the north will rise again

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Pulp – ‘Last Day of the Miners’ Strike’

The future’s ours for taking now, if we just stick together

I wanted to end on this song because it’s likely to be the last song Pulp ever. I also wanted to end on this song because the aftermath of the Miners’ Strike is one of those things that’s inescapable and crucial, both to Pulp and to my own life. The thing about the Miners’ Strike is that it sort of feels like it’s never ended: all that pain and suffering and defiance and anger have never really gone away. It devastated Sheffield as it devastated my city of Newcastle, the collapse of mining leading to the collapse of steel and shipbuilding, the crushing of the National Union of Mineworkers leading to catastrophic loss of union power overall. I am certain that the defeat of the miners and the steady decline of heavy industry in Britain contributed to my union leader grandfather’s early death in 1991 from a stress-induced heart attack, after a decade of desperately trying to keep his shipyard open. I was two years old. I don’t remember him at all.

It’s difficult to explain the shattering effects of the aftermath of the strike, because it makes your frame of reference radically different from a Southerner’s. You grow up in a world where you know that you are worthless. Unemployment everywhere. No light at the end of the tunnel. Every single living member of my family has worked in the shipyards at some point, up until my generation. My mother worked as a cleaner, and loved to tell a story about how she was taught to always throw her scrubbing brush into the sailors’ cabins first with the lights off, because that way all the cockroaches would panic and crawl onto the ceiling and you could clean without having to look at them while you were at it. It was a hard job, but she loved it. The shipyard was security, safety. No matter what happened you could always come back to the Tyne and build on her waters. Until you couldn’t. 

So you bear invisible scars, and you live with it. Pulp, of course, is all about taking that scar tissue and shoving it in everyone’s faces. Guitarist and violinist Russell Senior acted as a flying picket during the strike, and fought at the Battle of Orgreave, and his political outlook ended up influencing Jarvis Cocker immensely. Jarvis seems to think that he came late to a proper understanding of class consciousness, I think I speak for all of us when I say that he’s forgiven. No one has been as unapologetic or as confrontational about the Northern working class experience in my lifetime, and I am grateful beyond words. Apart from the wordplay in this song, referencing the rising of the north is a thing we say a lot, up North, by the way, but is probably also a reference to both the Rising of the North and The Fall’s The N.W.R.A. 

But there’s something dead hopeful about this song. Which is why I wanted to end on it: Jarvis Cocker’s driving force is anger, righteous class-based fury, absolutely and without question, but I believe what he believes, that we have to keep fighting because if we all fight together things will get better. Fuck them Tory cunts and fuck the system, but hold on and hang on. Let’s get it on. 

When winter comes for war,

You shall hear no Lions roar.

When winter forces you to yield,
No Stags shall graze upon the field.

When winter creeps upon you from the shadows,
No Roses shall bloom from the meadows.

When winter wreaks havoc on the land,
You can bet there’ll be no Snakes in the sand.

When winter brings to life all it finds grim,
The Krakens will freeze where they swim.

When winter sets and the land begins to shiver,
The Flayed Man will start to rot and wither.

When winter fights to the last sliver,
No more Trouts shall swim in the river.

When winter ravages and all despair,
No Falcons shall fly high in the air.

When winter shows you what happens when snow falls,
Not even Dragons Breath shall warm you in your halls.

When winter comes with all it’s might,
Only the Wolves shall howl in the night!

The Ice Queen

The Ice Queen

They say the Ice Queen’s beauty is only rivalled by the Targaryen Queen. Her hair is long, red as flame. Her skin is fair as the snow she was raised in. Her eyes blue as the ocean. They say she is tall, graceful, and when she moves it’s like all fades away. They say that her beauty is that etched of the Northern cold, but her fury is as sharp as the Dragonglass that was used to kill the Others. Sharp, and cold, in the North.

She had one sister, the first female Northern War general in the North. They say that she’s as sharp as a Valyrian blade and vicious as a wolf. It’s said that a pack of wolves follow her into battle, howling for the North to rise again.

And her younger, Wildling brother, would never be King. He was far too wild, far too vicious, and far too broken. But they say he fights like a Wildling, and that he rides his Direwolf into battle, like the Young Wolf had.

The Northern Queen, the War General, and the Wildling Brother. Those are the stories they whisper of the Starks.

Jon doesn’t know how they could be true. But then again, it had been so long since he’d seen his siblings (no, cousins now) that he doesn’t know if his memories are real.

But he remembers the sweetness of Sansa, constantly tumbling between wanting to be his sister and making her mother happy. (And he remembers, quite bitterly, how that ended.) And he remembers little Rickon, wild and fun, sweet and wanting so badly to be like Bran and Jon.

And he remembers Arya, too. He remembers her wildness and her daring personality. He remembers how it felt to hold her, how happy she had been to just be accepted. He remembers her grey eyes and dark hair, fair complexion and her hard edges with softness underneath. Insecure, softness beneath.

He wonders how the world managed to turn them all into stories. But then again, here he was. A crow who loved a Wildling and fathered a red haired son with one. The crow who fought against his honor. A crow who couldn’t decide who to fight for. He tried to warn them, and they killed him for it. A crow who was killed and rose again, but not as a Other.

A crow who was waiting for his sister, (no-his Queens) word to give the Free Folk passage through to the Gift.

He wouldn’t hold his breath. But he had little Ed by his side, so he prayed to the Gods he wasn’t sure he believed in anyways.


Arya rode to him. And when he laid his eyes on her he nearly fell from his horse.

She was beautiful, with long hair, a long face, pretty eyes and full lips. But so much more than that: she looked and acted every inch a warrior. Soot marked her face, bringing stark attention to her eyes. She dressed comfortably, but smart. And her cloak was pieced together with Stark colors and a single symbol: the Wolf of the Northern Army.

Tormund, beside him whistled, but a wolf stepped forward, a Direwolf. Nymeria.

“Fucking hell, that’s your sister?”

“Cousin,” Arya says sharply, slipping from her horse. “How many women, children, and old do you have?” She looks around, assessing hard and he feels disappointment set into him.

“Five thousand,” he says, and Ed appears, in awe of her. He steps towards her and she levels a look at him. “And two and a half thousand men and women able to fight.” She nods, but the boy keeps moving around her, until he finally moves through what he assumes is awe.

“You’re a Queen?” He asks, and around him, the Free Folk laugh. He feels the tension set into him. She smirks, though.

“No.” She says leaning down to look into his eyes. She turns back to Jon, and she pierces him with a sharp stare, before turning back at him. “A general. My sister is the Queen. She’s far more beautiful than I.”

Ed is four, with long, curly fire red hair and a round face. But he looks like Jon, his red hair is all Ygritte, but only that. Arya reaches for him and lifts him. She fits him on her hip, carefully and turns to Jon.

“The Queen has fought and bought your favor through the Wall. The Free Folk will be given the Last Hearth, under stipulation.”

The Free Folk bristle and shift in confusion.

“What stipulation?” Tormund asks.

She tilts her head. “You do not steal women. You do not murder. The Last Hearth is stocked well with everything you will need. Food, clothes, armor, weapons. We ask only, until we can sit down and discuss an official treaty, that you do not murder or steal women.” Ed picks at her cloak, and she mostly ignores him, but lets him play in awe of her.

“That’s our culture,” Tormund argues. She raises a dark, daring brow.

“And ours is to keep you North of the wall. We’re all making adjustments.” There’s a fury in the people, but they’re tired. Very, very tired.

“Why the Last Hearth? That belongs to the Umbers.”

Arya raises her brow. “You’ve not heard, then?” He frowns. “They turned against the Starks. Gave the Boltons Rickon. So when Sansa killed Ramsay Snow, Shaggydog tore apart the last of the Umbers. The Last Hearth has been abandoned since Sansa seized the Crown.”

The men and women around him are unsure of Westeros Politics, but Jon steps forward.

“Sansa killed?” Arya smiles a cruel smile.

“Oh Jon Snow, you’ve missed so much.”


When they’re alone, she hugs him, tighter than she used too. She clutches onto him like she’ll lose him. But when she pulls away, she punches him.

“You’re still my brother, you brooding twat!” She snaps. “I don’t care you have a Dragon for a Father, you and I will always be brother and sister.” She’s angry, furious, and full of an ice storm.

“Then why cousin?” He asks, a bit stupidly as he rubs his face. She had a good swing, too.

“Because,” Arya says, sighing. “Sansa says it’s best we treat you as cousin. The Northern Lords are wary of your arrival. Especially with the Free Folk. But fortunately, with word from both you and the Wall of the Others, it’s given them the push to accept this arrangement. But they can’t fuck this up, Jon.”

He nods, sighing “I know. Tormund is speaking to the Elders and they’re trying to push for control. It’s different for the Free Folk, they’ve always been Free.”

“Yeah, well this is South of the Wall Jon. We face war with the Lannisters while the Dragon Queen rages war with them. And we have a war to the North. We can’t have a civil war, Jon. We won’t survive it.” She tells him urgently, and he smiles.

“You’ve changed, Arya.” She pulls away and nods.

“We all have.” She tells him, and then moves over to look at Ed as he sleeps.

“What was she like?” She asks him quietly.

Jon hesitates, remembering her face. Remembering her bitterness as she’d died. Things between them had always been complicated, but his time as a Wildling had tainted him. He was too Wild to bow now, but still too loyal not too. “She was Wildling to the bone. A spearwife. And she died.” Arya turns to see his solemness, and nods.

“He’ll be taken care of. No matter what. Sansa’s already made sure of that.” She promises him. He watches his son as he shifts in bed, still unaware of all the darkness he could face.

After all, he’s a Targaryen and a Stark bastard, just like him.


Sometimes he still dreams of Bran. He knows it’s Bran, the three-eyed raven watches him in these dreams. Sometimes he appears as a boy nearing a man. He’d been the one to tell him.

And it had all fallen into place, in understanding.

“Tell them I love them.” Bran asks him. Jon nods.

“I will.”


Sansa is beautiful, more beautiful than any woman he’s ever laid eyes on. Tormund beside him, even looks a bit shocked. She’s tall, his height. Her hair is deeper than Eds, but long and falls in beautiful waves. Her eyes remind him of her mother’s, but there’s a warmth there that does not. She does look like her mother: but she’s so much more beautiful.

She sits in the Throne of the Last Hearth. The town was nearly dead, with very few inhabitants. She looks very much the Queen she was, as she sits there with warm furs wrapped around her. Two wolves at her side, one black one speckled with white and the other white speckled with grey.

She stands, and so do the wolves.

“Please,” she says smoothly. “There is a stew ready to be served and ale. The Journey through the storm must not have been easy. Warm yourselves here. I am Sansa Stark.” She doesn’t say she’s a Queen, and he’s glad. Though she wears an Iron crown, she does not force herself onto the Free Folk any other way.

They are weary of her, though, and Sansa watches Jon with apprehension and a guard he’s not sure he likes. Sansa, when he was younger, had two expressions. Anger and happiness: but this mask was delicately created and used.

Arya shoved Jon forward, hand in Eds.

And Jon moved forward, and he bows in respect.

“Your Grace.” Ed, sweet little Ed, copies his father.

“Your Grace,” Sansa lets out a small laugh.

“Please, both of you stand.” They did, awkwardly, for Jon, as Sansa steps forward and presses a kiss to his cheek. She kneeled down and pressed a kiss to Eds forehead.

This isn’t the Ice Queen they talk of in the North.


Rickon is more Wildling than anything. But he’s smart, in his own way. In a survivor’s way. When he sees Jon, he runs at him, throws his arms around his neck.

“You look like father.”

It hurts Jon, but not in a bad way. “And you look like Robb.”

Rickon and Ed get along well, but Ed follows Sansa and Arya around. Arya finds it amusing, but Sansa takes him under her wing in a way that makes him feel strange.

She brushes his hair, bathes him, reads to him.

Tormund always looks at him knowing, but Jon doesn’t.

Sansa is kind to all, but rigid when it comes to protecting the North. Sometimes, in the Council he’s been invited too, he sees glimpses of the Ice Queen.

“Your Grace, children should not be punished for their father’s actions.”

“Then they’ll be raised as bastards. The name Frey is dead.” Her voice echoes across the room and Lord Manderly nods, because he lost a son too.

“Yes, your Grace.” And the meeting concludes sharply, and Jon sees a burning white storm growing in her.

She spends the rest of her day sewing.


He finds Sansa with Ed on the throne of Winterfell. He’s resting against her chest as she sings to him. A sad song, of the Night King. But the boy sings the pieces he knows, and she brushes her hand against his hair gently as she does so.

That’s when Jon knows.

It’s a dance, he realizes after nearly a month. Arya smirks and Rickon pushes, leading him down a path he isn’t sure of.

“Just steal her,” Tormund says, rolling his eyes.

“I love her,” Ed tells him honestly.

And Sansa’s eyes become more expectant, they linger on him longer and Jon’s not quite sure he can push it off any longer.

When he appears in her room, she sets down the needle and cloth she’d been working on and raises an expectant brow at him.

He hesitates before he comes to sit next to her.

“I don’t see you as a sister, anymore, Sansa.”

She turns to him, with a careful look. She’s always guarded with men, he knows. And he’s learned enough about Ramsay to know it’s warranted. Jon wishes that he had given the chance to beat the life out of him, cave his face in with his fists, but he hadn’t.

Sansa had done a well enough job, he things. Cut off his cock, and then stabbed him in the throat.

But not without scars.

Ed had seen them. He’d run crying, about how someone had hurt his Sansa. Jon had seen red, and Arya had glared at him for it.

“Leave her alone, she doesn’t want to talk about it.” She hadn’t moved out of his way either, in fact, she’d punched him.

He didn’t blame her either. He was too reckless then.

“Nor I,” she says smoothly. Sure, and practiced.

Jon nods, taking a deep breath.

“I’m not ready for marriage yet, Jon. Or to share a bed with another man. I still…” Her voice fades and Jon shakes his head vehemently.

“We can go slow.”

“There’s a war coming, Jon.” She chastises him.

“I’ve died once, risen again,” he says honestly. “I’ll do it again, if it means making you happy.”

Her mask breaks, and she gives him a smile that’s both heart breaking and real.

“Thank you.”


She’s not the Ice Queen they say she is. And she is. Arya’s not the General they say she is, but she is. And Rickon, well, Rickon is the Wildling brother they say he is.

Jon will be remembered as the man who died and rose. A child of the North and South. A crow that betrayed his vows and fathered a child. A crow that was killed by his men when he came back to save them. A crow who rose. A crow who brought the Wildlings past the wall.

They remember them as the Kingdom who’d brought peace with the Targaryens and Greyjoys, who had fought the Others and drove them back. Who brought peace between the Free Folk and Northerners.

They remember the longest peace in History that fell after that. Ninety years without a war.

They remember Ed Stark, who married and gave up his name for the Southern Queen, daughter of the breaker of chains. They remember Bran the Rebuilder, the first son of Sansa Stark and her crow husband. They remember Robb Stark as a picture of his namesake.

They remember Torrhen Stark, the best smith in all of the North.

And they remember the Wildling twins, Pycelle and Cat, who led the exploration of beyond the Wall after the Great War.

They call the tale the Ice Queen and her crow.

Keep reading

Title: What’s In A Name?

Summary: For Blue Team’s “crack played straight” for the @rvbficwars bingo wars! Theta’s interest in South reveals the Dakota twins’ ridiculous first names.

Word Count: 1248

Notes: For @lostlegendaerie and @malcolm-hargrove, featuring quotes pulled directly from big sister south and the freelancer formal, because they contain the single most South Dakota™ lines i have ever seen in my life. Obligatory tag for @capricornfraud, my beloved beta, who is out of town. Consider this me ditching my training wheels!!

Keep reading

Why Jon and Sansa SHOULD Get Married on Game of Thrones

If you are a human being with eyes and a heart who watches Game of Thrones, you were probably emotionally destroyed by Jon Snow and Sansa Stark’s reunion in Winterfell. It’s the first time the two have seen each other since they both left home at the beginning of season one. And sure, you could take their tearful reunion as simply two young family members relieved to see a reminder of their innocent childhood - or you could see it as the start of something much more.

While we’ve already explored how a romantic relationship between Jon and Sansa is a possibility, here’s why it would actually make a lot of sense.

A Union to Strengthen the North

At the end of season six, it’s clear that a stronger North is rising again under a good ruler. The only problem is, that ruler isn’t technically a legitimate Stark (as far as anyone knows right now). And while Jon clearly has plenty of support among the Northern houses anyway (looking at you, Lyanna Mormont), he could still meet resistance later on because of his status as a bastard. This is Game of Thrones, after all.

Enter Sansa, the eldest daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark and a pretty badass figure all on her own. A marriage between Snow and Stark would add more legitimacy to Jon’s rule, give Sansa a bigger opportunity to affect how things play out, and even head off the danger of Jon and Sansa developing a rivalry.

At face value, this relationship might seem creepier to the characters than to the audience, since Jon doesn’t actually know yet that he’s Sansa’s cousin and not her half-brother - but he might be finding out very soon if his BFF Sam has anything to say about it. Jon and Sansa weren’t super close before their family split up, and Game of Thrones doesn’t exactly shy away from romantic relationships between family members who are close.

Related
Game of Thrones: Cersei Might Be Getting a New Boo, and We’re Into It

A Solution to That Little(finger) Problem

Sansa has endured the constant emotional abuse of Joffrey and the constant physical abuse of Ramsay, but through all of that one thing has always been clear: Littlefinger using her as a pawn in his Machiavellian game and pretending it’s all for her own good. Add in his creepy crush that’s really just a projection of his hopeless longing for Catelyn, and you’ve got a very dangerous potential problem.

As if that’s not enough, Sansa and Jon technically owe Littlefinger one for bringing in the Knights of the Vale at the last second to win the Battle of the Bastards, and it’s a safe bet that he’s going to call in that favor in the form of getting closer to Sansa and trying to stir up trouble between her and Jon. Ugh. Sansa marrying Jon nips that potential problem in the bud, and having her completely off the market would keep Littlefinger further away from the seat of power in Winterfell - maybe even get him to go back to the Vale with his weird stepson.

The Last Option For the Targaryen Line?

For all of you reading this article while screaming internally (or externally) that Jon is destined to marry Daenerys Targaryen and bring the Song of Ice and Fire thing to fruition, that is still entirely possible. We know from set photos that they’re going to meet this season, and Dany might take one look at Jon’s majestic man bun and swoon. But consider this: Daenerys seems pretty set in her belief that she won’t (or possibly can’t) have any more children of her own, after the dark magic performed by Mirri Maz Duur in season one kills her unborn son and leaves her husband catatonic. She even brought this up as recently as last season.

Since at this point Daenerys and Jon are the only Targaryens left (well, barring any more revelations), if the two of them get together and Daenerys can’t have children, there won’t be anyone to continue the Targaryen line. However, if Jon marries someone who can bear children, Daenerys can be confident that her family will live on. Who better to marry her nephew off to than someone he already knows and cares about, who would also give her an even stronger alliance with the family who rules the North?

Something Purely Good For the Starks, For Once

In case you forgot, Jon and Sansa haven’t exactly had a very good run of it in Game of Thrones. Sansa watches her father beheaded at the order of her then-fiancé, Joffrey. Then she’s forced to marry Tyrion against her will, and she has to flee King’s Landing after Joffrey is killed just to escape being executed. And after all that, she’s married off again to Ramsay Bolton, the worst excuse for a human being ever.

Meanwhile, Jon is perpetually freezing at the Wall because he doesn’t believe he has any brighter future than the Night’s Watch. He holds Ygritte in his arms as she dies, barely survives a terrifying attack by White Walkers and wights at Hardhome, and is stabbed to death by his own men.

Conclusion: it’s high time these two had something good happen to them. They’ve both had to grow up very quickly in a cruel world and have realized the value of having someone by their side with no ulterior motives who they can trust without being scared for their lives. Jon and Sansa both love their country and their people, and it just makes sense for them to bring both back to glory (and take down some enemies) together.

The Coming Age

The gods did wait on us for ages
Their tales on half forgotten pages
Yet they speak now to call us anew
And set the world right, it is askew

Why did we turn on them? Turn away?
Why? Well none alive can rightly say
On this, only one thing is now clear
They long waited on ears that would hear

Gods of the cold North call to their kin
Gods of the warm sands do rise again
Gods of the Greeks do speak from warm seas
Gods of the groves whisper through the leaves

All the old gods do now awaken
Their people fallen and far scattered
Their children forgotten what mattered
Yet stand we here again unshaken

We, forerunners of a coming age
Undo what religious war did wage
Magic we rekindle and revive
For through man’s doubt our gods did survive

The gods did wait on us for ages
Their tales on half forgotten pages
Yet they speak now to call us anew
And set the world right, it is askew

3

The Dwarves were never meant to reach Erebor, Azog the Defiler was sent to kill them. His master seeks control of the Mountain, not just for the treasure within, but for where it lies, it’s strategic position. This is the gateway to reclaiming the lands of Angmar in the North. If that fell Kingdom should rise again Rivendell, Lórien, the Shire even Gondor itself will fall.

These Orc armies you speak of, Mithrandir, where are they?

north east of england gothic
  • it has been raining every day for twelve years.
  • the coastline is littered with holy places which god has left behind. when the vikings came, they burned, and the smoke curled up into the sky, leaving it still grey a thousand years later. what remains of the buildings, too, is grey, and empty. this is a land forsaken, and the golden age is gone. and because they will not tell you: do not go to lindisfarne. as they discovered, as we who live here already know, even vikings can drown.
  • once, there was a woman in the south, and she was angry, and vicious, and unkind. some called her evil, and some still do. she is cursed deep into the earth of this place, and when she died, we did not mourn her. the banners were called and the banners were raised, and they were red, as every banner is that matters. we did not win, but we fought, and we suffered, and that deep earth waits for us, as it waits for us all. there is no more coal in newcastle. now there is only one way into that deep earth. we did not win.
  • you smell the river wherever you go. if you do not smell the river, you smell the sea. you are many miles inland. you have not seen the river for days. it does not matter. this is the land of the god tyne, and he knows what is his.
  • there are so many bridges. steel upon steel, when steel and coal and might ruled the world, built on irish bone and irish blood. your ancestors lost limbs to those bridges, their lives and their loves and their minds. do not ask where the bridges will take you. you do not want to know.
  • the north has risen so many times. once, it was for burning, words of stolen latin on lips seared and left screaming. there were priest holes and fury and rebellion on the air, and you lost. you always lose. once, the conqueror rode here to take what was his, or so he believed. once, those banners were red, and it was the words that burned, truncheons against knees, headlines seared across the back of your eyelids like a brand. patterns emerge: there is always burning, there is always blood. you always lose. no matter what, you always lose. but, too: the north will rise again. it always does.
  • it has been raining every single day for thirty seven years. 
  • the men die in the mine. it is 1835. it is 1862. it is 1880. it is 1909. there’s no smoke without a fire, and fire, you know, is a recurring theme. they choke and they burn and they bleed, they’re crushed and they’re blown to smithereens and they’re found with their caps in their mouths. fire in the hole. the men die in the mine because that’s what men do. the men die in the mine because that’s what mines do.
  • war came to the north instead of the north to war, and, briefly, there were bombs instead of rain. (this is not true. there is always the rain.) beneath screaming skies women built warships destined to end thousands of lives, and children played with shrapnel in the dust. the steel and coal which made us great made us a target, and they came for us in the night, and came, and came, until the day they came no longer. the north endured. the shipyards did not. 
  • across the lawless hills in the dark, the border reivers rode. we were not of england and not of scotland, a borderland ruled by no one and which wanted no rulers, where the only law was the sharp edge of a sword. all trace of them is gone but their ballads, still sung in tiny villages where men made of straw are burnt at solstice, observing rituals older than the god even the vikings turned to, in time. this is a land of gods, and of none. a land of no one. of nothing. this land belongs, ultimately, to the land itself, a fact even the romans knew.
  • and they did, for the romans called this the the end of the world. they reached here and stopped, and built a wall almost a hundred miles long, because it is easier to draw a line stark across the map than to think about what might be waiting for you, out there in those hills. whatever was there when the romans came, it’s still there. it’s still waiting, as eternal and immortal as the rain.
  • it is raining now.
The Goose (a poem)

The Goose


With enough glue and feathers
they promised I could come along
they’re heading south soon
and though I won’t be
at the front of the V
they said there’s still
a place for me
but I have to work fast
so all night I place feathers just so
see it’s been a rough year
and I don’t see any other way out
so I’m willing to take a chance
and trust their plan for me
and who knows
if it’s nice enough
where we’re all going
I just might stay come spring
shedding my feathers in the sun
while they honk
asking if I’m sure
before they rise into the sky
and disappear north again
because you see
it’s been a rough year
and I just don’t see
any other way out.

.

It is a strange thing, Ivan thinks, that Alfred serves many people. He looks to his Arthur and then to Francis for what civilization is, what progress is–and to Romano for what morality is, torn between his excessive, baroque faith and his own Puritan roots.

They’re definitely noticeable, Alfred won’t even use vulgar language most of the time. Casual swearing, yes, but nothing crude. And never in [or even near] intimate moments. Ivan does not totally know what it would feel like to be that Puritan, but Alfred is still clearly half-feeling it. 

The rest of the time he’s a totally modern person, on the cutting edge of everything, obsessing about the future. Always looking to tomorrow, and tossing today’s coat on the floor in an effort to concentrate on tomorrow’s experiments.

Ivan has never looked to anyone but himself. He has watched the people of his endless land in the far east’s north rise and fall, and rise again. He has loved their folklore, their phrases, their little culinary ideas. He is fond of it all, really. 

Does Alfred really have anything of his own? he thinks. He has seen him out and about sometimes, partying it up with his friends and at places other nation people frequent. 

He has seen him even kiss Romano’s hand–but not really. An odd gesture, since Alfred puts his own hand on top, and then touched his own lips to it. What’s the point? Ivan wonders. 

Sometimes Arthur and Francis’s mastery of him bothers Ivan a little–how he jumps up and goes running when they beckon. He will carry their things, listen as they dictate, obey. 

Ivan doesn’t understand that servitude can be a subtle part of love, when you’re used to an ancient system. And that both of the older men have done much more than just carry trinkets for Alfred. They have spent trillions on him over the years, just out of love.

They’ve dedicated years to teaching him all they know, and hiring tutors for things they don’t. They are very invested in him, on an intense emotional level. He is their fresh start, the time they get to start over.

With Alfred, they get to be kind, a mentor, a parent, a brother. They get to set the scene just the way they want, with no past looming over them. Alfred is new to everything, and all is new to him. He doesn’t assume anything about them.

And in that blank slate of his youth, they both find they can be the best versions of themselves. After they started it all with Alfred in the late 1500s, both Arthur and Francis turned a corner within themselves. 

They turned from emotionless, idle chess masters to people tempered by feeling, inspired by the fragile beauty of the world. 

They stopped being total dicks, Ivan reflects. They became their real selves, the part buried within. 

Ivan can’t really resent their hold over Alfred, though, because he knows first hand how good they were [and are] to the boy. How they love him. They hop on planes to get to him immediately if he’s having problems or is in a fit of moody sadness. 

Ivan’s seen how they bring him little odds and ends just to surprise him, randomly. He has seen Alfred laying half on top of Arthur, bent over to approximate the way a child would, since he’s too tall now for it. And how Arthur always praises him with funny backhanded compliments when he gives a speech at world meetings. He’s not very good at doing it, but he tries his best. It’s mostly odd ramblings with movie references.

"REVENGE IS GOING TO BE SO SWEET": PULP WEEK

Chips n gravy n bitter class hatred, crap shagging in bus shelters, accidentally falling out of a window in order to impress a girl and then getting her arrested, watching cockroaches climb up the wall, being such a nice person since you started taking them drugs, more crap shagging in bus shelters, the north will rise again, dancing off your tits on E, shagging a lampost, weird ugly NHS prescription glasses, dramatically pointing at things, and Sheffield, seriously, so much Sheffield, more than you or I or anyone remotely reasonable could possibly take.

Yes, it’s Pulp week!

This is Jarvis Cocker, and he wants you to know that he’s not Jesus Christ but he has the same initials. Random people I know as well as friends of friends keep seeing him on the London tube and sending me mocking pictures reminding me that despite my depressing ability to end up in the vicinity of famous people I admire and then humiliating myself publicly to a level to which even Jedward could probably not aspire*, I have never had the opportunity to do this to/in front of/around Jarvis Cocker. AND I NEVER WANT TO. And the latter aspect of it would probably matter, to a more stable individual, but the universe seeks to deprive me of dribbling on Jarvis Cocker’s (amazing) shoes, and I’m irrationally annoyed about it.

Anyway, that’s Jarvis Cocker, the poet laureate of shit shagging and terrifying proletariat invective disguised as toop choons. He is the frontman, lyricist, and chief driving creative force behind Pulp, and as such the lynchpin of most of what we’re talking about this week. He is also known within Britain for possibly unwisely deciding to do an impromptu stage invasion during Michael Jackson’s utterly bonkers messianic performance of “Earth Song” during the 1996 Brit Awards. This led to hilarious scenes that were almost beyond satire – although this didn’t stop many people trying – of him being dragged offstage after wiggling his bum at Michael Jackson, the camera, and the bemused audience, and then to trained solicitor and anarchic madman Bob Mortimer of Vic and Bob fame acting as his representative during police questioning. (Told you it was bonkers.) BUT NO MORE will you know him solely for what he has insisted always was a spur of the moment decision that involved him actually mooning no one, ever, despite many reports to the contrary. JARVIS COCKER’S BARE BUM WAS ALL IN YOUR HEADS, YOU PERVERTS.

It will feature cameos from my Miserable Northern Childhood**, the Situationist International, photos of my hometown looking like a pile of dogshit, photos of my hometown looking like the glorious socialist utopia it rightfully is, Archigram, Rimbaud, New Labour, Old Labour, New Old Labour, Who Even Knows Anymore Labour, me harping on about shite almost no one cares about, me harping on about shite literally no one cares about, and Britpop, unfortunately. I wanted to do this in the first ‘real’ week of the new year because what better way to start another trudge towards the grave with a band that’s right there with you, YOUR DEEP-SEATED SUSPICIONS ARE RIGHT, YOU DID WASTE THE LAST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE, YOU WAZZOCK. Also I’m good friends with Emma Jean, who finished the year by writing (excellently) about Marina & the Diamonds and who is a tough act to follow, and the symmetry of this pleases me, both in terms of friendship and subversive pop music bookending. STOP DANCING, HUMAN. NO WAIT KEEP DANCING BUT SOB, SOB IN TIME TO THE BEAT. YOUR LIFE IS MEANINGLESS AND YOU DROPPED YOUR KEBAB IN THE GUTTER AND NO ONE LOVES YOU AT ALL.

Up first, the song you’re all here for: Common People!


*I once met Courtney Love and essentially had what amounted to a protracted three year nervous breakdown condensed into thirty minutes. Never again.***

**Which may turn out to be much less miserable than advertised, but invariably much more Northern than you could possibly imagine.

***Yes, in case you were wondering if I was being flippant here, I’ve had several actual for-real nervous breakdowns, and I’m still not sure if any of them were as melodramatically inherently stupid as PHYSICALLY FORGETTING HOW TO SPEAK when Courtney Love asked me what my name was. Neverrrrrrrrrrr again.****

****I desperately wrote most of this week’s entries crying in my pants at 4am to Totally Wired by unexplainable British band The Fall***** cos it makes me write fast, despite assuring Hendrik that I would absolutely be a sensible person and do lots of work in advance. I think you can probably tell. And if you couldn’t, SHIT. I totally just gave the game away, didn’t I. (“Have you been up all night crying in your pants while writing about Pulp?” asked my best friend, IN THOSE EXACT WORDS WITHOUT EVER HAVING READ THIS yesterday morning when I rang her, #truelove)

*****Although my favourite ever One Week, One Band had a pretty good go at explaining them (‘them’ feels like a dishonest word to use when it’s basically just his infernal majesty Mark E. Smith and whichever unsuspecting mark he’s conned into carrying the amp this month). Anyway, I’m going to stop doing footnotes, they’re even fucking me off now.

2

The dwarves were never meant toreach Erebor, Azog the Defiler was sent to kill them. His master seeks control of the mountain, not just for the treasure within, but for where it lies, it’s strategic position. This is the gateway to reclaiming the lands of Angmar in the North. If that fell kingdom should rise again, Rivendell, Lorien, the Shire, even Gondor itself will fall.

3

The Dwarves were never meant to reach Erebor, Azog the Defiler was sent to kill them. His master seeks control of the Mountain, not just for the treasure within, but for where it lies, it’s strategic position. This is the gateway to reclaiming the lands of Angmar in the North. If that fell Kingdom should rise again Rivendell, Lórien, the Shire even Gondor itself will fall.