Bergholt Stuttley Johnson, better known as Bloody Stupid Johnson, was a landscape gardener and inventor on the Discworld, and is mentioned in a number of books. Though he has died before the timeline in which most of the books are set, his legacy lives on: Organs, bathrooms, monument design, landscape gardening and cooking; there is apparently no start to his talents.
Character[edit | edit source]
Although evidently able in certain fields, Johnson is notorious for his complete inability to produce anything according to specification or common sense, or (sometimes) even the laws of physics. This fact never stopped him from trying, however. He is also known as Bloody Stupid "It Might Look A Bit Messy Now But Just You Come Back In Five Hundred Years' Time" Johnson and Bloody Stupid "Look, The Plans Were The Right Way Round When I Drew Them" Johnson.
Johnson was not incompetent, far from it; indeed in many ways he was a kind of genius. Pratchett suggests on numerous occasions that he possessed a kind of "inverse genius"; as far from incompetence as genius but in the opposite direction. Certainly no one else could produce an explosive mixture from nothing more than common sand and water, or create a triangle with three right angles.
The most obvious flaw in Johnson's abilities is his blind spot when it comes to marking units on his plans. But while most of Johnson's designs are simply unusual, some of them seem to tap into strange forces, probably by mistake. It has been suggested that he may have inadvertently achieved the exact opposite of constructing in cosmic harmony with the power of ley lines.
The fact that he continued to receive commissions after the defects in his abilities became apparent is considered to be the ultimate expression of the apparent thinking behind the Victorian follies, i.e. an indication that the person commissioning the work can afford to waste money like this. It became quite fashionable to have your house or garden 'Johnsoned'. This view of Johnson's abilities was not universal, however: it is believed that the town house of the Ramkin family - a rather pleasant old house with well-designed gardens - was never worked on by Johnson because he was shot in the leg by the then owner while walking up its drive one day "before he could do any real damage" as Lady Sybil put it.
Generally assumed to be dead in the time of most of the books, Johnson is never seen, but was certainly alive around the time of the main events of Night Watch: Mr Snapcase took up the Patricianship in the course of the events chronicled at that time, and he could only have commissioned the Ornamental Cruet Set from Johnson after becoming Patrician. This is also approximately when Johnson must have created the ill-fated mail sorter, as dates in Going Postal suggest that this occurred 30 years before the events chronicled there. Given the nature of the sorter, though, timing may not be a problem.
Johnson's name and abilities are a parody of Capability Brown and also, perhaps, a swipe at the experimental writer B. S. Johnson. His name and work with organ building is also a reference to famous organ composer J. S. Bach, who shares Johnson's initials reversed.
Notable creations[edit | edit source]
Organs[edit | edit source]
Johnson created a number of organs, the most famous ones residing at Unseen University (and called Our Mighty Organ by Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully, much to the displeasure of the staff), at the Ankh-Morpork Opera House, and at Don'tgonearthe Castle (owned by the Magpyr family of vampires) in Überwald.
Besides functioning as normal organs, (actually working as intended being a deviation from the norm) Johnson's instruments include a number of less conventional voices. The UU organ, for example, includes such voices as Vox Dei, Thunderstorm, Whoopee Cushion, Squashed Toad and Squashed Rabbits, in addition to the "terrae motus", or Earthquake Pipe - although no-one is allowed to use it since the time it caused the University to move several inches on its foundations (and caused acute bowel discomfort in a quarter of the population of the city). This organ's other major feature are the 14 keys marked '?'. The organ at Don'tgonearthe Castle was specially built to accommodate the tastes of a traditionalist vampire, and features the specialist voices of Wolf Howl, Thunderclap, Scream and Creaky Floors. Its chord generators, for example 'Ghastly Face at Window', play various combinations of the voices.
Bathrooms[edit | edit source]
To date only one Johnson bathroom has been discovered (the Patent 'Typhoon' Superior Indoor Ablutorium with Automatic Soap Dish). It was found behind a boarded-up door hidden behind a bookcase in the Archchancellor's rooms at UU, and was promptly opened up by order of Mustrum Ridcully. The bathroom features a number of unusual water spouts and fountains, such as the 'Old Faithful' facility and the 'Musical Pipes' enhancement, interlocked with the university's organ. These have been found to have the same kind of unexpected behaviour as Johnson's other devices, and as a result the bathroom was later sealed up again after an unfortunate incident when the Librarian was playing Bubbla's Catastrophe suite on the UU organ while the Archchancellor was having a shower.
Monuments and Landscape Design[edit | edit source]
Johnson has designed a number of monuments and landmarks, including the inch-high Colossus of Ankh-Morpork, the pocket-sized Hanging Gardens of Ankh and the minuscule Quirm Memorial. He was also commissioned to construct an arch to commemorate the Battle of Crumhorn - this arch is now kept in a cardboard box.
His efforts in landscape design are especially noteworthy, and the Ankh-Morpork palace gardens are considered to be his greatest accomplishment. It is here that there are such creations as the hoho, which is a fifty foot deep ha-ha, the gargantuan beehive currently used as a pigeon coop in the absence of ten foot long bees, a structure referred to only as the "Johnson Exploding Pagoda", iron patio furniture that melted and crazy paving that committed suicide, and the chiming sundial that also tends to explode around noon. In the palace grounds is also a maze so small that people get lost looking for it. Another notable feature is the ornamental trout lake, built long, but, sadly, only one inch wide. It currently houses one trout that is quite content provided it doesn't want to turn around. "Perfect for the dieting fish". At one point there was also an ornate fountain which, upon being turned on, did nothing but groan ominously for several minutes before firing a small stone cherub a thousand feet into the air.
The Post Office Mail Sorter[edit | edit source]
Originally intended to be another of Johnson's famous organs, this device was adapted into a mail sorter (through such implements as a hopper and the presence of imps) in his continual striving for functional improvement. Johnson used in the sorter various gears and other rotating components which for tidiness he constructed with the value for pi of exactly three (rather than the customary "three and a bit") as the ratio between their circumference and their diameter. The Sorter itself came to be known as the New Pie, and eventually caused the downfall of the Ankh-Morpork postal service as the machine started sorting mail that hadn't been written yet. The then-heads of the Ankh-Mopork Post Office tried to use this to their advantage, as they could deliver future mail to people a matter of minutes after (or before) the writer had created it, thus creating a practically instantaneous mail service. This idea was flawed however, as in some cases, post that never would be in that particular trouser leg of time were created. The damage caused to space-time in the immediate vicinity of the machine made it a significant health hazard. It was only the physics and dimensions of the letters that enabled them to pass through safely; a chair leg for instance would come out the other side in thousands of tiny splinters. When this was considered in combination with the ever-increasing volume of not-yet-written mail, the machine was taken out of service and smashed up by a senior postman (despite being told that its destruction could result in the end of the universe.). The remains are still installed in the basement of the Post Office; as they are still hazardous, there is no obvious means of removing them. It was a prominent feature of the Post Office in Going Postal; one of Moist Von Lipwig's predecessors was accidentally killed by it, and Moist himself used it to kill Mr. Gryle, a very uncharacteristic banshee.
Empirical Crescent[edit | edit source]
Empirical Crescent is a street in a fashionable area of Ankh just off Park Lane, which is generally a high-rent district. Rents would be considerably higher were it not for the continued existence of Empirical Crescent, which, despite the best efforts of the Ankh-Morpork Historical Preservation Society, still stands. The Crescent is a product of Johnson's unique multi-dimensional approach to architecture. On the outside it is a perfectly normal street, but inside the front door of No.1 opens into the back bedroom of No.15, the ground floor window of No.3 showed the view from the second storey of No.9 and smoke from the dining-room fireplace of No.2 came out of the chimney of No.19. No residents tend to stay in Empirical Crescent for more than a few months and always leave very quickly (usually without taking time to pack the furniture). It enjoys a low crime rate, as thieves generally prefer to break into one apartment at a time. It is possible that Empirical Crescent's connections form a tesseract, but given Johnson's architectural abilities it seems most unlikely that he actually intended to construct one.
Cooking[edit | edit source]
In addition to his engineering and architecture, Johnson is also known for his occasional attempts at cooking. Dishes designed by Johnson frequently encounter problems similar to those found in his landscape work - a wedding cake made by him, for example, had as its icing a substance harder than cement, and was eventually used as a bandstand. His most remarkable work in this field was the Individual Fruit Pie, a gargantuan pastry which exploded during baking and demolished several city blocks. Amongst the ingredients was a single clove. Also, a device labelled "Improved Manicure Device" is used in the UU as a potato peeler, and a salt and pepper set requested from him turned out large enough to convert into residences and a food silo.
He also created a clockwork spoon which could stir so fast the bowl would hit the ceiling.