Original Dobsonian research by Tristan Shuddery. This blog includes quotations from Dobson and is intended as a humble tribute to Frank Key, the greatest living Dobsonist.

21 December, 2005


Transcript of an lecture given by Mr. Taplow to the urchins and ingrates of Pang Hill Orphanage a long time ago:

When I last addressed you from the lectern of Sawdust Bridge Salvation Hall there were not a few hobbledehoys amongst you who pooh-poohed my reportage for lack of calendrical specificity.

Allow me to correct the record: It was on the forty-third day of Bolismus in the 12th year of King Vinchenzo's reign at the hour of mighty flapping (The very moment when all birds mentioned in the Bible take to the wing). That was when the incident occurred. That was the precise moment that our eyes metaphorically stood on stalks, our jaws dropped and our hairs stood on end.

In our country (and in all of Christendom), Bolismus is a season howling gales and icy winds. In our blessed land, Bolismus brings the clucking of hens and is the season in which we festoon our duck-ponds. A holy and contemplative season which we rigourously observe. On that dismal morning in that barren clearing no winds howled, nor did birds flap or cluck. There were no pond-beds to festoon, for we had been sent to the unchurched hinterlands of Gaar.

The previous night we had been rehearsing our concerto, Syme (our vaporetto pilot) and myself were competent bassoonists. Tack, Weems and the Vercingetorix accompanied us on piccolo, hurdy-gurdy and nose-flute. Baxter had provided an arrangement of the nocturne from Winslow's Phlogiston Variations, a melody capable of stirring the gods.

And as we played, the Gods were indeed roused: They first arrived in ones and twos; barely perceptible and darting as if to avoid our curious gaze. As we reached the andante, other gods began to fill the clearing.

There were Gods as small as gnats. Pungent Gods like woozy mounds of suppuration. Glowing gods and dark gods, who were the very definition of blackness, Transparent wraith-like Gods and mountainous adamantine Gods. As we performed we became encircled by Gods of every shape, form and designation, and still they came, crowding and surrounded us.

Once again I sense your disbelief – you are wondering how we, mere amateurs could have tackled this piece which had perplexed the most prodigious of symphonists. You doubt that a trembling blind curmudgeon and a graduate of no reputable conservatory could have sight-read and fingered the alto-bassoon?

Back then I was not blind, and my agility was legendary - I cannot say how we played, other than that we were bewitched, enchanted and bedizened by the gaze of those Gods; that ethereal audience who willed us play through the night. And so we played on until our copse was suffused by fog.

And then at the Hour of Mighty Flapping when Baxter's baton signaled the crescendo he became enveloped in a golden light and then against his will, mighty hands scooped him up into the vault of heaven.

When Baxter's protestations faded , all was silent. The gods had vanished taking Baxter with them. All but Tack (who had averted his eyes) were stricken with blindness and dyspepsia.

Baxter is God now, perhaps a flunky in the court of whichever nameless God guides the fate of that unwholesome land. Perhaps he is the deity of pre-moistened pads, sudden pangs or bent pins. Or perhaps his divinity is still confined to that that forlorn and bird-less clearing in the dismal hinterlands of Gaar.


The Hooting Yard Foundation, having finally recognised my Dobsonian research, has awarded me this seasonal mezzotint. There was a time when I would have delighted in the receipt of an original work of art - I might have hung it above one of the hundreds of nooks or niches in one of my many palatial homes. Had I been given this ten years ago, it might have formed an attractive conversation piece in one of my less favoured billiard halls.

Did you know that I once met Dobson? He was a dishevelled old git, unwashed and smelling of vinegar when he addressed the urchins at that bestial orphanage at Pang-Hill. I was one of those wretched children who sat spellbound through that old pamphleteer’s declamation. He gave me a pamphlet on pond-fowl recognition, the very first pamphlet in my collection.

Through thorough application of the principles of Baxterism I became a wealthy man; Long after Dobson was in his grave my plutocratic empire bestrode continents. Alas, I squandered my riches on Dobsonian esoterica. I eschewed my plutocracy and took to grog. Once I festooned myself in finery, now I am dressed in rags.

I now make my home amongst the muck and nettles in this waterlogged ditch not far from the insect-infested bebrambled spinney. I can no more dangle this Mezzotint from the filthy tarpaulin of my hovel than I could hang it from a peg wedged into it's earthern walls.

Tomorrow I will gaze upon Rex Tint’s depiction of “St. Mungo atop Seven Celestial Orbs” for the last time and then pawn it.

I should be able to get enough for a fortnight in a hostelry, some grog to numb my cranium and a poultice to soothe my neurasthenic fits.

18 December, 2005

Keening at Cape Hoon

As our caravan rounded the Cape of Hoon, Baxter's talisman began to keen. Our metallurgist had determined that it's healing properties were due to it's composition: An alloy of pitchblende and cadmium, however none of us could fathom the cause of it's new emanations.

Baxters palanquin-bearers were growing short-tempered; This shrill keening was yet another indignity they were to endure, on-top of his raving and agitation. Those courageous natives still bore the lunatic on their strong shoulders... but for how long?

Our mahout, once the fulcrum of jollity, became implacable. That evening he announced that he had been subpoenaed by his spirit-guide to attend an elephantine tribunal. He had left us in the care of Condolezza, the elderly bull-elephant who was quite deaf and unperturbed by my shrieking companion or his noisome amulet.

The following day we were set upon by scimitar wielding brigands, no doubt attracted by our din. They came at us from all sides with their blades-a-whirl. I bade father Tobias (Our Jesuit) perform the last rights.

Just I believed all was lost, the leader of the scoundrels raised his visor, and I was shocked to see that German inventor Andreas Albrecht.

Why had the pioneer of the theodolite become an outlaw? Why was this man who had written inspirational treatises on the plumb-bob and pendulum now hefting a halberd? How could the architect of Hooting Yard's concentric duck-ponds have turned to brigandry?

I was never to know the answer to these questions for at that instant the keening ceased. An enraged Baxter leapt from his box, and flew at the bandits. He assailed with his bare fists. He harried them with the demented might of a demoniac.

He chased them into a thicket.

We never saw the scofflaws or that accursed talisman again. All we could do was trudge after Condolezza who had been oblivious of the whole encounter.

We found Baxter the next day bloodied, naked, crumpled and unconcious.

- from "Five Hundred Nights in Tantarabim" by Dobson

17 December, 2005


And during the thirteenth ceremony I beheld the phantasm: It was composed of glowing, pulsating gas. It's effect upon me was mesmeric. Spellbound, I stared into it's swirling vortex. It drew closer, desiring to envelop me in it's raging miasma.

My master had taught me that certain rhymes and genuflections could ward off malevolent entities, however my mind was blank and my hands were numb. I had dropped both the Chalice of Geb and the sprig of irkbane which might have protected me.

It's tendril gripped my throat and I became stricken with nausea and drooling. All I could do was curse that lamentable tome, and my own ineptitude at ghost wrangling. As my consciousness ebbed, I swooned and shuddered.”

From “Irksome Spirits” by Dobson (out of print).

No fewer than three of Dobson's pamphlets concern spiritualism; It is clear that Dobson lacked the stamina needed by all those who commune with shades or meddle with forces unseen. Nevertheless, Dobson's inquiry into the mystical realm was not yet satiated.

Dobson's first encounter came as a young man; One of his first pamphlets describes an incident in which he was kidnapped and granted illumination by a tribe of willo-the-wisps; Typically his pamphlet describes nothing of the knowledge allegedly imparted. It's an incomprehensible psychedelic haze containing trite depictions of dancing lights and a pedestrian account of being lost in Loopy Copse.

Most spiritualists choose to discount this anecdote, because at the time of his claimed abduction Dobson was known to be an inmate of the Bodger's Spinney shelter for the transiently bewilderment. Even I who place the utmost faith in Dobson's work must credit this incident to moon-madness.

I should say that I too am a pamphleteer. I regard Dobson as kin – we are both of that fraternity who grimly proffer pamphlets on the corners of dilapidated streets in dismal towns not unlike your own. Unlike Dobson, I am not subject to the whims of Caxton's press because I own a laser-printer. However I too am an “out of print”, for it has lost it's toner and the cost of replacement beggars belief.

My latest work concerns the chemistry of goo. I have cross-referenced every type of goo by pungency, viscosity, magnetism and hue. For any given goo this book will describe it's origin, purpose, method of manufacture and the relevant saints or martyrs days upon which it may best be applied.

I have traveled from Murmansk to French Gianna in search of goos to study. I have sought goos in tidal basin of the Great Frightening River and trudged across the treacherous glaciers of Mount Pokemon in search of legendary goos. Eventually all but one goo succumbed to my inquisition. It was in researching that most elusive of oozes, my research drew me yet again to Dobson:

Long after the Dobson's imaginary abduction and the harrowing incident in the yurta on that ice-clad escarpment, Years after the kindly old Tundist carried Dobson's frail frame into the sacred aviary where call of linnets would soothe his ghost-addled brow...

Years more since Dobson overcame his fear of the eerie lights that befuddled his youth, years still after he had sought solace on the high seas and returned with a resolve to confront that which he feared: Only then could Dobson seek council from the Ukrainian mystic, Helena Blavatsky.

She was a frail and embittered crone. It is said that she kept a stuffed baboon in her boudoir. Strangers were made to stare into it's baleful eyes. Those frail of mind would be bedizened by it's glance. But Dobson was in his prime and had already known madness . He was unaffected. Despite all odds, Blavatsky grew to trust him.

In her final days, Dobson witnessed many apparitions and befriended many ghosts. Blavatsky taught him to wield his irkbane in exactly the manner prescribed by Paracelsus. Later he claimed to have abjured the spirit of Gerard Manley Hopkins, though once again this is claim is doubtful as Jesuits eschew all forms of spiritualism.

Dobson states that as the ghosts dispersed they left behind a certain residue, a “goo” if you will: “ectoplasm” that final substance which I must now collect in this wolfram sampling-jar. Once complete I shall claim my rightful place as dean of goo-sciences of the university at or near the duck-pond of Ack.

This is why I too have come to you proffering a skin full of rancid yak's butter.

This is why I have sought your yurta on that same frigid and windswept escarpment.

This is why I hold a identical hide-bound tome, identical to the book that frazzled Dobson's cranium a century ago this very day.

Please, oh master, let the abjuration begin.


“He wishes to be paid in baubles”, scoffed Baxter from atop the swaying pachyderm.

“What use are trinkets to a mahout?” I retorted. "Mahouts are simple folk, clad in modest robes. They possess only their ankusha – that barbed hook with which they drive their beasts."

But then I glanced upon him. He was festooned in brooches, pins and decorative fobs of every hue. From his curlicue sandals to his bejeweled turban he was resplendent. His proud eyes proclaimed his nobility and his waxed pointy beard betrayed his Cathar linage.

Later I would learn that he was of the “Rewghawan” tradition of mahoutery – those whose influence derives from their love and study of elephant lore.

At once I began rummaging in my burlap gunnysack for a gewgaw that would compliment his ornate brocade.

From “Five Hundred Nights in Tantarabim” by Dobson

04 December, 2005

Dobson's Uncanny Time-Pod

Dobson was prone to listlessness. Lacking inspiration he would generally eschew his escritoire and visit sawdust-strewn dockside taverns. When these moods took him, he could be found swilling stale grog and exchanging apocryphal nautical tales with peg-legged sea dogs.

Indeed it was under such circumstances, in the arctic port of Murmansk that Marigold Chew once-again located Dobson, and bade him translocate to climes more pleasant.

Why then did he choose a milk-processing factory as his next home? It is clear that Dobson found this locale arresting, however our sources do not state what caused his infatuation with this dilapidated industrial building on the frozen shores of Lake Winnipeg.

Dobson’s surviving work from that period provides few clues. On his arrival he began work on an incomplete series of outré ornithological tracts describing such topics the nesting, mating and flight patterns of mythical, hypothetical and imaginary pond-fowl.

Growing weary of all things feathered his later “factory works” were obscure ontological and theological essays. Fragments of a treatise comparing the theories of “Trebizondo Cullpepper” with those of “Goon-Fang” and “Tundism” suggest that Dobson’s mood was becoming more introspective than usual.

None of these texts provide any clues as to the purpose for Dobson’s seclusion. Even the hellishly rigorous Concordance Dobsonia merely umms and ahhs around these most perplexing issues. It is likely that our sorry state of ignorance would have persisted were it not for a single remarkable discovery made on the eve of St. Bibania’s Feast five years ago.

A weed-festooned pod was dredged from the tidal basin of the Great Frightening River. It was taken to the institute for the study of uncanny pods, part of the University at or near Ack where Professors Bindweed and Tadaaki stripped it of its maritime encrustations.

The professors’ pointy tungsten tweezers removed barnacles and kelp, eventually revealing a glimmering metallic lozenge-shaped pod. Further studies revealed that the container was made from an alloy of tin and zinc with gaskets of gutta-percha. On what the professors assumed to be it’s front could be observed an heraldic device: A plummeting cormorant, traced in cerulean bip.

Such was the quality of this pod’s construction, the pod-scientists opined that it could have withstood the lashings of the Frightening River for another hundred-year before succumbing to it’s icy waters. It was sealed with monstrous welds, and required the combined might of the village wrestling team to rent it asunder. Finally the uncanny pod’s contents were exposed.

It contained a single burlap gunnysack, which in turn held a collection of scrawlings knick-knacks and bitty-bobs; The professors had discovered a trove of original Dobsonia:

They found unsent letters to legendary luminaries, unaccepted invitations to campanology conventions, incomprehensible drafts of unpublished pamphlets, empty phials gak and goop. More importantly they discovered answers to all pertinent questions about Dobson’s lonely vigil in a milk-evaporation plant on the Western shore of Lake Winnipeg:

Questions such as:

What eerie phosphorescence lured Dobson to his industrial retreat? How did he write with nought but a Tilley-Lamp to illuminate his scribbling? From which spigot did he eek sustenance over the long frostbitten nights? Why then did he need to steal evaporated milk cans and what possessed him to weld them into a pod? From whence did he obtain his welding gear? What possessed him to take his few remaining possessions and seal them in that pod, and how did that pod having been sealed come to be sunk beneath the treacherous waves of the Great Frightening River, the river upon which I plied my trade as the dredge-meister all those years ago?

I now know all of the answers to these questions, plus many more which would no doubt befuddle your puny mind were I even to pose them. If you were to glimpse but once at the Dobson trove (which has been entrusted to me as curator), all this and more would be made plain.

But you shall never see the treasures of which I speak. They are interred within the locked display cabinet in the basement of the museum at (or near) the Gruesome Copse at Ack. The museum will be forever closed and barred to you, for you are a land-lubber and have been judged unworthy of it’s secrets.

Be Gone!