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!