J1.01 Work in Progress

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore

Book 1 – The Boroughs
Prelude – Work in Progress

General: coming soon

Illustration

  • The four drawings are mentioned in the chapter Rough Sleepers on page 117 describing the table where angels play billiard “Set in the heavy varnished woodwork of the table just above each pocket was a separate symbol. These were roughly carved into the centre of the wooden disks that decorated the four corners of the table, gouged in a crude style that looked tramp-marks, yet inlaid with gold.” The four directions are:
    – southwest “a castle-turret”
    – northwest “a big prick”
    – northeast “a skull”
    – southeast “a wonky cross”
  • “Based on a “true story”” reflects that Jerusalem is a fictionalized account of the lives of Alan Moore, his family including his ancestors, and the history of Northampton’s Burroughs neighborhood.

Map – see Northampton maps page

Page 1 – titled Prelude

Page 2 – blank

Page 3 – titled Work in Progress

  • The title “Work in Progress” is the name of a painting by Alma Warren – see P23 paragraph 2 below.

paragraph 1

  • Alma Warren” is a fictionalized stand in for Alan Moore.
  • “Five years old” puts the date at 1958-59, given Moore was born in 1953. This is confirmed to be February 1959 – see Page 15 paragraph 3 below.
  • First mention of Mike Warren also called Mick, brother of Alma Warren. Moore has an actual younger brother Mike.
  • First mention of Doreen (Warren?), mother of Alma Warren. Moore’s mother’s name is Sylvia Doreen.

paragraph 2

paragraph 3

  • British: A “mackintosh” or “mac” is a raincoat.

paragraph 4

  • Abington Street is just off of the Jerusalem map, to the southeast, near Market Square.

Page 4

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paragraph 2

Page 5

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paragraph 2

  • British: A “pushchair” or “pram” is a baby carriage.

paragraph 3

  • “The’yar. Aur’s wun blessid place as ent shut up, ay?” is “There. Here’s one blessed place that ain’t shut up, eh?”

Page 6

paragraph 1

paragraph 2

paragraph 3

  • “Well, I’ll goo ter ayr ace. Look ‘ere, you two, it’s Frit Bur un ‘iz angles.” is “Well, I’ll go to our place. Look here, you two, it’s Frith Borh [Third Borough – see below] and his angles [angels].”

paragraphs 4-6

  • “Ooh, yer a sample, you are. “‘E’s the Frith Borh. The Third Burrer. All the times you’ve ‘eard me gooin’ on abayt ‘im, un yuh look ut me gone ayt.” is “He’s the the Frith Borh. The Third Burrough. All the times you have heard me going on about him, and you look at me gone [out? – suggest?].”
  • You’re a sample? – suggest?
  • “Frith Borh/Third Burrer/Third Borough” – not sure of the significance of this – suggest?

paragraph 6

paragraph 7

Page 7

paragraph 1

paragraph 2

  • “Gor, you are a soppy date, ayr Alma. ‘E ent gunner urcha, un ‘e dun’t see people very orften. Goo on in us say ‘ello or else ‘e’ll think we’re rude.” is “[God/Gosh?] you are a soppy date, our Alma. He ain’t going to hurt you, and he don’t see people very often. Go on in and say hello or else he’ll think we’re rude.”

Page 8

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paragraph 2

paragraph 3

  • “This wun in the parm’s ayr Michael, un that’s Alma. She’s ut school now, ent yer, up Spring Lane? You come un say ‘ello t’ the Third Burrer.” is “This one in the pram is our Michael, and that’s Alma. She’s at school now, ain’t you, up Spring Lane? You come and say hello to the Third Borough.”

paragraph 4

  • “From somewhere… like Palestine” hints at their identity as angels.
  • “Quinquereme of Nineveh and distant Ophir…” is the beginning of English writer John Masefield‘s poem Cargoes.

Page 9

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paragraph 2

Page 10

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paragraph 2

  • “Porthimoth di Norhan” is the name of an obscure early Northampton court. A Northampton history website states “In one early 13th century deed the court in which the plea of land had been held is called the porthimoth’ de Norhant‘. No other instance of the use of this term at Northampton has been found; at Leicester and Ipswich the court at which transfers of land took place was called the portmannmot.” Thanks commenter Molosovsky.

Page 11

paragraph 1

paragraph 2

paragraph 3

  • “Vernall’s Inquest” is the title of the third book of Jerusalem.
  • First mentions of:
    – May Vernall (later May Warren), Alma’s paternal grandmother
    Tom Warren, Alma’s paternal grandfather
    Joe Swan, Alma’s maternal grandfather

Page 12

paragraph 1

  • First mention of Clara (Swan?), Alma’s maternal grandmother

paragraph 2

  • Whelks” are edible sea snails.
  • A “deathmonger” (described in the next sentence) is a sort of historic medical/mortuary worker somewhat analogous to a midwife. [xxx- add Moore’s description from interview – SWIM?]

paragraph 3

  • First mentions of:
    Snowy Vernall, Alma’s great grandfather (based on Moore’s actual great grandfather Ginger Vernon)
    Ernest “Ern” Vernall, Alma’s great-great-grandfather (Snowy’s father.) Ern is the subject of the second chapter A Host of Angles.
    Thursa Vernall, Alma’s great grand-aunt
  • Moore, in a 2016 interview at International Times, mentions: “The strain of madness that was in the Vernon side of the family, with my Great grandfather Ginger Vernon, who turns up in the novel as Snowy Vernall and my father’s cousin, Audrey Vernon who the novel is dedicated to and who turns up as Audrey Vernall…”

Page 13

paragraph 1

  • “In a maze you couldn’t see” is a description of the short story “In the walls of Eryx” by H.P. Lovecraft
    with Kenneth Sterling Love. Moore references this story in Providence #5, which includes an almost identical line “It’s like a maze you can’t see” on P17,p3.

paragraph 3

  • First mention of Tommy Warren, Alma’s father.
  • First mention of Janet Cooper, 5-year-old Alma’s best friend, though this may be just an example to explain the definition of cooper as barrel-maker.

paragraph 4

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land

Page 14

paragraph 1

paragraph 2

“Working with wood had been his family’s business since time immemorial” is another hint that these “angles” are angels; it refers to Jesus’ profession as a carpenter.

paragraph 3

“The Porthimoth di Norhan would be built, was in a sense already good as done” hints at Moore’s theories of time as an unchanging solid. [Expand – xxx]

Page 15

paragraph 1

  • A “jitty” (or gitty) is narrow passage between rows of terraced houses or a fenced or hedged path.

paragraph 2

  • Gabardine” is a type of wool fabric, also slang for a raincoat made of gabardine fabric.

Page 16

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Page 17

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  • “She was five-eleven” (five feet, eleven inches = 180 cm) clarifies that Alma is tall; so is Alan Moore.
Transformer album cover - via Wikipedia
Transformer album cover – via Wikipedia

paragraph 2

  • “Lou Reed on the cover of Transformer” refers to the 1972 album (right.)
  • “Miss Pears” was a marketing campaign for Pears soap where, per Wikipedia, parents entered their children into the high-profile hunt for a young brand ambassador to be used on packaging and in consumer promotions.
  • A “bon mot” is a witty remark.

paragraph 3

  • Grand Guignol” was a French theater specializing in horror shows. Its name is often used as a general term for graphic, amoral horror entertainment.

paragraph 4

  • First mention of nickname “Warry” (rhymes with “starry”) defined (see paragraph 3 next page) as “a ridiculing term” apparently made up.

Page 18

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paragraph 5

  • The “Iliad” is Homer’s epic poem.

Page 19

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paragraph 2

  • “Fag” is slang for cigarette.

paragraph 7

  • “Lorry” is the British word for “truck.”

Page 20

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Page 21

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paragraph 6

  • A “trapezium” is a quadrilateral with no parallel sides.

Page 22

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  • NME” (stands for New Musical Express) is a British pop music magazine.

paragraph 5

  • Narnia” is a fictional magic realm created by C.S. Lewis.

Page 23

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paragraph 2

  • This “Work in Progress” gives this chapter its title.

Page 24

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“Marefair” appears on Jerusalem’s maps, though there it is spelled “Mare Fair.”

paragraph 3

Page 25

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  • Milton Keynes” is a town about 20 miles south of Northampton.
  • Rugby” is a town about 20 miles northeast of Northampton.
  • “Shakespeare’s King John” is a play. The setting of the first chapter is the Northampton Castle, which was later demolished to make way for the Northampton Railway Station. Location is labeled “site of castle” on Jerusalem map.
  • “World’s first parliament during the thirteenth century” refers to Henry I initial parliament meeting in Northampton, which one website places in 1131 (which should be the twelfth century, no? – suggest??.)
  • Wat Tyler‘s uprising of 1381″ is known as The Peasants’ Revolt.
  • “[Thomas] Becket” (1119-1170) was the archbishop of Canterbury. Becket was murdered by King Henry II.

paragraph 3

  • “Chain of Office” is the name of the final chapter of Jerusalem. [xxx – add link when this page is created.]

paragraph 4

  • Village of the Damned” is a 1960 British horror film. The film features possessed monster-children whose eyes glow. On page 17,paragraph 1 Alma’s eyes are described similarly as “spooky and massive… warm slate irises against which an extraterrestrial citrus yellow flared around the pupil like a full eclipse.” Overall, this description of Alma’s eyes may refer to Alan Moore’s penetrating eyes.

Page 26

paragraph 2

paragraph 3

  • Cluniac monks” refers to a monastic order founded in 910 in Cluny.
  • “Lavvy” is slang for lavatory, bathroom.

Page 27

paragraph 1

  • The Dead Issue” sounds like a play on The Big Issue, a magazine sold by homeless people.

paragraph 2

  • First mention of Bill Badger, a barber.
  • Rupert Bear” is a British newspaper comic strip.
  • Styptic pencils” are medicine to stop bleeding.

paragraph 3

Page 28

paragraph 2

  • First mention of Roman Thompson, Alma’s gay lefty activist friend.
  • “Thompson the Leveller” apparently refers to the Levellers, a seventeenth-century political movement.
  • “UCS” stands for Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. The strike may be the 1971 “work-in” campaign.
  • The “National Front” is a right-wing party.

paragraph 2

Page 29

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Page 30

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Page 31

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Page 32

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Page 33

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paragraph 4

  • Zippo” is a brand of cigarette lighter.

Page 34

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Page 35

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  • First mention of Joseph (or Joe), Mick’s youngest child, 12 years old.

Page 36

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Page 37

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Page 38

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  • First mentions of Alma’s friends:
    Dean, Roman Thompson’s boyfriend (mentioned without naming above on P28,p2)
    Benedict Perrit, a poet
    Dave Daniels, a science fiction enthusiast
    Bert Reagan, a 1960s co-conspirator

 

>Go to Jerusalem Annotations Index
>Go to Chapter 2 – A Host of Angles

 

23 thoughts on “J1.01 Work in Progress”

  1. I’m currently two chapters deep into this tomb, and have been posting thoughts and observations on Reddit. But now that I see you have this site up and running, breaking everything down by page (and paragraph!), I’m excited to continue the conversation over here!

    The following is what I have previously posted on Reddit about chapter 1. Please feel free to add anything from it to your annotations above.

    • Alma is most certainly Moore, which I believe he has pretty much confirmed in an interview (although I can’t find it right now). Plus, in real life Moore has a little brother named Michael who almost choked to death on a cough drop when they were kids. On top of that, this sentence from p18 hammers it home for anyone who’s heard Moore speak:

    “Alma’s voice vas smoke-cured to an ominous bass organ chord reverberating in a Gothic church, at time even a little deeper than Mick’s own.”

    Also, Vernall (as in Vernall’s Inquest; Audrey Vernall) is a riff on Vernon (as in Audrey Vernon, a relative whom Moore dedicates the book to).

    • The “joke” Alma tells to the Third Borough in her dream: she sang the first verse of “All things bright and beautiful” after he asks her (seemingly telepathically) if she knows who he is. And he does get the joke! Anyone understand this and/or also get the joke?

    • Does the term “going cornery” exist outside of this book? Google doesn’t seem to think so as far as I can see. It’s discussed and explained early on, and then Mick fears for a minute that he is “going cornery” later on p16. Either way, great term!

    • I think it’s worth noting that within Alma’s dream she remembers another dream (about her mom and the pigeons) on p7. Then later on p20 she mentions the dream-within-a-dream to Michael when talking about the initial dream.

    • Despite the brevity of his inclusion, I’m already really digging the character Roman Thompson, who “had broken through police lines to punch out one of the leaders in a National Front march through Brick Lane” (p28).

    • This quote made me laugh: “…an authority on having not just lost the plot but having wilfully flushed entire script down the shitter” (p16).

    Like

    1. • The “joke” Alma tells to the Third Borough in her dream: she sang the first verse of “All things bright and beautiful” after he asks her (seemingly telepathically) if she knows who he is. And he does get the joke! Anyone understand this and/or also get the joke?

      I am not nearly as far along as you are and I could be off here but I think the “joke” is that he is Christ/God and she recognizes it but doesn’t want to speak his name. He asks “Do you know who I am?” and she replies by singing a few bars of the hymn.

      I posted this yesterday but I think it is relevant.

      The Third Borough in Alma’s dream is most certainly Christ. Based on her description of him (dark complexion and she thinks he is from somewhere far away like Palestine), the fact that they’re carpenters and the hymn that comes to Alma’s mind is evidence enough I think but Frith Borh hints at it as well.

      Frith Borh (the term Doreen uses for the Third Borough) is “peace-pledge” or Frankpledge. It was “a system of joint suretyship common in England throughout the Early Middle Ages.”

      Basically it appears it was an agreement among people (usually kin) to share responsibility for each other’s debts or actions. If one is part of a clan and can’t pay a debt the rest of the clan assumes responsibility for the debtor. Similarly, if a clansman commits a crime, the clan is responsible for producing him so justice can be served. Alternatively, if they cannot or don’t produce him, they must swear they’ve taken no part in his escape and possibly pay the price for his offense. [Source: good old wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankpledge%5D

      Frith Borh is a pledge or promise to pay a debt. If human sins are a debt to God, Christ is the promise to pay that debt.

      Like I said, I could be way off. Perhaps the joke and identity of the Third Borough will be revealed later but my gut tells me Chirst / God.

      Like

  2. So I went down the rabbit hole of Youtube recently watching Stewart Lee standup (of which there is a lot of really funny stuff!), and it turns out he has a bit on the hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (what Alma starts singing to the Third Borough in her dream):

    It’s not necessarily relevant to Alma’s dream here per se, but it’s a damn hilarious deconstruction of the hymn!

    Like

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

    Dramatis Personae
    • Alma Warren: artist, painter, POV at beginning of chapter
    • Michael ›Mick‹ Warren: Almas younger brother,, POV from p. 24
    • Doreen Warren: mother of Alma and Michael (died 1995, approx. 10 years after Mick ›died‹, had vision and resurrected)
    • Third Borough and (3 or 4) collegues. 1. with white hair; 2. with large mole; 3. bit foreign-looking.
    (• May Warren: mother of Almas father)
    (• Tom Warren: Mays husband)
    (• Joe Swan: Doreens father)
    (• Clara: Doreens mother)
    (• Tommy Warren: Almas father, died 1990)
    (• Snowy Varnell: Mays father; went cornery, died between mirrors eating flowers)
    (• Ernest Varnell: Snowys father)
    (• Thursa Varnell: Snowys sister)
    (• Johnny Varnell: Snowys son)
    (• Audrey Varnell: Johnnys daughter; great accordion player)
    (• Janet Cooper: Almas best friend when she was 5)
    (• Doug: neighbor who drove Mick with vegetable lorry to hospital)
    • Cathy: Michaels wife
    • (Pitt-Draffen: dance school)
    • (Bill Badger: barber)
    • (Miss Starmer: post office)
    • Roman Thompson ›Thompson the Leveller‹: lefty activist; good friend of Alma
    (• Jack Warren: Michaels son)
    (• Joseph Warren: Michaels son)
    • Male teenager with FCUK-Shirt
    • gnome-like woman with headscarf
    • Dean: Romans boyfriend
    • Benedict Perrit: poet; same class as Alma in Spring Lane School
    • Dave Daniels (black): ex-boyfriend of Alma; shares her enthusiasm for SF and comics
    • Bret Regan: 1960 co-conspirator of Alma
    • Mother or aunt of Bret at Almas exhibition
    • two older woman at Almas exhibition

    Index
    • Earl Spencer = John Poyntz Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer (1835-1910), called ›The Red Earl‹ because of his long red beard: 16
    Quinquereme of Nineweh, poem (1902) by John Masefield: 18
    All things bright and beautiful, poem in »Hymns for Children« (1848): 18
    • Jesus: 23
    • Mick Hucknall (*1960), English pop singer, frontman of Simply Red: 25
    • Lou Reed (1942-2013), American musician, singer, songwriter; memeber of Velvet Underground: 25
    • Transformer (1972), music record by Lou Reed: 25
    The Iliad, epic poem by Homer: 27
    • NME, probably New Music Express, magazin: 30
    • Narnia, secondary fantasy world by C. S. Lewis: 30
    • Stanley Spencer (1891-1959), English painter: 31
    Journey Into Mystery, US comic: 32
    Forbidden Worlds, US comic: 32
    My Greatest Adventure, US comic: 32
    • William Shakespeare (baptised 1564-1616), English poet, playwright, actor: 32
    The Life and Death of King John, theatre play by Shakespeare: 32
    • Wat Tyler, leader of Peasants’ Revolt of 1381: 32
    • Thomas Becket (1119-1170), Catholic saint, Lord Chancellor, Archbishop of Canterbury: 32
    Village of the Damned, UK movie (1960) based on novel by John Wyndham: 33
    Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, video game (2004) by Rockstar Studios: 34
    • Rupert Bear, English cartoon character by Mary Tourtel, published in The Daily Express: 34
    Northampton Chronicle & Echo, newspaper: 35
    • The Levellers, English proto democratic movement during English Civil War 1642-49: 35
    • USC (Upper Clyde Shipbuilders), Scottish ship building conglomerat: 35
    • National Front, right wing party in England: 35
    • FCUK, motiv of fashion lable French Connection: 38
    • Arthur Koestler (1905-1983), Austrian-Hungarian author and journalist: 41

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Frith Borh is “peace-pledge” or Frankpledge. It was “a system of joint suretyship common in England throughout the Early Middle Ages.”

    Basically it appears it was an agreement among people (usually kin) to share responsibility for each other’s debts or actions. If one is part of a clan and can’t pay a debt the rest of the clan assumes responsibility for the debtor. Similarly, if a clansman commits a crime, the clan is responsible for producing him so justice can be served. Alternatively, if they cannot or don’t produce him, they must swear they’ve taken no part in his escape and possibly pay the price for his offense. [Source: good old wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankpledge%5D

    The Third Borough in Alma’s dream is most certainly Christ. Based on his description, the fact that they’re carpenters and the hymn that comes to Alma’s mind is evidence enough I think but Frith Borh hints at it as well. Frith Borh is a pledge or promise to pay a debt. If human sins are a debt to God, Christ is the promise to pay that debt.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. According to ancestry.com Varnell is an English variant of Farnell belonging to southwestern England, where the change from f to v arose from the voicing of f that was characteristic of this area in Middle English.

    Farnell is a habitational name from any of the many places, such as Farnell (Kent, Wiltshire), Farnhill (West Yorkshire), and Fernhill (Cheshire), named from Old English fearn ‘fern’ + hyll ‘hill’.

    Like

    1. We need a basic family tree for this! We don’t have one yet. (Sorry – the three folks who got this going got busy with other stuff… and we’re hoping to pick it back up in the next couple months.)

      Like

  6. I’ve started one. If you’re interested I’ll share it. It’s not perfect and incomplete. But I’ll share the login and password if we can collectively fill it in.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. On Page 9, paragraph 1, when Alma has a “muddy recollection” of a word or brand that could be the one that identifies the material, or fabric, of the angles’ robes, she thinks: “Was it ‘Might’, or ‘Mighty’? Something like that, anyway”. There’s a reference here that I don’t get. Can someone help?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Have you finished *Jerusalem*?

        It’s kind of a spoiler if you haven’t. This character will appear again later in the novel and all will be made clear.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Almost done with read-through number 2 🙂

        The *identity* of the character is made quite clear. But the business about the name of the robe’s material isn’t (unless I’m forgetting something; easily possible).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It could be! I’ve finished Jerusalem, but currently I’m on my first rereading in order to revisit and rethink some segments that seemed obscure to me. The “identity” of that character is crystal clear since minute one, but I was asking about the name of the fabric. A name that must present some kind of resemblance –or rhyme, or pun– to the words “Might” or “Mighty”. “Samite” seems quite appropriate, but I keep wondering if there’s some kind of hermetic brand of English material used in anglican robes or something. Moore is capable of everything!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I apologize Alexx, I totally misunderstood the question. I thought OP was looking for character identity. I completely missed the bit about the material of his robe.

    Like

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