Page 201. " in the squares of Mayfair and Belgravia "

Mayfair is a very up-market area of central London, situated in the City of Westminster.

Also a very fashionable area of central London, Belgravia is situated partly in the City of Westminster, and partly in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.


Mayfair (top) and Belgravia (bottom, between Sloane Street and Grosvenor Place):


Google Map


Page 201. " saw her as herself the blue-bird "

This is probably a reference to a play called The Blue Bird by the Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck (also referred to in bookmark, p.65).

The best known of Maeterlinck's plays, The Blue Bird, was first produced in 1908. It is sometimes referred to as a fairy play, and tells the story of two children who go on a quest for a blue bird that symbolises happiness.

Page 203. " who would the young princes marry? "
The Duke of York and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1920s)
Public DomainThe Duke of York and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (1920s) - Credit: unknown

The 'young princes' are the unmarried sons of George V and Queen Mary: Prince Edward, the Prince of Wales, who would marry Wallis Simpson; Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester; and Prince George, the Duke of Kent.

Prince Albert of York (the Duke of York), who would become George VI on his brother's abdication, married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon on 26 April 1923, so he was out of the running when Julia was a debutante in the 1923 season.

Page 204. " No Penelope she; she must hunt in the forest "

Penelope is a character in Homer's Odyssey.

While her husband Odysseus is away fighting in the Trojan war, she remains faithful to him despite marriage proposals from 108 suitors!

The Odyssey on Book Drum

Presumably what is being suggested here is that Julia (unlike Penelope) does not have the luxury of being able to reject numerous offers of marriage but must go out and actively seek those few men who would consider her a suitable wife. 


'Penelope reading a letter from Odysseus' - Louis-Jean François Lagrenée
Public Domain'Penelope reading a letter from Odysseus' - Louis-Jean François Lagrenée - Credit: Lagrenée

Page 205. " in her villa at Cap Ferrat "
GNU Free Documentation LicenseSaint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat - Credit: Kerschbaumer's at en.wikipedia

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a French seaside village situated on a peninsula between Nice and Monaco. The tip of the peninsula is known as Cap Ferrat.

Since the middle of the nineteenth century, the area has been a magnet for the rich and famous.


Google Map


Page 206. " a fascinated abhorrence of what they called 'Pont Street' "

Pont Street runs between the highly fashionable areas of Knightsbridge and Belgravia.

What exactly Julia Flyte and her friends have against Pont Street or its residents is not clear. Certainly, the examples given of what is Pont Street (wearing a signet ring; giving chocolates at the theatre; saying, 'Can I forage for you?' at a dance) do not have an immediate significance for the uninitiated.

Can anyone explain?

Nancy Mitford also used the term in her novel Love in a Cold Climate where the heroine's aunt is described as someone who tries to keep her nose firmly to Pont Street.


Google Map
Page 210. " for Rex made love to her that afternoon for the first time "
Making love the old-fashioned way? ('The Engagement' by Craft)
Public DomainMaking love the old-fashioned way? ('The Engagement' by Craft) - Credit: Percy Robert Craft

Modern readers may take this to mean that Rex and Julia had sex. However, the situation is somewhat ambiguous, as Rex Mottram later denies that Julia is his 'mistress'.

Historically, to make love to a woman meant to woo or to court her. The phrase only seems to have taken on its modern meaning during the 1950s.

Readers must, therefore, draw their own conclusions as to what went on that afternoon! 

It is possible, of course, that Waugh has deliberately chosen an ambiguous phrase, as there is some evidence that – as a practising Catholic – he was wary of upsetting his peers' concept of morality.

Page 210. " She took her problem to Farm Street "

The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, is to be found at 114 Mount Street in London's Mayfair (it can also be entered from Farm Street).

A Jesuit church founded in 1849, Farm Street did not become a parish church until 1966. But from its inception it earned a reputation as an important centre of Catholic life in London, especially for those seeking spiritual advice, guidance or instruction.

It was at Farm Street that Evelyn Waugh was received into the Catholic Church in September 1930.


Google Map
Page 212. " not, as she expected, from a tray at Cartiers, but in a back room in Hatton Garden "

S.A. Cartier is a French jewellery and watch-making business, established in Paris in 1847. By the early years of the 20th Century, branches of Cartier's had opened in London, New York and St. Petersburg.

Today, Cartier's can be found on Bond Street and Sloane Street in London. They sell a range of jewellery, watches, perfume and leather goods.


Hatton Garden is the name of both a street and an area in Holborn, London. It is the centre of the London jewellery trade, being the location of almost 300 jewellery-related businesses, and more than 55 jewellers' shops.  Though they deal in very expensive stones, they lack the glamour of the branded jewellers of Mayfair and Knightsbridge.


Google Map


Page 214. " 'I will see about having you instructed.' "
Crucifix at St.Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Newcastle
Public DomainCrucifix at St.Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Newcastle - Credit: Madame.evangelista, Wikimedia Commons

Traditionally, the Catholic Church has been opposed to 'mixed marriages' between Catholics and non-Catholics. However when they do take place, it is considered desirable that the non-Catholic partner should receive teaching (instruction) in the essentials of the Catholic faith.

Instruction is also given to those who wish to convert to the Catholic faith. Evelyn Waugh received instruction from Father Martin D'Arcy* prior to being received into the Catholic Church in September 1930 (at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Farm Street).

*This Jesuit priest is referred to in Muriel Spark's novel, The Girls of Slender Means, where it is said that one of the characters could never make up his mind between suicide and an equally drastic course of action known as Father D'Arcy.

Page 215. " I don't suppose all Clovis's army were exactly Catholic minded "
Parisian fresco depicting the Battle of Tolbiac
Public DomainParisian fresco depicting the Battle of Tolbiac - Credit: unknown

Clovis I (c.466-511) became the first King of the Franks* after he succeeded in uniting all the Frankish tribes under one leader.

He is said to have converted to Catholicism (his wife's religion) after a military victory at Tolbiac.

*a group of West Germanic tribes

Page 216. " He'd learned large bits of the catechism by heart, and the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary "
Plaque depicting the Lord's Prayer in Stanwell, Middlesex
Creative Commons AttributionPlaque depicting the Lord's Prayer in Stanwell, Middlesex - Credit: Maxwell Hamilton, Flickr

A catechism is a handbook of religious instruction. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official statment of the Catholic faith and its implications.

The Lord's Prayer (sometimes known as Our Father or Pater Noster) is one of the best known Christian prayers. It appears in the gospels of Matthew and Luke as the teaching of Jesus.

The Lord's Prayer

The Hail Mary, also known as Ave Maria or the Angelic Salutation, is a prayer addressed to the Virgin Mary. It is a part of various Christian traditions, including Roman Catholicism, Anglo-Catholicism, and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The Catholic Hail Mary in English and Latin

The Ave Maria has been set to music by various composers including Schubert and Cherubini.


Page 219. " She had an annulment "
''Til death do us part' (A 1920s or 30s wedding)
Public Domain''Til death do us part' (A 1920s or 30s wedding) - Credit: Fred C. Palmer

Divorce is not permitted in the Catholic Church as marriage is seen as a sacred act that cannot be undone.

However, the Church does allow a marriage to be annulled: declared to have been invalid from the outset.

In order to obtain an annulment of a marriage, a couple must appear before an ecclesiastical tribunal and prove that the conditions under which the marriage took place justify its dissolution under Catholic Church law.

Evelyn Waugh himself successfully presented a case to an ecclesiastical tribunal to secure the annulment of his first marriage (to Evelyn Gardner).

Page 224. " I returned to London in the spring of 1926 for the General Strike "

The 1926 General Strikewhich was organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), took place between May 3 and May 13, 1926.

A wide range of industrial workers came out on strike in support of miners who were protesting against worsening conditions in the pits and reductions in their wages.

Middle-class and upper-class volunteers attempted to keep some vital services running, and 226,000 special constables (auxiliary police officers) were enrolled to help with law enforcement.


Page 225. " it had become part of one's experience, at second hand, like the mud of Flanders and the flies of Mesopotamia "
The mud of Passchendaele (1917)
Public DomainThe mud of Passchendaele (1917) - Credit: William Rider-Rider - Canada Dept. of National Defence

Charles Ryder was of that generation that did not fight in the First World War but would have heard first-hand accounts of its horrors.


Historically, Flanders  was a geographical area which included land in Northern France, Belgium and Holland. During the First World War, battles fought in this area –notably the battles of Ypres, Passchendaele and the Somme – were known as the battles of Flanders Fields.


Mesopotamia is the area situated between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates; it corresponds broadly to present day Iraq, with parts of Syria, Turkey and Iran. The Mesopotamian campaign of the First World War was fought in the Middle East between British Empire troops (mainly Indians) and troops drawn mainly from the Ottoman Empire.




Map of Mesopotamia (with German place names)
GNU Free Documentation LicenseMap of Mesopotamia (with German place names) - Credit: NordNordWest, Wikimedia Commons
Page 225. " two emancipated American girls who shared a garconnière in Auteuil "
Emancipated American girls? (Washington, 1920)
Public DomainEmancipated American girls? (Washington, 1920) - Credit: National Photo Company

A garconnière is the French word for a bachelor pad.


 Auteuil is a rather select area of Paris, situated in the 16th arrondissement.

Page 225. " We dined that night at the Café Royal "

The Café Royal was a restaurant in Regent Street, London, which was founded in 1863 and closed down in 2008.

Throughout its long history, it was always a popular meeting-place for the rich and famous.

Page 225. " One group, from Cambridge, had that afternoon signed on to run messages for Transport House, and their table backed on another group's who were enrolled as special constables "
The Socialist threat depicted by the Conservative Party in 1909
Public DomainThe Socialist threat depicted by the Conservative Party in 1909 - Credit: The Conservative Party

An indication of the polarization caused in British society by the strike, leading to fears in some quarters that revolution was imminent.

In fact the status quo was re-established very quickly, and the strikers were not successful in their objectives.


Transport House (situated on Smith Square in London) was, from 1926 onwards, the headquarters of the Transport and General Workers Union.

It was also, at different times in its history, the headquarters of the Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress. 

Page 225. " You should have been in Buda-Pest when Horthy marched in "
Admiral Horthy, Regent of Hungary (1927)
Public DomainAdmiral Horthy, Regent of Hungary (1927) - Credit: Philip Alexius de László (1869-1937)

Budapest is the capital of Hungary.

In 1919, Hungarian socialists and communists, led by Béla Kun, took control of Hungary and re-named it the Hungarian Soviet Republic.

They were subsequently overthrown by counter-revolutionary forces. In 1920, Miklós Horthy (Nicholas Horthy de Nagybánya) became Hungary's Regent and Head of State.