Page 179. " as simple as Enid Blyton "

 Enid Blyton (1897-1968) was an extremely prolific English children's writer famous for series such the Famous Five, Noddy, The Secret Seven and the boarding school books Malory Towers and St Clare's.

Blyton was a difficult person and a distant mother in real life, although she was sensitive to the wishes of her young readers. She wrote over 800 books during her career, and generations of school children have acquired a love of reading thanks to her simply written adventure stories. Many of her books have dated rather badly and appear sexist and racist by today's standards; recent editions have attempted to clean up these issues and update the language.

Visit the Enid Blyton fan site.

Page 179. " cloisonne saucers full of butts "
Ming dynasty Cloisonne bowl
GNU Free Documentation LicenseMing dynasty Cloisonne bowl - Credit: pschemp

Cloisonné is a type of enamel decoration for metalwork. Metal wire is attached to the surface of the object to form little compartments (cloisons in French) which are then filled with enamel paste and kiln-fired.

The technique originated in the Ancient Near East; examples of early cloisonné work have been found in sites dating from Ancient Egyptian times. In the earliest examples, precious gemstones were used instead of enamel. The earliest use of enamel occurs around 1100 BC. It was often used in Byzantine decoration.

Cloisonné spread from Byzantium via the Middle East to China; the Chinese style of cloisonné soon became famous. In Russia, cloisonné was used by the jewellers Fabergé in their famous eggs.

Page 183. " love is patient, love is kind "

This is a passage from Corinthians 1:13 in the Bible:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Read the whole passage online here.

Page 185. " They played the Macarena "

The Macarena is a pop song with accompanying dance moves, a one-hit wonder written by the Spanish band Los Del Rio. It was originally released in 1991, only to undergo a number of remixes and rewrites before the Bayside Boys Mix catapulted the song to international fame in 1996.

Listen to the Macarena on Spotify.


Page 193. " He's supposed to be firing his arrow down Shaftesbury Avenue "

 This is a thornier subject than one might think. The statue commonly known as Eros was created by Sir Alfred Gilbert in 1892-1893 as part of a fountain built in honour of the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, a philanthropic politician after whom Shaftesbury Avenue was named. 'Eros' is one of the most famous landmarks in London; the Evening Standard newspaper incorporates its image in its masthead.

However, the statue does not depict Eros, the Greek God of love. The statue's real name is sometimes thought to be the 'Angel of Christian Charity' but this is also wrong. The statue was originally titled 'Anteros Agape', and it depicts Eros's tamer twin, Anteros, the embodiment of "reflective and mature love, as opposed to Eros or Cupid, the frivolous tyrant" according to Sir Alfred Gilbert.

When the statue was first unveiled the easily shockable Victorian public were duly scandalised by this display of public nudity. People mistook the statue for Eros, then became outraged that the staid yet generous Shaftesbury, president of the British & Foreign Bible Society, had been rewarded for his efforts with a statue of this 'frivolous tyrant'. In reaction to the popular mis-naming of Eros, the statue was then re-mis-named 'Angel of Christian Charity'.

As regards the direction of Anteros's arrow, it should properly be pointing towards Shaftesbury Avenue, as suggested, as a nod to the earl. Some have suggested that its positioning was also a sly bit of dirty visual punning on the burying of shafts in Shaftesbury, but this was probably not intentional. When Piccadilly Circus was remodelled to ease traffic congestion the statue was moved and its direction changed; old photos show it facing a number of different ways.

Page 193. " in the British Museum "
The British Museum
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe British Museum - Credit: Steff

The British Museum was created by an Act of Parliament in 1753 after the death of the avid collector Sir Hans Sloane, who bequeathed to the country his collection of over seventy thousand artefacts, books, manuscripts and natural specimens.

The Museum first opened in 1759 in Montagu House, on the same site as the present building, which was built in 1857. At this time the museum's collection of natural specimens was moved to a building in South Kensington to form the Natural History Museum, and the British Museum began to specialise in historical antiquities, becoming involved in archaeological excavations across the world.

Highlights in the British Museum's vast collections include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon Sculptures (also known as the Elgin Marbles), the Tomb-chapel of Nebamun, the Lewis Chessmen and a number of well-preserved Egyptian mummies.