Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Poetry Hallway - An Ode To Richard III - Croyland Otter

Hot on the literary heels of our new resident poet’s introductory verse, ‘A Love Affair With Brown’, arrives this poetic epic, ‘An Ode To Richard III’. Shortly after the shocking discovery of the former King Of England in a popular Leicester dogging spot, The House Of York decided upon commissioning the then Poet Laureate to produce a fitting poem, the intention being that the late King would be immortalised in verse-like fashion. However, the House Of York is not what it once was, and its entitlements do not include making demands of the Poet Laureate as if he or she were some subordinate pup. As such, they have had to cast their net slightly wider, thus capturing the attention of England’s wealth of local poets.

Croyland’s second poem to feature at the nicely-carpeted Poetry Hallway is his tribute to the fallen king, to whom he refers as "a true Majesty”. In the accompanying letter, he went on to say, "… King Richard 111 [sic] could teach [the current Monarchy] a thing or two about how to run things.” We can only presume that Croyland is either thinking of another king or has scant regard for human life.

Alas, Croyland’s entry was rejected, firstly on the grounds that he broke part 5c of the competition rules, that “no one should make reference to Richard III’s alleged involvement in the disappearance of his nephews”, and secondly because the competition moderators didn’t think it was any good. Moderator Langley Ibsen summed up the House of York’s feelings: “We’re sorry to disqualify your entry so close to the finals, but we’re really confused as to how your poem, An Ode To Richard III, made it through the initial selection. It’s really not what we’re looking for.”

An Ode To Richard III

Richard the Third, how I wish you were here,
To see all the fuss being made of your up-dig,
It’s very well known that Leicester is short,
Of int’resting stuff; nothing there has been so big.

True, you may receive stick for killing your family,
Tho’ I’m sure they were brattish and spoilt and rotten.
And if they were also here, living the royal life,
You’d rather they were dead, decayed and forgotten.

So I’ll lift up my pint glass and drink to your death,
‘Cos to drink to your health would be oddly misleading.
But I promise if cloning returns you to breathing,
I’ll be the first to give you a kingly good feeding.

Croyland Otter


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Johnny Cocktail - PI Masterclass - Trust

You too can learn the ways of a Private Dick, like the bods in that Volkswagen across the road who've been there since breakfast. Let Johnny be your expert guide, he'll see you right. But don't take my word for it, I might be lying. He might be rubbish. (He isn't.)

Johnny Cocktail - PI Masterclass #7 (written/illustrated by Andy Brain)

Monday, 9 March 2015

Poetry Hallway - Introducing Celebrated Fenland Poet, Croyland Otter

Poetry Hallway - Introducing Celebrated Fenland Poet, Croyland Otter

Some time ago, we at Poetry Hallway held a competition aimed squarely at expanding the online population of 'Super Poet'. Finding people of a suitable calibre is a near-impossible task when one considers the lengths to which evil will go just to prevent artistry from engaging with its target audience. In much the same way that a Premiership football team hoovers up talent, the International Society Of Poets has spent the last two decades rounding up the nation's poetic geniuses, for whom they publish an initial offering before forcing them into a forever-exile. Indeed, but for a handful, they are never heard from again.

Creativity in the Internet is hard to come by. Indeed, it crops up occasionally, like an attractive slime mold growing in a college accommodation shower, but for the most part the web is a creative desert. The fault must lie firmly at the fetid feet of the International Society Of Poets. Elevated to the ranks of Hallway Poet is local celebrity Croyland Otter.

Copyright © 1997 Fenland Citizen
Born in an ordinary fashion to two parents, Whittlesey resident Croyland has spent the last forty-five years building a collection of Fen-inspired poetry, which began when he was forced to eat a pint of silt as a punishment by his headmaster. Of this incident, Croyland writes:

"...and the silt was a little gritty to start with. I tried chewing it and it simply made a terrible squeaking sound, which made the headmaster even angrier. Sensing that he might think of a less-squeaky punishment - like gravel - I simply swallowed it whole. And ever since then, I've been a poetry genius, and I've recited my god-like verse at every local Summer fete since."

Croyland was at the centre of controversy when he physically attacked local author Polly Howat during a live tweeting event at Wisbech Library in 2010. Howat was reciting her latest book Malevolent Ghost Prostitutes Of Crab Marsh in tweet form when Croyland accused her of plagiarising sections of his own book, Grumpy Spectral Seducers Of The Smeeth, which he'd self-published several months earlier. He alleged that the two had met at a speed-dating evening earlier on in the year, and that he had divulged details of some of his projects in return for a follow-up date which never took place.

In the aftermath, Croyland's popularity waned and Howat took him to court. In an effort to raise the funds needed to pay his legal fees, Croyland opened up his home to the public, charging £40 a head to show people around his 2-bedroom bungalow. Howat allegedly dropped the charges after disguising herself as a Canadian tourist and stumping up the entry fee to snoop around Croyland's home. Howat cites her visit as the inspiration for her local history book, 'Fen Slums' and, although Croyland is never directly referenced, it generated enough interest in his previous works for him to once again concentrate on his literary endeavours.

An introduction would be incomplete without an exclusive poem with which to launch Croyland's tenure with Poetry Hallway. After an intensive writing weekend, Otter submitted several dozen rhymes for consideration, and this was, by a parsec, the best.

A Love Affair With Brown
Croyland Otter 
Fenland silt, I love your grain,
The way its colour is just the same
As all the browns which are, in name,
Reminiscent of back-door shame.

Next up: Johnny C on trust.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Station Of Critical Review By Kennedy Hiscox-Wormegay: The TetZoo Podcast

The pleasure of being assigned this particular review should not be overstated, and sits at my feet like a cross between a hot water bottle and a happy dog, minus the smell of new rubber. It is not often that the staff at Beware! The Zine is sent requests to appraise anything specific, but when a typed letter arrives in an unmarked envelope at 3am, well, we'd write a review about the structural integrity of quilted toilet paper if that's how its request was delivered.

Where to start? Well, we're not even sure what we're meant to call the subject of our review. It has been called, variously, TetZoo Podcast, TetZoo Podcats, Tetzoo Podcart, Petting Zoo Food Mart and Non-Christians Against Fish - though under this name, many people assumed it to be a clever hoax - it wasn't. For the sake of simplicity, we shall refer to it as 'Tezpo'. Tezpo backwards is 'Opzet', which is, coincidentally, the name of one of its presenters' pet tapir.

The short-lived TetZoo Top Trumps. 
 Tezpo is the brain-baby of zoological co-conspirators Darren 'Dawn Tyrant' Naish (apparently named for his morning temperament) and John 'Crusher' Conway, who crushed time dedicated to any given Tezpo topic to two minutes, much like a Republican Governor handles educational spending. Twitter users may recognise Naish's name from its association with the #chickensaurus event, whereby he called upon tetrapod lovers to resist a conspiracy by John R. Horner to create an army of giant 'Maximum Chickens'. Seemingly it worked, because chickens are still rather small. Those of an art-appreciating disposition may know Conway through his works of art. He depicts old things. And new things. And some unsettling things. But always beautiful things. Except for this. And this.

Being of a different time, it was of importance-absolute that I did make an effort to acquire a person familiar with the concept of internet. That person is the local postmaster's daughter, Hepzibah. She is of the Age of Digital, and owns an MP3-to-Wax-Cylinder converter, facilitating my scrutiny of these scientific lectures. The Digital Age is not so different to the Wax Age, with the exception that the Wax Age usually falters in Summer.

Collector's favourite, John Conway.
Armed with five-hundred-and-forty wax cylinders and enough navy rum to pickle a Harry Secombe, I locked myself away from the harassment of modernity, and began my foray into the world of Naish and Conway. And what a world it is. The first thing which struck me about the ears like an irate spinster was the music. It is very sensible. It lulled me into a false sense of security, for I imagined that the rest of the programme would be similarly sensible. How horrified I was to discover that this show is a blend of dry science, popular science, film reviews and humour. Yes. Humour. I wondered about what else the weary listener should brace themselves for. Interpretative dance? A lecture on why the Empire might not be a good thing, perhaps? Preservation of the Fen dialect?

With the progression of the series, each episode quickly turned into a long list of corrections of mistakes from the previous episode. O! How awful a time the receptionist at Tezpo Headquarters must have when the mail boy brings in those sacks of letters from disillusioned listeners - though, it must be said, it doesn't appear to dissuade people from listening. It is almost as if they listen for the steady stream of errors - perhaps as many as three or four each episode - in the same manner that a social outcast might sit at a bus station recording the busses which pass through like sweetcorn passes unchanged through a child. Common errors include misremembering plot elements from films of the Planet Of The Apes franchise, announcing the discovery of only one new tapir EVERY episode, and mispronouncing the names of everybody referenced in the episode. On several occasions, I believe, Naish even pronounces his own name incorrectly, uttering "nich", and commenting on how it will upset listeners in Jamestown. And maybe Boston. Cohn Jonway never mispronounces his own name, for he is the thinking-organ of this outfit, as demonstrated by the discussions which sway in his favour.

It was not long until Tezpo disciples, or 'podkittens', concocted a method by which the backlash to these errors could be softened.* A drinking game was devised as a call-to-action for weak-willed listeners to ply themselves with thee deville's fluids, numbing the brain and resulting in a fog in which they were hopelessly lost. Drink must be consumed for such incidents as Naish forgets the show is about tetrapods and deviates into a monologue about a film he doesn't like. More drink must be drunk if Conway has not seen that film, and still more drink must be swallowed if Conway then offers forth an opinion about that film which he has not seen. ALL of the drink must then be had should Conway eventually realise that he has seen the film. And this happens for every episode. In addition, there are numerous other drink-worthy elements which recur with such frequency that it is hard to be believe that any Tezpo's listeners survive to hear the wind-down lounge music which terminates each performance. The result is that no one can remember any of Naish's vicious slurs against fish or invertebrates, and no fish-lovers or arachnoculturist harbour any resentment towards him, nor his Conway. The rules for this debauchery may be found here, along with many details such organisations would usually keep to themselves. It is clear from the titles held by its members that this 'Empire' has ideas above its station, with Naish and Conway seemingly keen on elevating their band of infamy to the status of a cult. Beware.

*This is usually attributed to The Shadow Man, Mike Keesey, though, as seems fitting for such an irregular set of individuals, a 'Yodelling Cyclist' has also had considerable input. Irresponsible alcohol consumption, cycling, yodelling. Where will it all end?

The Tetzoo Podcast, hosted by Darren and John, may be enjoyed sensibly here. John Conway's art may be enjoyed and, preferably, purchased here. Darren Naish blogs at Scientific American's site, here

You can also support John and Darren at their respective Patreon profiles.