Page 7. " the remains of the slip where the handles of the rusty winch "

GNU Free Documentation LicenseHandy-winch - Credit: Bela
A winch will pull in, release or adjust the tension of a rope. The winch's position close to the slip is indicative that it was probably located there to pull in a ship or boat perhaps belonging to previous residents of the island. The winch would have been similar to that in the image below.

Page 8. " took my catapult from my belt "
Catapult - aka Slingshot
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCatapult - aka Slingshot - Credit: Yug
This is in reference to the slingshot, a handheld version of the catapult. It has a frame shaped in a "Y", and the uprights have two rubber strips attached to them. Between the strips is a pocket, in which the projectile is placed. The power in the slingshot comes when the non-dominant hand extends the "catty" at arms length. The rubber strips and pocket are then pulled back by the forefinger and thumb of the dominant hand, aimed and released. Using the word "catapult" sometimes confuses this item with the military reference.
Page 8. " as they watched over the northern approaches "

Frank refers to them on page 10 as "totems", which are entities or objects that keep watch over and give assistance a group of people. The definition states that a totem supports only large groups of people, so in this essence, the word is not correct. However, in modern times, an individual can choose an animal helper that has personal significance to them, and this is referred to as their totem. Frank seems to employ various animals as his totems.

Page 9. " one leg crossed underneath me "

This is an interesting observation, once you consider the implication this body language has on giving the reader clues as to the true gender of Frank:

"women do something known as “leg twining”, in which they will sit on one leg which will be pointed backward underneath them. The reason women can do this is largely due to the width of their pelvus, which is much wider than a males due to childbearing".

Page 10. " the flagstones silence it "

A flagstone is a kind of flat stone that is usually used for paving stones. The rock is a form of sandstone, which would explain why the sound of Frank's father's stick is quieted.

Page 10. " thought of the Sacrifice Poles "

The sacrifice poles are Frank’s doing – they are poles standing on the perimeter of his territory, upon which he places the heads of various animals, which he has obviously sacrificed. He later refers to the poles as his “totems”, which are animals or other natural objects that used for protection and ritual purposes, or to symbolise a clan or family. The Sacrifice Poles are the first items we come across that show Frank’s love for and belief in ritual.

Page 10. " given me my sanctuary "

A sanctuary is a place where one can go where one is certain of one’s solitude and safety. The attic is a place of isolation for Frank, as his father cannot go there due to his leg injury. This has made it Frank's, and the Factory’s, sanctuary, as it is a place it can remain without being discovered.

Page 11. " an impromptu lecture on cancer of the colon or tapeworms "

Colon cancer is more aptly termed colorectal cancer, and usually arises from polyps in the colon. Polyps are fleshy growths that if left untreated can develop into cancer of the colon.

The tapeworm is a curious specimen. It can be transferred to human bowels when the meat of an animal, such as a cow, is consumed. They are a type of parasitic flatworm, and can grow as long as 12 metres! The worm anchors itself in the gut of the host, growing a long tail made up of several segments. Every segment is independent and has its own digestive system. The segments are discarded as they grow older, and only the reproductive systems are left - it is basically a sack of tapeworm eggs. The tapeworm survives in the host by absorbing food through its skin as it is being digested by the host.

Page 12. " I was having a War at the time "

Frank spent his days in leisure, and one of this pastimes included creating imaginary wars between factions of items - in this case the opponents were dead flies and mussels, while further on in the novel, used aerosol cans from the dump formed one of the factions.

Page 12. " those damn silly Imperial measurements "

Imperial measurements came into use after 1824, and were used in the British Empire and countries that were under Britain's influence at the time. The system included units such as feet, cables and perches.

Page 12. " the earth was a Möbius Strip "

Möbius Strip
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMöbius Strip - Credit: David Benbennick
The Möbius Strip, also known as the Möbius band, is a sort of loop with a half-twist that has only one side, and can be travelled from one side to the other without crossing an edge, as would be necessary if the strip did not have the half-twist. Here are instructions to make your own.

Page 14. " in his hippy-anarchist days "

The hippy or hippie subculture originally began in the United States in the 1960s. The group had counterculture beliefs stemming from the tensions in American society that flowed from the Vietnam War, race relations, sexual freedom, women's rights, arguments against authority, and experimentation with drugs, as well as interpretations of consumerism. The drugs enabled the followers of the movement to explore alternate states of consciousness and new ways of thinking. Their beliefs against authority saw the laws and government as something harmful to humanity, and they favoured anarchy, a situation where there is no government, order or control.

For examples of the hippy culture:

Page 14. " one of the Three Musketeers "

The Three Musketeers is a novel written by Alexander Dumas, set in the seventeenth century in France. The musketeers were the private guard of the king of France, Louis XIII. The book follows the adventures of D'Artagnan, who leaves home to become a musketeer. The musketeers in the title refer to Athos, Porthos and Aramis, who live by the slogan "all for one, one for all".

Good films about musketeers include: The Musketeer (2001) starring Justin Chambers and Tim Roth; and The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Gabriel Byrne, John MalcovichGérard Depardieu and Jeremy Irons.

Page 14. " a character in Hamlet "

In this reference, Hamlet is a play written by William Shakespeare. It is set in Denmark, and recounts how Prince Hamlet takes revenge on his uncle Claudius for murdering Hamlet's father and taking his mother Gertrude as his wife. The play is a vivid discourse of real and pretend madness. It is also an exploration of treachery, incest, moral corruption and revenge.

Page 14. " is a doctor of chemistry, or perhaps biochemistry "

This thought of Frank’s is definitely defined and clarified later in the novel – his father’s experiments with hormones clearly points to his history as a biochemist, that is, someone who studies the chemical structure of living things.

Page 14. " as far as the National Health Service "

For those not of British origin, the National Health Service or NHS is a public service that provides medical care for citizens. Expenses are paid with the use of taxes paid by the country’s citizens.

Page 16. " the faint tang of cordite coming up from the cellar "

Cordite is a smokeless propellant. It is produced in the form of rods of varying thicknesses by being pressed through perforations in a steel plate while in its soft, paste-like form by screw pressure, thus why it is called cordite. There are two types: Cordite Mark 1 and Cordite MD. The latter does not burn as quickly as the former. However, both types continue to burn even when the flame is blown out. Cordite is now obsolete and is no longer in production.


Page 18. " It's a transcendental number "

A transcendental number is a number, that could be complex, but which is not algebraic and is also irrational. This means that the number cannot be a solution of a mathematical formula that features addition, subtraction and multiplication with rational or whole numbers in the calculations. Transcendental numbers cannot be represented as a formula, and instead are represented by symbols. Pi is a good example of this, as it is not the solution of any calculation, and is also not a whole number. In decimal terms, it is represented as 3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279 50288... and in symbolic terms π. It is difficult to understand this term if you don't have a mathematical background as it is!


Wolfram MathWorld

Page 18. " I meant an integer "

An integer is a "whole" number that is formed by natural numbers, such as 0, 1 and 2, and also includes the negatives of these numbers (-1 and -2). They are numbers that can be written without any other components, such as fractions (such as 1½) and decimals (such as 3.14) are.

Page 20. " listening to John Peel on the radio "

Artwork featuring John Peel
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeArtwork featuring John Peel - Credit: Stuart Hampton
John Peel was a disc jockey (DJ) in Britain, as well as a radio presenter and jounalist. He broadcast between 1967 and 2007, until his death in the latter year. He was the longest-serving BBC Radio 1 DJ, and was one of the first to play psychedelic rock, reggae and punk records in the region. You can listen to some of his sessions here.

Page 20. " I would ask for one of those LED alarm radios "

LED Alarm Clock
Public DomainLED Alarm Clock
The LED alarm radio Frank is referrning to would have looked similar to this, except the one in the image is lacking a radio. It is called an LED because the time is displayed through the use of light-emitting diodes that come on.

Page 22. " fog out over the North Sea "

The North Sea is situated between the United Kingdom and Europe. It is bound to the west by the Orkney Islands, England and Scotland, and to the east by northern Europe. It has a mean depth of 90 metres.

There is a massive pollution problem in the North Sea, with more than 20 000 tonnes of marine litter dumped into it every year. Visit the Save the North Sea Project for more.

 Have a listen to the sounds of the North Sea from Belgium here.

Page 23. " the spire of the Church of Scotland in Porteneil "

The Church of Scotland is a Presbyterian church. Its identity is principally shaped by the Scottish Reformation, which saw the Church split its ties from the papacy of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church. The Church's website says that it has over 600 000 members. Love and worship of God through the teachings of Jesus Christ is central to the Church's faith and worship. The Church of Scotland is popularly known as The Kirk.

A spire is a conical or pyramidal structure that is located on the top of a building. It is most often used for churches, and is often the home to bells, crosses or wind vanes.

Page 25. " an aqueduct bottomed with an old "

An aqueduct in Mérida, Spain.33
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeAn aqueduct in Mérida, Spain.33 - Credit: Håkan Svensson (Xauxa)
An aqueduct is a channel that has been constructed to take water from one point to another. The term is today used to describe any system of structures that convey water.