Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December 2008

by Fernando Magnifico

Hallo and buongiorno to all my friends, it is I, Fernando, and I shall be your astrologer today, for the Lady Asterisk has got her hand stuck in her Hogswatch goose.

Unless you have been hiding in the basement building the machine for modelling the ebb and flow of money through this fine city (but Fernando cannot think of anyone in their right mind who would want to do that), or perhaps you are one of the unfortunates deep in the Patrician's dungeons (but then how would you be reading this, my friend?), then you will be aware that Hogswatch is upon us. In only a few more days, the Hogfather will be bringing presents to those who have been good, and bloody bones for those who have been bad. Fernando is always very good, except once when he was very tired and had the flu, but the signorina and her friend were very understanding and forgiving.

This month, the stars say, is the time for parties -- big parties, small parties, parties for many people and small intimate tete-a-tetes for two. During this month, some of the most powerful men in the city will be having the very large balls, and this requires much careful handling to prevent embarrassment. Even Lord Vetinari, who normally is not a man who has problems with anything, has taken on extra staff to plan and prepare for the Annual Patrician's Charity Ball. Fernando hears that Lord and Lady Rust's plans for their Hogswatch Ball are in complete disarray after their son has shot another butler. Not that Fernando has been counting, but that is the fourth servant this year.

Whether you are catering for the Patrician's Ball, or, how do you say it, having a knees up down the pub, this month is a molto difficile time. There is so much to be planned, so many parties to attend, enemies to be polite to, lesser enemies to snub, friends to pull out of the gutter and carry home, and so much more. At a time like this, Fernando knows that it is more important than ever to have the guidance from the stars, and so this is your guide to the parties. Happy Hogswatch and ciao bella!

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

For Hoggers who are single, or those with understanding wives and husbands, the stars smile on you this month for your party is the singles party. Fernando gets the many invitations to singles parties all year round, but for those who have never been to one before, you can expect many awkward silences, much desperate attempts to impress with the machismo, the occasional cutting remark or face slapping, and, if you are very lucky, a quick and fumbling grope in the corridor with somebody who is not too unpleasant. Fernando is very sorry about this, but if you see him at one of these parties, perhaps he can "set you up", as they say, with the attractive and confident young ladies and gentlemens, since they will all be gathered around Fernando talking to him. Such is Fernando's burden, but he loves to share.

The Half-Eaten Sandwich 21 Apr - 21 May

Those born under the sign of the Half-Eaten Sandwich are known as Munchers, but also sometimes as Sandies. So what better party for you than the beach party? The stars agree and say that this is the good time to hire a cart, make up a picnic basket, and go for a day trip down to the Holy Wood beach with your friends. Watch out for sand in your drinks, ants in your food, biting flies, salt water in your eyes, and sharkses. The best thing about a beach party is that you can't go hungry, because of all the sand-witches there! Ha ha, Fernando has made the joke!

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

Hernians this month will find their party is the stag party. The stars say that this is the best time for you to go out to the woods, drink a lot of scumble (although even a little scumble is a lot), put on a silly hat with enormous fake deer antlers, and run around without your drawers on getting hot and sweaty. Then afterwoods, you can drink more scumble and have a barbecue with all the meats you can eat. Alas, Fernando has the bad news for the lady Hernians -- the stag party is strictly for the mens. But do not be sad, for Fernando knows that the woods near Ankh-Morpork are full of stinging nettle and poison ivy.

The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul

For wizards, every night is a night for a dinner party, although for these learned gentlemens the music, good cheer and friendship is not as important as the size of the dinner. For Staffies, the stars suggest that you let your inner wizard out: this is a good time for dinner parties. But be careful, for Fernando knows that sometimes the dinner party can go wrong. Avoid all talk about religion and politics, and beware of the Wow-Wow sauce and home-made grappa. Make sure that you have with you a designated cart driver for the afterwards, because the Watch love to catch the drunk drivers at this time of year.

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

If every night is a dinner party for wizards, every night is a cocktail party for Bilians. The stars this month they say that this is an excellent month for the cocktail parties and wine-tasting parties. The cocktails, they are not bad, but Fernando prefers to drink the wine, like his blessed mamma taught him. "Fernando," she told me when I was a small boy, "a drop of vino is good for the digestion, but don't be like that good-for-nothing Bruno who gets drunk every day!" Except she said it in Brindisian, which is a much more beautiful language.

Fernando does not think much of the Ankh-Morpork wines: too much of the Quirmian merda, and the Tsortean wines are only good for the stripping of paint. For the proper wine, full of body and flavour and colour, you need wine made with la passione from the best Brindisian grapes, not the sour Quirmian rubbish. Fernando knows that your parties will be a success if you stick to the real vino from Brindisi.

The Celestial Parsnip 24 Aug - 23 Sept

For the Snippies, the stars suggest that it is the good month for the garden party. This confused Fernando at first, because the Ankh-Morpork weather is not the best at this time of year. But I have checked and double-checked my calculations, and there is no doubt that the stars say this is the month for garden parties. How can this be?

But then Fernando remembered what the difference between a garden party and a picnic is. If you have invited people called Fred and Sally, and asked them to bring a plate, it is probably the picnic. But if you have had your servants hand-deliver the invitation written on paper with gold edges to people called Lord and Lady Panjandrum, then it is probably a garden party. For those of you who are having the garden party, you can afford to have it at your summer residence in the Tsort islands. For the rest of you, Fernando recommends that you have the thick coats and warm hats, or better still, you have your picnic indoors.

The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct

Not for Boring'uns is the wild party lifestyle. It is difficult to be the party animal when a small sherry, a couple of cheese biscuits and bed by 9 o'clock are what you consider to be an exciting night. But the stars understand and they suggest that your party for this month is a quilting party. If the sharp needles and scissors are too worrying, Fernando suggests that you supply the snacks and leave the dangerous implements to others.

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

For Andies, the stars are saying that this is the good time for the coming-out party. If you are the young lady of the certain age, this is the good month for you to be presented to society. The Ankh-Morpork young gentlemens don't normally have the coming-out party. Fernando is not sure why this is so -- perhaps the young mens are never ready to be presented to polite society?

For the other young mens, the ones who perhaps have the "wide stance", as they say, Fernando can say do not worry my friends, the stars are with you this month. This is a very good month for your very own coming-out party too.

The Spoons, a.k.a. the Greater and Lesser Spoons, 23 Nov - 21 Dec

This month the stars say your party is the costume party, or "fancy dress" as they say. You can let everyone dress in whatever wild costumes they choose, but the stars suggest that a themed party will be better, although nobody is sure how the wizards will react to a party full of civilians dressed the same as them. Beware though, Fernando knows that you should avoid the toga party, for he has much experience in such matters. Fernando has an uncle Giovanni, not the shoemaker, the other uncle Giovanni, on Fernando's papa's side. For this uncle Giovanni, every party is the toga party. He is always dressed like the old Latinium patron, in a toga with a laurel wreath, and then drinks very much of the vino and climbs on the table and shouts "Food fight" (only in Brindisian, you understand) and throws the food at the bride and groom. It is molto embarressment, and we would like to not invite him, but what can we do? He is family.

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

As a Hokian, your birthday is coming up, and the stars say that this is a good time for a Birthday Party. Fernando knows that it would be, of course. It would be silly to have your birthday celebration at a different time of the year, unless you are royalty or a race horse. So Fernando wishes you a molto happy birthday, and the stars say that this year, unlike last, there will be no fights over what our Val said to grandmamma.

Unfortunately, the stars say nothing about embarrassing relatives falling drunk into the punch bowl. Fernando knows you are on your own with that.

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

Fernando knows that some things are timeless and can be enjoyed by anyone no matter what their age, like Fernando's dearest mamma's melanzana parmigiana, or lying on the soft grass under the shade of a fine old tree on a hot summer's day. Other things are not so universal, and for Gazundians, your party for this month is one of the others, for your party is the pyjama party. So if you are the 15 year old girl, this is a good month to invite your best friends over and talk about boys and Fernando, and play the Truth or Dare game. And if you are the 45 year old man, Fernando understands that Wednesday night is Pyjama Party night at the Pink Pussycat Club. For the rest of you, Fernando is afraid that the stars are not on your side this month.

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

Umbragians, your preferred party for this month is the surprise party, although Fernando is saddened that by telling you this, it will no longer be a surprise for you. But surprise parties are not just for receiving, they are also for giving, and the stars say that this month you should give surprise parties for your friends and family. Why wait until their birthday or anniversary? There is nothing more surprising than a birthday party six months before the guest of honour's birthday, except perhaps for a cake with Fernando in it.

We Three Hags, Ane Hogswatche Carol


We three Hags Lancrastian are
Straddling brooms, we travel afar
Hearth and privy, pub and smithy
Casting our spells bizarre

Stars of Lancre, stern in black
Dames in regal pointy hats
Hubwards breezing, nethers freezing
Witches three who've got the knack

Born a Fool, yet destined to reign
Never cruel though sometimes a pain
King well-meaning -- New Age-leaning
Sensible, in the main

Star of Lancre, staunch and meek
Castle sanitation geek
Bells a-clinking, forward-thinking
Modernise your farm techniques

Frank but senseless, soppy am I
Wrinkled gowns and head in the sky
Sweet tomfool'ry, occult jewellery
"Wet as a hen," they sigh

Star of Lancre, star-crossed Queen
Star of herbal research scene
Keen defender, nappy-mender
Keeping Ynci's armour clean

Scumble mine, 'tis boozy perfume
Breath like fire can clear a big room
Girlish in spirit, bawling lyrics
Bawdy and rude -- boom-boom!

Star of Lancre, super-Gran
Head of matriarchal clan
Crude and chummy, Greebo's Mummy
Who can fix things? Nanny can!

Hogswatch parties? Sausages fat?
Ha! I can't be having with that!
Bees I'll borrow near and far, so
I can patrol my patch

Stars of Lancre, wyrd and wise
We've no need to advertise
Maiden, mother, and the... other
Guarding all 'neath Lancre's skies

-- Alice

For the original lyrics to the carol We Three Kings, go to:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November 2008

by Fernando Magnifico

Buongiorno my friends, it is I, Fernando, your astrologer today as the bellissima Lady Asterisk has come down with a bad case of the chives.

My friends, you may remember two months ago that Fernando's astrological charts disappeared under the very mysterious circumstances. Fernando's heart was crushed by his failure to be your astrologer, but he promised not to rest until he has discovered what fiend or diavolo would steal his star charts and leave you, my dearest readers, without your horoscope for the month. And this is what Fernando has done: Fernando has walked the streets of Ankh-Morpork tirelessly, he has visited the worst dens of iniquity and the lowest dive bars, and has consorted with all sorts of ruffians. Fernando has left no palm ungreased, no street unwalked, for nothing shall get in the way of Fernando's promise to "get to the underneath of" this mystery, as they say in Ankh-Morpork.

Fernando's tireless investigation has been successful, for I have discovered what afeared me last month: the shame of Brindisi, Carlos, that despoiler and corruptor of youth, that vain, conceited, shameless, brazen, swaggering popinjay, with his flowing hair and tight pantaloons and silk shirts, has arrived in Ankh-Morpork. Morporkia, beware!!! Lock up your sons and daughters!!! But do not fear, my friends, for Fernando is here, and so long as he can draw breath into his broad, manly chest, he shall not let the mocker and pretender Carlos lay waste to lovely Morporkia.

It is fitting that Fernando continues to investigate this mystery, for this month the stars too have much to say about mysteries. For is it not true that there is a lot that happens that we do not know about? Mysteries like, who is the werewolf in the Watch? How does Fernando look so good in his tight pantaloons and silk shirts? What was Fernando's cousin Tomas doing up the tree overlooking the nurses' dormitories outside the Lady Sybil Free Hospital? What do the Nac Mac Feegles wear under their kilts? Read on, my friends, to learn what the stars have to say about these, and many other, mysteries. Ciao bella!

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

Your mystery this month is, "Who is the werewolf in the Watch?"

One of the worst-kept secrets on the Disc is that the City Watch of Ankh-Morpork has a werewolf working for them, but nobody knows who the werewolf is. Word on the street is that it must be Corporal Nobby Nobbs, but Fernando is unconvinced. Fernando has asked the stars, and can reveal for the first time the secret truth: the stars say that it is no less than Commander His Grace Sir Samuel Vimes himself who has a terrible beast inside him, a fearsome, ferocious monster kept barely leashed by the famous Vimes iron will.

The Half-Eaten Sandwich 21 Apr - 21 May

Your mystery is: "Why do fools fall in love?"

Ah, my friends, this is the most beautiful mystery of all, "il mistero di amore" as we say in Brindisi, the mystery of love. Fernando knows that all people in love are the magnificente fools, or even the Fools like the King Verence of Lancre. As the famous song says, "Perché gli uccelli compaiono improvvisamente? Poiché vogliono essere vicine a voi." Fernando has been the fool for love many, many times, for Fernando has molto grande love in him, enough for all (except perhaps Carlos, who does not love as Fernando loves). Perhaps the stars know why fools fall in love, but they are not saying. For Fernando, it is enough that they do. Viva il mistero!

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

Your mystery is: "What are the Dwarf Devices?"

Fernando hears that Lord Vetinari's wonderful new plans for the Undertaking are based on a device found under the city, known as the Device. It seems the Dwarfs have known about Devices for years beyond reckoning, but the origin of the Devices is lost in the mists of time, and even the Dwarfs don't know who created them, what they were for, when they were built, or how they work. The stars too have nothing to say about them, which is very unusual, but perhaps one of you Hernians will be the one to solve this mystery. For Fernando knows that when it comes to Hernians, all life is a mystery, mostly the mystery of "Why is everyone chasing me again?" and "Why does everything in Nature have such big teeth?"

The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul

Your mystery is: "Why does the wizard's staff have a knob on the end?"

Some say that the knob on the end is for the benefit of the wizard, to protect him from dark magicks and occult forces. Others say that the knob on the end is for the benefit of others, to prevent the staff's magic from leaking out and grounding itself through innocent bystanders, or at least bystanders. Fernando hears that Archchancellor Ridcully of Unseen University says that the knob on the end is to give the staff extra weight, for those times when magic fails and a wizard needs to take a swing at a problem. But the stars suggest yet another reason: the knob on the end is to prevent the wizard's hand from sliding off the staff during some of the more energetic gestures.

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

Your mystery is: "Why are sheeps found facing the other way?"

Sheeps farmers have known of a mysterious phenomenumenumenum for generations. The sheeps will be seen in the field, and the very next morning they will be facing the other way, without anybody having turned them around. Fernando has consulted the stars about this, and they say that the mystery is caused by strange quantum phenomenumenumenums, the 'fluence of the Disc's standing magical field on the sheeps, but most of all, by the farmers liking to play the practical jokes on city people.

The Celestial Parsnip 24 Aug - 23 Sept

Your mystery is: "What happened to the Merry Celery? And why were the captain's boots found 250 miles away, in the Morpork mountains, still smoking?"

The mystery of the disappearing ship Merry Celery is known all over the Disc. During the rule of the Patrician Winder, as the ship was entering Ankh-Morpork port with a cargo of Bearhugger's Whiskey, bottled Wow-Wow Sauce, Agatean fireworks and flints, there was a mysterious flash of light, a mysterious loud noise described by eyewitnesses as "a really loud noise, like a million souls cried out Bang! and then were suddenly silenced", and the entire ship just disappeared. Lord Winder blamed it on a party of Zoons and had them executed, but he was always doing that sort of thing. Many people have studied the mystery of the Merry Celery, and blamed it on alchemists, dwarfs, trolls, Klatchians, left-over sourcery from the Mage Wars, and wood-worm, but Fernando is the first who has consulted the stars and can reveal the truth: the ship and its poor crew were caught in a quantum-electrical energy shift which caused every molecule of their beings to suddenly separate at high speed. As for the captain's boots, the Gods will have their fun.

The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct

Your mystery is: "What is the secret of the missing socks?"

Why do socks disappear when you wash them? Why is it only one sock of the pair that always disappears? Fernando has learned that socks disappear because they are eaten by a mystical (but not mythical) bird called the Eater of Socks. Wherever there are socks or stockings being washed, the Eater of Socks is there to eat one. But only one. There can only be one.

The stars also suggest that sometimes socks go missing because they are used as weapons that kill people and leave buildings standing. Fernando does not understand what the stars mean by this, for surely not even Foul Ole Ron's socks could smell that terrible.

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

Your mystery: the BeTrobi Quadrangle

One of the strangest areas on the Disc is the BeTrobi Quadrangle, reaching between the BeTrobi Islands and the Counterweight Continent. Ships in the Quadrangle disappear, sometimes even the witches on their broomsticks disappear, never to be seen again. Fernando's paesano Vincento Gambi, who used to make the unofficial imports from Agatea, told me that he had once seen a two-headed whale with two bodies in the Quadrangle. What causes the Quadrangle to be so mysterioso? Is it a gateway to another dimension? Are there strong winds and currents that blow the ships over the Hub? Are the Quirmians to blame? Gnarly ground over the water? Giant pockets of gas released from the ocean floor? Fernando has consulted the stars, and they say: giant waterspouts, monstrous waterspouts with teeth like sabres and claws like spears, or perhaps the other way around, rising from the ocean like a diavlo.

The Spoons, a.k.a. the Greater and Lesser Spoons, 23 Nov - 21 Dec

Your mystery: "What was Fernando's cousin Tomas doing up the tree overlooking the nurses' dormitories outside the Lady Sybil Free Hospital, and how did his pants end up in a completely different tree?"

Fernando would like to give you the stars' answer to this question, but he has been advised by Tomas' lawyer that to do so might hurt his client's chances of getting off. Fernando is very much sorry, but you will understand: Tomas is family.

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

Your mystery is: "What do gnolls keep in their wheelbarrows?"

To the untrained observer, the gnolls' wheelbarrows look like they are piled high with garbage, but many people have wondered if that could possibly be all they carry? Fernando has consulted the stars, and they have answered the question: "Everything".

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

Your mystery is: "Is there a talking dog in Ankh-Morpork?"

Fernando had hardly been in the city for a week when he started to hear stories of a talking dog. No two of the stories are alike: some people say the dog is a great hound, as big as a bear and twice as fierce, working for the Thieves' Guild as enforcer. Others say it is a sausage dog from Uberwald, or the Chairman of the Royal Bank, Mr Fusspot. The stars say that the werewolves know, but they won't tell. Fernando has made his own enquiries, and can reveal that it is a poodle with pink fur. But the stars also say that all is not as it seems.

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

Your mystery: "What do the Nac Mac Feegles wear under their kilts?"

Fernando has spoken to many people who have met the pictsies and survived, and consulted the stars, and he has learned that the Feegles go al fresco under their kilts. Fernando is a seeker of truth, but even he thinks that the real mystery is why anyone would like to know what the Feegles wear under their kilts.

And finally, Fernando has solved a mystery for all the signs: "How does Fernando look so good in his tight pantaloons and silk shirts?" My friends, Fernando is a very modest man, and it pains him to talk about himself, but his sainted mamma taught him to always be honest, and the stars have spoken. Who is Fernando to go against the wishes of the stars? Fernando looks so good in his pantaloons and shirts because Fernando has the excellente taste in the clothings, and also because Fernando looks magnificent without his pantaloons and shirts. As they say in Brindisi, "non puoi fare un portafolio di seta da un orecchio di maiale", and Fernando is not the ear of the pig.

The Dibbler and the Alchemist

(a tale of Moving Pictures)

The sun shone on the Circle Sea, shone there as small suns can
He did his very best to make bright lights for Beast and Man
And this was odd, because it was
Deserted beachfront land

The moon was shining sulkily behind Great T'Phon's trunk
She'd got no business to be there but she was in a funk
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To highlight ancient junk!"

The sea was calm from Rim to shore, the sands without rainfall
You could not see a crowd, because the crowd were corpses all
No priest called out Performances
There was no priest to call

The Dibbler and the Alchemist were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see such property unplanned
"If this were only put to use,"
They said, "we'd make ten grand!"

"If several men with several imps worked on from dawn til tea
Do you suppose," the Dibbler said,
"That we could wrap Reel Three?"
"I doubt it," said the Alchemist, and sighed impotently.

"O actors, come and walk with us!" The Dibbler made his pitch
"A few hours' work (not counting perks)
Will roll without a hitch
We cannot lose, this golden shore
Is bound to make us rich."

The famous Gaspode looked at him with never a bark of "Cheers!"
The famous Gaspode bared his teeth
And scratched his flea-bit ears
Meaning to say this enterprise
Was bound to end in tears.

But more young hopefuls hurried up all keen to make their name
Their thoughts were fogged, their faces blank,
Their hearts immune to shame
And this was odd, because, you know,
They knew not why they came.

More would-be click-stars followed them, and yet another crew
Quick as they could, to Holy Wood, to make their dreams come true
While painting wooden scenery
And eating Borgle's stoo.

The Dibbler and the Alchemist worked on a month or so,
And then they rested on a rock (in fact, a disguised troll)
Then totted up percentages
And said, "We're on a roll!"

"The time has come," the Dibbler said, "To talk, and let's be frank
Of Passione, fire, and elephants. Of premieres on the Ankh
And why the world has all Gone Madde
And how to fill the bank."

"But wait a bit," young Victor cried, "Before we leave this shore;
For Ginger's in the grip of Things behind the magic Door!"
"No worries!" said the Alchemist.
"We're thaumless to the core."

"A Wonder Dog," the Dibbler said, "Is what this epic needs
Adverts subliminal besides, and two romantic leads
Now if you're ready, handlemen,
Bring on the dashing deeds!"

"Here comes de Syn!" the public cried, giving the stars their due
Beauty and beasts all on display; the Wizards came to view
"How puzzling," the Patrician said,
"I'm less well-known than you?"

"It was so kind of you to come, in fog as thick as steam!"
Then Bezam Planter's daughter played the Dungeon Dimensions theme
All patrons were transfixed until
The crowd began to scream!

"In Ribobe's name," young Victor said, "I curse you, now depart!"
Gigantic Ginger grabbed an ape and climbed the Tower of Art
Then Victor conjured horse and sword
And played it from the heart.

"I weep for me," the Dibbler said: "Alas, my empire dies."
With sobs and tears he sauntered off to more familiar lies,
Back to a life behind a cart
Of sausages and pies.

"Oh, buggrit," said the Alchemist, "My grand career is gone!
Shall I be trotting homeward now
To face a jobless dawn?
The world is back to sane again..."

...but Holy Wood dreams on...

-- Alice

Note for Roundworlders: the original poem The Walrus and the
Carpenter, by Lewis Carroll, can be found at:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Clog Post 16 with Rockin' Round The Discworld



This will only be a shortish Clog, because I'm off at last! All my possessions have been returned by the Watch, with nothing missing, and I'm packed and ready to go.

Looking back on my months here, I'd have to say I'm happy -- feeling glad; I've got Ankhstones in my bag; I'm luteless, but not for long; my lucre is coming on... all in all, not a bad way for this wandering Bard to end a long and eventful stay in Ankh-Morpork.

Today was a chilly Sektober morning, still dark outside, and raining just a bit. We left the Palace under cover of Dawn (One Glorious Dawn, that is; a very friendly Agatean immigrant who's recently joined the Palace Guard, having arrived with references from the Emperor Cohen himself), who thoughtfully provided us with shelter under his cloak as we scuttled through the early morning streets. Not many people about at this time of day, although I could hear the ripe swearing of traders setting up their stalls in Sator Square and the dull clonks of King's men collecting night-soil buckets... typical charming A-M street sounds, I'll almost miss them.

It's also a good thing I still have my Personal Demonicommunication Activator -- otherwise I'd be buried in reams of Clacks flimsies. So many good-luck and thank-you and sad-you're-leaving messages from people all over (and under) the city! I've been reading through them while I wait for my coach... The ladies at Mrs Palm's ordered me a saucygram, but the Palace guards wouldn't let him in, so I was treated instead to a, shall we say, eye-popping performance in the coaching yard as our baggage was being stowed! The coachmen were very amused. As for the saucygram himself, I have to say he certainly was all there (yes, I got his C-mail address; never know when one might want a male stripper to make housecalls in Lost Wages). After he put his clothes back on, he kindly gave me the Woo Hon Ling catalogue I promised to take home for 'the girls'. I'm sure it will provide me with many interesting hours of reading on my journey...

Listeria, Lucrezia and Anaglypta came along to see me off. We got quite teary! I thought Listeria might be joining me on the first leg of the trip, because she mentioned having to make a stop in Sto Helit before setting off again around the Disc, but it seems that my coach goes direct to Sto Lat instead. What's more, it looks like there wouldn't be room for her anyway, because, there's a party of five Cabbage Grower's Collective Bank actuaries sharing the first leg with me. Luckily for me, none of them looks to be the talkative kind. I doubt they'd be interested in the catalogue, either; they probably only get excited about columns of figures, not graphically illustrated intertwined ones...

Cert couldn't join us at the coaching yard. I knew that in advance, because he's back to working 24/8 somewhere below Dolly Sisters on the Undertaking, but he has some holidays coming and intends to join me in Lost Wages in time for Hogswatch... ooh, almost time to go -- and our driver, a Mr Bombalurina from Brindisi, just told me "the lads" would appreciate it if I could give them a song, and he just happens to have a lute in his locker in the office. My last performance in Ankh-Morpork! I'm putting the imp into Record mode:

    There's colour on the Disc
    Called octarine
    Sator Market trade is brisk
    Dibbler's sausages are green
    But there's a warning sign on the Circumfence
    There's a load of warring species
    Not to mention Undead
    Dunmanifestin is awash with Gods
    So I pray to the Lady
    To adjust the odds

    Keep on rockin' round the Discworld!
    Keep on rockin' round the Discworld!
    Keep on rockin' round the Discworld!
    Keep on rockin' round the Discworld!

    I see a Turtle in the sky
    Toting giant pachyderms
    Witches on broomsticks fly
    Igors battle germs
    Though the magic's here to stay
    Those Devices are a hit
    It's time for change
    And we've a knack for it
    There's reformed Moist
    Who will never break a bank
    (Clever, backing Harry King: he'll be dredging the Ankh)

    Keep on rockin' round the Discworld!
    Keep on rockin' round the Discworld!
    Keep on rockin' round the Discworld!
    Keep on rockin' round the Discworld!

    We got a hundred thousand souls
    In Ankh-Morpork land
    We've got a stern Patrician --
    One vote, one Man
    We've got united Guilds, from plain to fancy
    Got new improved HEXes crunching technomancy
    Got a Cube revolution and it's turning fast
    Got carts to drive, got spells to cast

    Keep on rockin' round the Discworld!
    Keep on rockin' round the Discworld!
    Keep on rockin' round the Discworld!
    Keep on rockin' round the Discworld...

Well, that went down a treat. They wanted me to do more, but some Watchmen just showed up. To report that I'm leaving, no doubt. So it's goodbye to the little house on Silver Street, and goodbye to the various Guilds who have been so welcoming to me, and goodbye to the dirty old Ankh, and to all the wonderful pubs and shops and restaurants and Cultural Experiences and Colourful Local People. It's been...educational. I do hope I can come back some day.

Time to leave. The sun is rising, and we're just pulling out of the yard now. I'm homeward bound!

-- Alice

Note for Roundworlders: the original lyrics for Rockin' in the Free
World, by Neil Young, can be found at:

October 2008

by Fernando Magnifico

Hallo and buongiorno to all my friends! It is I, Fernando, and I shall be your astrologer today for the Lady Asterisk is unavailable after an unfortunate accident with an egg whisk.

My friends, Fernando this month has the good news! You may remember that last month Fernando's heart was like the finest red rose beneath the foot of a golem -- utterly crushed -- as his star charts had mysteriously disappeared, although Fernando was fully paid up with the Thieves Guild. But do not fear, for Fernando's dearest friend Vicki has found the star charts for sale in a pawn shop in Sator Square. (Fernando sends his thanks, and will be around next week with his fig-leaf for another sketch.) Fernando now is able to make the horoscopes again.

But Fernando is worried, for there is only one possible explanation for the mystery of how the charts were lost: Fernando's nemesis, Carlos. Fernando does not wish to speak of Carlos, and yet he must, for it is his duty to warn Morporkia, who has taken Fernando to her magnificent bosom, of Brindisi's shame. Carlos is everything Fernando is not: vain, conceited, a shameless despoiler of women and corrupter of the youths, a thief who steals wives from their husbands and young men from their fiancees, and a terrible dresser too. If ever a fiend took on human form, it is Carlos. Fernando is greatly feared that Carlos has followed him to Ankh-Morpork. But do not worry my friends, for Fernando shall not rest until he has learnt what mischief Carlos is up to. But first, Fernando shall see what the stars have to say. Ciao bella!

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

The stars this month are saying that this is a good time for Hoggers to demand a promotion. Fernando knows that every month is a good time for Hoggers to demand a promotion, for the Hogger personality is spiky, short-tempered and demanding, just like Fernando's Aunt Maria, who is the terror of her nephews including cousin Luciano who once ate an entire cow and is eight inches taller and 350 pounds heavier than her. Fernando has learned much from Aunt Maria. But this month is especially good, for the stars smile upon the Hoggers in their business dealing. For Hoggers who are self-employed, it is a good month to start a new business, or perhaps to take over a rival's business.

The Half-Eaten Sandwich 21 Apr - 21 May

Sandies, or Munchers, are still experiencing some left-over influence from Gahoolie the Vase of Tulips. Fernando knows that it is the remnant of Gahoolie that gives Munchers the enthusiasm to go out to Forn lands and convert the heathen this month, and from the Half-Eaten Sandwich the sense to choose which heathens to convert. The stars suggest that this month is a good time to go to the Brown Islands or Slakki, where the natives are easy-going and friendly, and not such a good time to go the Tezuman Empire or Krull, where they have their own opinions about who are the heathens.

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

This month the stars tell Fernando that it is the auspicious time for Hernians and romance. This fills Fernando with the happiness, for Fernando knows well the joy of romance and he likes to see others also joyful. But Hernians are sometimes shy and retiring, and need encouragement, so Fernando has asked the stars for espeziale advice.

For those wanting to romance the ladies, the stars they say that flowers or small gifts will be very appropriate, except for those ladies born with Great T'Phon in the cusp of the Flying Moose. For those ladies, they may have an unfortunate tendency to eat the flowers, and the stars suggest a gift of jewellery instead. A gift of a small pet is also good: the stars suggest a small puppy or kitten, or for the more adventurous, a swamp dragon, but if you really want to make the good impression and you can afford it, the stars suggest a Ring-Tailed Ocelot.

For those wanting to romance the gentlemens Hernians, the stars recommend taking an interest in their favourite footsball team, unless they are the supporters of Quirm, buying them tools, or if all else fails, turning up at their door wearing a large coat with nothing underneath. Fernando is especially fond of that last one.

Fernando can also help with personal tuition for any Hernians wanting to learn more about the romance and the writing of love-letters and other related activities.

The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul

Traditionally many wizards and quite a few witches as well are Staffies, and for them Fernando does not have good news, for Fernando is not like some of those other astrologers who will tweak the horoscope so it only gives the good news. You can trust Fernando's horoscopes, for like Fernando himself, his horoscopes are upright and honest and how you say, meticulous. The stars this month warn that it is not a good month for magic: this will be no hardship for senior wizards, but student wizards with examinations in the next few weeks will have to work twice as hard.

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

This month is a good month for Bilians, for Fernando knows that so say the stars. But Fernando also knows that the typical Bilian is nervous and pessimistic, very different from Fernando, but life would be boring if everyone was the same. Fernando is never boring -- surprising, adventurous, romantic and skillful in many of the arts, but never boring -- and he thinks that the world is molto exciting for the many differences we have.

For Bilians, this month will be in general the good month, a small taste of la dolce vita as we say in Brindisi. You should expect the small things to go right, and the big things to not go wrong.

The Celestial Parsnip 24 Aug - 23 Sept

This month Snippies should beware of their health, for the stars warn that they are at risk of illness. Fernando's mamma would always make sure Fernando wore a warm coat in Brindisi winters, but of course Brindisi winters are not like Ankh-Morpork winters.

Snippies, the stars warn that you are at particular risk of the gurgles, chicken pox, duck pox, buffalo pox, and most worrying of all, caledonia nervosa, the morbid fear of becoming a Nac Mac Feegle. The best prevention for that last is to actually meet the Mac Feegles -- one "Crivens" from you and you'll receive such a kickin' that you'll be cured of any fear of turning into a Feegle. It may be replaced by a morbid fear of meeting the Feegles again, but as Fernando knows, that is perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about.

The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct

Boring'uns can expect a mixed time this month, like the vino Fernando's Uncle Alfonso makes. First comes the sweet, for the stars predict that the beginning of the month will be quiet, peaceful and blissfully safe for Boring'uns. The stars predict the most frightening thing will be a run-in with an unusually sharp asparagus spear.

But Fernando is sorry for the Boring'uns, for just when you are enjoying the quiet the most, the stars will turn things around on you. Like Uncle Alfonso, whose first batch of vino for the year is sweet, but then he partakes of a little too much vino himself and the second batch of vino is sour, you can expect interesting times in the second half of the month, as the Agateans put it. The gods like their little surprises, but the stars warn about visits from in-laws, pineapples, tax audits and a mix-up at the Thieves Guild. Fernando recommends you get a copy of your Guild voucher and carry it around with you at all times. It won't stop you being robbed, but it may prevent that second thump on the head.

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

For Andies this month, you should beware of family arguments. You can expect to see a molto grande mountain grown from the piccolo ant hill. Fernando knows how it goes: a brief comment or a passing remark, a reply, another reply, and before long somebody is saying "You'll bring That Woman into this house over my dead body" or "If you knew what your brother said about you, you wouldn't be sitting there so calmly". Fernando knows very well how it goes, for nobody argues and loves with so much passion as a Brindisian family! Fernando remembers when he was a boy, Uncle Nino (mayherestinnapeace) and Uncle Rafael fighting in the street over what Uncle Salvatore had said to grandmamma Angelina about cousin Tony (not cousin Tony who makes the yellow water who I have talked about before, Uncle Angelo's boy Tony, the one with the squint) and his fiancee Rosalinda the daughter of Francesco the barber, while their wives cheered them on, until Aunt Maria hit them both with her broom.

The Spoons, a.k.a. the Greater and Lesser Spoons, 23 Nov - 21 Dec

This month Spooners will find that it is a good month for the cooking and the food. With the stars giving you assistance, there will be no more burnt toast, meat burnt to charcoal, or rubbery eggs. Your pasta will be al dente, your salads fresh and not limp, and your soups thick and hearty and flavoursome. To be brief, you will cook almost as well as a Brindisian -- which probably means your family will ask "what's this foreign muck?" and go out for a plate of burnt lard swimming in grease or a sausage inna bun.

Fernando loves Ankh-Morpork, the sights, the sounds, especially the peoples, but he will never get used to the food.

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

This month is a good time for Hokians to do the redecoration. Fernando has seen that this is so! Hokians especially understand the wisdom of Mrs Cosmopilite, "A change is as good as a rest", so if you cannot go away on holiday, redecorate your house instead. Whether you are repainting it, or replacing the rugs, or just moving the furniture around, the stars say that the prospects for redecoration are very good. As they say, "Give your house a new leash on life!", although Fernando has never understood where you are suppose to tie the leash.

Fernando's cousin Palomita loves to redecorate, or perhaps it would be more accurate for Fernando to say that Palomita loves to let others do the heavy lifting. Fernando has spent many long hours during the hottest summer days bare to the waist and glistening with the perspiration, dragging wardrobes from one side of the room to the other and then back again while Palomita sits on the couch and gives instructions.

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

This month, the stars speak of debt for Gazundians. Fernando knows that there are debts that are owed, and debts that are owing, and there are debts that can never be repaid. If you owe debts, then this is a good time to pay them off, for Fernando hears from a man who knows a man who is tailor to Mr von Lipwig of the Ankh-Morpork Bank that interest rates are about to rise again. And if you are owed debts, the stars speak of using those debts as equity, and selling those debts to other lenders. What could go wrong?

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

It is said that there are only two things certain in life, death and taxes. But Umbragians this month can be certain of something else: whatever you do, whatever you say, the Patrician will know it -- possibly even before you do. For the stars say that you have come to the attention of his Dark Clerks and their spies. The stars do not say why. Perhaps it was that incautious tirade against his Lordship out in the street after six too many of the Ankh-Morpork beers. (Fernando knows that the Patrician does not mind it when people make threats against him when drunk. It's the ones who don't make threats that need watching.) Or the suspiciously exact tax return. Or the barrels of scumble and the cart loads of fertiliser, and you with no garden. Or perhaps one of the Dark Clerks had a quota to fill and your name had the wrong sort of vowels. The stars do not say, but they do say that for the next month you should watch what you say, send no incriminating clacks, and for preference, sit very very quietly in a dark cellar with a blanket over your head, and you just might avoid having to help the Watch with their enquiries.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Clog Post 15 with Poisoned



First Clog: "We have a Plan..."

Which is to say that we had a plan. I was finally packing to leave, but now I'm completely packed and soon leaving, because something unexpected happened. So as of now the Sisters of Invention are disbanded, or at least a band that's banned forever from playing in Ankh-Morpork. And we can't play at present because we're... well... guests of the Patrician. Which is to say, under house arrest at the Palace.

What happened, do I hear you ask? What happened was that Lucrezia had a little, um, mishap, and it reflected badly on all of us. Yes. Right. Mishap. I'm sure that's what it was.

Luckily, no-one died. Otherwise we'd be downstairs in the famous dungeons -- or worse -- instead of marking time in a rather well-appointed suite of rooms in one of the disused wings of the Palace.

An accidental mass poisoning is a mishap, surely...

I'm not too clear on the details, but it seems that last week when we were doing our regular gig at Wahoonie, I'm Home, the barman and a number of customers were paying a little too much unwanted attention to Lucrezia, who after all is young and attractive, if a little odd. I'm sure it was just an accidental slip of the hand that caused the adulteration of several pitchers of cocktails with one of her favourite custom-brewed poisons. How was she to know that all those large chaps in the corner were out on a stag party? Personally, I think it was probably the Ankh water in the Aqueduct de Luxe cocktails that was to blame, but one doesn't argue with the Watch when they show up promptly -- which they did -- and well-armed -- which they were. There was a lot of shouting and a lot of questions, not to mention a lot of agonised groaning (from the large chaps who drank from said pitchers and were now rolling around on the floor with green froth coming out of their mouths, and yes, it was a different colour of green than the green froth on the Rule You Wholesale cocktail), and we got taken into custody and spent the rest of the night at Pseudopolis Yard. They took our instruments into custody as well, but gave us receipts for them. All in all we were treated quite well, possibly because we're the right sort of foreign but also possibly because we've become very popular in A-M and even possibly because Cert has a fair amount of influence by way of his working on the technomantic side of the Undertaking, and we were given some very nourishing tea. Watchmen certainly know how to make the kind of nourishing tea that gets you through the night, even if it is strong enough to dissolve the glaze on the inside of the regulation prisoner mugs.

And then in the morning we were taken to the Palace. And here we remain. They ever gave us back our instruments (which is why we're in an unused wing, I imagine), but kept Lucrezia's handbag as Evidence.

A very polite Captain of the Watch, tall and smelling of soap and dog biscuits, came to see us this morning. He gave us a stern lecture and said that, as no actual life was lost and as the Patrician is very busy at the moment, we're going to be allowed to leave soon, so long as we promise to depart immediately from A-M and agree to never, ever perform in the City again (scorpion pits were mentioned). Also, if any of us ever return for a non-musical visit, we have to report to the Watch on arrival. That seems fair, even if it was surely all a misunderstanding.

So I'm finally going home.

Cert had a plan as well, and still does. He's been allowed to visit, when he's not working all hours on the Undertaking or studying up at the University; did I mention that due to rapid promotion he's now a Doctor of Technomancy as well as a Bachelor of Fluencing? His plan is to join me in Lost Wages as soon as possible. He's going to open a wizarding practice there, since the town is booming again, and continue his UU graduate studies via Omniscope. Since Omniscopes are tricky devices at the best of times, this is no small project! The latest model Omniscope discharges its excess thaums into a carefully -- very carefully -- set-up basin of pure rainwater; the smallest misadjustment could result in Lost Wages being a smoking hole in the landscape, but luckily Cert has enlisted the aid of visiting BU cisterns analyst Neil Beardie-Bloke for refining his calculations. Hopefully that means all will work out well...

* * *

Owing to our situation, I feel a song coming on. It's about Ankh water, unsurprisingly. The River Ankh, particularly in A-M, has had much written about its water, and I can assure you that all of it is true. That's because it's...


    Too dense to slice
    Not clear, not nice
    Crossbones and skull:
    "Not potable!"

    I want to drink it, but I better not touch (don't touch!)
    I want to smell it but my senses tell me I'd drop
    I want a taste but I like living too much (I clutch!)
    I want to chug it but it's Ankh-Morporkian
    It's poison running through our drains
    Pure poison, clogging up our water mains...

    My teeth feel hot
    Disease I've caught
    It shines, it's wet
    Makes strong men sweat

    I stumble, falling, full of needles and pins (ow! pins!)
    I think the neighbours must've heard me screaming in pain
    One toxic touch and it's dissolving my skin (seeps in!)
    I was so thirsty, now I'm blitzed by River Ankh poison
    It's poison running through our drains
    Pure poison, clogging up our water mains
    They're poisoned!

    Dead sheep, pigs' guts
    Slops from The Butts...

    I want to drink it, but I better not touch (don't touch!)
    I want to smell it but my senses tell me I'd drop
    I want a taste but I like living too much (I clutch!)
    I want to chug it but it's Ankh-Morporkian
    It's poison running through our drains
    Pure poison, clogging up our water mains...
    They're poisoned

    I'm drinking "water" even Beggars won't touch (won't touch!)
    I feel unholy and my insides wanna go plop
    Another sip will make me walk with a crutch (too much!)
    It isn't tasty but it sure is genuine
    Poison, eww!
    I can't bear these gastric pains
    I'm poisoned -- oh no!
    Now I'm leaking funny stains
    Filled with epidemic strains
    And poisoned...

Here endeth this post.

* * *

Second Clog: "I shall be released"

Any day now, they tell us. Cert has kindly booked passage for me to Lost Wages with one of the best coaching companies. No leaky boats for me this time! Just a (hopefully) safe, comfortable coach journey, straight across the Rimwards side of the Sto Plains, through the Forest of Skund, a day's stopover in Lancre to pick up the post and whatnot and test the new vintage scumble at the Goat and Bush, and then home sweet home. I should be there in not much more than a week - barring breakdowns, highway robbers, rains of fish, early Yeti migrations, a wandering Undead eating the coach driver...but that's just the usual.

* * *

Looking back on my adventures, I would say this Grand Sneer has definitely broadened my horizons and made me far more mature and experienced -- far more experienced at any rate. It's not many a person who can live a long, full, dramatic life, die in bed surrounded by fat grandchildren, and then get to live a long, full, dramatic life all over again (apart from certain History Monks and, I suppose, Yeti, though the History Monks wouldn't have fat grandchildren as such). This time around I'm going to go for the less full and dramatic parts, though. A pint or ten by the fire in The Sore Loser, a bit of a sing-song, some good old-fashioned Lancrastian and Borogravian cooking, the occasional late night watching the Omniscope to see that it doesn't implode...that will do me fine.

* * *

Speaking of cooking, I've been in correspondence with Mr Hassenpfeffer, owner and chief chef of the Grossenschweinebitzen restaurant. While he won't sell me his secret recipe for Ghoulish, he is very interested in opening a branch of GSB in Lost Wages. Hurrah!

* * *

There are rats in the walls. I hear them whispering at night.

* * *

Mrs Palm paid me a visit the other day. She said all the girls are very sad to see me go, and they hope I can come back some day for a visit, a few parties and maybe some (very) discreet solo gigs -- on a borrowed lute, of course. She also gave me the latest Woo Hon Ling catalogue to take up to the Lost Wages branch of the Seamstresses' Guild, because it might spontaneously combust if sent by ordinary post. Being a woman of the world these days, I've had a look through it. Blimey, she's right! I think Semolina is going to be very interested in some of the special appliances...

* * *

Now the rats are singing. They haven't great voices, but they know the words to some of my songs. How sweet.

* * *

Listeria says she's going to continue her travels. She wants to go to the Brown Islands and the Land of Fog, and possibly even on to EcksEcksEcksEcks. I wouldn't have minded seeing some more of the Disc myself, but while I'm not saying I'll never travel again, I think I'll at least take a break for a few years. I'm already feeling a bit nostalgic, but much of what's happened feels far away and faded, like it happened to someone else a long time ago. I think I shall read over and edit my Clacks logs and write them up as a book, just in case I have grandchildren some day and find I've forgotten most of the stories I'd want to tell them.

* * *

The rats delivered me a message last night! From my friends in Morpork Below. Seems my honorary status as a Belowgrounder is permanent, and I can come do concerts there any time I want. Well, that's one way around the banned band ban...

* * *

LuRid left. No-one knows when or where, except the rats, and they're not saying. I think he went home.

* * *

Anaglypta is going to close up the house in Silver Street and join her aunt on her further travels. Once again, I feel like some sort of fellowship is breaking up...

* * *

Ooh, genuine Slumpie for supper last night! With salad! That's the palace kitchens' idea of acceptable local cuisine. Sham Harga would never dream of putting salad on his plates; the customers would riot.

* * *

We're being released tomorrow. Time to go home!

-- Alice

Note for Roundworlders: the original lyrics for Poison by Alice
Cooper can be found at:

September 2008

by Fernando Magnifico

Buongiorno! The Lady Asterisk is indisposed this month, for she was attacked by a rogue cheese.

My friends, it breaks Fernando's heart to write this, but he has failed in his sacred duty to be your astrologer. When he came to the beautiful city of Ankh-Morpork to study the art of astrology at the feet of the bellissima Lady Asterisk, Fernando swore that he would carry the burden of being astrologer for all his readers who rely on him. But now Fernando's food is like ashes in his mouth, even his Uncle Enzo's famous salami, the one with the chilli and fennel seeds, and the cold wind blows through Fernando's small but stylish room. Even Fernando's red velvet cloak gives him no pleasure, for it is like sackcloth on Fernando's soft yet manly Brindisian skin. Fernando now knows well what it is like to have a heart heavy with shame, for he has failed: Fernando's astrological charts have disappeared, and without them even Fernando cannot calculate the horoscopes.

It will take weeks to re-calculate the charts, for every astrologer's calculations are unique. So there can be no horoscope this month. Instead Fernando will take questions from his devoted readers:

    "Dear Fernando,

    I am a Boring'un with an allergy to fish. Even walking past a market
    stall selling fish brings me out in hives. I'm thinking of accepting
    a job offer to be Assistant Clerk Fourth Grade (Sprout Specialist)
    at the Cabbage Grower's Cooperative, but Mother insists that a job
    with better prospects is First Mate on 'The Vindictive', which sails
    next week under Captain John 'Blackheart' Edwards. I'm worried
    because the previous First Mate was eaten by sharks in the Mothering
    Sunday Islands, but Mother tells me that sharks never attack unless
    provoked. What should I do?

    Signed, Cabbages Are The Life For Me"

Fernando cannot cast a precise horoscope this month, but Fernando has much experience in the knowing of personalities of each sign and knows that Boring'uns are not well suited for any job on a ship called 'The Vindictive'. Except perhaps for the job of victim. I recommend you take the job at the Cabbage Grower's Cooperative.

    "Dear Mr Magnifico, Ai am a respectable hwidow hwoman of hadequate means and still with all my own teeth. Ai was hwondering, is there a Mrs Magnifico?

    Signed, Still Young At Heart, Unseen University"

There is only one Signora Magnifico in Fernando's life, that is Fernando's sainted mamma, may the gods smile upon her.

Fernando gets the many proposals for marriage from the Signorinas, and sometimes the young Signores also. Fernando is always flattered, but he has too much love in him for any one person. This does not mean that Fernando will never be married, but it will have to be to a very special person who understands that it is Fernando's mission to spread his love to everyone in the world, except perhaps the Quirmian footsballers, and Carlos, but Fernando does not wish to speak of Carlos.

One of his missions. Fernando has many.

    "Dear Mr Magnifico,

    My sisters Incontinentia and Chlamydia and I read your horoscopes every month, and we especially love to hear about your exciting life back in Brindisi. Is it true that you once saved a young woman from being eaten by a whole family of bears?

    Signed, Prudencia Woolstocking (Miss)"

A whole family of bears? Fernando does not know where these stories come from. It was only the one bear, twenty feet tall on his back legs, with claws like daggers and teeth like even bigger daggers, and the bear he had found the signorina Valentina who was picking berries in the forest. Fortunately, Fernando was riding through the forest and came across them. Fernando's horse was frightened and threw Fernando and ran away, but Fernando got up and looked the bear straight in the eyes. The bear stood up on his back legs, thirty feet tall if he was an inch, and roared, and Fernando threw himself at the bear to save the signorina from being eaten. By the bear.

It was a terrible fight, for Fernando was unarmed except for a small stick he broke off a tree, but Fernando was victorious and the bear ran off into the forest and the signorina was saved. The cost was great though, for Fernando's favourite black silk shirt was ripped to shreds, and Fernando had to walk back to the village with his bare chest and back covered in terrible claw marks. From the bear you understand. Fernando's cousin Palomita had to go and have a lie down, and his Auntie Maria gave him a clip on the ear for riding bare-back and falling off the horse. She said that riding bare-back is dangerous, but Fernando laughs at danger.

    "Dear Mr Fernando,

    What is your favourite opera?

    Signed, Patron of the Arts."

Fernando has a great passion for the Brindisi opera. There are many such great operas, and it is very hard to decide which is best, but Fernando believes that perhaps the greatest of all is "Programma Nove da Spazio Cosmico" by the famed composer Eduardo Foresta. Who cannot be moved to tears by such as this?

E appena un salto il a sinistra
Ed allora un punto alla destra
Con le vostre mani sulle vostre anche
Portate le vostra ginocchia fortemente
Ma e la spinta pelvica che realmente lo guida insano
Li lascia ripetere il filo di ordito di tempo!

Fernando intends to make his new astrological charts, and next month the more usual horoscope should be back. Ciao bella!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Clog post 14 with YMPA and Reader In The Stacks



First Clog: "I can't let Morpork go"

So...I'm still here. But I'll be heading home soon. Maybe in a few days. Or something.

It's hard to leave Ankh-Morpork. It's like, um, quicksand. Or slurry. You try to drag yourself out and it keeps sucking you back in. I know, I know, it smells like quicksand mixed with slurry too, but there's something about this city... I've heard it said that the city is a woman (though in that case, it's a woman of very questionable personal hygiene) who gets under your skin, but that sounds very uncomfortable and also crowded. Of course, A-M is uncomfortable and crowded, so maybe they have a point, but it's just... so... fascinating here. And exciting. And dangerous. Okay, maybe less of the dangerous as a recommendation, but so very fascinating. They say -- "they" say a lot of things, don't they? -- there are a million stories in this big festering fragrant megalopolis, and that means an endless supply of inspirations for a Bard to write about.

But I'm going home soon. Really. Yes.

Very busy these days, but here's some assorted news:

Career goes from strength to strength! The Sisters of Invention is a five-piece now: myself, Listeria, Anaglypta (really taken to the lute, she has), Lucrezia (very decent on the mandolin and banjo), and an expatriate called LuRid from Morpork Below who apparently used to play Below with a band called the Vurm-lit Underground (good drummer, but his voice is a bit cracked). We're playing at least four nights a week now, and we've even joined the Musicians' Guild! For all the disturbing stories I've heard about the Guild, it seems like a tame enough organisation, and the rates aren't too bad...though I did hear they went through a major reorganisation a few years ago, so maybe that explains it.

One of our regular gigs now is at Wahoonie, I'm Home. This means I get my Barbarian at the Gate cocktails free. This in turn means a lot of scumble hangovers, which means a lot of hair of the dog (or of the "...mostly apples..."), which means I'm feeling a bit, um, liverish lately. Well, more than a bit. Might have to go back to beer. Though there are some interesting new cocktails on the drinks menu. These include the Tired and Emotional, which features Genuan creme de menthe, Brindisian grappa and BeTrobi Islands rum and has even more of a kick than the Rule You Wholesale (though less of a brassica flavour); the Aqueduct de Luxe, which claims to include real Ankh water with gin to "make it safe for drinking" (but I don't believe mere spirits could sanitise Ankh water); the Duke of Ankh, which is just sparkling mineral water with a slice of lemon, but the barman does wave an unopened bottle of whisky near it before serving; the Grand Vizier, featuring melon liqueur from Al Khali and fig juice; and the Hook, Line and Stinkered, which believe it or not is made from fish consomme and Djelibeybian garlic wine. That one give a while new meaning to the phrase "liquid lunch"! Very inventive, these modern bartenders.


There's a new bookshop that's opened in Rime Street, near the Contract Bridge end -- it's called Waterstain's. I paid a visit the other day and found a real treasure: Bawdey Ballades, by A Wanton Ladye. I've put some of these to music and they're going down a treat at the Seamstresses' Guild gigs, especially when sung by Listeria with, um, explanatory gestures. Mr Waterstain is something of a treasure himself, very friendly and helpful. And he also sells lute strings! I'm putting this one on my personal Mapp.


Yesterday I met a man with a duck on his head. No-one seemed to notice it. How very A-M.


There's a display of antiquities, which is to say things dug up during the Undertaking, currently on view at an old house on Chrononhotonthologos Street. Very interesting.


There was a party at the home of Rosella, one of Mrs Palm's employees, last night. Much more interesting.


Had my first Dibbler sausage inna bun. Also my last Dibbler sausage inna bun. One and the same.

Mr Dibbler still wants to manage the Sisters. After that sausage? No chance.


Found an Uberwaldean restaurant called Grossenschweinebitzen (which translates in Morporkian as Many Parts of Pig). It's in Scrag End, just off Pigsty Hill, and they do Ghoulish. Proper Ghoulish! Best I've had since Bad Blitz on the Blut! I'll be going there again for sure.


A-M beer does not sit well on mornings after. Am back on the Barbarians. At least with a scumble hangover you know what you're getting, and even essence of dead sheep is better than some of the things they put in the beer here.


Bad smog last night - a real curry-souper. I could hardly sing for coughing. I could hardly play for inebriation too, but that's not the point. They say the Undertaking will help clear the air here; Gods know that would make A-M more appealing!


I'm going home soon. Really.

Here endeth this post.

* * *

Second Clog: "...and the course of true love never runs smooth..."

Cert moved back off campus. Not back in with us, though -- he's taken a room at the YMPA in God Street -- but we're still getting on well and not at all like a house on fire, as it were. He's not as deep in his studies now because he's taken a job on the Undertaking. It seems they need all the Technomancers they can get, and don't mind if they haven't a UU doctorate as long as they have Talent and experience. Cert definitely has experience, as you all know from reading this Clacks log! -- so he's being paid very well, which is how he was able to afford the genuine octarine pendant he bought me last week. I said I wasn't sure what to make of that, and he said I could always make an investment of it. Aww, how sweet!

I suggested the YMPA because so many people, well, denizens of A-M, recommend it. It's clean and pleasant in a slightly run-down way, and even more broad-minded than Mrs Cake about who resides there, if that's possible. I wrote a song about it:

    Young mage, there's no need to feel down
    I said, young mage, pick your robe off the ground
    I said, young mage, you're in Ankh-Morpork town
    There's no need to seek for lodgings

    Igor, there's a place you'll fit in
    I said, Igor, when your stitches wear thin
    You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
    Many willing organ donors

    It's fun to stay at the YMPA
    To laugh and play at the YMPA
    They have what it takes when you're putting down stakes
    Drop your laundry at Mrs Cake's

    It's fun to stay at the YMPA
    Tenpence a day at the YMPA
    You can practise your spells, you can make your own bed,
    You can live like proper Undead...

    Werewolf, are you ready for "Sit!"?
    I said, Vampire, are you biter or bit?
    I said, Banshee, you can be fright-ing fit
    But I've got to tell you one thing:

    No beast has to hunt on his own
    I said, young wolf, there's no need to be lone
    You just go there, to the YMPA
    I'm sure there's a kennel today

    It's fun to stay at the YMPA
    The stoo is grey at the YMPA
    They serve everyone there from Wizards to Fools
    You can hang out with all the ghouls

    It's fun to stay at the YMPA
    You're not a stray at the YMPA
    You can sleep on a slab, you can roost in a tree
    Even practise necromancy...

    Young mage, I was once lost as you
    I said, I felt near as dead as Reg Shoe
    I thought no one cared a figgin, you see
    I felt the whole Disc hated me

    That's when Creatures set me back on my feet
    And said, human, take a walk up God Street
    There's a place there called the YMPA
    It's where Belshamharoth's friends stay...

    They always stay at the YMPA
    No need to pray at the YMPA
    They have yellow soap, towels harder than boards
    You can mix with the mis-matched hordes

    Go right away to the YMPA
    You'll shout "au lait!" at the YMPA
    You can practise your spells, you can make your own bed,
    You can live like proper Undead

    You'll find it all at the YMPA!

* * *

Meanwhile, there's been another bit of what you might call romantic drama in our little circle...Lucrezia, of all people! It seems that some of her Little Errands took her to the University, and she met a special someone. A very special someone. It was one of those star-crossed relationships that was Never Meant to Be, but her life will never be the same again since she met the...


    Is she really hanging out with him?
    (Well, there she is. Let's ask her.)
    Lucy, are those his banananas you're wearing?
    Gee, it must be great reading with him!
    Is he picking you up by the scruff today?
    By the way, where'd you meet him?

    I met him at the Mended Drum
    He threw a peanut shell at me
    You want an iconograph? (yes, we see)
    That's when I fell for
    The Reader in the Stacks

    My folks were always putting him down...down, down
    They said, "He's not built to live on the ground..."
    (Whatcha mean when ya say
    That he's not built to live on the ground?)

    They told me, "He's an ape!"
    But I saw his true shape
    That's why I fell for
    The Reader in the Stacks

    One day the Dean said, "Find someone new"
    I had to tell my ape we were through
    (Whatcha mean when ya say
    The Librarian was no good for you?)
    He stood there and asked me, "Ook?"
    I borrowed another book
    Ill never desert you, my Reader in the Stacks

    He bared his teeth and swung for the sky
    His cheek-pads beginning to glow
    As he disappeared in those gloomy stacks
    I begged him not to go
    But whether he heard, I'll never know

    Oh no! Hippo! Look out! Oh shi...!!!

    I felt so helpless, what could I do
    With Dungeon Dimensions Things leaking through?
    In UU they point and stare
    No Librarian? -- well, I don't care!
    I'll never forget him
    The Reader in the Stacks

    The Reader in the Stacks -- now he's gone
    The Reader in the Stacks -- orange brawn
    The Reader in the Stacks -- not a prawn
    The Reader in the Stacks -- now he's gone

* * *

Must fly now. Rehearsal time! And then I'll start packing to go home. Really.

-- Alice

Note for Roundworlders: the original lyrics for YMCA, by the Village
People, can be found at:

...and the original lyrics for Leader of the Pack, by the Shangri-Las, can be found at

August 2008

by Fernando Magnifico

Buongiorno my dearest friends! The Lady Asterisk is indisposed this month, she has been bitten by the butterfly. But do not worry, for it is I, Fernando, and I shall shoulder the burden of being your astrologer this month.

This month, Fernando will use the horoscopes to answer some of the many questions sent to him by his readers. But first, Fernando is very exciting to announce that he can surf the clacks, for he has the C-mail address now and will be happy to receive letters and questions from his fans who are too far away to visit Fernando personally. Fernando promises to reply to everybody, no matter how much time it takes, for Fernando is a willing martyr to his devoted public. You can c-mail Fernando on Magnifico@Astrochelonian.AM now!

Fernando also knows that he is very popular across many dimensions, and he is owed a favour or three by some of the student wizards at the High Energy Magic Department. For this reason, Fernando has arranged for Hex to forward the Roundworld e-mails to him. For Fernando's readers in Roundworld, you can send the messages to <magnifico at pearwood dot info> and, if the interdimensional portals stay open long enough, Fernando will be happy to reply. But please, do not send Fernando any offers to make his manly parts any bigger, for Fernando is magnificent just as he is now. Ciao bella!

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

Fernando's first letter is signed "Willikins".

    "Dear Mr Magnifico,

    "I enjoy reading your monthly horoscopes and wanted to thank you. I also wish to take this opportunity to ask you about the predictions of the stars for this month. I am a 'Hogger', as they say. What do the stars hold for me?"

Fernando is very excited by this letter, for Fernando loves a challenge. And what a challenge! The letter says nothing about the writer, which makes casting the horoscopes molto difficile for Fernando. But never fear, for Fernando is very good at what he does, and he will rise to the occasion no matter whether Willikins is perhaps the fashionable gentleman of fine distinction, or one of the very exciting young avant-garde (if you excuse my Quirmian, grazie) ladies of the art district who use only the one name and maybe enjoys painting the fig leafs. The letter says little, but Fernando's imagination is very wild. So Fernando has consulted with the stars, and the stars make Fernando's imagination even more wild. The stars say that Willikins will be in contact with fine wines and good food, and that he or she will often wield a sharp blade. The stars even suggest that there will be dragons. Fernando is intrigued.

The Half-Eaten Sandwich 21 Apr - 21 May

This letter is from the notable dwarf grag, Bashfull Bashfullsson, who writes:

    "To Mr Fernando Magnifico,

    "As we approach the second decade of the Century of the Anchovy according to the Ankh-Morpork calendar, it seems to me that there is another way to be endarkened than only to burrow deep underground. It may always be dark below ground, but it is dark half the time above ground too. Tak wrote the stars to shine in the dark. And so it seems to me that it is time for dwarfs to learn what the stars have to say to us. Mr Magnifico, what do the stars say?"

Fernando salutes the wisdom of grag Bashfullsson, for Fernando knows that the stars speak to all peoples on the Disc, no matter their species and no matter whether the peoples are listening or not. The stars have this to say: remember that the truths of history are not always the history we know, and that words are like a double-edged axe. Especially, Fernando is certain, like a very old double-headed axe that has been mended many times but still can cut through... caramba, Fernando does not like to think of such things, for he believes in making the love, not the war.

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

Fernando has received a letter from the Hernian signorina who prefers to remain anonymous. The letter is too molto grande to publish it all, but here is a piccolo extract:

    "Dear Fernando, I hope you don't mind me calling you Fernando, I feel that you have touched me in a way that so few astrologers and spiritual advisors manage to do. Your horoscopes have made such a difference to my life in too many ways for me to list, especially late at night when all is dark and hopeless. Mamma does not understand the blackness that crushes my soul, and Pappa tries, but he is so busy and is rarely home. And my brother is simply beastly to me. Oh Fernando, what shall become of me? When shall the unrelenting pain of my existence cease?"

Cara mia, it is never hopeless while Fernando is here, for he has a lifetime's experience in touching people in ways that others do not. Do not worry, for your letter reminds me of my little sister Dulcetta, except that Fernando was never the beast to her. She ran away to marry a young Lieutenant in the Brindisi Cavalry, it was so romantic and tragic for they had to overcome much opposition, but he is a Captain now and they are happy with the little bambino and many great big cuddly dogs.

Fernando has looked carefully at the stars, and they say that this month you should visit the museums and art galleries and find the romantic artists who will understand you, and if not, you will at least find the paintings of Fernando to ease your pain.

The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul

This seems to be the month for anonymous letters. This one was written on a bananananana skin and left in Fernando's mail box together with a handful of peanuts:

    "Ook ook OOK ook. Ook?"

Fernando has consulted the stars and has a prediction for the writer of this letter: when the UU Librarian reads this, the writer will very quickly learn what happens when student wizards try to play silly pranks on orangutans.

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

Fernando's letter is from the very famous Captain Blouse of Borogravia, who is visiting Ankh-Morpork as liaison to Lord Selachii's Dragoons.

    "Dear Mr Fernando Magnifico,

    "Just a few years ago, who would have thought that I would be writing a 'fan' letter to an 'astrologer', for astrology was an Abomination onto Nuggan? But things have changed, and I have wondered what the stars have 'in store' for my men and I. Borogravia (may the Duchess rule forever) is looking to modernize our army, and I have quite a few ideas myself, one of which is to 'investigate' the possibility of each regiment having an 'in-house' astrologer. As the great Tacticus once wrote, a general should use all sources of information available to him, except of course he wrote it in the 'old Latinium'. I also have a young man named Simon Fish who wants permission to study our records looking for mathematical patterns in the rate of accidents amongst my officers. What do the stars suggest?"

As Fernando has mentioned before, Fernando is not a fighting man and does not approve of the warring, but he knows that there will be no shortage of astrologers who would be happy to cast the horoscopes for the regiments. None of them are as magnificent as Fernando, but Fernando is sure that they will be mostly adequate.

As for your young mathematician, the stars are doubtful that anyone would learn anything of consequence by studying the number of accidents among the bravissimo cavalry officers, and even if they did, credit would surely go to someone else.

The Celestial Parsnip 24 Aug - 23 Sept

This letter is from Mrs Confluence:

    "Dear Mr Magnifico,

    "Your horoscopes have been a great comfort to me since Mr Confluence passed away of chives six months ago. Mr Confluence was a good man and he has left me well provided for in my dotage, and a little left over for frivolities. What should I do? I was thinking of going away on a holiday. What do the stars suggest would be a nice place to visit?"

Fernando is glad to have brought some happiness into the life of a poor widow, and the stars say that a visit to Brindisi cannot go wrong. The food! The drink! The friendly people, apart from Fernando's Aunt Peppita! The sun, the sea, who would not love Brindisi? If you are looking for something a little closer to home, the lace works in Sto Helit are nice at this time of year. The stars also say the riverboats on the Vieux (Masculine) River are relaxing, but they warn against playing any friendly games of Cripple Mister Onion unless you can outstare a gargoyle.

The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct

Assistant Postmaster Stanley Howler writes to Fernando:

    "To Whom It May Concern, c/o Mr Fernando Magnifico,

    "Dear Mr Magnifico I am, born under the Sign of the Small Boring Group of Faint Stars and I am writing to you to find out what, The Stars have in mind for me for this month. Will this be a Good Month to cross-reference my Stamp Collection by number and, size of perforations? Also, one of the Ladies in the POST OFFICE has been bringing me, Small Cakes or Other Treats which she makes herself and sometimes she asks me if I would Like To meet her Parents. When I ask Mister Groat about this he just turns Red and won't, talk About It except to make Dire Warnings that No Good Will Come Of It and when I ask, the Post Master Mr Von Lipwig he winks at me and his Lady Friend with the cigarettes just Laughs. Does this mean that Mary for, this is the Name, of the Lady who brings me Treats wants to see my Stamp Collection?"

Fernando does not need to be an astrologer to answer this question, but Fernando is very thorough and always takes his time to do things right, and so he has cast the horoscope to be sure. The stars say that this is a good month for cross-referencing stamp collections, but that it is an even better month for the romance, and that the young lady is interested in more than just the stamps, although she is perhaps interested in licking.

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

Fernando is a great lover of many things, and one of those things is the opera, so Fernando is very exited to receive a letter from the prima diva Christine from the Ankh-Morpork Opera House:

    "To my dearest Fernando,

    "Your roses last week were just a tiny bit smaller than usual, you naughty boy you!!! I should be offended!!! I was so looking forward to a holiday in Genua, but now I have been offered the lead in "Da crepuscolo fino alla prima luce"!!! What should I do?! I owe it to my many fans to take the role! And my understudy, poor thing, she tries hard and has good hair! How could I inflict her on my fans?! What do the stars say about this?! Should I take the role?!"

Fernando feels sympathy for Signorina Christine, for he too knows what it is like to give of your talents until it hurts. Fernando has not had a holiday for many weeks, for he has a duty to his readers.

Fernando is especially fond of this opera, especially the Wedding Aria: "Quem ha liberato i cani fuori? Abbaio! Abbaio!" Who can fail to be moved to tears by such beauty, nearly as much beauty as the diva herself? For the sake of the opera fans, Fernando is very pleased that the stars say that this is an excellent month for the diva to put her personal feelings aside and take the role.

The Greater and Lesser Spoons, 23 Nov - 21 Dec

Fernando has received this letter from the perfectly respectable troll businessman Chrysoprase:

    "To Mr Magnifico,

    "My associates have brung to my attention dat some of our younger troll brothers have been making der nuisance of demselves by following you down da street draped in red blankets and with black wool on dere heads and gener'ly pouncing about. You just say da word and I'll see to it dat you receive a nice new rock garden. As a gesture of my personal respec', I'd be grateful if you would cast a horoscope for Da Spoons and tell me what da past holds for my business dealings with dem dwarf alchemists in Cabbage Street. Should I trust dem to hold up dere end of our deal?"

Fernando knows very well that many people wish to look like Fernando, with his thick black hair and red velvet jacket, so Fernando is not offended that even trolls sometimes try to imitate him. For as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Fernando is sure they meant no offence.

The stars warn that business deals never last forever, but that they can last long enough if precautions are taken, like guarantees, promissory notes or hostages. I must admit that Fernando is a stranger to the world of finance, and so it is possible that he has misunderstood that last term.

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

This letter is from Mr Nealey Dun, of the Shades.

    "To Mr Fernando the Horroscoper,

    "I am writing to you for my dear Mother, who is heart-broken because of the Cruel and Unfair travesty of what passes for Justice in this City under the cruel rule of the Tyrant Vetinari and his terrier Vimes, for my dear Mother's brother, my Uncle Carcer who what never hurt not even a fly, well maybe a fly but certainly never done what terrible crimes he was stitched up for by the corrupt constabulary of this City and then hanged despite being innocent as what a lamb is but we will never stop fighting to clear his name and get compensation paid but how can you put a price on the life of a man? Well the Assassins Guild do everyday so Vimes and Vetinari should pay and pay lots not that money can bring my Uncle back but it will soothe the aching heart of my dear Mother what do the stars say about this?"

Fernando is deeply moved by your family tragedy, and has studied hard the stars for this month, taking special care to interpret the interesting bloodstains on your letter, and Fernando can give good news and bad news. The bad news is that the stars do not say that you will succeed in your quest for compensation this month, but the good news is that justice will come some day, and that your Uncle, mayherestinpeace, will surely be getting everything he deserves in the afterlife.

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

This letter is from Fernando's personal friend, the renowned Blackribboner artist the Baroness Evangelika Lugubria Arroganta Barbina Solfami von Fledermausen, who runs the eccellente art gallery in Broadway:

    "Dear dahlink Fernando, how I haf missed you! It haf been weeks since you've come around with your fig leaf for a portrait! I hope you hafen't forgotten your Vicki for another artist, I vould be so jealous. I have many young men with figleafs to paint, but you will always be my favourite. But tell me dahlink, what do the stars say this month? Perhaps you could come over and give your Vicki a personal reading, ja?"

Forget you? Never! Fernando is a slave to his art, but Fernando has many arts, and he must work hard on the horoscopes as well as the fig leaf art. For now, Fernando will cast the ... public horoscope. The stars say that this is a good month for the exhibitions, and of course it is always a good month for a portrait of Fernando with fig leaf.

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

Sometimes even the astrologers as magnificent as Fernando make the wrong predictions. This letter from Done It Duncan explains why:

    "Dear Mister Fernando, I am writing to you to make a confession what is heavy on my heart for I have been causing you problems what you might not have even known was happening.

    "I have been casting a 'fluence on you and the stars to make your predictions go all doolally. Do you remember that story in the A-M Times about when you predicted to that lady that Dibbler's Catering Service would be good for her wedding and then everybody got food poisoning from the bad sausages? You said that it was because that star was obscured by Great A'Tuin's flipper, but what you didn't know is that the flipper was in the way because of me. I done that. And when you told that school teacher that he should take his class to see the Ruins at The Tump, and they got caught in a rain of tinned cabbage and half the class were concussed. I done that too. I've turned myself in to the Watch, but they said they can't take any action without a formal complaint from you. Mister Fernando, I am a menace to society, won't you please put me away before I can done it again?"

Fernando wishes to set the record straight. Not everybody got food poisoning, it was only the bridal party and a few of the guests and the family of the bride and the groom's dad and sister and the priest and a passing dog.

Fernando has looked carefully at the stars, and the stars say that Mr Duncan has learned his lesson and will not repeat his mistakes. Fernando is very forgiving, and in good conscience he cannot find it in him to blame Mr Duncan or complain to the Watch.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Clog post 13 with Igors Are Discworld's Best Friends



First Clog: "No aversion to verse..."

So, here I am in A-M still. Of sights I've not yet had my fill; the world beyond my windowsill is beckoning, and seeming to call me with its siren air, from Beggars' Gate to Sator Square with flash and dash and odours rare (the river's high and steaming). Though it's not quite a 'beauty spot', it's wither-proof and ages not - and nowhere else on Disc has got attractions so redeeming as the charm of ancient Ankh and Morpork, teeming...

Whew, that's enough of that. It's contagious, it is, speaking all in verse...even for a Bard, and I do it for a living! But this is somewhat different: you see, lately I've been hanging out with the Lost Tribe of Unreal.

Let me explain. The Lost Tribe of Unreal wear fancy frock coats. They're curious, odd and speak only in rhyme; descended from rats, cats, mice, dogs, pigs and goats, plus vermine and ferrets and one or two stoats, they've risen from rankness to manners sublime in Morpork Below, living outside of Ti-, argh, I'm doing it again. Um, let me rephrase that. The Lost Tribe of Unreal are very unusual people -- yes, definitely people -- who evolved from small animals that once foraged in the UU middens. We all know about high levels of millithaums around the University's Unreal Estate and what that can do to herrydeterryness (remember those stories about the talking dog that used to work for The Times?), and the ancestors of the Lost Tribe must have got a strong dose of something left over from the Mage Wars because it's hard to tell them apart from ordinary humans and werewolves. I first met them at the Floating Party when I overheard people speaking in verse. That sort of thing catches a Bard's ear. We got to talking, well, reciting, and drinking, and in the end I became one of the few humans who's ever been taken to visit their lair -- though when I say lair, I promise you that I've seen stately homes decorated with far less taste and artistry. It seems the Tribe got its humanising education from lurking around and under formal balls at the Patrician's Palace; for whatever reason, music and verse formed their language and fancy dress their tribal costume. Apparently they were living in peace (more civilised than we are!) for untold generations until very recently, when some excavations caused harmonics that breached the whatever-it-is between Morpork Below and A-M. These days, if you happen to be walking down Broad Way and see someone unusual-looking and dressed in pre-Century of the Fruitbat clothing, it could well be a Lost Tribe tourist "up above" for a bit of sightseeing.

Then again, it could be Nobby Nobbs on his way to folk-dancing practice.

Anyway, I've been having a great time with the Tribe, but that's not the only news in the life of Alice. As I mentioned in my last Clog, I now have a resident gig at the Seamstresses' Guild -- and in case you were wondering, no, it's not that sort of gig -- and it's going well. Listeria and I have been rehearsing, as we promised each other so long ago before the pirates and the flying carpets and the wilds of Klatch and the wilds of Tsort and the wilds of Agatea and the alternate universe (has it really been that long?), and we have some good harmonies worked out now. Cert moved into rooms at UU because we were keeping him up all hours with our practice...we haven't broken up as such, but life seems to be taking us down different paths now. Mine has a lot more beer in it...and I've been giving Anaglypta lute lessons and she's coming along well, so our once idle talk of putting a band together is less idle now. I even had the two of them join me for a guest spot the other night! We sang Brindisian Rhapsody and quite brought the house down. I introduced them as the Sisters of Invention and the name looks like it might stick. Now if I can only convince Mr Dibbler (yes, finally met him) that no, we don't want a manager. Very persistent, that man.

* * *

Last night I went to a new cocktail lounge called Wahoonie, I'm Home. It's one of those themed places that, in this case, features "genuine Ankh-Morpork historical decor", which means an enterprising entrepreneur went around collecting bits of architecture unearthed in the Undertaking and piled them together in a realistic imitation of a rubbish tip. Surprisingly, it works. There's something oddly charming about tables made of old statuary and pieces of roofing, a bar made of upside-down ancient horse troughs, benches welded from what were once the shining iron gates of some lord's grand estate...and yes, the loos are old night-soil buckets. Scrubbed, of course, although I imagine that after a few months you won't be able to tell the difference between old poo and new. It was Listeria's house-help Lucrezia, of all people, who found it; that girl has hidden depths. Wahoonie, I'm Home features specialist cocktails, themed as well: they range from the Sword of Tacticus, which features 250-year-old brandy and Quirmian champagne and costs a bloody fortune, to the Rule You Wholesale, which features week-old Bearhugger's brandy dregs and broccoli juice and can knock anyone but an experienced Lancrastian drinker for six. My favourite is the Barbarian at the Gate because it has genuine scumble in it. I noticed that Lucrezia was spiking her cocktails with something green and smoking out of a little phial she brought in her handbag. You won't be surprised to hear I took my own drink with me whenever I had to go to the Ladies...

I've changed my mind about A-M -- I like it here. A lot. I think I'll stay.

Here endeth this post.

* * *

Second Clog: "I've got a little secret..."

A-M calls itself the city that never sleeps, and it's certainly all go here. It's also said that A-M has something for everyone even if that something is, for many citizens and visitors alike, a short sharp knock on the head in a dark alley. One thing it has plenty of is society -- high society, low society, and secret society -- and since coming here I've sampled them all. Secret societies are all the rage these days, even though many of them are what you might call badly kept secrets. They come in all varieties and cater to all tastes, from the aforementioned folk-dancing clubs (in many ways the most secret of all, since being a member of a folk-dance club is the sort of dark secret one wouldn't want the neighbours to know about) to the like of Chains of Love (Tuesdays and Saturdays upstairs at the Pink Pussy Cat Club), the Brotherhood of Wishful Thinkers (alternate Octedays in a hut in the woods near the Tump; would-be barbarian ravagers, most of them henpecked accountants, who hatch plans for Disc-wide reigns of terror), and yes, the sorts of secret societies that tend to cowled black robes and complicated handshakes involving rolled-up trousers and the occasional burnt offering. A Bard can get into places most people can't, and this is how I came to join the Illuminated and Ancient Brethren of Ee -- not to be confused with the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night, who eventually got past their chequered past and re-formed as a reformed society of doers of good works (or the Justified and Ancient Brethren of Ee Bah Gum, whose chapter-house is near my old family home back in Lancre and who practise the ancient and terrible Ramtops martial are of Tor Fu).

Actually, all they wanted was for me to write them a secret drinking song, but I had to join in order to deliver it to them because they practise ancient and terrible dark forbidden magic (funny, isn't it, how many secret societies claim to practise ancient and terrible things, most of which were invented by their founder on a not-ancient rainy Wednesday). So I went through their ancient and terrible initiation rites -- which I can't talk about because they're secret -- and sat through one of their meetings, which was certainly full of ancient figgins and terrible tea, and taught them their song -- which I can't write about here because it's secret. I also got my very own cowled robe (also ancient; I think it used to be a collection of grain sacks), and that was where it got terrible for me, because on the way home the cowl fell down over my eyes and I tripped over my own hem and ended up in the Lady Sybil Free Hospital with multiple fractures.

Hurrah for the Hospital! And hurrah for Igors! I shudder to think what it must have been like in the olde dayes, when something as simple as a fractured arm or leg could likely be a death sentence (especially if you were ministered to by ordinary human doctors). Before Doctor Lawn opened the LSFH the only Igors here were servants of mad scientists and madder scions of the nobility, but now most people can afford to be repaired by expatriate Igors in clean and pleasant surroundings. Doctor Lawn is technically still Chief of Surgery, but he's obviously a man of great sensibleness and vision, so he leaves the complicated work to his Uberwaldean staff. I was in and out faster than, shall we say, half of Mrs Palm's regular customers, and happy to pay for the service because I'm a Woman of Means these days. My fretting hand is now better, faster and stronger than it ever was before. And so I sing the praises of Igors, in the old traditional way:

    Brindisians will die for love
    They delight in fighting duels
    But I prefer a man of 'parts'
    And clean surgical tools...

    A bolt through the neck may be deemed 'kinda mental'
    But Igors are a loon's best friend
    They stick close to hand, loyal, lumpish and gentle
    In your humble schloss
    To help you when your serfs are cross
    Bodies fail; when old and frail
    We could all use a hand, leg or...end?
    But scarred, cut or grue-faced
    This clan's never two-faced
    Igors are Discworld's best friends

    There may come a time when one's liege needs a liver
    Then Igors are a lord's best friend
    Their limps and their humps make the hard-hearted shiver;
    Sure, they don't look nice
    But guts on ice are worth the price
    Please drop by when storms are nigh
    But beware if you're too quick to mend
    It's then that the mass'll
    Set fire to your castle...
    Still - Igors are Discworld's best friends!

* * *

The only thing is...the Igor who patched me up was a young, recent arrival, still homesick for the Old Country and delighted to see another Ramtopper. After I came to, we got to talking. And talking. And talking. He even dropped the lisp when none of the nurses were around. And the thing is...Llamedese Bards may be able to reduce even strangers to tears when they sing mournful songs about their rainy beloved country, but they have nothing on a homesick Igor waxing lyrical for the thunderstorms of his ancestral mountains and traditional cruel crazed Barons and undead Mathterth. It's had a huge effect on me. It's been over a week now, and all is well, but...but...

Lost Wages calls to me. I think I'll go home.

-- Alice

Note for Roundworlders: the original lyrics for Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend can be found at