another;
- But the brute-force beasht inshide un...leashes Mr. Hyde,
- So I... seek and find more liquid substitute for the teats of sainted Mother.
- God's teeth, I've struggled gamely to resist:
- Gargled... pints of tea, and hailed myself Sir Vivor,
- But people re-pewt me as a nissed.
- Namely, I'm... Sir Rhosis of the Liver.
- With a maelstrom stomach I rise;
- But the doppelgänger Beasht Inshide
- Shakes me and won't be exorcised,
- So I greedy, needy grasp the old Aristotle; got to!
- There's nothing quite like: a morning... cap, to start and end your day,
- Lights my way to fright. The Rawlinson motto - Omnes Blotto.
After port, they retired to the smoking room, and settled round the card table.
"Do you mind if I smoke?"
asked Lady Phillipa, plucking an immense Meerschaum pipe and pouch
from her crocodile handbag.
"Not if y'don't mind my wife throwing up."
grunted Henry. Nonetheless, her ladyship stuffed the bowl with a
nauseous rum-soaked shag called Périque, and lit up. Henry was
half-cut and being important:
(Vivian: talking-drum, bean, thumb-piano, clay drums, baconium & wooden cornet.)
"Mind you, those jungle bunnies aren't without their own peculiar brand
of decency... (sniff) Give you an example: they wouldn't kill a chap
while he was asleep; had to wake him up, because one of 'em, charming
fella, lips like inner tubes, told me - under torture, naturally -
that should the victim's spirit be out of his body at the time of
death, it would, on its return, be so outraged it would pursue and
torment the assassin for eternity - mmm.. like the Greek... Harpics of
mythology. Understandable if you... believe that sort of guff."
Lady Phillipa yawned behind her hand, and her dentures, ancient,
yellowed and imperfect, locked.
With her cavernous mouth wide open, she could only "Huhh! uh! uh!",
and Sir Henry, savvying she was gaping with wonderment at his yarn,
gave her a boozy wink. She was too polite to leave the room, and
Henry, now refuelled with several great gulps of Southampton Red Rum,
a brainstorming cocktail involving a large port, vodka, rum and
horseradish sauce, continued.
"These're the only spirits I want tormenting my body... (sniff)
Personally, when you're dead you're gorn. Afterlife, aftershave,
blugh! Don't hold with any of it."
He glared at Great Aunt Florrie, who was of quite a different opinion,
an almost chandelier with pisces, St. Christopher, crucifix, rabbit's
foot and lucky whale's teeth about her neck.
"I don't give a toss what you've done with me when I've shrugged off m'
mortal coil... Shove a bit of flex up m' back passage, stick a
lightbulb in m' mouth and stand me in the hall. (sniff) Mind you, if
you're using electricity you'll have to dry me out first!"
Florrie had once mentioned instant karma to Henry, but he thought it
was some kind of tranquilliser. There was really little point now, he
was too far gone.
"Consulting a book called Itching before she goes to the bog... God's
teeth, what did I marry?"
Florrie smoothed the now-greying hairs back from her temples, and
tucked them neatly under her flying buttresses. Thank Clapton, she
thought, that John's early death precluded him from knowing what kind
of swine his father really was. She recalled the affair of the
rubbers, but there had been happier times...
[Theme: soft elaboration of the Rawlinson End theme, as at the end]
She sighed deeply, and her mind strode back some thirty years on
sensible brogue feet: Henry, in uniform, the blink of brass buttons,
then, after, to dance the night away. What foolishness now it seemed
to a woman already in the twilight of her autumn.
Yet, what a kind man he'd always been: she recalled the time
Mr. Cumberpatch, the gardener, sweet old chap, hated wasps, always
wore bicycle clips when mowing the lawn, had fallen badly in the
orchard, and broken his leg. Why, Henry fairly raced back to the
house for his pistol: he couldn't bear to see even the lowliest of
creatures in pain.
Again she heard the Black and Decker two-speed drill start horribly up
in the downstairs bathroom, and the high-pitched screams of Sir Henry
doing his own fillings. Curious how the Rawlinson family
distrusted dentists: she remembered the night of Arbuthnot's
honeymoon in Vienna. He knew he could never face his new wife without
a huge and immediate extraction, and so, he fastened a length of
string about the tooth that pained him, and the other end to the door
of the cage-like lift, and waited. But to no effect: the lift
ascended, nothing happened. Tearing open the iron door, Arbuthnot
immediately threw himself down the shaft. Few men would have had the
intelligence to do that.
"You know, Ralph could play billiards on horseback before he was
"Well I could play blow-football with m'bottom when I was a youngster.
Now, about these chaps [FX: drums etc.] (sniff) They put a hand on
your chest to wake you up. One chink of reality - you're gone. Slit
your throat, gouge your eyes out, no compunction. I remember, I was
alone in m'tent when I felt it; I was enjoying.. a... fitful rest
when suddenly... I felt it. The nuisance was, I was so full of cold
mackerel pie, I knew I'd have to blow off! Huhh, imagine the fix, I
was at bursting point when the thing yurped into m' face. Turned out
I'd been lying there with a bloody great frog on m' chest for an hour.
(sniff) Didn't have the heart to kill it, but I twisted its arm
something rotten. (sniff)"
"I was in Afwica", began Tarquin Maynard Portly. "Don't want to talk
gibbewish, but I spent some time in the land of the Gibber, and
believe me, those Gibbwoes could get a budgewigar to phone Hawwods."
"Och, canny as a Campbell Maynard"
said Phillipa Portly, née Maynard.
"Maynards? So much incest in that family, even the bulldog's got a club foot."
"Aye, but the flash of the clay pipes, the skirl of the morays!..."
Profoundly moved, serpent shaquwa [?] shivering, speed, bonnie boa,
Phillipa gave tongue:
(Vivian: vocal, banjolele, percussion, jabbamok & cacaphone;
Steve Winwood: mini-moog & banjolin.)
- We're Rawlinsons and Maynards, completely self-containards,
- 'Tis said we're bulletheads; but we're a much much nicer class,
- We're Maynards, sons of Rawlin. Inter-bred: our chins are fallin',
- We're no moribund, we're smarty-boots. Here Dodos dinne roost.
- Where Rawlin throbs: we swollen knobs, effete, wee,
- Caterwaulin' snobs say: stuff your telephones and stuff,
- We live aloof and boast.
For a leisurely few hours, they cheated at Coon-can, Snap, Bezique,
Bugger Your Neighbour, and Pope Joan - each five minutes pleasingly
punctuated with refills of embalming fluid.
"You know, if filthy fingers were trumps", nibbled Florrie "why
Henry, dear, what a splendid hand you'd have."
At this totally unexpected raspberry, Sir Henry took umbrage, and,
with a snort, staggered over to the majestic log fire, where he swayed
before the blaze pulling fearsome bulldog Churchillian scowls in the
mirror, when Lady Staines, an incorrigible gamester, proposed a hand
"Sir Henry", she burred, "would you like to be the fourth man?"
Henry glared with dragon-nostrilled distaste at her wattled neck,
gorgonzola legs, and grotesque tumescent udders.
"My dear lady", he intoned, crossing the room, and leaning close, "I
wouldn't even've liked to've been the first man."
Sir Henry set down his drink, and whistled to the great hound
stretched on the rug, chewing at an old gout bandage. Tail wagging,
Bonzo padded over and placed his huge grey head on the felt table.
Henry chose, then dealt the animal three cards face down.
"Good lad, now... find the lady."
The dog snuffled wetly at Phillipa Portly, shook its head sadly, then
without hesitation returned to his bandage.
There was a scuffling at the door, a sound, as though a hot water
bottle were stifling a yawn, and at that instant, Hubert, shamefaced,
ventured into the room. Henry glowered at his brother; Florrie turned
a cold eye towards him. Normally, he didn't enjoy Arabic food, but he
was so excited, he managed to swallow it. Hubert announced that to
make up for his past behaviour, he would
"Like to entertain everybody with a bird impression."
To lend excitement and colour to his performance, Hubert, with all the
assurance of a sleepwalker, crossed to the wind-up gramophone and put
on some old papadums Henry had brought back from India.
[FX: needle on fried dough]
[Theme: (red flock wallpaper!) Papadumb]
(Vivian: balaliaka, phonofiddle, bina, percussion & Th'at;
Steve Winwood: balaliaka;
Julian Smedley: mandolin.)]
Turning it up full volume, he began hopping about on one leg.
"Chirrup... chirrup... Chirrup!"
he mimicked, winking at the ladies. He then produced a handful of
worms from his trouser pocket, and, with apparent relish, stuffed them
into his mouth. Pop-eyed, chewing furiously, and flapping his arms,
with the pinky tentacles writhing horribly about his chin, he advanced
to the table. Lady Phillipa opened her handbag, and, with heaving
shoulders, buried her head in it.
[Theme: Rawlinson End, somewhat elaborated, accordion prominent.]
(Over playout): Next time, Hubert, ever the gentleman, offers his seat to a lady in a
public lavatory. There is considerable misunderstanding.
[Theme: improv. continues, then finally gives it a
relatively straight run through, the solo violin coming in to take us to...]
Or oxymath ?
Or Congreton ?
Possibly maya (Sanskrit for illusion)?