Page 126. " he had got a good M.C. serving with the Canadians and had ended as an A.D.C. to a popular general "
Canadian Expeditionary Force recruits (c.1914)
Public DomainCanadian Expeditionary Force recruits (c.1914) - Credit: unknown

The First World War was very recent history at this point in the novel. All the colonies and dominions of the British Empire, like Canada, were automatically drawn into the conflict when Britain declared war on Germany in 1914. 67,000 Canadian soldiers lost their lives.

An M.C., or Military Cross, is a military decoration that was created in 1914. In the period referred to here, it was awarded to commissioned and warrant officers in the British Army, for acts of exemplary gallantry. It could also, at that time, be awarded to officers of British Empire dominions.

A.D.C. stands for aide-de-camp, an officer who acts as an assistant and secretary to a high-ranking member of the military, such as a general.

Page 127. " Everybody knows Ma Mayfield of the Old Hundredth "
Poster depicting London nightlife (1924)
Public DomainPoster depicting London nightlife (1924) - Credit: Horace Taylor

The character Ma Mayfield is based on a real-life Irish-born night club owner called Kate Meyrick (1875-1933).

Meyrick was involved in the running of several night clubs in London during the 1920s, including one at 43 Gerrard Street, Soho which was the model for the Old Hundredth.

Mrs Meyrick crossed swords with the law on many occasions, and served five prison sentences for offences relating to her night club ownership.


Page 128. " A hundred Sink Street "

Sink Street does not exist, but Mrs. Meyrick's night-club at 43 Gerrard Street, Soho was not far from Leicester Square. It is now a thriving part of London's Chinatown.


Google Map


Page 134. " A man was there from Trumper's to shave us "
Trumper's Mayfair branch
Creative Commons AttributionTrumper's Mayfair branch - Credit: Herry Lawford, Flickr

Trumper's is a men's barber shop, established by George Trumper in Curzon Street, Mayfair, in 1875.

Today it has two branches: the original one in Curzon Street; and a second one in Duke of York Street, St. James's.

Page 135. " The Star may be difficult "

The Star was a London evening newspaper; it was founded in 1888, and ceased publication in 1960.

Page 135. " At half-past ten we stood in Bow street "
Bow Street Magistrates' Court in 2006
Public DomainBow Street Magistrates' Court in 2006 - Credit: Edward, Wikimedia Commons

Bow Street Magistrates' Court has existed at various sites on Bow Street in Central London since 1740.

The most recent site of the Magistrates' Court, and the building in which Sebastian's case would have been heard, ceased functioning as a courtroom in 2006. 

Various famous defendants, including Oscar Wilde, have appeared at Bow Street prior to pleading their cases before higher courts.


Google Map


Page 136. " We met at Gunter's in Berkeley Square "
Berkeley Square, Mayfair
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeBerkeley Square, Mayfair - Credit: Harvey Barrison, Flickr

Gunter's at 7-8 Berkeley Square began life as a confectionary shop in 1757, trading under the name of The Pot and Pine Apple.

During the 19th and 20th centuries it functioned as a tea-shop, serving light meals and specialising in ices and sorbets. It is still in existence today.

Berkeley Square is a highly desirable residential area in Mayfair, London.


Google Map
Page 139. " a convalescent Dominican who has read too much Maritain and too little Hegel "
Dominican Friars in 2009
Creative Commons AttributionDominican Friars in 2009 - Credit: John Stephen Dwyer, Flickr

The Dominicans are a Catholic religious order founded by St. Dominic in the early 13th Century.

Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) was a French philosopher who converted to Catholicism in 1906.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) was a German philosopher whose thinking had a significant influence on subsequent philosophical and ideological developments, including Marxism.



Page 140. " incomparable Charlus "
Robert - comte de Montesquiou-Fezensac by Boldini (1897)
Public DomainRobert - comte de Montesquiou-Fezensac by Boldini (1897) - Credit: Giovanni Boldini

Charlus is an aristocratic, decadent homosexual character in Marcel Proust's seven volume, semi-autobiographical novel In Search of Lost Time (also translated as Remembrance of Things Past).

His full name is Baron Palamède de Charlus, and he appears for the first time in the second volume, Within a Budding Grove (1919).

The character is said to be based on the French symbolist poet and art critic Robert, comte de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1855-1921).

In Search of Lost Time on Book Drum

Page 142. " I said something about a camel and the eye of a needle "
Eye of a needle
Public DomainEye of a needle - Credit: Peng, Wikimedia Commons
A camel
Creative Commons AttributionA camel - Credit: flydime, Flickr

Jesus is reputed to have responded to a rich young man who asked him how to achieve eternal life: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24)

Slightly different versions of the same statement appear in Luke 18:25 and in Mark 10:25.

It is now believed that camel may be a mis-translation, and that the sentence should read: It is easier for a rope to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Page 149. " she read part of the Wisdom of Father Brown "
G.K. Chesterton in 1910
Public DomainG.K. Chesterton in 1910 - Credit: unknown

Father Brown is a character who appears in 52 short stories by G.K. Chesterton. The stories were published in five volumes between 1911 and 1935. The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914) is the second volume, containing 12 stories.

Father Brown was based on a real-life Catholic priest, Father John O'Connor (1870-1952), who was involved in Chesterton's conversion to Catholicism.