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The Organ Grinder’s Monkey
By Tony King © 2017

Bony Sykes was an organ grinder from the East End of London, Barking, to be specific. His life had been swept under a rug since they had banned organ grinders from plying their grift, especially with a monkey.

His kind were seen as minor extortionists who were paid to keep silent. His father and his father before him had both been in the racket, and he had pressed on furtively in their desperate footsteps. He performed discreet shows on the QT & had escaped privation by sneaking off regularly to Denmark where it was still considered lucky for a couple to have a barrel organ playing outside on the morning of their 25th wedding anniversary.

His monkey was a surly curmudgeon Chimpanzee by the name of Clint. So named as he was “good” when he woke up, “Bad” by lunchtime, and downright “ugly” in disposition by teatime.

One day Clint was sitting in his wicket keeper’s position under the mail slit of the front door waiting for bills to catch, which he had been trained to chew. He loved the taste of envelope glue & would have done it anyway, making the training redundant. This pleased Clint.

On this day however, a letter with a Royal seal had arrived and Clint was testing the wax gingerly with his tongue when the letter from Buckingham Palace was plucked from his hairy mitt.

Bony & Clint had been “summoned by the old baked bean ‘erself!!”

He had borrowed Smiley’s Wolseley because he could smoke in Smiley’s car and Clint enjoyed hanging out the window giving the bird to passing cyclists.

Car travel was a fraught undertaking with Clint. He had first travelled in a box, then progressed to a cat carrier, baby seat & finally a seat belt in the front. It was like the ascent of man with Clint evolving at an alarming speed. Bony loved Classical music & had cassettes he’d play, but Clint had figured out how to switch over to the radio & would tune it until he found Hip Hop. Bony hated Hip Hop but Clint would pee on the dashboard unless he got his way. So Tupac it was.

The Wolseley was valet parked at the gates of Buckingham Palace & they were whisked inside with a crash lesson on how to behave when meeting the Queen, which Clint totally ignored.

It turned out the Queen had a huge thing for Organ Grinders, especially the ones with monkeys. Since it was illegal, their absolute discretion was required, with the threat of the Tower invoked by an officious looking “geezer” wearing what Bony considered “a bleedin’ shambolic titfer” which on closer inspection turned out to be his actual hair.

They were then instructed to perform.

With no warning whatsoever, Clint leapt up the stairs, onto the bannister & hurled himself onto the gawd knows how old/expensive chandelier and then swung over Her Maj like Tarzan after a big night on the town.

Bony didn’t know he could swing! Clint looked as though HE didn’t know he could swing!! Then the cacophony of chattering started. Her Maj just stared up over her glasses at Clint and kept stirring her tea.

“How do you turn it orf?” She inquired very calmly. Her face slowly took on the look of a frozen sneeze, which she had only ever used once before at Brezhnev’s funeral.

“I’m so sorry your ‘ighness, I don’t even know how to turn it on, let alone ORF” he said, awkwardly snatching a plumb from her accent that didn’t fit in his own mouth.

Her Maj disappeared somewhere & came back with a huge banana. She walked to the old Italian barrel organ & after studying it for a while, cranked out “Yes we have no bananas” singing all the words with gusto and looking a lot like Louis Prima in drag from where Bony was perched.

Clint was mesmerized. Suddenly he swung down the same way he’d gone up, jumping on Her Maj’s lap, gently grooming her magenta coloured hat whilst checking the provenance of her pearls with his teeth as she sang.

“Everything has an orf button….now it’s your turn to perform for me”

They played for two hours or as Her Maj measured time, four cups of tea.

“I’d rather like to take your monkey…on a Royal tour….take Phillip’s place as it were…..the tours jolly well bore the buttons off him. He’d much rather be home skyping his nieces, who have all miraculously moved to Russia and changed their names. T’would please me very much if monkey tagged along. Do you think he’d countenance such a proposition? Better still, I wish to procure… no…purchase your monkey…. I can give you 5 ton up front if you wish, I’m not sure what a monkey is worth on the open market but you don’t get much change from a Cock and Hen for a pint of Pig’s ear in this Battle Cruiser ” said Her Maj out of the blue in a bizarre flurry of cockney with no hint of irony.

Turning suddenly like an evil genius from a Bond movie she said
“Do we have a deal Mr Sykes?”

“I …think so… your Excellent Marmship” Bony mangled as he was feverishly trying to convert Cocks, Hens, Pig’s Ears & pints into a currency he could work with.

“Jeez, there’s no need for money, you can have the bleedin’ thing!!”

“Very well, but I insist on giving you a pony in cash & a small butler for your trouble”

“Thank you your ‘ighness”

“There is one more matter of a rather sensitive nature Mr Sykes…..
I’m not sure how to put this delicately so I’ll just come out with it…your Wolseley is running rich….I can smell it….and the tappets are noisy…

“Jesus!!!!” Bony thought to himself, “She must have the hearing of a fruit bat and the nose of a Tapir!!!”

“Mr Sykes…you really should take better care of your Wolseley.

I can adjust the carby and change the oil and filter if you like…

I‘ll get my tools”

Bony was speechless. A word nearly popped out and then scurried back into it’s hole. It did this five times before he finally settled on a thought. “Wait…just wait…’til I tell Smiley Her Maj has fixed the smoke blowin’ out the arse of ‘is mota!!”

Next thing he knew, like it never even happened, Bony was back home. He spent the week watching all five series of “the Wire” with Henry the small butler, who was growing on him, and chased away every strange pang of nostalgia for Clint with a pint whenever hip hopped onto the soundtrack.

Henry cleared his throat at the conclusion of the five series and said simply “Well, at least it wasn’t the butler this time”

Bony nearly laughed, but there was a gap in his life no joke could fill.

One morning as Bony was looking at the spot where Clint used to do his wicket keeping, the sound of posh wheels was heard patronizing the gravel outside.

Bony stepped out just in time to see the door of the Bentley open, hip hop pounded noisily out, Clint was deposited into the street, then Eminem disappeared entirely as the door clicked quietly shut and the car sped off with genteel alacrity.

Clint looked different. He smelt the same but the ascent of man had climbed a few branches higher & he put his hand tenderly into Bony’s arthritic safe cracking little hand.

Bony was completely taken aback.

It had been 43 years since someone had held his hand.

“Welcome ‘ome you little scamp…

They’re not gettin’ the small butler back!!…Or the pony!!”
Continue Reading »

 

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Ironbark Bob and the Lagerphone

© Tony King 2017

“Who….Let…the….BLOODY….…CHOOKS …OUT!!!!!”
Ironbark Bob knew the answer to the question, as he was the only person within 5 miles of his bush shack at Jakickabilly.
It didn’t stop him hoping however for someone to come out of hiding and own up to it.
He gave his huge knotted red beard a bit of a scratch and something crawled out and sought asylum in his egg stained overalls.

He had approximately 4 hours to find and fix his lagerphone, a family heirloom and percussion instrument, which had been damaged dancing a tango with the blue heeler named Ladder. So named as it was “always up to somethin’”

He had got on the Bundy a few nights ago and broken the family Lagerphone in a dramatic finalé to the tango, which involved trying to swan dive off the water tank into a bunch of hay bales that weren’t there anymore. Apparently Mick had taken them on Thursday and forgotten to mention it.

The Lagerphone consisted of his great grandmother’s grass tree broom handle covered with the bottle tops of every beer his grandfather had drunk over the summer of 1946.

Ladder had survived the swan dive by bailing out at the last second and sneaking back down the plank leading from the top of the tank, which was the only way up or down since the steps had rusted out. Ladder saw the lagerphone as a stick to be fetched and had hidden it in the barn while Ironbark Bob laid spread-eagled on the ground ‘til the concussion and Bundy had worn off.

“Where….the….HELL’S….THE….LAGERPHONE!!!!!!” echoed up the gully.
Ironbark always left huge holes between words that perfectly mirrored the huge gaps between his teeth. Ladder would sometimes bark in between the words to fill in the spaces, which drove Ironbark berserk. He eventually found the Lagerphone by following a trail of bottle tops that had been loosened in the fall and had come off on route to the barn. The top was cracked and had to be shortened by a foot. A dozen bottle tops needed to be re-attached. All this happened to the soundtrack of Ladder gnawing on a flea between his back legs.
“Stop….. gnawing……YER ……BALLS!!!!”

Ladder understood English perfectly and chose where and when to use the gift.
Today was not one of those days.

Ironbark Bob had played traditional Australian folk music since he was a kid and was the founding member of an outfit called “When Bush Comes To Shove”

They were playing today at the cemetery, then onto the Jakickabilly Mechanics Institute Hall for the wake. He would have to get there on the tractor as the ute wasn’t going. He’d have to get a wriggle on to get there on time. The problem was compounded when the tractor wouldn’t start either and he was forced to get to the gig on the ride on mower. The blade was rusted in the down position and he was going to get in 50 shades of shit with his neighbors mowing a strip on his way to town through their properties to save time.
He’d have to deal with that later.

Ironbark was fond of saying “Lagerphones…..are….a….piece…of…PISS….TO…PLAY!!! I…mean…LITERALLY!!!!!”
Then he would lead the laughter, actually it was the only laughter and Ladder looked forlornly on with a rising impulse of dis-ownership.
The technique of playing one was to shake it in time to the music, but what had worked out better was for the other band members to follow him. The resulting rhythm resembled a drunk winding an old 78 by hand.
When played by Ironbark Bob, the Lagerphone sounded like a peg legged pirate chasing a billy goat ‘round a tin roof.

Despite the ordeal of his transport arrangements, Ironbark was excited to be playing a new song for the first time entitled “Geez it’s itchy down there” They were the only words. He’d tried adding a few more but it stuffed the song up, so he went back to the original.

He had perfected the “one part harmony”
That was what the band called it, as he had an emphysemic drone going on that chased the melody around, exactly a fifth above it.

They mostly did funerals as Ironbark reckoned people’s standards were about 6 feet lower than normal on the day.
They were doing a funeral today if he got there on time.
He was looking forward to cranking out the new song as they lowered the coffin down. “Geez it’s itchy down there!!!” He prided himself on picking the right song for the moment, and even though the song was written about another awkward event in his life, it seemed to fit like a sock.

He had backed off the throttle going through Chainsaw Jack’s place, as he didn’t want to explain the reverse “Mohawk” he was putting through Jack’s wheat field, not tonight anyway. Actually he was hoping to never see Jack again, but as that was unlikely, he was already cobbling together a story involving aliens and had singed Ladders fur with his Bic lighter, which he would later say was done by the afterburners of the alien space ship.

No shotguns so far, this was good.

Only the gauntlet of two more farms and he’d be at the cemetery.

He was just starting to relax a bit when the John Deere spluttered to a halt, out of fuel, and a mile from the cemetery, right in the middle of the Kelly’s prize winning Rose garden. Well what was left of it anyhow.

He ran with his lagerphone and a barking dog the rest of the way, whilst practicing the lyrics to the new song out loud as people scuttled out of his road. He rounded the bend and ripped the arse out of his overalls as he vaulted the stonewall of the church, just as people started arriving for Sunday mass.

And there stood Fickle Fingers O’Connor the bass player, staring at him like he was the last beer in the fridge.

“WELL, WELL!!!!! Ironbark Bob at MASS! !!!!! Now I’ve seen EVERYTHING!!!”

All Ironbark could muster was “Where’s…the…BLOOODY…FUNERAL!!!!!!”

“ Next week Bob!!!! It’s NEXT week!!!!!”

Ironbark scoured the sky very carefully for aliens, pointed at something that wasn’t there…..then slowly limped into Mass.

 

 

 

 

Beautifully Mad’s song Billy’s Dream, written by Tony King, has just been awarded

 1st prize for Best Lyrics at the International Songwriting Awards!!

(Judges included Tom Waits, Bernie Taupin and Shirley Manson from Garbage)

Billy’s Dream is one of the tracks from our most recent album SPIN, which can be downloaded here…

https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/spin/id590965998

There is also a very moving music video for Billy’s Dream, beautifully directed and filmed by Matt Mahurin.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqCaSycvDLk

Matt Mahurin talks about making the video at this link…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH-YXyXI-ao

 

gun-to-flower

Amazing News!!!!!

FIRSTLY  …
We’ve miraculously involved one of the world’s best music video makers !!! MATT MAHURIN.

Matt has made music clips for U2, Tom Waits, Metallica just to name a few…and he has fallen in love with one of the tracks from our album…

We could tell you which song Matt will be using but we thought it would be more fun for you to guess!

***The first 5 people with the correct answer will receive a hand produced Certificate of Excellence in SPIN – “Superb Powers of Intellect and Nous” with a lipstick seal of approval from Nina Vox
(containing traces of her DNA – delicious natural art) ***

The answer will be revealed at the end of the campaign.

Here is Matt’s website … just to give you a taste of his wonderful creations and what he is capable of!

http://www.mattmahurin.com

SECONDLY…THE OTHER GREAT NEWS IS

Thanks to the generous support of our fans we have reached 85% of our target and this is brilliant!!

We are even more excited about this project now that we know who is making the film clip!!

We are completely aware that a lot of you are in no position to donate money and weCOMPLETELY UNDERSTAND. You have already supported us enough by listening to our music over the years.

There is a way you can still help however, by forwarding the Indegogo campaign link to anyone you feel may be interested. It is not just a donation as you get goodies in return…

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/beautifully-mad-spin-album-film-clip-and-promotion/x/2026719

Also if you go to Facebook and click the LIKE BUTTON on our Beautifully Mad Band Page

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Beautifully-Mad/103950143012237?ref=hl#

Every action helps us reach a wider audience and potentially reach our target.

Lots of love

Beautifully Mad xx

As part of an almost extinct species known as “The full time musician” we really related to this image 🙂

Amazing News!!!!!

FIRSTLY  …
We’ve miraculously involved one of the world’s best music video makers !!! MATT MAHURIN.

Matt has made music clips for U2, Tom Waits, Metallica just to name a few…and he has fallen in love with one of the tracks from our album…

We could tell you which song Matt will be using but we thought it would be more fun for you to guess!

***The first 5 people with the correct answer will receive a hand produced Certificate of Excellence in SPIN – “Superb Powers of Intellect and Nous” with a lipstick seal of approval from Nina Vox
(containing traces of her DNA – delicious natural art) ***

The answer will be revealed at the end of the campaign.

Here is Matt’s website … just to give you a taste of his wonderful creations and what he is capable of!

http://www.mattmahurin.com

SECONDLY…THE OTHER GREAT NEWS IS

Thanks to the generous support of our fans we have reached 85% of our target and this is brilliant!!

We are even more excited about this project now that we know who is making the film clip!!

We are completely aware that a lot of you are in no position to donate money and we COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND. You have already supported us enough by listening to our music over the years.

There is a way you can still help however, by forwarding the Indegogo campaign link to anyone you feel may be interested. It is not just a donation as you get goodies in return…

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/beautifully-mad-spin-album-film-clip-and-promotion/x/2026719

Also if you go to Facebook and click the LIKE BUTTON on our Beautifully Mad Band Page

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Beautifully-Mad/103950143012237?ref=hl#

Every action helps us reach a wider audience and potentially reach our target.

Lots of love

Beautifully Mad xx

As part of an almost extinct species known as “The full time musician” we really related to this image 🙂

Image

Hi Friends, want to help Beautifully Mad get a Music video clip made? Every tiny bit will help us to realise this very important goal. You can receive a copy of our new album and a lot more goodies by contributing at this link.. http://www.indiegogo.com/beautifullymad/x/2026719

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Beautifully Mad have a new album called SPIN!!!!

It features Billy’s Dream which won best lyrics at the Australian Songwriters Awards 2009 (ASA)

and She Kept on Swimming won best Acoustic Song at the 2011 ASA awards.

An Eye for an Eye, If I could sing you and Song for the Newborn have all been shortlisted

in the 2012 ASA Awards.

It features our fantastic band of Hamish Stuart on Drums, Bill Risby on Piano/Piano accordion.

Craig Walters on Sax, George Washingmachine on Violin with Tony on guitars/bass /harmonica/

male lead vocals and Nina Vox (Kris Ralph is now going under this name for all her artistic projects)

on female lead vocals. Rob Maxwell-Jones on harmonies.

Here is the cover for Beautifully Mad's new album SPIN

Here is the cover for Beautifully Mad’s new album SPIN

This is an original oil painting by Nina Vox

You can pre-order your copy of the Spin Album which will be shipped on the 15th December.

The link is:

http://www.beautifullymad.com/spin_preorder_page.html

Lots of love  🙂

Tony and Nina xxoo