Page 605. " Ya salimos "

This is a reference to 'Viva la Quince Brigada', a song sung by the Lincoln Battalion, an American volunteer group, during the Spanish Civil War. The music comes from an old Spanish folk tune, and the lyrics refer to the battle at Jerama Valley:


En los frentes de Jarama
Rumbala, rumbala, rum-ba-la (repeat)
No tenemos ni aviones
Ni tanques, ni canones, ay Manuela! (repeat)
Ya salimos de Espana
Rumbala, rumbala, rum-ba-la (repeat)
Par luchar en otros frentes
Ay Manuela, ay Manuela!
At Jarama we are standing
Rumbala, rumbala, rum-ba-la
And we have no planes above us
Not a tank, nor any canons, ay Manuela!
We have left the Spanish trenches
Rumbala, rumbala, rum-ba-la
To fight the Fascists where we find them
Ay Manuela, ay Manuela!
Page 615. " O-or how about mixing in something that will actually dissolve in the rain? "

This is a reference to The Man in the White Suit, a 1951 Ealing Studios comedy, in which the protagonist invents an incredibly resilient new type of fabric that runs him into trouble with both trade unions and wealthy mill owners. Though the fabric won't stain or wear out, it turns out it does dissolve in the rain.



Page 617. " What? - Richard M. Nixon "
Official White House portrait of President Nixon
Public DomainOfficial White House portrait of President Nixon - Credit: White House photo office

This epigraph was added to the novel at the last minute, replacing a quote from the Joni Mitchell song 'Cactus Tree'. It was meant to insinuate President Nixon's guilt in the Watergate scandal.

At the time of the novel's publication, Nixon was facing investigation over whether he was involved in a Republican plot to break into the Democratic party headquarters in the Watergate complex during the 1972 Presidential election, or whether he had organised a cover-up of the crime. By 1973, Nixon was facing increasing pressure, and was forced to dismiss two close aides, H.R. Haldeman and John Erlichman, as well as White House Counsel John Dean.

It became apparent in that year that Nixon had a habit of recording all conversations and meetings at the White House, and these recordings were subpoenaed by the special prosecutor and the Senate. Nixon refused to release them, but by 1974 he was forced to hand them over at the behest of the Supreme Court. One tape clearly revealed Nixon learning of the break-in a few days afterward and discussing means of blocking any investigation. It demonstrated that Nixon had lied in his denial of knowledge prior to March 1973 and denial of political motivations in his instructions to the CIA to falsely claim national security was at risk because of the investigation.

Facing impeachment, President Nixon resigned in August 1974.