Thursday, 31 May 2012

My Track of the Week: 'Bunny Ride' performed by Bradford Reed on the Pencilina


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Public Exposures by Leonard Barras.

Today I finally got my hands on a book featuring a collection of Leonard Barras's stories:
Here's one of my favourite Barras stories...

Public Exposures 

Herbert Mangle, the neo-Wordsworthian poet, used to claim that Councillor Mrs Thelma Dutt vied with the pit heap as Wallsend's noblest landmark.  He was violently in love with her for three weeks, and one night was reading to her his Lines Written to a Vast Widow, when she perched on his knee and displaced a cartilage, rendering him unfit to keep goal for Wallsend Amnesia football team.

My Uncle Hal, Marxist team manager, upbraided this familiar Mangle surrender to the flesh and called on the Sunday School superintendent instead for the 'derby' match against Percy Main Static.  The superintendent pointed out that he had a sprained thumb, sustained in striking the lectern during a sermon entitled 'Guard Thine Honour'.  Nevertheless, he acknowledged that he smelt the battle far off and was willing to say among the trumpets, Ha ha.

'That's all right, then,' said Uncle Hal.

He would have preferred to hand the goalkeeper's jersey to Seppy Elphinstook, the celibate barber, who, because of his knock knees, seldom let a ball between his legs, but Elphinstook had lapsed into one of his misogynist spells, sitting in front of his fire, with his big toe sticking out of his sock, hating women.

'Mind you,' Uncle Hal told my old Aunt Emma, 'the serious horrors are those which seem respectable to respectable men.'

'Eat your apple dumpling,' said my old Aunt Emma.

When Seppy Elphinstook had been an eager young man in Hebburn, his father had planned for him a vaulting career as a tram inspector, but he hankered after the glamour of hairdressing and ran away to Wallsend, swearing that his immortal soul was not to be compromised.

Now, with the onset of middle age, he was sunk in disillusionment.  Hairdressing had turned out to be less than fulfilling, and while the shop was full of shaggy customers, he would languish in his kitchen, dashing off wild water paintings of nude historical characters, in the time he could spare from hating women.

To Herbert Mangle, hating women was an alien philosophy.  As it happened, even as he suffered his dislocated cartilage, he was about to break with Mrs Dutt anyway, because he had just got engaged to the two ginger barmaids at the Dun Cow.  When the rupture came, however, Mrs Dutt blamed it on Uncle Hal, her ancient adversary, and next day she cut him dead when she came on him standing on his hands down by the Gut.

There had been animosity between them since the council elections, when Uncle Hal had opposed her, standing as a Theoretical Nudist, his contention being that there was a pressing need for nakedness in politics.  'No politician,' he told my old Aunt Emma, 'could indulge in pompous dissimulation while the absurdities of his physique were plain to see.'

'The blood'll rush to your head,' said my old Aunt Emma.

Thelma Dutt was a highly moral woman, president of the League of Decent Ladies, and she frequently censured the public exposure of footballer's knees.  After a bitter election campaign, she had been returned with a majority of 897;   Uncle Hal's eleven votes were cast by Wallsend Amnesia first team plus one reserve, Herbert Mangle spoiling his paper by writing on the back a sonnet to the Returning Officer's wife's buttocks.

Uncle Hal, while regretting his increasing shagginess, felt a distinct sympathy for Seppy Elphinstook, not least because he was himself a theoretical bachelor with theoretical nudist undertones.  Shaw, he told my old Aunt Emma, had pointed out that marriage was a monstrous impediment, although we should all remember that when the Life Force beckoned, we had to follow.

'Have you seen my pudding cloth?' asked my old Aunt Emma.

Just at that time, the Life Force had lured Uncle Hal into the Nonconformists' Philosophy and Ping Pong Group and he inaugurated his year of chairmanship by promoting an Art Exhibition, in the time he could spare from standing on his hands.

The reason why he performed daily handstands in his football pants, bringing the blood to his head, was partly that he was in training for the 'derby' match and partly that the upside-down view across the pit heap called out his austere love of the primitive.  It was this same craving for the natural life that had prompted him to take the job of temporary Turkish Baths attendant, pending the advent of the Marxist society.

Seppy Elphinstook's submission to the Art Exhibition was a wild water painting depicting Sir Walter Raleigh introducing potatoes to England in the nude.  Uncle Hal applauded this.  Could Asquith, he asked Mrs Dutt, have denied the vote to women if he had stood naked at the Despatch Box?

Mrs Dutt said he was incorrigible, but she might at least redeem a misguided celibate, and she sped to the barber's shop, where she found Seppy Elphinstook sobbing softly over a nude of Nelson falling at Trafalgar.  It was in that moment that the Life Force beckoned to a vast widow.

Meanwhile, Herbert Mangle's engagement to the two barmaids was broken off when he absent-mindedly read to them his lines dedicated to Mrs Dutt:

If Helen's face could launch a thousand ships,
Ten thousand might be sunk by Thelma's hips.

My old Aunt Emma never found her pudding cloth, and yet she steamed an apple dumpling on the eve of the football match, which may have been why Uncle Hal's shrunken football pants on that sorry occasion revealed some of the absurdities of his physique.  The Sunday School superintendent was ordered off after calling the referee a latter-day Nebuchadnezzar, and Wallsend Amnesia lost 23-0.

The following Monday, Uncle Hal, demoralised by this and by Herbert Mangle's elopement with the nurse who had set his cartilage, entered the Turkish Baths and wandered in error into the ladies' department.  The only occupant was Mrs Dutt and in the horrified three-and-a-half minutes before he fled, he verified the accuracy of Herbert Mangle's lines.

Next morning, he was hand-standing by the Gut in shrunken pants when Mrs Dutt came along.  He gazed fixedly at the upside-down pit heap and waited to be cut down.  As it transpired, however, it was the first time in Wallsend's history that a theoretical nudist had to guard his honour from a Decent Lady.

Not that the Life Force was to be denied.  Mrs Dutt sped again to the barber's shop, and so it came that Seppy Elphinstook, joining the ranks of respectable men, painted a ruff around Raleigh's neck and succumbed, with mended sock, to matrimony.  All it cost him was his immortal soul.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Leg Box (OSM Ind. Product Reference: 0040)

The last turkey in the shop and the end of the OSM Ind. Product Retrospective:
Leg Box (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0040)
I haven't yet found anything to store in the leg box but it's just the right height to put my recording I/O device on.

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Radio Receiver (OSM Ind. Product Reference 0039)

If you suffer from insomnia I can't recommend one of these too highly.
Sitting in the dark through the long watches of the night making small adjustments to the tuning knob chasing audio phantoms across the etheric plane is one of life's joys akin too "writing on the sole of your slipper with a biro"*:
The Radio Receiver (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0039)
Mysterious Control Panel
* Courtesy HMHB

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Metal Feet (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0038)

I have no idea why I find this old pair of shoe stretchers fascinating.
All I can tell you is, to me at least, they seem shot through with the same sinister quality I usually equate with discarded medical appliances:
Metal Feet (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0038)

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Blood Flower Bowl (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0037)

I'd like to make a lot more of these but I seem to have misplaced the bowl I used as the mould:
Blood Flower Bowl (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0037)

Friday, 25 May 2012

The Green Bicycle nee' 'The Dobson' (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0036)

During this period of retrospection I haven't been idle.
I wanted to 'rationalise' (reduce) my bicycle collection, I'm now down to two, this is the one I built and my favourite.

The history of the building of this bicycle has been fully documented on this blog but, as time passes by, I realise it will probably never full fill the purpose it was designed for so I had a re-think and made some changes that make it more appropriate to my current two wheel needs.

Single speed, low geared, back-pedal brake, big comfy saddle and a new name:
The Green Bicycle nee' "The Dobson" (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0036)
Single speed, all y'need.
Hmmm... Handlebars.
Bouncy, bouncy.
For one reason and another I found myself riding this bicycle from Chichester to Bognor Regis at 2 a.m. this morning and decided it is officially complete and fit for purpose. 
I will now stop molesting it.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Fetch! (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0035)

I believe tea-towel art is the new Rock 'n Roll black*:
Fetch! (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0035)
* I have no idea what that actually means.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Noddy Box (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0034)

I'm surprised at how useful this box is, especially for storing pens, pencils and scissors:
Noddy Box (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0034)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Rusty Cast Iron Picture Frames (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0033)

This is scraping the bottom of the barrel an' no mistake...
The last time the 'rusty cast iron' finish appeared on anything I've made:
Rusty Cast Iron Picture Frames (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0033)

Monday, 21 May 2012

The Skeletal Hand (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0032)

Modelled on my own hand, this construction was supposed to be one of a pair that I intended using as epaulettes:
The Skeletal Hand (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0032)
I'm on the look out for a suitable item for it to hold

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Rocks, Glued Together (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0031)

Give me a pile of rocks and a glue-gun and I'll play quietly for hours on end.
Another personal favourite construction:
Rocks, Glued Together (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0031)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Collage (OSM Product Ref: 0030)

I've resisted to temptation to replace the broken glass on this piece.
I feel it sort of fits:
The Collage (OSM Prod Ref: 0030)

Friday, 18 May 2012

Broom-Pole & Tin Box Bass (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0029)

This instrument is still in development and has changed significantly since the first version.
The broom pole has been integrated with the tin box which now allows the string to be 'fretted' rather than having to play it with a slide.
The next experiment will be to string it with a steel top 'E' string but it wouldn't be a bass then, would it?
Still, it's great fun to play and produces some really spooky tunes:
Broom-Pole & Tin Box Bass (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0029)
The Body
The Head-Stock (geddit?)

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Ukulele Improvement (...ish)

Some time ago I spent £32 on a soprano uke by Stagg.
Not the greatest instrument in the world but a great test bed for improvements.

I ordered some machine heads from Hong Kong via eBay and a set of Aquila Nylgut strings:
The plan is to improve the cosmetic appearance and find out if Aquila strings make any difference to the overall sound.

Whip off the existing rubbish machine-heads and fit lovely Gibson style versions:
Now, who can spot what went wrong here?

I had to drill the post holes out to 8mm so the ferrules fit.
A moment's inattention, a slip with the drill and I scratched the logo on the headstock.
No problem I thought, I just use a razor blade to clean the rest of the logo off and all will be well.
Any cosmetic advantage the lovely new machine-heads bestowed has been ruined.
Fortunately I do have something in a tin that will restore the colour, if only I could remember where I put the tin.

I added a jolly paper label to the interior:
Fitted the new strings and:
Now here's the problem, I can't tell if it sounds any better than it did before I started faffing about with it

Ducky Pegs (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0028)

I stand on the beach waiting for the sea to cough up another piece of old boat it's finished with so I can make another one of these useful artefacts:
Ducky Pegs (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0028)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

My Track of the Week: Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying. Performed By Labi Siffre

Cardboard Clock (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0027)

Errr, it's a clock, made out of cardboard:
Cardboard Clock (OSM Ind. Prod Ref 0027)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Atomic Biscuit Tin (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0026)

Sadly this will be the last of it's kind.
I visited the shop I bought the 'atomic' rub-down transfers from to be told they were no longer being produced.
I couldn't find an alternative from the wind-turbine age:
Atomic Biscuit Tin (OSM Prod Ref: 0026)

Monday, 14 May 2012

Toothpaste Box Lantern (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0025)

This blurry picture is the best I seem to be able to get today:
Toothpaste Box Lantern (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0025)
Creating it involved lots of tongue-sticking-out-the-side-of-my-mouth concentration.
Obviously it looks better in the dark.

How Things Develop: Off Course.

In my posting 'A Day In The Life' some while back I added the first demo version of a new song I'd started working on called 'Off Course'.
Over the ensuing weeks BeHeld have kicked it about and the song has developed into this 'Off Course-Demo'.
It features Mystic Roger's first attempt at adding a harmonica part and what will probably be the final over-all arrangement.
All that's missing is Calamity Jane's harmony vocal.

From a song that I nearly abandoned to one that's going to be included on BeHeld's next E.P. can't be bad.

Now it's got to be 'played out' and will probably receive it's public debut at a folk club in Billingshurst on the 2nd of June.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Bobbin Tank (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0024)

My version of the classic home-made toy.
I had to use one of Linda's hair ties to power it as y'just can't seem to get decent (or indecent) knicker elastic nowadays:
Bobbin Tank (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0024)
Bobbin Tank view 01
Bobbin Tank view 02
Of course the addition of the William Morris print makes it just that little more sophisticated, 'innit.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Rubber Band Box (OSM Ind. Product Ref 0023)

A musical instrument!
I've had hours of fun twanging away at this:
Rubber Band Box (OSM Ind. Prod Ref 0023)
I think there may even be a concept album hidden in it somewhere.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Cardboard Directional Indicator (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0022)

I still can't say the word 'cardboard' without twitching.
If you need a direction to travel in, this construction will probably help.
It also gives an exciting twist to 'spin-the-bottle' parties (the kind of parties I don't get invited to nowadays):
Cardboard Directional Indicator (OSM Ind. Prod Ref 0022)
CDI side view

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Octopus Light (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0021)

I have a fascination with tacky seaside souvenirs and this was my attempt at creating one.
All that's missing from it is a plaque reading "A Gift From Bognor Regis":
Octopus Light (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0021)
For me the important aspects of this item are the knife-switch and battery holder I made for it:
Knife-Switch & Battery Holder Detail

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Parp-o-Phone (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0020)

Another Hooting Yard inspired construction which is essentially an iPod shuffle.
I can't remember which story the Parp-o-Phone originally turned up in but I do remember it sparked my imagination and was 'dream-constructed' very quickly.

The intention was to auction the piece to raise funds for 'Distressed Out-of-Print Pamphleteers' but a couple of hurdles stand in the way.

01) I intended filling the pod with individual stories culled from the huge Hooting Yard pod-cast archive which entails mammoth editing sessions.
I've had a valiant stab at it but 4 gig of memory space takes a lot of filling.

02) I don't believe my work would attract the astonishingly large amount of money I think it's worth. (Unless I was dead of course).
The Parp-o-Phone (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0020)
Cranium Detail
Dr. Gillesie's Vital Nerve Tonic
Thanks should be heaped in abundance on the head of Mr. S Fadhley for donating the iPod Shuffle (which I believe he won in a raffle) the Parp-o-Phone is based on.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Black Rubber Beelzebub (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0019)

The inspiration for this piece came from (where else but?) a Hooting Yard story called 'The Crooked Timber Of Humanity'.
It's the title of the song a kidnapped Kathy Kirby was to be forced to sing at the Eurovision Song Contest had the wicked plot of Urbane Geistige Geist not been foxed by an international police operation.

My interpretation is somewhat more literal:
Black Rubber Beelzebub (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0019)

Monday, 7 May 2012

3 Tier Cake Stand (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0018)

By way of a break from what at least one person has described as my 'morbid fascination with the creepy', here's a pretty thing:
3 Tier Cake Stand (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0018)
I built it because I became infuriated by the ludicrous suggested prices for items like this in feature pieces in the magazines Linda brings home.
Sadly this cake stand has never full-filled it's destiny, I mean it's never actually been used to display cakes of any kind.
Any cake brought into my close vicinity is an endangered cake.
The idea of putting a cake on a stand as a preliminary to me eating it is really a non-starter.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

New Tea Cosy Day.

Linda has just finished making a new tea cosy.
The good news is it fits perfectly:
And is 'Unisex':

Cold Lazarus (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0017)

Another personal favourite.
The last bones out of the bag got incorporated into this construction:
Cold Lazarus (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0017)
The title is taken from a Dennis Potter T.V. drama (the name was better than the play).
It works well alongside the plasma ball and takes it's power from the same PSU.
(Linda says "it's a thing of nightmares".)

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Smiling Cat In His Temple Of Bones (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0016)

Someone, can't remember who, gave me a bag of assorted bones.
I do remember the bag was handed over with the comment "maybe you can make one of your weird things out of 'em".
What did interest me was how do you glue bones together?

Well, this is what I ended up with:
Smiling Cat In His Temple Of Bones (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0016)
The cat isn't actually important to the piece, it could be anything, but I haven't found anything that looks better.
And he seems quite happy.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Bad Putti (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0015)

Before I added a second putto, this construction was used as an album cover for the C.D. of a noisy band I've never heard of:
Bad Putti (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0015)
When I showed it to a local artist she was so offended she hasn't spoken to me since.
I can't work some people out.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Nipper (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0014)

Another 'educational' toy built as a companion piece to the Pin Head Toy:
The Nipper (OSM Ind. Prod Ref: 0014)
Once it's wound up and let go you really don't want to try and pick it up again till it's wound down and stopped.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Just How Much Do I Want To Live In This House?

From the WowHaus blog, a 'home o'the future' that I find so beautiful it makes me want to weep:
For more details and some stunning inside views go here:

1970s Villa Benedetti space age six-bedroom house in Ascoli Piceno, Marche, southern Italy

Brain In A Jar (OSM Ind. Product Ref: 0013)

I suppose if I was so far up myself as to suggest I have a signature piece then this is probably it:
Brain In A Jar (OSM Prod Ref: 0013)
It was surprising how many emails I received, and still receive, about this construction.
A good proportion of them expressing dismay that I hadn't actually put a 'real' brain in it.
In the past I've suggested the correspondent might like to donate their own brain but, on refection, it's unlikely they have one, in any real sense.

The brain was chosen for it's florescent properties as, hidden within the body of the piece, I fitted a UV bulb that lights it up and makes it glow.
The Brain
The bubbling air supply
The end bit
It makes a great after dinner conversational piece especially if I become tired of my guests and want them to leave in a hurry.