Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore
Book 1 – The Boroughs
ASBOs of Desire
Setting: Northampton, Friday May 25, 2006 (date firmly established on P72p2).
- Marla Roberta Stiles: unemployed, drug user, 19 years old, prostitute, POV
- Old Devil, Ash Moses: apparition
- Wayne and Linda Roberts: Marla’s neighbors
- Fat Kenny: Marla’s dealer and customer
- Pretty white girl with red hair with baby on a sling
- Nice black guy on a bike (= ›Black Charlie‹), see chapter Blind, but Now I See
- Some fifteen year old skateboarders
- Couple in their forties (possible married)
- Tall bloke on street corner (= Benedict Perrit), see chapter Atlantis
- Kids at car park
- Really pretty little girl (elf, fairy) with car park kids
- Mentioned: Gemma Clark (from Marla’s clique), Keith (from Marla’s clique), Samantha (Marla’s friend), two blokes who raped and beat Samantha, Rose (Marla’s mother), woman in her forties having sex with tramp (spectres in Marla’s room) Roman Thompson (hands out flyers for Alma’s exhibition), Alma Warren, Carlton (boyfriend of Rose when Marla was 15), Miss Pierce (Marla’s form teacher), Sharon Mawsley (in same class as Marla), thirteen year old girl prostitute (well liked by Somalis at Regent Square and Sheep Street), old spastic bloke (who was assaulted in his flat by three blokes from pub), Sue Bennett, Sue Parker and Kerry/Kelly (other street girls who where raped), Elsie Boxer (old prostitute from Marla’s building).
Page 67 – titled ASBOs of Desire
- An ASBO is an “Anti-social behaviour order”, a type of legal restriction similar to an American “restraining order” that existed in Britain between 1998 and 2014. See P75p1 below.
- The title is a riff on the phrase “arrows of desire”, which appears in the third stanza of William Blake’s poem “Jerusalem“:
Bring me my Bow of burning gold:Bring me my arrows of desire:Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!Bring me my Chariot of fire!
- Diana is Diana, Princess of Wales, formerly Diana Frances Spenser. She married Prince Charles in 1981 and was an extremely popular figure. Diana died in a car crash in 1997. Per Wikipedia: “Her death caused an unprecedented outpouring of public grief in the United Kingdom and worldwide, and her funeral was watched by an estimated 2.5 billion people.”
- “the royal family had killed Diana” – There are many conspiracy theories about Diana’s death.
- “that letter what she wrote” – Per Wikipedia:
In 2003, Diana’s butler Paul Burrell published a note that he claimed had been written by Diana, in which there were allegations that her former husband was “planning ‘an accident’ in [Diana’s] car, brake failure and serious head injury” so that he could marry again.
- “Diana was expecting it, what happened to her.” – The first bit of foreshadowing that Marla will be expecting what happens to her later in the book.
- “That bit what you always see […] on the hotel cameras” – Indeed, hotel security camera footage was widely replayed in the aftermath.
- “Dodie” is Marla’s misspelling of Dodi Fayed, Diana’s romantic partner at the time of her death. He also died in the crash.
- The “Ritz” is the Hôtel Ritz Paris, owned by Dodi Fayed’s father.
- “She’d been, what, ten?” – The crash happening in 1997, this means that Marla was born in 1987, and at the present of Jerusalem in 2006, she is 19 years old.
- “Maidencastle” – A street in the northeast of Northampton (about 4 miles from the Boroughs).
- “that was 1981” – Charles and Di were indeed married in 1981.
- “Edward and Sophie” – Prince Edward married Sophie in 1999, when Marla would have been 12.
- “September the Eleventh” – A major terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. This event was also the source of many conspiracy theories.
- “the Moon landing” – Refers to the first manned landing on the moon, by Apollo 11, on July 20, 1969. Again, the source of many conspiracy theories.
- “Kennedy” – Refers to John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. His assassination on November 22, 1963 led to a HOST of conspiracy theories.
- “CSI” – Marla intends to say CGI (Computer-Generated Images), but conflates it with CSI (Crime Scene Investigation), a popular television franchise.
- “she’d been up Sheep Street” – As will soon be established, Marla lives in the Bath Street apartments. Sheep Street is about a third of a mile away, to the northeast.
- “might have left some” – “some” what is notably not identified here. Marla is reluctant to name, or even think much about, her addiction. Throughout the chapter, she only refers to “some” or “it”.
- “her Jack the Ripper books” – Jack the Ripper is the name given to a London serial killer in 1888. Never identified, conspiracy theories are all that we have. Notably, Alan Moore wrote a major work about Jack the Ripper, From Hell. Marla’s interest in Jack obviously connects with her love of conspiracy theories, but also with the risk of physical harm that she experiences from her profession (see P83p4, below).
- “a fag-pack” – Britishism for a pack of cigarettes.
paragraph 1 (continued)
- No notes.
- “Snickers” – A brand of chocolate bar with caramel and peanuts.
- “Pot Noodle” – A brand of cheap instant noodles made in the UK.
- “so as she could say she’d had a healthy meal” – Oh honey, you think that is healthy? Wikipedia does say that “Around 2006, Pot Noodle’s recipe was changed to make the product healthier”, but “healthier” from what it had been still leaves a lot to be desired.
- “go right into one” – “One” seems to be a panic attack.
- “worms and gristle in hot dishwater” – A description of instant noodles which, if not literally accurate, is certainly evocative.
- “staring […] up in the corner” – A subtle suggestion that Marla may be starting to go “cornery”.
- “the Beat” – Unclear specifically what this refers to; the term does not recur in Jerusalem. It may be a local name for the area discussed at Pxxx, below.
- “further up the Andrew’s Road in Semilong” – In this context, Semilong is a ward (neighborhood) of Northampton immediately north of the Boroughs. St. Andrew’s Road forms the western border of both neighborhoods.
- “put her hair in rows” – Probably cornrows, a complex form of close braiding associated with black culture. This is the first textual hint that Marla is of (partial) black descent.
- “done a pipe” – Suggesting that the drug in question is crack cocaine.
- “give each other half-and-half” – In prostitute slang, “half-and-half usually refers to selling a client both oral and vaginal sex. In this context, it appears to mean that each girl will take a turn giving oral sex to the other.
- “les” – Lesbian. Marla understands that performing homosexual acts in specific contexts does not define one’s sexual orientation.
- “Jamaican flag rug” – A cultural connection to Marla’s father, see P72p4 below.
- “both bars on of the fire” – Presumably referring to heating elements in an electric fireplace.
- “biro” – Britishism for ballpoint pen.
- “Franz Ferdinand” – A Scottish musical group formed in 2002. Their name is presumably a reference to the archduke whose assassination kicked off World War I.
- “Walk Away” was a Franz Ferdinand single released on 5 December, 2005.
- “Halle Berry” – An American actress who was 40 years old at the time of this chapter. She had starred in many critically-acclaimed and blockbuster movies, and was the first woman of color to have won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her being a role model for Marla is another clue as to Marla’s black heritage.
- “coloured sugar-paper” – Also known as construction paper. Thick, colorful paper often used for children’s craft projects.
- “Pritt Stick” – A brand of glue stick, also associated with children’s craft projects. Per Wikipedia, “Originally called “Pretty Sticky”, this was later condensed to Pritt Stick after the inventor’s young child mispronounced its name.”
- Birmingham is a city about 50 miles west of Northampton.
- “over Spencer Bridge to do it, round the back of Vicky Park” – See map.
- “the rape gang in the BMW” – This appears to be largely based on a real event from the summer of 2005, here over a period of nine days, three women were raped, and two more narrowly escaped. These assaults were committed by men in a BMW and a Fiat Punto. [Police later claimed that the matter had been a “hoax”, but I emphatically do not endorse that view.]
- “took women off from Doddridge Street and Horsemarket” – See map below. On August 1:
at 12.45am a 15-year-old girl was dragged into a white or silver Fiat Punto by two men on Doddridge Street, but escaped.
At 1.30am the same night an 18-year-old was approached on Horsemarket by a man in a BMW with a Fiat Punto parked behind it.
While she was distracted, a man got out of the Punto, came up behind her and pushed her into the BMW. She was driven a short distance, the man from the Punto got out, and […] she was raped.
paragraph 1 (continued)
- “and that girl what got dragged from near the poolroom down in Horseshoe Street then took up Marefair round the green behind St. Peter’s Church.” – The newspaper reports do not mention a poolroom, but do mention a Domino’s Pizza. In 2021, there is a Domino’s Pizza near Horseshoe Street (aka Horse Market, aka A508) and St. Peter’s Church. While there is no obvious nearby poolroom in 2021, a further reference to a “pool hall” on Horseshoe Street (P79p2 below) strongly suggests that it was about one block north of the Domino’s.
between 12.30am and 1am on Sunday July 31, […] an 18-year-old was approached by a man in his 30s outside Domino’s Pizza on Horseshoe Street, part of the dual carriageway. He put his arms around her waist and neck and marched her to Marefair, where he raped her in a secluded area next to a church.
- “Five rapes in ten days” – The real-world event (see link above) seems to have been 5 rape attempts (2 women escaping) over an 8-day period.
- “That had been a good six months before what happened to Samantha.” The rape gang was in July/August 2005, so Samantha would have been assaulted some time in January or February 2006, not long after Marla’s “last good time” with her.
- “she could picture other people too, in the same room as she was but perhaps from long ago like 1950 or whenever.” – See the chapter Rough Sleepers for another view of this.
- “trilby” – A narrow-brimmed type of hat.
- “that bloke Thompson” – Roman Thompson, the viewpoint character of the chapter Burning Gold.
paragraph 1 (continued)
- “to stop the high-ups selling off the council houses” – Council houses are low-rent housing for the poor. In March 2006, Alan Moore was working with an organization called Defend Council Housing, organized by (among others) Norman Adams, the model for Roman Thompson.
- “some painting exhibition” – The one by Alma Warren, seen in the final chapter, Chain of Office.
- “five minutes’ walk away” – It is, indeed, very close, almost literally across the street. See map.
- “who’d had the ASBO put on her” – See P75p1 below.
- “getting out of it” – That is, getting high, having successfully worked and bought more drugs.
- “or else she wouldn’t be all right” – Foreshadowing…
- “[Art is] all a fucking con” – Commenter Archie Keller observes:
Her dismissal of art-having-meaning ironically contrasts later on that same page she very cleverly uses relevant Bob Marley song lyrics to poetically dismiss any blame she may feel towards her father: “He’d been long gone and Marla didn’t blame him, not one fucking bit. No fucking woman, no cry” (p71). Not to mention her sudden desire to display her Princess Di piece by the end of the chapter.
- “by Grafton Street and Sheep Street” – See map at right. Grafton Street is near the north edge, labeled A428; Sheep Street runs down the east edge.
- “she definitely wasn’t going out down Scarletwell tonight” – More foreshadowing… Scarletwell Street is visible on the nearby map on the western part of the southern edge. The Bath Street Apartments (where Marla lives) are just off the map to the south.
- “slag” – British insult, approximately equivalent to the American “slut”.
- “Ali G” is a fictional character created by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. Per Wikipedia, Ali G ” imitates inner-city urban British hip hop culture and British Jamaican culture […] speaking in rude boy-style Multicultural London English from Jamaican Patois.” Marla seems to be accusing Rose of being inauthentic.
- “Bob Marley” – An extremely influential Jamaican singer, songwriter, and musician. His first international hit was the 1975 live version of “No Woman, No Cry“, which Marla references in this paragraph. Marla seems to have a common misunderstanding of the lyrics; per Wikipedia:
The title and main refrain, “No Woman, No Cry”, means “Woman, don’t cry”. The lyric is sometimes misunderstood outside Jamaica to mean “if there is no woman, there is no reason to cry”.
- “lively up yourself” – A Bob Marley song from 1971.
- “spliffing up” – A “spliff” is a marijuana cigarette, so this basically means “smoking weed”.
- “ganja” is a word for marijuana dating back centuries. In modern usage, it is commonly associated with high quality Jamaican marijuana. Marla seems to be suggesting that her mother’s supply was much lower quality.
- “lickle” – Jamaican slang for “little”.
- “‘erb” – “herb” is slang for marijuana.
- “Cider” is slang for, you guessed it, marijuana.
- “Grafton Street” – See map at P71p3 above.
- “GAN-JAH” – Ganja (see above) with an exaggerated Jamaican accent.
- “monged” – “mong” is offensive British slang for someone with Down’s syndrome. Marla is saying that being high makes her mother stupid.
- “leave YOU with your face in stitches and your ribs all kicked in” – This presumably is what happened to her friend Samantha (see P69p4).
- “form teacher” – In Britain, a “form” can mean a class, a school year.
- “Lings” – A neighborhood in Northampton, about 4 miles NE of the Boroughs. Marla seems to have gone to school there, see P80p6 below.
- “the Devil” – See notes at P74p2 below.
- “about three months back” – So, about early February, 2006.
- “a proper smoke” – That is, crack cocaine.
- “somebody – who was it?” – See P75p4 below.
- “I’ll tell you, hell for me would just be being stuck in Bath Street here forever, and he’d said, Precisely” – this is, obviously, one view on Eternalism.
- “sorting out her mouth, which had looked much worse than it really was” – The implication being that Keith hit Marla in the face. Again, Marla avoids naming or describing most things she finds unpleasant. (With the notable exception of “the Devil”.)
- “Dettol” – A brand of disinfectant. Marla is cleaning a wound.
- “either red, or green, or both” -The colors are a hint as to this devil’s identity.
- The word “sinople” means both green and red. It was used by Neil Gaiman in Sandman: The Kindly Ones.
paragraph 1 (continued)
- No notes.
- “pissing himself” – British colloquialism for “laughing very hard”.
- “taking the piss” – Another UK idiom, here meaning “to mock”. The two piss-related bits of wordplay both appearing while they are in the bathroom is probably an example of this devil’s sense of humor influencing the language used.
- “Why don’t you leave me alone” – While Marla takes this for simple mockery, I suspect Moore has a deeper meaning. Perhaps the Devil is espousing the philosophy that people bring him (or less personified evil influences) into their lives deliberately, and he is merely carrying out their self-destructive wishes.
- “Ash Moses” – In case you hadn’t already figured it out, this devil-figure who wears red and green, and likes word-play and cruelty, is none other than Asmodeus. (He also likes to vary his own name.) He is the narrator of the chapter An Asmodeus Flight.
- “that burning smell she often had when she was in the flat” – Psychic residue of The Destructor.
- “carriage-clock” – A type of portable clock.
- “knocking-off time” – Slang for the end of the work day. Perhaps relevantly, the word “knocking” also appears in many phrases where it means “sex”, such as “knocking-shop” – a brothel.
- “Milton Keynes” – Moore has already connected the town of Milton Keynes with the idea of prostitution; see notes to chapter Work in Progress, P25p1.
- “up Regent Square and Sheep Street” – See map. Regent Square is the intersection at the NE corner.
- “if she didn’t get some money soon she’d, well, she’d stay in.” – That foreshadowing is getting pretty thick on the ground…
- “the gravel paths and shrubs and steps […] the big brick arches near the middle avenue” – Some of these details can be seen in Google Street View.
- “it always got her down” – Again, this is due to The Destructor.
- “One of the girls round there was thirteen” – Yes, Marla is talking about a 13-year-old prostitute.
- “the Somalis” – As mentioned in the notes to Work in Progress, Northampton has a community of a community of Somali war refugees.
- “the poor lucky little fucker” – Lots going on in this phrase. On some level Marla understands that prostitution is damaging her and the other girls, hence “poor” – but “poor” also reflects the poverty that drives most of them into prostitution in the first place. “Lucky” is because Marla envies the amount of business that her competitor is doing. “Little fucker” is a rude colloquialism for “person”, but as a 13-year-old prostitute, the other girl is literally a fucker who is little.
- “spastic” – Possibly referring to Cerebral Palsy or a similar disease. The word gained usage as a general derogatory term during the 1980s and was considered extremely offensive in Britain by the time of this chapter.
paragraph 1 (continued)
- “put out in the community” – As mentioned earlier in Work in Progress, Care of (or in) the Community is “the British policy of deinstitutionalisation, treating and caring for physically and mentally disabled people in their homes rather than in an institution.”
- “gear” is slang for a wide variety of drugs.
- “putting girls out” means acting as pimps for prostitutes. Possibly including Marla herself?
- “Kosovans, Albanians” – Kosovo and Albania are neighboring eastern European countries; most Kosovans are considered to be of Albanian ethnicity. Economic and political strife in the area in the 1990s brought a notable population of refugees into the UK, including Northampton.
- “Kelly?” – Possibly meant to evoke Mary Jane Kelly, final(?) victim of Jack the Ripper.
- “ASBO” – Anti-social behavior order, see notes to chapter title, above.
- “like, three, four months ago” – Approximately January-February 2006.
- “punters” – British slang for customers.
- “about their fucking baby” – Presumably the noise of Marla’s “business” has woken the Roberts’s baby.
- had a go back” – Colloquial for “attacked in return”.
- “the fucking cameras” – Moore’s antipathy for the UK’s mass surveillance cameras is well-documented. An amusing example occurs in a 2005 interview, Moore jokingly suggested that someone in the conservative government had gotten the idea for mass surveillance from Moore’s V for Vendetta. In a 2009 interview, he clarified his original intent in V: “I thought, I know, if I put surveillance cameras on every street corner, that would look really brutal and fascistic, which it did, back from a perspective of 1982.”
- “then that’s it, you can just lock them up.” – As near as I can tell, this is an exaggeration. Per Wikipedia:
breach of an ASBO was a criminal offence to be tried in a criminal court applying the criminal standard of beyond all reasonable doubt. A power of committal to prison was available for breach of a civil injunction but a court was unlikely to exercise that power.
- “baps” – Literally, regional dialect for “bread rolls”; in slang usage, “breasts“.
- First mention by name of Fat Kenny. He will appear in person briefly in chapters Atlantis, Clouds Unfold, and Burning Gold, and plays a major role in the chapter The Jolly Smokers.
- “that night” – See P73p1.
- “the flats up on the Mayorhold at the back of Claremont, Beaumont Court […] the Twin Towers” – While this description is not completely precise, the chapter The Jolly Smokers makes it clear that Kenny lives along Simons Walk, see map, right. The use of the phrase Twin Towers cannot help but evoke 9/11, see P67p2, above.
paragraph 1 (continued)
- “mac” – Britishism for “raincoat”.
- “laying a big cable” – Colloquialism for “shitting”. This is the origin of the dog turd that we have already read Mick seeing on the following day in Work in Progress, P36p2.
- “She felt more sort of positive” – She is leaving the influence of The Destructor.
- “down Horsemarket or in Marefair” – See map.
- “half four” – That is, 4:30.
- “the no-entry at the end of Castle Street” – Not entirely clear what this refers to, but probably the “end of Castle Street” is the southeast corner, where one could easily walk between two buildings to reach Horsemarket.
- “Katherine’s Gardens” – A park area between Horsemarket and College Street, north of St. Katherine’s Street. See map, right, and photo, below. Marla would be looking southeast from near the northwest corner of this map.
- “wrinklies” – Colloquialism for “old people”.
- “that dark-looking church” – Presumably the New Testament Church of God, see map, right, and photo, below. The back of the church is visible in the center, through the foliage in the park. (From Marla’s location, she probably can’t see it through the foliage of late May, but would of course be aware of it.)
- “on the batter” – Slang for “working as a prostitute”. At least one source calls the phrase an “Obsolescent expression from the 1800s”. It is perhaps appropriate, therefore to use it in a sentence talking about older prostitutes.
- “the 1950s and the 1960s, back then during wartime” – Marla doesn’t have a strong grasp on history. While the British Army did participate in the Korean War (1950-1953), it was a small matter compared to the Britain’s devastating experiences during World War II (1939-1945), which is what Marla seems to be thinking of.
- “where College Street met King Street” – See diagram at right, a detail from a map of Northampton historic pubs. 29 is “Criterion (Old Site A.K.A. Sultan & Fountain”; 30 is “Criterion (New Site)”; 50 is “King Street Tavern”; 53 is “Mitre”. I don’t know when these pubs existed, but none of them do today.
- “Old Bill” – British slang for “the police”.
paragraph 1 (continued)
- “Wellingborough Road” – About 1.5 miles northeast of the Boroughs.
- “the girls” – Euphemism here for “prostitutes”.
- “Afghanistan” – Marla is, somewhat confusedly, thinking about the geopolitical situation in 2006, when the post-9/11 “war on terror” was at its height, and terrorism seemed worse than ever. While Marla is frequently mistaken about details, she often has a good grasp of broader strokes; it is generally accepted now that western aggression in the Middle East was making terrorism worse, not better.
- “Fucking result” – “Result!” is a British expression used at a successful outcome, usually on winning a game. Here, Marla is using it ironically, as the outcomes were anything but good.
- “on the game” – Another slang term for prostitution.
- “in the 1960s when it was all whatsit, all Dickensian and that. It must have been like really nice.” – There are multiple levels of mistake/joke going on here. Firstly, Charles Dickens died in 1870, almost a century before the 1960s. Secondly, the word “Dickensian” is very often used to refer to Victorian conditions of poverty and injustice, but here Marla seems to think of it as a positive thing. But of course, while “Dickensian” generally connotes the Victorian period, the poverty and injustice that Dickens decried have hardly vanished, as Marla herself can attest. And, at least in some ways, things do seem to have been better for the poor of Northampton during the 1960s, so her nostalgia is in line with the overall nostalgia of Jerusalem.
- “statue […] woman with bare tits, holding a fish” – See image. According to the British Listed Buldings website:
Sculpture, originally a fountain. 1951 by Frank Dobson, Sculptor. Concrete, height 5’7″. Seated woman with a fish, which originally had water coming out of its mouth. The female nude was a constant theme in the work of Dobson. His treatment of the subject related both the neo-classicism of Maillol and the study of primitive sculpture, particularly that of the East. This is Dobson’s most successful public work and one of his finest late pieces. It was first exhibited at the second Battersea Park Sculpture Exhibition, in 1951, whence it was brought to Northampton. It was placed in this very appropriate garden setting in 1978.
- “Delapre Abbey” is about a mile SE of the Boroughs, south of Beckett’s Park. It is indeed “all posh and old”, while originally a nunnery, it became a private mansion in the reign of Henry VIII, and is now a historic site and venue for special events.
- “they used to call Cow Meadow” – Cow Meadow actually continues to be an alternate name for Beckett’s Field to this day. I’ve not been able to determine when the field was renamed Beckett’s (though presumably no earlier than 1164, when Beckett was in Northampton).
- “Her best bet was downhill […]” – See map. Marla is currently near the top of the map, on Horsemarket. Though the map only marks it as A508, the street south of the intersection with Mare Fair and Gold Street is Horseshoe Street. St. Peter’s Way is barely visible coming off the traffic circle at the south of Horseshoe Street, going SE off the map. The train station is visible at the west of the map, and the ibis is on the north side of Mare Fair.
- “the Barclaycard place” – See notes to Work in Progress P24p1.
- “PVC mac” – Plastic raincoat. PVC can be used to make cheap waterproof coats, but is also frequently associated with fetish-wear.
- “there where the pizza place is” – Possibly “Northampton’s Best Kebab House” if that existed in 2006, as it’s on the corner of Horse Market and Gold Street.
paragraph 1 (continued)
- “zebra crossings” – Striped sections of road indicating pedestrian crosswalks. Per Wikipedia, ” In the UK, the term “zebra crossing” only applies to unsignalled crossings. These have largely been replaced by various types of signalled crossing”. In the Google Street Views taken in 2018, no zebra crossings remain near this intersection.
- “teas” in this sense refer to evening meals (whether or not they include actual tea).
- “blokey” – Per Wiktionary: “Associated with the mainstream male culture, particularly blue-collar.”
- “dead” – In this usage, “very”.
- “GSOH like in the adverts” – One of the acronyms commonly used in personal ads, for “good sense of humor”.
- “N/S” – Personl ads abbreviation for “non-smoker”.
- No notes.
- “All Saints’” – The Parish Church of All Saints is located just past the eastern end of Gold Street. See image, right.
- “Some really pretty white girl with red hair who had this fucking gorgeous baby” – Marla appears to be seeing May Warren and her daughter May, anachronistically. See chapters Modern Times and The Breeze That Plucks Her Apron.
paragraph 1 (continued)
- “probably you’ll fuck her up” – True, from a certain point of view. See chapter The Breeze That Plucks Her Apro.
- “a nice old black guy on a bike” – Presumably Black Charley. See chapters Blind but Now I See and The Rafters and The Beams.
- “the pool hall” – Apparently the same one that was the site of an assault in 2005, see P70p1 above.
- “Jolly Wanker […] had been the biker pub, […] Harbour Lights” – Though no longer a pub, there was a pub called the “Jolly Anker” (a gay bar) which replaced an earlier “Harbour Lights” owned by a well-known biker. The building is on the corner of Gas Street and Horseshoe Street (see image), and if you look closely you can still see the bracket for a pub sign over the door. It’s located about 2 blocks south of where Marla is now, placing the pool hall about 1 block away.
- “rocks” – Possibly a reference to the common saying that a foolish person has “rocks in their head” — but “rock” is also slang for crack cocaine.
- “the holy pool hall” – For more on why this pool hall might be considered holy, see chapter Rough Sleepers.
- “the hotel and all the leisure place whatever” – A significant portion of the north side of Mare Fair is a large entertainment complex and an ibis hotel.
- “Freeschool Street” is south of Mare Fair. See map.
- “this couple […]Miserable as sin” – Another anachronistic vision, this time of Johnny and Celia Vernall, see chapter The Steps of All Saints.
paragraph 1 (continued)
- “the bloke stood in the road” – Not an anachronism, this is the contemporaneous Benedict Perrit; see chapter Atlantis, which contains his viewpoint on this scene (Pxxx).
- “staring down [Freeschool Street] like he’d lost something, his dog or something” – xxx
- No notes.
- “Farmer Giles” – Apparently a country bumpkin character originally from Scottish(?) folklore, though specific information is difficult to find. Marla may well have encountered a version of the character in the children’s humor comic Viz.
- No notes.
- “Lings” – Apparently where Marla went to school. See note to P72p3, above.
- “one-off” – Unique remarkable.
- “wombles” – Slang for “fools”.
- “Doctor Who” – Popular British SF television character. In 2005 it had returned after a lengthy absence, so at the time of this chapter it was prominent in the public consciousness.
- No notes.
paragraph 1 (continued) – 6
- No notes.
- “Hazel-fucking-whatsit house” – Hazelrigg House, a major setting for chapter Malignant, Refractory Spirits. In the image at right, you can see its “brown stones with criss-cross windows”. Hazelrigg House is quite wide, which may be why Marla refers to this singular building as “them places”.
paragraph 1 (continued)
- No notes.
- “Tudor or Edwardian or one of them” – Marla is, as usual, wrong about the facts. Per Wikipedia: St. Peter’s Church “was probably built between 1130 and 1140 by Simon de Senlis II” (son of the Simon de Senlis who appeared in Moore’s Voice of the Fire). The Tudor period was from 1485-1603, and the Edwardian period was from 1901-1910.
- “there’d been two fellers sleeping underneath the front bit” – These would be Den, protagonist of chapter The Jolly Smokers, and Freddy Allen, protagonist of chapter Rough Sleepers.
- “someone had disappeared or was a ghost” – For once, Marla is correct; see chapter Rough Sleepers.
- “Greek Cypriots or Pakis” – The Cypriots are probably The Church of Cyprus, a part of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The “Pakis” are probably Muslim.
- “The Black Lion” – Previously mentioned in chapter Work in Progress, P13p4, P24p3.
- “heading off up Black Lion Hill and Marefair” – See map below. (Black Lion Hill is the road connecting Mare Fair to the A4500.)
- “black cabs in all different colours” – In the UK, all cabs used to be black, so are referred to as “black cabs” even though they now come in many colors.
- “the West Bridge” – Over the Nene River, see map below.
- “Bletchley, Leighton Buzzard” – Bletchley is part of Milton Keynes, and is about 18 miles (or 3 train stops) southeast of Northampton. Leighton Buzzard is the next train stop, about 24 miles from Northampton. For more on Milton Keynes and prostitution, see chapter Work in Progress, P25p1.
- “their fucking daddies” – That is, their pimps. An accidental play on words?
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- “Earth calling Marla” – An idiom for distracted people.
- “He’d have nothing proper” – That is, he doesn’t have/sell crack cocaine.
- “even if she sat up all night talking to herself again.” – Though of course, Marla wasn’t talking to herself, but to “Ash Moses”, see P74-75.
- “There’s worse ways she could spend the night than that.” – And she will.
- “Chronicle & Echo” – A Northampton newspaper.
- “Mallard” – In a 2009(?) interview, Moore said:
In our local paper there was a report about a man called Mallard who believed that Jack the Ripper was a member of his family from the Doddridge Church area of Northampton. His somewhat slender grounds for this theory were that a father in the family had committed suicide and one of the sons then moved down to London and was working in a slaughterhouse in the Whitechapel area during the time of the murders. Not the most convincing theory, but I was quite taken with this story because my mother’s maiden name was Mallard and her family lived around the Doddridge Church area. So in answer to Matt’s question, I’d say that after all of my researches, it turns out that Jack the Ripper was probably my granddad. It’s funny how these things work out, but what can you do?
We have not been able to locate the article Moore refers to, but did find one reference to a Northampton Ripper suspect named Francis Mallard. We are unaware of anyone by that name in Moore’s family tree.
- “Some of the other girls were all, like, what d’you want to read all that for, specially with the line you’re in” – Moore has spoken of this sort of victim-fascination in a 1997 interview. Speaking about the Ripper murders:
The women of the East End, according to reports of the period, were gripped in part by a kind of appalled fascination with the murders. Many would talk, almost longingly according to accounts, of the likelihood of their being the next victim. […] One woman of the period, when asked, said that she’d thought how nice it would be to be one of the victims, simply because people had said such nice things about all the women murdered to date. The implication is that it would be worth going through evisceration to be lionized thus.
- Lord of the Rings is, of course, fictional. Blockbuster films based on the books came out in 2001-2003, just a few years before this scene.
- Tipping the Velvet is a novel about a woman in the 1890s who (among other things) works as a prostitute. Marla is probably more aware of the 2002 television adaptation.
- “how the Royal Family had ordered all them women murdered” – A popular family of theories about Jack the Ripper involves conspiracy on the part of the royal family. Moore has drawn on this in From Hell.
- “Duke of Clarence” – Prince Albert Victor, Grandson of Queen Victoria, is a popular Jack the Ripper suspect.
- “St. Matthews up in Kinsgley” – Kingsley is a Northampton neighborhood, northeast of the Boroughs. Alan Moore lived in this neighborhood when writing Voice of the Fire (and still does?); the name of VotF‘s final chapter “Phipps’ Fire Escape” can be taken to refer to St. Matthews. St. Matthews was dedicated in 1893, though I’ve been unable to verify that Prince Albert was there.
- “J.K. Stephen” – Noted poet, alleged misogynist, and Ripper suspect. He appears in chapter Round the Bend, section 5.
- “the nuthouse up the Billing Road” – St Andrews Hospital, the setting for chapter Round the Bend.
- “Dusty Springfield” – Appears in Round the Bend, section 12.
- “Michael Jackson” – Presumably the famous pop musician. I have been unable to find any evidence that he was ever in St Andrews, though Moore seems to have once believed that he had been. He mentions Michael Jackson as a resident in a 2002 interview. Since Jackson conspicuously doesn’t appear in Round the Bend, perhaps while researching the later chapter Moore discovered that he had not, in fact, been there.
- “the poems dissing women” – The plural here is perhaps disingenuous. Stephens’ reputation as a misogynist (and Ripper suspect) largely rests on a single poem, “Men and Women“.
- “all hail Kaphoozelum, the harlot of Jerusalem” – Although Moore suggests, both here and in the chapter Round the Bend, that J. K. Stephen wrote this line, in fact he seems not to have. The story of Kaphoozelum actually begins with “The Great Comic Songs of Ka-Foozle-Um“, by S. Oxon (identified elsewhere as Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford) and Frederick Blume, published in New York in 1866 (when J.K.S. was seven years old). The song is silly and mildly romantic, if racist. However, the folk process quickly produced many pornographic variants. These varied in their wording (and spelling), but the line given multiple times in Jerusalem is a typical version of the first half of the chorus. The only links with J. K. Stephen seem to have emerged from some shockingly bad research on the part of Ripperologist Michael Harrison which subsequently spread to many other sources, eventually reaching Alan Moore. Per Wikipedia, Harrison claims that various mental stresses “provoked Stephen to act out his own poem “Air: Kaphoozelum”, in which the protagonist kills 10 harlots.” There are multiple errors in these claims.
- Firstly, Stephen did compose and publish a satirical song called “The Littlego“. Beneath the title of “The Littlego” is the notation “(Air: Kaphoozelum)”; this is not a title, but rather an indication that “The Littlego” is meant to be sung to the tune of the already-well-known Kaphoozelum. (This is easily verified by examining other songs from the same book, many of which have the same “(Air: name of well-known song)” notation beneath their titles.) What “The Littlego” is actually about is obscure, but the only “death” in it seems to be that of an abstruse academic concept, not a prostitute.
- The claim about “kills 10 harlots” can be traced to some variants of the Kaphoozelum song, but even that is a gross misrepresentation. The relevant stanza is:
For though he paid his women well,
This syphilitic spawn of hell,
Struck down each year and tolled the bell,
For ten harlots of Jerusalem.
The key word here is “syphilitic” – in the full context of the poem, it is abundantly clear that these deaths are from disease the fellow spreads, not Ripper-style murders. So even if Stephen had written (some version of) Kaphoozelum, it would hardly connect him to the Ripper.
- “she’d rather she was called Kaphoozelum than Marla.” – And eventually, she will be.
- “up the entry of Chalk Lane from Black Lion Hill” – See map.
- “going round the front doors of the houses” – A small line of houses is visible to the left of Chalk Lane on the map. Marla would have to “go round” because their front doors are on St Andrew’s Rd.
- “the truckers down the Super Sausage car park” – The Super Sausage is a cafeteria at the northwest corner of the Boroughs. It has a very large parking lot, often used by truckers.
- “pikeys selling pegs” – Pikey is a slur for Traveller. It was once common for them to make and sell clothes pegs.
- “that Cockie bloke, the councillor” – Jim Cockie, narrator of chapter Cornered.
- “E” is common shorthand for the drug ecstasy.
- “by the car park on her left there” – See image.
- “some kids” – The Dead Dead Gang. Marla is seeing some of the action in chapter xxx.
- “perverts everywhere” – While this is a common image perpetuated by media, “stranger danger” is highly exaggerated.
- No notes.
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- “like with the two pairs of feet in Peter’s doorway” – An appropriate comment, sine both then and now she is perceiving a ghost.
- “something furry round her little shoulders” – These are Phyllis’s rabbit skins. See Book Two in general, but especially chapter Rabbits.
- “Marla carried on, to up by Doddridge Church” – It’s unclear whether she passes the Church to the right or left. To the right would be a slightly shorter route, but there’s no mention of changing streets, and there is mention of the mysterious door, so I presume she stayed on Castle Street, and the church is on her right.
- For more on the door, see chapter Flatland.
- “up to the Mayorhold” –
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