Page 76. " Soft taffeta-like sounds and muffled scurrying sounds filled me with dread. "

Creative Commons AttributionTaffeta - Credit: Consulat de la Boirie
Taffeta is a crisp, smooth fabric made from silk or synthetic fibres. The word comes from the Persian for "twisted woven." It is found mainly in female clothing or soft furnishings such as curtains.

An expensive material, it was traditionally used by the upper classes for ball gowns.  Nowadays it is more commonly found in wedding dresses. 


Page 81. " I'll make him a Lane Cake. That Stephanie's been after my recipe for thirty years "

lane cake
Public Domainlane cake - Credit: blogspot
A Lane Cake is a traditional cake from the Southern States of America. It is a baked cake that is rather difficult to make. Because of this, Lane Cake is usually reserved for special occasions like birthdays and weddings. 

Lane Cake consists of four layers of white sponge cake separated by a filling of raisins and brandy, and even coconut and candied cherries. It is very popular in the South.

Page 83. " He made it sound like you were runnin' a still. "

"Running a still" refers to the illegal distillation of alcohol.

This dates back to Prohibition (1920-1933), when alcohol was banned in America in the hope of preserving and solidifying Christianity. But the consumption of alcohol was so widespread, the ban had the effect of outlawing everyday behaviour. People took to brewing their own alcohol at home. This home-distilled alcohol was referred to as 'bathtub gin' in northern cities and 'moonshine' in the rural areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Home-brewers would sell the alcohol to eager customers in towns and cities. 

Page 86. " every day he stood at his gate in his dressing-gown, smoking a hookah and delivering five minute sermons "
GNU Free Documentation Licensehookah - Credit: vcuinsight.vcu

 A hookah is a water pipe used for smoking tobacco. It consists of a flexible tube that the smoke passes through, after being cooled and filtered by water in the bowl at the bottom.

Hookahs are commonly used throughout the Arab world.

Page 96. " a funny near-sighted old gentleman who had a cat named Hodge "


Statue of Hodge
Creative Commons AttributionStatue of Hodge - Credit: Unknown

This is likely to be Dr Samuel Johnson, the eighteenth century English essayist, critic and lexicographer, and subject of James Boswell's famous biography. Dr Johnson had a cat called Hodge, who is immortalised in a statue outside Johnson's home in Gough Square in London.





Page 98. " let this cup pass from you, eh? "

This is a paraphrase of a Biblical quotation. Matthew 26:39 states that Jesus said "my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me". He was referring to the suffering that he was about to experience in having the sins of the world laid upon him. For more information, see here.

Page 100. " Did you know he can play a jew's harp? "
jews harp
Public Domainjews harp - Credit: wikipedia

The Jew's harp is thought to be one of the world's oldest musical instruments. Despite its common English name, it has no particular connection with the Jewish people or Judaism. In fact the name "Jew's Harp" is controversial and is avoided by many. This instrument is native to Asia and used in all tribes of Turkish people in Asia where it is variously referred to as a temir komuz, agiz komuzu or gubuz.

The instrument consists of a flexible metal or bamboo tongue (or reed) attached to a frame. The tongue/reed is placed in the performer's mouth and plucked with the finger to produce a note. The frame is held firmly against the performer's parted front teeth, using the jaw and mouth as a resonator. By changing the shape of the mouth and the amount of air contained in it, the performer creates different notes.