Page 377. " Am. My office is in Haymarket. "
Haymarket in London's West End
Public Domain The Haymarket in London's West End

Part of London's West End, it runs between Piccadilly Circus and Pall Mall. As the name suggests, it was once used as a venue for the sale of fodder and other farm produce. It has been associated with theatre since the seventeenth-century: along this street can be found Her Majesty's Theatre and the Theatre Royal.

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Page 379. " The most singular difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is a solid, and joy a liquid, "

J.D. Salinger's name has been much in circulation in recent weeks for the sad reason that he died (on 27th January 2010). Known for his reclusive nature, his most famous work by far is Catcher in the Rye (1951), the sparse first person narrative of a disaffected seventeen-year-old who is convinced that adults and their values are 'phony'. Despite his swift rise to fame in the 1950s, he published little else in the remaining decades of his life. The Hollywood film Finding Forrester, starring Sean Connery, took as its inspiration some of the details of Salinger's biography. Cavendish's quote comes from the collection Nine Stories (1953). The opening sentence to Catcher has become almost iconic:  'If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.'

Page 382. " Mr Meeks conducted the chorus like Herbert von Karajan. "
Karajan in action (1941)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeKarajan in action (1941) - Credit: Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive),

Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989) was probably one of the world's most successful conductors. He was born in Salzburg, Austria, and conducted the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra for 35 years, selling around 200 million records. He attracted notoriety for joining the Nazi party in 1933, rising to prominence in Nazi Germany shortly thereafter. He was referred to by Isaiah Berlin as "a genius, with a whiff of sulphur about him". He preferred the Berlin over the Vienna Philharmonic, explaining: 'If I tell the Berliners to step forward, they do it. If I tell the Viennese to step forward, they do it. But then they ask why.'

Listen on Spotify: Beethoven Symphony No.9 in D minor

Page 387. " Her furry fawn rubs up against my Narnian-sized lamp-post and mothballs... "
Victorian lamp post in Malvern - in operation since 1856
Creative Commons AttributionVictorian lamp post in Malvern - in operation since 1856 - Credit: Hannah Donovan

Narnia is a fictional world in C.S. Lewis's series of children's books collectively known as The Chronicles of Narnia. Legend has it that C.S. Lewis was walking back from a Malvern pub with Tolkien one snowy evening when he was arrested by the sight of a solitary lamp post shining out against the darkness. This prompted him to remark that he'd like somehow to work the image into a book. Certainly a perenially lit lamp post - much like those that still operate in Malvern today - stands as the one reassuringly constant landmark in the shadowy world of Narnia. It is probable that Mitchell, who was brought up in Malvern, stumbled across the Lewis/Malvern connection whilst still a child. Typical of the irreverent Cavendish to transform an innocent icon of magic into a symbol of crude desire. 

Page 387. " The heating systems composed works in the style of John Cage. "

John Milton Cage Jr. (1912-1992) is the American composer, frequently cited as one of the most influential composers of the previous century. He is perhaps best known for his controversial piece 4'33"  in which the sounds of the environment are recorded to produce, arguably, the most unmusical piece of music ever recorded. The sound does indeed resemble that of a distempered heating system.   

Page 393. " A Titus Andronicus catalogue of threats beat at the door "

Titus Andronicus is the most explicitly brutal of all Shakespeare's plays. After the newly wed Lavinia has been raped, the perpetrators cut out her tongue and chop off her hands so that she is unable to expose their identity. Other barbarisms include Titus's sons being served up to him on a plate and the rapists being baked in a pie and then eaten by their own mother.

From this play comes the rather satisfyingly unrepentant quote:

If one good deed in all my life I did
I do repent it from my very soul

It sounds like just the kind of thing a hubris filled Cavendish would say!

Page 396. " Aurora House lit up like the Close Encounters UFO "

Spielberg's 1977 classic film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The scene he is referring to is shown here.

Page 398. " All for one and one for all, is it?' "
Public Domain"tous pour un, un pour tous" - The Three Musketeers with friend Dartagnan (an illustration from the Appleton edition) - Credit: Maurice Leloir (1851-1940)

Switzerland's traditional motto as well as that of the titular heroes in Alexandre Dumas's popular nineteenth-century novel The Three Musketeers. Dumas (1802-1870) also wrote The Count of Monte Cristo.