Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 1 of 4
Annotations By : Adrian Brown
Issue synopsis not available
Cover : This is one of my all-time faves and a quintessential Hellblazer cover. Constantine, cigarette, London, death.
(And if anyone doubts Tim Bradstreet's reference because of the street lights on Westminster Bridge, allow me to take you there - at your own expense)
"Reasons to be Cheerful"
If you do not know what this refers to, go away and listen to the work of Ian Dury & The Blockheads.
I'm not going to continue until you have done so. (And let's be clear that "Part 3" is the one to look out for.)
"Dog's Age" = a long time. "Big hairy dog's age" = a longer time.
Panel 1 (right)
Is that woman the one from the end of last issue ?
Someone is narrating from an omniscient point of view.
What "order" is the narrator referring to ?
From this issue:
Question: What is meant by a well-turned wrist?
What Jason said about "turning" - it most likely comes from the phrase "well-turned leg" which compares a lady's leg with a table leg :-)
Mot a lot of people know that Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim's real name is Quentin. I suspect this is a reference to the stereotypical hairdresser's sexuality, and Quentin Crisp.
Adam seems the calmest and most thoughful of JC's demon-kids, and perhaps for that the most dangerous of them.
Back when they were created I commented that each of them had different qualities of their father. Although their "powers" have been blurred a bit since the first story, I think they have different flaws too. Maria is most like their father.
"nobody sees me" "one of the few real advantages of my - condition"
Page 2 & 3
She's got Medusa Hair !
Observation from Sethos: this is very remeniscent of the very fine Manga series by Junji Ito (and slightly less fine film series) Uzumaki. While the them e of Uzumaki is spirals, hair and horror play a big part.
Note that Maria touches Alba's hair on the previous page.
Question: I won't ask about the song because Ade will probably get to that in his annotations, but what is a stepping razor?
Dunno the lyrics. There's a song "Stepping Razor" by Peter Tosh.
But it's more of a threat than a love-lorn song.
It may be carribean slang, for what is more commonly known as a cut-throat razor.
Mike Carey says -
The hairdresser's "boutique" is called "Cut & Run" heh heh heh.
And the strip club is called "Private Parts"
This was the Clerkenwell Hotel where John was staying before the widespread chaos brought by The Beast With No Name. There are plenty of such clubs in the Kings Cross area. Judging by the number on the wall, this could be Grays Inn Road or Pentonville Road.
"Five quid membership and five quid to get in ..." and ten quid per drink plus tips for the girls ... or so I am told.
"The landlady topped herself": more reference to the events of Staring at the Wall.
How good that they have not been "lost" in the story.
"Tosser" = wanker, but slightly more acceptable language.
Question: Is Keith supposed to be of a particular ethnic background and if so, what is it?
Not so as you'd notice. He looks like he is fond of Freddie Mercury though.
Belshazzar - last king of Babylon and an infamous idolater. Funnily enough, belongs in the family tree of someone called Nergal.
Baphomet - the classic, goat-headed demon, commonly used in occult fiction. There's the spiritual icon of the Nightbreed from Clive Barker's work - a spectacular analog for Jesus if you ask me. Which is what Alanis Morrissette might call ironic, since the very Christian order of the Knights Templar were often accused of devil worship, with Baphomet cited as their idol.
Belial - aka Baal, Satan. Although Milton, the forefather of Careyan Demonology, has Belial as a lesser demon of impurity.
It’s good to see these demons being invoked to provide Keith with some very mundane problems. And the comedy timing of that TV set going on the fizzle is great.
“Doss Cunt” – I’ve not heard doss used as an adjectiven in this way, so perhaps there is some credence to Keith being foreign after all?
Doss means sleep rough, so it’s a reference to John being thrown out of the hotel.
Note from Mark: It's a scottish term. So, we can deduce that Keith will sound like Billy Connolly. This also fits with "issa" and the name Keith, which is quite Scottish. (And also a place in the Scottish Midlands.)
Map, at home in the London Underground.
Josh Wright’s thugs tried that, but Saul’s a bit more powerful.
The third rail carries the power supply, and is a powerful part of Map’s world.
Here’s two asides for you.
It is unlikely that you will die from peeing on the power line.
There was a documented case where a drunk bloke climbed across the tracks to have a pee and was electrocuted.
I draw your attention to the very excellent album, Emergency Third Rail Power Trip by The Rain Parade.
“Bush puppy” might well be Saul’s attempt at racial abuse.
It’s also a play on “Hush Puppy” and a term for Tony Blair.
Right here is a brilliant vignette of Map’s strength.
“The line drawn through darkness”.
A lovely page.
Comments: Map appeared to be prepared for a problem, while Alba died without a clue. How did Map know anything was coming for him?
With London as your back-up, you'd see a lot of things coming.
And in the underground, he's at his best.
As I've said before, he'd definitely be one to survive, not least because he knows when to distance himself from JC.
As John struggles to work out what is real and what is false memory there’s a nice reference to Angie as he is served breakfast. Of course, that may not be deliberate.
The flashback to Rosacarnis and the three children is handy for people who are joining the story late.
Our rat-narrator's left ear appears to be malformed and shrivelled. Perhaps that will be useful later in identifying him? When he looks at Constantine at the dinner table, his eyes are peculiarly aware for a rat's, like he's trying to communicate with John then.
“What’s that you’re trying to tell us, Rattie ?”
“I think she wants us to follow her !”
The rat's definitely our mystery helper.
So, our suspects are Demon Constantine (favourite), Dead Man (outsider) and a.n.other.
Very clever of Mike Carey to have Constantine go from having lost much of his memory to being oppressed by 40 years of false memories on top of his re-remembered 50+ years of real ones. I'm happy that John didn't go directly from amnesia to full, unimpaired memory.
When shown from a medium or far view, John's face looks like the old Anglo-Saxon one, but when it's shown in a closeup, it looks shorter than we're used to, and if I can describe it this way, more Italian than Anglo-Saxon. I think I like this new face, but it isn't the old one.
That'd be the old artists' trick of using a mirror to get close-up expressions - Sean Phillips faces look like Sean Phillips. And did you ever see a pic of Kirby ?
I'm sure you've all noticed that Manco used fingerprints for John's stubble and for smoke.
The Three Kids check the score.
Adam kills the pigeon without so much as blinking.
Note cars and buses on wrong side of the road.
Several times before, John has contacted Clarice in the Tate Club, Soho.
“pneuma seauton” = greek “wind” or in this case soul and “thyself”
The term “gnothi se auton” means “know thyself”, and appears at the Temple of Delphi. So this could mean “(bring) your soul to yourself” which would tie in with “self-summoning” and John’s reference to an anchor.
I’d guess he realises the three children were somehow extracted from him and he’s preparing to pull them back in.
Here’s the “man on the street” understanding of schizophrenia again.
Originally meaning “split personality” it is commonly interpreted as “multiple personality” but for the vast majority of people with the condition, it means hallucinations or delusions and the “negative symptoms” which leave their personality cut off – ie they find it difficult to communicate or act normally. Of course, everyone in the fiction business loves that multiple personality thing, which is more often a dissociative hysterical condition.
Clarice suggests Zed, but of course, Saul is her child in the fantasy world that Rosacarnis used for the conception. So the underlying reason why he won't call Zed because of her role in the conception.
Ravenscar Asylum – Clarice visited John after he messed up in Newcastle. She’s said she’s known him since he was 24 (“When I went down on you in Highgate Cemetery” – Haunted p.19) which is around the time of the Newcastle events.
Clarice agrees to help.
“Humpty Dumpty” the nursery rhyme character who fell off a wall and no-one could help put him together again.
“We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven,”
Clarice is not being conceited here, but quoting from Tennyson’s “Ulysses”
There’s Adam’s empty lemonade bottle from page 10.
Question: "And if one bottle should accidentally fall" sounds like it's from a song or saying. Is it?
Ten Green Bottles - a nursery rhyme that descends like that irritating "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" song.
There’s John in the eye of the storm.
And he remains untouched.
The art on this page reminds me of John Ridgway.
Question: Do we know what medical problem Clarice has?
Probably a heart attack from stress - she is old after all.
She may also have some sort of connection with Albert - emotional and/or magical.
There’s been speculation that Albert was already dead. He’s been referred to as a “zombie” in Mike Carey’s run, and in Haunted he is the one who takes Isabel’s hand to lead on from her “limbo”. My understanding of that scene in Haunted is that John cannot do what Albert does, maybe because he’s halfway between dead and alive.
I would hope that Albert is watching over Clarice in her hospital bed.
Clarice has sussed that John is at the centre of all this.
Question: What is a ticket tout, and what's the significance of Shaftesbury Avenue?
A person who buys up tickets for gigs or theatre shows and then sells them on the street outside. A "scalper". Some people actually believe they provide a service.
Yes. Self service. They buy up all the tickets and sell them for a profit.
Shaftesbury Avenue is the main road of the West End Theatre district and runs through Soho between Chinatown and the Red Light area where the Tate Club is apparently located - there goes another of my theories (I had the Tate Club nearer to the St James area, south of Piccadilly).
John is seriously off balance, laying platitudes on someone as sharp-witted as Clarice, being unable to face the obvious fact that he's being targetted, and ducking responsibility for the problems happening to his London friends.
I'd agree with the first part, but say that the second is a case of self-delusion by John rather than him actually trying to deny the responsibility.
Map seems to understand that John is bluffing about thinking it is not him that they are after. He didn’t have to tell John about Alba, but he is staying involved in his own aloof way.
“(Someone) who could help you not with magic, but by just being human and familiar” The narrator is referring to Chas.
And there’s the magical sense of familiar, too.
Question: The truck driver's warning might sound threatening to an American woman. It doesn't faze Maria (of course). Would this conversation be normal among any groups of people in England?
Yes. A friendly warning, usually meant to convey "You're safe with me, because I'm not like that". It’s like us British talking about the weather, really.
Note that the first panel of this page shows cars on the right side of the road, ie the left. Even on pages 10 and 12 with the view of the Tate from the rooftops, the cars are on the right, which is wrong.
Guildford is south of London, in Surrey, not on the way to Gatwick Airport.
I have it on good authority that this is meant to be the A3 (see next page).
But if you were heading out of London on a motorway as shown it’d be the M4 westbound at Brentford.
The bus is wrong.
As a Routemaster, you get on the back as shown in the fifth panel.
You would not pay the driver nor get anywhere near him, because his cab is separate from the passenger compartments.
It's unlikely that one of those buses would go to Worcester Park, and they are being phased out anyway.
To completely Bus-nerd you all, there’s no single fares any more, it’s a £1 flat rate.
I found two English meanings for the Latin phrase memento mori (literally, remember to die):
1. A reminder of death or mortality, especially a death's-head.
2. A reminder of human failures or errors.
“To me they’re cattle. To you a memento mori.”
Would the Demon Constantine really think of humans as cattle ?
Is that part of what John was before they were separated ?
Royal Gardens is in Boston Manor, West London, right by the aforementioned M4.
About twenty minutes from Worcester Park, I’d say, but taxi controllers are notorious for fibbing like this.
Question: Do you think it's normal for Chas to give up a cab fare because he wants to finish a crossword puzzle? I think he was being manipulated by Maria so that he'd stay in the building.
Nah, it's in keeping with Chas and with London Cabbies - who are not supposed to (but often do) turn down fares if they don't like where you are going. It's a nice character piece.
Note that someone is walking behind John as he approaches the taxi office.
There are only thirteen actual taxi huts left in London (one of them three hundred yards away from where I live), but this looks more like a private office.
As someone else pointed out, the way the "accident" happens doesn't make sense. First the truck is right by the cabdrivers' bulding. (Why isn't traffic going the other way to the right of this roadway?) Then the truck seems to cross lanes of (oncoming?) traffic to go over the edge. Still, the accident artwork is all well-done, fun to look over and over again.
See above references to “right side of the road”.
Shame because that’s a nice dynamic crash scene.
There is, I believe, a pop band of this name.
However, much more interesting is the song by The Damned “Jetboy Jetgirl” which is based on the same tune as the post-punk Belgian classic “Ca Plane Pour Moi” from Plastic Bertrand. Check them both out !
Rather naughtily that’s a real phone number, but not for a taxi firm.
“Fool’s Motley” = the classic outfit of the Court Jester.
There’s a financial website called The Motley Fool.
This sounds like it comes from a literate quote, don’t you think?
“Motley Fool” comes from “As You Like It", Act 1 scene 7
The truck's trailer appears to be a tanker car, so I'm assuming that there will be a gasoline fire to make sure that Chas has no chance of surviving the truck's impact.
“Time for you and me to meet at last. Again.”
Someone John’s met before, so we’ve probably read about them too.