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

This is a line from Henry James's play The High Bid, a three-act comedy which was first performed in London in 1907.

In the section of the first act from which the quote is taken, a character called Captain Yule is talking to Chivers, a butler in an English country house:

YULE  ... What are you, my dear man?

CHIVERS (As if he really has to think a bit) Well, sir, I'm not quite that (Appealing to his friend's indulgence) Whatever in the world has there been to make me?

YULE (Washing his hands of it) I mean to whom do you beautifully belong?

CHIVERS (Who has really to think it over) If you could only just tell me, sir! I seem to quite waste away - for someone to take orders from.

YULE (Looking at him in compassion) Who pays your wages?

CHIVERS (Very simply) No one at all, sir.

YULE (Taking from his waistcoat pocket a gold coin, which he places with a little sharp click on a table near at hand) Then, there's a sovereign.

Page 183. " the green and silver expanse of the pond, young willows and hawthorns all around it, and the Heath behind "

This section of the novel is set at the men-only swimming pond on Hampstead Heath.




On the Heath, there are about thirty ponds which were dug originally as reservoirs in the 17th and 18th centuries. Three of these, known as Hampstead Ponds, or Highgate Ponds, are used for swimming. Of the three bathing ponds, one is exclusively for men, one exclusively for women, and one is for mixed bathing.

The Men's Pond, like Hampstead Heath in general, is a popular venue for gay men.


A tranquil view of Hampstead Men's Pond
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeA tranquil view of Hampstead Men's Pond - Credit: Peter Smyly

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Page 186. " 'Don't I see you at Bang last week?' "

Bang was a gay nightclub which began life in 1976 as a Monday-night only event in the basement of the London Astoria, situated at 157 Charing Cross Road in central London.

Bang expanded throughout the 1980s, and later evolved into G-A-Y. The London Astoria was demolished in 2009.


London Astoria just prior to its demolition in 2009
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeLondon Astoria just prior to its demolition in 2009 - Credit: Chris Whippet

Page 186. " he used to see him at the Y "

The is the YMCA, which stands for Young Men's Christian Association.

The YMCA is a worldwide organisation which was founded in London in the mid-19th century. Its ethos is a Christian one designed to foster a 'healthy mind, body and spirit'. Today, the YMCA is not specifically for young men, its purpose being to provide a range of services and opportunities for young men and women (and others) within their communities.

At the YMCA headquarters on Great Russell Street in central London, there is a health and fitness club, with a gym and swimming pool. It has a reputation for being gay-friendly.


Central YMCA, Great Russell Street, London
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCentral YMCA, Great Russell Street, London (photographed in 2008) - Credit: Rafal Komorowski

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Page 188. " 'KY not good enough any more, apparently. We have to have some other substance called Melisma. "

 K-Y Jelly is a water-based personal lubricant, first manufactured by an American company in 1904. Nowadays it is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson.


Musical melisma
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMusical melisma - Credit: G.Rosa-Grosasm

Melisma appears to be an imaginary product.

In music, melisma is the singing of one syllable of text over a series of successive notes. It is an effect often used in religious chants, as well as in popular music.

Page 188. " a Dylan poster "



Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman in 1941) is an American musician and singer-songwriter whose career has spanned five decades.

His early work during the first part of the 1960s included folk and protest songs such as 'Blowin in the Wind', 'The Times They are a-Changin'', and 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall'. Later on, he embraced different musical styles, including a brief foray into Christian music at the beginning of the 1980s.

Overall, he is probably best remembered for the albums he released during the mid-1960s and the early 1970s, which include songs such as 'It Ain't Me Babe', 'Like a Rolling Stone', 'Mr Tambourine Man', 'Just Like a Woman', and 'Lay Lady Lay'.

Listen here to 'Blowin in the Wind' on Spotify.

Listen here to 'It Ain't Me Babe' on Spotify.

Listen here to 'Lay Lady Lay' on Spotify.



Page 188. " talking a bit more about Culture and Anarchy or North and South "
Matthew Arnold
Public DomainMatthew Arnold - Credit: unknown
Mrs Gaskell (c.1860)
Public DomainMrs Gaskell (c.1860) - Credit: unknown

 Culture and Anarchy is a series of essays by Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), the British poet and cultural critic who also worked as an inspector of schools. The essays were first published in the Cornhill Magazine before being published in book form in 1869.

Click here to see Culture and Anarchy as an e-book.

North and South is a novel by the English novelist and short story writer Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865). It was first published in 1855, and is known as one of Mrs Gaskell's industrial novels because it deals with the relationship between employers and employees.



Page 189. " 'Did you see A Room with a View?' "
Portrait of E.M. Forster (1924 or 1925)
Public DomainPortrait of E.M. Forster (1924 or 1925) - Credit: Dora Carrington

 A Room with a View is a novel by the English writer E.M. Forster (1879-1970), which was first published in 1908.

In 1986, the Merchant Ivory company released a film version of the novel starring Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Denholm Elliott, and Daniel Day-Lewis.




Page 194. " the house where Coleridge had lived and died "

Coleridge's House, Highgate


Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) was one of the major English Romantic Poets, as well as a literary critic and philosopher. Amongst his best known poems are The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan.

From 1817 until the end of his life, Coleridge lived at the London homes of the physician James Gillman, first at 14 South Grove, Highgate, and later at 3 The Grove, Highgate.

The house at 3 The Grove (pictured above) was home to the novelist and playwright J.B. Priestley between 1931 and the end of the Second World War, and was bought by the model Kate Moss in 2011.


Portrait of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Public DomainPortrait of Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Credit: unknown

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Page 198. " Poems and plays of Addison "
Portrait of Joseph Addison
Public DomainPortrait of Joseph Addison - Credit: Sir Godfrey Kneller

 Joseph Addison (1672-1719) was an English poet, playwright, essayist and politician. He is often remembered in conjunction with his friend Richard Steele (1672-1729), the Irish writer and politician who founded the Tatler. In 1711, the two friends launched a short-lived daily publication called The Spectator.

Addison's best-known work is the play Cato: A Tragedy which was first performed in 1713. The play is based on the last days of the Roman statesman Cato the Younger, and is said to have inspired some of the leaders of the American Revolutionary War (the American War of Independence).



Page 198. " The new issue of Harper's was open at 'Jennifer's Diary' "



In 1986, Harper's and Queen was a fashion and society magazine. It was an amalgamation of the British society magazine Queen which was first published in 1861, and Harper's Bazaar which started life as an American fashion magazine in 1867. In 2005, Harper's and Queen changed its name to Harper's Bazaar, with the emphasis on Bazaar. The change of name was an attempt to relinquish the upper-crust image of Harper's and Queen.

Jennifer's Diary was an account of the social life of the English upper classes which began in the Tatler, and then moved to Queen and Harper's and Queen. The original Jennifer was Betty Kenward who died in 2001. Jennifer's Diary was discontinued in 2004, shortly before Harper's and Queen changed its name.

Page 200. " Of course, the house was vulgar, as almost everything postmodern was "
Portland Building, Oregon (built 1982) - sometimes described as an 'icon of postmodernism'
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePortland Building, Oregon (built 1982) - sometimes described as an 'icon of postmodernism' - Credit: philosophygeek

The postmodern period followed the modernist period.

Postmodern trends in literature, art, philosophy, architecture and economics are all heavily influenced by the ideas of post-structuralist thinkers such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler and Jacques Lacan. In particular, literary postmodernism is associated with Derrida's concept of deconstruction which is discussed in the bookmark for p.129.

In the world of architecture and design, it is difficult to give a succinct description of postmodern influences. However, adjectives used to describe postmodern architectural and design trends include theatrical, exaggerated, unique, whimsical, colourful, outgoing, surprising, playful, confrontational, ironic, absurd, provocative, witty, and subversive.

Click here and here to read more about postermodernism in general,  and here to read more about postmodernist design concepts.


Memphis-Milano postmodernist design (1980s)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMemphis-Milano postmodernist design (1980s) - Credit: Zanone
Page 200. " wardrobes, which looked like Gothick confessionals "
Gothic Revival facade of St Pancras Station, London
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeGothic Revival facade of St Pancras Station, London - Credit: Andrew Dunn (October 2004)

A confessional is an enclosed booth or stall within a church where a priest hears confessions.

Gothick is an old-fashioned spelling of gothic. Gothic architecture originated during the Medieval period; the style was revived in England from the 1740s  onwards, and lasted until the later decades of the 19th century, becoming known as Gothic Revival style (also, Neo-Gothic or Victorian Gothic).

Gothic revival architecture is characterised by castle-like features such as towers, spires and parapets, by windows with pointed arches and ornamental stonework (tracery), and by both steep-sloping roofs, and flat roofs with battlements. Internally, the style is characterised by painted panelling, vaulted ceilings, coloured carvings, and the use of rich fabrics such as velvet.



Confessional of La Plata Cathedral, Argentina
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeConfessional of La Plata Cathedral, Argentina - Credit: Sergio Panei Pitrau
Confessional in Milan, Italy
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeConfessional in Milan, Italy - Credit: Thomas Quine
Page 200. " He didn't think Hogarth had illustrated this best example of it, the dip and swell - he had chosen harps and branches, bones rather than flesh. "
Human 'Line of Beauty'
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeHuman 'Line of Beauty' - Credit: Malcolm Lidbury