The night wore on. News came through, from barricades at bridges and gates. There were forays, more to test the defenders’ strength of will than make a serious dent in the defenses. And there were even more deserters.
One reason for the desertion rate was that those people of a practical turn of mind were working out the subtle economics. The People’s Republic of Treacle Mine Road lacked all the big, important buildings in the city, the ones that traditional rebels were supposed to take. It had no government offices, no banks, and very few temples. It was almost completely bereft of important civic architecture.
All it had was the unimportant stuff. It had the entire slaughterhouse district, and the butter market, and the cheese market. It had the tobacco factors, and the candlemakers, and most of the fruit and vegetable warehouses, and the grain and flour stores. This meant that while the Republicans were being starved of important things like government, banking services, and salvation, they were self-sufficient in terms of humdrum, everyday things like food and drink.
People are content to wait a long time for salvation, but prefer dinner to turn up inside an hour.
Vimes climbed back up the barricade. The city beyond was dark again, with only the occasional chink of light from a shuttered window. By comparison, the streets of the Republic were ablaze.
In a few hours, the shops out there were expecting deliveries, and they weren’t going to arrive. A city like Ankh-Morpork was only two meals away from chaos at the best of times.
Every day maybe a hundred cows died for Ankh-Morpork. So did a flock of sheep and a herd of pigs, and the gods alone knew how many ducks, chickens, and geese. Flour? He’d heard it was eighty tons, and about the same amount of potatoes, and maybe twenty tons of herring. He didn’t particularly want to know this kind of things, but once you started having to sort out the everlasting traffic problem, these were the kind of facts that got handed to you.
Every day, forty thousand eggs were laid for the city. Every day, hundreds, thousands of carts and boats and barges converged on the city with fish and honey and oysters and olives and eels and lobsters. And then think of the horses dragging this stuff, and the windmills … and the wool coming in, too, every day, the cloth, the tobacco, the spices, the ore, the timber, the cheese, the coal, the fat, the tallow, the hay EVERY DAMN DAY …
And that was now. Back home, the city was twice as big …
Against the dark screen of night, Vimes had a vision of Ankh-Morpork. It wasn’t a city, it was a process, a weight on the world that distorted the land for hundreds of miles around. People who’d never see it in their whole life nevertheless spent that life working for it. Thousands and thousands of green acres were part of it, forests were part of it. It drew in and consumed …
… and gave back the dung from its pens, and the soot from its chimneys, and steel, and saucepans, and all the tools by which food was made. And also clothes, and fashions, and ideas, and interesting vices, songs, and knowledge, and something which, if looked at in the right light, was called civilization. That was what civilization meant. It meant the city.
Was anyone else out there thinking about this?
A lot of the stuff came in through the Onion Gate and the Shambling Gate, both now Republican and solidly locked. There’d be a military picket on them, surely. Right now, there were carts on the way that’d find those gates closed to them. Yet, no matter what the politics, eggs hatch, and milk sours, and herds of driven animals need penning and watering, and where was all that going to happen? Would the military sort it out? Well, would they? While the carts rumbled up, and then were hemmed in by the carts behind, and the pigs escaped, and the cattle herds wandered off?
Was anyone important thinking about this? Suddenly the machine was wobbling, but Winder and his cronies didn’t think about the machine, they thought about money. Meat and drink came from servants. They happened.
Vetinari, Vimes realized, thought about this sort of thing all the time. The Ankh-Morpork back home was twice as big and four times as vulnerable. He wouldn’t have let something like this happen. Little wheels must spin so that the machine can turn, he’d say.
But now, in the dark, it all spun on Vimes. If the man breaks down, it all breaks down, he thought. The whole machine breaks down. And it goes on breaking down. And it breaks down the people.
Behind him he heard a relief squad marching down Heroes Street.
“—how do they rise? They rise knees up! knees up! knees up! They rise knees up, knees up high. All the little angels—”
For a moment, Vimes wondered, looking out through a gap in the furniture, if there wasn’t something in Fred’s idea about moving the barricades on and on, like a sort of sieve, street by street. You could let through the decent people, and push the bastards, the rich bullies, the wheelers and dealers in people’s fates, the leeches, the hangers-on, the brownnosers, and courtiers, and smarmy plump devils in expensive clothes, all those people who don’t know or care about the machine but stole its grease, push them into a small and smaller compass and then leave them in there. Maybe you could toss some food in every couple of days, or maybe you could leave ‘em to do what they’ve always done, which was live off other people …
~ Terry Pratchett, Night Watch
Art from the U.K. book cover by Paul Kidby.
The Fifth Element (1997)
♥ ♥ ♥
my life ambition is to live as a Brambly Hedge mouse
The apartment of Joanna Lavén in Stockholm, featude in Elle Decoration Sweden: A leather hippo by Dimitri Omersa & Co for Svenskt Tenn, Pierre Guariche floor light (ca.1950s), Carlo Scarpa chandelier for Venini and Krysset lounge chairs by Fredrik Kayser for Vatne Møbler, Norway. Photograph by Jonas Ingerstedt. / Dust jacket
Desmond Daniel for Florian Wowretzko + Photography Harol Baez
Glen Orchy & Glen Etive (by Julian Calverley)
Peggy Carter's Captain America: The First Avenger costumes design (by Anna Sheppard and illustrated by Darrell Warner) from L’Art des Super-Héros Marvel (Art Ludique - Le Musée)
Can we just talk about Hugh in this coat?
Francis Sultana´s London townhouse, featured in Architectural Digest: Jean Royère Ours Polaire sofa (ca.1947) and a Charlotte Perriand bench (ca.1950s). / Architectural Digest