Sunday, 25 March 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #115 - Vivian Stanshall, "Sir Henry at Rawlinson End"

I cannot write any words about this - but it is all words - and Joycean genius words at that. Back in them day dem, I'd listen to John Peel playing these tracks and impatiently fidget for another Happy Mondays track or chunk of acid house. Foolish, impudent youth!

I've long since been converted to the enormous talent of Viv Stanshall in his various Bonzo Dog and Sixties kids' TV guises. One of those Greatest Living Englishman candidates were he not so long dead. Such wielding of a ukelele! And the words! So crystalline and mutant! So much about lawns and an overgrown "monstrous, jade zebra" marrow pumped with laxatives to wreak vengeance on any thieves. PG Wodehouse after ingesting some serious substances - a lazy thought, I know. But it makes sense to think of this as being kicked lysergical, the safest alternative to colonial syphillis.

The politics of the piece haven't aged especially well - "limp-hand squids" on "Nice 'N' Tidy" and a rather over-colonial PC Gibbon. "Junglebunny" speaks for itself. But I suppose this was the post-imperial think of the time. "6/8 Hoodoo" is pure Rowley Birkin QC. "Silent as a smelly one, Humbert entered the room." "He lounged, huge and work-stained.. with arms like tractors" I want to quote bit after bit but there is not much point. "Smeeton" too is a wonderful peer into the mind of a dullard.

And the alcoholic content reflects the amount that Viv poured down his own considerable neck. "Fool and Bladder" and "The Beasht Inside" especially sketching out the philosophy. With a mind as restless as Stanshall's must have been, the drink can't be much of a surprise. "If I had all the money I'd spent on drink...I'd spend it on drink."

"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 Plasticine."

Rating:   out of The Mouths of Drunks and Ginger Polymaths

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