Page 109. " Two old ladies locked in the lavatory "

Normally referred to as, Seven old ladies locked in the lavatory, this is a song adapted to the tune of the popular children's rhyme, Oh dear, what can the matter be?

Page 109. " He will send a boy, he says, to fix the kombi. "

The word 'boy' was for many years in common use in South Africa to refer to a black male. White households and employers often took on black males as labourers or to complete menial jobs and would often address them as 'boy' to enforce their subservient status. The word could also be used as a generic term directed toward a black man by a white person, although it's now widely reagrded as a derogatory racial slur.


Page 113. " a sign to paint on the door-lintel that will make the plague pass you by "


The Angel of Death and the First Passover
Public DomainThe Angel of Death and the First Passover - Credit: Wikicommons


According to the story, Pharoah promises to free the the Children of Israel from slavery if God sends ten plagues down onto the Egyptians, as proof of power.

In the final plague, the spirit of God, in the form of an avenging angel would visit each home and kill every first born son. In order for the Israelites to escape this fate, they were advised to brush the blood of a slaughtered lamb on their door frames. This blood would give a sign to the angel that God's chosen people were inside, and so the inhabitants would remain unscathed by the plague. This story is now celebrated during the Jewish festival of Passover.



Jewish shop in Nazi Germany, 1933
Public DomainJewish shop in Nazi Germany, 1933 - Credit: Yad Vashem






A juxstaposition of this story can perhaps be seen in Nazi Germany, when the Star of David was painted on many homes and businesses to identify the occupants as Jewish. This time, the sign did not indicate the occupants should be left alone, but instead facilitated boycotts and attacks on the property and people.




Page 116. " was treated at Settlers Hospital and discharged. "

Settlers Hospital is a hospital in Grahamstown. It was built in the 1920s, partly financed by a donation from the 1820 memorial Settlers Association. It still serves the community today. 

Page 120. " The end of roving. "

So, we'll go no more a-roving is a short poem by Byron, published after his death in 1830, in which he contemplates the reality of growing old and the loss of youth. The full text of the poem is as follows: 


Creative Commons AttributionMoonlight - Credit: Ahmed Al.Badawy

So, we'll go no more a-roving

So late into the night,

Though the heart be still as loving,

And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,

And the soul wears out the breast,

And the heart must pause to breathe,

And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,

And the day returns too soon,

Yet we'll go no more a-roving

By the light of the moon.

Page 120. " Rosalind is in Madagascar, he is told "

The country David refers to as 'darkest Africa' is an island nation situated off the south east coast of Africa.


Google Map


Page 121. " runs from the man with a face like a hawk, like a Benin mask, like Thoth. "


Benin Ivory Pendant Mask, Metropoiltan Museum of New Yor
Creative Commons AttributionBenin Ivory Pendant Mask, Metropoiltan Museum of New Yor - Credit: KaDeWeGirl







On the right, is an example of a Benin mask. The ivory pendant mask, thought to originate from the early sixteenth century, was commissioned by the King (Oba) of Benin to honour his mother, Idia.

The King would have worn this mask to commemorate his mother, and masks of this type have gone on to be worn at ceremonies to ward away evil spirits.







Sculpture depicting Thoth at the British Museum








Thoth, an Egyptain god or deity, is often depicted with the head of an ibis or a baboon, as in the woodest bust on the left. He has been described as the son of Ra, although some believe he invented himself through the power of words and language. Egyptians believed him to be the creator of magic and the writer and record keeper of all knowledge.



Page 122. " Will this be where the dark trio are at last brought to life: not in Cape Town but in old Kaffraria? "

The term Kaffraria was used to describe the entire area along the southeast coast of South Africa, colonised by the British and the Portuguese, and now known as the Eastern Cape. It means 'land of the kaffirs,' which derives from the name the Xhosa people were commonly referred to by Europeans. It included the territory of British Kaffraria, an area first annexed by the Britsh in 1847 that went on to be incorporated into Cape Colony in 1866.

Page 124. " Descartes should have thought of that. "

Descartes was a 17th century French philosopher often referred to as 'The Father of Modern Philosophy'.