Robert Wyatt – Nothing Can Stop Us (18-8614-1) (1988)

SAM_0437GUEST ACCIDENTALLY SAYS ‘DEFENESTRATE’ AT WYATT DINNER PARTY                                                       Awkward Silence, Sidelong Glances Follow Unfortunate Remark

(London, England) – “I’d only had a couple glasses of red wine,” claims an embarrassed Aisa Richie. “But it was enough for a ‘Freudian Slip’ nightmare.”

Richie then recounted how he said the word “defenestrate” at a party thrown by Robert and Alfie Wyatt. “After dinner, we were still all sitting round the table and I was doing an amusing party trick gag which involves manipulating a tea towel so it ends up looking like a trussed-up turkey”

“Anyway, at the piece’s denouement, instead of saying ‘Allow me to demonstrate’, I said, ‘Allow me to defenestrate’.”

“There followed about three absolutely agonising seconds of silence while people surreptitiously looked over at Bob to see if he’d heard; he was classy enough to look impassive, so no-one was really sure.”

“Well, I was wishing the floor would open up and swallow me, but quickly finished the trick, which received polite, muted laughter, at which point everyone swiftly moved on to other topics of conversation.”

Richie’s wife, Rachel, had been in the toilet when the unfortunate incident took place, but knew something was wrong by the pained expression on her husband’s face. “Without explaining, he quietly told me, ‘We need to leave as soon as possible’,” she said. “I figured it was serious, so I didn’t question it.”

“About 25 minutes later, even though it was only about 9:30, Aisa said something like, ‘Well, we’ve got a really early start tomorrow’ and made the move,” recalled Rachel. “[Aisa] then revealed the whole story on the walk home–I was so ashamed!”

In fact, neither Wyatt nor his wife had heard the offensive word and laughed when they were told what happened. “If I had a nickel for every time someone said ‘defenestrate’ in my presence due to parapraxis,” the ‘Canterbury Scene’ drummer joked, “Well, let’s just say I’d make money from that than my solo albums!”

Alfie Wyatt reported that she was going to call the Richies to set their minds at rest, saying, “I wondered why they left so early, I thought it was because [fellow guest] Paul [Weller] audibly farted when Aisa was performing his shaggy dog story.”

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Editor’s note: I got this used copy of the US edition of Nothing Can Stop Us a while ago; in fact, since it includes “Shipbuilding”, while the UK version doesn’t, it’s the more desirable issue. What a thoroughly great (properly) indie record of cover versions, though: Monk, Costello, Eubie Black, Ivor Cutler, Trad. Folk, the song choices reflect the eccentricity of the artist whose “technical inadequacies” (according to Wyatt’s liner notes) are “entirely deliberate and reproduced as evidence of my almost painful sincerity.” His recast of Chic’s “At Last I Am Free” is one of the most beautiful, poignant things ever recorded.


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Published in: on June 26, 2014 at 8:02 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Apparently “Shipbuilding” was added to later CD reissues of the UK version.

    • Quite rightly.


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