Page 251. " Shell Mex House "
Shell Mex House
Public DomainShell Mex House - Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Mahlum

Shell Mex House is located at 80 Strand, London. It was built in 1931 and was the headquarters of Shell-Mex and BP Ltd, a joint-venture company started by Shell and British Petroleum to unite their marketing efforts in the UK.

During the Second World War, the Ministry of Supply set up operations there, though the building was badly damaged by a bomb in 1940.

In 1948, Shell-Mex and BP Ltd resumed business there, until the companies separated in 1975.  Shell worked there alone until 1990.

The building now houses Pearson PLC, which owns Penguin Books.

Page 255. " it's Murray Smile "
The Beach Boys
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Beach Boys - Credit: Wikimedia Commons, RR75016

This name links two obscure Beach Boys references.

Murry Wilson was the father of Beach Boys members Brian Wilson, Denis Wilson and Carl Wilson, and uncle to Mike Love. He worked as the band's manager in their early days.

His relationship with his sons was notoriously complicated. Various stories of abuse have circulated, including that Murry hit his son Brian in the head with a piece of lumber, deafening him in one ear. He was also extremely domineering, maintaining strict control over the group's image and sound. In 1964, he was relieved of his duties as manager. He went on to sell the family publishing company against his sons' wishes. There have even been suggestions that he forged their signatures on documentation.

Smile is a legendary unreleased Beach Boys album, recorded between 1966 and 1967. Brian Wilson intended it to be a successor to Pet Sounds, but could never complete it to his satisfaction. Many of the songs intended for the album ended up being recorded for later albums.

In 2004, Wilson released a finished version of the album under his own name.

According to sources close to the author, Pynchon was an admirer of the Beach Boys during the 1960s. One associate, Jules Siegel, has written about an evening he spent with Pynchon and Brian Wilson, both of whom seemed to be fairly unnerved by each other.

Listen on Spotify: God Only Knows and Wouldn't It Be Nice  from Pet Sounds



Page 270. " Third Term "
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933
Public DomainFranklin D. Roosevelt, 1933 - Credit: Elias Goldensky

Franklin D. Roosevelt is the only person ever to have been elected to more than two terms as U.S. President, serving from March 1933 until April 1945.

Up until then, the two-term tradition had been an unwritten rule. Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt had both tried to run for a third term, and had been widely criticised for it. Facing challenges from prominent Democrats, Roosevelt moved the party's convention to Chicago, where he had a big following. He announced that he would not run unless it was what the delegates wanted. The delegates then ecstatically nominated him. Roosevelt won the general election, but died during his third term. He was succeeded by his Vice-President, Harry S. Truman.

In 1947, the U.S. Congress passed the Twenty-second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, limiting Presidents to two terms in office. In the event of a Vice-President succeeding the office, two years is considered a 'term'. However, this clause was specifically waived in the case of President Truman, allowing the Amendment's passage.

Page 275. " Wheel of Fortune "

The Wheel of Fortune
Public DomainThe Wheel of Fortune - Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Wheel of Fortune is the tenth trump card in Tarot.

The meaning of this card in divination varies. However, the interpretations all centre around the theme of change in the querant's life.