EARL AND THE BAND THAT TIME FORGOT
further scribblings of MNE's No.1 columnist
Michael York Oxlong
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
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.
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.
END OF PART 1
CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 - Oxlong's conclusion to yet another remarkable piece of
prize winning musical journalism. . . . . With more pictures!