- The Meaning of Christmas (EDP feature)
- Doin' Different
- Perspectives on Literary and Linguistic Theory Part 2 Linguistic Theory
- Boudicca Britain's Dreaming
- Perspectives in Literary and Linguistic Theory Part 1. Critical Theory.
- Poem of the Month 2016-2020
- Tom and Harry
- Margery Kempe
- Doin’ different. (my 8th poetry collection) Poppyl...
- Exile in his Own Country (my 7th poetry collection) Bluechrome, 2006
- The Merchant of Bristol (my 4th poetry collection)...
- Britain's Dreaming (my 3rd poetry collection) - Fr...
- Poem of the Month 2007-2015
- A Job To Remember
- The Merchant of Lynn's Tale
- A Robin Hood Lesson
December 30, 2020
For digital downloads, three free listens, full notes and pics.
PART 1. Little England in the Styx
PART 2. Who Killed Cock Robin?
For unlimited free listening go to
A Norfolk Noir alt rock/ storytelling concept album. The tiny Norfolk village of Little England in the Styx, peopled by English figures from Cluedo board, folklore and fiction, attempts to solve the global 2020 pandemic. …. The Cock Hall Murder Scene is at first completely locked down then hysterically re-opened to pandemic-fevered Breck’s Isle holiday homers chasing the Norfolk Paradise up the traditionally gridlocked Boudicca Trail. These self-escape pilgrims are drawn instead by the spirit of the age; their own demons - and a wish to escape the queue - down the B666 to Dis.
The global investigation is led by local UEA-educated detective Ken Hill; ‘aided’/replaced by Agatha Christ-Eyed intertextual detective duo (or copyright fraud depending on how postmodern we are) Poirot & Marple; along with some unspecified ‘contributions’ from American Chlorinated Intelligence Agent Frank and Mark Adams (working out of Room 101A in Cock Hall.) Dead Author’s brilliant Vision of the Murder vies with DI Ken’s Critical Theory, read against the grain of the text, the impasse allowing Colonel Mustard to counterplot a trumped up Fake News Story against the Murder genre itself, replacing it with an advert for his business.
The baffled Privatised Eyes work through a recalcitrant list of suspects; a postmodern gossip of competing narratives and motives and several family-sized Pandora tissue-boxes of lies. As the Last Trump of their combined effort subsides, we hear the late Squire’s unhinged prophesy of another global virus to come – love - which will spread from heart to heart; embrace the whole world and redeem humanity.
The locally abbreviated name for ‘Peacock Hall.’ Its long history, “Saxon foundation, Civil War change of hands” Walpole-Townshend Enlightenment graces (paid for by African slaves); Room 101A “full of Death Kites from China” (now infiltrated by the CIA); Krishna’s Eyes in its Peacock Tail (stolen like Wilkie Collins’ Moonstone, from fabulous India) - not to mention its extensive grounds embracing a Bronze Age to First World War excavation site; a Boudicca Trail, a ‘Hereward’ Fen and a 14C “Canon Bullfinch Rook-Lark” Church of Little England - embody the whole of English history and pre-history. Cock Hall is England as a haunted house with a closet full of skeletons; a Brown Lady in the attic and a Blak in the cellar. The mad wife roams freely in the Peacock grounds.
Little England in the Styx
Squire Robin Peacock of Cock Hall, the chief landowner of Little England In The Styx and a recent convert to Green farming and politics. An amateur author positioned as a Robin Hood of Loxley Hall on the side of the common man, he has lately become a patron of visionaries and authors on his Estate, and of a world-famous archaeological dig on his land. His great economic and political rival in village affairs is Colonel Mustard.
Dr Blak, a Blakean-visionary author and outsider, found dead on the cellar steps before the story begins, nevertheless accused of his own murder (and the Squire’s) by Mrs Wight on the basis of his colour. Appears with the Brown Lady as a headless ghost.
The murder weapon Corona (‘crown’, ‘halo’; ‘the dome of body parts like those of the head or penis’; ‘the luminous envelope of concentric white light around the sun’) virus. A serial global murder weapon with the terrified world in its clutches throughout the story.
The Interro-Gated Community (Suspects)
Eve Lady Peacock, wife of the Squire. A High Tory Royalist and a Clytemnestra of expensive and indulgent appetites. Her definition of Love as “a public stage for private parts” was removed from the Dis on Sea Argus by a threat of legal action but remains hidden among Author’s spiral notepads on his desk in his cottage shrine ‘Jerusalem.’Her name connects her to Juno and Argus, whose all-seeing prying Eye was banished to the Peacock’s tail. Opposes the Squire’s vision for Cock Hall; his patronising of dreamers; and his plan to marry their daughter to a Green but as she already ‘wears the jodhpurs’ in their relationship may not feel the need to kill him. Linked to Mrs Wight by ‘snow’. Seems to favour-
Colonel Norman ‘D (Lightful D Leerious D) Mustard, a Trumpian entrepreneur; the Huntin’ Shootin’ and Hangin’ Tory millionaire chairman of Mustard’s Holiday Hearths who has privatised Bombadil Common and has aggressive designs on the Cock Hall Estate including (the Squire believes) on Lady Peacock. He represents Little England’s Tourist as opposed to Farming interest. Provides Holiday Homes, Holiday Hunts and ‘Authentic Hysterical Torcs’ along the ‘Boudicca Trail.’
Mrs Self-Island Wight, Housekeeper of Cock Hall, a refugee from a Home Counties ‘invaded by outsiders’ in love with Colonel Mustard and hostile to the Squire’s growing old-liberalism. Huntin’, Shootin’ and Hangin’ without the fortune to finance it. Self -appointed representative of the village’s “semi-detached bourgeois realist plot in-my-beginning is-my-Middle-England-ever-after revenge narrative planetary-extinction-with-farm-views cul de sac.” Believes There is No Society except private life and no business except her nose up everyone else’s. Flies a Union flag whenever Her Majesty is in residence at nearby Sandringham. Devoted to her ‘Snow White’ Queen Lady Peacock. Identifies with – and (her doctor notes) increasingly as - her.
Jack Green, an ethical farmer and Radical, who ‘would kill to Green the Cock Hall Estate’; fiancé (lately estranged) of Miss Scarlet. A child of nature and very much in tune with the woods, seasons and the albums Jethro Tull was making in the late 70s. Miss Scarlet daughter of the Squire and Lady Peacock and heir to the Estate. Shares Jack Green’s Radical passions though recently seduced by Plumski’s more violent revolutions. Runs a ‘Radical’ Bistro in Burnham Up Market.
Professor Plumski, an Old Stalinist, running armed underground campaigns from the Gun Room of Cock Hall under the Squire’s ‘eccentric’ patronage but hurt by the Squire’s recent preference for the utopian ‘New Jerusalem’ of Dr Blak.
Dick Sparrow, a retired Superhead, now retraining the House Guides for Colonel Mustard’s Cock Hall Murder Weekend. Has invested his nest egg (derived from getting other people to do his job for him) in an English Language School/Chinese Money Laundering Business in Hubei Province and divides his time between the two.
A Statement from the Sparrow Family. “We live in the grotto in Dead Author’s garden and like most sparrows never do anyone any harm, least of all robin. On the contrary, we live in terror of Ebony, Author’s cat. Our cheerful Christmas single “Sparrows in the grotto” was even left off the Covid album because of our alleged association with Dick Sparrow, a puffed up little show-off who disowned us all long ago. He turfed several of his siblings out of the nest to feather his own ambitions. If he dunit, we wouldn’t be surprised.”
‘Dr Blak’ Author’s avatar in his Murder Story. (Blak is Author’s foreignized-English pen name, a self-identification with outsiders, the oppressed, the unrepresented - art giving a voice to those who don’t have one in society, as with the many female protagonists in Greek Tragedy - and the original murder victim in Cluedo.) When accused of the Squire’s Murder, maintains that he “wasn’t there”, he was “on the cellar steps, the victim of a previous crime.” His name and cottage-name also connect him with William Blake, Radical visionary and author of ‘Jerusalem, (from Blake’s ‘Milton’) the revolutionary New England fought for by the Parliamentary side in the English Civil War.
DI Ken Hill, a rooted local (fast-tracked after a Critical Theory degree at UEA) and very protective of his area. His still waters run deep and very much faster than his surface appears. On another level he is the spirit of place; in this case, of the story’s haunted Norfolk setting (‘Icenia’) and a personification of Ken Hill, whose wooded hill and Wash shoreline was associated with Bronze and Iron Age religious practices. Also linked to ‘Kenning Hall’, lost palace of dead Saxon Kings; absent Norfolk Dukes, and divining knowledge. Has hidden depths, of buried Celtic gold.
DS Len Wade Ken’s faithful Broadland Sergeant, worried about their lack of progress in solving the Coronavirus Murder. His name means ‘slow moving stream’ and links with Great Witchingham, site of the last duel in Norfolk in 1698, its squire slain by the squire of Blickling Hall.
DS Lynn Ken’s Lynn-based reinforcement, a veteran of mean streets and mean drug crime and charmed by her holiday homicide among the North Norfolk ponces. Wants to be Miss Scarlet and thinks everyone else does too.
Poirot from Belgium ie an emblem of Britain in Europe, an embattled ally whose neutrality Britain guarded by treaty and action since 1839; and more recently, via Brussels, of the EU. Poirot is an English institution, the genius Holmes to the wounded Watson soldier-hero friend/ami Captain Hastings. And yet utterly foreign, a continental bachelor-dandy cartoon of cuisine, couture and cosmopolitanism. Like Marple, makes Hastings (and many ‘macho’ English detectives) look much more of an idiot than Holmes ever did Watson which makes its own point about continental theory over English pragmatism/ public school twitism/ English patriarchy. Where his beloved friend is a romantic fool where women are concerned, has instead a genuine empathy for the female. His razor-sharp intelligence (egg shaped head) and justified cynicism is warmed (again like Marple) by a protectiveness towards young love and an ability to judiciously forgive.
Jane Marple (‘Jane Austen’?) An Anglican, One Nation, Tory apotheosis of Old Village England. Viz, a Great Power engaged in World Wars with wounded young Captains and got-rich-quick colonials returning to loved home shores only to miss the wide open spaces, enterprise and derring do of Empire. In short a Great not a Little Briton. An Old Maid sympathetic to Young Lovers. Broadened by travel but sees the World in her Village and her Village in the World. Identifies universals like Evil or Lucifer as her foe. Too realistic about fallen humanity to be a Liberal but too good-hearted (and genuinely Christian) to be a Neoliberal.
Chlorinated Intelligence Agent Frank and Mark Adams, “Government contracted on a private number.” A private double agent working out of a secret room in Cock Hall (Room 101A) on a contract for Colonel Mustard but also probably for American interests in Cock Hall. Attempt to solve the Covid case in classic “Big Sleep’ tough-talking Philip (or possibly Christopher) Marlow deflated by a 2020 Trumpian tendency to foul hot air. Private-eyesed by an equation of any public health enterprise against the Covid crisis with Reds under the Hospital Beds. On a theory that might help the common good, Frank declares “I can’t share it, man. It’s Mark’s.”
PC Plot PC Plod’s political correction.
WPC Plot For those who assume PC Plot is a man. She may be but ‘assume’ makes an ass out of you and me.
Chief Constable (John) Melton brings in Agatha Christ Eyes (Poirot and Marple) from AC/OCD to help/replace the existing team led by Ken Hill, at the behest of:
Superintendent “Market’ Law of Bourgeois Realist Plod
NHS Pathologist dies on the front line of the pandemic and vital DNA evidence is lost with him.
Author Ransome, the anti-social socialist surrealist. Believes there is a Society just not the one he attacks in Little England in the Styx. Self-isolated with his wife long before Covid, though longing to be loved, catches Covid, dies surrounded by all who understood him (none) after which he is furloughed as a ghost-writer by the Clued Ouija Board. The shadow of his former self is ‘Dr Blak’, the visionary outsider.
Mrs Ransome, his long-suffering wife and semi-detached cottage narrator. The sane wife in the lockdown rather than the mad wife in the attic. When she also perishes in the pandemic, her ‘reliable’ narrative voice is replaced by the visions of Dr Blak, Ken Hill, Marple and Poirot.
Post-man Pat. A postmodern man arrested in pursuit of his public duty by private vigilantes for trespassing on private property. Public hospitalised by Covid and, when in NHS Care, leads a public protest at the privatised shops selling quack medicines, virus-transmitting ‘PPE’ kits; obesity drinks; heart attack crisps and stroke sweets: and generally acting like he owned the place.
Butler He didn’t do it (but did he see it?)
A Welsh mountain family seeking their Iceni roots in Cockley Cley (their holiday home there is called ‘Llanfairpwllgwyn gyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’.) They fetch up at Cock Hall by mistake. They can cope with the rolling Boudiccan hill and the sheep but are traumatised by the fens.
Chef ‘Gammon’ Wight Mrs Wight’s nepotism-promoted son. His signature dish – replacing before the Squire is even cold the previously favoured Peacock Au Vin - is Snobside of Brexit and, at Christmas, Castrated Cock.
The Brown Lady The ghost of Dorothy Walpole Townshend; wife of ‘Turnip’ Townshend; sister of Sir Robert Walpole, and the heart that joined them when that family firm was thriving and ruling 18C Britain and its incipient Empire. Now a heritage asset but will not haunt to order; a browned up Mrs Wight often substitutes.
hanks to Nancy the Cat for her impassioned, frequently unscripted but brilliantly timed performance as Ebony (check out her trumpet solo on Who Killed Cock Robin? Nice.)
Dis. Hell in classical literature The music: Just drum and bass. A dark backdrop against which the comedy may shine.
The heroes: the NHS.
December 19, 2020
And check out "Who Killed Cock Robin, the Covid Case" our new double concept murder mystery album released today. https://phezants-tail.bandcamp.com