Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Alan Moore, The Magic Keyboard, and the NoHo Bowl of Harm

On the 8th of December 2011 an unusual item appeared for sale on eBay, titled Alan Moore’s Signed Computer Keyboard (May Have Mystical Powers). This listing further went on to say,

As you know, Alan Moore is the world renowned author of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing and a load of other fantastical gubbins, and here for sale is his old computer keyboard. He definitely didn’t write any of the aforementioned works with this, and by the looks of things, it was mainly used as an ash tray.

I’ve had a go on the keyboard, and in doing so, felt the power of Alan surging through it. It immediately inspired me to write a fifteen chapter novel, comparable to the Russian Masters, which took no less than four and a half hours, without even stopping for a toilet break. Unfortunately, the keyboard was not connected to a computer at the time, and all the work was lost. Therefore I cannot verify the functionality of the keyboard, as it hasn’t been rigorously tested. Or even connected to a computer since Alan owned it.

How did I come to have this keyboard in my possession? It’s a long and convoluted story, but here are the highlights: Portrait painting mother; a wall of death; a lack of funds (for previously mentioned wall of death); Alan upgrading his keyboard (not sure which model he has now) and a heavy dose of serendipity.

A short synopsis would be: Whilst on a break from sitting for his portrait, Alan asked how the wall of death was going. My response was funds are low, but spirits are high. Alan then mentioned he was upgrading his keyboard, so I tentatively enquired as to what he was doing with his old keyboard, and asked whether he would be prepared to sign and donate it to the cause, hoping it would reach upwards of seven pounds fifity, as after all, it is akin to a modern day version of Shakespeare’s quill. In mind of it being auctioned, Alan was astute enough to sign it with a non-specific message of goodwill – with lots of love from Alan Moore.

So, the first question to ask myself was, is this genuine? The short answer is, yes, I have every reason to believe it is. This first came to my notice through a Facebook posting by a mutual friend of mine and the seller, and said mutual friend is also a friend and collaborator of Alan Moore’s, so there’s a solid and verifiable connection there between the seller and Alan himself, as far as I’m concerned. Also, the seller - who I now know to be called Bill Pollard - mentions his mother painting a portrait of Alan Moore, which he provides a link to. By pure coincidence, I’ve actually met his mother, Elke Pollard, who has indeed painted a portrait of Alan:-

Now, what’s all this about a Wall of Death? Bill Pollard told me,

The truth is, it's more a ‘Bowl of Harm’ than a ‘Wall of Death’. We've not yet graduated to motors; we prefer pedal power. A bunch of Americans gave me the idea. Whiskeydrunk Cycles, the link below is to the one they built, it's based on Keiths Board Track, a touring cycle display from the early 1900's.

There's also an answer to a question on the listing that sheds a little more light on this:

A Wall of Death is a bowl with vertical sides, about 20 feet in diameter - the idea is to ride motorcycles around it in a horizontal position. Seeing as we don't have any motorbikes, what we will actually end up with is more a bowl of harm... hope that clears things up for you.

So, so far, so good. While Alan was having his portrait painted by Elke Pollard in 2008, her son Bill got talking to him about the plan for a bicycle Wall of Death. A few years later they meet again, and Alan mentions that he's going to upgrade his computer (yes, he really does have one. It's not all quills and parchment and passenger pigeons in the Moore household, no matter how much you want it to be. He still won't have anything to do with the Internet, though.) Bill asks if he can have the old keyboard, and here it is, for sale, and all for a good cause.

So, how magical - or indeed magickal - is the keyboard? According to the eBay listing,

Pros and cons of owning Alan Moore’s old Microsoft Basic keyboard 1.0A

  • DNA between the keys – you may be able to clone your very own Alan!
  • There are no computer viruses as it has never been connected to the internet.
  • Unique surface patterning.
  • Fag ash.
  • Sleek all-black casing with fetching violet coloured PS2 connector.
  • As an avid practitioner of Magick (Alan, not the keyboard), it may contain otherworldy powers (again, not tested), these have been protected by a magick circle and various dark items (as can be seen in the photos) since taking delivery of the keyboard, the dark items are not included in the sale, however I may be tempted to part with the empty can of Lynx if you really want it.
  • Interesting conversation piece – casually leave it lying around! Take it to parties! (Although I recommend vacuum sealing it first to retain fag ash and DNA samples)
  • Doubles up as a useful doorstop if found not to be working. (not tested as door stop.)
  • “Z” key has had very little use.

  • Cons:
  • According to videogame forums, it can’t be used to play Guitar Hero 3 above intermediate level, this apparently applies to all Basic 1.0As not just Alan’s.
  • Missing pop -up stand on left hand reverse.
  • Might not work.

  • Is there anything else we need to know? One questioner ask an important but often overlooked question:

    What does the keyboard smell like? Please give a good sniff, especially of the bubbly, ashy left side, and detail back your thoughts?

    Bill answered,

    Deeply-scented cheroots fuse with toasted plastic, sweaty digits and house dust. Well-seasoned tab key supports the dry scent of musky violet ps-2 connector and a savory thorny understory like a briar growing through straw mulch after being urinated on. I hope this is of some help.

    If you want to own Alan Moore's Magical Keyboard - and who wouldn't, really? - you can still bid on it here for the next five days. It is, after all, as Bill Pollard says, akin to a modern day version of Shakespeare's quill.

    The last line on the eBay listing says Alan Moore Knows the Score, which leads me to Pop Will Eat Itself, and eventually back to a post that mentions me. It's a strange Alan Moore world out there, and we're all in it somewhere.

    Alan Moore Knows the Score

    Alan Moore Knows the Score