EMMA GOLDSTEIN The Cronicles of Great Aunt Sophie and Las Assangistas Del Norte

Great Aunt Sophie and Las Assangistas Del Norte



Gertie and Maud are once again arguing about the colour of Julian’s armpit hair. Maud goes to her roll-top desk, flips open the Macbook Air, and googles Images – Assange –Brazil – soccer. He’s either putting on the bright yellow shirt or taking it off. You can almost make out his belly-button hair.

Gertie turns red, dashes into the bedroom, and slams the door.

“What’d you do with the vibrator?”

“Which one?”


“You had it last.”

“Did not. Where do you keep it?”

“Second drawer from the top, on the left next to the stash. If you’re not out in fifteen minutes, I’m gonna come in and tear down the photo.”

Over the bed, Gertie has taped a life-size blow-up of a photograph she downloaded from the Net. It’s Julian at Occupy London Stock Exchange. He stands on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral in a scruffy brown jacket and jeans, flanked by two grim-faced, balding bodyguards. Julian looks out over the crowd, a microphone in each hand, and he’s got this enormous, this enormous…grin.

Maud has never been thrilled about sleeping under the photo. She says it’s creepy. This makes Gertie cry.

Gertie cracks open the door and slaps up a piece of blue-lined, three-hole notebook paper. In large red letters it reads




“You spelled ‘fascist’ wrong,” says Maud.

“No such thing as correct spelling. You’re oppressing me.”

“Damn straight I’m oppressing you. Sophie’s gonna be here in half an hour.”

“I spell better than Shakespeare,” says Gertie.

Maud pounds on the door. “I’ll tell her what you’re up to.”

“By the time she figures out how to answer her mobile, I’ll be dead.”


The smell of cheap Nepalese incense permeates the living room. Little Fudgie runs in circles, snarling and nipping at his tail.

“I’m practicing sex magic.”

“No matter what you do in there to poor Julian, you’ll still be seventy-five years old.”


“You’re older than his mother.”

“If we were Maasai, that’d be a plus.”

“But you’re not Maasai, and I don’t think Julian is either. I’m gonna phone Dr. Herriot and have him take the testosterone out of your hormone cream.”



9 May 2013. John Shipton, Julian’s father, was interviewed about his son’s candidacy for Australian Senate and his life in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

“He can’t look out the window because if well-wishers know it’s your room they might throw, who knows, a leg of lamb or something…”


Eddie and Freddie from Hebden Bridge arrived at Aunt Sophie’s door this evening with a side of lamb. They said we could have it if we promised not to ask where it came from.

“You boys better be careful, “ said Sophie.  “Or you’ll end up with a one-way ticket to Australia.”

Eddie giggled.  “I could be Julian’s running mate.”

“You’re not cute enough,” I told him. “Bet you ten quid it’ll be Jennifer.”

Sophie and I left them in the sitting room arguing politics with Gertie and Maud, and hefted the lamb into the kitchen.

Sophie took her athalme from the Kali altar and hacked off a leg, drizzled it with Gertie’s homemade absinthe, and put it in the oven. But no sooner had she placed the sizzling roast on the window sill to cool, than Little Fudgie grabbed it and dragged it under the piano. It took six of us twenty minutes to get it back. We hid the teeth marks with parsnips, arranged it on a serving platter, and took the train to London.

But we did not lob it at the Embassy window. Please. That’s a guy thing.



“You are old, Great Aunt Sophie,” young Emma did tweet,
“And your hair, like your hero’s, is white.
And yet you incessantly google ‘Assange,’
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

“If I had grandkids – I’m not blaming you –
I never would sit here alone.
I’d take them for ice cream and then to the zoo,
But this way my mind is my own.

“When I was younger, I tried to be nice
And do everything everyone told me.
But now I no longer take peoples’ advice,
Or let pipsqueaks like you try to scold me.”

“You are old,” Emma twote, “As I mentioned before,
Yet you spend half your day on the Net.
Don’t you think you’re in danger of being a bore,
Or considered a terrorist threat?”

“I fart on the fearful,” Aunt Sophie replied,
“They’ll never do anything big.
I fight for Assange and I’ll stand by his side,
Though he may be a bit of a pig.”

“You boast of your ethics and your good repute,
Aunt Sophie, in speech and in song.
And yet you turned David Leigh into a newt
Aren’t you worried that’s morally wrong?”

“Beyond good and evil,” Aunt Sophie explained,
“Is a world full of magic and play.
Even amphibians can be house-trained
Don’t you think he looks better this way?

“In my youth,” said Aunt Sophie, “I took LSD,
To keep my mind open and supple.
Today I eat brownies along with my tea.
Would you like me to sell you a couple?”

“Pray think about Alzheimers,” Emma replied,
“ ’Cause it looks like you’re that way inclined.
You giggle and grin like a blushing young bride,
Aren’t you worried you’re losing your mind?”

“I have answered three tweets, and that’s more than enough,
I don’t need to convince you or con you.
You’re wasting your time, Emma, writing such stuff.
Piss off, or I’ll sic Nigel on you.”


In honour of the birthday of William Shakespeare, 23April, 1564


SOPHIE GOLDSTEIN, aka High Priestess Sophia Goldenstone



NIGEL,  an iguana, whom SOPHIE pocketed on an ecotour of the Galapagos

LITTLE FUDGIE, a retired dope-sniffing police dog



(TOR, The Onion Router, is encryption software used by WikiLeaks to secure internet communications. BELTANE – from the Irish Bealtaine  – is a pre-Christian celebration of the first of May. Rafael Correa is president of Ecuador. Julian Assange is a mythological hero conjured up by the FRINGE, under the influence of 1300 micrograms of Owsley acid, at Beltane, 1970.)


SCENE:  Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire. Sunset. The full moon rises above the standing stones.

(Enter MAUD and GERTIE, accompanied by LITTLE FUDGIE)

FUDGIE:  Yap yap yap yap yap yap yap.

NIGEL:  Squeak. (NIGEL scuttles under Sophie’s priestess robe)

SOPHIE: Keep your cur away from my reptile. He’s endangered.

MAUD: I’m gonna tell President Correa.

SOPHIE:  Your Spanish is worse than my !Xhosa. Listen up – Julian was interviewed by the CEO of Google. Bloke says,  “I want to talk about Thor.” Julian says, “Thor or Tor?”  The Googlehead goes, “Uh…” and Julesy says, “And Odin as well.”

(The crones cackle and high-five.)

MAUD: Always suspected he was pagan.

SOPHIE: He says he’s an atheist.

MAUD: Why disbelieve in just one god?

SOPHIE: Googlehead knows less about anonymizing software than I do, and I’m eighty-five. (SOPHIE looks at her wrinkled hands.)  I’m so old I can’t remember the last time I had an orgasm.

GERTIE: Would you like to borrow one of our vibrators?



9 April, 2013.

James Ball interned with WikiLeaks for three minutes in 2010. He now writes for The Guardian, better known as The Grauniad, the paper that misspells its own name.

This week WL published its Public Library of United States Documents. It includes a comment  made by Henry Kissinger:

“I used to say. . .‘The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.’ But since the Freedom of Information Act, I’m afraid to say things like that.”

Ball’s column, which appeared the next day,  was entitled Do We Need WikiLeaks Any More?

“Your spell worked! Seen the Graun?” Emma hollered into the mobile.

“Which spell, sweetie?” asked Sophie.

“You said you and the gurlz were gonna cast a spell on Jaime Cojón. He’d think he was writing rationally, but everything he wrote would be gobbledygook.

“He told Fluke Hardon:

‘Before WikiLeaks, I used to say, ‘The irrelevant we do immediately. The unintelligible takes a little longer.’ But since WikiLeaks, I’m afraid to say things like that.”

“We didn’t do it, Em. We boiled the cauliflower and put it on the stoop to cool. Little Fudgie ate it.”



of Great Aunt Sophie, Lunatic Fringe, and Las Assangistas del Norte

Emma Goldstein, MA BfD, 45, has long brown hair, wears frayed jeans and turtlenecks, and likes to go barefoot. She divides her time between northern California, London, and West Yorkshire.

Emma is the love child of Emma Goldman, “Queen of the Anarchists” and Emmanuel Goldstein. In George Orwell’s  1984, Emmanuel Goldstein, author of an underground book that explains the workings of the English socialist state, is the object of the Two Minute Hates that punctuate the workdays of Ingsoc Party members. Emma has undergone many years of therapy to overcome the trauma of having a father who is a fictional character.

Emma’s great aunt Sophie Goldstein, MSW, RN, DSFA, 85, worked for thirty-five years as a psychiatric social worker at the Tavistock Institute, and taught psychoanalytic theory at University College, London. She ives on Ilkley Moor with her chickens and Nigel, a Galapagos Sneezing Iguana.

Sophie slipped Nigel into her backpack during an Ecotour of Ecuador in 2010. She recreates his original marine environment by filling her clawfoot bathtub with salt water, barnacles, and seaweed, which she collects on her quarterly awaydays to Robin Hood’s Bay. Since President Rafael Correa of Ecuador has given political asylum to Julian Assange, she has attempted to change the iguana’s name to Rafael, but he refuses to answer to anything other than Nigel, even when tempted with fresh horseflies.

Sophie’s son Thurgood, 44, was conceived at Woodstock. Sophie is convinced his father was almost certainly either Taj Mahal or Bob Marley. “Best weekend of my life,” says Sophie. Thurgood is executive vice president of public relations for Monsanto’s European division.

Maud O’Gunne, 78, is tall and wiry, with thick curly red hair. She read Social Anthropology at Cambridge and is fluent in French, Spanish, and Irish Gaelic, with a smattering of Sichuanese and a reading knowledge of Swiss German and Haitian Creole. She hints of an affair with the young David Rottenborough (“Taught him everything he knows about natural selection.”) Her dissertation, Let Them Go And Mount Upon Themselves If They Do Not See The Humour In It: The Teachings of Seamus O’Blivious was rejected by Oprah’s Book Club. It has been translated into thirteen languages.*

Two years ago Maud was reunited with Davinia, 58, the daughter she gave up for adoption. Davinia is an international investment consultant for the World Trade Organization. She is alarmed by her mother’s support of Julian Assange, which she fears may impact her security clearance.

Little Fudgie, Maud’s Welsh Corgi, was formerly a plain-clothes police dog known as J. Edgar. Assigned to the London – Amsterdam run at Heathrow, he was caught in a back room scarfing contraband, and had to be retired. Maud adopted J. Ed through Her Majesty’s Corgi Rescue, under the impression he had belonged to the Queen.

Maud’s black palm cockatoo, Nosferatu has a natural sense of rhythm, and likes to beat on sonorous objects with Gertie’s bodhran-basher. He creates sacred space at solar and lunar rituals held by Lunatic Fringe, and plays percussion for Las Assangistas del Norte.

Maud’s ex-husband, Fred once organized archaeological expeditions to Mongolia, supplementing his tour-guide’s income with a lucrative trade in  dinosaur bones of questionable provenance. He is now doing six to ten in Wandsworth Prison, and hopes someday to meet Julian Assange. Maud refers to him as Ethelfred the Unsteady, to distinguish him from Freddie of

Eddie and Freddie from Hebden Bridge, who bill themselves as “Yorkshire’s coolest rent-a-geeks.” They specialize in home computer troubleshooting for women of a certain age. Eddie and Freddie are fans of las Assangistas, and helped the gurlz choose their signature outfits: red leather miniskirts, white peasant blouses with bare midriffs, and black lace-up boots.

Eddie and Freddie’s blue Persian cat Neddie ignores Nigel, as long as the iguana doesn’t scuttle away. Neddie hisses at ever-barking Fudgie, unless Maud has brought along Nosferatu the cockatoo, in which case Neddie beats a tactical retreat into the bedroom to protect himself from aerial bombardment.

Gertie McPhee, 72  (75, according to Maud) claims descent from Scotland’s Traveling People, and lives with Maud in Boston, Lincolnshire. Gertie is an organic gardener whose cross-bred strains (Lincolnshire Lilac, Brain Drain, Fenwomyn Wowie) consistently win top awards at the Amsterdam Cup. In her spare time she raises Lady Gouldian finches.

Dodi, Di, Camilla and Chuck share a bamboo flight cage, not always amicably. Like Maud, Gertie believes birds should fly free, so she leaves the door to their cage  open, and Maud finds nests of tiny eggs behind the washing machine, amongst the computer cords, and atop the pteranodon skull. Fudgie is resigned to their twittering flights, but Nigel has to be restrained from climbing the curtains and snapping.

Journalist Heather Brooke refers to Julian Assange’s female followers as assangistas, so Sophie and the gurlz christened their singing group Las Assangistas del Norte.  Billed as West Yorkshire’s premiere Andean band, they play traditional music of the altiplano as well as Maud’s compositions, Ecuador Mi Amor, El Corrido de los Subversivos Internacionales, and El Condom Pasa. Sophie insists on singing lead, but Gertie and Maud are lobbying for parity.

Lunatic Fringe has three apprentices, Yemaya, Breda, and J.K.  Yemaya  (“Omi”) is  the daughter of Cuban émigrés to Miami. An interpetive dancer, she is prone to possession trance. Breda is a political analyst living in London. J.K. is a retired author of young adult fiction.

While publicly deploring Mr. Assange’s tendency to pick fights, Fringe elements have been known to turn one of his enemies into a newt, “for the lulz.” **

Julian Assange, 41, the opalescent Australian anarchist, is a mythological culture hero conjured by Lunatic Fringe at Beltane, 1970, after they mistook six tabs of Owsley acid for vitamin C. Like all mythological heroes, he has a fatal flaw…


* Cornish, Breton, Manx Gaelic, Finnish, Estonian, Sami, Tagalog, Navajo, Quechua, Nahuatl, Yoruba, Khoi San, and !Xhosa.

**lulz: from LOL (laughing out loud). Hackerspeak for laughs.


Pricilla, the receptionist, is the most important person in the (Ecuadorian) Embassy. She…has to cope with the mountain of mail that now arrives for their guest. Each post brings more books and presents and food.

“And teeth,” Pricilla adds. “Animal teeth.”

– From At Home With Julian Assange, by Becky Milligan, BBC News Magazine, 22 October



“He got the teeth!” Gertie shouted. “Call Sophie.”

“No need,” said Maud, without looking up from her laptop. “She googles ‘Assange’ every thirty seconds. You did include the instructions?”

“What instructions?” said Gertie.

Maud put her head on the keyboard and sighed. “I hope he appreciates what it took to get those.”

“I put my back out climbing the fence.”

“You dropped the pliers twice,” said Maud.

“I got scared when it roared.”

“ ‘Courage is not the absence of fear,’  Maud quoted. “ ‘Courage is the intellectual mastery of fear.’ ”


NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS POST except Little Fudgie, who stubbed his toe on the  fence.


At Summer Solstice, 2012, Great Aunt Sophie and her cronies Gertie and Maud cast a spell over “that nice young man with the white hair.”  Two days earlier, Julian Assange walked into the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to request political asylum. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa appointed a team to study the U.S. threats against Assange. The U.S, Sweden, and Great Britain continued to deny there was a Grand Jury investigation against WikiLeaks, and to call for Assange’s extradition.

In July, the three assangistas del norte gather to watch “Oor Jules” give a speech from the balcony of the Embassy. He’s been inside for a month, unable to see the sky, feel the sun or the rain, or touch the earth.

The protection spell seems to be working, though: he hasn’t been arrested, even though the building remains surrounded by London Police, at a cost of eleven thousand pounds (sixteen thousand seven hundred dollars) a day. “The women of Sweden must feel ever so much safer now,” says Maud.

But Gertie fears they’ve been threatened with a


“Drop it, goddamnit.”

Maud is trying to separate Little Fudgie from the rear half of a dead badger he has dragged home.

Gertie runs down the hall. “Hide the Willendorf! Where’s my wand?”

“In the top drawer,” says Maud. She grabs the Corgi by the scruff of the neck and carries him into the bathroom. “Next to the vibrators. What’re you on about?

“Obama,” says Gertie, out of breath. “He’s gonna send us to Guantánamo.

“The lawyer told us they won’t go after supporters,” says Maud. “It looks bad.” She deposits the dog in the bathtub, turns on the water, and covers  him with shampoo.

“Julian said so, from the balcony. ‘The United States must renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks.”

Gertie was burned at the stake in 1487 and has never gotten over it.

“It’s a metaphor, for fuck sake. Fudgie, stay.”

“You tell ’em it’s a metaphor when they break down the door and nuke us with tasers.”

“Have you taken your meds?”

“I took my vitamin D. Coppers try to put a surveillance tag on me, I’ll kick ’em in the…”

“How about a nice cup of tea?” Maud lifts a squirming Fudgie from the tub. He bolts from her grasp and rubs back and forth against the bathroom walls, growling.

“Cover the pteranodon skull. Put the black candles in the emergency drawer. You try explaining metaphor to a predator drone.”

Maud lunges for Fudgie. “Good dog. Stay. Sweetie, don’t you think you’re being a wee bit paranoid?”

“It’s not paranoia, it’s realpolitik. Julian’s been manacled for six hundred days for shtupping a couple of groupies.”

“It’s more complex…”

“Nothing complex about it. Karl Rove can’t get it up. Oysters, rhubarb, Viagra, it just hangs there like a banana slug. Two blonds jump on Julian, they put out an Interpol Red Alert.”

Maud closes the bathroom door, dries her hands, and goes over to her laptop. “Let’s watch the speech again.”

“Don’t like the haircut.”

“At least he lost the beard.”

“Why are his ears red? Why isn’t Sarah wearing any clothes? Why didn’t they invite us?”


Vive Rafael Correa, rumbala rumbala, rumbala

Vive Rafael Correa, rumbala rumbala, rumbala

Cantar con las Assangistas, oi Obama, oi Obama

Venceremos les fascistas, oi Obama, oi Obama

 “Help me lift the Kali statue. Put it in the kitchen cupboard with the riding broom.”


 by Jaime Cojone, Los Angeles Times    September  21, 2012, 4:20 pm

(Malibu Canyon, CA) A long-haired orange tabby cat told The Times today that she had been inappropriately fondled by Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.

Lying on a poolside chaise lounge overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the cat told reporters she met Mr. Assange at a party in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2010. She was sitting on the ex-hacker’s knee, she said, when he began to stroke her. When she objected, he held her on his lap by force.

Spaniel Dummesau-Berk, formerly of Berlin’s Chaos Commuter Club, found the allegations convincing. “When Julian with me stayed, he my tomcat Mr. Schitt terrorized. Since four years Schitty does not come out from under the bed, despite many colourful catnip mouses dangled by Angste, my equal.”

In an earlier incident, a Siamese cat told police that Mr. Assange had petted her against her will, tempting her with tuna.

A spokeschimp for PETA told The Times that the allegations, if true, were extremely serious. “These claims could cause irreparable damage to Mr. Assange’s reputation as an animal-lover,” signed the chimp.

Ms. F____ has spent the past three weeks in Hollywood, where HBO Films, DreamWorks Studios, and Universal Pictures are vying for rights to her story.

The forty-one-year old Australian, who has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since the nineteenth of June, has not returned phone calls from The Times.


I warned her, but she wouldn’t listen. Great-Aunt Sophie sent her fake newspaper article, Julian Assange Humps Unborn Kittens, to a Tumblr blog of Julian Assange fanciers.

I was in at Sophie’s cooking supper when the phone rang. Gertie had read the blog.

“Now they’re accusing him of sex with kittens,” she cried.

We heard Maud’s voice in the background. “It’s satire, for fuck sake.”

Sophie put her hand over the speaker. “I sent it in under a pseudonym.”

“Our Jules loves kitties and puppy dogs,” whimpered Gertie.

“The wouldn’t let Nigel into the Embassy. Julian only likes mammals?” said Sophie.

“And marsupials. He had a Tasmanian bubbling wombat when he was little.”

“I decline to continue this conversation,” said Sophie, “Though that should not be construed as a sign of disrespect. Let me talk to Maud.”

I heard her mention Valium. She hung up the phone, went over to her desk, and sat down in front of her 27-inch Thunderbolt monitor.

When I came out of the kitchen she handed me a piece of paper.


(1 May, 2012) Special to The Guardian. Supporters of Julian Assange today dismissed claims that the ex-hacker made unwanted sexual overtures towards a Siamese cat.

Robert Geofferson QC, adviser to Assange’s legal team, said the charges were preposterous and offensive. According to Geofferson, Ms. C_____ initiated the April, 2012 encounter by purring and rubbing against Mr. Assange’s ankles. “Some heavy petting may have occurred,” the London solicitor told the press, “But it was completely consensual.”

Maria Theresa Castaneda Mariachi, 24, head of the catering staff at the Ecuadorian Embassy, said there were no cats at the Knightsbridge flat where the WikiLeaks founder has been holed up since 19 June. Sr. Assange maintains a cordial relationship with the Embassy’s guinea pigs, she said, although he does sometimes get their names mixed up.

Sr. Assange’s favourite, she told reporters, is a black and white shorthair called Hussein. “He is teaching to it to program with its nose, ” she said.

The Embassy had forty-two cobayos, said Sra. Castaneda, “But that was before dinner.”

Mr. Assange was unavailable for comment.