J1.06 Modern Times

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore

Book 1 – The Boroughs
Modern Times

Page 149 – titled Modern Times

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2 thoughts on “J1.06 Modern Times”

  1. People on Reddit have theorized that Sir Francis Drake is Charlie Chaplin, and I couldn’t agree more. Here’s further evidence:

    Ch6 puts Drake at twenty years old in September 1909 (when this chapter takes place), which means he was born in 1889 or 1890 – Chaplin was born on April 16, 1889, making him twenty years old in September 1909. Ch6 also notes that Drake was born in April, as was Chaplin. Wiki says Chaplin was born in London (but notes that this is unverified).

    “Modern Times” as the chapter title has to be no coincidence either, since Chaplin’s film by that name features a scene that heavily parallels this line from Ch6 (p159, par 2):

    “…regular as clockwork. It was if life were some great big impersonal piece of machinery, like all the things they had in factories that would keep rolling on whatever happened. Getting born was just the same as getting your coat lining caught up in its wheels. Life pulled you in and that was that, you were enmeshed in all its circumstances, all it’s gears, until you reached the other end and got spat out, into a fancy box if you were lucky.”

    Here’s the (short) scene from Chaplin’s Modern Times (wonderful scene!):

    On top of that, later in that paragraph the word “dictated” is used twice in one sentence, and The Great Dictator is one of Chaplin’s most famous films (although I admit this connection could be a stretch).


    • The guy on the bike has (what I’m guessing as) an accent from the southern United States? “’Ah hope you two youngsters ain’t bin getting’ up tuh any trouble, now.’ (p154, par 3).

    • p160, par 1: “..finally decided that Northampton’s many tanneries, most probably, were where the odor came from.” I believe Moore worked in a tannery for a bit as one of his jobs after being kicked out of school.

    • p166, par 6: May Warren provides a lot of history to Drake regarding the Palace of Varieties, which is roughly this:

    Originally it was Alhambra Music Hall, then Grand Variety around 1889, then five years or so of random stores, then a greengrocer, then a bike store, then a pub called The Crow, then a coffee house, then the Palace of Varieties, and then Mr. Vint bought it in 1908 (but hasn’t changed the name yet in 1909).

    • Drake dreams of getting fame and fortune so he can get out of the slums, and (pretty condescendingly) pegs May-Warren-the-adult as someone who doesn’t have the talent to do so, and will therefore be stuck here. However, he seems to earlier convince himself that her baby, May-Warren-the-baby, is the most amazing human he’s ever met (paraphrased). I don’t know if that’s a contradiction or just weird? Not sure of my point there.

    Anyway, assuming Drake is Charlie Chaplin, then his is a story of someone who eventually gets enormous fame and fortune and goes on to live and embrace the Hollywood celebrity lifestyle, achieving his dream of rising from the slums through wealth and fame.

    In this sense, Chaplin’s career contrast’s Moore’s career quite a bit (despite both being artists at the top of their craft). Moore had the “celebrity” life dropped on him in the 1980s at the few international comic book conventions he attended, decided that wasn’t for him, and hasn’t done it since. And although he is not as stinking rich as he could have been had he cashed in on the corporate-friendly opportunities he has been offered (or had he been able to own the properties he created decades ago that were swindled from him), he is a very successful author in spite of all that, and could most likely afford to leave Northampton.

    Yet there in Northampton Moore remains. In fact, he loves the place. (I don’t know if you’ve heard, but he recently wrote a really long book all about a small area in Northampton!)


    • p158, the entire last paragraph. Especially this: “It was how life seemed sometimes like a skit that had been written out beforehand, with a punch line that was set up in advance.”

    • p168, par 4: “There was always the suggestion of a pattern in the way things worked out you could almost understand, but when you tried to pin down what the meaning or significance might be it all just fizzled out and you were left no clearer than you were before.”


    • p153, par 3: “…and thinking vaguely of the Eight Lancashire Lads – four of them were from outside Lancashire and one of them had been a short-haired girl, but it was true that there were eight of them…”

    • p165, par 5: “This made him laugh longer and harder, with the woman chuckling deliciously along and finally her tiny daughter joining in as well, not wishing to appear as if she didn’t understand.”


  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
    • Charles, ›Oatsie‹, ›Sir Francis Drake‹ = Charles Spencer ›Charlie‹ Chaplin, Jr.: POV half hour before beginning of performance in Palace of Varieties, geboren 1889
    • Sydney, ›Stakey‹ = Sydney John Chaplin: older halfbrother of Charles, born 1885
    • ({Fred} Karno: see Index)
    • young lad on a bike
    • brewery cart driver
    (Charles Senior = Charles Spencer Chaplin, Sr.: Vaudevillian, died 1901, not 1899; born 1863)
    • (Charlies Mother = Hannah Harriet Pedlingham Hill)
    • (McNeil the Evangelist)
    • (Louise, woman Charles Senior fancied)
    • Junkman on cart
    • Grocers lad on bike
    • (Mr Jackson: see Index)
    • (Boysie Bristol: see Index)
    • (Gus Levaine: owner of Grand Variety Hall)
    • Black man on bike, from Amerika (= POV chapter Blind, But Now I See, Henry ›Black Charlie‹ George = ball on snooker table at the end of chapter Rough Sleepers)
    • (Mrs. Jackson, skullfaced wife of Mr. Jackson, with baby son)
    • (Harry Weldon: see Index)
    • (Fourteen year old injured by hook in bottom at streetboys battle on London)
    • May Warren (Vernall), born 10.03.1889 in London, see date of Do As You Darn Well Pleasey
    • May Warren, daughter of May Warren (Vernall) and Tom Warren, born approx. 1908
    • (Father and mother of May = Ernest und ???)
    • (JohnnyVernall: Mays brother)
    • (Mr. Vint: owner of Palace of Vairiety = Vint Palace)

    Modern Times, movie (1936) by Charlie Chaplin: 151 (Chapter title)
    • Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596), English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver and politician in Elizabethean era: 151
    • ›Joseph and his coat of many colours‹ = play on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, musical (1970) by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice: 151
    • Joseph, prophetic son of Jacob in Old Testament, Bible: 151
    • Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821): French military genius, political leader, Emperor of France: 152
    • Fred Karno (1866-1941), English theatre impressario, Head of comedian stage company, in which young Chaplin performed 1908-1913: 153
    Mumming Birds, famous scetch of Fred Karno Company: ab 153 durch ganzes Kapitel http://photo.charliechaplin.com/images/9792-karno-73-jpg
    • Queen Victoria: 154
    • Mr. Jackson = J. William Jackson, former teacher, With Bill Cawley founder of Eight Lancashire Lads: 154
    • Boysie Bristol, friend of Charlie at Eight Lancashire Lads: 154
    • Eight Lancashire Lads, clock dance group with which Charlie had stage debut as 10 year old: 154 http://photo.charliechaplin.com/images/9728-karno-5-jpg
    • Little Nell, character in The Old Curiosity Shop (1841) by Charles Dickens: 156
    The Football Match, sketch of Fred Karno Company: 156
    • Harry Weldon, member of Fred Karno Company, music hall singer: 156, 160
    • ›Mr. Debussy‹ = Claude Debussy (1862-1918), French composer: 158, 163
    • Ernest ›Ernie‹ Stone, prize fighter and member of Fred Karno Company; Chaplin describes fight in autobiography: 158
    • {2nd} Boer War (1899-1902), : 159
    • New Testament: 159
    • Jesus: 159
    • Helen {of Troy}, Godess in Sparta, character in The Iliad by Homer: 161


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