Monday, June 30, 2008

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...

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