- [p. 6] "'Nac mac Feegle!'"
The Feegles speak a version of Scots. In theory this is closely related to English, and an English speaker can usually understand Scots with a bit of effort, but this very thick dialect is largely incomprehensible to most English speakers. Terry himself warns against trying to decode all of their sayings -- the important thing is the impression you get, not the exact words -- but some of them are straightforward enough.
Of the battle cries, 'Bigjobs!' is the catchphrase of Mek-Quake, one of the 'ABC Warriors' in the cult comic 2000 AD; 'Dere c'n onlie be whin t'ousand!' seems to be based on the tagline of the film Highlander: 'There can be only one!'; and 'Nac mac Feegle wha hae!' echoes Robert Burns's 'Scots wha hae' -- although this makes little sense on its own...
Note that in this book the 'mac' in 'Nac mac Feegle' is not capitalised yet -- that spelling would not become standard until the Tiffany Aching books.
- [p. 8] "Do they really think that spelling their name backwards fools anyone?"
There are many vampire movies in which this trick works remarkably well: in Son of Dracula (1943), Count 'Alucard' travels to the southern USA to marry a disturbed woman who wants to be immortal; in Dracula's Last Rites (1979), vampire Dr A. Lucard runs a mortuary, which keeps him well-stocked with fresh bodies. The same trick occurs in Dracula: the Series (1990), and the films Dr Terror's Galaxy of Horrors (1966) and Dracula: the Dirty Old Man (1969).
- [p. 11] "Not, of course, with her reflection in the glass, because that kind of heroine will sooner or later end up singing a duet with Mr Blue Bird and other forest creatures [...]"
Various Disney heroines have done this: Snow White was the first, but Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty perpetrated similar offences. In the film Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews sings in harmony with her own reflection ('A Spoonful of Sugar') and does indeed go on to sing with other creatures. 'Mr Blue Bird' is mentioned in the song 'Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah' from the Disney film Song of the South, although there may be some older reference.
- [p. 13] "If you needed to boil an egg, you sang fifteen verses of 'Where Has All The Custard Gone?' under your breath."
Possibly the Lancrastian version of 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone?', which can also be used for egg-timing purposes.
- [p. 14] "'You got to come to Mrs Ivy and her baby missus!'"
Ivy is an evergreen plant that continues growing even on dead trees; hence it is sometimes a symbol of immortality, persistence of life.
- [p. 15] "'I thought old Mrs Patternoster was seeing to her.'"
Paternoster (Latin for 'Our Father') generally refers to the Lord's Prayer in Latin, as said by Roman Catholics until the 1960s. See also the Sator Square annotation for p. 88 of Sourcery .
- [p. 18] "WELL, I HAVE A SMALL AMOUNT OF MONEY. A couple of coins landed on the frosty road."
See the annotation for p. 30 of Mort .
- [p. 19] "Later on, there'd be a command performance by that man who put weasels down his trousers, [...]"
A traditional stunt act in Yorkshire, only with ferrets rather than weasels.
- [p. 21] "Now the Quite Reverend Oats looked at himself in the mirror."
In the Anglican church, a priest is known as 'Reverend', a dean is 'Very Reverend', a bishop is 'Right Reverend', an archbishop 'Most Reverend'.
Oats's name may be a reference to Titus Oates, a 17th-century English clergyman who in 1678 alleged that Jesuits were planning to assassinate Charles II and place his Roman Catholic brother James, Duke of York (later James II), on the throne. In the subsequent wave of anti-Catholic hysteria, Oates was gratefully rewarded, and about 35 innocent people were executed. In 1685, after James acceded to the throne, Oates was convicted of perjury, flogged, and imprisoned. He was released and given a pension after James was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
- [p. 27] "Lancre people didn't bother much with letterboxes."
All the same, it seems that arrangements have moved on since Lords and Ladies, in which the mail was left hanging in a sack in the town for people to collect in their own time.
- [p. 30] "'[...] an' it's bein' used up on der Copperhead road tonight.'"
The name is Terry's tribute to Steve Earle, a 'new country' singer who recorded a song called 'Copperhead Road'. A copperhead is a poisonous snake native to parts of the eastern and southern USA.
- [p. 32] "'It is as well to remember that your ancestors [...] firmly believed that they couldn't cross a stream.'"
Some vampire stories include a prohibition against crossing running water. Although it's worth mentioning that this only ever prevented them from crossing streams under their own propulsion -- they could still be carried across it, e.g. in a coach.
- [p. 38] "'the worst she can put her hand up to at her age is a few grubby nappies and keepin' you awake at night. That's hardly sinful, to my mind.'"
St Augustine, in his Confessions, pointed to the attention-seeking behaviour of babies as evidence that even the most innocent are selfish, because of original sin.
- [p. 39] "'If Klatch sneezes, Ankh-Morpork catches a cold.'"
'If "foo" sneezes, "bar" catches a cold' has become a cliché in economics. "foo" and "bar" may be pretty much any combination of America, Japan, Europe and Asia.
- [p. 39] "'The "werewolf economies", as the Patrician in Ankh-Morpork calls them.'"
The East Asian economies of South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and others that grew outstandingly fast throughout the 1980s and 90s are sometimes collectively called the 'Tiger Economies'.
- [p. 41] "'"shave and a haircut, no legs"'"
The usual tune is 'Shave and a haircut, two pence'. See also the annotation for p. 36 of Soul Music .
- [p. 51] "'We eat only fish this month. [...] Because the prophet Brutha eschewed meat, um, while he was wandering in the desert, see.'"
The Christian fast of Lent, originally a period of abstaining from all 'rich food', commemorates Christ's time spent fasting in the wilderness, during which Satan tempted him with bread. See Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-14. For the full story of Brutha, read Small Gods.
- [p. 52] "'Wstfgl?' said Agnes."
The earliest occurrence of this non-word that anyone has yet reported is in Asterix the Legionary, when Obelix catches sight of the beautiful Fabella. Terry says: "You've got me there... I thought I'd just strung together some letters!"
But there's something about this set of letters, because Ptraci says the same thing in Pyramids, and in Feet of Clay, in her sleep, Sybil says 'wsfgl'. There's also Astfgl, the 'villain' of Eric. More significantly, if you search for "wstfgl" on the Web, you'll find it cropping up in all sorts of apparently unrelated stories in a similar context -- the noise people make when they're either asleep or lost for words.
We may be witnessing the birth of a new word.
- [p. 54] "'I do not drink... wine,' said Igor haughtily."
The line "I never drink wine", with the dramatic pause before the word 'wine', appears in many different movie versions of Dracula, starting with Bela Lugosi's 1931 classic version (which truly immortalised the line), down to the Francis Ford Coppola 1992 remake Bram Stoker's Dracula.
The line itself does not occur in the book, but originated in the Hamilton Deane stage-play Dracula, which was hugely successful in New York in the 1920s.
+ [p. 55] "'There wath none of thith fumble-finger thtuff and then pinching a brain out of the "Really Inthane" jar and hopin' no one'd notithe.'"
Mel Brooks' 1974 comedy Young Frankenstein (parodying the early Frankenstein films that are clearly the main inspiration for Igor) involves Marty "Eye-gor" Feldman being sent to steal the brain of a famous scientist from a medical lab. After dropping the brain, he explains, he was forced to replace it with one from someone named 'Abby Normal'...
+ [p. 59] "'Vlad de Magpyr,' said Vlad, bowing."
Bram Stoker borrowed the name 'Dracula' from Vlad Dracula, 'the Impaler', 1431-1476, prince of Wallachia. This Vlad was as brutal and psychopathic a ruler as you could ever hope to avoid, but there is no historical evidence that he either drank blood or dabbled in sorcery.
The name 'Magpyr' puns both on magpie and on 'Magyar', an equestrian tribe who settled in what is now Hungary and parts of Romania during the 9th century. Nowadays, the word is more or less synonymous with 'Hungarian'. In a number of texts and movies Dracula is assumed to be Magyar, so there is definitely a resonance there, although Bram Stoker's original text actually has Dracula explicitly identify himself as a member of the Szekely, another Hungarian-speaking ethnic group from the same region.
- [p. 59] "'Or, we prefer, vampyres. With a "y". It's more modern.'"
This spelling has a very old pedigree, but has become a hallmark of certain modern-day vampire fans who, like the Count, want to distance themselves from traditional beliefs about vampires. I blame Anne Rice.
- [p. 60] "'And this is my daughter, Lacrimosa.'"
'Lacrimosa' is Latin for 'tearful one', which seems appropriate to Lacci's whiney personality. It's also the first word of the traditional Latin requiem mass:
Lacrymosa dies illa
quae resurget ex favilla
judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus,
pie Jesu, Jesu Domine,
dona eis requiem.
Which translates approximately to:
O tearful the day
when from the ashes rises
the guilty to be judged.
Therefore spare him, God,
Good Jesus, Jesus Lord,
give them rest.
- [p. 62] "'The Queen makes up some sort of headache pills out of willow bark."
As previously noted (see the annotation for p. 119 of Hogfather ), willow bark contains aspirin.
- [p. 63] "Agnes's left arm twitched [...] as if guided by a mind of its own."
The hero of the cult horror parody Evil Dead II has a similar problem, which he eventually resolves by cutting off his own hand; this scene could well be partly inspired by the film.
+ [p. 72] "[...] national anthems [...] all have the same second verse, which goes 'nur... hnur... mur... nur nur, hnur... nur... nur, hnur' at some length, until everyone remembers the last line of the first verse and sings it as loudly as they can."
In 1999, not long after the publication of Carpe Jugulum, Terry actually wrote the words to the Ankh-Morpork national anthem along these lines, set to original music by Carl Davis. It was performed in the radio programme The Music Machine by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and soprano Clare Rutter.
When dragons belch and hippos flee
My thoughts, Ankh-Morpork, are of thee
Let others boast of martial dash
For we have boldly fought with cash
We own all your helmets, we own all your shoes
We own all your generals - touch us and you'll lose.
Morporkia owns the day!
We can rule you wholesale
Touch us and you'll pay.
We bankrupt all invaders, we sell them souvenirs
We ner ner ner ner ner, hner ner hner by the ears
Er hner we ner ner ner ner ner
Ner ner her ner ner ner hner the ner
Er ner ner hner ner, nher hner ner ner (etc.)
Ner hner ner, your gleaming swords
We mortgaged to the hilt
Hner ner ner ner ner ner
We can rule you wholesale
Credit where it's due.
- [p. 75] "'The trolls are stupid, the dwarfs are devious, the pixies are evil and the gnomes stick in your teeth.'"
Later in the book, it appears that gnomes and pixies are the same thing, but Vlad seems to think differently.
- [p. 82] "'Good morning, Mister Magpie,' said Agnes automatically."
As Agnes and Nanny go on to discuss, there are many different counting rhymes for magpies, but they generally agree that a single magpie is unlucky. Some people believe that one can avert the bad luck by being polite, or even downright flattering, to the magpie in this manner.
The rhyme Agnes repeats over the next few pages is similar to the one APF co-editor Mike learned as a child:
One for sorrow, two for joy,
Three for a girl, four for a boy,
Five for silver, six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told.
Nanny's version seems closer to the Scots version given in Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable:
One's sorrow, two's mirth,
Three's a wedding, four's a birth,
Five's a christening, six a dearth,
Seven's heaven, eight is hell,
And nine's the devil his ane sel'.
-- although Nanny's also varies noticeably from this, which just goes to prove what she says about there being lots of different rhymes.
- [p. 90] "'Lady Strigoiul said her daughter has taken to calling herself Wendy,' [...] 'Maladora Krvoijac does,' said Vlad."
In Romanian, 'strigoi' or 'strigoiaca' is the modern form of the ancient Roman 'stryx', a type of shape-changing, bloodsucking witch. 'Krvopijac' is either Bulgarian or Croatian for 'blood-drinker'.
- [p. 91] "'Le sang nouveau est arrive,' said Vlad."
Every year, towards the end of October, the first press of the year's Beaujolais wine is marketed as 'Beaujolais nouveau', announced with the slogan 'Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrive.' The wine is generally quite strong, both in alcohol content and flavour, and not highly regarded by connoisseurs. After a few months it becomes undrinkable, owing to the accelerated fermentation process.
- [p. 91] "'That is the double snake symbol of the Djelibeybian water cult,' he said calmly."
In Pyramids, the Djelibeybian high priest Dios had a staff with two serpents entwined around it -- possibly the same symbol. There are at least three distinct theories about why holy symbols repel vampires. The Catholic theory is that the repelling force is the faith of the holder, and the symbol merely focuses that faith -- so a symbol on its own, or in the hands of a non-believer, is useless. (This has produced some interesting interpretations of what a 'holy symbol' could be -- one film shows a yuppie repelling a vampire with his wallet.) The Orthodox theory is that faith is irrelevant -- it's God who is performing the miracle, not the wielder. The psychological theory, which Terry seems to be subscribing to here, is that the effect is entirely in the mind of the vampire.
- [p. 98] "'Although having studied the passage in question in the original Second Omnian IV text, I have advanced the rather daring theory that the word in question translates more accurately as "cockroaches".'"
Exodus 22:18: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." It is often suggested that the Hebrew word used here should be translated 'poisoner', but the case for this is unconvincing and based mainly on the flawed Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint. Modern translations of the Bible still say 'witch'.
- [p. 99] "'Look, there was this donkey, and it stopped in the middle of the river, and it wouldn't go backwards or forwards, [...] Bad Ass. See?'"
This is slightly reminiscent of the Biblical story of Balaam's ass (Numbers 22:1-41).
- [p. 100] "Agnes had seen pictures of an ostrich. So... start with one of them, but make the head and neck in violent yellow, and give the head a huge ruff of red and purple feathers and two big round eyes, the pupils of which jiggled drunkenly as the head moved back and forth..."
The description may be modelled on Emu, the arm-length bird puppet used by Rod Hull. Their double act was very popular on UK TV in the 1970s.
- [p. 100] "'Take that thing out of your mouth,' said Agnes. 'You sound like Mr Punch.'"
Mr Punch is the lead character in a Punch-and-Judy show, a traditional British children's entertainment featuring theft, extreme violence, wife-beating and multiple murders, using glove puppets. The performer would use a special throat-whistle, called a swozzle, to produce the character's squeaky voice. See also the Discworld short story Theatre of Cruelty.
- [p. 103] "A huge gilded china beer stein that played 'Ich Bin Ein Rattarsedschwein' from The Student Horse [...]"
'Ich Bin Ein Rattarsedschwein' means 'I am a Drunken Pig', rat-arsed being British slang for very drunk. The Student Horse refers to The Student Prince, an operetta by Romberg about a prince who studies at Heidelberg and falls for a barmaid. In the film, allegedly, Mario Lanza was supposed to play the part of the prince, but got too fat, so his voice is just dubbed over the lead actor's when singing. Songs include the 'Drinking Song' and the to modern ears unfortunately titled 'Come Boys, Let's All Be Gay Boys'.
- [p. 104] "'Why did you bring Soapy Sam back with you?'"
The original 'Soapy Sam' was Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford from 1845 to 1869, best remembered today for his diehard opposition to the theory of evolution. The name is occasionally applied today as a generic insult to any churchman who holds an opinion contrary to one's own.
- [p. 106] "'I believe that in Glitz you have to fill their mouth with salt, hammer a carrot into both ears, and then cut off their head.' 'I can see it must've been fun finding that out.'"
Terry is here parodying, but not even slightly exaggerating, the
bewildering variety of ways of dealing with vampires in earth mythology.
To give a taste of how abstruse these beliefs could become, here is a
quotation from the
"Some Gypsies in Kosova once believed that a brother and sister born together as twins on a Saturday could see a vampiric mulo if they wore their underwear and shirts inside out. The mulo would flee as soon as it was seen by the twins."
- [p. 120] "'You were so successful in Escrow, I know.'"
Escrow is a legal term for a formal contract or agreement to do something, where the document is held by a trusted third party until its conditions are satisfied.
- [p. 121] "'Every day, in every way, we get better and better,'"
One of the very first positive-thinking mantras, coined by Emile Coue (1857-1926), French psychotherapist and pharmacist. Coue's study of hypnotism convinced him that auto-suggestion could cure anything.
- [p. 123] "They stared into the abyss, which didn't stare back."
A famous quotation from Nietzsche: "If you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." (From Beyond Good and Evil.)
- [p. 126] "She pushed gently until her toes were pointed at the sky and she was doing a handstand on the edge."
Agnes is imitating Lara Croft, hero of the hugely successful Tomb Raider series of video games. Terry is a big Tomb Raider fan.
- [p. 128] "'Oh, that's the witch,' said Nanny. 'She's not a problem.'"
There's a cave in Somerset, near where Terry lives, with a similar feature outside it.
- [p. 138] "'Like the hero in Tsort or wherever it was, who was completely invincible except for his heel [...]'"
Achilles. See the annotation for p. 241 of Witches Abroad .
- [p. 139] "The man lowered the thimble. 'Pictsies!'"
Puns on 'pixie' and 'Picts' (inhabitants of Scotland in Iron Age times).
- [p. 141] "Hundreds of pixies had simply appeared among the ornaments. Most of them wore pointed hats that curved so that the point was practically pointing down."
Combined with the blue skin, this suggests a decidedly Smurf-like quality to the Feegles. Terry says:
"1 I wanted some background to Wee Mad Arthur, of Feet of Clay and so they'd be small. 2 I'd been listening to Laureena McKennitt singing 'The Stolen Child'. 3 Since (see 1) the tribe would be cod-Scottish, then Braveheart and Rob Roy ("let's bash the English" movies made by people sitting on the biggest piece of land ever stolen from its owners by trickery, genocide and war) were natural targets... which meant that the NmF would be blue..."
- [p. 143] "'Yez lukin' at a faceful o'heid!'"
Typical Glaswegian greeting. See also p. 169: "'What ya' lookin a', chymie [Jimmy]?'"
- [p. 148] "'You mean vampirism is like... pyramid selling?'"
Pyramid selling is when each of your customers goes out and sells to a number of other customers, and you get a share of the profits from them; then each of those other customers goes out and tries the same trick, and so on until everyone in the world is a customer. Of course, if you're one of the last generations to be recruited, you're stuffed. Most pyramid-selling schemes are illegal in most countries. The scam was a common nuisance phenomenon on the early Internet.
- [p. 150] "'Ah... Aunt Carmilla...'"
Carmilla, by J. Sheridan LeFanu, was one of the earliest literary vampire stories, published in 1872, a good quarter of a century before Dracula. The story about bathing in the blood of virgins is told of Erzsebet Bathory (1560-1614), a Hungarian princess who believed that it would keep her young; her name is often associated with vampire stories.
The beaked, hunched figure that Vlad calls 'a distant ancestor' is a reference to the stryx, a creature from Roman mythology that stabbed and drank blood through its beak (see also the annotation for p. 90).
Terry explains: "What Agnes is shown is the 'evolution' of vampires -- harpy, hairy monster, Lugosi/Lee and Byronic bastard. And what better way to demonstrate this that a succession of family portraits?"
"As an aside, very little vampiric legend and folklore in CJ is made up -- even the vampire tools and watermelons are real world beliefs."
- [p. 154] "'... The blood is the life [...] porphyria, lack of?'"
Oats has crammed an impressive collection of vampire stories into one page of notes. "The blood is the life" is a catchphrase from Dracula; it is closely associated with the Christian view of the vampire -- just as the Christian gains eternal life through the sacrament of Christ's blood, so the vampire earns a perverted version of the same.
Porphyria is a very rare, genetic blood disorder, one form of which includes the symptoms of severe light sensitivity, reddish-brown urine and teeth, deformation of the nose, ears, eyelids, and fingers, an excess of body hair, and anaemia. It has been suggested that it explains some aspects of both vampire and werewolf legends.
- [p. 155] "On one shelf alone he found forty-three remarkably similar accounts of a great flood, [...]"
The Biblical version is the story of Noah (Genesis 6-8). Many myth cycles have a similar story of how humanity was almost wiped out by a flood, but saved by one good person building a boat.
- [p. 159] "'This is from Ossory's Malleus Maleficarum,'"
The Malleus Maleficarum (usually translated as Hammer of Witches) was written by two Dominican monks in the 15th century as a manual for dealing with witches and possessing spirits. Many of the popular myths about medieval treatment of witches, including many of the various tests by ordeal, first appeared in this book. See also the annotation for p. 375/262 of Good Omens .
- [p. 168] "'yin, tan, TETRA!'"
This is an old northern English (not Scots) dialect, used for counting sheep in Yorkshire and Cumbria. 'Yan, tan, tethera, methera, pip, sethera, lethera, hovera, dovera, dick.'
According to one correspondent, the folklorist A. L. Lloyd traced the words to a group of Romanian shepherds brought to England early in the 19th century to teach the locals something about increase in flocks. The words were thought very Occult and Mysterious, until it was explained that they were just counting.
- [p. 169] "'Well done,' Verence murmured. 'How long have you been a hallucination? Jolly good.'"
Verence's side of the dialogue seems to be modelled on the sorts of things the British royal family, most particularly Prince Charles, say when they are meeting The People. Verence's general earnest and well meaning -- but unappreciated -- interest in the welfare of his subjects is strongly reminiscent of Charles.
- [p. 180] "Up the airy mountain and down the rushy glen ran the Nac mac Feegle,"
From The Fairies, by William Allingham:
Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
See also the annotation for p. 207 of Lords and Ladies .
- [p. 180] "'Hakkis lugs awa'!'"
'Hack his lugs away' -- cut his ears off.
- [p. 180] "'An' b'side, she'll gi'us uskabarch muckell.'"
Just to make their dialect even more confusing, the Feegles throw in words of Gaelic. 'Uskabarch' is 'uisge beatha', 'water of life' -- whisky.
- [p. 193] "'Will ye no' have a huge dram and a burned bannock while yer waiting?'"
The usual offering is a 'wee dram', but to the Feegles it would, of course, appear huge. A bannock is a well known Scottish bread product. The fact that it's burned could be a reference to the Battle of Bannockburn, a famous Scots victory.
- [p. 195] "'I've read about the phoenix. It's a mythical creature, a symbol, a --'"
The phoenix as described by the Greek historian Herodotus was an eagle-like bird, with red and gold plumage, that was sacred to the sun-god in ancient Egypt. The bird lived for 500 years, at the end of which it built its own funeral pyre and was consumed to ashes, from which another phoenix would then rise. Allegedly symbolic of the rising and setting of the sun, it was adopted by medieval Christianity as a symbol of death and resurrection.
- [p. 199] "'Oh, yes, sir, 'cos of when the other side are yelling "We're gonna cut yer tonk-- yer tongue off,"' [...]"
In Interesting Times we learned that, on the Disc, 'psychological warfare' is defined as drumming on your shield and shouting "We're gonna cut yer tonkers off."
- [p. 205] "'Aye, mucken! Born sicky, imhoe!'"
A common abbreviation used on parts of the Internet is IMHO, meaning 'in my humble opinion'. Terry seems to have a particular dislike for this phrase, which in practice often translates to "and anyone who disagrees with me is patently a moron".
- [p. 205] "'Ach, I wouldna' gi'ye skeppens for him --'"
This is very similar to a recurrent line "I wadna gie a button for her", in Robert Burns's poem Sic a Wife as Willie's Wife. The poem describes the vile, vile looking wife of a wee 'greasy weaver' (no Adonis himself), and when performed usually has the audience in stitches when the descriptions of the wife are mimed. It is a good party piece for a Burns Supper on 25 January.
- [p. 206] "'So she's made up some brose for ye...'"
Brose is a famous Scottish pick-me-up, made with oats, whisky, cream and... herbs.
- [p. 206] "'I thought you turned into bats!' she shouted to Vlad."
Discworld vampires used to do this (in Reaper Man and Witches Abroad, for instance), but more recently they have taken to flying without changing form. Presumably it's another aspect of being a Modern vampire.
- [p. 209] "'It's called "Om Is In His Holy Temple".'"
'God is in His Holy Temple' was a popular Victorian hymn.
- [p. 213] "'... and Brutha said to Simony, "Where there is darkness we will make a great light..."'"
Isaiah 9:2: "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."
- [p. 223] "It read: 'HLISTEN TO ZEE CHILDREN OFF DER NIGHT... VOT VONDERFUL MHUSICK DEY MAKE. Mnftrd. by Bergholt Stuttley Johnson, Ankh-Morpork.' 'It's a Johnson,' she breathed. 'I haven't got my hands on a Johnson for ages...'"
Combined with Igor's previous comment that 'the Century of the Fruitbat has its compensations', this suggests that B. S. Johnson was active within the past hundred years -- the second solid clue we've had about his lifetime after learning in Jingo that Sybil Ramkin's grandfather, after seeing the results of his landscaping work "shot the man before he could any real damage".
The 'children of the night' quote is another one of Bela Lugosi's famous lines from the original 1931 Dracula movie (see also the annotation for p.54).
'Johnson' is American slang for a penis, so this single entendre is quite an admission from Nanny.
- [p. 223] "'"Thunderclap 14"? "Wolf Howl 5"?'"
Organ registers are named after the sound they make, and the height of tone they produce. Owing to the nature of sound, however, 14 is very rarely found in real life; it would be 1. out of tune; most registers are powers of two, or three times powers of two for quints; and 2. pretty low.
- [p. 242] "No, thought Agnes. It'll take the nightmares away."
There is a quotation, attributed to G. K. Chesterton: "Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed." This seems to chime remarkably well with Terry's own attitude to children's stories.
- [p. 247] "'Do you remember Mr and Mrs Harker?'"
Jonathan and Mina Harker are two of the leading characters in Dracula.
- [p. 247] "'Do onions hurt us? Are we frightened of shallots? No.'"
The hero of the classic 1954 novel I am Legend, the last living human on an earth where everyone else has become a vampire, actually experiments with this possibility.
- [p. 248] "Greebo sheathed his claws and went back to sleep."
This is the second time Greebo has taken out a vampire -- he ate a bat in Witches Abroad -- which suggests that there are other ways of killing them than those sophisticated methods prescribed by folklore.
- [p. 249] "'-- burn, with a clear bright light --'"
A very tame, sweet, modern children's hymn (see the annotation for p. 279):
Jesus bids us shine with a pure clear light
Like a little candle, burning in the night.
In this world of darkness so we must shine,
You in your small corner and I in mine.
- [p. 255] "'Remember -- that which does not kill us can only make us stronger."
"That which does not kill me, makes me stronger" -- popular saying, attributed to Nietzsche, whose morality would certainly have appealed to the Count.
- [p. 256] "'Lines and crosses and circles... oh, my...'"
Echoes 'Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!' from The Wizard of Oz.
- [p. 257] "'And I'd watch that bloke with the stake. He's altogether too keen on it. I reckon there's some psychology there --'"
It's become a commonplace observation, about Dracula, that a man driving a stake into a female vampire is about as strong a sexual image as it was possible to publish in Victorian times...
- [p. 261] "'They've killed Thcrapth! The bathtardth!'"
A running joke in the adult cartoon South Park is how the character Kenny is killed, in some deeply implausible way, in every episode, whereupon Kyle and Stan exchange the comments "Oh my god! They've killed Kenny!" "You bastards!"
- [p. 266] "'Griminir the Impaler, she was.'"
Grimnir the Impaler (1514-1553, 1553-1557, 1557-1562, 1562-1567 and 1568-1573) is mentioned in Wyrd Sisters. The difference in spelling is presumably a typo.
- [p. 268] "'Old Red Eyeth ith back!'"
One of Frank Sinatra's later albums bore the title 'Old Blue Eyes is Back'. 'Old Red Eyes is Back' is also the title of a song by The Beautiful South.
- [p. 275] "Oats's gaze went out across the haze, and the forest, and the purple mountains."
For some reason, mountains often seem to be described as 'purple' in the context of noble or uplifting thoughts. Compare the song 'America the Beautiful', by Katharine Lee Bates:
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
- [p. 279] "The singing wasn't very enthusiastic, though, until Oats tossed aside the noisome songbook and taught them some of the songs he remembered from his grandmother, full of fire and thunder and death and justice and tunes you could actually whistle, with titles like 'Om Shall Trample The Ungodly' and 'Lift Me To The Skies' and 'Light The Good Light'."
Many modern churches have sanitised their official hymnbooks, leaving many of their worshippers complaining vigorously about the insipidness of the new hymns. 'Light The Good Light' is presumably the Omnian version of 'Fight the Good Fight'; 'Om Shall Trample The Ungodly' is less clear, but it could scan to the tune of 'The Battle-Hymn of the Republic.'
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