J1.03 ASBOs of Desire

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore

Book 1 – The Boroughs
ASBOs of Desire

Setting: [date], [location]

Dramatis Personae:

  • 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),

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13 thoughts on “J1.03 ASBOs of Desire”

  1. Marla Roberta Stiles. What a tragic character. Some thoughts:

    • The narrator’s perspective is very interesting. It easily slips into what Marla is thinking (like the anger at her mom). It seems like it’s almost Marla herself talking in the third person, and when you consider she hears voices, sees visions, and talks to people who aren’t physically present, it seems like the narrator could actually be coming from within Marla’s head (unlike the narrator of the previous two chapters).

    • Roman Thompson’s back! Performing grass roots politics to stop such things as “the high-ups selling off the council houses and all that” (P71). I believe this is a cause that is dear to Moore’s heart. Within the last year or so I remember Moore was part of a protest against some kind of gentrification/housing development situation. But I can’t find the link to the article I read back then (and it’s actually hard to search for because there is apparently a realtor named Alan Moore with his own website, so searching “Alan Moore housing development” etc is futile haha).

    Marla has no interest in participating in Thompson’s causes, yet later in the chapter shows that she does understand and disapproves of aspects of how unfair the poor are treated both locally (“anybody the council wanted rid of, nutters, Kosovans, Albanians all that” (p75)) as well as abroad (the Afghanistan observation on p77).

    • Marla’s opinion on art: “They were all a fucking con and people just said they could see all deep things in them when they wanted to look clever” (p71). 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.

    • Marla to Ash Moses: “I’ll tell you, hell for me would just be being stuck in Bath Street here forever.” Ash Moses to Marla: “Precisely.”

    This seems to be coated with fourth-dimensional spacetime connotations – but the crazy thing is that Marla, who seems perfectly aware that there are other voices in her head, is baffled at the use of the word “precisely,” which she feels she has never said before in her life!

    Also, Ash Moses first appears as the burning part at the end of a cigarette. This seems to represent both Marla’s current hardship of drug addiction as well as her blame towards her mother. All of those things – Ash Moses, spending the day/chapter looking for drugs to smoke, and her mom smoking pot when Marla was a child – can be visually represented by a burning ember, which, to Marla, would be the Devil (aka the reason for her being “stuck in Bath Street here forever”).

    BTW what drug is Marla addicted to? It’s obviously a hard drug. Is it meth, heroin, or crack? I believe all of those can be smoked.

    • The theme of the Ripper murders made me think of From Hell, for obvious reasons. This made me wonder if the book From Hell exists in the reality of Jerusalem, and whether it was something Marla had read. Then I realized that no, apparently Alan-Moore-the-writer does not exist in the reality of Jerusalem (because Alma-Warren-the-artist does instead), so it would follow that there are no From Hell, Violator vs. Badrock, or Maxwell the Magic Cat comics either haha.

    • This sentence made me laugh: “Marla thought how it must have been when Elsie Boxer and the other old girls from her flats were on the game, back in the 1960s when it was all whatsit, all Dickensian and that. It must have been really nice” (p77).

    • What does “GSOH” and “N/S” mean? (p78)

    • Something’s up with the pool hall scene, but I have no clue what! (p79)

    • The drunken poet guy introduced on p80 – what an out-of-nowhere character to drop into Marla’s life! “How he acted, though, it was like there were telly cameras on them, doing some new comedy” (p81). Given the discussion of surveillance cameras throughout this chapter, there very well may have been telly cameras on them haha!

    • “Doddridge Church was all right, not so fucking miserable as all the other churches ‘cause it hadn’t got a steeple” (p85). Could this be because steeples are incredibly phallic?

    Also, Doddridge Church is the one with “that door halfway up the wall.” I think it got a mention in chapter 2 as well? And Moore has mentioned the door before in interviews, and a photograph of it was going to be used on what looks like a preliminary prototype of the soft cover of book 2 (https://alanmooreworld.blogspot.com/2016/07/jerusalem-slipcase-edition.html) (I say preliminary because my copy does not have these covers).

    • Who’s Lisa Mafia? (p87)

    • Marla hates her neighbors the Robertsons for reasons she provides. However, I wonder if she also subconsciously dislikes them because her middle name is “Roberta,” which she states is because of her mom’s love of Bob Marley (Marley → Marla; Bob → Robert → Roberta).

    • “She pulled the collar of her mac tight” (p88). Is this a macintosh, the same coat Alma Warren was wearing in her dream from chapter 1?

    • The entire third full paragraph on p88 (“She knew…this side.”) is very fourth dimensial spacetimey (I need a better term for this – Einsteinian? Solid Time? I don’t know).

    It’s so sad how Marla embraces her fate as if her whole life has led up to “yeah, I always knew I’d be abducted and murdered; let’s get on with it.” However, the chapter ends with her just walking towards the car and does not confirm her assumed fate.


      1. Thanks, I completely missed the GSOH explanation. And N/S meaning “non-smoker” is pretty funny (or sad?) considering the themes of this chapter.


  2. I’ll put my dramatis personae and index lists here.
    Page referrers are for 3 volume paperback edition by Knockabout.
    Dramatis personae-characters in brackets are only mentioned but not in scene.

    Dramatis Personae
    • Marla Roberta Stiles: unemployed, drug user, 19 years old, prostitute, POV
    • (Gemma Clark: from Marlas clique)
    • (Keith: from Marlas Clique)
    • (Samantha: Marlas friend)
    • (two blokes who raped and beat Samantha)
    • (Rose, Marlas moher)
    • Spectres of forty year old woman having sex with a tramp = Patsy Clarke and Freddy Allen, see Rough Sleepers
    • (Roman Thompson, hands out flyers for Almas exhibition)
    • (Alma Warren)
    • (Carlton, boyfriend of Rose when Marla was 15)
    • (Miss Pierce: Marlas form teacher)
    • (Sharon Mawsley: in same class as Marla)
    • Old Devil, Ash Moses: apparition
    • (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)
    • Wayne and Linda Roberts: Marlas neighbors
    • Fat Kenny: Marlas dealer and customer
    • (Elsie Boxer: old prostitue from Marlas building)
    • Pretty white girl with red hair with ›fucking gorgeous‹ baby in a sling (could this be a spectre of May Warren and baby May???)
    • Nice black guy on a bike (= ›Black Charlie‹), see 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

    • Princess Diana (1961-1997), 1st wife of Charles, Prince of Wales: whole chapter
    • ›Dodie‹ = Dodi Al-Fayed (1955-1997), son Egyptian billionaire; boyfriend of Princess Diana with whom he died in car crash on 31 August 1997: 73
    • Jack the Ripper, unidentified serial killer active mostly around Whitechapel district of London in 1888: whole chapter
    • Prince Charles: 73
    • ›Edward and Sophie‹ = Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones married 19th June 1999: 73
    • Franz Ferdiand, Scottish band: 74
    Walk Away, Song (2005) by Franz Ferdiand: 74
    • Halle Berry (*1966), Afro-American actress: 75
    • Ali G, satiric TV character of Sacha Baron Cohen: 77
    • Bob Marley (1945-1981), Reagae legend: 77
    • GSOG, acronym for ›Good Sense Of Humor‹: 83
    • N/S, acronym for ›Non Smoker‹: 83
    • Farmer Giles, title character of fairy tale by J. R. R. Tolkien: 85
    • Northampton Chronicle & Echo: 88
    • Francis Mallard: butcher from Northampton, Ripper-suspect: 88
    • ??? Mallard, journalist for Northampton Chronicle & Echo: 88
    The Lord of the Rings, heroic romance, high fantasy novel (1954-1955) by J. R. R. Tolkien; movies by Peter Jackson: 88
    Tipping the Velvet, historical novel (1998) by Sarah Waters: 88
    • Duke of Clarence and Avondale, Prince Albert ›Eddy‹ Victor (1864-1892), Ripper-suspect: 88
    • James Kenneth Stephen (1859-1892), English poet and tutor of Prince Eddy: 88
    • ›Kaphoozelum‹, = The Littlego. Air: Kaphoozelum, poem (1880) by James Kenneth Stephen: 88
    • Dusty Springfield (1939-1999), English pop- & soul singer: 88
    • Michael Jackson (1958-2009), King of Pop: 88
    Bizarre, English subculture magazine: 90
    • Lisa Mafia = Lisa Maffia (*1979): English singer, fashion designer, model, presenter: 91


  3. @ Archie Keller: Concerning Alan Moores local activies in Northampton I tried search terms »Alan Moore protest northampton« and got a bunch of hits. Just 3 examples I personally quite like:

    Here he leads a campaign against closing a library:

    BleedingCool summarizes Moores stance for children who where excluded from school AND his library work for them AND his anger against city council after removing library worker:

    Here Alan helps out a couple separated by immigration row:


  4. “BTW what drug is Marla addicted to?”

    It’s really crack, moore clarifies this in the chapter “forbidden worlds.”
    Also, the kids in the parking lot are the dead dead gang.


    1. I like Reggie’s attempt to understand what he is seeing in “Flatlands”. In the same scene that Bill will later describe in Flatlands as “[Marla] sat doing crack and gluing pictures in a scrapbook” Reggie relates “in which the dark-skinned woman with her hair in stripes sat sucking smoking melted grains of glass out of her tin and pasting pictures in her scrapbook.”


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