Chapter 16

Found Objects

Xero-microphone by solomonrobson

One of Xero's favourite pastimes was meandering around the backstreets of Leeds 6 collecting junk from the skips which were to be found outside the many houses being renovated to house ever more students. He had a lock-up garage full of the rich pickings he had found over the years.

Slingsby intended one day to build his own girocopter out of the junk he had amassed, but for the time being he made do with getting around town on his fully customised unicycle. Like Eric, he was something of an instrument maker, although his own inventions often more closely resembled the plumbing from beneath a sink.

Apart from Tubby Titters, there was the U-Bendophone, the Pandemoniphone and the Bikepumpophone.

The Pandemoniphone was a coal scuttle with dials affixed to the front in the shape of a face. On top was a rustic keyboard made from offcuts of timber and ancient piano ivories. Each key set off a different car horn, so that a random pressing of the keys sounded like gridlock on the Headrow in rush hour (were it in Rome, not Leeds). This instrument was renamed The Death Pandemoniphone and retired from active service when Xero touched it and nearly died of an electric shock at the Cafe Damberd in March '85.

He once discovered a second world war tank microphone which, when strapped to his throat, somehow picked up his saxophone. When he fed it through an auto-wah it sounded like a heavily forcefed goose on laughing gas. If you'd like to hear it, have a listen to "Up Down", a tune in the remarkable signature of 15/16 time which he, Louis and Gene always had immense difficulty finishing in synch.

Listen to "Up Down"

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