[Here is Paddy's tenth article for the KBC Newsletter. It appeared in the seventeenth issue (Christmas 1984).]
The early morning fog of South London is thick and murky, the traffic sound is gone, and in a tall, silly house somewhere not far comes the sound of elephants practising the art of continuous drinking at the waterhole of life. Surely not? On closer inspection one can decipher subtle differences between three thirsty quadrupeds and a lone dijeridu player. We've already discussed the merits of this instrument, such as the ability for the player to see wallabies after several minutes' practice. But what about the consequences of being involved with unusual-sounding instruments such as these? My neighbours have the distressing habit of calling in 24-hour emergency plumbers, the wild animal squad of the R.S.P.C.A., various exorcists, a killer-bee specialist, and one of those guys with a machine to unblock the drains. Typical of London life, really.
In contrast this summer found me in a secret lakeland hidden somewhere in the British Isles, with hundreds of lakes for my elephants to drink. I sat and played. A few thousand curlew flew over my head. Green pastures everywhere. A couple of miles away a dog went Woof. I played while the fish came up and 'til the bats came out.
You know, most of the recorded Australian Aboriginal music that I have come across has been about animals. I wonder why? What does this instrument sound like to you? Refresh your memory with a quick listen to The Dreaming. Your comments are invited. If any of this interests you, then find a cardboard or plastic tube about three-quarters of your own height in length. It should be wide enough to put your lips inside. And do just that! Then blow a few raspberries down the tube...behold thirsty elephants. If you like this, you might decorate your instrument with such traditional motifs as snakes, lizards, emu, bush onions, stingrays, etc. This is usually performed in great secrecy and this rule in my opinion should not be broken, so no bush onion-painting in public, please, it's only sensible. Once you have done all this you are well on your way to becoming a true weirdo, and at long last I won't be alone.
This of course is not quite true, as this Christmas shall see me bell-ringing at the Reverend Normal's [the pseudonym of another of the Newsletter's column-writers] parish. This is always a great time for reunions. Our weird and wonderful friends and colleagues flock from near and far to take their places at their respective bell-ropes where we ring unorthodox changes. This year my former teacher, Professor Fiddlegruber, will be leading the ringing. All our bells have names, as do all the real bells of the world. They are written in the bell metal when it is cast. Ours have names like "Big Dong" and "One More Time From The Top",o to name but two. Yes, our pealing is highly renowned and this Christmas just wouldn't be right without a selection of carols. Such favourites as The Holly and the Curlew and December Will Be Magic are on the top of my list. I was playing through some of them tonight when the confused Rentokill man arrived.
I wonder how our neighbours will take to a phase of ancient Roman music. They used to have huge water-powered organs that could be heard for nine miles--the Romans, that is, not my neighbours. The Emperor Nero was renowned for his performances on the Hydraulis (that is what it was called), and everybody thought he was terrific. Times have changed somewhat since then, and it is advisable these days to inform the coastguard prior to any experiments in this direction that you may feel inclined to follow up. Remember, it's no joke to have the emergency services called out unnecessarily, no matter how romantic your intonations may be.
We started building our Hydraulis in November. Some of the longer pipes are being concealed within the chimneys, and others just look like regular household plumbing. We're going to compress the air in the cellar, and force it up through the pipes at a pressure of about 2 1/2 tons per square inch. It'll sound just great, but it won't be ready 'til March--just in time for the Ides, in fact--and then we'll be manning the pumps and asking for volunteer slaves. Something to bear in mind, but I'm sure you'll be hearing from us before then.
I was looking at some photographs of magnified snowflakes. Very beautiful. And they say each one's shape is unique. As the snowflake is formed, it vibrates, and its minute, complex, starry shape is made as it freezes right in the middle of its solo, making a sonic pattern like sand sprinkled on a cymbal. So this winter if it snows on me I'll be thinking of all those crystals of sound...frozen in water and heaped up on the ground. We hope by 1986 we will be able to record the sound of the actual crystal freezing for you. A certain professor is researching it right now, so that's something to look forward to. Maybe LP number six?
Finally, some of my agents have reported that one or two of you haven't made your bull roarers yet, and all I can say is you must be really weird. You'll feel better afterwards, and then I'll stop going on at you...
©1990 Andy Marvick