J1.12 Choking on a Tune

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore

Book 1 – The Boroughs
Choking on a Tune

Page 338 – titled Choking on a Tune

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Page 339

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Page 340

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Page 341

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Page 343

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Page 344

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2 thoughts on “J1.12 Choking on a Tune”

  1. DATE = 2005

    • This is a few days before Ch1, which takes place on the following Saturday.


    • 49 years old (he was 3 when he choked on the cough drop in 1959).

    • He was the POV character for part of Ch1.

    • His mother is Doreen Warren (nee Swan) from Ch11, so his father must be Tommy Warren, POV from Ch11 (and his big sister, Alma Warren, must be the baby being born in Ch11). His paternal grandmother is May Warren (POV from Ch10) and his maternal grandmother is Clara Swan. His great grandfather is John “Snowy” Vernall (POV from Ch9), and his great great grandfather is Ernest “Ginger” Vernall (POV from Ch2).

    • His wife is Cathy, and they have two sons, Jack (who is a lot like Alma) and Joe (who is a lot like Mick).


    • Page 343, par 2: The family house that Mick and Alma grew up was located at 17 St. Andrew’s Road, but by 2005 has been “replaced by a grass verge….”

    A recent interview with Moore includes a photo of him standing at this location:


    • Page 344, par 2: “This was in the twelve-hundreds, when the area called the Boroughs now was then Northampton, all there was of it.”

    So the Boroughs used to be the entirety of Northampton in the 1200s. Mick recalls that back then Northampton had a student population who rebelled against King Henry The Third. The king responded by sending his troops, who “sacked and burned the previously prosperous and pleasant town” and “decided that it would be Cambridge that became a seat of learning, rather than Northampton.”

    Mick sees this as the beginning of Northampton’s disenfranchisement, noting: “Refuse just once to eat the shit that you’ve been served up and the powers that be will make sure there’s a double helping steaming on your plate at every supper for the next eight hundred years.”

    • Page 349, par 3: The doctor’s judgmental and condescending attitude toward the Boroughs kids when Mick was growing up parallels the doctor’s attitude toward May Warren and her baby in Ch10.

    • Page 351, par 2: Mick and Alma shared a chamber pot growing up because they didn’t have indoor plumbing. Their great great grandfather Ernest “Ginger” Vernall also used a chamber pot at the beginning of Ch2.

    • Page 357, par 2: This is a great line as three-year-old Mick is choking and drifting away from reality. His sense of self is crumbling, and he starts to see himself as a third person protagonist:

    “The person in the tale that he liked best, the little boy, was dying in a funny little house upon a street that nobody would ever hear of. He remembered feeling slightly disappointed that the story hadn’t had a better ending, because up to then he’d been enjoying it.”


    • Page 351, par 4: Alma had “always been much, much too comfortable with the idea of spookiness. It was a quality, he thought, that she had actively aspired to. Nobody could end up like Mick’s

    • Page 352, par 2: “There’d come a point in any conversation between Alma and their mum in which Doreen would make a huge strategic blunder and would start to argue in the terms of Alma’s logic, whereupon she would immediately be lost.”

    Haha little kid Alma Warren already sprinkling spells into other people’s consciousnesses as a five-or-six year old!

    • Page 359, par 1: “Mick believed that in life there were times when the entirely inappropriate was the only appropriate response. Perhaps, though, it was only him and Alma who thought that way. Mostly Alma.”


  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
    • Michael ›Mick‹ Warren: POV,
    • (Alma: Mick’s big sister)
    • Mick’s fellow employees at reconditioning yard
    • Howard: Mick’s best mate
    • Cathy: Mick’s wife
    • (Dawn: Cathy’s sister)
    • (Harriet: Dawn’s youngest daughter)
    • (Chris Devlin: Mick’s distant cousin)
    • (prison officer of Chris)
    • (Doreen: Mick’s mother, died 1995)
    • (man next door in St. Andrew’s Street = Dough McGeary, fruit & vegetable purveyor)
    • (Mrs. McGeary: Neighbor of Warrens in 1959)
    • (John: Mick’s cousin)
    • (Eileen: Mick’s cousin)
    • (William Mallard: Mick’s maternal great-grandfather)
    • (another man in 3rd portrait photograph in Warren house; maybe Uncle Cecil, maybe cousin Bernard)
    • (Clara Swan: Mick’s maternal grandmother)
    • (May Warren: Mick’s grandmother)
    • (Dr. Grey: family doctor of Warrens)
    • (little tiny girl in upper corner of living room of Warrens)
    • Jack: son of Mick and Cathy, aged 15 in 2005
    • ›Joe‹ = Joseph: son of Mick and Cathy, aged 11 in 2005
    • (Mick’s boss)
    • (Ernest Vernall)
    • (Audrey Vernall)

    • Tune, brand of lozenge manufactured by The Wrigley Company in the UK: title and whole chapter
    • Harold Lloyd (1893-1971), American actor, comedian, film director and stunt performer: 325
    • Coco Pops, brand name for breakfast cereal: 326
    • George Romero (*1940), American-Canadian filmmaker, best known for his series of gruesome and satirical horror films about an imagined zombie apocalypse: 328
    • ›Mabel Lucy Atwell‹ = Marie Lucie Attwell (1879-1964), British illustrator, known for her cute, nostalgic drawings of children: 328
    • Bachelerie di Northampton, ›Bachelerie‹ refers not only to students, but also to journeyman. See Quote: »There is other evidence of the existence of an aristocracy envied by their less well-todo fellow-townsmen. The only original return extant to the inquest of 1274–5 (fn. 147) is described as being made by the lesser folk of the town, (fn. 148) and it complains bitterly that the wealthier burgesses escape the burdens of citizenship. ‘Divers burgesses holding many and great rents in the town refuse to make common cause with the community in tallages and other things, with the result that a large number of craftsmen (menestralli) have left the town because they are too grievously tallaged.’ (fn. 149) Some of the exemptions from tallage to which the jurors refer are enrolled upon the Patent Roll. (fn. 150) They complain further that when poor townsmen are put on assizes and have to go to London and elsewhere on the business of the town, it is at their own charges, whilst the rich men, if they have to do business abroad on behalf of the town, have all their expenses allowed them and the poor have to pay for it. (fn. 151) This kind of complaint was arising from many towns in the 13th century, (fn. 152) notably from Oxford, (fn. 153) and it has recently been suggested that it forms part of the wave of anti-aristocratic feeling expressed in 1259 by the communitas bachelerie Angliae. (fn. 154) There is no record in Northampton of the proclaiming of a commune as at London in 1262–3 (fn. 155) or at Bury St. Edmunds in 1264, (fn. 156) but we are told that the bad example of the bachelarii of those towns infected others, (fn. 157) and it would seem that such a demonstration was apprehended by the drafters of the second custumal. The ruthless sacking of the town by the royalists in 1264 suggests that if the priory was for the King, the townsfolk, like the scholars, were for the barons, and the attribute of Northampton in the medieval list of towns preserved in the same manuscript with the custumal echoes the term associated with turbulent democracy—’Bachelerie de Norhampton.’ (fn. 158) Already in the 13th century it looks as if the town government was in the hands of an oligarchy, closed by custom, if not by ordinance.«, Source: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/northants/vol3/pp1-26#anchorn154 : 330
    • Simon De Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester (1208-1265), French-English nobleman, leader of rebellion agant King Henry the Third during Second Barons’s War: 330
    • King Henry the Third (1207-1272) of House Plantagenet: 330
    • Magna Carta Libertatum, ›the Great Charter of the Liberties‹, peace treaty of 1215 between the unpopular King John of England and a group of rebel barons: 330
    • Cluniac order, belonging to Cluny Abby, a Benedictine monastery founded in 910 in southern France: 330
    • Prespex windows, trademark for acrylic resins used mainly as a substitute for glass: 331
    • Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940), British conservative politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom: 332
    • Hitler = Adolf Hitler (1889-1845), German politician, leader of the Nazi Party, Chancellor of Germany from 1933-1945; as ›Führer‹ of Nazi Germany initiator of World War II: 332
    • Reckitt’s Blue, brand of blue duye for textiles: 333
    • Century 21, British independent film production company, founded as AP Films in 1957, renamed Century 21 in 1965. Most famous for electronic marionette show Thunderbirds: 334
    • Captain Scarlet, title character of Century 21 TV show Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-1968): 334
    • Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis, Old Testament, Bible; cities of sin (sodomy and homosexuality) destroyed by fire and brimstone due to divine judgement: 336
    • Jehovah, vocalization of YHWH, proper name of the God of Israel in Hebrew Bible: 336
    • Cities on the Plain, Genesis, Old Testament, Bible; five cities (Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim and Bela) situated on the Jordan River plain north of the Dead Sea: 336
    • Wee Willy Winkie, titular figure in Scottish nursery rhyme (1841) written by William Miller: 336
    • Frankenstein, referring to monster creature made of corpses by Dr. Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus (1818): 337
    • Rupert = Rupert Bear, English cartoon character by Mary Tourtel, published in The Daily Express: 337
    • Airfix models, UK manufacturer of plastic scale models founded in 1939: 337
    • French Foreign Legion (Légion Étrangère), military service branch of the Franch Army established in 1831, unique because it was created for foreign nationals willing to serve in the French Armed Forces: 337
    • Civil War Confederates = Confederate States of America; secessionist American states from 1861-1865 during the American Civil War: 337
    Tit-Bits = Tit-Bits from all the interesting Books, Periodicals, and Newspapers of the World; British weekly magazine (1881-1989): 337
    Reveille, British weekly tabloid newspaper (1940-1979): 337
    • St. Vitus’ Dance, historic referrer to Sydenham’s chorea, a disorder characterized by rapid, uncoordinated jerking movements: 337
    • Sputniks = Sputnik, first artificial Earth satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1957: 339
    • Elephant Man = Joseph Merrick (1862-1890), English man with severe deformations who was first exhibited at a freak show as the ›Elephant Man‹: 344
    • Paul Abbot = Paul Abbott (*1960), English television screenwriter and producer: 344
    Shameless (UK), Channel 4 adult comedy-drama series (2003-2013) set in Manchester, chronicles the life of the Gallagher family and their neighbors: 344-347
    Bread, BBC sitcom (1986-1991): 345
    • STD, acronym for Sexually transmitted diseases: 345
    You Are Being Served, BBC sitcom (1972-1985): 345
    • Dostoevsky = Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881), Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher: 345
    • National Health, founded in 1948: 346
    Jerusalem = ›And did those feet in ancient time‹, poem (1808) by Wiliam Blake Blake. Best known in athem version as Jerusalem, music written by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916: 346
    • Tourette’s = Tourette syndrom, common neuropsychiatric disorder, characterized by multiple involuntary motor and vocal tics; named after French physician Georges Gilles de la Tourette: 347


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