Sedgeford duo the Phezant’s Tail (poet and percussionist Gareth Calway and singer Melanie Calway) are using the lockdown to create an album and video project based on the ancient nursery rhyme “Who Killed Cock Robin?” “One impetus was to entertain our toddler-granddaughter online with films and recordings during self-isolation. The tracks and videos have passed that particular dancing test. But like many nursery rhymes, it has a sinister edge.”
Recorded and filmed in their home studio and with the family cat contributing scary cameos, the album and film includes a rocked-up version of the nursery rhyme itself, matched to stills of the recent supermoon over a pitch-black Sedgeford. This suits the Celtic origins of the nursery rhyme (‘Coch rhi ben’) as the death of the light god Lugh and later Christian interpretations as the mourning of Christ. Other historical interpretations include the Death of Robin Hood and (of particular interest in a village so close to Houghton) of the Fall, in 1742, of Robert Walpole, MP for Lynn and Britain’s longest ever serving Prime Minister.
A second haunting vocal “Brown Lady of the Haunted Halls” narrates the local story of Walpole’s sister (and Turnip Townshend’s wife) Dorothy as the supposed ghost of Raynham and Houghton Hall. Owls recorded (in the garden) under that supermoon join in the spooky rendition.
A series of home videos extends the story. These are ‘set’ at Cock Hall, the seat of the recently murdered Squire Peacock in the fictional Norfolk village of “Little England in the Styx.” Cock Hall is a sort of combined Cluedo and Ouija board over which the characters move.
Two out and out rockers “In The Court of the Coronavirus King” and “Revenge Narrative With Farm Views Planetary Extinction Cul de Sac” narrate the Covid 19 pandemic as a Cluedo-meets-Christie-in-Norfolk comedy whodunit in which Marple and Poirot try to track down its source. Channelling his inner Vincent Price, the poet rants and rails over a drum and bass backing track. “It’s bass, Jim, but not as we know it,” commented a musician friend.