Thursday, January 1, 2009

Leonard Barras

If you found this blog while searching for Leonard Barras, he will need no introduction from me. If you do not know of him, his obituary in The Guardian will tell you something about the man and his work.
They describe him as "Beachcomber meets Flann O'Brien" and others have compared him to Ivor Cutler and Spike Milligan. I'd say there are also similarities to Peter Tinniswood and N.F. Simpson.

During the 1980s and 1990s, BBC Radio 4 made several broadcasts of Barras reading his own stories. I taped a number of them and here they are. There is the odd bit of intereference but overall I think the quality is fair. At any rate, as far as I know, none of Barras's readings are commercially available at present, so I think they are better than nothing. If anybody out there can add to the collection, please leave a comment or e-mail me direct at the address given in my profile.

Certain Vicissitudes

Very Likely (three episodes) -
Love in a Windy Place
Nothing Like Flute Practice
Third Time and Still Unlucky

Further up the Tyne in a Flummox (four episodes)
Last Night, Ah Yesternight & Not the Food of Love
A Number of Mean Things & The Case of Many Legs
Ambition's Debt & A Sanctified Artefact
A Hanging Matter & Her Voice Was Ever Soft

Even Further up the Tyne in a Flummox (four episodes)
Much Persuasion & Rhubarb, A Conservative View
Find Truth for Yourself & The Turnip in the Night
Worms Have Eaten Them & Quite Unlike A Singing Bird
Laid on with a Trowel & Everything but Vertigo

Eva and Adamson (three of four episodes)
Not Another Oven Glove & Loping through the Slush
All Circumstances are Grey in the Dark & Words without Songs
Lampooned with Love & Nothing To Do with a Hereford Bull
missing episode:
Battle of Bursitis & Achieving the Unintelligible
The recordings I have are a mixture from the first broadcasts and repeats. Somehow, I managed to miss the fourth episode both times.

Quintessentially Flummoxed (four episodes)
Days of Reflection & Relatively Absolute
Suffering is Permanent & Vibrating in the Memory
Only Stars Above You & After Me In Vain
Such Love as Spirits Feel & After the Flood

Text file with dates of broadcasts

UPDATE. Please see post of 3 August 2009 for additional episodes.
UPDATE. Dead links removed. Please see post of 16 June 2015 for links to the complete collection of recordings


Outa_Spaceman said...

I had started to believe I'd imagined these radio broadcasts...
Thanks for making them available...


Peter said...

There's another set of four - called 'Flummoxed Four Times'. Peter

Phil said...

Just when I thought the end was in sight! Yes, I've done a Google search and I see it was broadcast in 1989.

jmhb3 said...

The phrase in that peerless Newcastle accent, "...whose house was built on decayed vegetable matter that one day would come home to roost" will live with me forever. From, I think, "Up the Tyne in a Flummox" - possibly 1984.

Phil said...

Thanks jmhb3. If it's Up the Tyne in a Flummox, then it is in one the episodes I am still looking for.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting these. Leonard Barras is a great, largely unsung hero of British comic prose and a unique talent. I think the reason he's not better known is that he didn't want to be, and it's hard to argue with that. Hearing him read his own stories is always such a treat. Only Ivor Cutler and Vivian Stanshall are in the same league of surreal comic invention. If I remember rightly, the original broadcasts were only ever available by writing to Barras himself, who would send out cassette tapes. I'm guessing this means that the BBC only held the rights to broadcast but not to release as recordings, so thanks again for making them available. I have them on my ipod and every once in a while find myself flummoxed in between The Incredible String Band and The Screaming Blue Messiahs.