Sunday, June 8, 2008

Looking Back From A Clear Space

Discovered in the files of the Fes Clinic for the Frequently Challenged:

June 6, 2008

Summary -

After some weeks of extreme medication and disinterested counselling, Mr John awoke from a deep sleep murmuring the words, "One Spooky Man", over and over. "One Spooky Man", "One Spooky Man". Nurse Drakool suggested that we search on the Interweb to see if these words might mean something to those outside the walls of this ancient city. We have discovered that the man we know of as "Mr John" was making a record of his travels with the so-called Spooky Men's Chorale, a primitive cult.

While we can only guess at the perversions to which he was subjected at the hands of these "Spooky Men" (for this handsome young man's experiences are yet to rise to the surface of his memory). He talks apparently randomly of "singing", his moods swing from deep self-doubt to grandiose delusions; wondering if he is "pretty enough" one minute and then declaring his "magnificence" the next. We wonder what we must do to make him whole again.

When he was brought to our refuge by the local cattery-workers, they to
ld us that he had been found gibbering and sweaty, offering outrageous sums of money for local handicrafts. It was all that the authorities could do to rescue him before he was buried beneath a pile of unecessarily expensive local leathergoods. In his pocket, we found this photograph:

As best we can tell, this image shows the final time that Mr John was with this band of song-doers. He wears the bowler of innocence, surely a cry for help. He is obviously surrounded by those who would have him join them ... forever. It seems that somehow he made his escape and fled to Northern Africa. His senses did not come with him.

We hope that in the months to come, more and more of the real man will return. We will do our best to keep him safe and to bring him back to a state of full recovery. In time, we hope that he will be able to return to his world, to face his fears and perhaps one day, once again meet these Spooky Men and, if he chooses to rejoin their ranks, do so in such a way that will allow him to sing proudly, sing well and sing on, and never again wind up being delivered to an African mental institution by local cat-collectors.

We can only hope

Dr Bzaaf.

As a warning to those who might read this, we show you now a recent photograph of our Mr John, that you may see and be warned of what may befall you if you allow yourself to get too close to the Spooky Men's Chorale. We wish you well.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

To The Left, Oi!

Onward, ever onward

As we ventured further North into a land that looks nothing like South Wales, I found myself becoming more and more inculcated into the culture of Spookiedom.  It was not an unpleasant series of sensations.

In the beginning, I had worked from what records exist of the Spooky Men's music. While repeated listenings had shown me much of the noises of which they are capable, it was not until I was among them on the stage that I realised the depth and complexity of their knowledge and training. Even a ditty as simple as a traditional Swedish folk song (surprisingly popular for so arcane a choice of repertoire) incorporates complex dance moves, (such vigorous leaps and turns), along with many more subtle physical touches. I came to think that it could well be the physical complexity of the Spookies' performances that draws people to them in such large numbers. The group moves as one -  like an enormous jungle cat with 24 legs and a head shaped like Stephen Taberner.  Black, silken perfection, a mass of rippling muscles under velvety skin. Has there ever been a more perfect human form?

But the Spooky's show is not all boogaloo and tushy-rattling. At the heart of the Men, as with any chorale, is of course the power of the (human) voice. And here too, the Spooky Men bring together an enormous array of skills, a reflection perhaps of their diverse backgrounds. Whether they be cubicle warblers from the darkest forests of the land know as "public service", or musical hermits, descended from their mountainous realms to share their awesome talents, every Spooky Man has a voice.  Any one of them is capable of slaying the savage critic-beast, but together... Together they are like the Fantastic Four merged with the Famous Five - strangely unbeatable and at the same time, delightful to like at. To hear them is to become certain that, at some point in our culture's deep, dark past,  Jerry-Lee Lewis and the Vienna Boys Choir did manage to produce offspring.  

Don't Keep It To Yourself

So comfortable are they with their awesomeness, the Spooky Men are prepared to share their seemingly boundless skills.  While ever-mindful that with great power comes great potential for extra income, they gather willing acolytes to their enormous collective bosom.  Their deceptively entitled "How to Sing Like a Bloke" workshops cross all-known boundaries of musicality, gender and taste. It is perhaps not too extreme to say that a Spooky workshop is a musical experience like no other.  It is perhaps not too extreme to say that as a group, the Spooky Men's Chorale should be elected president of the world.  Some may accuse me of hyperbole, but I do not consider it an overstatement to say that the Sing Like a Bloke workshop in Bangalow on April 23rd of this year, represents the highpoint of human artistic achievement to date on this or any other planet.  (I will concede I was rather tired at this stage of the tour).

Together we squeaked, we warbled, we moaned.  We yearned, we longed, we strived.  We waved, we gestured, we cajoled.  All together we shimmied.   As one we slunk.  We came together in every sense that is decent and good.  We sobbed for the past and screamed for what might come.  We vibrated, giggled and wept.  We chanted, we stomped and together we sang.  All in an hour.  If nothing else, we represented extraordinary value for money.

The Darker Side of the Men

And yet, there is need to rest when the row you hoe is a hard one. Beyond the hubbub and glamour of life on the stage, lies the quiet time, the time for contemplation and rest.  These are times when the men who are quintessentially spooky also find solace in simple pleasures, such as laughing together over warm Milo, or simply returning to their roots and holding hands in the dark.

There were many such times on this journey with the Spooky Men.  I will leave you now, dear reader, to ponder what these times might have been like, before I return soon to conclude this tale of bo-diddly.

One spooky man.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Black Wiggles

The ways of the Spookies are dark, and necessarily obscured by elaborate ritual.  For without a degree of secrecy, their magnificence would be unleashed into a world unprepared for such awesome power.  After only a few days with them I have been able to discover a few of their secrets.  At great risk to myself, I disclose them to you now.

The Spooky Men wear black.   

The absence of colour is an obvious external display of the emptiness that lies within.  For much of the individual spooky man's personality is eliminated in the course of his training and induction into the group.  We learn through a long and painful process to abandon any sense of ego, assertion or even purpose, as we merge ourselves into one seamless, amorphous, clamorous black whole.  While we are many, we are one.  (And from all the lands on earth we come).

The Spooky Men sing often of Georgia.  

The influence of the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia is strongly felt by all Spooky Men.  From our overriding ignorance of fine detail about this place, we draw our strength of purpose to learn more (or to at least sing loudly).  1, 4 and 5 are the numbers which carry us forward, ever-striving to make one big noise together at end.  For while in unison there may be strength, in the many, we the find the beauty of lots and lots.

The Spooky Men follow their leader.

The Spooky Men draw their inspiration from many sources, crystallised into the Spooky Constitution and inspired by Saint Ken (or Kevin in parts of New South Wales) the Usual. Of these I will speak no further now. I fear that my writings are being observed. Last night I was discovered paying close attention to the teachings of our leader. This clearly marked me as an outsider and not to be fully trusted.

"Our intention must be the same as our pretension" (Stephen Taberner)

"I powerfully and serenely resolve to tell you that thing that I was going to tell you, as soon as I remember what it was" (from the wisdom of Saint Ken the Usual)

The Spooky Men are welcomed in many places of worship. 

Whatever the belief system, so long as the audience adhere to the Anglican faith, the Spooky Men are welcomed into houses of gods.  In a town by the sea (neither of which I will name here), we marvelled at the intricate icons adorning the wall.  Agog at the frog, we shared in a moment of spiritual sharing after our own style. 


Monday, April 21, 2008

At Last

Tonight I have became one with the dark side of the muse. Whatever may come, whatever further trials I may face, I know that my life will never be the same.

Two This Part B

In the months that followed my call to join the Spooky Men, I took what steps I could to prepare myself. I practised what I knew of the sacred spooky chants, and hoped that my offerings would not be found wanting. I walked alone at night, contemplating the stars and searching for signs in the heavens of what my coming journey might offer. I trained my body in accordance with the little that was known of their ways. I spent much time on my knees and tried as I might to match something of their renowned flexibility and digital dexterity. Many was the birch sapling that gave its all without complaint to the demands of my regimen.

My role was to be that of vanguard. But even before the van's arrival, I went on ahead. I arrived by way of flying machine into that port city known as Macquarie. The sky was heavy with cloud as I made my way to my lodgings. Above the sign of the Starbuck I was shown to my bed-chamber. There was magic all around. The walls shone as though carved from purest alabaster. Dark potions and tasty sweet-meats were offered to me, and I feasted gratefully. Few words were spoken, as my hosts took their leave and left me to rest. They had a journey of their own to take that night, to meet with their fellows. They taught salsa to the local people, and their skills were required that evening.

I was content to spend time alone, and ponder what the days to come might offer. I left my lodgings only briefly, to find sustenance at a local tavern. It was a strange repast, but tasty. The food was in the style of Thailand, a distant place. Music drifted into the eating-chamber from an unseen source. I recognised the familiar strains of the bouzouki, and even picked out some melodies that were known to my people. (Morning Has Broken, I Can't Help Falling In Love With You, and Edelweiss all brought comfort to the scene.) After my meal I returned to my room and to my bed. I slept fitfully, alone in the unfamiliar darkness.

The next morning I rose early and walked by the water's edge and awaited the arrival of the first to find me.

Chapter the One

It was in the deepest recesses of that land known as Tasmania, where I first heard the siren call of the Spooky Men.  Their demands for me to join their sonorous clique were persistent and, as it would prove, irresistable.  At that stage I knew only the reputation of this terrible band of wandering minstrels.  From the Blue Mountains, where they have their lair, they travel freely, riding out from time to time to wherever their whims take them.  Up lonely roads, and even through the skies, they come.  Whether in crowded cities, among the vagabonds' tents or through empty towns, long past their prime, the spooky men move largely unnoticed among the unsuspecting inhabitants of the "real" world.  In their obscurity lies their great power.

And now I had been called.  I pondered long over whether to accompany them on their travels.  For the spooky call is not lightly given, nor may it be received lightly.  Lightly not it has the reception into the ear of the receiver.....

I feared what might be if I assented and made my own way into spookidomliness.  For, even though they were asking that I give myself only for a brief time, I knew that where the spooky men go, mystery and danger go with them.

Through long nights I examined myself.  I then took time to consider my position.  Was I up to the task?  Was I brave enough?  Strong enough? Pretty enough?  Could I, a humble "top" (as they would have me), albeit with travels of my own of which to speak, take among them my place, rankswise?   Did not the risk I run that soon backwards would my words become inevitably?  Already I felt their power.

Missives were exchanged.  Texts, both ancient and modern, examined, sent and received.  And finally I made my choice.  My way was set.  I would bow to their will.

I would become a Spooky Man!