J1.10 The Breeze That Plucks Her Apron

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore

Book 1 – The Boroughs
The Breeze That Plucks Her Apron

Page 270 – titled The Breeze That Plucks Her Apron

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6 thoughts on “J1.10 The Breeze That Plucks Her Apron”


    • She has previously appeared in Ch6 with Drake/Chaplin and Ch7 with Henry.

    • She is 19 years old (at the beginning of this chapter).

    • Her daughter is also named May Warren. Adult May gives birth to baby May in the beginning of this chapter, and then baby May dies at the end of this chapter at 18 months old.

    • Her father is John “Snowy” Vernall (POV character from Ch9). It’s noted that he dies in 1926.

    • Her mother is Luisa (who gave birth to her in Ch9). It is noted that she dies in 1936 after not having left the house for a “score” (20 years) (because of having “gone cornery”).

    • Her grandfather, Snowy’s father, is Ernest “Ginger” Vernall (POV character from Ch2).

    • Her siblings are Cora (16), Jim, and Johnny (12).

    • Her husband is Thomas “Tom” Warren, who eventually fights in, and survives, World War I. It is noted that he dies in 1938, and by then their daughter Louisa had two daughters of her own.

    • Following baby May’s death, she has five more children: Louisa (born in 1909, named after May’s mom), Tom (born in 1917), Walter (born in 1919), Jack, and Frank.

    ACT I DATE = 1908

    • This is baby May Warren’s day of birth.


    • Mrs. Gibbs is the “deathmonger” who delivers baby May. A “deathmonger” is a term used for a midwife/coroner that (I believe) Moore has said in interviews is a real term that is/was unique to the Boroughs of Northampton.

    • Page 273, last par: It notes that Snowy has worked as an artist retouching ceilings from a scaffolding. This is exactly what his father, Ernest, was doing in Ch2 when he met the angel.

    • Page 277, par 5: Baby May’s “beautiful Medusa radiance” recalls the top of the previous page where Mrs. Gibbs, after seeing baby May for the first time, “stared wide-eyed, as if she’d been briefly transformed to stone.” The mythical character Medusa turned anyone who saw her face to stone.


    • This is the same day as Ch6 with Drake and Ch7 with Henry.


    • Page 284, par 3: “The world seemed so rich, so significant, like an oil painting.” This echoes her father Snowy’s painting metaphor from Ch9.

    • Page 284, last par: Peter’s stone cross from Ch5 is mentioned, noting that “it was a shrine where folk made pilgrimages and all that. ‘Rood in the Wall’ they called it.”

    • Page 285, par 2: This is May’s point of view of her and baby May’s interaction with Drake/Chaplin in Ch6.

    • Page 285, par 4: Adult May has “déjà vu, the feeling like something’s happened before” when seeing Drake’s face (although this is because it turns out that she had actually seen his face years earlier). Anyway, Ch9 notes that her father Snowy is in a constant state of “déjà vu,” and thinks it’s weird that other people occasionally get that feeling.

    • Page 185 p4: “Also, May’s daughter seemed to like the chap…” Chap/Chaplin pun? (Drake is referred to as a “chap” again later in this chapter as well.)

    • Page 287, par 3: More about Reverend Doddridge, “who had preached down here, while not a terrible destructive force like Old Oliver Cromwell or the fire was as incendiary in his own way, fighting for Nonconformists and the poor, and suited the spot’s troublemaker air.”

    Also, both adult May and baby May contemplate the weird door halfway up Doddridge Church.

    • Page 287, last par: This is May’s point of view of her and baby May’s interaction with Henry in Ch7.

    • Page 288, par 3: “There was that funny creature of Newt Pratt’s, on Sundays, drunk outside the Friendly Arms, but that weren’t what frit May about the street.” Drunken zebra mention!

    ACT III DATE = SEPTEMBER OR OCTOBER 1909 (a week or so after Act II)

    • Baby May dies of diphtheria, and adult May blames herself for not being a good enough mother, which is a result of 18 months of conditioning in the form of “fancy-dressed” assholes implying that her “sort” were unfit to be proper parents. This is so damn sad.

    • Page 290, par 3: Baby May’s “sleeping face looked grey…” Grey (or black-and-white) is the color of the ghosts like Freddy from Ch4.

    • Page 291, par 4: “The door being as usual on the latch, May didn’t hear the deathmonger come in.” Earlier in this chapter, Mrs. Gibbs, the deathmonger, after delivering baby May, stated that she didn’t need anyone to show her out. Here, she clearly doesn’t need anyone to show her in. This is fitting for a deathmonger, as they seem to be gatekeepers for life’s entrance as well as life’s exit. So it makes sense that Mrs. Gibbs needs no help entering or exiting mere doors!

    Mrs. Gibbs seems to have a similar ability to glimpse the block universe that Ernest, Snowy, and Thursa have. However, Gibbs seems to be able to function more harmoniously with regular people then those three, despite having this ability.

    • Page 297, par 3: Gibbs says this to reassure the grieving and guilty-feeling May: “I’ve heard worse, let me tell you. Anyway, it’s all included in my shilling, dear. Listening and talking, that’s the biggest part.” Deathmongers aren’t just midwives and coroners, they (Gibbs, at least) serve as someone who a new mother or a grieving loved one can confide in, outside of their family. A comfort of strangers, in a way, to paraphrase how May contemplates it.

    • Page 301, par 9: May, having decided to become a deathmonger, tries “snuff” for the first time, per Gibbs’ insistence, and it is described as such: “Gingerly dipping her face forward May snorted raw lightning halfway down her throat.” Is this a gingerly/Ginger Vernall pun? Is this a ceiling angel moment equivalent for May?

    Also, the “minor tremors” resulting from May’s “snuff” snort mirror her major contractions during baby May’s birth (also in the presence of Gibbs). Is this May being reborn in some way as a deathmonger?


    • Page 274, last par: Snowy “couldn’t have known that she’d marry Tom unless he was a fortune-teller too.” This is ironic because in Ch9 Snowy was able to see May’s entire life all at once at the moment of her birth…so yeah, “fortune-teller” doesn’t really do it justice!

    • Page 276, last par: “It was as thought the universe had shrunk down to the tube of a kaleidoscope, a gleaming well along the length of which, from each end, child and mother’s glances locked, adoring, mirrored and suspended in the amber of the moment for all time.”


    • Page 272, par 5: “Mrs. Gibbs chuckled, a most pleasant sound, like several apples rolling down the stairs.” This line made me literally laugh, not because I found it funny, but because I was trying to figure out with my own voice what this apple-rolling laugh might sound like!

    • Page 278, par 5: Snowy paid for his beer with “caricatures and rude cartoons, the funny-looking drawings Snowy did of folk, insults for which they paid in ale.”

    • Page 281, par 5: “Head on her mother’s shoulder, little May was chattering fluently, unhindered by irrelevant concerns like sense or words.”


    1. There’s an interview with Moore where he says that Snowy is basically his great-granddad: “How my Great Grandfather used to just run up walls. You’d be talking to him, then you’d look away, perhaps at something on the street and when you turned back he’d be gone and three stories above you, admiring a particularly nice piece of chimney breast.. and how he was once arrested for drunkenly haranguing the crowds from a rooftop – something reported in the local paper of the time – I’ve also heard other family rumours of how he had retouched the frescoes down at the Guildhall and made numerous other adjustments throughout the town.” This figures, given that Alma=Alan.
      Similarly with Audrey. It’s pretty much all true.


  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
    A (10. March 1908)
    • May (Vernall) Warren: POV, 19 years old
    • Mrs. Gibbs: a deathmonger
    • Louise Vernall: Mays mother
    • Snowy Vernall: Mays father
    • Cora Vernall: Mays sister, 16 years old
    • Johnny ›Jim‹: Mays younger brother
    (• Thursa Vernall: Mays barmy aunt)
    • Tom Warren: Mays husband
    • baby May: just being born

    B (18 month later, September 1909)
    • May (Vernall) Warren, POV
    • baby May, 18 month old
    (• Snowy Vernall)
    • Thursa Vernall
    (• Mr. Paine, chimney sweep from Green Street)
    (• Tom Warren)
    (• well dressed couple shaming May in Beckett’s Park)
    (• Dr. Forbes)
    (• monk with stone cross = Peter, see X Maks The Spot)
    • Oatsie = Charlie Chaplin, see Modern Times
    • Mr. Beery, gaslight man
    • ›Black Charlie‹ = Henry George, see Blind, But Now I See
    (• Newt Pratt & his funny creature)
    (• Johnny)
    (• Cora)
    • Tom Warren
    • Uncle Ned
    • Dr. Forbes

    C (2 weeks later; end of September / begin of October 1909)
    • Mrs. Gibbs
    • May (Vernall) Warren, POV
    (• Tom Warren: died 1938)
    (• Louise Vernall: died 1936)
    (• Anne Burk: told May mystery of the facts of life when May was a girl)
    (• Snowy Vernall: died 1926)
    (• Dr. Forbes)
    (• Cora Vernall)
    (• Johnny Vernall)
    (• well dressed woman shaming in Beckett’s Park)
    (• Thursa Vernall)
    • Louisa Warren: *1909, daughter of May and Tom
    • Tom Warren: *1917, son of May and Tom
    • Walter Warren: *1919, son of May and Tom
    • Jack Warren: son of May and Tom
    • Frank Warren: son of May and Tom

    • Queen Victoria: 263, 291
    • Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797), English landscape and portrait painter: 264
    • Punch and Judy, traditional, popular, usually violent puppet show, associated with British seaside culture: 265
    • War of the Roses (1455-1487): 274
    • Lancasters, Yorks, rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet; enemies in the War of the Roses: 274
    • ›The King‹, presumbly Richard III., last king of the House of York, killed during Battle of Bosworth (22. August 1485): 274
    • Miss Pears = ›From the early 20th century Pears was famous for the annual “Miss Pears” competition in which parents entered their children into the high-profile hunt for a young brand ambassador to be used on packaging and in consumer promotions.‹ Source Wikipedia: 275
    • Montgolfier balloon, referring to Joseph-Michael Montgolfier (1740-1810) and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier (1745-1799); first public demonstration of their hot air balloon took place on 4. June 1783: 276
    • Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), English portrait and landscape painter: 276
    • ›Rood in the Wall‹: 276
    • Sybil, oracle in ancient Greece: 277
    • English Civil War (1642-1651): 278
    • Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), English military and political leader, Lord Protector of the Commenwelath of England, Scotland and Ireland: 278
    • Roundheads (Parliamentarians), suporters of the Parliament of England during English Civil War; enemies of Cavaliers (Royalists): 278
    • Thomas Fairfax (1612-1671), Roundhead commander-in-chief during English Civil War; victorious over Royalists in Battle of Naseby (14. June 1645): 278
    • ›Reverend Doddridge‹ = Philip Doddridge (1702-1751), English Nonconformist leader, educator and hymnwriter: 278
    • Diphteria, bacterial infection: 280
    • ›Barnado’s woman‹, referring to Bernado’s Girls Village in Barkingside, Essex, home for children rescued from East End slums in London, founded in 1876: 286
    • ›Austrian Duke‹ = Franz Ferdiand Archduke of Austria (1863-1914): 292
    • ›First World War‹, World War I, The Great War (1914-1918): 292


  3. One of May’s brothers is, I think, Aurdey Vernall’s father, who is an ongoing character with great significant to the novel.


  4. Audreys parents are Johnny ›Jim‹ Vernall and Celia, if I am not mistaken. Good a place as any to post my family tree sketch:

    Add: this is a work in progress. Includes info found up till chapter HARK! THAT GLAD SOUND.

    Liked by 1 person

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