Page 101. " as if she were Prunella Scales in Fawlty Towers "

Although only two series were ever written, Fawlty Towers was an immensely popular British comedy. The programme was set in a dreary seaside hotel run by the erratic and evil-tempered proprietor, Basil Fawlty (played by writer John Cleese), who has a peculiar knack for attracting disaster.

Prunella Scales is the English actress who played Sybil, Basil's much more competent wife. One of Sybil's defining chracteristics was her determination to maintain the facade of smooth and professional service at the hotel, and her sycophantic treatment of the guests.


Page 101. " on a par with Othello's hurl my soul from heaven soliloquy "
Othello and Desdemona
Public DomainOthello and Desdemona - Credit: Alexandre-Marie Colin

 Othello is a play by William Shakespeare.


The soliloquy comes in Act 5, Scene 2, after Othello has murdered his wife, Desdemona. Othello was led to believe that Desdemona was having an affair by his trusted lieutenant, Iago.


Now — how dost thou look now? O ill-starr'd wench!

Pale as thy smock! when we shall meet at compt,

This look of thine will hurl my soul from heaven,

And fiends will snatch at it.

Othello, Act 5, Scene 2 

Page 101. " 'Ah. Then Bridget is clearly a top post-modernist.' "

Post modernist is a term that can be applied to a wide range of disciplines, from art to architecture.

In this particular case, top post-modernist Bridget is choosing to cast aside the intellectual rigour of traditional modernism, and instead appreciate the inherent irony of pop and mass culture.

Page 102. " until they could prove they'd listened to Turandot all the way through "

Turandot is an opera by Giacomo Puccini.

Nessun Dorma, its most famous aria, was used by the BBC as the opening music for their coverage of the FIFA World Cup in 1990.  It became a huge hit as a result.



Page 102. " Except in the case of Mr Blobby, who should have been punctured at birth "

Mr Blobby
Creative Commons AttributionMr Blobby - Credit: Paul Downey
 Mr Blobby was a character created by the people behind Noel's House Party:



Page 103. " I can't stand Gladiators, though "

  Gladiators was a television show based on the practise of pitting citizens against professional fighters in Ancient Rome:


Page 103. " in a pre-programmed, Stepford Wife sort of way "

The Stepford Wives was a 1975 film, remade in 2004.  It tells the story of a young housewife who begins to suspect that the impeccable behaviour and unquestioning acceptance of her female neighbours may have a sinister explanation.


Page 117. " Harry Enfield's The Slobs "

The Slobs were characters created by comedian Harry Enfield, an underclass couple who smoke and drink with relentless abandon, and very rarely wash.


Page 121. " Awake on VE Day in unseasonable heatwave. "
Public DomainChurchill

 Victory in Europe Day is 8 May (it's being celebrated in this case on the closest Saturday).  It marks the end of hostilities in Europe, following the unconditional surrender of German forces in 1945. 

It is traditionally celebrated with street parties.

Page 121. " a whale-meat fritter party "
Spam fritter
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSpam fritter - Credit: Phil Brown

During the 2nd World War, food was scarce and rationed in Britain. Meat rationing began in 1940, and alternatives like horse and whale were introduced.

Page 123. " Half of Tom's friends used to be in the Anti-Nazi league "

Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSkinhead - Credit: Ludwig Urning
The Anti Nazi League was set up in 1977 to oppose far-right groups in Britain, and attempt to eradicate fascism, racism and homophobia. Gay men were a particular target of people with extreme beliefs.  

The skinhead look was often associated with racist or homophobic beliefs.


Page 124. " like we were Morecambe and Wise or John Noakes and Valerie Singleton "

Many of the comedy sketches written for the Morecambe and Wise Show, starring Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, were based around the premise that the two men shared a flat, and a bed, but in a purely platonic way.


Valerie Singleton and John Noakes were two immensely wholesome individuals who began presenting the BBC's long-running children's show, Blue Peter in 1962 and 1965 respectively. John Noakes had an affinity with one of the Blue Peter pets, an excitable sheep dog called Shep. Valerie Singleton accompanied Princess Anne on a Kenyan safari in 1971.