Page 152. " I used to sneak my chemise and nightgowns out of my drawer "

mccall chemise 6319

Victorian chemise
Public DomainVictorian chemise - Credit: unknown

In Victorian times, a chemise was a sleeveless (or, sometimes, shortsleeved), fine cotton, knee-length undergarment worn by women beneath their corsets.

In the 1930s, the term chemise was used to describe various kinds of short petticoats made of silk or rayon, which sometimes had in-built, culotte-style knickers. The main picture above shows a 1930s sewing pattern for chemises.

Today, chemise is used to describe various kinds of very short petticoats, which may be loose, or tight-fitting.

Click here to see a Victorian chemise.

Click here and here to see 1930s chemises.

Click here to see a modern chemise.

Page 155. " Four big volumes, A History of Painting "

'The Shrimp Girl': frontispiece of 'A History of Painting'
Public Domain'The Shrimp Girl': frontispiece of 'A History of Painting' - Credit: William Hogarth
Probably a reference to 'A History of Painting' by Haldane McFall (1860-1923) which was first published in 1911. With a preface by Frank Brangwyn, it ran to 8 volumes and had over 200 colour plates. It was a very comprehensive overview of art and artists through the ages and had sections entitled: 'The Renaissance in Venice'; 'The Dutch Genius' and 'The Modern Genius'.

Page 155. " the shop in Wigmore Street "

Wigmore Steet is situated in the City of Westminster in London. It is the location of the renowned concert hall Wigmore Hall.

The Times newspaper had a prestigious bookshop at 42 Wigmore Steet which closed in the late 1960s. They also ran a book club from the same premises.

Click here to see a picture of the interior of The Times Bookshop in 1957.

Page 156. " They upset a little china cupid who had hitherto stood alone on the desk "
Porcelain ornament depicting Mercury and Cupid (c.1770)
Public DomainPorcelain ornament depicting Mercury and Cupid (c.1770) - Credit: User:FA2010
Wood relief depicting Cupid
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeWood relief depicting Cupid - Credit: GFreihalter

In Roman mythology, Cupid (sometimes known as Amor) is the god of erotic love. He is often depicted carrying a bow and arrow.  His Greek equivalent is Eros.

Cupid is sometimes portrayed in painting and sculpture as a slender youth, but also on occasions as a chubby winged baby or very young boy,  carrying a bow and quiver of arrows. The latter depictions are known as putti or amorini.


'Cupid with Flowers'
Public Domain'Cupid with Flowers' - Credit: Annibale Carraci (photo: Sailko)


Page 169. " I had six of them. Bath Olivers. "
Bath Oliver biscuit
Creative Commons AttributionBath Oliver biscuit - Credit: Annie Mole

A Bath Oliver is a thin, crisp, dry biscuit which is often eaten with cheese.

It was invented by William Oliver, a physician from Bath, in about 1750. It is made from  flour, butter, yeast and milk.

Page 169. " and played Hares and Hounds on the common "
Pub sign at Cowfold
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePub sign at Cowfold - Credit: Trish Steel

Hares and Hounds, sometimes known as Paper Chase or Chalk Chase, is a game which was popular in Victorian England. It was played both by children and by older boys within the English public school system.

At the start of the game, one of the players is designated hare, the rest of the players being hounds. The hare then sets off alone, leaving a trail of paper shreds behind him/her. After a certain interval, the other partcipants in the game follow, their objective being to catch the hare.

Page 174. " He pulled at his sou'wester "

sou wester hat

A sou'wester is a waterproof hat, traditionally worn by fishermen. It has a wide brim, longer at the back than at the front to prevent rainwater running down the back of the neck. Sou'westers were traditionally made of oilskin, a heavy cotton material waterproofed with oil. Sou'wester is also sometimes the name given to an oilskin coat. Such a coat and hat may be referred to simply as oilskins.

Sou'westers are often bright yellow in colour.

Page 175. " That naked eucalyptus tree stifled by brambles looked like the white bleached limb of a skeleton "


Eucalyptus tree in W.Sussex
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeEucalyptus tree in W.Sussex - Credit: Dave Spicer
GNU Free Documentation LicenseKoala - Credit: Summi

 Eucalyptus is a genus of flowering trees and shrubs which contains more than 700 species. It is particularly prevalent in Australia (where Eucalyptus trees are known as gumtrees), with only 15 species being native to other parts of the world. Australian Eucalyptus species were introduced to other parts of the world from the late 18th century onwards. 

The Koala (Phascolartos cinerus), one of Australia's native marsupials, lives almost entirely on eucalyptus leaves.