A man was awarded £32k of lottery funding to teach tramps to growl.
Long pause. It's a sentence that needs at least a second read. Thirty-two thousand pounds? Tramps? Growl?
Yes, Phil Minton, a sixty-six year-old experimental jazz singer, received the money from the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts so that he could create a 'feral choir' of homeless persons.
Why? To give the would-be growlers a greater inner confidence. His three-day course for the homeless included growling, barking, hissing, laughing and some singing.
I suspect Gypsy, my greyhound cross crocodile lurcher, might have attended a similar course.
So if, out shopping, you find yourself growled at by a confident and tunefully feral unwashed gentleman you know who you have to thank.
Previous beneficiaries of Lottery largesse include Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis who received £75k to travel around the world on a yacht; Brazilian clown Angela de Castro, given £40k to investigate 'what clowns offer society' and Huddersfield lecturer Stuart Nolan, handed £74k to become a 'sorcerer's apprentice' and find out what magic offers education.
Personally, I think these contracts should be put out to tender. Surely there are cheaper clowns out there? A Polish one maybe? And I'm sure the 'feral choir' could put in a joint, and much cheaper, bid to investigate 'what magical clowns offer both education and society.' They could even perform their findings in a feral Growlathon.