Following my dubbing poisoning, it’s been a struggle to walk to the computer, let alone around Carnforth Sands. Yet here I am, so onwards and upwards, as they say.
My first statement is – never, never, never accidentally eat a waterproofing substance. Oh God, if I could turn back the hands of time to that ill-fated breakfast. They say wisdom comes at a bitter price, and they don’t come any bitterer than 4 slices of toast covered in boot-grease. Trouble is, the dubbing tasted better than the Marmite. Come to think of it, doesn’t most things?
I mentioned in my last E-Mail that I drew wisdom from Mr Shuttleworths lyric- ‘Man on the M62’. Here, he showed an almost Confucian sagacity in drawing parallels between the human condition and the world of DIY. Have we not all, at some point in our lives, had a metaphorical strip of beading standing slightly proud when we thought it had been correctly fitted? Why then, if John can reach such dizzy heights, does he then plumb the depths? I’m talking about the song ‘Eggs and Gammon’ as aired on the TV programme ‘500 Bus Stops’. Here, Mr Shuttleworth revealed, for the entire world to gloat over, the unfortunate congenital trait that affects the Worthington family: our predisposition for sudden massive gaseous expulsions from the hindmost area (usually at inappropriate times i.e. interviews, social gatherings, flirting with housewives etc). Mr Shuttleworth called it a fun-track. I could see no fun in it. That evening, I felt a kinship and solidarity with my estranged brother, as to a mocking tune, our family shame was exposed nationwide. As we saw, Ken tried to put on a brave face as John launched into the tune, but was pugnacious by the final verse, lashing out in vexation at the tactless songsmith. Well, Mr Shuttleworth, you’ve sown the breeze. Someday, you’ll reap the Worthington whirlwind. Someday.
Now it is out in the open, so to speak; let me give you the truth about the incident, and so get a deeper understanding of my troubled brother. Maybe gas afflicted pop fans will not feel so isolated once they read this tale? Yes, Ken was haunted by that camping trip to Rhyl, all those years ago. He would recall it to me, usually after his 6th Malibu and slumped over a courtesy bowl of cashew nuts.
The Milky Way was visible in all its starry splendour that evening as Ken and Rhiannon climbed the hill towards the campsite. Below them, the twinkling lights of the town mirrored the sky above. Their meal in the restaurant had been a success. Ken had told a joke and it had amused the assembled staff. As they laughed, he glanced at Rhiannon and saw in her eyes, lit by the candle-glow, a look of admiration at his off the cuff quip. In that look was a promise. Encouraged, Ken flexed his bubbly personality as it had never been flexed before. A coach party from Maghull gathered around, magnetically drawn to Kens glowing face, as he gnawed on his gammon with swagger. Passion had been kindled that night. It was not the only thing that had been kindled.
At the tent, with the amorous Rhiannon installed (in thermal camping nightie and warming herself on a Pifco torch); Ken popped his head through the tent flap for a last look at that beautiful evening. The moon had risen over the sea, sending its shimmer of shines across the water. Looking on that silver orb, as on the face of an old friend, Ken told me, that in a mood of playfulness and sheer joy at his existence, he winked at it. At that moment, the hereditary curse of the Worthington’s struck. Poor Rhiannon was caught by the Force 6 methanous blast from the posterior of my brother. The eggs and gammon, that criminal culinary coupling had done their job.
The tent ballooned violently and the guy-ropes strained at the repeated release of Kens high-pressure fermentings. He battled valiantly for control of his bowels, but events had moved beyond his mastery. Rhiannon, cowering inside her sleeping bag and traumatised by the sudden atmospheric change, cried out, “Open the tent-flaps Ken, disperse the odour!” Her yells were accompanied by gutteral shouts from adjoining tenters –“Oy, shaddup will yer. Wer tryin’ ter *@#%!# sleep in ‘ere!” and “ Purra *@#!^% cork in it!” With all energy spent, his spindly frame rent asunder by the recoil violence of those vaporous volleys, Ken collapsed onto the tent floor, finally surrendering to the ‘Bonnie and Clyde of the Bowel’ – eggs and gammon. They now ruled the night.
Lying face down, with one eye open, he told me that he spied, in the light of the abandoned Pifco, a Daddy-long-legs. Its front legs were raised, as if in supplication, to some higher power or to the rampaging forces of Nature, then emanating from his interior. Pondering the meaning of this benighted insects pose, blissful oblivion overcame my brother; and all of life’s hurts ceased (for a small time anyway). Awakening to the pitter-patter of rain on the tent roof, Ken beheld the aforementioned insect, now defunct. In the dawn light, he saw its stiff legs pointing heaven-wards. Ken was a murderer, or so he felt.
The drizzly morning echoed the couple’s mood. Rhiannons look of love, of the night before had been replace by side-ways glances of reproach. She tugged at the tent pegs(now buckled) in smouldering silence as she packed away the camping gear. On getting home, Ken was marched down to the clinic by his wife to get an anti-wind remedy – which was partially successful – as was my brothers attempt to atone for the primordial behaviour of his derriere.
I think you can now guess why Tony Hatch thought there were 3 musicians on the ‘New Faces’ stage, that memorable night in 1973: Ken and Rhiannon in view and a third, hidden behind the curtain, playing a separate avant garde piece. The ‘Worthington Wind’ had struck again. Ken told me that he dreaded the occurrence of this phenomenon during public performances, when acerbated by nerves, the condition was amplified. I remember that he rang me from a phone box outside his New Faces dressing room 5 minutes before going on stage. Sobbing into the mouthpiece, he burbled, “Oh William, the ‘Rumbles’ have returned............... HELP ! ”. “Hold tight, Ken!” I shouted, “Hold tight !”. One can only imagine his titanic struggle to contain the pressure, as, preoccupied by the gas internal and the cold critical stare of Britain’s viewing public, Ken fluffed the notes on his clarinet. A sideways glance of reproach from Rhiannon was all it took to shatter his concentration, thus unleashing a noise Mr Hatch referred to as “Stockhausen at his discordant worst !” and a Daily Mirror reporter as a “Concerto in B Flatulence”. Ken had blown it.
The harp then felt his chagrin.
So there you have it. The reason why TV’s ‘Clarinet Man’ flopped on a premier talent show. I know some will dispute it.
Sincere and best wishes
P.S. Now that ‘Foot and Mouth’ is all over the place, I can’t go walking next week. I’m beginning to feel trapped and so are my fellow hikers. There are a lot of desperate people in bobble-hats out there. I predict that, if the situation has not changed by June, there will be Rambler Riots in every major city in Britain, and the rucksack will become an offensive weapon. You wait and see