Page 203. " ordered an English breakfast tea "

A cup of English breakfast tea, served with milk and sugar
Public DomainA cup of English breakfast tea, served with milk and sugar - Credit: Vanderdecken
English Breakfast Tea was first popularised by Queen Victoria and has since become the classic British tea. It is a black blend of Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas which is often enjoyed mixed with milk and sugar.

The name itself is thought to have originated outside England, possibly in America, as drinking black tea for breakfast was a long-standing English custom.

Page 204. " a retired couple from Derby "

Derby Cathedral
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDerby Cathedral - Credit: Russ Hamer
 Derby (population 234,000) is a city in England’s East Midlands on the banks of the River Derwent. In Anglo-Saxon it was recorded as ‘Deoraby’, meaning ‘Village of the Deer’. Derby is the county town of Derbyshire and was one of the main centres of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, home to the first water-powered silk mill and a major player in Britain’s cloth industry. Today, it is most important as a rail and motorcar manufacturer, with the Rolls-Royce factory situated in the city since 1907.

Page 206. " you must mean Hansel and Gretel "

Hansel and Gretel is a traditional German fairy tale which appeared in the collection of the Brothers Grimm.

The young brother and sister are the children of a poor woodcutter whose wicked second wife plots to abandon them in the forest. Overhearing the plan, Hansel and Gretel make preparations and, on the day of their abandonment, Hansel surreptitiously lays a trail of white pebbles to mark the way they have come. Thanks to this, they are able to make their way home again, much to the annoyance of their stepmother.

On her second attempt, Hansel lays a trail of crumbs but these are eaten by birds, leaving the children lost and starving. They stumble across a clearing in which they find a house made of gingerbread and decorated with sweets. It is the home of an evil witch who traps the children with the intention of eating them. She feeds Hansel to fatten him up and uses Gretel as a slave. But Gretel manages to trip the witch into the fire and burns her alive. She frees her brother and they return home, with the witch’s treasure, to find their stepmother dead. They live with their father happily ever after.

 

Hansel and Gretel lost in the woods
Public DomainHansel and Gretel lost in the woods - Credit: Alexander Zick
Page 207. " call in a priest to perform an exorcism "

Exorcism is a practice existing in numerous world religions in which a religious leader commands an evil spirit to leave a place or person which it has supposedly possessed. Catholic Christian formal exorcisms are carried out by a priest and may involve a ritual, prayers and the invocation of Jesus Christ, God or certain angels to help evict the spirit. Anyone may say prayers of deliverance but formal exorcisms can be carried out if it is deemed necessary – it may take months until the spirit is thought to be gone.

Media attention in the latter half of the twentieth century saw a sharp rise in the number of exorcisms performed, helped along by the portrayal of exorcism in popular culture such as the 1973 horror film ‘The Exorcist’.

Page 210. " like it was mistletoe "

 Mistletoe is the common name for Viscum album, a type of evergreen plant which grows high in the branches of trees and other plants. There are several different varieties including sub-tropical families, but the most common is the European mistletoe which is found across the continent.

Mistletoe has green leaves and small white berries, both of which are poisonous. It is, however, an important part of folklore – in ancient Europe, it was closely associated with male virility, romance and fertility. This is most likely what has caused the custom of kissing under mistletoe, a tradition which dates back in England to the 16th century. As it is an evergreen, mistletoe is commonly used as a decoration around Christmas time, and whenever a man and woman encounter one another below it they are supposed to exchange a kiss, the man plucking a berry from the branch. When no berries are left on the branch, the kiss is no longer obligatory for anyone who passes below it.

The annual Tenbury Wells Mistletoe Festival is a winter-time celebration of the plant.

Page 217. " she walked past St James Palace "

The main Tudor entrance to St James's Palace
Creative Commons AttributionThe main Tudor entrance to St James's Palace - Credit: Tony Hisgett
 St James’s Palace, on Pall Mall in London, is one of England’s ancient palaces and an official residence of the monarchy. Built for Henry VIII between 1531 and 1536, it was constructed in a red brick Tudor style, the gateway of which still remains. Up until the reign of George III in the early 19th century, St James’s Palace was one of the main residences of the monarchy in London, but in 1809 part of it was destroyed by fire and the building declined in importance as Buckingham Palace was built. Today it retains its role as the main administrative centre for the monarchy and is the working home to the staff of many of the royals, including Princes Harry and William and the Duchess of Cambridge.

Page 217. " the expensive pavements of Pall Mall "

Pall Mall
GNU Free Documentation LicensePall Mall - Credit: Panhard
Pall Mall is a major street in the City of Westminster, London, which begins at St James’s Street and crosses Waterloo Place into Haymarket. Pall Mall East continues to Trafalgar Square. The name derives from the game ‘pall mall’, a seventeenth-century croquet-like game played with a mallet and ball. The southern side of the street, including St James’s Palace, is owned by the Crown Estate and the road is famous for being home to various gentlemen’s clubs (see below) which were founded in the 19th and 20th centuries. Pall Mall has also become synonymous with the War Office which was once based here.

Page 217. " the exclusive London business clubs "

The Athenaeum Club on Pall Mall
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Athenaeum Club on Pall Mall - Credit: David Iliff
This probably refers to the gentlemen’s clubs of London, for which Pall Mall in particular is famous. Some of the more well-known clubs on Pall Mall include the Athenaeum, the Travellers Club and the Oxford and Cambridge Club.

Gentlemen’s clubs were private members-only clubs set up by upper class men in eighteenth-century Britain; however, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries they became popular amongst the middle classes who could afford to pay for membership. In the late 1800s there were around 400 clubs in London, some of which catered to particular political, cultural or sporting interests, others which were based on previous membership to a certain school or battalion of the armed forces. The clubs were not for entertainment purposes – this came later, when many strip clubs took on the name – but were a second home for their members, who may have lived out of town or even abroad. Clubs offered living rooms, a restaurant, games rooms and sometimes bedrooms, allowing their members to socialise, relax, eat and use the building as a base on their business trips to London.

A full list of London’s gentlemen’s clubs, including those no longer in operation or fictional, can be found here.

Page 217. " poisoned her integrity like arsenic "

Metallic arsenic
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMetallic arsenic - Credit: Tomihahndorf
 Arsenic (chemical symbol As) is a commonly occurring metalloid which is found in many minerals. Metallic arsenic is mostly used as a strengthening alloy for copper and lead, but is also sometimes found in pesticides and insecticides.

Arsenic is incredibly poisonous and the contamination of groundwater due to its use in pesticides or near where it is mined is a dangerous problem. The symptoms of arsenic poisoning include headaches, confusion, drowsiness and diarrhea, which can lead to stomach pains, vomiting, muscle cramping and convulsions. Eventually, the poisoning will lead to coma and death.

Prolonged exposure to small amounts of arsenic (such as in groundwater) can be easily treated if the early symptoms are recognised and diagnosed; if left untreated it can lead to damaging health effects such as heart diseases and cancer of the skin, lungs, kidneys and liver.

Page 220. " as far as the Ritz and have afternoon tea "

The Palm Court, setting for afternoon tea at The Ritz
Creative Commons AttributionThe Palm Court, setting for afternoon tea at The Ritz - Credit: Northmetpit
 The Ritz is a luxury five-star London hotel, situated on Piccadilly overlooking Green Park. One of London’s most famous hotels, it was opened in 1906 by the Swiss hotelier César Ritz and was built to resemble a Parisian apartment building.

Afternoon tea at The Ritz is a world-famous event held daily in the Palm Court, a luxurious dining room decorated in a Louis XVI style.