The writing's on
     the wall


Featuring the further scribblings of MNE's No.1 columnist
Michael York Oxlong

Part 1: A nose for the real dirt.

    Having achieved the lifelong ambition of meeting and interviewing his apparently immortal - albeit elusive -hero Toots Earl, far from feeling a little flat, as he might have expected, music super-journo Mike Oxlong realised he had barely scraped the crust, no more than caught a whiff, of the dense layer of pungent brown soil that smothered the phenomenon of The Band That Time Forgot.

    With an appetite fully whetted by this revelation, Mike set out with a zealous fervour to really sink his teeth into this matter and disgorge enlightenment on what makes this musical time bomb tick. His first encounter was with Toots "ole frien's an' colleagues" The Fabulous Carruthers Brothers. . . .

Hugely prominent members

    Fabulous in every sense of the word; the Carruthers brothers (or "that pair of F-C's" as they are called by those who know them well) are indeed aptly titled; standing somewhere about the altitude of 9' 8" and 9' 6 ˝"; encompassed by fantastic fables that neither will confirm nor deny; absurdly wealthy and certainly remarkable enough to be famous: yet these two hugely prominent members of the house of musical eminence are surprisingly modest; even diffident, about their prodigious talents and achievements.

Oversized but beautifully ornate

    I was invited to join them at Dunnet Hall, their opulent country retreat. On my arrival they met me at the oversized but beautifully ornate main gates, where they greeted me in a friendly manner, with no trace of the somewhat narrow eyed suspicion I thought I had detected when I first met Mr Earl. I had heard of recent mild illness in the family, so with a feeling of natural concern, I nudged C. Major just above a kneecap and asked "How's your father?" "Let's not get off on the wrong foot, Oxlong" he retorted - rather tetchily, I thought, failing to understand how such a bland enquiry could possibly upset anyone. With my customary sensitivity I decided to abandon my next intended polite conversational query and not ask whether his old man was still standing up or not, in case his peevishness was caused by the parent having become more seriously ill - or worse.


Pointing out

    We walked to the waiting carriage in silence, the four hour drive to the 'house' passing quickly with the super-siblings by now chatting away, pointing out the various conceptual gardens, hothouses, lakes (boating and ornamental), cascading waterfalls and so forth. I found the pride of lions stampeding an 800 strong herd of wildebeest in a corner of the natural African garden particularly eye-catching. Unfortunately time was too short to visit the 1 in 4 scale models of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and The Himalayas in the larger grounds on the far side of the house. How dearly I would have loved to observe those wild Yeti!

Glistening and shimmering

    I must have by this time become somewhat blasé towards visual splendour, for as the house came into view I emitted only the merest of gasps, having perhaps half anticipated the stunning vista spread before us. A massive yet elegantly designed building, or should I say palace?, set around with immaculately manicured formal gardens, the whole scene glistening and shimmering faintly in the wan late afternoon sun-after-rain light. Initially, it seemed we were closer to the house than the actual fact, an illusion caused by the capacious dimensions of the magnificent edifice. Doorways 12 feet high, with the rest of the structure in proportion (the antithesis of a doll's house, I remember thinking), designed and built by Sir Hugh Jarce-Brown, perhaps better known as 'Capability Hugh?', for the comfort of a typically nine feet plus medieval ancestor of the Fabs, the third duke Carutha le Grand de Atlantis, on the extensive lands granted to him by his grateful sovereign, King Wayne I I , after Carutha's 'practically single-handed' slaughtering of 11,003 revolting peasants heavily armed with sticks, large lumps of hard mud and a pitchfork.

    We arrived at the front of the house. Up to that moment, I have to say I had been reasonably impressed, and could only wonder what the rest of this assignment had in store for me.


CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 - Oxlong's conclusion to yet another remarkable piece of prize winning musical journalism. . . . . With more pictures!