Friday 22 April 2011

Pawley's Peepholes - discovered

Pawley's Peepholes
© BBC Publications

For at least 8 years I have been searching for a copy of what I thought was the "BBC MUSIC: PAWLEY'S PEEPHOLE BBC Publications for Schools & Colleges 1970". After my friend Penny told me Pawley's Peepholes was a short story by Wyndham I read the short story - she even lent the book to me. I blogged about it right at the start of this blog but received no feedback. Time marched on (for the irony - see this short story!) and I followed all sorts of booksellers' websites, hoping to find a copy - if it even existed! No joy!

Until one day recently I asked an eBayer if he had a copy and he replied:
Hi Norman I've found it on the web, I definitely haven't got it. No-one seems to have a copy except The National Arts Education Archive, they may let you photocopy it, not sure but have a try, Scott,
What a strange answer I thought, as I watch all sorts of places for anything to do with Bellamy, but wondered how he had found it and I hadn't and secondly who on earth were the NAEA??

Off I went and found them very quickly, and sent a note with trembling fingers on my keyboard and received, very quickly, a reply back:

Hello Norman
Yes, this is the booklet. If you would like me to photocopy it I will do so. It is a 28 page booklet Then you could make a donation to the Archive in lieu of copying and postage.
I look forward to hearing from you.
At this point you can imagine my sheer panic and joy. I was so close but I'd been this close before to other Bellamy pieces and not managed to get closure to the transaction.

But shortly after I received in the post 28 pages of photocopies (from which I have done scans). Being a good boy I asked how I should credit both Scott and the National Arts Education Archive (NAEA) - long may Google index this wonderful institution! - and I was told it would much appreciated if I said it came courtesy of
The Paul Mann Music Education collection, the National Arts Education Archive @YSP, Bretton Hall, Wakefield. The catalogue entry there reads:

TitleMusic session one; Pawley's peepholes
AuthorLord, David
InstitutionBBC Radio
Date CreatedN.D.
NotesMusical drama in three sequences based on a story by John Wyndham. Produced by Jenyth Worsley
Archive NumberBHPMBK00117

Well, I can fill in the date. It's definitely 1970 - it's actually on the cover, but I knew he received the commission in late 1969 from BBC Publications.

This is a  booklet used by schools in the days the BBC broadcast radio programmes (or 'wireless' as my teacher called it back then!) where we would all join in with copies of the book for the whole class. But this is actually a performance piece which was broadcast on Radio 4 from 28 April to 23 June. The music shows the parts for chorus, recorders, bongos, cymbal & tambourine, all other percussion and the piano! A collaborative education this!

  • CODE:#P79 - 28 pages "Musical drama in three sequences based on a story by John Wyndham"
  • Music by David Lord
  • Libretto: Eric Allen
  • Illustrations:Frank Bellamy
  • Producer: Jenyth Worsley
  • All images © BBC Publications

The story:
The signs on the vehicles used by the time tourists in the original read:
  • Pawley's Peepholes on the Past
    •   — Greatest invention of the age
  • History Without Tears
    •   — for £1 See How Great Great Grandma Lived
  • Ye Quainte Olde 20th Century Expresse
  • See Living History in Comfort
    •   — Quaint Dresses, Old Customs
  • Educational! Learn Primitive Folkways
    •   — Living conditions
  •  Visit Romantic 20th Century
    •   — Safety Guaranteed
  •  Know Your History
    •   — Get Culture — £1 Trip
  •  Big Money Prize if you Identify Own Grandad/Ma
© Estate of John Wyndham

Anyway, to the art itself. There are 8 drawings (and we know about one unpublished - see Alan Davis' website where there's an image of the rocket-like travel device) and
the cover is classic Bellamy showing the launch station for the time machine. It is so reminiscent of the Atlantic Tunnel from Thunderbirds. One would think he was influenced by Mike Noble who loved drawing 'hardware', but of course Bellamy was in the Royal Artillery (more on this in another post) so was confident in drawing machinery too.

© BBC Publications

The people appear to have strange hair until you read the first-person story which says:
I don't know whether her hair would be her own, art and science together can do so much for a girl, but the way she was wearing it, it was like a great golden chrysanthemum a good foot and a half across, and with a red flower set in it a little left of centre. It looked sort of top-heavy. 

 I am so pleased to have pinned down one more commission by Bellamy








Thanks once more to Scott and the wonderful National Arts Education Archive for their help in tracking this down.

***UPDATE JULY 2023  ****

Pawley's Peepholes Summer 1967 Illustrations by Bill Burnard

Thanks to Nigel Parsons for writing and sharing the above earlier alternative version of "Pawley's Peepholes"!


Unknown said...

Interesting to find this. Back in 1970 I was a music teacher in London, and we provided a choir for this series of broadcasts. I remember it well!
There had been a previous airing of David Lord's Pawley's Peepholes, in which they used the famous Wandsworth School Boys' Choir to provide the music, but the script was adapted and some of the songs cut/altered when we did it in 1970.
My school, by the way, was Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham Boys' School, in New Cross, London. I don't suppose any recordings of the broadcasts still exist, though I might have recorded some on reel-to-reel tape!

Norman Boyd said...

Thanks for the comment. It's always a pleasure to get responses such as this to the stuff I write. Wouldn't it be fantastic to hear the music! I hadn't even thought about that in Bellamy's inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Love the typography - very 1970

Nigel Parsons said...

'Unknown' commented on an earlier version of this. (Pawley's Peepholes). That would probably also have been the BBC 'Session One' series for high schools but in 1967.
The music in the booklet for that year covers much the same songs, but the illustrations are credited to 'Bill Burnard'.
If a scan (or series of scans) of the earlier booklet would help, please let me know.

Norman Boyd said...

Yes please Nigel. I'm happy to add them here for others to see. My email address is above