Monday, 21 June 2021

What’s promised in Gong shall be paid in Gong.

You Hear

The Gongsongs, shanties of Gong and the Gong of times gone. [GONGSONG INSERTED BELOW*] The sloshing of liquid in barrels and tanks. The jangling of hanging charms. The cawing of crows. The squeezing of accordions. Or is that the wheezing of pedal-powered pumps, or levers pressing?

You Smell 

Need you ask? To the true Gongsman, no Gong truly smells the same, but to you, you poor sojourner, this sacred wisdom is a blank page. They smell of Gong and only of Gong, and a powerful scent it is.

You See

Blue flickering peat lamps, bedraggled crows held high on smelling poles hung with strange recoveries of the gongfarmers art and jangling charms to the Hydraulic Saints.

They labour beneath plastic tanks filled with sloshing Gong and struggle with patched together pipework and jury-rigged pumps to suck the gong forth. 

What is the texture of the gongfarmer? Need you even ask? It is wonderous, a wonderous texture - they bulge with muscle, they drip with mysterious fats, they bristle with patched magnificent hair. Strong as apes, twice as brave. 

Meeting Gongfarmers

What kind of being, what manner of entity - could, or would, consider such a path?  The great-souled Gongman - a wonder of the age. A stalwart of the Servile Class. Mad for the Gong he is, for Gongs his love and passion.

At labour or traverse they sing their old gongsongs playing accordions and singing their gongsongs. They tell strange tales of fatbergs and pulsing entities, of secret paths through fractured pipes, of the nightmare of zero-gravity gong. 

A creaking barrel, a translucent tank, a secret destination, a clever way in their manner, perhaps a sly look.

Who could argue with a jovial gongfarmer? And who would dare? They carry a sharpened blades of bone, rusted revolvers, baseball bats studded with old syringe needles, blunderbuss loaded with sharp gongfruit. 

Their Job, Service And Position In The Palace

"Blessed be the Pipes" say the Priests of the Hydraulic Church.

"Yet all pipes fail in time." replies the Gongfarmer, (though quietly, for such speech is blasphemy).
The Blessed Pipes return all foulness to the Crypt of Melinoe, where it is purified and made good. But what if the pipes should fail? 

Enter the noble Gongfarmer - penetrating to the centre of all things, extracting Gong and going gently on his way. Their only price? Why the Gong itself, for Gong is the Gongfarmers Gold.

The Gongfarmers scurry away with their caskets and barrels of Gong, and carry them to secret vaults of which only Gongsmen know; the Septic Banks. 

Here, in even vaster chambers, the Gong is left, allowed to settle and rest in anerobic conditions. Over time, this results in nearly-clean water which can be decanted and sold, to Drip Pigrims or others, and a thick layer of black gold; near-pure loam for the Nitrate Lords.

The Knowings Of The Gongfarmers


A wise Gongsman, familiar as they come to be, can tell much about the health of someone from their Gong, and unlike those who might call themselves Leeches or Doctor-Men, the advice of a Gonsman is free, except for the Gong itself, which they take in lieu.


The Gongsmen know much of the welfare of many peoples. Wherever Gong is collected, they can recognise the diet, regularity, substance and health of the population. Whether they strave or thrive, if they drink water or blood, be they sick or hale. 

The Gong of Darkness/Winters Gong 


Imagine, a black lightless void, with no 'up-and-down' or 'here-and-there'. Freezing cold, but not cold enough to de-liquify the Gong. And its your job to go in there and get that gong. Aye there's many tales of wealth to be won in Winters Realm, of vast isles of frozen gong, the smallest of which would buy a man his own halls, and each isle encrusted with strange treasures of forgotten realms. But seek ye not winters gong my smiling faces - BEWARE! For tis the gong of darkness, gong which none may seek and return alive.

The Septic Banks

All Gongfarmers guard with closed lips and terrible violence, the secret of the Septic Banks. The Gong must be left to settle for a good long while before it can become black gold and clear(ish) water, and the Banks are terribly vulnerable for all of that time.

The Gong Promise

Can a man truly be poor if he hath still Gong to give? Gong being currency, it’s hard to fall out of credit. For those who fall upon hard times and lack even that, the Gongfarmers will offer the Gong Promise; enough to sustain life;  water (of a sort), a little food, perhaps some simple weapons or basic tools - all they ask in return is a promise of Gong, by weight or by date. It may be your Gong, it may be others.

But beware the interest rates on Gong, the percentage required can rise so quickly that it become impossible to repay. And if your needs now are great, the future Gong you offer must be greater still.
One would not wish to be in debt to the Gongfarmers. They are clannish. Offend one and you offend all, and if you owe them gong, they will be sure the debt is paid. If that involves capturing and force-feeding you until accounts are settled, then they shall. 
What’s promised in Gong shall be paid in Gong.

* [The Gongsong "Ripe, rich brownfruit]

Our Hands and Hearts are all in Gong
Come out, you ripe rich Brownfruit, Come out.
We'll pump and squeeze for it won't take long,
Come out, you ripe rich Gongfruit, Come out.

Chorus; Oh, be black fruit, brown loot
Come out, you ripe rich Gongfruit, Come out.

Our Queens and Ladies do command
(Come out, you ripe rich Brownfruit, Come out.)
We farm the Gong and clear the land.
(Come out, you ripe rich Gongfruit, Come out.)


Its through the Palace we must go
(Come out, you ripe rich Brownfruit, Come out.)
From throne of Night to Melinoe.
(Come out, you ripe rich Gongfruit, Come out.)


So give us gold for old Queen Mab
(Come out, you ripe rich Brownfruit, Come out.)
She'll swear us all that we can grab.
(Come out, you ripe rich Gongfruit, Come out.)


You've been through Queens and been through churls
(Come out, you ripe rich Brownfruit, Come out.)
So spring and dance you merry black girls
(Come out, you ripe rich Gongfruit, Come out.)


Burst and bubble, rich and rare.
(Come out, you ripe rich Brownfruit, Come out.)
We'll take you by your wet black hair.
(Come out, you ripe rich Gongfruit, Come out.)


Struggle not, be bold my Miss
(Come out, you ripe rich Brownfruit, Come out.)
We'll squeeze and tread for a golden kiss.
(Come out, you ripe rich Gongfruit, Come out.)


  1. This feels like it was taken from an unwritten venture of Moist von Lipwig, although one dreads to think what horrors arise from a Morporkian sewer system.

    1. I think Pratchett wrote the character but he's a fairly minor character in most of books I've read (he might come to the fore once or twice though) - I'm thinking of Harry King, aka Piss Harry, aka King of the Golden River. Would he qualify?

    2. Well he's arguably the main protagonist of Going Postal, Making Money and Raising Steam, and I can certainly imagine him being asked to "get his hands dirty" introducing a Bazalgette style sewer project to replace the homegrown gong collectors employed by Harry King (with the associated conflict, mysticism and city threatening disasters that usually crop up).

    3. Ah! I see what you are saying now! I thought you were overlooking Harry altogether, who I was referring too as a minor character, but you weren't at all. You are certainly right that Moist is the main protagonist of the books you mention. I'm sorry for the confusion! Now that I get it, I love the idea of Moist being used to modernize the Anhk-Morpork sewer system!