Page 426. " Listen, we may yet spend Christmas in the shadow of the Sphinx. "
The Great Sphinx of Giza
GNU Free Documentation LicenseThe Great Sphinx of Giza - Credit: Barcex
The Sphinx is a mythological figure possessing the body of a lion and the head of a human. They were often built, in giant sculptured form, at the entrance to religious temples or royal tombs. Most associated with Egypt, they are also found in parts of South and South-East Asia, albeit in slightly altered form. Nancy O'Hagan is probably referring to the Great Sphinx of Giza in Cairo which, at 73.5 metres long, would cast a very long shadow indeed. It is in fact the largest monolith statue in the world.
Page 428. " until he finds a hokey country station playing 'Everyone's Talkin' At Me'. "

The folk song "Everyone's Talkin'" was written by Fred Neil (1936-2001) in 1966.

The most famous version, used in the movie Midnight Cowboy, was recorded by Harry Nilsson (1941-1994). He was the winner of two Grammy Awards. Other hits include "Coconut" and "Without You".



Page 435. " A world that'll award Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize throws us all out of a job.' "
Henry Kissinger 1975
Public DomainHenry Kissinger 1975 - Credit: White House Photographic Office

Dr. Henry Alfred Kissinger (b. 1923), former U.S. secretary of state, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for helping to bring the Vietnam war to a close. He was subsequently accused of playing a major part in the secret bombing campaign in Cambodia, which helped bring about the Cambodian Civil War and Cambodia's term of terror under dictator Pol Pot. 

Page 439. " she is reminded of April's war footage from Saigon. "

A reference to the Fall of Saigon which occurred on April 30th 1975. The capital of South Vietnam fell to the North Vietnamese army who had begun their assault the day before. Their victory marked the end of the Vietnam War. Under communist rule Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. American personnel and civilians as well as thousands of Vietnamese were evacuated. The last ditch attempt to pick up the many thousands of remaining civilians was code named  Operation Frequent Wind, the largest helicopter evacuation on record. It has been dubbed National Hatred Day by many anti-communist Vietnamese, many of whom have never returned to their home country since that fateful day.

Page 444. " No dispares! No dispares! No quiero morir! "

Translates from Spanish as 'Don't shoot! Don't shoot! Don't want to die!'

Page 444. " 'Yo! Amaba! A! Ese! Perro! Hijo! De! Puta!' "

Translates as  'I loved that dog you son-of-a-whore!'

Page 444. " Quitatelo de encima, carina. Anda con gentuza y! Dios mio! este viejo que podria ser tu padre "

Translates as something like 'Take it off him, darling! You walk around with trash God! He's old enough to be your father.'

Page 446. " He admired that wordless passage in Vertigo, where Cary Grant trails the mysterious woman to the waterfront with the San Francisco backdrop. "

Vertigo (1958) is a psychological thriller in which a retired police detective is paid by an acquaintance to find out why his wife is behaving so strangely. The screenplay was written by Samuel Taylor and Alec Coppel, a superior adaptation of the Boileau-Narcejac novel D'entre les morts.

James Stewart, not Cary Grant, plays Scottie Ferguson, the detective who follows Madeleine Elster (Kim Novak) in her wanderings about San Francisco.

Page 446. " He enjoyed Charade - I know that's not Hitchcock, but it tickled him, you calling Audrey Hepburn a bubblehead. "

Charade was released in 1963 and starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, both of whom were nominated for Golden Globes for their performances.  It has quite a Hitchcockian feel to it, as well as a typically Hitchcockian cast. It has been described as 'the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made.' It was remade more recently and released as The Truth about Charlie (2002). Charade is now in the public domain and can be downloaded for free here.



Page 446. " The only figurative in a room of Pollocks, de Koonings and Mirόs, "
Pollock painting hung in the New York's Museum of Modern Art
Creative Commons AttributionPollock painting hung in the New York Museum of Modern Art - Credit: Allie Caulfield, Flickr





Notable events/characteristics

Paul Jackson Pollock



Abstract Expressionism


  • Reclusive alcoholic
  • Died in car crash
  • Film Pollock released in 2000 (see clip)

Willem de Kooning


Abstract Expressionism


  • Married to Elaine de Kooning
  • Winner Logan Medal of the Arts

Elaine Marie de Kooning


Abstract Expressionism


  • Married to Willem de Kooning
  • Lectured at Yale University
  • J.F. Kennedy was assassinated whilst she was half way through a portrait of him.

Joan Miró i Ferrà










  • Won the Guggenheim International Award in 1958
  • Was a member of Generation of ’27, some of whom were murdered by Franco.
  • Was an exile of Franco’s fascist state.