Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

What the Filk

Got to share this…

Every now and again I used to walk 200 yards up the lane to my village local where I’d meet with a bunch of fannish mates who, once a month and in a more central venue, constituted the core of the Preston SF Group. PSFG meetings were open to all; the ones in my local were just an off-duty hanging-out of old friends.

We always got on well with the management. But the landlady had a fondness for chick-flick background music that could sap a person’s will to live.

Now, I don’t know if you’re aware of what filk music is. Filkers are a subculture within SF fandom dedicated to the writing and performing of science fiction-themed music. I’m not going to knock ’em; my old friend Lawrence Dean is one of the leading exponents of the art. Those who love it, love it lots. But I’ve seen one eager filker with a guitar empty a convention bar faster than a riot squad.

After the umpteenth runaround of the Bridget Jones soundtrack, we concocted a plan. Someone got hold of a filk CD. I nicked some images off the internet, and made and printed an ersatz Robbie Williams CD label. Stuck it on the filk CD and, when I saw an opportunity, nipped behind the bar and slipped it in amongst the others.

Then we waited for the tracks to show up, followed by the inevitable WTF? response and subsequent outraged accusation.

But it never happened. Time moved on and so did we.

Some months after that, the pub changed hands. I walked in one night. And as I stood at the bar watching my pint being pulled, I heard from the speakers an unholy wail of, “He’s the Lorrrd… of the Rinnnnngs” with guitar accompaniment.

All the regular solitary drinkers were standing there looking as if they’d been struck by a profound sense of misery and couldn’t work out why. The mostly teenaged bar staff were standing around looking as if someone had just whispered the date of their deaths in their ears.

I reckon the manager had loaded up the six-disc CD changer and gone off to clean-down the kitchens, sticking what he thought was Robbie Williams into the mix. The staff didn’t interfere because they thought they were hearing his choice.

The entire CD played out to its end. Then something different came on and the whole place gradually brightened up a bit.

I’d been assuming that the original gag had passed unnoticed. But I now reckon that this was our landlady’s revenge…

Every so often, it shows up again. I reckon they’ve tried to weed it out but no one can identify the disc.

In case they ever do, I’ve made another one with a Dido label and slipped that into the stack as well.


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