Page 129. " cut and backcombed, Diana-style "
Princess Diana in 1987
Creative Commons AttributionPrincess Diana in 1987 - Credit: Rick

 Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997) was the wife of Prince Charles between 1981 and 1996 (when the couple divorced) and mother of Princes William and Harry. She died in a car crash in Paris in August 1997.

During her lifetime, Diana attracted enormous interest from the press and general public, particularly in relation to her choice of clothes and hairstyles.


Prince Charles and Princess Diana with Ronald and Nancy Reagan (1985)
Public DomainPrince Charles and Princess Diana with Ronald and Nancy Reagan (1985) - Credit: White House Photo Office


Page 129. " I'm doing Lady Windermere "

 Lady Windermere's Fan: A Play About a Good Woman is a comedy by Oscar Wilde which satirises Victorian morality and marriage.

It was first performed in 1892, and first published in 1893.



Page 129. " a deconstructionist reading of the play "
Jacques Derrida
Creative Commons AttributionJacques Derrida - Credit: J.Peter Siriprakon

Deconstruction, or deconstructionism, is a form of analysis (mainly textual analysis) initiated by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) during the 1960s.

It is a notoriously difficult concept to explain, but one attempt says that the aim of deconstruction is to 'expose and undermine the oppositions, hierarchies and paradoxes on which particular texts, philosophical and otherwise, are founded'.

For further discussions of the concept, click on the links below:

The Basics of Philosophy: Desconstructionism;

Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy: Jacques Derrida;

Derrida's view of deconstruction (Wikipaedia).

... or for a more fun approach, watch the video below!




Page 130. " watching Pericles in Worcester College gardens "

Pericles, Prince of Tyre is a Jacobean play believed to have been written in 1607 or 1608.

There is some dispute about its authorship, although it is generally accepted that George Wilkins wrote the first 9 scenes, and William Shakespeare the remaining thirteen.




Page 130. " an opening in Stoke Newington "

Stoke Newington is a district in the London Borough of Hackney, situated about 5 miles to the northeast of Charing Cross (London's central point). It is a multi-cultural area which has undergone significant gentrification during the last 30 years or so, particularly on Church Street and the vicinity.


Church Street, Stoke Newington (2005)
Public DomainChurch Street, Stoke Newington (2005) - Credit: Tarquin Binary

Google Map





Page 131. " a marcher fortress "
Chirk Castle
Creative Commons AttributionChirk Castle - Credit: Christine und Hagen Graf

Today the term the Marches, or the Welsh Marches, is used loosely to describe those parts of English counties which lie on the border between England and Wales; in particular, it is used to describe parts of Shropshire and Herefordshire.

Historically, however, the Welsh Marches were those areas which were under the control of powerful Marcher Lords  appointed by the English King to keep the Welsh in check. The Marches, therefore, included not only lands on the Anglo-Welsh border but also areas of Glamorganshire, Carmarthenshire, and Pembrokeshire. The most renowned Marcher Lords include the earls of Chester, Gloucester, Hereford, Pembroke, and Shrewsbury. Welsh Marcher fortresses include Chirk Castle, at Chirk, near Wrexham, and Whittington Castle in north Shropshire. The Google map below shows the location of Chirk, which is in Wales, although the border with the English county of Shropshire is just to the south.


Google Map


(The term Scottish Marches was used to describe the areas adjacent to the Anglo-Scottish border. However, as Nat, whose family own the 'marcher fortress',  is described as 'half a bloody Welshman' (p.88), and is the son of the Duchess of Flintshire, we may assume that the fictional fortress referred to is in the Welsh Marches.)

Page 131. " with Wyatt interiors "

 James Wyatt (1746-1813) was an English architect who worked in both the Neoclassical and Neo-Gothic styles.

He carried out numerous renovation and re-modelling projects, including the rebuilding of the hall, and redecoration of the library at Balliol College, Oxford; restoration work on Westminster Abbey in London; the restructuring of Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire; and the building of Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire.


19th century engraving of the interior of St. Michael's Gallery, Fonthill Abbey
Public Domain19th century engraving of the interior of St. Michael's Gallery, Fonthill Abbey - Credit: Robt. Havell & Son/C.F. Pordon
Page 134. " They were talking about the Falklands War "

The Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom took place in 1982.  It arose out of a long-standing dispute between the two countries regarding the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, both of which are British Overseas Territories situated in the South Atlantic.

On April 2nd 1982, Argentinian forces invaded the Falkland Islands, which are known in  Argentina as the Islas Malvinas. Britain reacted by creating a task force to re-take the islands, thus initiating two months of fighting. During the war, 255 British, and 665 Argentinian servicemen were killed, along with three Falkland Islands civilians.

Click here to see a timeline of events during the war.


Port Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands, from the air (2005)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePort Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands, from the air (2005) - Credit: Tom L-C

Google Map


Page 134. " A Trafalgar Day for our times "

 The Battle of Trafalgar was a naval battle of the Napoleonic Wars. It took place on October 21st, 1805 between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French and Spanish navies.

Although the British emerged victorious from the battle, it also led to the death of Admiral Lord Nelson, leader of the British Fleet, who was shot by a French sniper.

Trafalgar Day at Trafalgar Cemetry, Gibralter (2008)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeTrafalgar Day at Trafalgar Cemetry, Gibralter (2008) - Credit: Jim Crone

October 21st became known as Trafalgar Day, and up until the First World War it was widely celebrated in Britain and other countries of the British Empire. After 1918, enthusiasm for Trafalgar Day celebrations declined, although commemorative events do still take place today in Britain and the Commonwealth countries.

In about 1993, it was rumoured that John Major was considering making Trafalgar Day a public holiday, an idea that has been put forward again more recently.




Nelson's monument in Birmingham, be-decked with Trafalgar Day flowers in 2006
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeNelson's monument in Birmingham, be-decked with Trafalgar Day flowers in 2006 - Credit: David Stowell
Page 137. " I mean there's the Boswell "
James Boswell in 1765
Public DomainJames Boswell in 1765 - Credit: George Willison

 James Boswell (1740-1795) was a Scottish lawyer, diarist and author. He is best-known for his biography of Dr Samuel Johnson, the poet, literary critic, and lexicographer. The biography was published in 1791 under the title Life of Samuel Johnson.



Page 137. " Mister Johnson is a novel by Joyce Cary "
Commemorative plaque at Bank Place, Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCommemorative plaque at Bank Place, Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland - Credit: Kenneth Allen

 Joyce Cary (1888-1957) was an Anglo-Irish novelist whose full name was Arthur Joyce Lunel Cary.

He wrote a large number of novels between the 1930s and 1950s, and won  the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1941 for his novel A House of Children.

Mister Johnson, which is set in colonial Nigeria, was published in 1939.

Click here to see an image of Joyce Cary.

Page 138. " It certainly wasn't the Tristan chord "
The Tristan Chord
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Tristan Chord - Credit: Olorulus

The Tristan Chord is so named because it appears in the opening phrase of Richard Wagner's opera Tristan and Isolde; it is one of the recurrent phrases (leitmotifs) associated with the character Tristan.

The chord is made up of the notes F, B, D# and G#, a combination which was considered rather bold and unusual in the period in which the opera was written.



Listen here to the prelude of Wagner's Tristan and Isolda on Spotify.



Page 139. " It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance "


Portrait of Henry James (1913)
Public DomainPortrait of Henry James (1913) - Credit: John Singer Sargent

These are the words of Henry James in a letter to H.G.Wells, dated July 6th, 1915.










Page 142. " I was absolutely gripped by your paper on SDI "
Ronald Reagan giving the television broadcast in which the SDI was proposed
Public DomainRonald Reagan giving the television broadcast in which the SDI was proposed - Credit: White House Photo Office

SDI stands for Strategic Defense Initiative.

The SDI, which was first proposed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1983, was a U.S. Government initiative to develop highly sophisticated anti-ballistic missile systems. Because of the science fiction-like nature of some of the proposals, it was given the nickname Star Wars. The SDI triggered both domestic and international opposition, especially from the Soviet Union, who were seen as the chief nuclear threat to the U.S.A. in the early 1980s.

Although the US Defense Department established a special SDI unit in 1984, subsequent U.S. administrations changed the name of the unit, and modified the original proposals.

Page 142. " You're thinking of STD, Judy "
When phones were fun! (items on display at the Heusenstamm depot of the Frankfurt Museum for Communications)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeWhen phones were fun! (items on display at the Heusenstamm depot of the Frankfurt Museum for Communications) - Credit: Klaus Nahr

STD stands for subscriber trunk dialling, a telephone system which allows long-distance calls to be made by direct dialling, without operator assistance. This system was introduced into the United Kingdom from 1958 onwards, and involved allocating an individualised STD code to each geographical area within the telephone network; nowadays STD codes are generally known as area codes.

STD also stands for sexually transmitted disease.

Page 148. " a sweet hint of ganja about him; "
Jamaican ganja
Public DomainJamaican ganja - Credit: Alphakaya

 Ganja is the word used by the Rastafarian community for cannabis (marijuana). It derives from the Sanskrit word for hemp (the cannabis plant).

There are an enormous number of slang terms for various forms of cannabis; more old-fashioned ones, which were still in use in the early 1980s, include pot, weed, dope, grass and hash.

Marijuana drug slang dictionary;

Popular slang terms for marijuana.

Page 150. " several bright anticipatory bars from Schumann's Fourth Symphony "

The scherzo (3rd movement) of Robert Schumann's Symphony No.4 in D minor is discussed in the bookmark for p.13. It is Catherine's rather haphazard choice of music when she is on the verge of self-harming in chapter 1. 

Listen here to the 3rd movement (scherzo) of Schumann's Symphony no. 4 on Spotify.

Listen here to the 1st movement of Schumann's Symphony no. 4 on Spotify.