Monday, June 30, 2008

June 2008

by Fernando Magnifico

Hallo and buongiorno my great friends, for it is I, Fernando! The Lady Asterisk is unable to write the horoscopes this month, for she has caught a walrus. But do not fear, for Fernando is here to take on the mission of being your astrologer for today.

This month, the stars have much to say about missions and Causes. Fernando understands all about having a cause that gives you great passion, for Fernando is a very passionate man. When Fernando was a small boy in the short pants, he was passionate about the pressing of lizards. Sometimes he would spend hours in the long grass, looking for a Bearded Gecko or the Headless Iguanas, until Aunt Maria grabbed Fernando by the ear and yelled for him to pay attention. Fernando has now put these childish things behind him, but he is still molto passionate, and he still believes very much in the pressing, only not of lizards.

So this month, let Fernando and the stars guide you to the Causes you should follow. Ciao bella!

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

The stars this month say that the Cause to follow for Hoggers is the The Ronald Rust Society For The Introduction Of Slavery For People Without Knighthoods. Fernando, who does not have a knighthood, is very happy to see that the Society is finding it muy difficulto to attract members in Ankh-Morpork, especially after the Patrician sent his special clerks to take notes at a couple of meetings. But the stars have spoken, and Fernando must pass on their message, for that is Fernando's passion. One of his passions. He has many.

The Half-Eaten Sandwich 21 Apr - 21 May

Munchers, your Cause this month is to help the poor people of Klatch get access to the best of Ankh-Morpork medicine. Doctor Archibald Leech tells that the poor Klatchians have no tools for blood-letting, a shortage of goose-grease, and their doctors treat the illnesses with the mould from bread instead of balancing the humours. Fernando feels sympathy for them, and for Munchers who do too, this is your Cause.

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

For the Hernians, your Cause is the preservation of wildlife. Wildlife is important, and there are many ways that you can help preserve the wild animals. You can learn how to pickle, smoke and salt, and how to make jerky. There is also taxidermy, and you may even go to Djelibeybi to learn the ancient art of mummification. Hernians of a magical bent may learn spells to preserve animals by turning them into stone. Fernando is a passionate believer in the preservation of wild life, and also in the preservation of wildlife, so you do well to take this advice.

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

Staffies will find that the Cause that suits them best this month is the Campaign To Ban Detritus. Fernando has never had need to assist the Watch with their enquiries, but Fernando's cousin Tomas, who has a passion for looking into the ladies' bedrooms, has often been dragged by the ankles back to the Watch house by Detritus. Fernando has asked Signora Evelina Synonymous, the Spokesperson for the Campaign, to comment:

    "It is high time the Patrician listens to the will of the people and does something about the menace of Commander Vimes' troll on the streets of Ankh-Morpork. Good law-abiding people fear being killed in their beds if this Detritus creature accidentally shoots his crossbow at the wrong house. Does there have to be a tragedy before Detritus is banned from the streets?"

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

Bilians, your Cause for this month is the Blessed Brutha Save the Tortoise Fund. You don't need to be an Omnian to help save the tortoise from the depredations of the cruel eagles. The Tortoise Fund is always looking for volunteers to rescue the poor little tortoises which have been turned upside down, and to hunt the eagles. If going out into the wilderness is too dangerous for you, right here in Ankh-Morpork there is much work to be done to ban the cruel sports of tortoise-baiting and tortoise fighting, although Fernando understands that going out into the desert without food or water is safer than going into the Shades.

The Celestial Parsnip 24 Aug - 23 Sept

Fernando found confusing nodes in the stars for Snippies this month, so he has spoken to Mr Quentin Kindle, manager of the St Agatha bank, about the Cause. Mr Kindle kindly said,

    "Thank you Mr Magnifico, and I must say you are looking more magnificent than ever today with your blue velvet trousers. My colleagues and I at the St Agatha Upon Walll bank, to give it our full name, that's Walll with three L's, thank you, believe that the time is ripe for Ankh-Morpork to reject the Patrician's experiment with the golem standard for monetary policy and return to the oldest and most trustworthy basis for money, the cockleshell standard. Our bank has invested thousands of dollars buying up shoreland all around Ankh-Morpork, and have been stockpiling cockleshells for the inevitable time when the golems stop working and the gold runs out, something we're sure will happen very soon now."

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

Fernando knows that Boring'uns are far too boring to have Causes, and the stars agree: they are almost completely silent this month. Almost silent, but not quite, for the most tiny, feeble star in the constellation alone gives Fernando a single word to pass on to Boring'uns: "cabbage". Whisper it quietly, caras mias.

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

Andies are known for their double-nature and grande contrasting personalities, and this month the stars give Andies a Cause that they can get into in two ways. For your Cause is alcoholic beverages. Whether you are against them, like MADAM, Mothers Against Drink And Merriment, or for them, like the Fancies, who are named from their motto, "a leetle bit of what you fancy does you good", this month you have a Cause you can really get into.

The Spoons, a.k.a. the Greater and Lesser Spoons, 23 Nov - 21 Dec
(formerly the Great T'Phon's Foot)

Fernando cares greatly for the bambinos and the small childrens, and who does not? But sometimes the childrens are their own worse enemy, when they are running wild and not listening to their Mammas and Pappas, like Fernando's nephew Carlito who is always making the mischief in his own way. For Spooners this month, your Cause is to help protect the childrens, and Fernando knows of no better way to save the childrens from themselves than by supporting the King Lorenzo the Kind Memorial Home For Naughty Boys and Girls.

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

Fernando knows that every creature has its part to play in the great web of life; for is it not true that not a sparrow can fall without the Gods betting on whether or not it will hit somebody? And who are we to interfere with the games of the Gods by letting an entire species to become extinct? The Gods would not like this, and you would not like the Gods when they are angry, you might end of sleeping with the whelks. For Hokians, your Cause this month is to save the furry rug slug from extinction. This rare and beautiful creature, part snake, part mammal and known for dropping its legs off at the first sign of danger, is very dear to Fernando's heart. Furry rug slugs deserve to be saved, even if their pelts do make lovely hats. And if they cannot be saved, at the very least Fernando suggests that you get a Hernian friend to preserve one.

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

Gazundians, this month the Cause your stars have chosen for you is the famous Campaign to Clean Up Gnolls. Better than any words Fernando could tell you about this are the words of the fearsome signora Contessa von Schutzenfutz, who says,

    "It is a disgrace that the Patrician allows these smelly dirty gnolls into the city without so much as a bath. And what do they do with all that garbage they collect, I ask you, hmmm? At the very least, they should be washed and their hair combed. And they're hatless, I say, hatless. They don't wear hats! You can't tell me that's not wrong."

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

Fernando knows very much that without respect, you have nothing. Fernando remembers very well that his Aunt Peppita was being disrespected by her paesano Bruno, and she put the evil eye on him until he changed his disrespectful ways, and the very next day he got drunk on Uncle Rafael's grappa and fell down in the pig sty and the sow sat on him. Again. So respect, it is important, except for the stinking cheese-eating Quirmians and their cheating footsballers, and Fernando feels sympathy for the Ankh-Morpork conjurers when they are given no respect by the wizards. Umbragians, this is your Cause: to work for the wizardry reform and equal consideration for conjurers. But do it with respect, for those stregazza wizards can turn you into a frog.

Clog post 12 with Ankh-Life and Morpork Holiday



First Clog: "Nine out of ten ain't bad..."

Well...actually, it is.

I've been here for weeks and have hardly seen any of Ankh-Morpork's famous attractions and better-known local colour. And it's not for want of trying. Now that tourism has become popular, or at least has become, there's an old traditional saying about how whatever place or person or local attraction you've come to see will be unseeable nine times out of ten. And in my case, I keep getting all nine times! Here is a list of some of my nine-timeses -- things not seen and Unseen:

  • Tower of Art; closed for yearly exorcism and raven discipline

  • Dwarf Bread Museum; closed for seasonal battle bun maintenance

  • CMOT Dibbler; out of town "on business"

  • The Golem Trust; closed to the public due to financial issues -- the issues being that Golems are now finance

  • Pork Futures Warehouse; temporarily closed due to temporal instability

  • UU Unreal Estate; closed because, apparently, no one can find it at the moment!

  • The Dysk; closed for renovations

  • Biers; closed for de-renovations

  • Mrs Cake's boarding house; no vacancies, no inspections, no reason given

  • Sunshine Sanctuary for Lost Dragons; closed to visitors when I got there because they were de-coking the pens, but as I was leaving I got a glimpse of a tall, auburn-haired lady who I'm sure was Lady Ramkin herself. I have to say she's much better-looking than people describe her as being. Also, she had a little boy with her, and he was wearing the cutest miniature set of dragon-handling armour!

  • Patrician's Palace; there's supposed to be a twice-weekly tour of parts of the Palace including the Oblong Office, but all I could find was a bored, surly guard who didn't know anything about Palace tours, and a big sign that read NO ICONOGRAPHS. FOR SECURITY REASONS. BY ORDER OF THE PATRICIAN. I was told not to ask about it, "because a spell in the dungeons may offend."

Some of what I have seen, though, includes:

  • Goodmountain's Wee-Print; this is the print works that does The Times, and it's absolutely huge! They gave me a good rate on promotional iconographs, too.

  • The Post Office; gorgeous! It's been restored to its legendary splendour, all gleaming and glowing and crystal-chandeliered. It's also the main Clacks depot now. I had to go there to post some messages on a promise I made to Twoflower, and I also bought some Lancre commemorative stamps that smell enough like real scumble to make me homesick (couldn't really be scumble, of course, or the glue would have dissolved), but I ended up spending hours and hours just watching the Dance of the Queues and the glow of all that lovely polished wood, and marvelling at the way all the hustle-bustle of A-M can't be heard even in such a busy place. Excellent.

  • The Tump; very big, with lots of old ruins. Gives a good feel of how old A-M really is, more than any other place here. Any other place on the surface, at least...

  • Woo Hon Ling's Exotica and Martial Arts; Listeria sent me. No, really. It was...educational. Good leatherwear, too.

  • The Lady Sybil Free Hospital; also on behalf of Listeria. It's probably got the largest Igor population outside of Uberwald. It's also probably the cleanest building in A-M. Very impressive.

  • Various bridges, including the Disc-famous Brass Bridge, which no-one's stolen yet, and the Misbegot Bridge, which has so many houses on it that it's a wonder it doesn't collapse into the Ankh. Not that it would sink!

  • Dragon's Landing; this is the new commercial precinct. It's still being developed, or redeveloped, but already many shops and stalls are open for business. They say Dragon's Landing will overtake Sator Square as the main shopping district, but it's further out from city centre and even though the area isn't fully open, the cart jams were dreadful! We got out and walked. Otherwise we might still be there.

  • The Seamstresses' Guild; well, of course! And it's everything I imagined it would be. Mrs Palm wasn't there, though, because she's on holiday in Sto Lat, but I did get a gig.

  • The Mended Drum; for the beer. Also for the beer. See below.

I haven't seen hide nor hair of His Grace Sir Samuel Vimes or any of the more famous Watchmen, so I must be living on the right side of the Law. But near Pseudopolis Yard I did see a small man being, um, escorted by two large Watchmen, all the while shouting and whimpering about how he'd stolen the Patrician's Device and sold a dozen missing Golems and tipped noxious chemicals in the Ankh (how could they tell?), so I imagine that must have been Done It Duncan. Oh, and I think I saw Gimlet one night when I went to Yo Rat! for a takeaway, and I've definitely seen a few little yellow men in orange robes, sweeping the streets here and there in unlikely places. Or maybe it's the same little yellow man. I guess one takes one's celebrities where one can find them...

We've been staying at Listeria's, as she promised we could. She has a charming little house in Silver Street, not far from the Seamstresses' Guildhouse, where she lives with her niece Anaglypta and the "trustworthy young lady" whose name is Lucrezia and who hardly says a word but is always there at my elbow when I think I need something; she's quite normal-looking, even pretty in a quiet way, but I swear she has some Igor in her herrydeterryry. They're all lovely people, but I'm still sticking to my policy of not taking tea or meals there, so I've sampled a fair amount of the local cuisine including Harga's famous ribs and fake Klatchian curry from the Klatchian takeaway and less fake Klatchian curry from the Curry Gardens. I've even had smoked rat au jus, and a knuckle sandwich! And Slumpie and Distressed Pudding and other A-M dishes, which taste somewhat different from the ones we had at Twoflower's Barbarian Luck Restaurant..."different" being "awful, by comparison", but at least it's authentic and not poisonous, for a certain value of poisonous.

One of the reasons A-M is even more disrupted than usual is what's known here as The Undertaking, which is some sort of municipal modernising project. Everywhere I go, things are being dug up or torn down or scaffolded or fenced off or signposted; there are roving teams of student wizards, checking for dangerous uncovered pockets of raw magic. And roving teams of archaeologists, checking for interesting middens (how can they tell?). And roving teams of Beggars, tramps and Thieves, checking the gawping distracted crowds for money and other valuables. Not to mention the roving teams of easily-spotted plainclothes Watchmen and roving teams of Watchmen in uniform and roving teams of Times reporters taking notes and speaking to Beings in the Street. The locals love it all, because it gives them something new and exciting to complain about. I want to come back here in, say, ten years or so; I suspect that many things will have changed beyond recognition, to judge from all the modernisation going on now!

Ankh -- the name itself -- amuses me. Funny, isn't it, how the same name applies to the foulest river in creation and also to the poshest part of A-M. It's inspired me to write a song. I call it:


    Octarine is a shade Unseen by the common mundanes
    In what is known as
    And Beggars' Smells can be avoided
    If you run like Hells straight through what is known as
    Join no dodgy group:
    You'll get incriminated by the Watch's gargoyles
    Won't have a bit of it -- Ankh-life
    Hey, that's Lord Rust marching!
    You should come down for some street life, mate
    Get inn-sewer-ants!

    I roll marks where I want, except in Lobsneaks
    Where I get rudely arrested by the Watchmen
    I put my brass knucks on, have a cup of tea
    And I think about robbing yer house (Ankh-life)
    I mark my 'pigeons'
    I sometimes hand out vouchers, too
    It gives me a sense of Guild-sanctioned wellbeing (Ankh-life)
    Then I pick pockets for the rest of the day
    Safe in the knowledge there will always be
    A knock on the heads for noted victims...


    Ankh-life (Ankh-life)
    Ankh-life (Ankh-life)

    It's got nothing to do with Igor lurch-step chic, you know
    And it's not about Dwarf cellars that go
    Down and down and down and...
    Ankh-life (Ankh-life)


I sang this in the Mended Drum. And then there was beer. Lots of

And then there was more beer.

Here endeth this post.

* * *

Second Clog: "Over, under, sideways, and especially, down..."

All in all, A-M has been a bit of a disappointment so far. But there are compensations, see, because I was taken to Morpork Below.

Morpork Below is never where you expect it to be; in fact, it can't be found at all unless it wants you to find it. Some people say it was created during excavations for the Undertaking; some say it was awakened when accidentally uncovered; some say it's been there all the time, and most people say it's not actually there at all. I suspect all of them are right. You see, not everyone can find Morpork Below; you have to be a little bit, well, different to see and be seen by the other Morpork.

Luckily, I was. Am. It's said that Bards and others of artistic persuasions live with one foot in the Netherworld and one foot on Cori Celesti (this is, naturally, one of those mettyfors, because I shudder to think how uncomfortable I'd be if it were literal!), and that's as may be; all I know is that, weaving my way home from the Drum one night, I came across a scruffy injured dwarf in an alleyway and bought him a hot rat and then took him home to fix up his wounds. He told me that his name was Portal and that he had to "go back down, or all is lost." Of course he had to go back down, I said, because dwarfs are underground dwellers, and what kind of name for a dwarf was Portal anyhow? But he'd asked for help and I was intrigued because his armour looked like no dwarf armour I'd ever seen, and even though he said I had to help him stop a war I followed him back to the edge of the Shades. Where he promptly disappeared. Leaving me alone in the Shades...but then I suddenly saw a entranceway that hadn't been there a minute ago, all glowing with a sort of eldritch light (oblong, too, as it happens), so I abandoned caution to the winds -- which are very smelly winds in this part of town -- and went in. And found a whole other world!

There's this amazing palace, much larger than the Patrician's one, that goes on and on and is all huge old columns and arches and ceilings almost too high to see. And an aqueduct with actual water in it! -- that's how I knew we weren't in any A-M of the here and now. Everything looks old in an oddly new way, and everywhere there's that weird light, like vurm-light only brighter. And the Floating Party, which certainly was a party and then some, and sometimes floated (I know I did). I saw species that have supposedly been extinct for centuries, and fashions that definitely have been. It all felt like a dream, even the scary parts, and the war which I did apparently help stop though I've no idea how or why. I spent weeks down there but when I returned to Morpork Above it was on the same morning as when I left. I'd say it was a dream, only there's an amulet that Portal gave me. And a toga. How odd.

Meanwhile, life in the real - or unreal - Morpork Yes. Colourful. I wrote a song about that, too:


    I was walking down The Pitts
    Concentrating on ducking strife
    I heard a harsh voice beside of me
    And I did fear for my very life
    I saw Assassins -- that's bad! --
    And Chrysoprase's splatters
    They looked me up and down a bit
    Like meat on a platter...
    I said,

    I don't like Morpork, oh no
    I love it
    I don't like Morpork, no no
    I love it

    Don't you walk through the Shades
    Unless you show some respect
    Pray for luck in the Shades
    And you might make it out yet

    Well, they looked down at my bag of change
    And spat a stream of invective
    I said, 'You've got to be joking, lads
    'Because I'm wearing my Protective!'
    They said, 'We'll take it and break it
    'See, chopping off your hands will make you
    'Termin'ly clumsy
    'And teach you tourists not to mock your hosts --
    'Your figgins are toast...'
    And I said,

    I don't like Slumpie, no no
    I love it
    I don't like Troll beer, oh no
    I love it

    Don't you tempt our blades
    Don't you tango with Death
    Don't you scoff at the Shades
    'Cause you ain't made it out yet

    I hurried back to my hostel room
    Het-up under the collar
    I heard a wee voice beside me say
    'Would you like something smaller?
    'Although I'm knee-high, don't be shy
    'My Dwarf Bread is the best
    'So don't you fight it, just bite it
    'And swallow on a Morpork holiday...'
    (Morpork holiday, Morpork holiday, Morpork holiday)
    And you'll say,

    Don't like Assassins, oh no
    I love 'em
    Don't like the Brecc'ia, oh no
    I love it, oh yeah

    Don't you walk through the Shades
    Unless you show some respect
    Say, 'What duck?' in the Shades
    And you might make it out yet...

    I don't like Beggars
    I love 'em (Morpork holiday)
    I don't like Harga's
    I love it (Morpork holiday)
    Don't like Patrician
    I love him (Morpork holiday)
    Don't like Ankh-Morpork
    I love her!

* * *

I sang that in the Drum. And then there was beer.

* * *

Cert is spending more and more time at the University. We hardly see each other these days.

* * *

Come to think of it, I don't mind. I'm having a great time.

* * *

I've been offered a permanent, resident Bard-ing gig at the Seamstresses' Guild. Hmm.

* * *

That's all I have time for now. There's a party on, down in the Shades, and I've been invited. It might even be...floating.

-- Alice

Note for Roundworlders: the original lyrics for Dreadlock Holiday can be found at:

...and the original lyrics for Parklife can be found at:

It's worth noting that, as is often the case on the anternet, there are inconsistencies in, um, translation. One person's mondegreen is everyone else's copy-paste, it seems...also, a special note for those unfamiliar with the original Blur song -- in the first line, the word 'habitual' was pronounced as 'bit-chal', so Alice's lyric fits the length of that pronunciation...