Page 10. " The Gloucestershire town of Stroud, sanctified by the memory and to the memory of Laurie Lee "

Slad, home of Laurie Lee
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSlad, home of Laurie Lee - Credit: Philip Halling

Laurie Lee (1914 to 1997) was a writer and poet who rose to prominence with his exquisitely lyrical trilogy of autobiographical works, Cider with Rosie (1959), As I Walked Out One Midsummer’s Morning (1969) and A Moment of War (1991). The first describes a pastoral, working class childhood, the second his wanderings across Spain as a young man, and the third his experiences of fighting for the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War. 


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Page 10. " The small village of Uley "
View of Uley
Public DomainView of Uley
Page 12. " that elegant parcel of metropolitan clubland "
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Page 13. " Christopher Wren's handsome church "
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St James's Church, Piccadilly
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSt James's Church, Piccadilly - Credit: Steve Cadman

Christopher Wren was appointed architect in 1672, and the church was consecrated in 1684.  It was badly damaged in the Blitz.

Detailed history

Page 13. " the ludicrous perfection of the names Gabbitas and Thring "
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Sadly the perfection is no longer.  The firm still exists, but in 1993 it rebranded itself as Gabbitas Educational Consultants "to reflect the ever-increasing scope of our activities". One can only imagine what Stephen Fry would have to say to that.

Page 20. " it was reasonable to assume Christopher Columbus must have been a Briton "

Ridolfo Ghirlandaio Columbus
Public DomainRidolfo Ghirlandaio Columbus - Credit: Ridolfo Ghirlandaio (1483-1561)

The discovery by Italian Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) of the American continents precipitated the European colonization of the New World.

Francis Drake (1540-1596) was a pirate, captain, politician, privateer and slave, and the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe (1577–1580).

Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) was a soldier, courtier, explorer and poet who did much to proliferate the legend surrounding El Dorado.

Page 23. " we are straying far from our sheep, as they say in France "
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Or rather they say, "Revenons à nos moutons", meaning "Lets get back to our sheep".

The origin of this curious phrase is a medieval play called La Farce de Maître Pathelin, in which a judge is deliberately confused by being presented with two cases at the same time, only one of which pertains to sheep.  The phrase is his desperate and repeated attempt to get a grip on the ovine question.