Page 251. " the beach at Forte di Marmi "

The Fortino in the main square of Forte dei Marmi
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Fortino in the main square of Forte dei Marmi - Credit: o2ma
 Forte dei Marmi is a small seaside town (population 7,700) in northern Tuscany. Established as a Roman town, Forte dei Marmi was principally a defensive town until tourism developed there at the end of the 18th century. It has attracted a number of notable and wealthy guests, including the Agnelli family, and lays claim to fame in being the birthplace of Paola Ruffo di Calabria, Queen of the Belgians.

Forte dei Marmi is still a popular seaside resort today – the population nearly triples every summer. It takes its name (‘fort of marbles’) from its main sight, the Fortino (fortress) in the main square which, once no longer a defensive fort, was used in the 18th and 19th centuries to stock quarried marble before it was exported by sea.

Page 258. " out of place on Bond Street "

Luxury shopping on Old and New Bond Street
GNU Free Documentation LicenseLuxury shopping on Old and New Bond Street - Credit: Surgeonsmate
 Bond Street is a road in Mayfair, running between Oxford Street and Piccadilly, and one of the most famous streets in London. Developed in the 17th century, it was named for Sir Thomas Bond who bought and renovated the area surrounding it.

At first known for its art and antiques dealers, Bond Street has developed into the home of luxury fashion and jewellery boutiques and is one of the most expensive strips of property in the world. The street is divided into two nominal sections – Old Bond Street in the south and New Bond Street in the north – and features on a Monopoly board as one of the expensive green properties.

Page 260. " the Uffizi maybe "

One of the marbled corridors of the Uffizi Gallery
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeOne of the marbled corridors of the Uffizi Gallery - Credit: Sailko
The Uffizi is one of the world’s most famous art galleries, situated in the centre of Florence. Housed in a 16th century palace which was once home to the magistrates of Florence’s offices (in Italian ‘uffizi’), Grand Duke Cosimo I of Tuscany first planned to collect the masterpieces belonging to the Medici family and the museum developed from there. In 1765 the gallery was officially opened to the public.

Currently undergoing a project to expand the exhibition space, the Uffizi is one of Florence’s most popular attractions. It houses works of art by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Michelangelo and Raphael to name but a few.

Page 263. " I'm his golden goose "
'Simpleton takes the goose to the inn'
Public Domain'Simpleton takes the goose to the inn' - Credit: Project Gutenberg

The Golden Goose is a traditional German fairytale from the Brothers Grimm.

It tells the tale of the youngest of three brothers, a simple boy who is sent to chop wood after his older brothers have been injured. In the forest he meets a small man who begs some food and drink; generous where his brothers were mean, the boy shares his provisions with the man and avoids an accident. The man points out a tree to him – he chops it down and discovers a golden goose inside.

On his way home, the boy stops in a tavern where his goose is much admired. The innkeeper’s daughter attempts to pluck one of its feathers but she sticks to the goose; when her sisters and other onlookers attempt to touch her or the goose they also get stuck. The boy picks up the goose and marches home with the procession of stuck people behind him.

The king’s daughter, an unhappy girl, is looking out of her window when she sees the unlikely parade pass her. Having never laughed before, the princess is moved to laugh until she cries. Thrilled, the king offers the boy his daughter’s hand in marriage and the tale ends happily.

Read the full text of the story here.

A very different goose-related fable is Aesop's story of the Goose that laid the Golden Eggs.

Page 265. " in an Amsterdam whorehouse "

De Wallen, Amsterdam's red light district, is illuminated by night
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDe Wallen, Amsterdam's red light district, is illuminated by night - Credit: Rungbachduong
One of the major tourist attraction and (in)famous sights of Amsterdam, capital of The Netherlands, is De Wallen – the red light district. In the centre of the old town, the web of narrow alleys comprising the district features around 300 one-room cabins which are lit by red lights and fronted by glass windows, through which prostitutes offer their services. Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, although work permits are not issued for it so most of the prostitutes are European citizens.

The red light district is also home to several brothels, sex shops, a sex museum and ‘coffee shops’ which sell marijuana, adding to its attraction for tourists. A recent change to legislation has, however, restricted the selling of marijuana and will see many coffee shops forced to close.

Page 272. " milling about on Tottenham Court Road "

The old manor of Totten Hall, c. 1813
Public DomainThe old manor of Totten Hall, c. 1813 - Credit: Wilkinson
 Tottenham Court Road is a major one-way street in Central London, linking St Giles Circus to Euston Road. Primarily a shopping street, the road is also home to some buildings from University College London, including University College Hospital at its northern end. The road was named after the 13th century manor Tottenhall which stood to the north-west of where the road now runs and gave its name to the local area.

Page 273. " a sphinx-like expression "

A winged sphinx from Delphi, c 570-560 BC
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeA winged sphinx from Delphi, c 570-560 BC - Credit: Ricardo André Frantz
A mythological creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human or a cat, the sphinx has a reputation for mystery. Many sphinx statues were built in Ancient Egypt, guarding the entrances to the Pyramids: the most famous in the world is the Great Sphinx of Giza, the largest monolith in the world. However sphinxes also existed in Ancient Greece where they were traditionally associated with bad luck; the oldest in the world was discovered in modern-day Turkey and dates back to 9,500BC. Sphinxes can also be found in some South-East Asian artwork, and were adopted in the sixteenth century in European sculpture as a curiosity.

In Greek mythology a sphinx guarded the entrance to the city of Thebes and would ask anyone wishing to pass a riddle – if they failed to answer, they would be devoured. The most famous riddle in history: ‘Which creature walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?’, was finally answered by Oedipus: ‘Man – who crawls on all fours as a baby, walks upright as an adult and uses the aid of a stick in old age.’ The sphinx, finally defeated, threw herself off a nearby cliff and the entrance to Thebes was once again free.

Page 274. " thought of Interpol "

Interpol is the International Criminal Police Organisation. Established in 1923 as the International Criminal Police Commission, it took its current name in 1956.  190 countries are members, making it the second largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations. The headquarters are in Lyon, France, where it employs over 500 staff under the leadership of President Khoo Boon Hui.

Interpol is a politically neutral organization, which attempts to work exclusively to develop international police cooperation and focus on public safety. It deals with a number of issues including terrorism, genocide, war crimes, human and drug trafficking, environmental crime, missing persons, corruption and money laundering.

Page 274. " better than Al Capone "

Al Capone's mugshot from Alcatraz
Public DomainAl Capone's mugshot from Alcatraz - Credit: Federal Bureau of Prisons
 Alphonse Gabriel Capone (better known as ‘Al’) was born to Italian immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York, in 1899. He became one of America’s most notorious gangsters, running The Chicago Outfit – a group of criminals who were dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging alcohol during the era of Prohibition.  He was also involved in other illegal activities such as bribery and prostitution but, despite this, he was a famous public figure and often regarded quite well for the large amounts of money which he would give to charity – the ‘modern Robin Hood’.

Famously difficult to catch, Al Capone was eventually caught in 1931, in the wake of the St Valentine’s Day Massacre in which seven gangsters were killed in Chicago – however, he was sentenced for tax evasion as his criminal dealings were impossible to prove. After a period of time in prison, including Alcatraz, Al Capone began to suffer from ill health and eventually died in 1947 from a stroke.

He has been immortalised in popular culture in books, films and plays.