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The Well of Lost Plots
My thanks to Ben Tymens and the rest of the forum for putting together the following explanatory notes for 'The Well of Lost Plots.' Updated: 27th April 2004
The previous two books in the Thursday Next series were covered at length by Jon Brierley, who turned down the opportunity to frustrate himself in front of Google for hours for little or no reward, so I chose to take up the challenge. Page numbers refer exclusively to the UK paperbacks, except for in Appendix A, which covers the American bonus chapter and hence has US page numbers. The reason for this is quite simple - my reference copy is UK, and that's the one I was checking up things in.
People who are currently reading, or who haven't yet read, WOLP can be assured that there are no spoilers contained within this guide, at the expense of leaving previous readers a bit confused as to what I'm referring to.
This guide is intended to be a bit more extensive than the previous two, containing even the easiest reference to spot. If you're the sort of person who wants to get everything yourself, reading this isn't advised. Finally, a note of caution.: When writing 14,000 words on something, an author can occasionally get a bit bored and start inventing things and placing jokes in. If a reference seems slightly fake, it probably is - but I'll only have done it because it amused me. With the caveat not to believe everything you read firmly in your mind, we'll begin...
Chapter 1 - The Absence of Breakfast
Pg 1 - Chaucer's fart gags:
"Spek, sweete bryd, I noot nat where thou art. "
This Nicholas anon leet fle a fart,"
Enough said, I reckon.
Pg 2 - Caversham Heights
Caversham Heights is a genuine suburb of Reading, and appears on a great many buses there. This is about as exciting as a suburb of Reading can be. Expect future books to mention the dramatic story set at the top of a crane in "Lower Earley", or perhaps a football team with a speech impediment in "Winnersh".
Come on. Surely you know the Millon De Floss gag by now? No? Oh well, I'm not repeating it again.
Pg 3 - Flying boat
The flying boat in question appears to be (from elsewhere in the book) a Short Sunderland, which was adapted for wartime purposes from the Empire flying boat design. Sunderlands were flown on long ocean patrols for search and rescue, U-boat hunting and also for naval reconnaissance. Equipped for a crew of up to 11, and with its own onboard galley, the Sunderland would make a fine home for anyone.
Unlike the Highlander, there can be more than one...
Pg 4 - Outlandish
Did Mr Ff really choose to call non-book people outlanders just for this pun? Almost certainly
Pg 5 - Allegro
Allegro is a musical term meaning 'quick'. It comes from the Italian for 'lively', which is an irony, as the Allegro here is the one manufactured by British Leyland, which was conspicuously miserable and slow. Apparently the Allegro was supposed to be 'futuristic', which basically meant they gave it a square steering wheel that hit your knees when you tried to turn. There were several Allegros converted for police work, principally by taking out the daft wheel. They were still an offender's dream. Perhaps the best fact about the Allegro is that the engines were built at Cofton Hackett, which sounds a great Nextian name to me.
Pg 7 - Buick
I've been reliably informed that Americans might have heard about these, so I'll leave you to ponder on why over-sized, over-engined monstrosities might have appeared on the streets of Swindon
The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick
is said to be the hardest tongue twister in the English language. Pg 8 - Prêt-á-Ecrire
is in no way a cousin of Prêt-a-Manger - a food chain here in Blighty, which in turn takes its name from the world of fashion, in which Prêt-a-Porter is 'ready-to-wear'. Thus we have 'ready to write' - a neat confection, I reckon.
Pg 9 - Perspex
Perspex is the British name for Plexiglass. If anyone can explain why the names are different, I'd love you to keep it to yourself. Don't even get me started on Aluminium
Pg 10 - TSI-1404912-C
As Mr Ff so helpfully notes in the Nextian Brain 2003 quiz answers: 'Titanic Struck Iceberg, 14th April 1912'. Can't really argue with that now, can we?
Pg 11 - St Tabularasa
Tabula rasa is the Latin for 'blank slate', and is thus a suitable home for generics. John Locke used it to describe his view that humans are shaped by the society they grow up in. See, reading is educational Pg 12 - ibb and obb
Well, unless anyone can show better, ibb and obb aren't actually a reference to anything in particular, although they have a tendency to show up in Finnish jazz records. No idea why, mind They may well be names from old children's counting rhymes.
Pg 13 - Mrs Beeton
or "Domesticity for Dummies". Sort of a proto-Delia, or for the Americans a proto-Martha Stewart. Strangely, Complete Housekeeper seems to only exist within the Well. The Outland version is presumably Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, which includes recipes with sixteen pounds of lard, the best way to hire staff and how to deal with thrush. Not a problem most houses would suffer, one presumes.
Chapter 2 - Inside Caversham Heights
Pg 15 - Book/YGIO/1204961
Yuri Gagarin In Orbit - 12th April, 1961. Gagarin took just under two hours for the return trip to space, becoming the first human to orbit the earth. After celebrating the first century of flight by going up for a spin in 2003 exactly 100 years after the Wright Brothers, Mr Ff has seven years to build a rocket to celebrate 50 years of space travel in similar style...
Jack Spratt is a nursery rhyme character who could eat no fat (his wife could eat no lean). The appearance of him in a crime novel suggests rather strongly that Mr Fforde is once again plagiarising his own (near-mythical) nursery crime manuscript.
Pg 16 - Burghfield Road
A genuine address, it would appear. Is there a significance? Will it become the Nextian Abbey Road? Probably not - I'm reliably informed it's pretty non-descript.
Another British car of a certain vintage, and equally legendarily poor. It was apparently possible to tell which cars had been finished on a Monday or Friday, as the build quality was even worse. Ford Escorts and Chevrolets (same page) are also of a similar vintage, but are less interesting, mostly as they were put together properly If only Mr Ff had mentioned the Edsel
Pg 17 - DCI Briggs
DCI stands for Detective Chief Inspector. No, it really is that interesting
Pg 22 - Delage-Talbot Supersport
This has to be something weird and quite possibly wonderful. Unfortunately I can find no record of it. No wonder it's bloody rare
Not at all related to an Outland magazine known as The Face
Pg 23 - Panjandrum
This is one of those words that have been explained a fair few times by now, but a quick reprise never hurts It was invented by one Samuel Foote as part of a bet, and means a person (fictional or not) who claims to have great authority. So now you know. Again.
Pg 25 - Cornwell
Presumably this refers to Patricia Cornwell, a phenomenally successful writer of crime novels, although there are several contenders, including, brilliantly, Jon Brierley's spot that John le Carre's real name is David Cornwell
Chapter 3 - Three witches, multiple choice, and sarcasm
Pg 27 - Three witches
No idea where these came from The lines they speak in this chapter do rather suggest a link to some obscure dramas by a little-known playwright from Stratford-upon-Avon
Pg 28 - Thurber, Wodehouse, Greene
Thurber and Wodehouse are easily Googlable, and were humourists of the first rank. Graham Greene is perhaps better described as a 'Catholic literary spy thriller writer', according to my sources (who tend to know more about these things than I do).
Pg 29 - Gerund
For those who care, a gerund is a verb functioning as a noun eg "He had to do the cooking." For everyone else, congratulations on your sanity - now go away before the others start getting pedantic with you again.
By the way, if you ever want to catch out a pedant, mention 'referendums'. They'll insist it should be 'referenda'. At this point, explain that referendum is a Latin gerund, and cannot have a Latin plural, as the concept was entirely unknown. It'd be like us saying that we had to do the 'cookings all week'. If they struggle with this, point them towards the OED. And then give them a slap.
Pg 30 - Who wrote Toad of Toad Hall?
Not, as you might have thought, Kenneth Grahame who actually wrote 'Wind in the Willows'. The adaptation to TOTH was done by AA Milne (yes, he of the bear with the faintly embarrassing name). The part of Counsel for the Prosecution has been performed on stage by many notable actors, and also the writer of this guide, who 'tut-tutted' with aplomb, style, and an audience of three.
Gingham is a fabric, usually cotton, with a checked pattern of white and a single colour - stereotypically pink, red, yellow or blue. People who make their own jam are prone to covering the lids with a piece of gingham.
Bodmin for Women
I'm not entirely convinced, but this could be a reference to Jamiaca Inn, by Daphne du Maurier. There does seem to be a du Maurier theme popping up from time to time. Otherwise, I'm stumped.
Written by Giovanni Boccaccio midway through the 14th century, the Decameron tells the story of ten young Florentines who try to avoid the plague afflicting the city by going off to tell stories on a country estate. Every day they tell a story each. Think of it as a 14th Century Big Brother
Decameron were also a pretentious folk band of the 70s.
Pg 32 - The bagpipes
The bagpipes have a long and noble tradition in Scottish warfare, and an equally long and ignoble one in the field of music. Contrary to popular myth, bagpipes are not exclusively Scottish - they originated in Asia Minor, and versions exist from as far apart as Pakistan and Ireland. A set of bagpipes looks like a medium sized mammal being tortured to death with large sticks, and in most cases appears to make roughly the same noise. The effect is terrifying. The only sound worse than the bagpipes is the same number of pipes distributed between a group of ten-year-old girls in the form of a recorder lesson.
The joke about the octopus and the bagpipes has many forms, due to the bagpipes also looking like an octopus that has been dressed in tartan and then been force fed Viagra. The main feature of all these related jokes is that they aren't very funny
Chapter 4 - Landen Parke-Laine
Pg 37 - Charge of the Light Armoured Brigade
Somebody really ought to write a poem about this sort of thing, you know
Arms of Morpheus
Morpheus is the Greek god of dreams. Hence morphine, which is closely related to heroin, is pretty good at knocking you into a dream state. It's amazing how often scientists use classical education to inform the names they give things, isn't it?
Wessex Tank Light Armoured Brigade
There's a long tradition of British regiments being named after areas of the country where they were traditionally drawn from, despite no longer having local ties. Wessex, of course, is currently a fictional county (notably in the works of Hardy), although it has its roots in the Dark Ages, when it formed one of the British kingdoms. It's sort of Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and that area A rough guide to Wessex is to define it as those counties where the verb 'to be' is declined as 'I be, you be, he be, we be, you be, they be'.
Pg 38 - Sgt Tozer
There was an AW Tozer who wrote theological books on Christianity, but the smug points go to those who spotted that there was a Sergeant Tozer in Her Privates We, by Frederic Manning, who would appeal to an entirely different audience, were he to have added an extra 'e' to the title.
Dingo scout car
Yet again, a quick hunt on Google proves that there really was a scout car known as the Dingo. The Dingo entered service in WWII, continuing until 1961. Apparently the driving position was cramped and the visibility was poor, although at least the steering wheel was round
Pg 41 - Yak 12
The Yak-12 was a 'utility' plane designed for short take off and landing, which made it ideal as a spotter plane. It could carry four passengers, and was produced until 1958. It was also used as a trainer.
Pg 43 - Dream Topping Armageddon.
On reflection, the threat posed in TN2 isn't as bad as it could have been. At least it would have been strawberry flavoured
Made up purely for the purposes of pissing off anyone who tries to type it. Until this got posted, it was also a single word Googlewhack. It comes from the Greek roots for 'memory' and 'shape'.
Chapter 5 - The Well of Lost Plots
Pg 47 - Merlin
It will take a lot of persuading to convince me that Mr Fforde hasn't used the 'generics assimilating lead character' ideas as a device to name a famous Rolls-Royce engine, made famous as the powerhouse for the Spitfire. If you're wondering where all the Merlin-esque generics have been placed, go into any bookstore. Find the shelves marked 'Science fiction and fantasy'. You see the serried ranks of books with drawings on the cover and weird flowing typefaces? That's where
Pg 48 - Dupin C. Auguste Dupin was a character invented by Edgar Allen Poe, who starred in three novels including The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Sherlock Holmes scoffed at any similarity between himself and Dupin - but was this merely acknowledging a debt in print? Whatever, Dupin was the original detective from whom all detective stories, including those of Ms Next, are descended.
Hammett, Chandler, Sayers - crime writers
Pg 50 - "reading is arguably a far more creative and imaginative process than writing"
This is the solution for anyone who has ever puzzled over the dedication for LIAGB.
Pg 51 - Head in a bag
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is the official film of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue (don't know it? Google). It's a dark, offbeat, bloody revenge movie. Is it giving away too much to reveal it involves a head in a bag?
Pg 53 - Mr Grnksghty
No idea, but it's a bugger to type I'll bet it'll be even more hassle when they do the audio books.
Pg 56 - Slaughtered Lamb?
If you've ever wondered if the mistakes are edited between editions, you will be pleased to know that both British editions (trade paperback and paperback) have identical misprints. The original 'Slaughtered Lamb' was in An American Werewolf In London, and unsurprisingly the name is a pun - 'slaughtered' being a British synonym for 'extremely drunk'. (JFf note: Ben is right about the 'American Werewolf' reference but it's true significance is more geographic. The location for the original 'Slaughtered Lamb' is not Yorkshire but a village named Crickadan in Mid-Wales, not far from where I lived when a very small lad. The opening shots of the 'desolate Yorkshire moors' is actually Hay Bluff - I can see it from my house.)
The collection of underworld types:
I'll deal with these as a group. We have Mr Hyde, who looks uncannily like that Mr Jekyll. Funny how you never see them together, isn't it? Blofeld is perhaps more famous in the world of film, although he appeared in four novels by Ian Fleming. Interestingly the feline obsession seems to be an accident of celluloid Von Stalhein is the arch-enemy of one James Bigglesworth, pilot extraordinaire. Wackford Squeers, normally to be found at home in Nicholas Nickleby, is possibly having a drink to get over failing an Ofsted inspection (Ofsted is the official education inspectorate in Blighty, responsible for overseeing school standards).
Elsewhere in the bar (and over the page) are triffids - the source of a thousand Venus flytrap phobias - the krell is something to do with the forbidden planet (and thus the Tempest); Rataxis is the Rhino who competes with Babar the Elephant (I promise I'm not making this up); Soma tablets are probably easiest to get hold of in Brave New World; Bottle Imps feature in a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson (they give you anything you want except a longer life, but if you can't flog it before death you're straight off to hell),
; the Questing Beast was seen in TN2 and Morte D'Arthur, pursued by a Pellinore (although at least one authority argues that the character of Pellinore seen in the TN books is more influenced by TH White); and Medusa had a stare that was petrifying. Literally.
Oh, and beware the Jabberwock, my son
Emperor Zhark and Tiggy-Winkle Emperor Zhark is the undisputed star of the Zharkian Empire series of novels, according to this very site, and Tiggy-Winkle is one of the stars of Beatrix Potter's books, first published in 1905. By the way, Beatrix Potter is the name of a woman who can play snooker whilst balancing two pints on her head. Just in case anyone asks, you understand. Both of the above are with Jurisfiction, as you may have noticed from the book.
Anyone pursuing hedgehog references and wondering what the hell is going on with Tolstoy and Berlin - it comes from an essay by Sir Isaiah Berlin on "The Hedgehog and the Fox - Tolstoy's view of history". Even reading the first part of it gave me a headache, so don't mention it to me either
Page 57 - Pot Plant
I've been informed that in certain parts of the world a pot plant is specifically a marijuana plant, whereas in the UK a pot plant is a plant that is in (amazingly enough) a pot. It can also refer to a marijuana plant though, so feel free to choose the version that adds most to your perception of the story. (JF note: It's a potted plant. I don't hold with all this marijuana nonsense - who needs it?) Pg 58 - Nigel
I've not been able to track down Nigel, sadly, and the closest I've got to a thraal is the Ravenous Bugblatter beast of Traal - a beast so stupid it assumes if you can't see it, it can't see you, as the legendary Douglas Adams wrote.
Pg 60 - Cygnus Cluster
There really is a Cygnus cluster. To the untrained eye (ie mine) it just looks like another load of stars. To Zhark it appears to look very much like a target
Chapter 6 - Night of the Grammasites
Pg 65 - Semolina
Semolina is a type of flour, but is most often associated in Britain with an obnoxious pudding much beloved of school kitchens. It was invariably served with a blob of congealed jam, and I refuse to believe it was any good for me. It had a slightly grainy texture, and contained milk and sugar. It's closely related to Tapioca, but without the frogspawn consistency
Pg 66 - Jerusalem
Legendary hymn by William Blake that uses the myth that Christ visited England to hammer home a point about the industrialisation of the country. Pretty popular in England, and the subject of many demands to make it the English (as distinct from 'British') national anthem. It's got a rousing tune, inspirational lyrics, poetic imagery and a huge dose of metaphor. This guarantees it will never be allowed to be the national anthem. Despite this, many organisations use it, including the Women's Institute, the militant wing of the jam'n'cake producers' liberation front.
Pg 68 - Painted Jaguar
This whole sub-plot comes from Rudyard Kipling's Just-So Stories, which come highly recommended by Mr Fforde himself. Check them out - if nothing else it'll save me from explaining the bits about hedgehogs and tortoises later on
Pg 70 - Code Word If you can't get into the bonus features section, you might like to pay extra attention to this page. Yes, that really is the codeword. I have to admire the cunning employed by Mr Ff, I really do.
Pg 71 - Footnote
This is all lifted from Anna Karenina. What do you mean you haven't read it? It's a great big convoluted thing about marriage and society, by Tolstoy. Apples Benedict will be explained below - with an exclusive recipe. Of sorts.
Chapter 7 - Feeding the Minotaur
Pg 73 - 'Pinky' Perkins
Nicknames are sometimes terribly obvious, and this is no exception. It almost certainly refers to Pinky and Perky, 'world famous' porcine puppets who had squeaky voices and sang in a manner that suggested the record had been put on at the wrong speed.
Pg 74 - Sword of the Zenobians
The world's foremost expert on the writing of Jasper Fforde (ie the man himself) reveals all: "'Zenobia' relates to Queen Zenobia who ruled Palmyra (now in Syria) with a staggering ruthlessness in the 3rd century."
Pg 77 - La planéte de singes
This really exists, being the novel that Planet of the Apes was based on, and it was far more intellectual than the film. It was really based on Gulliver's Travels, too. It's amazing what you learn from writing these guides...
Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis
"Times change, and we change with them" - the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations lists the first usage of this as being in William Harrison's Description of Britain, although I've heard Ovid listed as the source.
All Soul's, Oxford
A real college, but somewhat of an oddity (even by Oxbridge standards), as it doesn't have undergraduate students. Every hundred years they sing a song about a duck, and wander around the college with flaming torches. Readers previously unaware of the levels of stupidity that British traditions often stoop to may choose to disbelieve me at this point, but over here these things are normal.
Pg 78 - Napoleon the Pig
From George Orwell's Animal Farm and the leader of an allegorical coup. Babe would have been better movie if Napoleon had had the starring role
Pg 81 - Speltificarius Molesworthian A cod-Latin name and a reference to Geoffrey Willan's Nigel Molesworth, a third year school boy whom no dictionary could tame. Interestingly enough, a pedant would point out that the name of the disease is itself a misspelling, as the species name shouldn't have a capital letter, even if it is from somebody's name.
Almost certainly going by the first name 'Samuel', he produced a dictionary that was prone to some brilliant definitions in an effort to amuse himself. Perhaps the greatest was his definition of dull as: "to make dictionaries is dull work". All this sounds familiar to me
Pg 82 - 27-litre Higham Special
Unbelievably someone actually built this car, and with an engine that size it was perhaps best described as a racing tractor. Designed and built by Count Louis Zborowski, the engine delivered 600bhp, propelling it to at least 171mph during an attempt on the Land Speed Record by John Godfrey Parry Thomas. Parry Thomas was later killed in another attempt at the record at Pendine Sands, Wales. The car was then buried in the dunes there for 42 years, before being dug out and fully restored.
Zborowski was the designer of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and his first three cars all carried this moniker, although the cars for the film were actually replicas. And probably a bit slower Anyone who suspects the Count to have been more than a little unhinged might be interested to learn that none of them had front brakes. Well, you don't want any extra weight when you're travelling at 170mph, do you?
Chapter 8 - Ton sixty on the A419
Pg 83 - The Very Rev. Toredlyne
It's about time we had an awful pun, and this is it. 'Revs' are revolutions per minute, and 'revving' a car is to hold the clutch in and press the accelerator in the universally acknowledged language for 'bloody well change colour!" On the rev counter of a car (showing how fast the engine is revving, obviously) there is a red line, marking the limits of the engine. I won't dignify this pun with any more analysis If you're wondering about the title of this chapter, btw, a ton is slang for a hundred.
Pg 85 - roads All these roads really exist. In Britain there are four classes of roads. Motorways, prefixed with an 'M', are the equivalent of German autobahn or American interstates. 'A' roads are the major trunk roads, and 'B' roads are the small, local routes. There are also unclassified roads that can be anything from a single track with grass up the middle to substantial urban roads.
Pg 86 - Aero engines
Yup, it's the famous Rolls-Royce engine that powered the Spitfire, Hurricane and many other classic aircraft of WWII. Toad can afford to be cocky - the less powerful Liberty engine was originally designed during WWI: many of them found their way into illegal smuggling vessels designed to break prohibition in 1920's America. Miss Havisham might be interested to find out that some of the British tanks of the 1940s still used these engines. Although I'm not sure she'd want to go that slowly
Chapter 9 Apples Benedict, a hedgehog and Commander Bradshaw
Pg 92 - Apple Benedict
I know, I know -Eggs Benedict is an American recipe from the Waldorf. Fine, be a pedant. I thought some people might like to know, was all. Eggs Benedict (or the apple variant mentioned in WOLP) has many different recipes, although all of them seem to involve poached eggs on "English" muffins (in one of those brilliant misconceptions that ensure the Atlantic gets no narrower, muffins in England are nothing like breakfast muffins, which is what is meant here), with bacon and Hollandaise sauce.
An apple version wouldn't be too hard to confect, however, so here's my recipe for it.
Ham - cut into thick slices
Calvados (you can substitute Cognac if you really must)
Grab a pan. Don't ask me what size, just a pan that won't melt unless you stick it in a furnace. Turn the furnace off and put it away. Whatever were you thinking bringing that into the kitchen? Honestly. Now, where were we? Ah, yes. The pan. Put it on a reasonable sort of heat, and cook the apples. Ah, I didn't mention them, did I? Right, take the pan back off, and learn to read the whole recipe before you start. Don't be so impatient. Now then, peel the cooking apples, and chop them into cubes. I don't care what size cubes, this is your cooking - you use your skill and judgement. No, not that big. For heaven's sake. Are you trying to choke us? Make them about the same diameter as your little finger is thick. Except cubic, obviously.
Right, now you've got your cubes, bung them into the pan. And put it back onto the heat. Then throw in a little butter, and enough sugar to counter the acid. You don't want it excessively sweet, but I'll leave the amounts to you. The idea is to cook the apple cubes so that they soften and the whole pile goes gooey and squishy. These are technical terms, so I hope you're paying attention. If the mix looks like being a bit dry, throw in a little apple juice or water.
Right, leave the apple sauce for half an hour or so, until the apples are breaking down. When it's almost ready, you want to toast the muffins gently under a medium grill. No, I had no idea grills came in sizes either, but there you go. It'll be about a size 14 UK or a 12 in the US. Actually, with obesity rates being as they are that might be an 18 in both countries
While they're toasting, this is a good time to hack up some ham, unless you've got pre-sliced stuff. If you happen to have some lying about on the bone though, slice it nice and thickly.
Now you're ready to assemble the creation. Take the muffins and butter them. I hope you remembered to cut them in half first so you could toast both sides. What do you mean I never said? I told you before about reading the whole recipe beforehand! Place the slices of ham into the muffins, and then finish off the apple sauce by adding a large dose of Calvados. Then pile a thick layer of the sauce onto the ham and serve.
Serve with lashings of farmhouse cider as a delicious breakfast. (You may notice a lack of quantities in this recipe. This is because I am banned from the kitchen for not tidying away my furnace properly. Why do I have a furnace? Well, I've got shares in a small furnace company, and if Delia and Martha can plug their own products I see no reason not to plug my own. Anyone trying it and approving is welcome to add notes for other people.)
And yes, I can see ways to make the other recipes dotted throughout the books, but can't be bothered.
Pg 93 - Smart Alec
The original smart Alec appears to have been one Alec Hoag, who was a 1840s gangster in New York. This etymology has been accepted by Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, although the OED is more cautious and only traces it back to slang common in the 1860s. Basically, Alec was smart as he put sliding panels into rooms so he could sneak in and nick money, whereas most thieves tried using the door, which most people were sensible enough to block with suitcases before going to sleep.
Pg 94 - Pith Helmet
Traditionally dressed explorers always had a pith helmet, but I never bothered finding out what a pith helmet was. Or what it would be if you took the pith out of it - which is easy as it makes you look a complete wassock. The plant providing the pith has not been identified, but pith is the lightweight filling inside twigs - elder is quite a good source.
Chicklit The most famous example of chicklit is of course Bridget Jones' Diary, which is in desperate need of a lion attack. Either that or pulping. Chicklit is fiction written for single women between the ages of 16 and 34, or at least nominally. It involves shopping, inept men and ticking biological clocks. Think of it as Barbara Cartland with mobile phones and fornication, and you'll be there, more or less. The male equivalent is ladlit. Surplus B-3 Darcy clones (over the page) abound in chicklit.
Pg 97 - Daffodils The examples of bloopholes are obviously invented: I can't imagine an author could be so inattentive as to have daffodils on a summer's day (JFf note: I can. It was me. In 'The Eyre Affair'. It gave rise to the 'Book Upgrade' page and from there to the whole 'Book Operating System' and 'Ultraword' nonsense in WOLP. I might truthfully conclude that WOLP was born in the white-hot heat of horticultural ineptitide, and I did - it was the opening line of my WOLP talk in the USA, Feb-March 2004)
Chapter 10 - Jurisfiction session number 40139
Pg 101 - Marmite, Mintolas and AA batteries
Marmite is a kind of yeast derived spread that is either a: incredibly tasty or b: the most vile thing ever to have come into contact with the human palate. You either love it or hate it. Mintolas are a type of chocolate covered mint fondant, and AA batteries are the cylindrical ones that go into remote controls and seem to migrate to somewhere else just before Christmas.
Pg 103 - Billy
Billy is Billy Liar, eponymous hero of the book by Keith Waterhouse, eternally bemused columnist of the Daily Mail.
Pg 104 - Gully Foyle
"Gully Foyle is the protagonist of Alfred Bester's Tiger, Tiger" - so writes Annie Biblio, and I can't be bothered to find out for myself. She also points out the obvious reference to Blake (yet again), and his Tyger, Tyger, burning bright
(JFf note: The US title of this book was 'The stars my destination' and was the source for the 'Thursday meeting herself' plot device in TN1. You should read 'Tiger,Tiger,' -it's very good. Then 'The Demolished man' which is excellent, too.)
Pg 105 - Ichabod Crane
Ichabod Crane is the school teacher in Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which was turned into a film by Tim Burton. For those unaware of the work, it features a pumpkin/head transplant.
I've been waiting for this joke to turn up. Apparently there's a shorter version of the play whose first line is "Hello, Godot".
(JFf note: Doing the legal search for WOLP, the Hodder lawyers decided that featuring Godot (or his head, anyway) couldn't be regarded as an infringement becasue Godot never appears, and thus is exempt from protection of copyright laws.)
This couple make Much Ado About Nothing. Literally (except they don't, as Benedict is actually Benedick according to Shakespeare.)
Pg 106 - Session 40319
The best I can do for this number is a hint on a website that 'Voltaire' has 40319 anagrams, although whether he constructed them or they were created from his name, I'm not sure. Other than this, it's a prime number, which is a recurring theme throughout the works of Mr Fforde.
(JFf note: Well, the best I can do is to find the last time there was a session (TN2, 40311) and add a few on for the ones we've missed. 40311 was arbitary. I must have been in a hurry.)
Losing the 'u'
Ever wondered why America has those ridiculous spellings? And we thought it was because they couldn't spell
Pg 108 - The Listeners The Listeners is a science fiction work by James E Gunn, released in 1968, about a Government project to search for intelligent life. They find some, only to find it's dead. Alternatively, Goliath could be asking if there was anybody there, in the poem of the same name by Walter de la Mare. Take your pick.
(JFf note: I choose the latter. "Tell them I came and nobody answered, that I kept my word, he said." - just great stuff. Walter De La Mare is maligned as shallow and frivolous by the poet-snobs but "The Listerners" and "False Dawn" are superb.)
When James Joyce wrote Ulysses it was basically one massive experiment in how to annoy readers. In this it appears to have succeeded. Joyce intended to gain immortality through making the book endlessly analysable: "I've put so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant..." and to this end he wrote each chapter in a different style. This included leaving punctuation out of all eight sentences of the final chapter. And if you're thinking that eight sentences make a short chapter, you're wrong. There is a suspicion that this move was taken by Joyce as a final attempt to shake off determined readers who scented the end of the book
Pg 110 - Library of Alexandria
In possibly the greatest ever excuse for returning your books late, the Great Library at Alexandria suffered a whole series of disasters, so many that it is hard to accurately date the destruction of it - various parts of the complex seem to have been destroyed at different times. Conspiracy theories abound, although as usual with history it was probably just a cock-up. Smart money is on an idiot librarian purchasing a scroll called 'Arson for Dummies'
Chapter 11 - Introducing UltraWord
Pg 111 - Xavier Libris
It had to be Xavier, if only to give us X Libris (ex libris meaning 'from the library of')
Pg 113 - Pamela
Published in 1740, Pamela can claim to be one of the first (if not the first English novel - although similar claims are made for several books). It still divides critics today, judging by some of the comments on Amazon. It has been described as both moralising and vaguely pornographic (if you have a certain type of mind), often in the same review, and I'm overjoyed to find that Henry Fielding cruelly sent it up with Shamela.
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, was written by Edwin A Abbott, and was first published in 1884. It's a work of genius, mixing maths theory with social satire.
Pg 116 - Great Vowel Shift
The Great Vowel Shift is the name given to a wholesale change in the pronunciation of the English language that is usually dated to the time of Chaucer, although the continuing arguments over the pronunciation of 'bath' and 'glass' are proof that the process still isn't complete. It has also been suggested that a lot of the differences in American and British pronunciation also come from the same source.
The Great Vowel Shift basically entailed vowels moving further forward in the mouth: 'life' was originally pronounced as 'leef', for example. Pedantically, Falstaff can have been no more a witness to it than Thursday, having been written a century or so too late.
1841 saw the publishing of the first tale of ratiocination. Or 'detective stories' to you and me. Yup, it's another gratuitous reference to the Murders of the Rue Morgue, which was published in this year. No wonder nobody can go into Poe
Pg 118 - Wuthering Heights rage counselling
This probably isn't the time to say that Kate Bush really pisses me off too, but I've never needed counselling for my reaction to that song. Slightly more literate readers than I will of course know that Wuthering Heights is considered one of the greatest books ever written. A rough synopsis is given by Millon de Floss on page 123, which saves me the hassle of writing one myself. All I will add to his review is that it remains unclear who is most abused. The characters or the reader.
Pg 119 - Lady Cavendish
Lady Cavendish was regarded by at least one critic as 'mad, conceited, and ridiculous', which seems like the sort of review you'd like on a poster. She lived during the 17th century, and her plays have recently gained a new burst of popularity. One of her more inventive ideas was that as women weren't supposed to write, she needn't bother learning to spell. Genius
Winnie-the-Pooh is of course a bloody revenge tragedy, unaccountably bowdlerised by Disney Rumours of a forthcoming live action version directed by Quentin Tarantino are pure speculation.
Pg 120 - Penistone Crag
Penistone is near Sheffield. You can get into a lot of trouble with pronunciation up there, you know.
Chapter 12 & 13 - not much needs saying, so we'll dive straight into
Chapter 14: Educating the generics
Pg 129 - Titus Andronicus I was joking about Tarantino filming Winnie-the-Pooh, but Titus Andronicus may well catch his eye. It's sort of a checklist of violent crime, all in a handy five-act format. Fortunately the all-out stab-fest is explained at the end by Lucius. My vote's with Miss Havisham on this one.
Pg 130 - 'Textual Sieve'
Regular readers may notice the sound of an approaching deadline in the explanation of this device
Pg 131 - Bullhorn
Old fashioned term for a megaphone, although I'm not sure if this refers to its shape or to the origins of early examples.
138 - Harry Flex
Two things going on here. Flex is a type of electrical cable, and Arriflex was a make of film camera. My thanks to Annie Biblio for this.
Chapter 15 - Landen Parke-somebody
Pg 145 - Blake Lamme
Possibly a reference to Mr William Blake, noted poet, artist and imagined opium fiend. Only the first two are true. He did a famous poem about a lamb, which as usual I'd failed to hear about. Which idiot allowed a scientist to write this guide, for Pete's sake?
Page 147 - Morris 8
The Morris 8 was another classic British car, dating back a bit further than most of the cars dotted throughout the books.
Pg 150 - Croquet
As has been remarked upon at some length in other guides, croquet is a game played on English lawns in the summer time. It's a vicious game where attacks on your opponents' balls are perfectly acceptable. As seems to be the case with many minor English pursuits the number of rules seems to vary roughly in line with the number of people trying to play. Nextian Croquet seems to have even more rules, although possibly less Pimm's.
I'm not even going to dignify Aubrey Jam with an explanation, as I'm sure you can see the pun for yourself.
Chapter 16 - Captain Nemo
Pg 153 - Mr Wemmick
"Wemmick is the clerk to the great defence lawyer, Mr. Jaggers, who is Pip's guardian. Whilst in his office Wemmick is a dry, emotionless civil servant but when he invites Pip home to dine with him, he undergoes a complete change. Pip finds that Wemmick's house is a 'castle' amid beautiful grounds, cut off by a drawbridge. Wemmick cares for his father - the 'Aged Parent'." - Jon Brierley
Pg 154 - Boats
A pinnace is a small boat intended to take messages between ships of the line and the shore, whereas a lighter is a small boat used for loading and unloading larger vessels. The Humber is a large estuary on the east coast of Britain, with centuries of use as a port, and there is a tradition of regional boat designs, so presumably a Humber lighter had evolved for wide, sheltered estuaries, although this is conjecture.
Pg 157 - Captain Nemo and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea A pedant once pointed out to me that 20,000 leagues under the sea would take you out the other side of the earth. Deal with such pedants by pointing out that you can travel 20,000 leagues horizontally quite easily. And give them a slap.
Captain Nemo himself was the owner and master of the Nautilus in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. He built this submarine to escape the world that he felt had abandoned him, so seeing him being genial on dry land in a suburban park is a little hard to swallow, unlike his 'coffee' - anyone who has read the book will know how Nemo has found substitutes for all earthly pleasures.
White Star Line
Owners of the Titanic, a ship famous for a: sinking and b: spawning a truly terrible movie. There is a six word synopsis of the movie:
Chapter 17 - Minotaur Trouble
Pg 161 - "Dimensionally ambivalent"
Quite possibly author-speak for 'make it sound technical and hope they don't ask for an explanation'. As Mr Fforde has pointed out, if you draw attention to the gaping holes in the plot, you normally get away with it. This also explains the top of pg 166
For some unfathomable reason any industrial action in the UK will be accompanied by an oil drum with a few holes in it to allow wood to be burnt. Nobody knows why, but it's probably enshrined in law somewhere.
Pg 162 - Vincent Price If there is ever a reference you don't get in the TN books, place good money on it involving one Edgar Allen Poe. Vincent Price starred in a movie version of The Raven. It's not actually very close to the original poem, unless the line "Evaporated bat's blood, or do you prefer dehydrated?" has slipped my memory
(JFf note: One of the things I really wanted in life was to sound like George Sanders (A very capable character actor now really only known for the voice of Shere Khan in Disney's Jungle Book) but it was not to be. As an alternative to Mr Sanders (you see; I usually have a fall-back plan) I wanted to sound like Vincent Price. This didn't work out to well, either but it wasn't all bad: when I heard him being interviewed on Parky (A talk show in the UK) I realised that Vincent Price didn't really speak like Vincent Price - he has a much higher voice. It would have been wiser, on reflection, to want to talk like Jasper Fforde, which would have been at once easier, and cheaper. Anyhow, Vincent was the schlock-horror actor par excellance, who could raise a dismal film well above what it might have expected without him. He was a sort of Peter Cushing but with a mischevious air, or a Christopher Lee with humour. Amongst a vast body of work he excelled with the celebrated cheapy 'Poe' series of films by Roger Corman (look carefully and you can see the redressed sets) but above all I most fondly remember him for being 'Dr Phibes', a sort of Art Deco mad scientist who thinks up really bizzarre ways to kill people who he feels are responsible for the death of his wife. (now that's a good motivation). Younger readers will perhaps only know Vincent for his last role as 'The Inventor' in the stupendous 'Edward Scissorhands" and, of course, for his voiceover in Michael Jackson's 'Thriller': "....Bad things crawl in search of blood, to terrorise your neighbourhood..." In any event, I thought he was fab. Every man has his Price, and mine was Vincent.)
Pg 164 - Sir Malcolm
Might possibly Sir Malcolm Campbell, whose 'Bluebird' was the first car to top 300mph. Ought to give Toad a run for his money
(JFf Note: It was.)
Of Pride and Prejudice fame, or perhaps infamy. Not renowned for her sense and ability to avoid talking rubbish.
Pg 166 - Eraserheads
Eraserheads are the pencils with a little eraser on the top which goes all mucky after about five minutes and then just smudges grey over things when you try and rub them out.
(JFf Note: 'Eraserhead' was also a bizzarre psychological horror film by David Lynch - well, it would have to be, now wouldn't it?)
Chapter 18 - Snell Rest in Peece and Lucy Deane
Pg 175 - Echolocators
A bit of a borrowing from the real world this - echolocation is the way that bats find their way in the dark - by throwing out sound and listening to the echoes. Also used by other animals, not least the fish-eating liggers known as dolphins.
(JFf note: Also used by fishermen looking for shoals of fish and for those Navy types to hunt submarines. Remember the movie 'The Cruel Sea' where Jack Hawkins is capatain of a corvette looking for submarines in the North Atlantic? The ASDIC device sends off a 'ping' and you use your skill and judgement by listening in on a hydrophone just where the echo is coming from. Sometimes I think the war office dreams these things up purely for the benefit of screenwriters. In any event, there is an amusing classroom scene where the ASDIC is demonstrated, and 'The Cruel Sea' sparked a duffle coat craze that hasn't lasted until this day. And Hawkin's ship was called 'The Compass Rose'. Funny what you remember from your childhood, isn't it? See the film if ever it comes around. It's a corker. And if you want more of Jack Hawkins, see 'The League of Gentlemen' and 'Angels One Five')
Famous author of Westerns, presumably populated with huge numbers of bovines.
Possibly the finest source of information about the 17th century, Pepys was a womaniser, boozer and diarist who wrote a rather good account of the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Pg 178 - Mill on the Floss After struggling through Silas Marner once at school, I tread warily towards any more Elliot. However, after reading a few chapters and with a small portion of cribbing from SparkNotes, Stephen is Lucy's suitor, Lucy is Maggie's cousin, and that Stephen and Maggie are supposed to be meeting Lucy. Instead, Stephen rows past the agreed meeting place, and they catch a larger boat back upstream to return. Everyone assumes that they must have slept together, leaving Maggie a fallen woman. This rather gets in the way of further courtship, and the book continues on its way, giving Maggie a good kicking at every turn.
Pg 180 - The curious incident of the Patterson Family on the Island of Uffa
Is mentioned at the start of the Five Orange Pips, by Dr Watson. Apparently he and some violin player went up there for a romantic weekend. Or something. My thanks to the dozens who pointed out my stupidity in forgetting this Bizarrely, it appears that there may be a French version - "Les Singulières Aventures de Grice Patterson dans l'Ile d'Uffa" - written by one René Réouven. This raises the interesting speculation that the opium fiend's favourite method of relaxation may have been inserted by French revisionists
Page 183 - Uriah Hope
Not to be confused with an old prog-rock band, Uriah is really a character from David Copperfield - Dickens' classic tale of a pig-ugly magician who somehow gets to marry a supermodel. More on this later
Page 184 - Eurydice
Eurydice was the lover of Orpheus, and was taken cruelly by the icy hand of death. Or, this being ancient Greece, killed by some capricious God for bugger all reason whatsoever other than for another tedious myth (I digress). Anyway, Orpheus was a great musician (or at least knew more than three chords), and managed to persuade the gods to allow him to take her back away from the underworld. They allowed this on condition that he didn't peep. Predictably he did, and she was taken from him on the cusp of the sunlight. Frankly, being Greek myth, the true wonder is that he didn't poke his own eyes out to ensure her return If this isn't tedious enough for you, there's an operatic version available
Finally, mention must go for "... bleakness ... desolation ... plastic forks ..." (thanks to Google)
Pg 185 - Turnip a l'orange Take a turnip. Stuff it with an orange. Throw it away.
Pg 186 - Thurber
James Grover Thurber wrote several items, not least "The Fireside Book Of Dog Stories.". He was also responsible for Walter Mitty, the bearded expert on Weapons of Mass Destruction cruelly slandered after his suicide by a government desperate to justify a decision to go to war. Or am I fantasising again?
Pg 187 - Shadow the Sheepdog As explained on page 193, Shadow the Sheepdog is a typical book of its period, with a bucolic air and a sense of nostalgia for the past. Enid Blyton banged out a staggering amount of words, having had over 600 books published. Many of them were formulaic adventure novels in which middle class children say 'golly' a lot, and solve rather simple mysteries. I guess the American version would be the Hardy Boys Mysteries, except without the gritty realism. It's now possible to go on Enid Blyton holidays to some of the locations in the books on a guided tour in Dorset. Were you aware that Kirrin Castle was based on Corfe?
Pg 190 - Larry the Lamb
A curious incident, only ever hinted at in the books. Larry the Lamb comes from SG Hulme-Beaman's Toytown books, which were adapted for radio in the 1930s, with later radio and television shows involving puppets. This may be taken as evidence of Larry's generally evil character (cf 'Evil Bert').
D-Words One tail, three letters, four legs and tendency to chase cats. Do I really need to spell out what the D-words are?
Gipson's Old Yeller
Is it only me who hasn't heard of any of these? Old Yeller was an unphotogenic dog that saved people a lot. I'm indebted to a 10 year-old for this information (Google can be so dumb sometimes). I'm also informed that the book gives you an idea "of what it would be like to have a dog". Strangely enough, since getting a dog I've yet to need rescuing from bears and wild boar. I guess American dogs are just good at getting you into trouble, huh?
Chapter 19 - Shadow the Sheepdog
Pg 193 - Warwickshire and the Dales
The Dales are the hill area of Yorkshire, and are very pretty indeed - and typical tourist fare. The mention of Warwickshire is a bit of a mystery though, as it rarely gets mentioned when people talk about the English countryside, which is strange as Shakespeare walked Warwickshire's fields, as did Tolkien, who spent an important part of his early life in the village of Sarehole (a terrible place to have dyslexia), and later idealised it as the Shire. Tolkien himself wrote "To find oneself, just at the time when one's imagination is opening out, in a quiet Warwickshire village, engenders a particular love of a central middle England countryside". If you want to know what the Shire was supposed to look like, catch a train between Stratford and Birmingham.
Pg 194 - Fry's chocolates etc
There are a number of classic products that are indelibly marked in the British national psyche as being part of the fabric of mid-20th century Britain, and these are some of them. Fry's developed the first moulded chocolate bar in the 1850s, and later merged with Cadbury's. One notable facet of the chocolate industry in Britain was that many of the families involved threw off scions who were great social campaigners. The Rowntree Foundation (founded by one of the brothers who ran the factory responsible for inventing Jelly Babies) is still going strong, and Elizabeth Fry was a famous social campaigner who is on the new five pound note.
Colman's are now better known for their mustard powder; Wincarnis Tonic is a mix of wine and meat extracts - "Strongly recommended throughout the world as being both nutritious and stimulating". Also "strongly recommended for sounding repulsive". Ovaltine is a hot drink that contains egg powder, malt and barley - you add it to hot milk. It's reputed to send you to sleep. Finally, Lyons' cakes were produced by Lyons - the greatest Tea-Shop chain ever to bestride the British High Street. Lyons' Corner Houses were the Starbucks of their day, and the first commercial computer appears to have been developed in order to process their wage bill. Lyons subsequently disappeared due to bad financial decisions, eventually mutating into Wimpy - the only fast food chain to market a sausage in a bun as 'the Big Bender'. The headlines in the papers are typical send-ups of the period.
Pg 200 - Golliwogs
In recent years there has been a big debate about the presence of golliwogs in Blyton's works, and also on Robinsons Marmalade. Golliwogs are essentially crude stereotypes of black people, and modern feeling is that they should be replaced. In the Noddy books, modern versions have replaced the golliwogs with teddy bars to avoid causing offence. Some people are unhappy with this, claiming that it's wrong to rewrite an author's work to suit modern tastes, while others feel that changing golliwogs to teddy bears is a change that Blyton herself may have made if she were alive now, and certainly that if making a small change allows children to continue to enjoy the Noddy books then it's worth doing.
The gypsy reference on 201 is another part of this - foreigners and 'swarthy' types were essentially up to no good at all times. Unlike those pesky, meddling kids, of course, who were merely out of their trees on Ginger Beer, the little louts
Pg 202 - "Mouth full of pins"
Why does my grandma insist on having pins in her mouth whenever she's sewing something? And why the hell can't she understand that trying to kiss me isn't a good idea. Honestly, the bills for dentistry
Pg 205 - On Her Majesty's Secret Service
This is the book where Bond gets married. However, with womanising pretty much central to the character, the marriage doesn't last terribly long
When I was a kid, arse was terribly offensive. Then we learnt that we could get away with the American 'ass', as it wasn't rude over there and meant a donkey over here. In the last few years there's been a change back, and 'arse' is in fashion, although now it seems perfectly inoffensive, and a reclamation of Anglo-Saxon to boot. You can even hear it on daytime radio.
Pg 207 - Lichgate
'Lic' was the Anglo-Saxon for a corpse, and a lichgate is the roofed gateway to a graveyard where the body could be kept until a member of the clergy could be dragged away from the choir boys long enough to conduct a funeral.
Chapter 20 - Ibb and Obb named and Heights again
Pg 210 - The Lola Diet
I've tried this. It works a treat
"I'll be very careful - I'll always ask them their name first"
Wise words, and a joke worth remembering if you're at school. My class had a sex education class once that went "So lads, imagine you've had a night out on the lash, and you wake up next to a girl, and think you might have had sex. What do you do?"
"Don't tell her your name, Miss!"
The lesson ended there
Pg 212 - Grattan Catalogue
There really is a Grattan catalogue shop, but they don't sell catalogues. Worryingly, they sell something called a 'hand juicer'. I decided not to read any more after that.
Pg 214 - 923 Anyone having an interesting 923 reference should get in touch.. Otherwise Google offers me some Girl Scouts who love to go camping (this is amusing to Brits) or fire arms legislation.
Pg 216 - No-Claims Bonus
A no claims bonus is basically a discount off your motor insurance for having the decency not to have crashed. It slowly accumulates over time, so that the best drivers have much cheaper car insurance.
Are a type of melon. Eminem has used them in at least one song, although it wasn't as part of a recipe for fruit salad.
A Mickey Finn is the name for a cocktail of alcohol and chloral hydrate which renders people unconscious.
According to my Reading A-Z, it's in two parts. Evidently some kind of serialisation
Pg 218 - Father Brown
Father Brown was a Roman Catholic priest from Essex who starred in a series of books by GK Chesterton, it appears that being a priest may have been his only interesting feature.
Pg 219 - Sad & Single Wine Bar
Wine bars are pubs for those with no mates, and were a peculiarly 80's phenomenon. They're probably all Irish themed pubs by now (and does the theming now extend to a smoking ban, one wonders?) Irish pubs are about as Irish as Jackie Mason.
Pg 221 - LiteraSea and Searyllic Ocean
I don't know - you wait ages for an awful pun and then two come at once. The Cyrillic alphabet is the one used in Russia, and was developed in the 10th Century, although it has been revised since - in 1917/18 they deleted four letters
On the Waterfront
was a film starring Marlon Brando, in which an ex-boxer working on the docks is forced to rise to the challenge of mobsters. Being set in the docks, it's a neat reference to throw in here.
Pg 222 - Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut wrote Slaughterhouse Five, amongst other things, and wrote short sentences to the point of self-parody. 'Nuff said.
Chapter 21 - Who stole the tarts?
Pg 227-228 - the Gryphon's cases
The three blind mice had their tales cut off with a carving knife by the farmer's wife, Captain Nemo, as previously discussed, was responsible for the deaths of many sailors after he rammed their ships with the Nautilus. The Triffids invaded earth after bright lights had blinded all the humans, who had naturally rushed out to watch the free show. The Martians in HG Wells' War of the Worlds fed themselves by injecting human blood into their veins. A situation that the Geneva Conventions appear to disapprove of.
The Knave of Hearts
He stole some tarts We can't escape the nursery rhymes in this book.
Matthew Hopkins As mentioned in previous guides, Hopkins is none other than the Witchfinder General. Presumably the Witchfinder Specific was unable to attend.
Pg 229 - FAL/0605937 Frankfurt (or possibly Famous) Airship Lost - (JFf note: It's 'Fire at Lakenheath') 6th April, 1937 - the Hindenburg went up with a squeaky pop in the largest ever test for hydrogen, as several people have poked fun at me for missing So far only two events for 1584 that might be interesting have been found: Sir Walter Raleigh, importer of tobacco, potatoes and the 12-gear racing bike, was given a charter to explore America by Queen Elizabeth the First, whilst on the other side of the world Ivan the Terrible became somewhat less so, by the simple expedient of dying.
Pg 234 - Alan Dormouse
Best idea here so far is that Alan is AA Milne's first name, and he wrote about a dormouse who lived in a bed of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red). He also wrote about another dormouse, and wondered about what to call it (its tail was e-nor-mouse)
Pg 235 - Bill the lizard.
Fortunately not an Australian reference, as the estimable MissPrint points out: "Alice in Wonderland, Ch 4: The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill. Bill is the unfortunate lizard whom Alice kicks out of the chimney. At the end of the chapter he is being supported by a couple of guinea pigs who are giving him sips of brandy. At Alice's trial, she replaces him head downwards in the jury box, and the Queen throws an inkstand at him. Bill is clearly not having a good day." Nor was I when I missed the blatantly obvious reference
Chapter 22 - Crimean nightmares
Pg 238 - Tarty
This is one of those things that may already be in common usage overseas, but I'm not taking any chances after the whole pot plant misunderstanding. A tart is a British prostitute, although it now refers to any woman who likes to sleep around. Or is perceived to do so
Pg 239 - "Sable Goddess"
From Edward Young's Night Thoughts (no, not those sort of thoughts):
Night, sable goddess! from her ebon throne,
In rayless majesty, now stretches forth
Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumbering world.
This snippet proves yet again that poets of a certain era were willing to torture as many innocent words as required in order to keep their meter.
Pg 241 - Windermere
Rather large lake in the, er, Lake District - the area of England favoured by a number of poets for their opium fuelled romps through literature, nature and quite probably Coleridge's collection of naughty etchings from Paris. Oh, and as inspiration for a load of tosh about daffodils.
According to one source on the net, Tristram Shandy "anticipates many of the techniques of hypertext fiction". So, it's a load of boring rubbish published purely for the vanity of the dumb idiot behind it then? No wonder Granny Next feels obliged to read it
Forward dressing station
This is where wounds were dressed. It's not some kind of armoured wardrobe.
It'd be more fun if it was though
Pg 242 - Bradford on Avon
Not to be confused with Bradford in Yorkshire (unless you're giving directions to a lost tourist and fancy a cheap laugh, that is). This one is in Wiltshire, and according to "the first dedicated Bradford-on-Avon page on the WWW" it has a bridge, a tithe barn and some hi-tech traffic management. Frankly, if you need to boast about a set of traffic lights then you're a little short of tourist attractions, aren't you?
Pg 244 - W/T operator
W/T is either Wireless Telegraphy, or Wireless Transmitter. Either way, it's someone who works in communications, presumably passing orders and reports about.
Chapter 23 - Jurisfiction session number 40320
`Pg 247 - 40320
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I now know that there are 40,320 ways to arrange Santa's reindeer. This is from a puzzle set by a maths teacher for 'fun over Christmas'. Can't you just feel the Christmas spirit oozing out of that one? My theory is that maths teachers were all bullied at school and are now taking their revenge on us all
(a little mention to the ten year-old girl who said that she now knows 'what to do with 8 reindeer'. When you grow up, sweetie, please write to your maths teacher and tell her exactly what she can do with her 8 reindeer, would you? It'd make me ever so proud.)
Movable Type I'm perfectly aware that movable type is a method of printing that saves the need to carve out fresh blocks every time a new page needs printing, but I'm sure there's another reason for the name of this magazine.
Pg 249 - as revealed by Mr Ff himself, this really is how you crank up the number three engine of a Sunderland. So if you ever need to run the number three engine, you now know what to do (If you need to fly it, remember - push stick forward - houses get bigger. Pull it back - houses get smaller. Pull it back too much - houses get smaller at first, and then bigger very quickly)
Pg 251 - waders
Presumably the various bird species that hunt food in shallow water, and not the oversized wellies that anglers wear
Pg 252 - Godot
I've been waiting ages for this joke No comment to make, if you don't understand it, look it up.
Pg 254 - Canon of Love
Do you know, this sounds extremely rude...
Pg 255 - Ulysses
See page 108 for an explanation
Guinness is the most valuable black liquid on this planet, and without any of the nasty environmental hazards of that 'oil' stuff. If you haven't tried it, it's a stout (beer) so thick you could spread it on toast. Purists swear by the original, only idiots in pink shirts drink the 'extra-cold'. One of the big selling points is that it's Irish through and through - although if you go to Cork they'll refuse to sell it to you and make you drink Murphy's.
Pg 257 - Congratulations to Mr Ff for managing to engineer a way to write 'had' 11 times in a row, and for causing the resignation of no less than twenty three proofreaders
Pg 258 - shard of the last original idea
The last original idea was , of course, Flatland. Annoyingly, I chased this reference all over the web for an hour, before finding it in the first half of my own notes Shocking.
Chapter 24 - Pledges, the Council of Genres and searching for Deane
Pg 263 - Godot
What do you know? You wait all series for a joke and two come along at once
Pg 264 - Rubber
Over in Blighty, rubbers are both something you use to erase a mistake when writing, and also something you use to prevent a mistake that will erase your social life and hog your income for 18 years before demanding to borrow the car. In this case we can be virtually sure we're talking about the former, okay?
Chapter 25 - Havisham: the final bow
Pg 267 - Peacocks
Yes, I'm totally aware that peacocks are likely to be recognised throughout the world, but I figured I'd draw attention to the high level of Cluedo references popping up ("Clue" in America, where an extra 'do' can cause confusion, apparently.)
Pg 269 - Bluebird
There have been several cars carrying the name of Bluebird, including the first ever car designed purely to break the speed record - the Napier engined Bluebird. This one only packed 450 bhp, but was enough to wrest the speed record off Parry Thomas for Sir Malcolm Campbell. Later Campbell would be the first man to reach 300 in another 'Bluebird'.
Pendine is a long, flat beach in South Wales, where British attempts at the land speed record were held until it became obvious that there wasn't enough space to make a run and stop safely. Pendine also had a serious drawback in that the state of the sand didn't become clear until you were speeding along it - every tide made it different again. At high speed, this isn't reassuring
Pg 270 - John Parry Thomas
Noted driver of idiotic cars, who died at Pendine in a Higham Special (see pg 82)
Chapter 26 - Post-Havisham blues
Pg 279 - Spoon
I'm unreliably informed that a spoon is useful for making someone puke, and is more pleasant than using your fingers. But of course
Chapter 27 - The lighthouse at the edge of my mind
Page 281 - Vlad the Impaler
Vlad the Impaler (the source of the name "Dracula") was ruler of Transylvania in the 15th Century. Sandwiched in the boundary between Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox and Islamic countries, and between the major powers of the Turks, Slavs and Hapsburgs, Vlad decided he might as well make the best of a bad situation and merrily declared war on everybody. His favourite tactic was to scare the crap out of his enemies by impaling prisoners on stakes as a warning. Which I suppose is going to be more effective than a couple of notes on the border saying "Invasions by invitation only". Vlad was probably a poor choice of drinking partner.
Chapter 28 - Lola departs and Heights again
Page 287 - Finnegans Wake Aha, it's the return of Joyce, this time written 'basically' in English, and yet again famous for being anything but an easy read. Finnegans Wake was the last book written by Joyce, and was published two years before his death. It's basically a riff on various pieces of mythology, with layers of dreamlike language (or "complete bollocks") and echoes of nursery rhymes, songs and anything else that could be squeezed in - including a hefty dose of puns. I won't possibly speculate on why Mr Ff felt obliged to mention it
Page 288 - Tease
A tease is a woman who leads you into thinking that you might have a chance, despite being absolutely determined that you're not going to get anywhere. They generally do this in order to get free alcohol, in my experience. It's all part of the grand game, I'm led to believe, Any attractive female wishing to practice their skills can email me at
Page 290 - Pickled to the gills
Another Brit expression for being drunk. You can use alcohol to preserve things, although these days 'pickling' seems to be related almost entirely to preserving things with vinegar. There are a great many UK expressions for being drunk, including pissed, rat-arsed, three sheets to the wind (a sheet is a rope in nautical terms, so it means having a rope loose), one over the eight, legless, sloshed I fully intend to be all of them shortly after finishing this
Chapter 29 - Mrs Bradshaw and Solomon (Judgements) Inc.
Page 297 - Mrs Bradshaw
The latest research shows that there are two species of Gorilla (Eastern and Western), both of which have two subspecies. Unfortunately scientific data isn't forthcoming on the best species for a long-term relationship, although I think it's worth mentioning that gorillas are far from the chest beating brutes of King Kong parody. Yes, they could unscrew your head, but they generally choose not to
Page 298 - Pinafore
One of my American sources says she's unsure if a pinafore is used over there, so would I possibly point out it wasn't a good ship? A pinafore, often abbreviated to a pinny, is a small apron, worn exclusively by women.
Page 300 - "Do cats do anything other than sleep?"
Apparently, they do. For starters, they need to find somewhere warm to sleep in - such as inside old fashioned Land Rovers, where a cat could find a nice warm spot right next to the fan. This design fault has now been solved, saving owners of Chelsea tractors the hassle of cleaning cat mince back out of the engine.
The traffic cone holds a hallowed spot in UK mythology. Presumed to be a type of flower, they bloom during the summer months by the side of motorways, making entire lanes unusable. Stealing a traffic cone is seen as an essential rite of passage for a UK teenager, roughly equivalent to a tribesman in Africa killing his first lion. In student towns there is no higher form of humour than to leave a traffic cone sat on the head of a statue, preferably at a jaunty angle.
Page 301 - punter
A punter was originally someone who placed a bet at the bookmakers, where a 'punt' is a bet (this originally comes from Spanish). A punter these days is just a normal person, and it carries connotations of someone who doesn't know enough to do it properly on their own and hence needs advice. In climbing circles 'punter' is a derisory term for those who pay money to be hauled upwards on a top rope, flailing all the way, as opposed to proper climbers who climb with style, athleticism and a far higher injury rate. Somewhere within is a moral
Page 304 - Havana cigars
Apparently the best cigars are made in Cuba, and are hand-rolled on the thighs of virgins. Amusingly, nobody every bothers to ask what sex these virgins are. "Hand rolled on some spotty adolescent bloke" doesn't have the same ring, does it?
Page 305 - Redtop The UK has more national newspapers than any other country in the world, and they fall into several flavours. The redtops are tabloid newspapers that concentrate more on sport and celebrity gossip than news analysis, and the actual truthfulness of the story is generally in inverse proportion to the number of semi-naked women attached to it. They are sneered at by a large proportion of the population, and therefore sell by the bucketload. The name 'redtops' comes from the habit of printing the name of the paper in white against a red background, although the Mirror has now switched to black.
An example of the style and accuracy of a redtop comes from the Sun, who have dubbed someone who allegedly had an affair with a footballer for a Spanish club as a 'Sleazy senorita'. She's Dutch. Remember - never let the truth get in the way of a good headline. (The best ever redtop headline was off the sports pages of the Sun, who reported a win by Caledonian Thistle against Celtic as "Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious". Despite it not being terribly important, the headline was that good they had it as a lead item...)
Clever anagram of Ambrosia, the nectar of the Gods and a brand of rice pudding. Devon knows how they make it so creamy. I'm not making this up - it's an integral part of British culture And the nutmeg? Very nice grated on top of rice pudding.
Being blackballed is being vetoed from joining an exclusive club. It gets the name as the secretary of the club was legally required to take a long run up and kick the prospective member very hard between the legs.
Chapter 30 - Revelations
Page 307 - "A History of Gibbons" There are a couple of jokes going on here, but I'm not sure why Gibbons is relevant to booksploring. Ronan Empyre is an obvious pun, together with his partner Declan O'Foole they were the subject of a history book by Gibbons, whose writing still stands up to reading. It has been suggested that Gibbons are another type of ape, and given Cmdr Bradshaw's taste in female company, this may naturally lead to some confusion. Gibbons aren't easy to confuse with gorillas, being much funkier.
Page 308 - Barsetshire
Barsetshire was the scene of many of Trollope's novels, and is entirely fictional. As is Borsetshire - the legendary home of The Archers. For non-Brits, the cultural hold of the Archers is a complete mystery, but virtually everyone in the country hearing the name will start going "Tum te tum te tum te tum" The Archers is a radio soap, originally designed to promote farming, and still going strong decades later. When the first commercial TV channel went on air, the BBC's biggest retaliatory weapon on opening night was to kill off an Archer's character in a house fire. Recently there have been front page headlines over the first gay kiss, and an April Fools Day spoof claiming that the theme tune was to be rewritten blocked the BBC's switchboard. You can listen to an episode for yourself on the BBC's website. (And yes, this has nothing to do with WOLP, I just thought I'd give you some extra British culture, okay?)
Another cultural institution, Alfred Wainwright was a Blackburn born accountant who discovered the joys of the Lake District and then wrote seven pictorial guides to the fells, which are acknowledged as classics, with their simple pen and ink drawings providing both the feel of the landscape and an invaluable guide. When there were rumours of the books going out of print there was a national campaign Touchingly, AW asked for his ashes to be scattered on Haystacks, writing -
"And if you, dear reader, should get a bit of grit in your boot as you are crossing Haystacks in the years to come, please treat it with respect. It might be me."
Page 310 - Quiller-Couch
English author who also edited the Oxford Book of English Verse and The Oxford Book of English Prose.
Page 315 - Uriah Heep
Told you there'd be more. Another example of words being changeable
Page 316 - Godot
Make that three coming along at once Anyway, this explains quite a bit, I reckon. Buggered up an otherwise decent play though
Chapter 31 - Tables turned
Page 317 - Green Eggs and Ham
Characters do not like green eggs and ham; they do not like them, Sam-I-am The idea of a Dr Seuss driven Wuthering Heights is too surreal to mention, but watch this space.
Page 321 - Possibly the greatest ever example of drawing the readers eye to a problem in order to cover it up entirely. Genius
Page 323 - Extremely prejudicial termination
Clearly unrelated to the CIA's own euphemism for assassination. Bring on the exploding seashells
Chapter 32 - The 923rd Annual BookWorld Awards
Page 329 - Orlick and Legree
Orlick comes from Great Expectations, and Simon Legree is a sadistic slave owner from Uncle Tom's Cabin. Neither of them would be an entirely welcome sight in a dark alleyway.
Page 330 - Thursby The Maltese Falcon is another detective story, written by Dashiell Hammett. The killing of Thursby is a key driver of the plot.
Page 333 - The Magus
Not having read it, I found this joke incomprehensible, but I'm reliably informed that it pisses off people on a regular basis by putting key passages into a mixture of languages, and by being riddled with paradoxes, plot holes and bizarre subplots. Sounds good to me.
I'm reliably informed that this table was reserved for Watership Down. Being the answer in a quiz set by Mr Ff, and all
Page 336 - Dorothy
Can anyone possibly not understand this? Flying monkeys c/o Montgomery Burns, no doubt
Not to be confused with the one-hit wonders from that jeans advert years ago, Rumplestiltskin is a character from fairy tales The short story runs thus:
Miller makes up tall tale that daughter can spin straw into gold. Credulous and greedy prince decides to put this to the test, offering (in the style of a true romantic) to lop off her head if she should fail to spin straw into gold by the next morning. Little berk with stupid (and secret) name offers to perform the deed for her, on the basis that she gives him her firstborn. Figuring this is better than losing her head, daughter agrees. Gold duly turns up. Prince gets hard-on at thought of all this money, and decides to marry miller's daughter. Being the sort of stupid bint who would shag anyone who owns a Merc, she agrees. Year later her first son is born. Little tosser turns up demanding it. Not unreasonably. Princess refuses; little loan shark realises he forgot to write a proper contract, and offers to ignore it if she can guess his name in the next three days. Princess finds out his name by devious means (knowing her type, by sleeping with someone). Rumplestiltskin, for it is he, gets rather annoyed and rips himself to pieces. The end.
A charming tale for our times, one feels
Page 338 - Dracula
Read this scene, and then imagine Gwyneth Paltrow as Dracula. Scarily easy to do, no?
Page 340 - Lady Macbeth
She's got a murderous husband, her first name is 'Gruoch' and she can't pass the Daz doorstep challenge. And you think you've got problems
Chapter 33 - UltraWordTM has nothing to record, so we'll head onwards to
Chapter 34 - Loose Ends
354 - Disco Balls
They have a motor.
Page 358 - Butlins
Yet another great British tradition is the holiday camp. Traditionally holiday camps were a sort of Gulag with added light entertainment, although apparently they're now getting better. Butlins is the most legendary, having been founded in Skegness by the Canadian Billy Butlin, they now have holiday resorts all over the UK. Redcoats are underpaid wannabe entertainers, who put on song and dance routines for punters and who also act as guides and suchlike. Fans of classic sitcom can check out 'Hi-de-hi' for a fairly accurate spoof of the whole thing.
Page 359 - Gold star
For decades teachers at primary schools across the UK have been handing out gold stars to children who performed reasonably well at tasks such as reading, spelling and maths. It's amazing how little it takes to please a kid sometimes
Page 361 - Credits
The Fforde Fforum people credited are still largely around, and were touched to receive this mention. And if you can't work out why PSD isn't mentioned, that's because my parents ignorantly had me christened 'Ben'. Can't have everything, eh?
Appendix A: That extra chapter
Thanks to the generosity of Mr Fforde, I now have a copy of the American version, and so have been able to hunt for references in the final, added chapter.
Pg 364 - '34
1934 was the year that the Dust Bowl finally came to national (US) attention, as dust was carried by storms as far as New York and Washington. The Dust Bowl had been created by poor farming methods eroding the soil structure, damaging the land for generations. No evidence that Mr Ff chose to echo this here, of course.
Bleak House (and spontaneous combustion)
Bleak House itself centres on a long-running legal dispute, and is considered Dickens' greatest attack on Victorian society, in particular the legal system whose "one great principle is to make business for itself". It is also the scene of a particularly grizzly death by spontaneous combustion, the after effects of which are described thus:
"Here is a small burnt patch of flooring; here is the tinder from a little bundle of burnt paper, but not so light as usual, seeming to be steeped in something; and here is - is it the cinder of a small charred and broken leg of wood sprinkled with white ashes, or is it coal? O Horror, he is here! and this from which we run away, striking out the light and overturning one another into the street, is all that represents him."
Dickens was criticised by many people for an 'unbelievable' cause of death, and he used the luxury of publishing in instalments to send them up in the resulting inquest scene, writing "Some of these authorities (of course the wisest) held with indignation that the deceased had no business to die in the alleged manner".
Pg 365 - Luke Howard
A real person, Luke Howard was an amateur meteorologist and chemist who came up with the system for classifying cloud types still used today. He is responsible for the terms cirrus, cumulus, stratus and nimbus clouds, as well as their intermediates (eg cumulo-nimbus), and his paintings of them did much to popularise the idea. As far as I can tell, he was never awarded a doctorate, but he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, which is the highest award possible.
A jobsworth is a person who sticks religiously to the rules regardless of any common sense, using as a justification "it's more than my job's worth". It was coined by 'That's Life', a bizarre programme that could only have existed on British television, featuring feel-good stories, consumer issues and pornographic vegetables.
Pg 366 - Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
This was the book that launched Zane Grey and the entire Western genre in one fell swoop, and features a woman who is being forced to marry against her will by having her stock messed about with and her employees abused. Having read the opening chapter, I really can't face a whole book full of lines such as "Thet's a fine hoss," and "Huh! he wears black leather," as I'd spend my entire time reflecting upon the essentially camp nature of proceedings, but if you want to know about Westerns, this is the place to start, by all accounts.
Pg 367 - Collins Ridge
The Collins Ridge is part of the Mark Twain National Forest, didn't you know? I'm not sure there isn't a small pun in here, the Cuillins are an immense mountain ridge on the Isle of Skye that form the most severe walking and climbing in the UK.
Authors mentioned I'm sure you can Google most of them, but it's worth mentioning that Barbara Taylor Bradford writes books about career women (selling over 60 million of the buggers). There are suggestions that Mr Ff might well be offering an opinion about the quality of her work here, and after discovering she owns two Bichon Frisés (officially the world's most idiotic dog) I have no intention of adding to her vast wealth by reading any to find out.
The Scarlet Letter
Is a book about Puritanism, adultery and apparently is 'dense with terse descriptions'. I've read a summary, and apparently the taunt that nothing happens appears to be true, with lots of sitting around sewing going on. I shall lose no time in reading it, to pinch a line off my favourite writer of dictionaries.
Pg 370 - Frobisher High School
Sadly, this appears to be invented, although any information to the contrary would be welcomed. Sir Martin Frobisher spent most of his life attempting to discover the North-West passage, but his biggest success was at getting confused between fool's gold and the genuine shiny stuff - spending a great deal of the latter on transporting the former. He was charmingly inept at navigation too, naming the Hudson Strait as "Mistaken Strait" as he hadn't intended to be anywhere near it.
Appendix B: the illustrations
My thanks to Rob Craine for the following:
p -9: DOP/0710849
Death of Poe (16 Oct 1849)
p 366; Footnoterphone advert: IN/2512642-203727
Isaac Newton (25 Dec 1642- 20 Mar 1727)
ISBN: 0-14-043022-9 is Gulliver's Travels (details below) I'm not sure exactly what happens on page 223
TITLE: Gulliver's Travels (Penguin Classics)
by Jonathan Swift, Peter Dixon, John Chalker
Publisher: Penguin USA (Paper)
Publish Date: May, 1967
p367; Minotaur Poster: TTD/33983
The best I can do for this is Tintin Dies... well Georges Remi (his creator) did, anyway.
Again, I'm not sure about this one, but on 16th August 1976 an earthquake hit the Philippines (http://www.drgeorgepc.com/Tsunami1976Phillipines.html).... so I'm thinking Tsunami Kills D..... Dunno what the D could stand for."
This guide was written by Ben Tymens (aka 'PSD', 'Poestscientistdrinker' or just 'Who?'), during Spring 2004, with corrections and additions by various members of the fforum, including Vi, Nicky, Dibs, Ptolemy, MissP, Mebbeido, Annie-Biblio, Ali (Splat), Dave, crrbllsweetie, Slightcap, Sarah B, Magda and others. Of these I must single out Ali and Nicky for proof-reading, and Rob Craine for his research on the illustrations and adverts, which had entirely escaped my attention. Thank you, too, to people who contacted me separately, including Jon Brierley, whose original guides were the inspiration for this one. My thanks to them, and the others who looked for errors. I also pass my thanks to the one who relieved the stress of finishing it off, and look forward to repaying her when geography allows - this guide is dedicated to her. Any mistakes remaining are entirely my own, (except for Rob Craine's), especially if introduced for a cheap laugh. Finally, my thanks to Mr Fforde for his additional comments, explanations and corrections, as well as a copy of the American version so I could write notes for the extra chapter.
Any comments should be sent to psd(at)terrascope.co.uk - especially if you are female, 18 - 25, interested in climbing, literature and drinking (Please attach photo and dress size). Comments pointing out exactly how far wrong I was with some obscure detail will be added to the 'trash' folder as soon as possible, unless I look very silly indeed, in which case I will hate you for evermore for bringing it to my attention. After which it will be added to the trash folder.