Following my feature on Alan Moore’s Jerusalem, I’ve been posting edited highlights from the 30,000-word interview transcript. Yesterday, I posted Alan Moore’s extraordinary performance poetry spoken from the point of view of a dictatorial ape: his “Mandrillifesto”. Today, some comic relief: a bizarre revelation about Moore’s time as a gas board sub-contractor and celestial divinity.
It all started when Moore was slagging off new developments making his home town of Northampton look like Milton Keynes, and I said, ironically, “and Milton Keynes is such a paragon of beauty”. To which he replied…
Alan Moore: “Absolutely. And I speak as one of the mythical Titans who actually built Milton Keynes. I used to work for a gas board sub-contractor, in the 1970s, and at one point, probably because I’d offended with one of my jolly witticisms one of the people in the office, I got banished to a Gulag which was Milton Keynes. Or rather, Milton Keynes was barely there, it was a little village that was more or less dying on its arse, and it was decided that it would be rebuilt as a New Town.
“I remember when a couple of the labourers there came into our site while one of the planners was there, pointing out that as far as they could see, all of the fire hydrants were connected to the gas mains. And he said, ‘Don’t be silly, give it here and I’ll explain where you’ve made a mistake. Look, it’s…[Moore mimes looking at the plans once, then twice, with dawning shock and realization.] It’s good to have somebody notice that before it all blows apart.’
“Yeah, I was there when Milton Keynes was just a load of trenches, and a load of disgruntled-looking Irish and Polish labourers, in the rain. [I went back there] when Josie Long was doing Arts Emergency guerrilla comedy tours. She was doing one at Milton Keynes, and Josie was driving around with her Arts Emergency pals in a van and staking out a draughty car park or a neglected area behind a church or something, and then alerting the audience, such as it was, by Twitter.
“So she asked me if I wanted to come up and do ten minutes in Milton Keynes, and there was about, what, 18 people in the audience. And it was great, I went on and I was talking about a similar piece to one I performed at one of Robin Ince’s Bloomsbury Theatre evenings.
“I’d been talking about how, in New Scientist, a couple of years ago, somebody had raised the point that, in a few years, we are definitely going to have a quantum super-computer. That can hold more information than there are particles in the known universe. So we will then be able to simulate an entire universe, including all the life forms in it, which will not know they are simulated, and as this writer to the New Statesman pointed out, yeah – if we’re going to be able to do this, the odds of this being the first time this has happened are vanishingly small. It is much more likely that we are in simulation, of a simulation, of a simulation, and so on. He was saying well, what do we do about this?
“Well, the person who is playing this game, the next level up, is the person who is, effectively, to us, God. If we assume that there are some similarities – presumably God has a similar ego structure to normal human beings – it is very likely that God himself will be actually in the game environment as an avatar.
“Now he wouldn’t go for something really obvious like President of the United States. Yet he still probably would want to make himself a special person. So what he was saying is, the best thing to do is to suck up to celebrities because they might be God.
“Now obviously you wouldn’t want to suck up to just any celebrity. So what I said was if I was you, people of Milton Keynes, I would go for a celebrity who sounded, and perhaps looked [strokes his own huge white beard meaningfully], the way you might imagine the creator of the universe to look.
“But I said even that’s not enough, because that could have you worshipping pretty much any tramp. So I said, you have to ask yourself, does the person who I’m looking at appear to have physically created the environment around me? And I said, in your case, people of Milton Keynes… [He raises his eyebrows meaningfully, and gestures towards himself. We both dissolve into laughter.]
“So, yeah. I am still worshipped as a God by the primitive and superstitious people of Milton Keynes.”
Jerusalem is out now in hardback from Knockabout in the UK and Liveright in the US. For the full interview feature, click here. Don’t miss the sequel to this in part six, in which Alan Moore revealed how Milton Keynes helped him write From Hell.