Strange bedfellows : Stephen Fry and the Incredible String Band : Thunderbird and the Hasidim

What strange bedfellows the internet can make, to be sure.  A short while ago I wrote a piece which mentioned Stephen Fry and the Incredible String Band (though not particularly in connection with each other).https://backwatersman.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/stephen-fry-reggie-perrin-and-the-mirrour-of-time/

Over the past week I’ve noticed that more than one person has been directed to this blog because they’ve searched for SF and ISB.  Why would this be, I wondered – had the ISB recorded a song about SF?  had it been revealed that the infant SF was one of the children on the cover of the Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter?  Eventually I do the sensible thing and Google this combination myself and all is revealed.  Reviewing the new iPhone in last week’s Guardian SF has written –

“Voice Control is as simple as can be imagined: “Play songs by The Incredible String Band” you say and sure enough it does.”

Now this is all very well, but I can see it causing problems when I’m ON THE TRAIN.  How would my fellow passengers react if I suddenly issued the command “Play songs by The Incredible String Band”?  Alert the “Train Manager” and have me removed at the next station?  Whip a mouth organ out of an inside pocket and give me a wheezing rendition of  “A very cellular song”?  All the way to London?  No, it just won’t do.

And my point is?  Well I’m not sure exactly, except to wonder whether there is any combination of subjects so unusual and personal to myself that no-one would ever think of Googling it.

Try this.  I bought my first ISB record (Hangman’s BD) in – I think – 1988, when I was living in Stoke Newington.  This was also about the time I bought my first Walkman.  One evening I was walking up to an off-licence on the Woodberry Down Estate to buy fresh supplies of Thunderbird Wine  (a fairly vile type of fortified wine that I’d briefly developed a taste for) and crossing the New River (actually a canal), listening to HBD on my Walkman I saw a large group of Hasidic Jews from the Lubavitcher community in Stamford Hill celebrating some ceremony that involved lining up on either side of the water and wailing (as seen at the Wailing Wall). 

So – not every time I listen to HBD,  but sometimes – I picture men with side-locks and long black coats performing this mysterious ritual and feel the sweet, aromatic kick of the Thunderbird.

What chance of anyone Googling this, I wonder?

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