Book:Unseen Academicals/Annotations

From Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search

[edit] Unseen Academicals Annotations

General:-

It has been suggested that the opening pages of the book, in which Rudolf Scattering, night-watchman at the Royal Art Museum receives a nasty surprise, is a deliberate parody of Dan Brown's mystery thrillers of the Da Vinci Code genre.

Pedestriana - the plucky barefoot Goddess of Football. According to the Guardian, (edition of 30/12/09), in an article on the weird compulsion of men to collect, in this case a man with a desire to own a match programme for every game ever played by London side Tottenham Hotspur. The newspaper reproduces the front cover of the 1921 F.A. Cup Final programme, which features...guess what... a robed and barefoot Goddess of Football, the winged angel standing bare of foot atop the ball... documentary evidence, hopefully, will follow...[1]

The name Dimwell seems close to Millwall, area and football club in London noted for the belligerence of their supporters. House chant: Nobody loves us. And we don't care! Once combined an away visit to Manchester City with looting jeweller's shops on Wilmslow Road whilst the police were marching them to the ground. Two thousand fans overwhelmed three coppers and in the subsequent Shove, managed to gut a jewellers. See here for discussion:- [2]

Dimwell, like Millwall for London, is a dockside area that must provide most of Ankh-Morpork's stevedores, dockers and longshoremen. In fact: one of Andy Shanks' associates shares out the bounty at one point - of loose goods purloined while working a casual shift at the docks, unloading an incoming ship.

There are a fair number of "Lord of the Rings" references in "Unseen Academicals." Is micromail (see reference in article for alternative in sci-fi/fantasy) a reference to Frodo's mithril shirt? A metal called "moonsilver" is cited by Pepe as being a major component of micromail - "moonsilver" is a translation of the elvish "mithril".

A recurring theme throughout the book is Mr Nutt's search for worth. This leads him to many uncomfortable, even dangerous, places, and involves mental and emotional anguish, at one point a near-Death experience.

Later in the book, he has the Margolotta-guided insight that the worth he seeks is not a property of deeds or created things, but an ongoing process of creation.

This echoes the quest of the narrator of Robert M. Pirsig's work of popular philosophy, Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, who undergoes similar travails in search of elusive quality only to realise it isn't so much a thing as an ongoing process. Soul Music apart, there are no motorbikes on the Discworld. Pirsig's character grounds himself via looking after his motorcycle - but Mr Nutt is an accomplished amateur blacksmith who succeeds in re-shoeing the most difficult horse on the Quirm Flyer (horses are as near as the Disc gets, in general?)


(Harper Collins hardback, US, p.11) Speaking of Glenda's teddy bear, Mr. Wobble. "Traditionally, in the lexicon of pathos, such a bear should have only one eye, but as the result of a childhood error in Glenda's sewing, he has three, and is more enlightened than the average bear."

The picnic basket-stealing cartoon character, Yogi Bear, is frequently described as "smarter than the average bear." It is also a reference to "opening one's third eye", a feature of several spiritual traditions, usually having to do with gaining insight into the workings of the universe.

(Corgi paperback, UK, p28) Hunting the Megapode The Roundworld equivalent, The Hunting of the Wrens, is forgotten almost as totally as the Discworld version. The megapode is a real bird, whose name appropriately enough means "Bigfoot".

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p27) "in most cases the minutes could be written beforehand" Ponder Stibbons' technique for creating minutes of Faculty meetings is, in purpose and execution, identical to standard British Civil Service policy. (As described in the great satire of government life, Yes, Prime Minister, in which Sir Humphrey Appleby is an adept at predicting in advance how a meeting will work out and can quite safely dictate the minutes in advance.)

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p36) "No one could have been neutral when the Dark War had engulfed Far Überwald". A sideways reference to Tolkien's Middle-earth, perhaps, especially in the light of Mr Nutt's species and their perceived role in the Dark War of antiquity. "Alas, when the time came to write down their story, his people hadn't even got a pencil". Unlike more favoured races who had time and liberty to craft entire Red Books of Westmarch to get their side of the story out first... the Dark War is referred to on page 58 by Vetinari and on page 60 by Ridcully, where Vetinari likens the playing pieces on the Thud board to the Dark Hordes, in their lack of free will and their having been crafted for a single purpose - to fight. Ridcully reflects on what "the monsters" had been bred to do, and wonders what became of the thousands upon thousands of them who were bred to fight. Also, re-referencing Middle-earth, Treebeard speculates that Saruman had crossbred Orcs and Men, which he calls "a black evil", to create the Uruk-hai, perfect fighting machines to fight in a war that engulfs a large area of land... Vetinari himself notes that it wasn't Igoring goblins that produced orcs, but using humans, in whom the natural capacity for violence and evil is so much greater. There's also a slight resonance with the original Tolkien orcs which were created when (Middle-earthen) elves were betrayed and corrupted. In neither case are they natural creatures - they have been twisted into these shapes through evil intent. In the Jackson film version of the LOTR, they are even more "bred": the Uruk-hai are dug from the ground in a grotesque birthing sequence. There is a reference to the spawning of Orcs from the ground earlier in the book, where Nutt is contemplating the tallow vats, permanently bubbling and seething, (as per the film) as a place where he finds himself feeling safe and peaceful in an odd and nursery-like way. People in the streets had jeered to him that he'd been made in a vat. Although Brother Oats had told him that this was silly, the gently bubbling tallow had called to him. He felt at peace here. (p33)

It is also worth noting that the phrase "No one could have been neutral..." has associations when one ponders the evolution of the fantasy fiction novel. J.R.R. Tolkien's master work has a rather simplistic two-dimensional "you are either Good or Evil and that's all there is to it." feel about the morality and the motivation of characters. As Tolkien's Middle Earth was heavily influenced by Tolkien's Christianity, and the notion that all that is Good comes of faith in and duty to God, while all that is Evil comes of rejection of God and joining in the Fall, this dichotomy excludes a Third Way.

The Third Way is introduced by fantasy writer Michael Moorcock, who thought about the mechanics involved, and came up with a moral picture drawn as much from science as from mysticism. Moorcock, drawing his cue from the scientific laws of thermodynamics, insisted the primal struggle in the Multiverse was not between Good and Evil but between the opposed forces of Law and Chaos. After making that primal alignment, a character was free to make a secondary alignment with Good, Evil or the third state - Neutral - as he or she pleased.

Being of the Law does not necessarily mean you are Good - consider the Auditors - and being of Chaos does not necessarily mean you are Evil. Consider Ronnie Soak.

Moorcock's system offers so much choice and scope for delineating more complex three-dimensional characters that Dungeons and Dragons creator Gary Gygax adopted it wholesale. But here, in the Discworld, we are being explicitly told it is not an option - "No one could have been Neutral when the Dark War had engulfed Far Überwald" The Dark War takes its referents, therefore, from Tolkien and not Moorcock/Gygax.


(More Here:- [[3]]. Ref. author Mary Gentle and book "Grunts". In which a captured Orc is heavily laden with chains and secured to an anvil in the hope that this renders it dormant.)

Mary Gentle, like Neil Gaiman, is the subject of a dedication of an earlier Discworld book (the H.P. Lovecraft Holiday Fun Club consisted of her and several others from the new wave of British sci-fi/fantasy, including Neil). It would seem logical then, that TP is aware of her writing and has perhaps referenced it in the Discworld.

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p45) Ridcully swayed backwards, like a man subjected to an attack by a hitherto comatose sheep

In the UK House of Commons in June 1978 the Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer was Denis Healey. He described being attacked in June 1978 by mild mannered Conservative shadow Chancellor Geoffrey Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep".

Such an attack can be lethal if timed right. The selfsame Sir Geoffrey Howe, formerly a fawning loyalist, lost his temper in 1990 and launched a bitter and scathing speech to a packed Commons that contributed to the downfall of the previously unassailable Margaret Thatcher. Within a fortnight of Howe's attack - again likened to that of a dead sheep - she was gone, deposed as PM.


(Doubleday hardback, UK, p46) -How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless Dean

Shakespeare is being paraphrased here. King Lear's furious and anguished speech of betrayal on being (apparently) rejected by an ungrateful child, despite everything he has done for her, in which he at first wishes infertility on her, and then

If she must teem,

Create her child of spleen; that it may live,

And be a thwart disnatured torment to her!

Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth;

With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks;

Turn all her mother's pains and benefits

To laughter and contempt; that she may feel

How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is

To have a thankless child! Away, away!

from King Lear [4]

Other Shakeperian references, filtered on the Discworld through the prolific pen of the dwarf Hwel, occur on page 167, where Ridcully and Stibbons are considering the ball that goes gloing! (There are more things in Heaven and Disc than are dreamed of in our philosophies...). And on page 387,, where Glenda and Mr Nutt go to the theatre to witness a Hix-suggested production by the Dolly Sisters Players, called Starcrossed, also written by Hwel. This not only continues the Romeo and Juliet motif running through the book, it is explicitly described as one of the great romantic plays of the last fifty years. In our timescale, the Bernstein/Sondheim musical West Side Story, where the plot of Romeo and Juliet is updated to warring city street gangs, was first performed in 1957, making it 52 years old.

I don't think it's pressing things too far to suggest that the evil Dr Hix's love of amateur dramatics might be a sly dig at one CMOT Briggs...

Another piece of Python-esque British humour that can be referenced here is the classic radio comedy sketch performed by the Son of Cliché troupe (including a very young and pre-Arnold Rimmer comedian called Christopher Barrie), in which the FA Cup final of 1982 is re-written as though it were a Shakesperian play of the heroic Henry V genre being performed at London's National Theatre.

(Harper Collins hardback, US, p.49) "Just speak with a little more class, eh? You don't have to sound like--"

"My fare, lady?"

Referring to "My Fair Lady" where street flower seller Eliza Doolittle improves her cockney speech to the point where she's taken for a fine lady at an embassy ball.

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p51) "Miss Healstether found him a book on scent". Mr Nutt's early life, education and reception by his peers is reminiscent of that of the character Grenouille in Patrick Süskind's novel Perfume, who is similarly scorned, hated, and making his way up (or at least across) from the bottom. It is also worth noting that Grenouille was raised by a priest, for at least part of his life, and was effectively chained to a Hell-like cellar apprenticeship until offered opportunity to better himself. Like Steerpike in Gormenghast, (another literary anti-hero who has a similar early life), Grenouille finally becomes a manipulative monster with a sinister power over people...

Football team colours - from Wikipedia:-

  • The leader in the Giro d'Italia cycle race wears a pink jersey (maglia rosa); this reflects the distinctive pink-colored newsprint of the sponsoring Italian La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.
  • The University of Iowa's Kinnick Stadium visitors' locker room is painted pink. The decor has sparked controversy, perceived by some people as suggesting sexism and homophobia.
  • Palermo, a soccer team based in Palermo, Italy, traditionally wears pink home jerseys.

Palermo is also the heart of Mafia and Machismo country, in Sicily: presumably they have transcended the whole pink thing as immaterial.

The Hungarian international strip appears to be red and green with pink trim.

The Liseberg district of Gothenberg in Sweden hosts three soccer clubs. The local city colours are pink and green, which goes back to mediaeval times, but alas none of the three clubs plays in them.

One manufacturer of soccer favours markets a pink-and-green scarf, but regrettably there's no clue as to which club it is associated with. [5]

In many cities in the North of England, in pre-Internet and pre-Sky TV days, there would be a late edition of the Saturday evening paper, carrying nothing but the final sports results of the day, and it would be printed on pink paper. (Except in Sheffield, where for some reason it was the Sporting Green). Pink and Green again...

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p52) Miss Healstether sounded bitter. "Stand by then, because he's discovered the Bonk School." This is the Discworld equivalent of later German/Austrian philosophers such as Wittgenstein. On Roundworld, the Vienna School is also a collective name used for the emergent psychoanalysts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Freud, Jung and Adler, whose works are often taught in university philosophy departments for want of anywhere less controversial to pigeon-hole them. This leads to several amusingly entertaining associations: given Mr Nutt's later destiny as football team manager, with the more reflective, introverted and philosophical sort of squad boss such as Sven-Göran Eriksson. There are also echoes of famously philosophical players, such as the Manchester United and France star Eric Cantona, an interview with whom could easily befuddle the average back-page journalist, as Cantona was (and is) fond of peppering interviews with philosophical apercus. Also, need we mention the classic Monty Python sketch where the whole of the German and Greek international football teams are made up of their nations' respective star philosophers? [6] The one exception in the German team, who deserves mention for going along with the joke, is the then West German national football team captain Franz Beckenbauer, who appears on the field looking frustrated at the philosophical relflection and lack of football going on around him.

'(Harper Collins hardback, US, p53) "They are the ones who go on about what happens if ladies don't get enough mutton, and they say cigars are--" "That is a fallacy!"

Sigmund Freud, when asked if his cigar was a phallic symbol, is supposed to have said "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

A similar phallus/fallacy joke has appeared in a previous Discworld book in reference to witches' broomsticks.

(Harper Collins hardback, US, p67) "They're two teams alike in villainy."

Prologue to "Romeo and Juliet" "Two households, both alike in dignity..." It could also be an example of football commentators' random (if sometimes intellectual) phrases...

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p70) "But I'm a Face, right?". Trevor Likely's proud assertion of his status in the ranks of the Dimmers, and his being known throughout all the Boroughs, reflects British soccer hooligan counter-culture where the leaders, best fighters, and other notorious individuals in the various Firms are known as Faces. The term was also used by counter-cultural young male gangs in the 1950's and 1960's: Teddy Boys in the 50's, and Mods and Rockers in the 60's, most notorious gang members and hardest fighters were called Faces. In the latter case - 1960's scooter mods - there is even a musical about it: the Who's rock opera Quadrophenia, about London Mods, has a song called I'm the Face.


(Doubleday hardback, UK, p73) 'Gentlemen' Ridcully began ...'or should I say, fellow workers by hand and brain'

'Workers by hand and brain' is a key phrase in original Clause IV for the British Labour Party. This was written by Beatrice and Sidney Webb, leading members of the Fabian Society.

To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service

Clause IV was revised (not abolished) in 1995.

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p80). With regard to the makeover of Professor Hicks into the University's licensed evil wizard. In his physical description and general attitude, is there a certain sly reference creeping in to the teaching wizards of Slytherin House, in a certain J.K. Rowling's fantasies about a school of wizardry? Or, indeed, to a certain Dark Lord whose name cannot be uttered, save that it most coincidentally also begins with a "V"? And all this is in the context a of a sport which wizards must learn to love (if only to stop their cornucopia drying up and the flow of big dinners ebbing to a trickle.) A sport which most categorically must be played within agreed rules, with no magic at all being used, which involves getting a resolutely un-magical ball into a goal. Anyone for Quidditch, whoops sorry, Foot-the-Ball? Interestingly, when Ridcully is temporarily possessed by the shade of PE master Evans the Striped, it is Hix who performs a crude but effective exorcism with the knob on the end of his staff. What might Hix be able to reveal about the act of insorcism that put Evans' soul in there in the first place?

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p87): Glenda would have followed him like a homing vulture A reference to ex-Python Michael Palin's gritty slice of Northern working-class life, The Testing of Eric Olthwaite, in which the little-known Northern English sport of racing homing vultures is discussed at great length. It is possible one of Reg Bag's prize homing vultures was called Glenda.

(Harper Collins hardback, US, p107) "I just happened to be holding a knife. You are holding a knife.We hold knives. This is a kitchen."

Reminiscent of "The Lion in Winter", where Queen Elanor says "Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It's 1183 and we're barbarians!"

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p113) "Oh, Mr Trevor Likely" said Glenda, folding her arms. "Just one question: who ate all the pies?"

This is a classic chant to be heard across British football grounds. Fans tend to be merciless to a player perceived as having fallen from the pinnacle of physical fitness and to have put weight on, in the form of visible fat. The full chant, aimed at the luckless fat boy, runs: Who ate all the pies? Who ate all the pies? You fat bastard, you fat bastard, you ate all the pies! (tune: Knees up, Mother Brown). Footballers thus singled out for dietary advice from the terraces have included England's idiot savant and flawed genius, Paul Gascoigne.

A charming piece of trivia. Who ate all the pies? is quite possibly the oldest known fan chant to have been continuously sung on English terraces. It was born in honour of William Henry "Fatty" Foulke, the legendary Sheffield United goalkeeper whose playing career spanned 1894-1910. Six foot two and a svelte twelve stone at the start of his career, he was an early victim of success and the extravagant professional footballer lifestyle (Edwardian style). By 1902, he was estimated to weigh twenty-five stones (350 pounds) and was still playing top-level football. His Sheffield United faithful sang it in his honour, albeit without the "you fat bastard" line. You wonder if Terry was aware of this when he wrote the character of the Ankh United goalkeeper, who is seen eating and gorging his way through the big game...


(Harper Collins hardback, US, p.122) Robert Scandal's famous poem, "Oi! To his Deaf Mistress".

Refers to Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress".

Also (Doubleday hardback, UK, p122) Nutt was technically an expert on love poetry throughout the ages... he had tried to discuss it with Ladyship, but she had laughed and said that it was frivolity, although quite useful as a tutorial on the art of vocabulary, scansion rhythm, and affect as a means to an end, to wit, getting a young lady to take all her clothes off.

This is suspiciously reminiscent of Sigismundo Celine's reflections on romantic poetry, in guerrilla ontologist Robert Anton Wilson's The historical Illuminatus: The Widow's Son. In which the wunderkind Celine, imprisoned in the Bastille, passes time by reading the prison library. He decides about love poems that

they mostly argue the case that a Certain Woman is like a certain Natural Phenomenon (sunlight, stars, birds, flowers, et c) and that the poet's heart, in response to this fact, was like another Natural Phenomenon (parched desert, wounded animal, dark cave, et c) and that there was only one natural resolution to this natural conjunction of natural phenomena. He gathered that she would have to take her clothes off. (p. 149 R.A.Wilson, The Widow's Son, Lynx Books, New York, pub. 1985) For more Wilson and hints on other ways his thoughts and ideas might have filtered through Pratchett's brain and into Discworld, see Reading Suggestions).

(Harper Collins hardback, US, p.124) [S]omeone at the Royal Art Museum had found the urn in an old storeroom, and it contained scrolls which, it said here, had the original rules of foot-the-ball laid down in the early years of the century of the Summer Weevil, a thousand years ago, when the game was played in honour of the goddess Pedestriana.

As gods and religion are involved, it may be of note that a similar incident is described in the Bible, specifically in 2 Kings Ch. 22. Supposedly, a "Book of the Law" was found in the Temple, dating back centuries to Moses himself, but which had somehow been lost. As the book described rules that were in the best interests of the Temple and the priests there, scholars who aren't Biblical fundamentalists generally suspect that the ancient book (likely an early version of what we now call Deuteronomy) had been recently composed.

This being the Discworld, this book of rules apparently is ancient and has just been composed.

(Harper Collins hardback, US, p135) "Good point, well put," said Ridcully, "and I shall marshal my responses thusly." He flicked a finger and, with a smell of gooseberries and a pop, a small red globe appeared in the air over the table.

Is this a magical powerpoint demonstration?

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p158) "Dolly Sisters, right? Sounds like the Botney Street area. I'm sure of it". said Pépé This is in the crab-bucket discourse, about how people from lowly areas with big ideas are beaten back into thinking small by their peers.

Satirical magazine Private Eye once revealed a secret about BBC Arts supremo, talking head on the gentler, more refined, things in life, and broadcasting giant, Alan Yentob. [7] Although Yentob adamantly denies it, the Eye revealed that he was born in lowly circumstances in East London as Alan Botney, and reversed his surname for professional reasons to make it look more interesting and artsy. Yentob/Botney has refrained, however, from suing the Eye for libel over this assertion. Is this a hidden reason for Terry's naming a street in Lobbin Clout after him?

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p167) "You gave the ball a mighty kick, Mister Stibbons, and yet you are, by your own admission, a wet and a weed." Molesworth, a schoolboy and the narrating character in a series of books by Geoffrey Willans, would consistently refer to his brother, Molesworth 2, as "a wet and a weed."

(Harper Collins hardback, US, p198) "Owlspring-Tips diagram"

The Herzsprung-Russell diagram is used in astronomy to plot the absolute magnitude of stars against their spectral class.

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p201) "That's right, of course" said the former Dean. "Your father was a butcher, as I recall". Later on, there is explicit mention of the large, strong, hands Ridcully inherited from his butcher father. There is a continuity problem here: when Ridcully first enters the series in Moving Pictures, it is explicitly said that he became a seventh-level mage at a phenomenally young age, then retired from active Wizarding to return home and run the extensive family estates. Certainly, his demeanour and behaviour is that of the rumbustious country squire who drinks port by the pint and considers slaughtering the wildlife to be a perk of social rank. Such a man would not concern himself with butchering, save in the rough-and-ready method utilised just after a successful hunt. Similarly, a butcher would not normally be expected to kill his animals - in normal circumstances, they arrive freshly killed by somebody else. And to be able to afford large country estates, you would surely need be a very successful butcher? Something of a problem here, I fear. On page 41, Ridcully's grandfather is first mentioned as a religiously-inclined prizefighter who made musical boxes for a living and who scored two goals against Dimwell in one match. This can be excused and incorporated into the canon without breaking continuity with what we already know about Ridcully - everybody gets two grandfathers, after all. But the wiggle room disappears when his father is described as a city-based butcher and not a country squire.... It is possible that the land comes from his mother's side of the family. Being the offspring of a frowned-upon marriage (highborn lady, lowborn butcher) may well explain some of Ridcully's stubborn attitude.

Also, the book suggests Ridcully was brought up in Ankh-Morpork and his butcher father took him to football matches. This really doesn't square with what we know about the Ridcully brothers from previous books in the series.

However, it is mentioned that not all those experiences were true ones. Ponder, for instance, remembers being taken to see the football by his father despite being raised by an aunt.

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p200) "You are after the Hat" said Ridcully, flatly.

The rivalry between Mustrum and, er, Henry, crystallises in Henry's offer that the two magical Universities should fight it out on the field of sport, the stake being the Archchancellor's Hat in which reposes the soul of Wizardry and the essence of many thousands of Archchancellors past. This is made clear in an earlier dialogue on pp197-199.

There is a continuity problem here with events in Sourcery. Having got the Hat out of Ankh-Morpork over to Klatch and therefore temporarily out of reach of the Sourcerer, Rincewind and Conina are imprisoned by the wicked vizier Abrim, who takes the Hat for his own. Abrim then builds a tower and challenges Ankh-Morpork, but owing to intervention by the Luggage, is distracted for just long enough for concentrated magic to blow him, the tower, and most crucially the Hat, into tiny tiny smithereens. After Abrim's destruction, the Hat is never heard of again - it is presumed destroyed, atomized by greater forces. It is certainly not used again as a plot device in Sourcery, and is in the fullness replaced by Ridcully's wilderness-survival Hat: a symbol of a different University with different priorities. Yet on pp225-227, Vetinari discusses the Hat as if it is still in physical existence, none the worse for its trip to Klatch and its last known wearing on the head of a failed wizard who was blasted into his component atoms.

Unless Henry and Mustrum are playing for a purely symbolic Hat (which like the Ashes never leaves London, however often Australia beat England), or the original Hat was included in Coin's promise to the Librarian to restore everything to what it was, as good as old (but it is never mentioned again in the canon, until now?), then it's hard to see anything other than a continuity glitch here.

(Harper Collins hardback, US, p202) Ponder Stibbons says "I'm even the Camerlengo, which means that if you drop dead, Archchancellor, from any cause other than legitimate succession under the Dead Man's Pointy Shoes tradition, I run this place until a successor is elected which, given the nature of wizardry, will mean a job for life."

The Camerlengo(Italian for "chamberlain) of the Roman Catholic Church is, among other duties, the person in charge of the Vatican between the death of one pope and the election of the next. His job is not normally as exciting as Dan Brown describes it in "Angels and Demons."

(Harper Collins hardback, US, p203) "Most of them were old enough to recall at least two pitched battles among factions of wizards, the worst of which had only been brought to a conclusion by Rincewind, wielding a half-brick in a sock..."

As described at the end of "Sourcery."

(Harper Collins hardback, US, p224) Glenda says "You're giving them Avec. Nearly every dish has got Avec in it, but stuff with Avec in the name is an acquired taste."

"Avec" is the French (and probably restaurant Quirmian) word for "with."

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p251) "What is your favourite spoon?"

Pepe has just informed Glenda that a lot of people want to ask Juliet some very important questions, including this one.

The satirical magazine Private Eye carries a "Me and My Spoon" column in every edition, in which a celebrity is quizzed minutely about their favourite spoon. This column is meant as a joke at the expense of those journalists - not always on gossip/trivia magazines of the Bu-Bubble type - who persist in asking the most vacuous, trivial, and lazy questions of the people they are interviewing. As a sort of foreshadowing of this, Vetinari is seen to be playing with a spoon during the dinner at the University, thoughtfully studying it and the way the varying concavity and convexity of it alters his reflection.

Interestingly, a place-name with an unambiguously Irish ring to it - Cladh - is introduced here. Until now - with the possible exception of a couple of minor character names - there has not been a hint of anywhere Ireland-like on the Disc, although there is a Wales-like country and a suspiciously Caledonian aura to the NacMac Feegle. Is this a portent for the future? Cladh", pronounced "Cla(h), may derive from an Irish Gaelic root for "circle" or "ring".

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p272-273) The crowd gathering to witness Nutt in his travail, chained to a bench and fully aware of his Orc-hood for the first time. The named speakers are a Butcher and a Baker. Who are looking upon Nutt, a Candle(stick)maker....

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p282) "Is this going to be like the Moving Pictures?"

Given that Dr Hix, via a handy Omniscope, is proposing to replay part of the Battle of Orc's Deep, then the answer may be "yes". This could well be a back handed tribute to the film adaptation of The Two Towers, the second in the film trilogy of The Lord Of The Rings dealing with the battle of Helm's Deep, and introducing Orcs as a potent fighting force. The fact Glenda also remembers the Moving Pictures is significant, as she can be no older than twenty. Doubly interesting, in a city where a convenient group amnesia appears to settle at the end of every fad or fancy... Another (minor) continuity slip occurs here: Hix, acknowledging Glenda's reference to the Moving Pictures, refers to "popcorn", a word unknown on the Disc. Which does, however, have "banged grains" (although - continuity slip within continuity slip! - Hwel briefly mentions "popcorn" in one of his plays during Wyrd Sisters). The second referent is to the Roundworld battle of Rorke's Drift, but this has already been parodied in an orc-related context by fantasy writer Mary Gentle (in her short story "The Battle of Orc's Drift", the Orcs are surprised and stitched up a treat by an enemy with lots of similarity to the Feegle).


(Doubleday hardback, UK, p314) "Was it a football team of Orcs?" By his own admission, Terry Pratchett was once heavily involved in fantasy RPG gaming of the "Dungeons and Dragons" variety. A spin-off from D&D, marketed by the British fantasy gaming and world domination corporation Games Workshop, was called Blood Bowl [8]. In this, a board game/RPG loosely based on American Football, teams drawn from the various fantasy races played each other, utilising their traditional cultural and racial strengths and weaknesses in a sport combining grace, athleticism, and sadistic brutality. It is difficult to believe TP is not aware of this game, nor of the fact that Orcs, being nearest in temperament and body shape to American footballers, had an inbuilt advantage. It may also be a reference to another game by Games Workshop called Warhammer 40,000; the orcs in this series (here called Orks) are often said to have been based on 'English football hooligans' and serve as a comedy relief race in the setting. It is notable that they would be very enthusiastic about the more brutal form of Ankh-Morpork foot-the-ball.

"Orc's Deep" may also have a second level of allusion, to the famous Roundworld battle of Rorke's Drift. However, "The Battle of Orc's Drift" has already been done by fantasy writer Mary Gentle. (see above) In her story, the Orcs encounter a faerie race not unlike the Feegle... and in any case, Terry Pratchett has referenced, although not expanded on, a famous Discworld battle at Lawke's Drain, which may have been in Howondaland.

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p320) "Fartmeister" Carter has just been badly beaten up by the established villain Andy and his gang, at least in part to send an unmistakable message to Trev Likely. This echoes a scene in the classic gangster film Get Carter, in which the local mob, inconvenienced by London gangster Carter's attempts to disrupt them, go gunning for him. They miss Carter (Michael Caine), but console themselves by beating his friend and local ally to a bloody pulp. In this case - Carter has been well and truly got.

"Fartmeister" echoes the case of the star professional footballer let down by a bad choice of best friend, who can so easily become a leech on him. Think of the role played by Jimmy "Two-Bellies" in the drink-related downfall of genuinely gifted flawed legend Paul Gascoigne - an ill-advised best friend who Gascoigne could not bear to lose on becoming famous and who provided embarrassment at best, and career-destroying drunken benders at worst. And the film "Get Carter" is even set in Newcastle, Gascoigne's home town...

And there is also virtually the entire Rooney family, a clan of Liverpool scallies so notorious that the fragrant Coleen wanted to exclude the entire tribe from her wedding to Wayne. (a gifted footballer not known for his physical good looks: there is a certain Orc-like component to Wayne even in a good light).

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p321, 327, 361) - Mrs Atkinson - ..one of the most feared Faces who had ever wielded a sharpened umbrella with malice aforethought.

This elderly lady, as well as evoking a freelance Agony Aunt, is very typical of the hordes of shrieking old ladies who would descend on professional wrestling events* every Saturday to berate, belabour and batter the participants. Eighteen stone muscle-mountains would be scared of them, as a Mrs Atkinson rushing the ring who had deliberately sharpened her umbrella to a point could really hurt if she jabbed it into the thigh or buttock. Any wrestler thrown out of the ring to land theatrically in among the seated crowd ould not want to be dropped among a group of Atkinsons, who could be relied upon to prod, poke, pinch, kick, stab and spit as he made his shaky way back to the bottom rope. Kendo Nagasaki, a legend among British pro wrestlers, who played the evil baddie role in the ring, is on record as saying he feared nothing so much as a bloodthirsty seventy-year old lady with a sharp umbrella.

  • *We are talking about British pro wrestling here, generally a more cheap and cheerful spit-and-sawdust affair than the glitzy and improbable American WWF circuit. This is the sort of contest broadcast live from Dewsbury City Hall at four o'clock on a Saturday, invariably hosted by Kent Walton, while the nation waited for its football results in the 1970's. Ah, great days.


(Doubleday hardback, UK, p330) - Mr Nutt quotes book title The Doors of Deception. A play on Aldous Huxley's philosophical treatise on using psychedelic drugs to expand the senses - The Doors of Perception. (This also inspired the name of a 60's psychedelic rock band fronted by Jim Morrison, of course).

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p336) Another troubling continuity error emerges concerning Mustrum Ridcully. In Reaper Man, the detail emerges, in the context of a conversation with his brother Hughnon the High Priest, whilst discussing life's little consolations in the face of Mrs Cake, that Hughnon is a teetotaller and cannot for religious reasons touch his brother's emergency brandy; he then asks Mustrum for a cigarette, and it emerges that his brother is a non-smoker with equally vehement reasons not to touch the blasted things. But here, on pages 338 and 339, after forbidding sex, smokes, strong drink and excess food to the football team, Mustrum is desperately searching his rooms for an emergency cigarette only to discover Mrs Whitlow has hidden them all, in accordance with his wishes. Far from being a non-smoker, Mustrum Ridcully now has at least three stashes of tobacco, rolling paper and cigarettes for emergencies. In the interim since Reaper Man, has Ridcully taken up the evil habit, as might be contractually expected of a senior Wizard? This is a niggling continuity point.

(Doubleday hardback, UK, pp360-62) The incident of the banana(s) flung onto the pitch. This reflects the nasty and distasteful racist streak in British football fans as recently as the 1990's, where if a team played a black player (in an overwhelmingly white side) a predominantly white crowd was likely to welcome the black player with massed "ook-ook!" monkey noises, mimed scratching of armpits and flea-picking, and the throwing onto the pitch of many, many, bananas. (One of the earliest black players to join a British team, London's West Ham, made a brave face of it by saying he'd never needed to pay for another banana ever again. West Ham, incidentally, were the preferred side of fictional TV racist Alf Garnett).

Of course a real ape would attract "ook-ook" noises, a stand full of idiots all trying to get away with the m-word in relative safety, and, in this case, a poisoned banana.

This practice has been virtually eradicated in British football (by sanctions including ensuring local greengrocers do not sell bananas to football fans on match days, refusing entry to the ground to those carrying bananas, and making the throwing of them into an ejection/arrestable offence.) But it persists in Europe, especially in Spain.

The final taboo in British football is now beginning to be addressed: up until recently it was seen as a huge joke to verbally belabour gay players as black footballers were before them. (Note the presence in this game of Bengo Macarona, a man who has led indignant wives to bring divorce actions.) In real life, footballer Justin Fashanu[9] had it twice over: once for being black, and once for coming out as gay. Fashanu eventually committed suicide. The story is quite shocking from anybody's point of view and is by all accounts typical of the treatment of out gay men in professional sport. Incidentally, Macarona's squad number is "69" for some unfathomable reason. (Although elsewhere we are told the Seamstresses' Guld clacks number is Ankh-Morpork 69, chosen for the advertising associations, this surely must be coincidence...)

Also on page 361: Glenda Sugarbean invents what, if this were Soul Music and the crowd were gathered for a rock concert, would be called "crowd-surfing" as she descends down from the stands to the pitch. A hazard of crowd-surfing in the mosh-pit for most women would be inadvertent or deliberate groping: Glenda is disappointed that this happens to her not even once.

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p366) Bledlow Nobbs, a man desperately trying to deny a relationship to Nobby Nobbs of the Watch, is summed up by Trev with "Nobbsy is a clogger at heart."

A member of England's World Cup winning team of 1966 was Manchester United legend Nobby Stiles, an uncompromising defender who had lost all his teeth young, some to natural causes, and who used to disconcert opposing forwards by a toothless gummy grin before he went into tackle. Nobby Stiles was a very definite clogger of the old school.

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p385) "You think it's all over?"

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p389) "You think it's all over?"

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p397) "You think it's all over?"

(Doubleday hardback, UK, p400) "It is now!"

A reference to the classic BBC commentary at the end of the World Cup Final in 1966, where at Wembley Stadium in London, England beat West Germany 4-2 with the referee unaccountably adding more and more extra time. Kenneth Wolstenholme drily says there are some people on the pitch... they think it's all over... it is now! This piece of British deadpan, where a South American or Italian commentator would have been screaming with excitement, has justly gone down in commentating glory.

As a secondary note, it is commonly believed that the English side winning the World Cup in 1966 occurred in the run-up to a general election. Eventual winner Harold Wilson, an exceedingly sharp Prime Minister more than slightly touched by Vetinari-ish deviousness, who is supposed to have later said that the feelgood factor engendered by the football match was the biggest single decider that elected him back into office. He speculated that had England lost, government change would have been inevitable, for the same superficially irrelevant reason. What would a similar "feelgood factor" do for Lord Vetinari, a man not concerned with mere elections... In reality, the 1966 general election took place in March, while the World Cup took place in July, and could not have affected the result.

This was borne out in 1970, where the World Cup Finals actually did coincide with the run-up to an election called by Wilson. Against all expectations, holders England crashed out at a lower stage - to West Germany - and former Prime Minister Harold Wilson duly found himself the Leader of the Opposition.

kitchen maid literature

In Dutch, we have an expression 'kitchen maid literature' for the kind of books Glenda reads. I have not been able to ascertain if the same expression also exists in English, but if it does... Of course Glenda is a cook, not a kitchen maid, but still.

Juliet the WAG

Juliet is, of course, the Discworld's first example of what the UK press refer to as a "WAG" - the 'Wives And Girlfriends' of famous footballers (eg Victoria ('Posh') Beckham). Stereotypically, WAGS are incredibly glamourous but also incredibly vacuous, just like Juliet. The union of a famous footballer (ie Trev Likely) to a fashion model (ie Juliet) is a very typical WAG situation. Trev & Juliet are the Discworld's "Posh & Becks" (Mr & Mrs David Beckham).

Personal tools