Saturday, March 31, 2007

Clog Post the first



Well, here I am and here the road begins.

I'm packing the last of my stuff and getting ready to head to the Clacks parlour down in the village to post my first clacks-log, or "clog". Then I'm off on my Grand Sneer. There and back again. The whole boiled egg. And as I promised, I'll be writing down all my adventures so I can share them with you all. Well, dictating them mostly... which is all down to my new Personalised Demonicommunication Activator, or PDA as it's popularly known. It's a Gooseberry, of course -- no point in getting anything but the best, since it's apparently waterproof, stormproof, fireproof, unexpected desert war-proof, solar-powered (the resident imp photosynthesises) and comes, it proudly says here, COMPLETE WITH EXCLUSIVE ONBOARD PORFFREADER -- which makes clogging even easier: where once (read: a couple of years ago) one'd have to seek out a town large enough, or trade route important enough, to feature its own Clacks tower, now all that's needed is a hilltop or even slight rise...up you go, press the secret Locate Aerial Naturally (LAN) button, and a miniature tower about the length of your forearm comes out so the imp can climb it and wave black-and-white flags on a line of sight to the nearest public tower! And I can tell you, these PDA imps have bloody good eyesight. So much better than the old-fashioned way of writing letters and hoping they'll actually get delivered instead of, say, languishing at the bottom of some farmer's hay-rick or being munched to illegibility by a passing sheep...

So. I'm leaving Lost Wages. I suppose I should start by explaining how I came to be in Lost Wages in the first place, since I was born in Borogravia and have an Uberwaldean surname, right? The answer is fairly simple... no, actually it's fairly complicated... but in short: the suffixes -- suffices -- oh, all right, endings --vic and --vig come from the old Uberwald High Speech and mean "child of" or "descendant of", which can apply to persons or places, and my father's family were thus originally from the kingdom of Lancre. Why they left Lancre is a bit of a mystery (of the We Don't Talk About That kind that every family has under some rotting log in its woodpile, if you look back far enough) -- all I was ever able to find out was that there was a Thing, you know, one of those Thing things, and the only reason I even know that is because my great-aunt Holagert, who's ninety-eight if she's a day, once muttered something to that effect at a family reunion. I was about to ask her for more details when the rest of the aunties grabbed her and confiscated her dentures; all I can tell you is that my great-great-great grandpapa once committed a mubble mubble gnab miggle murp sebble mungus mish.... and then there was another Thing that caused the Lancrevics to flee from Uberwald to neighbouring Borogravia, and no, I've no idea what the nature of that Thing was either. Meanwhile, on my mother's side, I come from a long line of Duchess-worshipping Nugganite biddies with no sense of humour whatsoever, which I suspect goes a long way towards explaining my career in whimsical musical comedy. I was a rebellious child, and an only child, and the combination divided the family something fierce, and it came to pass that by the time I'd been expelled from Miss Marm's School for Unsettlingly Bright Children (and therein lies a tale, which I'll get to soon enough!), Grandmama -- my father's mother -- packed my belongings into her cart and announced that she was taking me back to "the auld soil, where a gel can grow up free under the stars." I'd always noticed plenty of stars at night where we were, but grandmothers have their own sorts of the sort that had her make me wear our family heirloom woolly vest every winter, that old Ramtop wool vest knitted by some ancestress in the Days Before the Big Move and forced in all its barbed-wire horror on successive generations of Lancrevic offspring. It wasn't even moth-eaten -- no moth has yet been born that could digest those steely fibres. Year after year, Grandmama would extol the virtues of simple Lancre living and fine Lancre knitwear, all the while, and each time winter came around again she'd be wearing her own "tatty old" vest, which just happened to be made from a silky-soft uplands werewolf pelt captured in the days before the Great Truce of Bugs. See? Grandmother logic.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. The town of Lost Wages occupies what was once the ancient scene of the Ramtop Mountains' first permanent floating crap game. By the time the game had moved on to richer pickings in the lowlands, a whole village had grown up to serve the needs of transient gamblers; as a result, Lost Wages today has two (!) inns, a pawnshop, half a dozen jewellers, a full-service brothel, several high-speed carriage services, its own bank, and more restaurants and trinket shops than you could shake a scumble-stirring stick at. See, although it's located in the wild, lonely borderlands that mark where Lancre becomes Uberwald (of course, since the entirety of Lancre is wild, lonely borderlands anyway, it's not so much of a hardship as you might imagine), it already had enough of a reputation that it was included as a "place of touristical interest" in the famous book BONK THYS: A VERY ROUGH GUIDE TO BACKPACKING IN UBERWALD (Goatberger & Sons, 15th reprinting) with the notation "Worth trekking across the wild, lonely borderlands for a pint of Mottley's Best Very Bitter at the charming village inns. Don't drink the scumble." In truth, it had devolved to a fairly unexciting, sleepy village by the time Grandmama and I arrived, but eighteen months ago that all changed when Lost Wages got its own Clacks towers during the Grand Trunk expansion. It certainly changed for me -- I'd been singing in the local pubs, a sort of residency at The Sore Loser, for some time, and Mr Kakhand -- the landlord -- had always been telling me I'd go far (not that one needs to go a great distance to improve on free greasy food and a few pints of Best Very Bitter as wages). I'd been planning to do just that, we Lancrevics having relocation in our blood, but when his daughter Semolina came round one day to deliver Grandmama's weekly barrel of sherry and told me about the new Clacks coming to town, I realised that I could send my music and other writing out to the larger world without having to do all those irritating things like finding all the matching socks to pack. Or actual travelling. The rest, of course, is history...

By the way, since my PDA is a Gooseberry and it's run by an imp (and imps rarely have names) I've decided to call him Gimp. Maybe Gimpy, for less short. Just saying. We'll have to learn to get along, because if I get stranded out in the Klatchian Desert or shipwrecked in the BeTrobi Islands, it would be good to know he'd willingly record my last words for posterity. That means we'll have to stay on speaking terms. I keep having to remind myself of that because he's a disputatious little oi, don't interrupt me when I'm dictating to you!

For those of you who haven't read your Twurp's Peerage -- or have been living down a cellar for the past 500-odd years (thinks: well, they'd definitely be odd. I mean, five centuries in a cellar? Even vampires and zombies and ghouls and bogeymen get out occasionally...) -- or are from some common-as-muck place like Sto Lat or Llamedos of, for that matter, Lancre (except for the Royal Family and the Oggs, because various Oggs a) work for the Royal Family and b) are in the habit of poking their noses into other people's business and other people's libraries), I suppose I should explain a bit about the Grand Sneer. Back in less egalitarian times, when money talked just as loudly but was almost exclusively concentrated in the vaults of royalty, nobility and successful pirates (the latter being pretty much the same thing, only without so many known ancestors' portraits on their walls), young heirs would be sent off on a leisurely journey to Forn Parts; in the words of some writer or other, it was an exercise wherein young members of high-born and wealthy families journey to backwards countries to see how inferior they are. These posh young nobs would head off with a retinue of servants and a boatload of luggage (and Luggage), sample the lifestyles (with a safety net) of more exotic, less advantaged cultures, and in theory return home more mature, broader of understanding and exceptionally grateful that they weren't the sons of camel drivers. A typical Grand Sneer would take about two years to complete, always assuming the tourer didn't get incarcerated, enslaved, summarily executed, burnt at the stake, made God Emperor of a lost jungle nation, induced to marry a beautiful barbarian maiden and then far more strongly induced to selflessly serve as the human sacrifice in a harvest ritual, or "the old standby" eaten by a tiger. And of course those who did return were hardly ever changed for the better by it, since most people only see and hear and learn what they want to and rich young men are more intensely like "most people' than most other people are... these days, though, all it takes to do a Grand Sneer is money, and my faithful readers know I've plenty of that (smug? moi?). I haven't decided yet whether I'm aiming for the full two years or the shorter version; I definitely want to visit the Counterweight Continent, at least some of the less-dark parts of Howondaland and Klatch, definitely Brindisi and Genua, Llamedos just for the laughs (i.e. to see if, contrary to popular claims, there actually are any), the Sto Plains (hey, I like broccoli!) and all the other bits around the edges of the Circle Sea. I also would love to go out to the edge of the world to see the Rimbow, and of course I intend to revisit my other "auld soil" to see what I think of it now... mostly I'll be making it up as I go along, which is why I'm writing this clog in the first place. Best-selling travel book, anyone?

Speaking of money, we didn't lack for it when I were a lass. The Lancrevics may not have been royal or noble, but we were very much a part of genteel society (right up until the Other Thing and my life in Lost Wages). Earlier I mentioned having attended -- and having been thrown out of -- a la-di-dah private school; what I hadn't mentioned is that that was where I first started making up Ye Amusing Verses, and that I had some classmates who were considerably posher than I was... among them the daughter of Baron von Uberwald, who's since gone on to make a name for herself in law enforcement. When I was sorting and packing my socks, I came across an old exercise book from my days at Miss Marm's, and what should I spot but one of my early pieces of poetry that got passed around the class behind her back (until she grabbed it off one of the mine princesses):

    Schoolmistress Marm
    Got bit on the arm
    By Delphine, whose daddy's a Baron
    Which act was observed
    With smiling lips curved
    By myself, Muffet, Becka, and Sharon
    The family complained
    They said, "She's housetrained!
    "One bite is no reason for banishment."
    So little Delphine
    For weeks was not seen:
    She'd been sent off for Angua management.

As you can see, nothing much changes. Oh, and I got detention for that. My first with lines!

There's so much more to say in this my first Clog, but Gimp needs a suntan break and I need a beer. I'll post again soon! For now, I'm off to seek adventure in parts unknown. Singing as I go... of course...

    Life seemed infernal
    In the Lancre borderlands
    Not that I'm bored at all
    I've spent the past years far too near the Hub
    In a manky pub
    A satirist on call
    Now I'm bashing on my techno-imp
    And I dictate Clogs
    And I call him Gimp
    I'll tour the Disc
    And I'll take the piss
    And I'll write about all this

    I'm leaving Lost Wages
    Hills forlorn
    Right past...Bad Ass
    On an Octeday morn
    Leaving Lost Wages
    Leaving for good, for good
    I'm leaving for -- well,
    Maybe just a year...

-- Alice

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