[Here is Paddy's eleventh article for the Newsletter. It appeared in the eighteenth issue (fall 1985).]
By now you will already know a great deal about Hounds of Love from Kate's letter [posted earlier in Love-Hounds], so I'll try to avoid repeating any of the information that you may have already picked up, and concentrate on one or two more obscure areas that could be of interest.
There are a lot of mysterious threads to untangle on this particular record. Two years have flown by whilst weaving this latest flying carpet, so don't expect to unravel it just like that.
It's been rather like living on a light-house in the Atlantic ocean, with the odd supply-ship turning up laden with musicians clad in their oilskins. We strap them into the bo'sun's chair and winch them on board amid sea fog, squalls and showers. Through gales and driving hail these salty dogs weathered the storms, and on hot dijeridu nights we'd hose down the oscillator banks with all hands to the pumps and play on into the small hours. The delicate equipment, recorders, charts, etc. are housed in their own watertight compartments, and musicians have to pass through an elaborate air-lock mechanism in order to get from the studio to the bridge. This is probably obvious to the technically minded amongst you, as studios are normally airtight anyway in order to be soundproof. This of course is not without its problems. I remember on a couple of occasions the hissing sound from the regulator valve on my underwater breathing apparatus caused the odd difficulty. Often when recording near the starboard hatch the sounds of passing whales, ships and seagulls would actually spill in through an open porthole, and these can definitely be heard in one or two places on side two.
Often whilst drifting off in the middle of an overdub, I might chance to see Kate up in the lamp-room, her face all lit up. What a comforting sight to seafarers that little light can be.
When the weather conditions are correct and I am off watch, I like to spend my time practicing my lines sat on the rocks in my oilskins, with the ocean pounding and crashing away in the background. I like the way the waves group in patterns in an almost predictable way. But in our part of the sea there are often freak waves that appear after a long pause, and then there is a surging undulation of such enormous proportions, stacking itself into the big sky and unrolling with such huge explosive velocity that you couldn't hear what I was saying if I were standing next to you.
But life on our lighthouse is not just weather-watching. There's making tea for the helicopter rescue-men. Often microphone-stands have to be rigourously maintained to protect them from salt-water corrosion, and once or twice I've had to scrape barnacles off the hydrophone. Most studios that are used by regular land-lubbing swabs don't have to cope with such maintenance procedures, but we find that the sea air has its compensations, and a very jolly atmosphere prevails. Yes, the boys are a pretty lively crew. In fact, the other day, just before the Terry Wogan show, someone put a lobster in my balalaika case! Just imagine that. If the BBC found out they'd be furious. You're supposed to have a live seafood specialist in the building at all times, and they are really strict about that sort of thing, so we had to take turns hiding it. We couldn't leave him in the dressing-rooms and as we had very long coats on, we each drew straws to see who'd hide him in the studio. If any of you naughty U.K. fans video-taped the show and re-watch the sequence, you should be able to spot without too much trouble which musician had the job of concealing the controversial claustrophobic crustacean. [I have looked, but not spotted.]
Live television certainly has its pressures, and they're quite different from making videos. Talking of which, you must have seen Running Up That Hill by now. This was filmed at Bray Studios on the River Thames. Most convenient, as it is only twenty-seven hours by launch from our light-house. It's a very interesting place, and looks like a large hotel on a huge rubbish dump with six big aircraft-hangar studios dotted here and there. Film people and pantomime horses can be seen moving from make-up to their respective sets, through a maze of prefabs, caravans and discarded props. I enjoyed being an extra that day. Any spare moments we spent by the river practicing our knots in the sunshine. Make-up consisted of a white guano-type preparation for the hair and cellulose car-paint for body colour. And, with masks on our faces, we were ready for the now familiar "Quiet, lights...playback and...action" syndrome. You know the rest.
And now, well, things are really happening, and you are also playing a very important part in the scheme of things: that is, providing that you can answer the following questions:
What is the national musical instrument of Australia?
Why haven't you made one yet?
I'm sure you were expecting a question like the last one, and I guess that one or two of you will be blushing with shame at this very moment, so I suggest that you just give in to the overwhelming urge and join in our underground network which is growning into an international pipeline since people started to dig deeper into The Dreaming. You yourselves must be the judges of this, so dig, jury, do, and have an original instrument to show me at the Convention this year--that is, providing the supply ship makes it back. The British weather has been most unpredictable. Our radio-telephone mast was blown over last night and I've had to transmit most of this article by standing on top of the studio and waving two flags towards the mainland. When I look through the telescope I can just see Kate dressed in exceptionally fashionable heavy-weather gear, standing on the cliff-top with a notepad and signalling-lamp. My semaphore is not very good, and it's very slippery up here.
Well, shipmates, I must conclude this transmission, as it's the dogwatch at two bells and I have a hungry lobster to feed, and a lot of brass pipes to polish, not to mention entering the latest readings from the chart recorder into the log. Even as I flap out this message, visibility is down to a few miles and the only way that Kate can see me is if I climb on top of this old lightning conductor...Is this any better?
Message ends 20.58 G.M.T.
©1990 Andy Marvick