Most of the nobility and gentry who reside south of the Park came to Price’s for their bi-monthly haircuts. Lord Bridgnorth, whose family lived in Cadogan Square, always did.
Cadogan Square in Kensington is one of the most desirable residences in London, but unfortunately no Lord Bridgnorth seems to be associated with any of the buildings there
George Christopher Meech removed the mirror. ‘Singe, sir?’ ‘No, thanks.’
Apparently, and this is news to this editor, barbers once offered to singe the ends of cut hair with a candle, with the belief it sealed the ends of the hair. Some barbers still offer this service as a way to remove pesky ear hairs.
He wouldn’t be surprised if at any minute somebody told him that they had pulled down the Cheshire Cheese or Simpson‘s. Probably they’d abolish the Eton and Harrow match next.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has been a London pub since at least the Great Fire of 1666. Simpson’s in the Strand is a restaurant has been serving giant joints of roast beef from domed silver trolleys since the 1850s. Both were favorites of Wodehouse and both survive. The public schools Eton and Harrow have played an annual cricket match since 1805, although the COVID-19 epidemic canceled the 2020 match at Lord’s Cricket Ground.
‘Just Elisha. The chap in the Old Testament. He hadn’t a hair on his bean, and when a bevy of children pointed out the fact to him, what happened? Bingo! Eaten by bears!’
Reading this you might think Elisha was eaten by bears, but in fact the children, 42 of them apparently, were cursed by Elisha because they taunted him, and then the children were promptly eaten by bears. Just to prove this editor is not making this up, The New International Version Bible (2 Kings 2:23-25) relates the story:
From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmeland from there returned to Samaria.
“She may be, for all you know,” said Violet. “In which case, it seems to me, her interests are all the other way. If our Mr Price gets the title, she becomes a blushing countess.”
It might be a stretch, but the “blushing countess” could be a reference to the Countess of Salisbury, whose dropped garter led to Edward III’s creation of the Order of the Garter. In the Elizabethan play The Reign of Edward III, which many attribute—at least in part—to Shakespeare, we see the secretary to the king musing about the king’s meeting with the countess:
If she did blush, ’twas tender modest shame, Being in the sacred presence of a king; If he did blush, ’twas red immodest shame, To vail his eyes amiss, being a king … (II.i.14-17)
’Tinkerty-tonk, old boy.’
The Hon Frederick Chalk-Marshall uses this expression to say goodbye to Lord Droitwich. Yes, it’s another expression the OED attributes to Wodehouse.
‘Au revoir, Lord Droitwich,’ he said. ‘We shall meet at Philippi.’
Shakespeare must have been some sort of ancestor of Wodehouse, because in Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene III, he has this exchange—sounding very much like one of Bertie’s exchanges in The Code of the Woosters—between a ghost and Brutus:
GHOST. To tell thee thou shalt see me at Philippi. BRUTUS. Well; then I shall see thee again? GHOST. Ay, at Philippi. BRUTUS. Why, I will see thee at Philippi, then.
Meriam-Webster defines jugfull as 1. As much as a jug will hold 2. A great deal as used in the phrase not by a jugfull. First know usage 1831. DS
…the Hon. Freddie has never seen in his puff… pg.73
The Free Dictionary defines in (all) his puff as in or during one’s lifetime, primarily U.K. DS
‘His Aunt Lydia looked like Lady Macbeth.’ Pg. 73
Lady Macbeth was a lead character in Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth. She is the impetus for her husband committing regicide thus becoming queen of Scotland. She dies by apparent suicide at the end of the play.DS
‘He had always been an ugly sort of Gawd-help-us.’ Pg. 73
Gawd-help-us – a mainly jocular term indicating a helpless or exasperating person and comes from the plea “God help us.” DS
‘…,and the chances at the next General Election.’ Pg. 74
The British General Election, elections to the U.K. Parliament which generally take place every 5 years. This is analogous to voting for Congress in the U.S. A Special Election or snap election can be called to capitalize on an unusual electoral opportunity.DS
‘…right off talkin’ sixteen to the dozen…’ Pg. 76
Talking sixteen to the dozen refers to one who talks very quickly and incessantly without stopping. An alternate was nineteen to the dozen which seems to have won out over sixteen. DS
‘That sort of evidence won’t do you much good at the Bar of the House of Lords.’ Pg. 77
The Bar of the House is the name given to the white line across the width of the chamber in the House of Commons and a rail in the House of Lords. This is significant in that Syd is going to be Lord Droitwich, a peer of the realm, and therefore eligible to sit in the House of Lords. DS
You’re goin’ to look fine when the News of the World gets ‘old of this.’ Pg. 78
The News of the World was a notorious British tabloid published weekly from 1843 to 2011. The last owner, Rupert Murdoch, was forced to close amid backlash from a phone hacking scandal. DS
‘I’ll give you ten minutes by my Ingersoll.’ Pg. 79
Ingersoll is a brand of watch inexpensive originally available by mail order in 1882 and launching a store in London in 1904. DS
Meriam-Webster defines supererogation as the act of performing more than is required by duty, obligation, or need. First known usage was 1526. DS
‘The purest persiflage.’ Pg.70
Meriam-Webster defines persiflage as frivolous bantering talk, light raillery. First known usage was 1757. DS
He prided himself on his ability to see through a brick wall as far as the next man. Pg. 70
This is Mr. Waddington’s opinion of his own shrewdness. Dictionary.com indicates that ‘to see through a brick wall’can be slang used to describe one who is especially perceptive. DS
It’s also possible this is a reference to the Bodhidharma, the 5th/6th century monk who was the founder of the Zen tradition of Buddhism in China. The daruma doll, a popular gift in Japan symbolizing persistence and good fortune, refers to this monk’s custom of gazing at walls so intently and for so long that eventually his arms and legs atrophied away. JP
‘Well, it’s like the story of the “Baby’s Vengeance” in the Bab Ballads.’ Pg. 71
Bab Ballads is a reference to a collection of light verses by W.S. Gilbert. They revealed Gilbert’s cynical and satirical approach to humor. Being very popular they were read at dinner parties, public banquets, and even the House of Lords. They were also a source of plot elements, characters, and stories for the Gilbert and Sullivan Operas.
The Bab Ballad Baby’s Vegeance is a satirical look at a baby switch, rich to poor, and the consequences. DS
‘…it isn’t like that Tichbourne business,…’ pg. 71
‘You may thank your lucky stars I got my half-blue for scheming at Oxford.’ pg. 65
Freddie letting Tony know that he has the requisite skills to formulate a suitable plan.
Collins Dictionary states that blue or half-blue are associated with sporting activities at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. A half-blue is someone who substitutes for a full blue or participates in a minor sport. It I likely that Freddie’s usage of half-blue in this instance was facetious. DS
‘You should hear him talk about how some day he’s going to move to Bond Street…’ pg. 61
Polly talking with Lady Lydia, Sir Herbert, and Freddie about Syd’s plan for his future.
Bond Street – Set in the heart of Mayfair in London’s West End Bond Street, founded in 1700, is known worldwide for its elegant stores, exclusive brands, and luxury goods. Likely the reason Syd wanted to open a shop there so badly. DS
‘but every word that falls from your lips is an orient pearl of purest ray serene.’ pg. 61
Freddie talking with Polly regarding her desire that they not reveal the truth to Syd.
“Purest ray serene” is from the poem Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray. The poem is a metaphor for common folk who do heroic things that are never reported in the news or recorded in history. DS
‘… Where the parents of our hero,’ added Freddie, ‘were stationed at the time. Being a delicate infant, he was sent back to England in charge of an ayah. …’
Ayah: a native maid or nursemaid employed by Europeans in India. Pg. 53
‘Very well,’ he said. ‘Tony, you were born over a barber-shop in Mott Street, Knightsbridge.’
A Mott Street exists in New York, but not Knightsbridge, London. Knightsbridge in London borders the vast Hyde Park. It is is an upscale area with grand Victorian homes and leafy garden squares. Various embassies can be found here as well as the Victoria & Albert Museum. Pg. 54
Sir Herbert uttered a groan. ‘It’s simple enough, curse it. The Droitwich baby was sent back from India and placed with a wet-nurse. Naturally the woman had to have a child of practically the same age as the other infant.’
A wet-nurse is a woman who breast feeds and cares for another’s child. Pg. 54
Freddie was still wrestling with his private trouble. ‘But he can’t be my brother!’ he moaned. ‘He wears a made-up tie.’
made-up tie: unknown origin, possibly what is now know in current vernacular as a “clip on” tie. Pg. 55
‘Don’t be an ass, old boy,’ said Freddie rebukingly. ‘If ever there was a time for not behaving like a silly juggins, this is it.’
silly juggins: Merriam-Webster will tell you that a “juggins” is a simpleton, one who is easily victimized. Which the Droitwich syndicate believed Tony would be if he let on that he knew about the child switching. Pg. 58
Ma Price wriggled coyly into the room. There was a half-emptied glass of port in her hand …
Port wine is a Portuguese fortified wine produced with distilled grape spirits exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. Pg. 49
Tony looked about him, bewildered. ‘Are we playing hide-and-’ he demanded.
Hide-and-seek: a popular children’s game in which any number of players (ideally at least three)[conceal themselves in a set environment, to be found by one or more seekers. Pg. 50
Once again geniality forsook Mrs Price. There was a return of the lachrymose mood of what might be described as the First Phase.
Could someone perhaps define lachrymose and maybe a contemporary listing of the phases of inebriation? I also don’t have the Overlook edition so if someone could find the above page reference?
On this Parthian shot she vanished, brushing past Freddie in the doorway.
The Parthian shot is a light horse military tactic made famous in the Classical world by the Parthians, an ancient Iranian people. While in real or feigned retreat these horse archers would turn their bodies in full gallop to shoot at the pursuing enemy. The maneuver required superb equestrian skills, because the rider’s hands were occupied by his composite bow. The stirrup had not been invented at the time of the Parthians and with his hands otherwise occupied, the rider relied solely on pressure from his legs to maintain his position and guide his horse. Pg. 51
‘Yes, let’s have a few explanatory footnotes,’ said Freddie. ‘I’m beginning to feel like the hero of an Edgar Wallace novel—wondering which of you is the Strangling Terror and which the Green-Eyed What-Not.’
Edgar Wallace: Prolific English writer in the early part of the 20th century. With almost 20 plays, 200 novels and 1,000 short stories to his credit, his most enduring contribution to popular culture is the character of King Kong. His 110-page treatment was the basis for the 1933 movie. Unfortunately Wallace died unexpectedly, in 1932 prior to the movie’s filming, and he never lived to see the finished product. He is largely forgotten and his novels remain unpublished today. Pg. 52
Publishing dates are found at the bottom: Distinctions made for notes found at the top.
Leave It to Jeeves – June 1916 (The Strand, UK),
this is the version found in the Overlook press. There are subtle differences between the two stories, mostly dealing the back with story of Corky.
This is not the first of the first of the Jeeves stories, that honor belongs to “Extricating Young Gussie” Which first appeared only 5 months prior to Leave it to Jeeves, in the Saturday Evening Post. It should be noted that the title that Leave it to Jeeves has also been published under the title of The Artistic Career of Corky, (found in another collection of short stories entitled, Carry On Jeeves UK 1925 and later in the Jeeves Omnibus). In addition, this is not the first collection of Wodehouse to appear. The publication of The Man With Two Left Feet, published in the UK March 1917, contains, what Wodehouse biographer Richard Usborne described as “mostly sentimental apprentice work”, with the exception of the aforementioned Extricating Young Gussie and a couple of the Reggie Pepper stories found in our title, My Man Jeeves, (MMJ).
To describe Jeeves is far more difficult than it seems. Wodehouse himself was unaware of his own creation, ‘I find it curious, now that I have written so much about him, to recall how softly and undramatically Jeeves first entered my little world. Characteristically, he did not thrust himself forward. On that occasion, he spoke just two lines. The first was: “Mrs Gregson to see you, sir.” The second: “Very good, sir, which suit will you wear?” It was only some time later when I was going into the strange affair which is related under the title of “The Artistic Career of Young Corky” that the man’s qualities dawned upon me. I still blush to think of the off-hand way I treated him at our first encounter.’ Introduction to theJeeves Omnibus.
This first full in flower appearance of Jeeves sets several standards for the J & W canon. His omniscience, his ability to materialize in a room, his unerring taste in choosing the appropriate outfit to wear for the day. What strikes me is the dependence on which Bertie relies on Jeeves, he commits to it regularly in the early stories so that as these stories progress (or number in greater numbers), we are cognizant of Bertram’s acknowledgement of Jeeves superior faculties, but he still chaffs under the guidance of Jeeves, whether it is over a checked suit or a mustache, and we, as a knowing set of observers, can foresee that the checked suit will be given to the dust bin man and the razor will be produced for its work to commence at the end of the tale.
The Story and Notes at Large
Corky’s predicament, as is with many of Wodehouse’s characters, is that they rely upon an Uncle for monthly. Corky eeks out a living as a commercial artist and comic artist, who yearns to be a serious portrait painter, once he inherits his Uncle’s fortunes. When the boys Leave it to Jeeves, the darkest night dawns with new fortunes.
Notes at large from the story
The setting for this story is that it is set in New York, Time: 1915-6. By this time Wodehouse had been visiting and living in the US solidly since around 1904.
Corky’s Uncle is in the Jute business: Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads.
Bertie reads in the paper that the Uncle has married the ex-girlfriend. When he does, ‘I was so darned sorry for poor old Corky that hadn’t the heart to touch my breakfast. I told Jeeves to drink it himself.’ pg 22 Overlook edition. The fact is, Bertie is drinking his breakfast. Is the first mention of the elixir Jeeves dispenses to alleviate hangovers? We have no confirmation.
pg 28 Quod= Prison
The description of the painting of the nephew, reminds me of Richard Outcault’s comic Yellow Kid. Mickey Dugan, better known as The Yellow Kid, was a bald, snaggle-toothed barefoot boy who wore an oversized yellow nightshirt and hung around in a slum alley typical of certain areas of squalor that existed in late 19th-century New York City.
Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest
Bertie is still in self-imposed exile in New York City when Lady Malvern and Lord Pershore arrive. Lady Malver’s friendship with Bertie’s Aunt Agatha means that Lady M. can drop Lord Pershore on Bertram while she goes about the country soaking up atmosphere for a book. Wilmore, at first glance, is a pill who sucks the knob of his stick. When out of the eagle eye of him mother, he embarks on a world class bender, soaking up every drop in sight. Jeeves solves all in the end.
Notes at large
Fate. Fate is a familiar player in the Jeeves stories. It often appears when least expected with a bit of lead piping or an eel skin cosh hidden in the folds of its dinner jacket, bidding its time until your back was turned and that spot behind the ear that is so dashed efficient in knocking someone off their axis is given the formal introduction by Fate. Google search results mostly Wodehouse related returns when eel skin cosh is entered into the search field.
I was so smitten with the story even though I’d read it before, so much so that I didn’t take a note because it seemed so Wodehouse-normal it really didn’t require more commentary, beyond that it is good a classic.
Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg
Bicky’s uncle is coming to visit. Little does the Uncle suspect that Bicky is not a captain of industry. He’s a high flying man about town. That’s the gist until Bicky explains that he really wants to raise chickens if the old man come up with some boodle. Jeeves concocts a scheme involving boosters for Birdsburg, Missouri. After all is revealed Bertie loses a mustache.
Notes at large
Wodehouse is writing this while he working with Bolton and Kern on the Princess musicals. Its 1917 and Wodehouse is setting precedence, by proclaiming that,
“The thing, you see, is that Jeeves is so dashed competent. You can spot it even in the way he shoves studs into a shirt.
I rely on him absolutely in every crisis, and he never lets me down. And, what’s more, he can always be counted on to extend himself on behalf of any pal of mine who happens to be to all appearances knee-deep in the bouillon. ” pg. 56 Overlook Press
I don’t think that Wodehouse looked at it this way, continuity was not his middle name. But he did come back to this crux for most of his future plots. Jeeves has established himself in the Wodehouse world at this point as being not only competent, but also a a bit of a “brain”.
“How does he do it, Bertie?” he said. “I’ll tell you what I think it is. I believe it’s something to do with the shape of his head. Have you ever noticed his head, Bertie, old man? It sort of sticks out at the back!” pg. 62 Overlook Press
The Aunt and the Sluggard
Rockmetteller “Rocky” Todd is a poet friend of Bertie’s who hopes one day to inherit a distant aunt’s fortune. She lives in Illinois and he lives a Bohemian lifestyle out in the “wilds” of Long Island. The Aunt changes the her will encouraging Rocky to write back to her about the cafe society he has been living so that she may know what it is “ to live”. Jeeves crafts a scheme to take notes about the night life of Manhattan while Rocky writes them up into letters to the Aunt while resuming his poet lifestyle in the country. All goes well until the Aunt show up and wants to join in on the gaiety.
Notes at large
Again we have a case where Bertie and Jeeves are helping out one of Bertie’s friends. This affair differs in Wodehouse world order from the publication dates, being published prior to Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg, yet appearing after it in the collection of short stories.
We get a chance to learn a bit about Jeeves’ extended family. He had an Aunt, who would rob piggy banks to ride around in hansom cabs.
The evangelist Jimmy Mundy is a thinly veiled Billy Sunday, a tent preacher who rose to the greatest of heights during the early part of the 20th century.
This story is peppered with Biblical references:
The cities of the Plain = a group of five cities that included Sodom and Gomorrah in the Book of Genesis
“…the tango and the fox-trot were devices of the devil to drag people down into the bottomless pit” pg 182 Overlook Press
“…there was more sin in ten minutes with a negro banjo orchestra than in all the ancient revels Nineveh and Babylon”. pg 182 Overlook Press
The Reggie Pepper Stories
These four Reggie Pepper stories, while not the sum of all of Wodehouse’s exercises with this porto-Wooster, are fascinating in that we see Wodehouse more sure of himself and a more mature or slightly older character than those of his school stories. It could be noted that Psmith was an “old man”.a Wodehouseian character, he was also transitional from the school atmosphere to the club atmosphere, with the club substituting for school and those monied individual characters might as well be students still, living carefree existences. Undoubtedly there were monied families who lived a clubby life in the great city, being a scion of one of those families or waiting for the childless uncle to leave a stack of the stuff was a very real past time. So we get introduced to Pepper in these four stories and we can see the growth of how Wodehouse’s voice developed. The last of the Pepper stories appeared in 1915, Wooster appears the following year, 1916.
We meet Pepper in Absent Treatment (1911), and we get a sense for his background. In the UK version of the story he has inherited wealth from an Uncle who was in coal. Reggie is idle, and single. In the US version, Reggie inherits his money from an Uncle who’s a Razor tycoon. Similar to Bertie, but without Jeeves, this proto-Wooster engages in very Wodehouse behavior. In Rallying Round Old George, he’ll acquire a man Volues who is no Jeeves. He’s more of a tough like Berite’s future man, Brinkley/Bingley, but a very interesting sort all the same.
The first of these stories has Reggie helping Bobbie Cardew get his girl back. An amusing story that does lay some ground work for future Wodehouse stories, a girl who is admired for work ethic and beauty. A tiff has sent the couple askew. Patiently Reggie leads Bobbie back to the arms of his wife by suggestion and direction, only for Reggie to get his rewards for conspiring with the wife.
Notes at Large
This is a London story with some fun overtones of detective work and memory recovery. Sherlock Holmes gets name checked and the process is laborious.
Best line from the story: ‘Boobie [was] looking about as merry and bright as a lonely gum-drop at an Eskimo tea-party.”
Some shape of the plot for this story has probably been around since the Greeks, but the plot is simplicity in itself. To Wodehouse’s credit to reshape it and bring it current, is no easy feat, although a quick look at the Hallmark Channel might dispel that thought.
This time, Reggie with the aid of Jimmy Pinkerton, helps Freddie Meadows who’s girl has severed all communication. To take his mind off the affair, he and Jimmy suggest relocating to the seashore, where a series of misadventures occurs.
Notes at Large
This is just a short story about fictional characters, but this should come with a disclaimer or warning, “Kids, don’t try this at home”. Baby-napping is never a good idea.
After Jimmy Pilkington shows up, the last part of the story is framed in stage direction, making the short story sound a bit like a treatment for the theatre. Wodehouse at this point was no stranger to the theater, but he had not joined Bolton and Kern. This also was a tone that Plum would use through out his career as a writer.
Rallying Round Old George
The most Jeeves and Wooster story of the Reggie Pepper escapades. Set in Monte Carlo, Reggie is helping his friend George who is expecting to inherit a legacy not that he was reached the age of 25 to get back together with, you guessed it, a girlfriend. All is well in the end after George, who is suspected of assaulting a member of a real house, masquerades as his long-lost twin brother. When all is revealed love is in the air, not only for George, but Reggie’s man Voules.
Wodehouse was asked by George Grossmith to rewrite the short story into a play for him. Since Grossmith was investing the money in the play, he demanded rewrites, eventually watering down the punch of the story and the play opened to disastrous reviews, closing after two weeks.
Notes at Large
For my money this is the most interesting fo the Reggie Pepper stories. Appearing in the US in 1912, there is a lot going on as far as switched identities, a cranky valet, loves lost, and a punch up of a member the royal aristocracy.
Spion Kop- is a colloquial name or term for a number of single tier terraces and stands at sports stadiums, particularly in the United Kingdom. Their steep nature resembles a hill near Ladysmith, South Africa, that was the scene of the Battle of Spion Kop in January 1900 during the Second Boer War. Pg 115 Overlook Press
Queen of May- A young lady who is chosen to lead the May Day celebration. Pg. 115 Overlook Press
Hippodrome- a horse race course. Here in the story Reggie is using the term to refer to the entirety of the settings.
Doing Clarence A Bit of Good
Reggie was in love, with Elizabeth Shoolbred. His short engagement ends. After his recovery and a period of time, Reggie gets an invite from his ex-sweetheart to come down to the country home of her newly minted husband for a few days of fresh food, billiards and golf. Once in loco he finds out he has been tapped to help remove a painting that is bringing the ex-sweetheart’s partner (Clarence of the title) much angst. Burglaries, midnight skulking about, and confusion end with Reggie and his golfing buddy, Bill, heading for the 3:30am milk train back to safety and London.
Notes at Large
Wodehouse is setting a precedent here with Doing Clarence A Bit Of Good, or at least laying a foundation for his future stories. Country House, burglaries, honoring the “code” even though its not mentioned explicitly,
Sherlock Holmes is name checked again.
Jocund Spring- Sprightly and Lighthearted in disposition, character, or quality. They’ve never lived in Colorado during the Spring.
I think it is fair to sum up the character of Reggie Pepper,
“…Reggie is not Bertie. He’s a rougher and more selfish character; he lacks Bertie’s baffled inner monologue and, perhaps as importantly, he attempts to make sense of his life without the sublime agency of Jeeves. Nonetheless Wodehouse completed seven Reggie Pepper stories, developing the new narrative voice to the point at which an earthbound fiction took wings and became transformed into the tall, debonair Edwardian butterfly, Bertie Wooster. In later life, Wodehouse always maintained that his London was ‘full of Berties’.” Pg 98 Wodehouse A Life R. McCrum WW Norton & Co. 2004, 2006.
I have enjoyed this immensely digging into early Jeeves & Wooster stories as well as seeing the porto-Bertie in action. Highly recommended early Wodehouse that set canon.
Publication details for the stories found in My Man Jeeves
My Man Jeeves- Publication Dates US/UKOriginal date and Magazine: Compiled by Terry Mordue: Madame Eulalie
George Newnes, London
Leave It to Jeeves 1
5 February 1916
Saturday Evening Post
Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest 2
9 December 1916
Saturday Evening Post
Jeeves and the Hard-boiled Egg 2
3 March 1917
Saturday Evening Post
Absent Treatment 3 UK March 1911 Strand
Helping Freddie 4
Pictorial Review 5
Rallying Round Old George 3 UK April 1914 StrandUS December 1912 Pictorial Review 5
‘No, m’lord. I remember when Pa’d take us on a holiday—to Margate or wherever it might be—he’d never risk buying Ma a return ticket.’
Margate is a town on the South East coast of England in the county of Kent. Its relatively dry and warm climate attracted many Victorian visitors, including the lower classes thanks to regular train service and the invention of the weeked. The artist J.M.W. Turner also kept a second home here. J.P.
‘You’ll find her a bit tiddley’
2013 Overlook Press edition, pg. 28
This is Syd describing his mother’s condition to Tony as he sets off to find her. As per the Merriam-Webster Dictionary this refers to being slightly drunk. Mainly British slang, its first known use was in 1905. D.S.
‘She’s a bit tuppence’
2013 Overlook Press edition,pg. 28
According to the Cambridge Dictionary tuppence is two British pence. Again a description by Syd of Ma Price, she’s a bit tuppence as in she is seeing double. D.S.
‘That’ll ere long lead to tumbrils in Piccadilly Square…’
2013 Overlook Press edition,pg. 29
Syd describing for Tony how folks like Freddie (Tony’s brother) will hasten the Social Revolution and what to expect when it comes. A tumbril (or tumbrel) is an open wagon that tilts backward to empty its load, often used to convey prisoners to the guillotine. D.S.
“Any objec. to me mooching around in ‘ere while you’re away?’
2013 Overlook Press edition,pg. 30
The Cambridge Dictionary says mooching means to walk slowly without much purpose. Syd asked Tony if he would mind him mooching around the drawing room when he leaves. D.S.
Syd reached for his invisible sword hilt. ‘Less of it, varlet, or I’ll cleave thee to the chine! Yes, by my halidom!’
In the Gilbert and Sullivan operettaYeoman of the Guard, you’ll find the lines: “And as for thee, sir, devil take thee, I’ll rip thee like a herring for this! I”ll skin thee for it! I’ll cleave thee to the chine!”
Presumably this meant to split someone’s head open with a bladed weapon. “By my halidom” is an oath that I think equates to “by all that is holy.” You’ll find a more humorous but less useful definition from L. Frank Baum’s work John Dough and the Cherub. So here Syd is possibly quoting from G&S and the creator of Oz. J.P.