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

Great Aunt Sophie and Las Assangistas Del Norte

Category: Uncategorized


15 July, 2012

“Julian Assange humps unborn kittens,” Sophie said, looking up from Rolling Stone magazine.

“You what?” I said, struggling to pull off my wellies without getting mud on the Persian rug.

Sophie sat in her blue velvet glider by the fireplace, a steaming cup of Aztec hot chocolate on the table and a pile of manuscripts on the floor. She was back from Lincolnshire, where she had been rehearsing with Gertie and Maud, Las Assangistas Del Norte. They are hoping to enter Britain’s Got Talent and win enough to make a CD and compensate Vaughan Smith for Julian’s liberation of his organic pigs.

“Julian says, ‘I’m accused of being everything from a cat torturer to a rapist to being overly concerned about my hair. The only ones I have to look forward to are some combination of bestiality and pedophilia.’ ”

She reached down and peered through the bottom of her bifocals at the papers beside the chair. She picked  up a yellow legal pad and read

Cat Describes Assault
(Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK. 10 April, 2012)

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, was accused today of humping unborn kittens.

An unidentified source told reporters that a Siamese cat wearing a rhinestone collar walked into the Tunbridge Wells Police Station Saturday last, saying she wished to file a complaint.

The Siamese stated that she lived on an estate adjacent to that of S_______, who had been harbouring Mr. Assange since December, 2011. The cat told police that Mr. Assange lured her into his house with promises of tuna. Once inside, he began to stroke her, despite her protests. She told him she was pregnant, but he continued to caress her in an increasingly intimate manner until she managed to escape through the window. At no point did Mr. Assange make good on his offer of tuna.

An Interpol Red Notice was sent out.

Although the forty-year-old ex-hacker is under house arrest and must wear a surveillance tag that reports his movements to the British Government, he is considered a terrorist threat so long as he has access to a laptop.


“Sophie, what do you intend doing with this?”

“I could send it to The Guardian.”

“David Leigh twote that Assange has suffered enough.”

“He should know.”

“What if someone takes it seriously?”

“Someone always does.”

“Sophie, I’d think more than twice about putting this up on the Net.  It could have repercussions.”

“Horse puckey,” said Sophie.


Las Assangistas Del Norte played our first two gigs last week. We had hoped to earn money for petrol to Manchester by busking at the Halifax Farmers’ Market, but one of the vendors alerted the constable, so we had to grab our instruments and dash across the cobblestones in our fancy boots.  We did, however, make enough money for tea and croissants, and drank a toast to our imminent success.

The next day we set out once again. But upon arrival, we were disappointed to discover that the Guardian had moved its offices to London.  We stuffed the glockenspiel, the viola, the charango, the panpipes, the maracas, the rainstick, the finger cymbals, and the tambourine into Gertie’s laundry bag, and put it in the boot of Maud’s Mini. We were barely able to cram the accordion and the bagpipe on top of them.  Gertie sat in the back with the Guy Fawkes masks.

We recognized the Guardian building from the Mark Davis documentary, so we donned our peasant blouses and stood below what we hoped was Mr. Leigh’s window.  We unpacked the instruments and warmed up with From The Indies To The Andes In His Undies. The girls had learnt it in D, whereas I sing in B flat, but with the masks on this did not appreciatively diminish the impact of our performance.

Next we sang Ecuador Mi Amor, and were chuffed to notice several heads appear at the windows above.  I picked up the accordion, Maud got out her Northumbrian smallpipes, and we launched into El Corrido De Los Subversivos Internacionales.  Maud tuned the pipes all the way through the eleventh verse, in which Mentiroso boasts that NASA is easier to hack than his brother’s piggy bank.

I must say the Guardian staff lived up to its reputation for rudeness.  They threw crumpled wads of paper,  launched paper airplanes, and shouted obscenities.  Not one “journalist” came down to interview us.

Around verse thirty-five, a haggard face appeared at the front door.  The nose was unmistakable from the photographs, albeit redder and more pock- marked.  Its owner staggered over and dropped a twenty-pound note into our hat. Encouraged, we began to improvise, like Homer in olden times.

“Who published the password?” sang Gertie.

“Who stuck his memory stick into a computer connected to the Net?” trilled Maud.

“We could write a song about that.”

“How much to make you go away?” he gasped.

“We don’t want your money,” I said, handing it back to him.  “We want you to stop writing bad things about Mr. Assange.”

Leigh fell on the ground, writhing and clutching his throat.

“This corrido has nineteen more verses,” I pointed out.

“I promise,” he whispered, and fainted.


29 June 2012

Dear Emma:

I apologize for the names I called you when you expressed unease about my spending your inheritance in defence of Mr. Assange.  I have always been extremely conservative in my expenditures, and the trips to Sweden and Australia can be written off as business expenses.  Rest assured you will get the amethyst pentacle I promised you.

I have been thinking about poor Vaughn Smith, who may lose the twenty thousand pounds surety he put up for Mr. Assange. We were shocked last year when Mr. Assange liberated Mr. Smith’s organic pigs. Gertie said Julesy was a very naughty boy and should be spanked, then chortled and spewed ginger beer on the ottoman. We are worried about Gertie, and I made Maud promise to keep the brownies hidden.

To help Mr. Smith and his family, we have decided to form a band. I retrieved my glockenspiel from the attic (did you know I was second runner-up in the 1959 All -Yorkshire finals?), Maud had her viola bow re-haired, and Gertie is putting a new head on her bodhran. We agreed there were too many Irish bands, plus with our arthritis we can no longer play as fast as we once did. Gertie loves reggae, but Maud refuses to sing anything that glorifies a male god, and I don’t want to do that to my hair.

Maud showed us a scene from Aguirre, The Wrath Of God, which she watches every Sunday, and suggested we play music of the Andes. She read Anthropology at Cambridge, and has offered to write the lyrics. She has finished a second draft of Ecuador, Mon Amor, and is up to verse fifty-three of El Corrido De Los Subversivos Internacionales. I riffled through the piano bench and found the sheet music to From The Indies To The Andes In His Undies. I shall sing lead, while the girls sing harmony, if you can call it that.

I stopped by the Ecuadorian Embassy on my way home from Harrod’s. The protestors fed Nigel almonds and raisins and were quite pleasant. I wish I could say the same for the constables. One blocked my way and asked for identification. I told him I was older than his mother, and if he did not show me the respect proper to my age, I would turn him into a newt. Slipping Nigel into my purse, I strode up the front steps.

It was a hard slog with my shopping, the pies, and the iguana. I pressed 3B on the intercom and was answered by a Spanish-accented female voice. When I mentioned the pies, she buzzed me in.

I wondered how I would find Suite 3B, having misplaced my glasses again yesterday. I needn’t have worried. In front of the door on the left was a pile of pizza boxes and two weeks worth of The Guardian and The New York Times.

I waded through the flotsam to the door. How could I work up the courage to knock? What if Mr. Assange himself opened the door?

I called out to the Great Turkey Goddess. “Give us this day protection from turkeys,” I cried,  and knocked three times.

Down the stairs galumphed a large balding man with a gray pony-tail, wearing nobbut a white Knightsbridge Racquet Club towel. He kicked the pizza boxes and pounded on the door of 3B.


At the  word “groupies,” Nigel leapt from my purse, scuttled across the hall, and fastened his jaws  around the pony-tail man’s big toe. Pony-tail dropped his towel, and believe you me, it was not a pretty sight. Nigel hung on, undeterred by the curses of his victim, and I only succeeded in detaching him by offering him a bit of whipped cream from one of the pies.

The door opened an inch, and a red-haired woman peered out: Julian’s assistant, sweet young Sarah. She looked at the man scrambling for his towel, at me with my African basket, and the iguana. I introduced Nigel and told her of our concerns for Mr. Assange and our hopes for the success of our band, Las Assangistas Del Norte.

Sarah thanked me for the pies and assured me Mr. Assange was well cared for, as the kitchen included an airing cupboard filled with seventeen varieties of potatoes. Sadly, she was unable to invite me in for tea, as the Embassy has a long-standing no-iguana policy because of the guinea pigs.

Afterwards I took the tube to Hampstead where I picked up maracas, two sets of panpipes, a rainstick, a charango (a mandolin made from a hollowed-out armadillo) and a tambourine. For our first gig next month, we are going busking at the Farmers’ Market in Halifax.

What to wear? We have reached consensus on short red skirts, lace-up leather boots, and white peasant blouses with bare midriffs. Eddie and Freddie from Hebden Bridge have agreed to make a video and upload it to Youtube. Maybe the WikiLeaks movie site will feature it! Gertie has read that Mr. Assange prefers younger women, but she chalks that up to inexperience.

We have a rehearsal in half an hour, so I have to pluck my eyebrows and put on my lipstick. Don’t worry about the inheritance.

Love and kisses,




Emma called her Great-Aunt Sophie to let her know that Mr. Assange had jumped bail and flown the coop. Aunt Sophie emailed her back:

24 June 2012

Dear Emma:

I was distraught when you phoned to tell me that Mr. Assange had fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. I hope he brought his laptop and a change of clothes, and there is decent broadband in Quito.

His timing was good, though, as Gertie and Maud had driven up for the midsummer bonfire. We carried a year’s worth of burnables out onto Ilkley Moor, and at midnight we set them alight. There were fires all across the Calder Valley, and we hoped other crones were also doing workings for Mr. Assange.

Maud opened a bottle of Bendover Oil she had purchased on a trip to New Orleans, and rubbed the foul-smelling stuff on James Ball’s column in the Grauniad and upon the nether regions of a poppet with dark red hair and a triangular smile. “I guess Julia isn’t a country music fan,” said Gertie.   “Dolly Parton says, ‘If you’re gonna have your face done, tell ’em just take a nip here and a tuck there, so you don’t end up lookin’ like a banjo head.’ “

Maud also brought along her corgi, Little Fudgie, who did not stop yapping until I threatened to roast him over the fire. He ran under the Mini and cowered, whimpering, until we lured him out with a saucer of Gertie’s homemade absinthe.

We imbibed quite a lot of absinthe and ate several of Maud’s brownies, so the circle we cast was a bit lopsided. As at every Solstice, we sang old Steeleye Span songs about sheep, and Maud, who had perhaps eaten too many brownies, channeled Maddie Prior. She hoisted up her petticoat a bit above the knee and nimbly danced round the fire, until she tripped over Nigel the iguana. Once we had bandaged her ankle she grew maudlin, and wept for the fate of an buachaillin ban, the fair-haired boy. Soon we were all clinging to one another and moaning. It may not have been the strongest cone of power we ever raised, but it was the most heartfelt.

It looks as though we shall have to wait until next week to see if our protection spell worked.  On Tuesday I’ll take the bus down to London for my annual shopping trip.  The Ecuadorian Embassy is behind Harrod’s, where I plan to purchase bathing costumes for Nigel and myself.

I am worried that Mr. Assange is not eating properly. Llamaburgers, potatoes, and flattened guinea pig do not constitute a balanced diet for a man who needs to think clearly, so I hope to drop by the Embassy with a couple of strawberry-rhubarb pies. Little Fudgie, unfortunately, gobbled the last of the brownies. We yelled at him and he was sick on the Gillard doll.

I am also concerned that Mr. Assange may be haunted by the ghost of Princess Diana, or worse, Dodi. If he starts writing thank – you notes, we may have to to do an exorcism.


Emma Goldstein writes:

I received an email asking me to write a letter in defence (that’s how they spell it) of Julian Assange to my Member of Parliament. But MPs are only responsible to people who live in Great Britain.

My Great Aunt Sophie lives in West Yorkshire. She used to be quite a rabble-rouser; in her university days she was known as the Mother Jones of north Suffolk, or was it south Norfolk? I emailed her to ask if she would write a letter to her MP.

Yesterday morning a letter arrived in the post.

Crone Cottage, Wormhill, near Ducksbury, Ilkley Moor, W. Yorks.

31 May, 2013

To: Mrs. Linda Riordan, MP, Halifax, W. Yorkshire

CC:  Mr. David Cameron, MP, Prime Minister; Mr. Nick Clegg, MP, Deputy Prime Minister; Ms. Theresa May, Home Secretary; Mr. Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe

Dear High Muckety-Mucks:

I am an eighty-five-year-old woman living in a cottage at the foot of windswept Ilkley Moor. My only companions are my chickens, the guinea fowl, and Nigel the iguana; my nearest neighbors the farmers across the way, whom I see each day herding their cows and repairing their dry stone walls. The closest pubs are The Inseminator’s Elbow in Farmington, twenty kilometres, and The Cracked Code in Hackerdale, thirty-five kilometres – neither, it goes without saying, an establishment suitable for a lady.

Life would be bleak indeed were it not for my Internet connection. Once I spent many the long night watching Monty Python re-runs, The Tudors, and Sex In The City. To keep my mind sharp I listened to those TED talks. One evening I watched an interview with a nice young man with white hair.

Three minutes into the talk, his mobile goes off. “Goddamn it,” he says, giggling, all legs and elbows as he reaches into his pocket to retrieve the fiendish thingie. The host ad libs. “It must be the CIA, asking about the code for a TED membership.”

I was charmed. I was not the only one.

This Swedish politician, for instance – right piece of work. Styles herself a Lesbian, runs a Lesbian nightclub called Fever. For eight months, her blog features  SEVEN LEGAL WAYS TO GET REVENGE ON A CHEATING BOYFRIEND.

She invites the nice man to give a talk, tells him she’ll be gone, he can stay at her flat. Comes back a day early and invites him to dinner. Afterwards, she says, he can share her bed or sleep on the floor. Not the most difficult choice he’s ever had to make.

At some point they get into The Tussle Over The Condom. We’ve all been there. Most of the time you give in, because it’s a turn-off to fight before you f – make love.

The next day he gives his talk. That night she throws him a party.  Journalists ask if they can they take him off her hands. No, she says, he can stay with me. For three nights she says this.

And the girl who shows up at his talk in a pink cashmere sweater. She insinuates herself into the journalists’ lunch and sits next to him. By the end of the meal she’s eating off his plate. She invites him to spend the night with her.

She later tells police he instigated sex with her while she was asleep. That’s a crime under Swedish law. So why did she text her friends , after the two of them ate breakfast and got back into bed,  she was “half asleep” or “drowsy”?

Neither of the women used the word rape. The police used it, and leaked the story to the tabloids. They wanted to stick it to the nice young man because he said they weren’t holding governments and corporations accountable. Expressen outed him – and the women.

Two clicks, I found his testimony, those of the women, and nine witnesses. Why don’t reporters read the testimonies and summarize them? They could include a link to the site so readers could analyze the data themselves:  Assange’s “scientific journalism.”

I showed Gertie and Maud a video of the nice man speaking at the Oslo Freedom Forum. He hopped onto the stage in jeans and a white shirt, carrying a laptop with a Pi symbol and a sticker reading FREE TIBET. He shifted from leg to leg as he bent down to  the microphone. His hair flashed silver against the deep blue curtains.

“Archives of information have been centralised on computers. So when something disappears, it (has) not only ceased to exist, it has ceased to ever have existed.

“Orwell said, ‘He who controls the present, controls the past.’ He who controls Internet servers, controls the intellectual record, (which) controls our perceptions of who we are. In some cases one classified video can stop a war. Maybe fifty definitely can.”

Afterwards, an old man came up to him. “You are the only one which is sounding like a pure angel.”

“A pure angel – me? No, it’s just the hair.”

Gertie laughed and laughed. “That man never had to rape anyone. That man is fighting them off with a stick.”

If you are determined to put someone in prison, how about that fish-faced Yank hacker who turned in the gay bloke? Tells the kid he’s a minister, rats on him, hands him to the Feds to be tortured, and claims it’s the fault of the nice young man.

Who’s paying him, I wonder. They should put him in a cell with the Swedish revenge blogger. He’d be a puddle on the floor in three days.

I beseech you to listen to your conscience. You are going to have to live with this decision for the rest of your lives. U.S. government officials say the nice man has “blood on his hands” – talk about pots and kettles. I pray you won’t end up with blood on yours.

I remain your most humble and obedient servant,

Sophie Goldstein, MSW, RN (ret.), DSFA