"The lamp in the spine does not light on beef and prunes"
A symbol of the inferiority of womanhood?
Creative Commons AttributionA symbol of the inferiority of womanhood? - Credit: Son of Groucho, Flickr

The plain (and alcohol free!) meal eaten at Fernham is contrasted unfavourably with the lavish lunch provided for the narrator earlier in the day at one of the male colleges. It is used in the text as a symbol of the inferior status of women within the university system.