The witterings, blitherings, and other assorted thinks of Johnnynorms are now continued over on:

Twisty Turny Lanes

Whimsical Tour of the Web #4

Frank Key's Hooting YardErudite and humourous wordmongerer.

Hooting Yard is where to find a certain Mr Frank Key - erudite regaler of fact and fiction, wordmongering humourist, deadpan deliverer of entertaining digression, poetic spinner of poignant yarns.

It is in this instance a blog, but it's also a radio programme in London, podcasted for the rest of the world. Drop in/tune in and enjoy the outpourings of Mr Key's rich imagination, his love of language dredging up arcane verbiage whilst shaping his droll and bizarre world.

Characters such as Dobson the out-of-print pamphleteer, Tiny Enid, and Marigold Chew, abound in stories that have an authoritative feel, like a gigantic footnote which takes over the book. The boundaries of real quotation and Keysian invention aren't wholly distinct in my bamboozled mind. As well as his own writings, the website is a veritable pot-pourri of gubbins, stuff and miscellany. Frank homes in on rarefied and ridiculous snippets of trivia, both topical and ancient, real, surreal and not real, factoids that appeal to the elevated nodes of uber-absurdity. (They home in on him too, certainly in the form of esoteric contributors.)

I feel that I'm beginning to chase my tail in the slippery task of defining something so original, you have to go for a lonesome explore by yourself. The bottom line? The reason for wandering through the witterings? Frank Key is funny, affably disgruntled, very inventive and seems to have the whole world in his head, plus another one of his own making.


Other Websites in the Whimsical Tour
#1 The Captain Beefheart Radar Station - all about the words, music, paintings & life of Don Van Vliet.
#2 Coconino World - massive French showcase of illustrators and comic artists present and past.

This post was originally published 2008, but I've republished to bump it up to the top.


Pics place

Page from Rupert the Bear annual 1972.

Penguin Book of Latin American short stories


The Many Few: Aunts, Bombs & Trogpop (recorded 1992-93)


Puffin Post envelopes

These recall the excitement and anticipation of seeing these drop on the doormat back in 1974/1975 - poetical whimsical food for a 10-year-old creative. All of these designs were by Jill McDonald. Much more of this sort of thing can be found on Thin Puffin's blog.


Advent Calendars

A review of online advent calendars, for those who still enjoy the day-to-day door-opening treat that these things bring. Four days too late, but never mind...

Tate and the Calico Cat - a story in pictures.
Picture from the Dec 2000 storyStory, illustrations and flash animation by Penny Schenk. She has even got it translated into French, Italian, Dutch and Russian, with Swedish to follow. Always a delight, and very generous and warm hearted - the stories and the giving of the stories! It's the latest in a series that she started back in 1995, about the adventures of Tate the cat, set in France. You cannot peek ahead, so there's a genuine anticipation to see just how the story will evolve.
Tate and the Calico Cat

Electric December
If whimsy and tradition aren't your thing, there is still a possible advent calendar for you. This is rather different - a selection of short films made by young people across Europe. Actually, I can't view the films on my computer, but it looks very intriguing and well put together.
Electric December

St Michael and All Angels advent calendar
Based in Chiswick, London - 24 local artists have created artwork for charity. Each day reveals one of these, and if you want to you can bid for the art. A nice collaborative idea.
St Michael and All Angels advent calendar

Hubble space telescope
Beautiful photos of cosmic and stellar phenomenon.
Hubble space telescope

National Museums Liverpool
As you expect from a museum website, lots of vintage pictures and interesting information. It ties in with local events.
National Museums Liverpool

Activity Village website
Lots to read and do.
Activity Village

Three nice ones from previous years:
Next, here's a wonderful jamming session of illustrating talent, put together by PenelopeIllustration, who runs the weekly participation Illustration Friday. This is a project from 2004, with each day's bauble leading to a different illustrator's contribution. A great idea, and great fun.

This Medieval Advent Calendar is much more interesting. Each day you get a detail from a painting, and medieval Christmas stories, legends and images from the Middle Ages. A fascinating feast of art and information, you never know quite what to expect from day to day, but essentially you get to visit a diverse array of websites on Nativity and folklore themes.
Located at New York Carver.

Instead, how about this delightful wealth-of-information from the Woodlands Junior School in Kent. Each day, discover some fascinating facts about how Christmas is celebrated in countries around the World. The red flowers on the right are from a Pohutokawa, the New Zealand Christmas tree.



From Ranger magazine, May 1966


Puffin Post, year 3

It's been a long while since I posted anything Puffin Club related on the blog, but here's another four quarterly covers from the adorable Puffin Post, graphics by the wonderful New Zealand artist Jill McDonald. There is very scarce information about her work or the Puffin Club on the Internet, but since I last posted the club has actually been resurrected for a new generation - www.puffinpost.co.uk. Article on the launch from last September - TimesOnline.

As for us older members who remember the heyday of the club during Kaye Webb's editorship, if you would like to see more lovely covers and other illustrative ephemera, you must have a look at the Puffin Club Archive blog of Thin Puffin, who is posting a lot of great scanned images of all things Puffin Club.


The Urbania

from Ranger: the national boys' magazine, May 21 1966