Page 53. " I was beginning to suspect a post-Portuguese-holiday Shirley-Valentine-style scenario "

Shirley Valentine was a 1989 British film, based on a one-woman 1986 play by Willy Russell. It tells the story of a bored middle-aged housewife who goes on holiday to Greece without her husband and rediscovers herself with the intimate help of a local barman.


Page 53. " I would open the Sunday People to see my mother sporting dyed blonde hair and a leopardskin top "

The Sunday People, now known as The People, is a tabloid newspaper which frequently features celebrity and sex scandals. It is often read by people with dyed blonde hair who wear leopardskin tops.

(not that there's anything wrong with dyed blonde hair - ed.)

(or leopardskin tops - webmaster)

Page 53. " Today she asked me to meet her for lunch at the coffee place in Dickens and Jones "

 A coffee place that is no longer.  Dickins and Jones (spelling, Bridget!) was a London department store that closed in 2006 due to substantial losses.

Page 54. " he and Becca were off to do Tai Chi in the park "


Tai Chi Chuan
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeTai Chi Chuan - Credit: Shizhao
Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art technique, also widely practised amongst middle class health fanatics, to relieve stress and improve fitness.


Page 55. " bumping into her in the Marble Arch Marks and Spencer, making her drop her new Le Creuset terrine dish on her foot and taking her for a coffee in Selfridges "
Marble Arch
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMarble Arch - Credit: Stormnight

 Marks & Spencer is a British retail chain with a reputation for selling up-market products, particularly food and clothing. Its flagship store is on Oxford Street near Marble Arch, in London's West End.

Le Creuset is a French manufacturer, best known for its cast iron range of cookware.

Selfridges is a luxury department store, similar to Harrods and Harvey Nichols, a few doors down from the Oxford Sreet M&S.

Page 56. " the good fortune to meet some tall Omar Sharif-figure "

Omar Sharif is an Egyptian actor, most famous for his roles in Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. Swoon!



Page 59. " while watching Newsnight in an effort to drum up some interesting opinions "

Newsnight is a BBC current affairs show, hosted by acerbic British journalist Jeremy Paxman, who is famous for tearing politicians to pieces.


Page 59. " Wise people will say Daniel should like me just as I am, but I am a child of Cosmopolitan culture "

Cosmopolitan is a monthly women's magazine which offers advice on sex, relationships, fashion and beauty. It features a series of lifestyle quizzes centred around these issues.

Page 61. " thoughts of Joanna Lumley and Susan Sarandon "
Susan Sarandon
GNU Free Documentation LicenseSusan Sarandon - Credit: David Shankbone

The actresses Joanna Lumley and Susan Sarandon had both got re-married to significantly younger men shortly before the Diary's publication.

Joanna Lumley is now more famous as the patron saint of the Gurkhas, the Nepalese unit of the British army whose veterans' cause she took up in 2009.

Page 66. " I’m meeting him in Debenhams coffee shop at one fifteen "
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDebenhams - Credit: Benkid77

 Debenhams is another department store with a flagship building on Oxford Street.  Not quite in the same league as Selfridges, which may say something about the relative standing of Mrs Jones's new "friend".


Page 68. " the concept of Boy Time – as introduced in the film Clueless "

Clueless was a teenage romantic comedy, loosely based on the novel Emma by Jane Austen.  A fitting reference in a book loosely based on another Jane Austen Novel.     


Page 71. " I feel like the grasshopper who sang all summer "
The Ant and the Grasshopper
Public DomainThe Ant and the Grasshopper

A reference to The Ant and the Grasshopper, a cautionary tale by Aesop about planning ahead.


Parodies of the fable

Page 72. " then in a Groucho Marx kind of way he does not want to be a member of her 'club'. "
Groucho Marx
Public DomainGroucho Marx

Iconic American actor and comedian Groucho Marx starred in a number of feature films during the 1920s and 1930s, alongside his brothers, Harpo and Chico. He later went on to pursue a career in radio and television.

In his 1959 autobiography, Groucho and Me, Marx recalled how he sent a telegram to a Hollywood club he had recently joined, which read:

Please accept my resignation. I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.