Moist von Lipwig

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Moist von Lipwig
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Name Moist von Lipwig
Race Human
Age Born in Überwald 1965
Occupation Postmaster General, Chairman of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company, Master of the Royal Mint
Physical appearance Six foot two, brown-blond hair, average and nondescript.
Residence Now owner of a property on Scoone Avenue, Ankh-Morpork
Death Hanged under the name of Albert Spangler, still not dead
Parents both dead
Relatives grandfather who raised him.
Children none
Marital Status Now married to Adora Belle Dearheart.
Appearances
Books Going Postal, Making Money and Raising Steam
Cameos Thud!


Swindler, con artist and fraud wanted dead in several cities, and currently Postmaster General and Master of the Royal Mint of Ankh-Morpork. Smitten with Adora Belle Dearheart, whom he calls "Spike". After a tough apprenticeship as her fiancé (note that it was not the other way around), they are, as of Raising Steam, married and resident in a property on upmarket Scoone Avenue, where they employ a domestic staff. He revived the postal service in Ankh-Morpork, inadvertently challenging the clacks company, which was stolen from Adora Belle Dearheart's family by a still much bigger fraudster, Reacher Gilt. Reacher Gilt is also rumoured to have had her brother, John Dearheart, killed. He folllowed this through by rescuing the fortunes of the Royal Bank and the Royal Mint.

Usually dressed all in gold in his capacity as Postmaster General (with corresponding wingèd golden hat; gold paint, of course), Moist was entrusted with the running of the clacks company after it was ascertained that Reacher Gilt and his gang of financial cronies had obtained the company by illegal means.

He is of a nondescript appearance, leading people who see him to look through him without noticing anything prominent or memorable about him. This proved a valuable asset in his previous profession (for avoiding angry mobs) however this advantage is now negated by his big shiny golden suit that makes him instantly recognizable, at least while wearing it. He consoles himself with the fact that it's the suit that people recognize, rather than him. Moist turns this to his advantage: if he really wants to go incognito, he can just change into the shabby old grey suit that Albert Spangler was executed in. The effect is rather like that of Clark Kent emerging unremarked from a nondescript telephone box - as Superman also knew, people never really look, or make connections from what they see.

As of Making Money and his confessions of his criminal past in open court, it may be that going incognito is far more difficult, and that he may very well become one of Ankh-Morpork's most recognizable citizens, much to his chagrin.

In Going Postal Moist was temporarily linked to the consciousness of the collective letters of the Post office after he delivered one of them and was officially made the Postmaster by the post guild. The consciousness was aware of Moist's shady past but were by that point willing to take anyone as Postmaster so they could be delivered. The link was painfully severed when the Post Office was burnt down: it nearly killed Moist in the process, as Adora noted. He went deathly pale when the consciousness started screaming in his mind.

A definite crowd pleaser, he uses their favour to further his aims. Lord Vetinari seems to hold him in high regard; he appears to be one of his lordship's favourite pawns.

Moist's exploits, recounted in Going Postal, include resumption of the post, in Ankh-Morpork as well as surrounding areas such as Sto Lat and Pseudopolis, the invention of "stamps", facilitating its use, and the liberation of the Grand Trunk from Reacher Gilt and his henchmen. In Thud! Vimes mentions (angrily, of course) that 'that idiot at the Post Office' has brought out a Koom Valley stamp, or rather two : you can choose between the dwarves ambushing the trolls or the trolls ambushing the dwarves.

The invention of stamps eventually leads to their use by the populace of Ankh-Morpork as a sort of paper currency, prompting Vetinari's need to transfer Moist to overhaul the Royal Mint and by extension, the banking system. As Master of the Royal Mint, his new hat of office is a threadbare, worn-out, top hat in worn-through black felt. However, Moist makes a visit to the Boffo emporium on Tenth Egg Street and buys glue and golden glitter for a necessary improvement in keeping with his public image, and so that the hat does not clash with the golden suit. His experiment with the creation of stamps leads him to a wider usage of paper with the creation and use of the revolutionary Paper Money.

It is tempting to note here that as Master of the Mint, Moist is effectively playing Exclusive Possession with two of the standard six game tokens: the Hat and the Dog. If you stretch a point, he also has the services of the Golem Gladys, who irons his trousers just by smoothing them against a wall, instead of using the iron in the postmen's locker room; and the coach motif recurs throughout the book (taking the place of the car/train token - although the coach invariably belongs to another player with an agenda of their own, except for when Moist briefly rides the mail coach at the start of the race). Moist also receives, along with the Dog, the promise of $AM20,000 for passing "Go!" right at the start of the game, due to the bequest in Topsy Lavish's will. And the "Go To Jail" penalty certainly applies to Moist's visits to the Tanty... (To follow this metaphor more closely, see here.) The game of Exclusive Possession resumes in Raising Steam which updates the board to add not only a train but the stations.

Although he has recently taken a (rather spectacular) turn toward public service, Moist is still very much in possession of the mind of a criminal, as Vetinari notes happily. He is addicted to the rush, and is never happier than when he is making things up on the fly; almost all of his solutions to the many problems he faces are the result of winging it. When oppressed by the legitimate (and boring) responsibilities of his position(s), Moist has been known to go to increasingly desperate resorts to feed his need for danger, such as taking up Edificeering and Extreme Sneezing as leisure pursuits. Breaking into his own office, when the penalty for getting it wrong is rough justice from vigilante-minded citizens, is just a part of this syndrome, as is his continued pilfering of Drumknott's pencils. Notably, he is much less prone to this behaviour when Adora Belle Dearheart is around, leading to the inevitable conclusion that he finds her dangerous enough that he doesn't need to engage in other crazy stunts. She finds this rather romantic. He has since discovered the joys of train-surfing, and an even more dangerous sport involves wining and dining clients at the Pink PussyCat Club, involving the insertion of banknotes into items of underwear. So far, Adora Belle is not aware of this.

In "Raising Steam", it is revealed that Moist and Adora Belle have since gotten married and are now living in a mansion on Scoone Avenue, in Ankh, (the same neighbourhood where the Duke and Duchess of Ankh, Sam and Sybil Vimes, live). Whilst Moist continues to run both the Royal Ankh-Morpork Post Office and the Royal Mint and Bank, Adora Belle runs the Clacks and has made it an equal opportunities employer, also hiring Golems and Goblins.

Aliases

Annotation

Moist von Lipwig. Lip wig = "Moist of the false moustache": the master of disguise!

Moist also does self-designed ear wigs. These are designed to draw attention to themselves - say if the mark is trying to explain things to the Watch afterwards about the gentleman with the steady gaze and the firm handshake and the hair growing out of his ears, the one who convinced me that Vetinari had entrusted him with the right to sell the Brass Bridge - all he will be able to describe with any certainty is the eye-catching undergrowth in both ear-holes. Oh, and he might have had a moustache, too...

It is possible that the Patrician is secretly grooming Moist to be his successor.

The inspiration for Moist could have come from Victor Lustig (January 4, 1890 – March 11, 1947) - a con-artist who worked throughout Europe and America, known for selling the Eiffel Tower for scrap - twice, and selling several 'Money Boxes' supposedly capable of duplicating banknotes. The inspiration for Moist could also have come from Ferdinand Waldo Demara, known as "the Great Impostor", masqueraded as many people from monks to surgeons to prison wardens.

One real-life Moist von Lipwig was Rowland Hill. Not actually a reformed criminal by any means, he did create the entire idea of the modern postal system, including Uniform Penny Post and stamps (Although he didn't come up with perforations). He also created the Post Office Savings Bank, an institution which allowed poorer people to save money for the first time, since the larger banks did not want to do business with them. Incidentally, the first stamp created, the Penny Black, features a black and white portrait of Queen Victoria, and many 'clever' jokes were made about licking Vickey's backside.

Trivia

  • Given Adora's appearance, demeanour and, especially, clouds of tobacco smoke, suggest to some that she may be an avatar of the goddess Anoia (and Lela before her). This would put Moist in an odd relationship with both the goddess and her worldly manifestation, although he was, himself, the avatar of Fedecks, messenger of the gods, during the events of Going Postal, as a result of the link to the consciousness of the collective letters of the Post office.