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Feet of Clay

Annotations | Information | Quotes

+ [title] Feet of Clay

The original working title for this book was Words in the Head.

"Feet of Clay" is a biblical reference. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream in which he saw a statue whose head was made of gold, but lower down the statue the materials got progressively more base, until the feet were "part of iron, part of clay"; the statue was shattered and destroyed by being struck on the feet, its weakest point. Hence, colloquially, the expression "feet of clay" has come to mean that someone regarded as an idol has a hidden weakness.

+ [frontispiece] The mottoes and crests are mostly explained in the book, but for completeness they are:

Edward St John de Nobbes: "capite omnia" -- "take it all"

Gerhardt Sock (butcher): "futurus meus est in visceris" -- "my future is in the entrails"

Vetinari: "si non confectus non reficiat" -- "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" (a saying popularised by Lyndon B Johnson, though possibly older)

Assassins Guild: "nil mortifice sine lucre" -- "no killing without payment"

Rudolph Potts (baker): "quod subigo farinam" -- "because I knead the dough"

Thieves' Guild: "acutus id verberat" -- "sharp's the word"

Vimes family: "protego et servio" -- "I protect and serve". In the centre of the crest is the number 177, which -- we learnt in Men at Arms -- is Vimes' own badge number.


The font used by the golems in the UK editions is clearly designed to look like Hebrew lettering. For some reason, the font used in the American editions is not.

The golem itself is a creature from Jewish mythology, a man made of clay and animated by Kabbalistic magic. The one thing it cannot do is speak, because only God can grant the power of speech. There is a brief summary of the legend at <http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/6960/golem.htm>

+ [p. 8] "'Yeah, right, but you hear stories ... Going mad and making too many things, and that.'"

One episode in the life of the golem of Prague -- the best known of the mythical creatures -- tells that the golem was ordered to fetch water, but never told to stop, thus causing a flood. This is very similar to (and may be borrowed from) the classic children's story The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Der Zauberlehrling, a German poem by Goethe), also used in Disney's classic animated film Fantasia. A spell used to animate a broom to speed housework gets out of control, leading to a frightening procession of hundreds of brooms bringing water from the well. The French composer Paul Dukas based the music on Goethe's poem. A more direct reference appears on p. 99, and elsewhere as a sort of running joke.

+ [p. 17] "[...], he says Mrs Colon wants him to buy a farm, [...]"

'Buy the farm' is military slang for 'die'

+ [p. 17] "[...] I am sure I have told you about the Cable Street Particulars, [...]"

See the annotation for p. 247 of Maskerade .

+ [p. 19] "I AM DEATH, NOT TAXES."

It is said (after Benjamin Franklin) that in life only two things are certain: Death and taxes. However, the line before this kicks off a running gag that demonstrates than this is really one certainty too many.

+ [p. 22] "'Cheery, eh? Good to see the old naming traditions kept up.'"

'Cheery' would fit in very well with the names of the Seven Dwarfs in the Disney Snow White film. Grumpy, Dopey, Sleepy, Bashful, Happy, Doc and Sneezy.

+ [p. 23] "'I want someone who can look at the ashtray and tell me what kind of cigars I smoke.'"

One of the first things Sherlock Holmes tells Watson, when they first meet, is that he has written a treatise on this subject. This contrasts oddly with Vimes' distrust of 'clues' in general (see the annotation for p. 142).

+ [p. 24] "'Where the sun doesn't shine'"

A running gag from Lords and Ladies: the place where the sun does not shine, on the Discworld, is a valley in Slice, near Lancre.

+ [p. 25] "Clinkerbell"

Tinkerbell via 'clinker', which is one type of mining by-product.

+ [p. 26] "Slab: Jus' say 'AarrghaarrghpleeassennononoUGH"

Echoes the anti-drugs campaign slogan 'Just say no', championed most famously by Nancy Reagan in America.

+ [p. 26] "T'Bread Wi' T'Edge"

A long-running series of British commercials for a certain brand of bread emphasised the Yorkshire origins of the manufacturer. This slogan is in a parody of a Yorkshire accent, presumably for similar reasons.

+ [p. 30] The shield design described is the Ankh-Morpork coat of arms, not shown in the front of the book (but on the cover of Streets of Ankh-Morpork).

+ [p. 27] "'[...] he's got a loaded wolf.'"

Possibly a reference to the Australian story of The Loaded Dog.

+ [p. 29] 'Daphne's ancestors came all the way from some islands on the other side of the Hub.'

See the annotation for p. 9/9 of The Colour Of Magic , but specifically referring to the brown owls of New Zealand, which, to a British viewpoint, are 'some islands on the other side of the world'. Thus the morpork could be compared to the New Zealand brown owl.

+ [p. 30] "'Croissant Rouge Pursuivant'"

The names of the heralds are adapted from terms used in English heraldry. 'Pursuivant' is simply the title for an assistant herald. English pursuivants include the Rouge Croix (cf. Terry's Croissant Rouge) and Bluemantle (Terry gives us the 'Pardessus Chatain' or 'Brown Overcoat').

Senior to the pursuivants are the kings of arms, although none really corresponds to 'Dragon'. This has been linked with 'Dracula' -- the most famous vampire of all -- which is itself a title meaning 'little dragon'. It also harks back to Guards! Guards!, in which a dragon actually became king of Ankh-Morpork, albeit briefly.

+ [p. 35] "'There are plenty of kosher butchers down in Long Hogmeat.'"

Kosher butchering involves a special method of bleeding the animal, which would ensure that there was plenty of spare blood around. The name 'Long Hogmeat', however, is a bit more disturbing: apart from the question of how 'hogmeat' could be kosher, it also sounds suspiciously like 'long pig', which is pidgin for 'human flesh'. (See also the annotation for p. 239/180 of Soul Music .

+ [p. 36] "Commander of the City Watch in 1688"

1688 AD in England was the date of the 'Glorious [bloodless] Revolution' when the Catholic James II was deposed in favour of the Protestant Willem van Oranje, Stadholder of the Netherlands. He married Mary Stuart and became William III. "Old Stoneface", on the other hand, is clearly modelled on Oliver Cromwell, who ruled the Commonwealth (Republic) of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland from 1652 to 1658, at one point refusing Parliament's offer of the crown. Among his many reforms, he championed religious freedom and tolerance, extending even to Jews, who were welcome in England for the first time since 1290.

+ [p. 36] More Latatian.

"Excretus Est Ex Altitudine" -- Shat On From a Great Height; "Depositatum De Latrina" -- Chucked Down The Toilet.

+ [p. 38] "'The butcher, the baker and the candlestick-maker.'"

From an old nursery rhyme:

Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub
And who do you think they were?
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker...

+ [p. 41] "Commander Vimes, on the other hand, was all for giving criminals a short, sharp shock."

"Short sharp shock" was coined in Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado as a euphemism for 'execution'. In 1980s Britain, Tory home secretaries used the phrase to refer to the brief-but-harsh imprisonment of young offenders.

+ [p. 44] "'Delphine Angua von Uberwald,' read the Dragon aloud."

Uberwald (on The Discworld Mapp spelled with an umlaut over the U) is 'Over/beyond the forest' in German. In Latin, that's "Transylvania" -- a part of Romania traditionally associated with the undead (most prominently, Count Dracula).

+ [p. 45] "Men said things like 'peace in our time' or 'an empire that will last a thousand years,' [...]"

"peace in our time" -- Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister, in 1938.

"an empire that will last a thousand years" -- Adolf Hitler, on the Third Reich.

+ [p. 46] "Constable Visit was an Omnian, [...]"

Read Small Gods for much more information about Omnia. Brutha seems to have taken a religion devoted to violent conquest and turned it into something closely akin to modern evangelical Christianity.

+ [p. 54] "'Oh, well, if you prefer, I can recognize handwriting,' said the imp proudly."

The original Apple Newton was the first PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) capable of doing this, and was even supposed to improve its recognition of the individual owner's writing with practice. In practice, it didn't work too well. Hence the joke:

Q. How many Newton users does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. Foux! There to eat lemons, axe gravy soup.

+ [p. 55] "Lord Vetinari had always said that punctuality was the politeness of princes."

In our world, the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations attributes this saying to Louis XVIII.

+ [p. 55] "It is a pervasive and beguiling myth that the people who design instruments of death end up being killed by them."

This myth may have been started by William Makepeace Thackery, who asked in his novel The Adventures of Philip on His Way Through the World: "Was not good Dr Guillotin executed by his own neat invention?". As Terry notes, he was not.

+ [p. 56] "'Can you paint a picture of his eye, Sydney?' [...] 'As big as you can.'"

This idea has been used in many detective stories, but most famously in Blade Runner, where the main character is able to blow up a reflection in a photograph far beyond plausible limits.

+ [p. 63] "[...], or dribble some in their ear while they slept."

A curious method of administering poison, most famously mentioned in Hamlet.

+ [p. 64] "'Crushed diamonds used to be in vogue for hundreds of years, despite the fact that they never worked.'"

Crushed glass would theoretically work as a means of killing someone, because it forms jagged edges, but in practice the pieces are always either too big to go unnoticed or too small to have any effect. Aqua fortis is nitric acid, a very fast-acting poison if ingested... Cantharides is Spanish Fly, better known as an aphrodisiac, but quite poisonous in large doses.

+ [p. 65] "And that seemed about it, short of stripping the wallpaper off the wall."

The most obvious red herring. One of the most popular theories regarding Napoleon Bonaparte's death is that he suffered arsenic poisoning from the green colouration in the wallpaper of the bedroom of the place in which he was being held. It has been suggested that microbes, present in the humid conditions of St Helena, could absorb the poison from the wallpaper, then be inhaled by the prisoner, giving him a small dose every day. The wallpaper is green, and the pigment involved is copper arsenite, known in Napoleon's day as "Paris Green".

+ [p. 68] "'But... you know I'm in the Peeled Nuts, sir...'"

The equivalent in England today is called the Sealed Knot.

+ [p. 70] "Vimes's Ironheads won."

A conflation of "Roundheads" and "Ironsides", two names for the Parliamentarian soldiers of Oliver Cromwell, clearly the model for Suffer-Not-Injustice Vimes.

+ [p. 71] "Twurp's Peerage"

See the annotation for p. 191/138 of Lords and Ladies .

+ [p. 72] "But kill one wretched king and everyone calls you a regicide."

There's an old joke about Abdul, who builds roads, raises cities, conquers nations, but is forever remembered as Abdul the Goat Fucker as a result of a youthful indiscretion.

+ [p. 73] "Vimes put the disorganized organizer back in his pocket."

Posts made to USENET have a header field labelled 'Organization:'. Terry Pratchett's own posts give this as 'Disorganized'.

+ [p. 75] "... when I took you to see the Boomerang Biscuit exhibition."

Curiously, Carrot seems to have taken Vimes to the Dwarf Bread museum before treating Angua to it.

+ [p. 77] "'Ah, h'druk g'har dWatch, Sh'rt'azs!' said Carrot."

Littlebottom, in dwarfish, is "Sh'rt'azs". In British slang, 'shortarse' is a vaguely affectionate term for the vertically challenged.

+ [p. 81] "Igneous the troll backed away until he was up against his potter's wheel."

Igneous' shop has several parallels with a shop in the Sherlock Holmes story of The Six Napoleons.

Holmes encounters a pottery/stonework shop staffed mainly by Italians, who were also hiding out from the law and various other enemies, and is eventually asked to leave by the back door to avoid bothering the staff, which is locked with a large padlock. The figurines were also being used to conceal contraband.

Terry comments: "My flabber is ghasted. I really did think I made that one up. I mean... I had the pottery already in existence from previous books, and I knew I'd want to bring it in later so I needed a pottery scene now to introduce it, and Igneous already had a rep as an 'ask no questions' type of merchant, and I needed somewhere clay could be stolen and the golems would have had to break in, the padlock replacing the lock they'd busted. And I knew that I'd need a way for the Watch to put pressure on Igneous; 'hollow items' for drugs and other contraband is a cliché, which ought to mean that his staff are somewhat outside the law. In other words the scene is quite a complex little jigsaw piece which slots into this plot and the ongoing DW saga in various places. I'll just have to pretend I knew what I was doing..."

+ [p. 84] "'It hasn't really got a name', said Angua, 'but sometimes we call it Biers.'"

The perfect name for an undead bar. Puns on "beer", which you would normally associate with a tavern, and on "bier", which you would normally associate with being dead. Also puns on Cheers, the fictional Boston tavern in the long-running US TV comedy of the same name.

+ [p. 85] "'But sometimes it's good to go where everybody knows your shape.'"

The theme song of Cheers contains the line "sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name". See the annotation for p. 84, and the annotation for p. 298/225 of Soul Music .

+ [p. 86] "'That's Old Man Trouble,' said Angua. 'If you know what's good for you, you don't mind him.'"

From the Gershwin song 'I Got Rhythm': "Old Man Trouble, I don't mind him".

+ [p. 89] "'[...] sunglasses tester for Argus Opticians... [...]'"

A very appropriate name. Argus "the all-seeing" was the name of the many-eyed watchman from Greek mythology, who was tasked by Hera to keep an eye (so to speak) on Io, a human priestess who, after her seduction by Zeus, had been transformed into a cow in an attempt to keep Hera from getting suspicious. No such luck.

+ [p. 90] "'These words are from the Cenotine Book of Truth, [...]'"

There have been a number of suggestions for the derivation of this name. The root "ken" in Hebrew means "honest, truthful, correct". "Cenogenesis" is a biological term meaning the development of an individual that is notably different from its group (such as happens to Dorfl in the book). Alternatively, for the atheists, there's the "ceno" in "cenotaph", from the Greek "kenos", meaning "empty".

+ [p. 91] Magazine titles.

Unadorned Facts and Battle Call are plays on The Plain Truth, published by the Worldwide Church of God, and War Cry, published by the Salvation Army.

+ [p. 92] "'[...] Mr Dorfl.'"

All he golems' names are Yiddish, and Dorfl is no exception, although I'm not too sure what his means. It could be a pun on "Stedtl", which means "ghetto" -- Stadt is German for "town", Dorf for "village". In Austria, 'Dorfl' is indeed a word used to denote a small village.

+ [p. 93] "'Feeding the yudasgoat?'"

Or in English, 'Judas goat', named after the disciple who betrayed Jesus.

Judas goats are used by slaughterhouses to lead sheep to the killing floor. The sheep cannot easily be driven, but the herding instinct will make them follow the goat.

+ [p. 94] "'I'm going to read your chem, Dorfl.'"

"Chem", pronounced "shem", is Hebrew for "name".

One common euphemism used by Orthodox Jews for "God" is "Ha-Shem", literally: "The Name", which ties in to that part of the Golem legend which involves writing the name of God on the Golem's forehead (the other variant has the vivifying word being "Emet" (Truth)).


Ending sentences with "already" is a common mannerism among Yiddish-speaking Jews in Anglophone countries. Rhetorical questions are another mainstay of Yiddish conversational style.


Jewish holy days do, indeed, run from sunset to sunset. Cf. Genesis 1:5: "The evening and the morning were the first day."

+ [p. 109] "The Rites of Man"

Thomas Paine wrote a justification of the French Revolution entitled The Rights of Man

+ [p. 110] "[...], licking his fingers delicately to turn the thin pages."

Another red herring. Putting poison on the pages of a book, so that it is self-administered to the reader in this way, is an idea famously used in Umberto Eco's medieval mystery The Name of the Rose.

+ [p. 115] "You came with me when they had that course at the YMPA.'"

See the annotation for p. 88/88 of The Light Fantastic . The YMCA runs summer courses for children, and presumably for adults as well.

+ [p. 120] "'Nobblyesse obligay,' [...]"

See the annotation for p. 235/206 of Reaper Man .

+ [p. 123] "'It's "a mess of pottage", [...]'"

Another Old Testament reference.

Esau sold his status as Abraham's firstborn son to his brother Jacob (Genesis 25:29-34) for a bowl of stew (pottage). Hence, a mess of pottage is the proverbial price of a birthright. This phrase was parodied by CS Lewis, who accused H. G. Wells of selling his birthright for "a pot of message" (that is, abandoning the purely imaginative books he did so well to push his political ideas).

+ [p. 123] "'Who streals my prurse streals trasph, right?'"

Iago would rather be robbed than slandered in Othello, act 3, scene 3:

Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

+ [p. 124] "[...] he had got only six weeks to retirement [...]"

The copper within days or hours of retirement has become a police movie cliché; traditionally, anyone who starts talking like this is likely to die within the short time left. Two examples occur in the films Lethal Weapon 2 and Falling Down.

+ [p. 129] "'[...] ole Zhlob just used to plod along, [...]'"

Another golem name: "Zhlob" is Yiddish for "boorish glutton" (or gluttonous boor). Probably Slavic in origin.

+ [p. 130] "As her tutors had said, there were two signs of a good alchemist: the Athletic and the Intellectual."

Terry used this joke in a talk at the Australian National University in Canberra in 1994, but he was talking about a shift charge engineer in a nuclear power plant...

The standard analytical technique to prove arsenic in chemical mixtures involves mixing the sample with zinc and adding sulphuric acid. If arsenic is present, this produces arsenic hydride as a gas; burning the gas, and holding the flame against a cool porcelain surface, leaves a black precipitation of metallic arsenic.

+ [p. 132] "'It's nine of the clock,' said the organizer, poking its head out of Vimes's pocket. "'I was unhappy because I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet."'"

Refers to the regrettable trend among software producers to inflict a happy Thought For The Day on their users each time they open the software.

+ [p. 135] "One had a duck on his head, [...]"

See the annotation for p. 272/204 of Soul Music .

+ [p. 136] "'Buggrit, millennium hand and shrimp!'"

See the annotation for p. 324/233 of Lords and Ladies .

+ [p. 138] "'Dibbuk? Where the hell are you?'"

A dybbuk, in Jewish mythology, is a demonic spirit that possess the body of someone living.

+ [p. 140] "'We're all lyin' in the gutter, Fred. But some of us're lookin' at the stars...'"

From Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan, Act 3. Although it can't be easy to see the stars through all that fog.

+ [p. 142] "He distrusted the kind of person who'd take one look at another man and say in a lordly voice to his companion..."

Terry is challenging the Sherlock Holmes school of detection as being "an insult to the glorious variety of human life." P G Wodehouse does the same in one of his PSmith stories, in which Psmith observes the local plumber sitting in his garden, dressed well because it's Sunday and reading Shakespeare because he likes it, while Psmith is studying the "How To Detect" booklet that says a plumber is unlikely to dress well/read Shakespeare.

+ [p. 143] "It wasn't by eliminating the impossible that you got at the truth, however improbable..."

Another dig at Holmes, who said precisely this.

+ [p. 145] The description of Vetinari's drawing matches the cover of the original publication of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, possibly the most influential work of mainstream political theory.

The book argues that for people to come together in a society, they cannot help but create a structure larger than themselves, which must have a controlling intelligence of its own, i.e. some sort of governing body. Hence, although political power derives from the common people, it must be superior to them.

+ [p. 147] "[...] you might as well accuse the wallpaper of driving him mad. Mind you, that horrible green colour would drive anyone insane..."

See the annotation for p. 65.

A number of people also wrote to say that they were reminded of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story The Yellow Wallpaper (1892), about a woman who is indeed driven mad by wallpaper.

+ [p. 148] "'We're known for rings, sir.'"

Alberich the dwarf forges the Ring that is the centrepiece of Wagner's interminable Ring Cycle, based on Norse legend. Tolkien uses the same source, and his One Ring is not unlike Alberich's.

+ [p. 150] "Drumknott delicately licked his finger and turned a page."

See the note for p. 110.

+ [p. 153] "It was called the Rats Chamber."

This is another multidirectional pun. First, in German, the word for 'council chamber' is Ratskammer. Second, it's an anagram of Star Chamber, a special civil and criminal court in England. Created by Henry VII in 1487, abolished by the Long Parliament in 1641 following abuses under James I and Charles I. The court took its name from a star-shaped decoration in the ceiling.

The decoration in the ceiling of the Rats Chamber -- a group of rats with their tails tied together -- is called a rat king. According to Maarten 't Hart, in Rats (translated from the Dutch), some 57 rat kings have been found since the 17th century, although several are of dubious authenticity. They are often found alive, and can contain as few as three or as many as 32 members, although seven is the commonest number. Members are of both sexes, and almost always of the same age group, which may be young or adult. Rat kings are generally formed of black rats (Rattus rattus), although there is one occurrence of field rats (found in Java) and several of squirrels. No-one knows quite why they form, although one theory is that black rats (which have longer and more pliable tails than other breeds) get something sticky on their tails, and get tangled up when they groom each other, or while playing or fighting.

Apparently, a modern artist decided to make a work of art depicting a rat-king, and even put it on the internet. See Katharina Fritsch: Rat-King (Rattenkoenig), 1993 <http://www.diacenter.org/exhibs/fritsch/ratking/> (which also has an essay on the rat king through history).

+ [p. ???] "[...] Mrs Rosemary Palm, head of the Guild of Seamstresses [...]"

See the annotation for p. 121/119 of Equal Rites .

+ [p. 155] "'Remember when he made his horse a city councillor?'"

Caligula, Emperor of Rome from 37 to 41 AD, famously appointed his horse Incitatus as Consul to show his contempt for the Senate.

+ [p. 158] "'Genua wrote to Ankh-Morpork and asked to be sent one of our generals to be their king [...] The history books say that we sent our loyal General Tacticus, whose first act after obtaining the crown was to declare war on Ankh-Morpork.'"

Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, 1763-1844, was a French general who became King Karl XIV John of Sweden and Norway. The youngest son of a French lawyer, Bernadotte joined the French army in 1780, becoming an officer in 1792, during the French Revolution. Recognising his brilliance in the field, the Emperor Napoleon eventually elevated him to the rank of prince. In Sweden, where Gustav IV had abdicated (1809) and been succeeded by the childless Karl XIII, Napoleon supported Bernadotte as heir to the throne. In August 1810, he was elected crown prince as Karl John. In 1813 he joined the allies against Napoleon.

+ [p. 162] "Constable Visit had told him the meek would inherit [the world], [...]"

Another parallel between Omnianism and Christianity. See Matthew 5:5.

+ [p. 165] "'you've got to have the noses poking through the pastry...'"

Similar to Stargazy pie, a Cornish dish that has fish heads poking through the pastry all around the edge of the dish.

+ [p. 177] "'... push off back to the Yard, job done and dusted.'"

This phrase relates to the act of distempering a wall -- another oblique hint at the wallpaper theory.

+ [p. 181] "'Now we're cooking with charcoal!'"

The expression "cooking with gas" dates back to an advertising campaign designed to persuade people of the advantages of gas over electricity.

+ [p. 189] "*'She feels the need,' [...] 'Yeah, the need to feed.'*"

In the movie Top Gun, the pilots boast that they 'feel the need; the need for speed.'

+ [p. 190] "That horrible green wallpaper."

By the time Vimes has this idea (see the annotation for p. 65), he already knows enough to dismiss it in fairly short order.

+ [p. 195] "'Then there's this one about the Klatchian who walks into a pub with a tiny piano -- '"

The joke as adapted by thee goode folkes of alt.fan.pratchett goes like this:

This Klatchian walked into a pub carrying a small piano. He puts in on the bar and has a few drinks. When it comes time to pay up he says to the publican, "I bet you double or nothing I can show you the most amazing thing you ever saw."

"Okay, but I warn you, I've seen some weird stuff."

The Klatchian takes out a tiny stool, which he sits in front of the piano. He then reaches into his robes and pulls out a box, about a foot long, with tiny air-holes in it. He takes off the lid and inside is a tiny man, fast asleep. As the lid opens he wakes up. Instantly he jumps to the piano and plays a perfect rendition of 'The Shades of Ankh-Morpork'! Then, as everyone in the bar is clapping, he jumps back into the box and closes the lid.

"Wow!" The publican says, and wipes the slate clean. "If I give you another drink, could you do it again?" The Klatchian agrees. This time the little man plays the Hedgehog song, to thunderous applause.

"I gotta ask, where did you get that?"

"Well, a few months ago I was travelling across the deserts of Klatch, when I suddenly came across a glass bottle. I picked it up and rubbed it and lo and behold, out popped a Genie. For some reason it was holding a curved bone to his ear and talking to it."

"'Genie,' I said to him, 'I have freed you, and in return I ask only three wishes.'"

"'Huh?' The genie said, looking at me for the first time. 'Oh, OK, three, whatever.' He then started talking to the bone again."

"'Genie, I would like a million bucks!' I said to him."

"Did you get it?"

"Not exactly. The genie kept talking to the bone and he waved one of his hands. Instantly, I was surrounded by a million ducks. Then they flew away."

"What was your second wish?"

"I said to him: 'I want to be the ruler the world!' the Genie was still talking to his bone, but he waved his free hand and a piece of wood appeared, with inches marked on it."

"Oh, a ruler. It sounds like the genie wasn't paying much attention. Did you get your third wish?"

"Let me put it like this: do you really think I asked for a twelve-inch pianist?"

+ [p. 196] "'Send Meshugah after him, ah-ha.'"

Another Yiddish name, from Hebrew, meaning 'crazy'.

+ [p. 196] "[...] sometimes people inconsiderately throw their enemies into rooms entirely bereft of nails, handy bits of sharp stone, sharp-edged shards of glass or even, in extreme cases, enough pieces of old junk and tools to make a fully functional armoured car."

Most correspondent feel that the "extreme cases" are exactly the kind that the heroes of the television series The A-Team for years encountered on an almost weekly basis.

+ [p. 203] "[...] the crowd opened up like a watercourse in front of the better class of prophet."

Moses parted the sea to allow the Israelites to escape the pursuing Egyptian army, who were then all killed when the seas collapsed on top of them... (Exodus 14:21-30)

+ [p. 217] "'"My name is Sam and I'm a really suspicious bastard."'"

Parodies how people introduce themselves at meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

+ [p. 222] "'I thought the damn thing smashed up...' [...] 'Well, it's putting itself together.'"

The monster breaking into pieces and then reassembling itself is probably best known from Terminator 2 (see also the annotation for p. 364/275 of Soul Music ), but there are earlier references. In The Iron Man by Ted Hughes (1968) the iron man/robot falls over the edge of a cliff and breaks into many pieces. The fingers put the hands together then they pick up an eye and start putting the rest of the body together.

+ [p. 226] "It is not a good idea to spray finest brandy across the room, especially when your lighted cigar is in the way."

...unless, of course, you want a small fireball. This trick is used in the 1959 film The League of Gentlemen.

+ [p. 230] "'I wanted to buy a farm!' moaned Colon. 'Could be,' said Arthur."

See the annotation for p. 17.

+ [p. 234] "'This candle even weighs slightly more than the other candles!"

Although there are a few fictional uses of this method of poisoning, Terry himself explains that his source was an "attempt on the life of Leopold I, Emperor of Austria, in 1671, which was foiled when the alchemist Francesco Borri checked up on the candles. He found the candles in the bedchamber were heavier than similar candles elsewhere and found that two and a half pounds of arsenic has been added to the batch."

+ [p. 236] "'Hello hello hello, what's all this, then?'"

Catchphrase from the Dixon of Dock Green TV series. See the annotation for p. 60/55 of Guards! Guards! .

+ [p. 245] "'That's Mr Catterail, sir."

... whose letter Carrot read way back on p. 108, where he gives his address as Park Lane. Kings Down is a short walk away along Long Wall. Presumably they are on the same beat.

+ [p. 252] "'"Today Is A Good Day For Someone Else To Die!"'"

Contrary to popular belief, the saying "Today is a good day to die!" was not invented by Klingons. It's a traditional Siouxan/Lacotah battle-cry.

+ [p. 258] "He landed on the king's back, flung one arm around its neck, and began to pound on its head with the hilt of his sword. It staggered and tried to reach up to pull him off."

In Robocop 2, our hero (Robo) jumped on the back of the 'Robocop 2' and tried to open its head.

+ [p. 260] "'They gave their own golem too many, I can see that."

The way the king golem is driven mad by the number of rules in its head reminded many people of a scene in Robocop 2, where Robocop is rendered useless by programming with several, partly conflicting rules. This slightly tenuous connection is reinforced by several further similarities between Dorfl and Robocop.

Never mind Robocop, however: one correspondent has posited that the entire candle factory sequence is a clever amalgam of the endings to both Terminator movies. I will let him explain this to you in his own words -- I couldn't bring myself to paraphrase or edit it down:

"The candle factory itself, with all the candle production lines is reminiscent of the robotics in the automated factory that Reese activates to confuse the Terminator. Throughout the candle factory scene, Carrot is Reese, Angua is Sarah Connor, the king switches between the original T-800 when fighting Carrot and the T-1000 from T2 when fighting Dorfl, who is the 'good' Terminator from T2.

Carrot is shot early on and has to be dragged around initially by Angua, much like the injured Reese has to be supported by Sarah. The following fight between Dorfl and the king is similar to the big T2 confrontation between the two Terminators, in which one of the combatants is able to 'repair' himself and thus has an advantage. When Dorfl is 'killed', his red eyes fade out just like a T-800s, but he is later able to come back to life. The T-800 achieves this by rerouting power through undamaged circuitry; Dorfl does it by getting the words from elsewhere (heart as opposed to head).

In T1, Reese finds a metal bar and tries to fight an opponent he can't possibly beat -- exactly as Carrot does. When Angua finds herself facing the injured king, it is similar to the scene in T1 after Reese's death, when the torso of the Terminator pulls itself along after the injured Sarah, grabbing at her legs (which the king also does to Angua). Then, Detritus' shot at the king, which has no effect, is like Sarah's last stand against the T-1000, when she runs out of ammo just at the crucial point. When it appears that the seemingly invincible king has survived everything and is about to finish the job and kill Carrot, the thought-to-be-dead Dorfl makes a last-gasp interjection which finally kills the king -- much like the resurrected Arnie appears just in time to kill the T-1000 in T2. Oh, and finally, the molten tallow that Cheery almost falls into is, of course, the molten metal at the end of T2."

+ [p. 260] "'We can rebuild him,' said Carrot hoarsely. 'We have the pottery.'"

From the 70s TV series The Six Million Dollar Man: "We can rebuild him. We have the technology."

+ [p. 272] "'Undead Or Alive, You Are Coming With Me!'"

Another echo of Robocop.

+ [p. 278] "'He's just made of clay, Vimes.' 'Aren't we all, sir? According to them pamphlets Constable Visit keeps handing out.'"

Another parallel between Omnianism and Christianity. See Genesis 2:7. (In fact, the idea of God as a potter and humans as clay is a recurring metaphor in the Bible. See, e.g., Job 33:6, Isaiah 64:8, Jeremiah 18:6.)

+ [p. 279] "'The thought occurs, sir, that if Commander Vimes did not exist you would have had to invent him.'"

Parallels a famous saying of Voltaire (1694-1778): "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."

+ [p. 280] "'To Serve The Public Trust, Protect The Innocent, And Seriously Prod Buttock.'"

The first two of these were also the first two of Robocop's prime directives.

+ [p. 283] Dorfl's plan to liberate his fellow golems seems to take a lot for granted (e.g. that they will all decide, once free, to join him).

Terry himself describes what he envisages happening next:

"While I wasn't planning to feature this in another book, I suspect the sequence of events, given Dorfl's character, would run like this:

1 Dorfl saves up to buy the next golem
2 Golems suddenly become very pricey
3 Dorfl does extra shifts and go on saving
4 Price of golems goes up
5 Several merchants recieved a friendly visit from the Commander of the Watch to discuss matters of common interest
6 Golems available to Dorfl at very reasonable prices.

I want more golems on the city payroll. How else can they resurrect the fire service?"

The names of the golems, again, are Yiddish. "Klutz" -- a clumsy clod or bungler (from German); "Bobkes" -- beans, but only metaphorically; something worthless or nonsensical (from Russian); "Shmata" -- a rag, or piece of cloth; used both literally and to describe a person of weak character (from Polish).

+ [p. 285] "'Not a problem, me old china,' he said."

Rhyming slang: china plate -- mate, friend.

+ [p. 285] "'Somewhere, A Crime Is Happening,' said Dorfl."

Another Robocop line.

+ [p. 285] "'But When I Am Off Duty I Will Gladly Dispute With The Priest Of The Most Worthy God.'"

However, Dorfl has just told Vimes that he will never be off duty...

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