Page 29. " talk of Major and Heseltine and the threat from the Liberal Democrats "

Michael Heseltine (born 1933) is a Conservative politician. In 1990, his leadership challenge sparked the process that ended Margaret Thatcher's time in power. By 1995 he was Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State under John Major.



In 1989 two of Britain's smaller parties, the Social Democrat Party and the Liberal Party, merged to become the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems). By the early nineties this new party, under its leader Paddy Ashdown, had become more of a threat to the two main parties. But this threat only translated into any sort of power for the Lib Dems after the 2010 election brought an uncomfortable coalition of Lib Dems and Conservatives to power.

Page 29. " Hilary term is when it all kicks off "
Oriel College Oxford
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeOriel College Oxford - Credit: urbanlegend

 Hilary is the name of the second term of the academic year in Oxford, running from January to March. Each term is eight weeks long. The three academic terms are:

Michaelmas term: October to December

Hilary term: January to March

Trinity term: April to June


Page 30. " up into Jericho, a maze-like Oxford district "
Observatory Street, Jericho
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeObservatory Street, Jericho - Credit: Harshil.Shah

 Jericho originally lay at the heart of Oxford's industrial area along the Oxford Canal, and is therefore largely made up of terraces of workers' cottages.

The area features in Philip Pullman's Northern Lights as the home of the Gyptians. A passage in Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy also takes place in St Barnabus Church in Jericho.


Google Map


Page 31. " we were suddenly faced by a massive statue of the god Pan "

 Pan is the Greek God of shepherds, sheep, mountain wilderness and folk music. He is also responsible for inflicting pan pipes on the world.

Pan has the legs and tail of a goat, the body of a man, and horns on his head; his image has been co-opted by the Christian faith as that of the Devil. When he wandered through the Greek mountains, chasing nymphs and playing his infernal pan pipes, his invisible presence would make lonely goatherds 'panic'.

Page 32. " shreds of newspaper written in the Cyrillic alphabet "

 The Cyrillic alphabet is the script used in the Russian language and others that have fallen within the Russian sphere of influence. Derived from Ancient Greek in the tenth century, Cyrillic was spread by the followers of the Byzantine saints Cyril and Methodius, missionaries who brought Eastern Orthodox Christianity to the Slavic world. They are thought to have invented the Cyrillic alphabet.

In this advert, what looks like the letter 3 to Roman alphabet users is the Russian letter З, 'ze'.

Page 38. " I met him at Rhodes House drinks "

Rhodes House
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeRhodes House - Credit: Pruneau
 The Rhodes Scholarship, set up by the diamond magnate Cecil Rhodes, is a famous postgraduate scholarship for international students who want to study at Oxford. Holders of the scholarship have their tuition and college fees paid for by the Rhodes Trust, as well as a living allowance. Scholars are allowed access to Rhodes House, a large house in Oxford with beautiful gardens and public rooms.

Page 39. " an array of produce from Fortnum & Mason "
Fortnum & Mason
Creative Commons AttributionFortnum & Mason - Credit: Tony Hisgett

 Fortnum & Mason is a department store in Piccadilly, London. The shop was established in 1707 as a grocer and is still best known for its food hall, which offers a wide variety of mouthwatering treats at eyewatering prices.

The shop is also known for its picnic hampers, and for its tea shop. Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented the Scotch Egg: a tasty traditional English snack comprising a hard boiled egg wrapped in a ball of sausage meat.

Page 47. " Why do you think they call them collections? "

Collections are exams taken at the start of the Oxford term to test students on the work of the previous term.

Penal Collections are imposed when a tutor is concerned that a student is slipping behind.

Page 49. " the squared paper, the sinusoid "

Sine Wave
Creative Commons AttributionSine Wave - Credit: Nishant Zachariah
A sinusoid, otherwise known as a sine wave, is a mathematical function. It is a way of expressing a particular type of oscillating wave, and appears as an equation or a graph. The wave pattern is found in various forms in nature, from sea waves to sound waves.