APF Chapter 3: Discworld Annotations [Prev Page] [Index] [Next Page]

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+ [title] Jingo

"By jingo!" is an archaic, jocular oath, of obscure origin, used in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries. The word -- with derived forms such as 'jingoism' and 'jingoistic' -- became associated with aggressive, militaristic nationalism as a result of a popular song dating from the Turko-Russian war of 1877-78, which began:

We don't want to have to fight,
but by Jingo if we do
We've got the ships, we've got the men,
we've got the money too.

Interestingly (in the light of the circumstances of this particular war), it is also the name of a warlike Japanese empress of the 2nd/3rd centuries, credited by legend with the power of controlling the tides.

+ [p. 8] "'Whose squid are they, dad?'"

Fishing rights have been a frequent cause of dispute between the UK and neighbours, most dramatically in the 'Cod Wars' between the UK and Iceland (1958, 1973, 1975), in which ships from the two countries sabotaged each other's nets.

+ [p. 11] "There was a tradition of soap-box speaking in Sator Square."

London's Hyde Park Corner has a very similar tradition.

+ [p. 11] "'Who's going to know, dad?'"

In the 1963 comedy Mouse on the Moon, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick competes with the USA and USSR to put the first human on the moon. The Fenwick rocket gets there first, but someone points out that this doesn't matter -- the glory will go to whoever gets home first. The Americans and Russians quickly make their excuses and leave, pausing only to enter the wrong capsules before sorting themselves out.

+ [p. 13] "'His ship is the Milka, I believe.'"

One of Christopher Columbus' ships was named the Pinta. A UK milk-marketing slogan from the 1980s exhorted people to 'Drinka pinta milka day'.

+ [p. 16] "'I believe the word "assassin" actually comes from Klatch?'"

In our world, it does. See the annotation for p. 126/114 of Sourcery .

+ [p. 17] "'Have you ever heard of the D'regs, my lord?'"

See the annotation for p. 109/82 of Soul Music .

+ [p. 18] "'It's about time Johnny Klatchian was taught a lesson,'"

"Johnny Foreigner" is a generic, disparaging term used by Britons of -- well, foreigners. During the First World War, the more specific term "Johnny Turk" appeared.

+ [p. 20] "'It is no longer considered... nice... to send a warship over there to, as you put it, show Johnny Foreigner the error of his ways. For one thing, we haven't had any warships since the Mary-Jane sank four hundred years ago.'"

In the latter part of the 19th century, the phrase "gunboat diplomacy" was coined to describe this British method of negotiating with uppity colonials. The gunboat in question would not normally be expected to do anything, merely to "show the flag" as a reminder that, however vulnerable it might appear on land, Britannia still Ruled the Waves, and could make life very difficult for anyone who got too obstreperous.

The Mary-Jane is a reference to Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose, which (most embarrassingly) sank, in calm seas, immediately after being launched from Portsmouth in 1545. The ship was recovered in the 1980s, and is now a tourist attraction.

+ [p. 21] "'Very well then, by jingo!'"

See this book's title annotation.

+ [p. 22] "'We have no ships. We have no men. We have no money, too.'"

See this book's title annotation.

+ [p. 22] "'Unfortunately, the right words are more readily listened to if you also have a sharp stick.'"

Theodore Roosevelt famously summarised his foreign policy as "Speak softly, and carry a big stick."

+ [p. 23] "'Let's have no fighting, please. This is, after all, a council of war.'"

Echoes the movie Dr Strangelove. See also the annotation for p.156 of The Colour of Magic.

+ [p. 25] "The Artful Nudger scowled."

A character in Dickens' Oliver Twist is called the Artful Dodger.

+ [p. 26] "'Wib wib wib.' 'Wob wob wob.'"

Carrot has formed Ankh-Morpork's first scout troop. This salute parodies the traditional (but now discontinued) Cub Scout exchange "Dyb dyb dyb." "Dob dob dob.". The 'dyb' in the challenge supposedly stands for "do your best", the 'dob' in the scouts' response for "do our best".

+ [p. 27] "'I had this book about this little kid, he turned into a mermaid,'"

This sounds very much like the story of young Tom the chimney sweep's transformation, told in moralistic Victorian children's tale The Water Babies, written in 1863 by Charles Kingsley.

+ [p. 28] "'But after the big plague, he got press-ganged.'"

Press-ganging was the 18th-century equivalent of conscription. A ship's captain, finding himself short-handed while in a home port, would send a gang of his men round the port, enlisting anyone they could find who looked like a sailor. Often this involved simply picking up drunks, but it was not unheard-of for men to be taken by force.

+ [p. 28] "'They invented all the words starting with "al".'"

In Arabic, "al" is the definite article, and it is joined to the word that it defines.

+ [p. 29] "'[...] the Klatchians invented nothing. [...] they came up with zero.'"

The idea of treating zero as a number was one of several major contributions that Western mathematics adopted from the Arabs.

+ [p. 30] "'[...] it is even better than Ironcrufts ('T'Bread Wi' T'Edge') [...]'"

See the annotation for p. 26 of Feet of Clay .

+ [p. 31] "'This is all right, Reg? It's not coercion, is it?'"

Carrot's apparently uncharacteristic (dishonest) behaviour in this scene has caused a lot of comment on alt.fan.pratchett. Terry explains it thus:

"I assume when I wrote this that everyone concerned would know what was going on. The thieves have taken a Watchman hostage, a big no-no. Coppers the world over find their normally sunny dispositions cloud over when faced with this sort of thing, and with people aiming things at them, and perpetrators later tend to fall down cell stairs a lot. So Carrot is going to make them suffer. They're going to admit to all kinds of things, including things that everyone knows they could not possibly have done.

What'll happen next? Vetinari won't mind. Vimes will throw out half of the charges at least, and the rest will become TICs and probably will not hugely affect the sentencing. The thieves will be glad to get out of it alive. Other thieves will be warned. By the rough and ready local standards, justice will have been served."

+ [p. 34] "'Hey, that's Reg Shoe! He's a zombie! He falls to bits all the time!' 'Very big man in the undead community, sir.'"

Reg Shoe first appeared in Reaper Man as the founder of the Campaign for Dead Rights (slogans included "Undead, yes! Unperson, no!"). Possibly Vimes has forgotten that he personally ordered zombies to be recruited into the Watch, towards the end of Feet of Clay.

+ [p. 35] "'That's Probationary Constable Buggy Swires, sir.'"

Swires was the name of the gnome Rincewind and Twoflower encountered in The Light Fantastic. Given that gnome lives are described in that book as 'nasty, brutish and short', it seems unlikely that this is the same gnome. Possibly a relative, though.

+ [p. 35] "[...] the long and the short and the tall."

A popular song from the Second World War had the lyric:

Bless 'em all, bless 'em all!
Bless the long and the short and the tall!
Bless all the sergeants and double-you o-ones,
Bless all the corporals and their blinkin' sons.

The phrase was also used as the title of a stage play (filmed in 1960) by Willis Hall, describing the plight and fate of a squad of British soldiers in Burma.

+ [p. 40] "Right now he couldn't remember what the occasional dead dog had been. Some kind of siege weapon, possibly."

In the Good Old Days(tm), besieging armies would sometimes hurl the rotting corpses of dead animals over the city walls by catapult, with the aim of spreading disease and making the city uninhabitable. So in a sense, a dead dog could be a siege weapon...

+ [p. 44] "It looked as if people had once tried to add human touches to structures that were already ancient..."

Leshp bears a resemblance to H. P. Lovecraft's similarly strange-sounding creation, R'lyeh -- an ancient, now submerged island in the Pacific, inhabited by alien Things with strange architecture, which rises at very long intervals and sends people mad all over the world. For full details, see Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu.

+ [p. 47] "'Oh, Lord Venturi says it'll all be over by Hogswatch, sir.'"

"It'll all be over by Christmas" was said of the First World War by armchair strategists, in August 1914. Ironically, the phrase has become a popular reassurance: more recently, President Clinton promised the American public in 1996 that US troops in Bosnia would be "home for Christmas".

+ [p. 55] "'I go, I hcome back.'"

Ahmed's catchphrase is borrowed from Signior So-So, a comic Italian character in the famous wartime radio series It's That Man Again (ITMA).

+ [p. 55] "'Doctor of Sweet Fanny Adams'"

The original Fanny Adams was an eight-year-old girl in Alton, Hampshire, whose dismembered body was discovered in 1867. About the same time, tinned mutton was first introduced in the Royal Navy, and the sailors -- not noted for their sensitivity -- took to calling the (rather disgusting) meat "Sweet Fanny Adams". Hence the term came to mean something worthless, and finally to mean "nothing at all".

Many correspondents point out that these days "Sweet Fanny Adams" is also used as a euphemism for "Sweet Fuck All" (still meaning: absolutely nothing), but that is definitely not the original meaning of the phrase.

+ [p. 55] "The Convivium was Unseen University's Big Day."

Oxford University has a ceremony called the Encaenia, which also involves lots of old men in silly costumes and a procession ending in the Sheldonian Theatre.

+ [p. 56] "It was an almost Pavlovian response."

The Pavlovian experiment in our world involved ringing a bell before and during the feeding of a group of dogs. After a while the dogs learned to associate the ringing of the bell with food. A part of them was essentially programmed to think that the bell was the same thing as food.

+ [p. 61] "'And many of them could give him a decent shave and a haircut, too.'"

Refers to the fact that, for many years, surgeons used to double as barbers, or vice versa.

+ [p. 61] "'The keystones of the Watch.'"

The Keystone Cops were a squad of frantically bumbling comedy policemen from the silent movie era.

+ [p. 62] "'A lone bowman.'"

The "lone gunman" theory is still the official explanation of John F. Kennedy's assassination, despite four decades of frenzied speculation. Conspiracy theorists like to claim that Someone, Somewhere is covering up the truth, in much the same way as Vimes and Vetinari are conspiring to cover it up here.

+ [p. 62] "'[...] it is still law that every citizen should do one hour's archery practice every day. Apparently the law was made in 1356 and it's never been --'"

In 1363, in England, Edward III -- then in the early stages of the Hundred Years' War with France -- ordered that all men should practise archery on Sundays and holidays; this law remained technically in force for some time after the longbow was effectively obsolete as a weapon of war.

+ [p. 65] "'An experimental device for turning chemical energy into rotary motion,' said Leonard. 'The problem, you see, is getting the little pellets of black powder into the combustion chamber at exactly the right speed and one at a time.'"

In our world, an early attempt at an internal combustion engine used pellets of gunpowder, stuck to a strip of paper (rather like the roll of caps for a cap pistol). I understand that the attempt was just as successful as Leonard's.

+ [p. 70] "'I have run out of Burnt Umber.'"

Burnt umber is a dark, cool-toned brown colour. Umber is an earth pigment containing manganese and iron oxides, used in paints, pastels and pencils. The name comes from Umbria, the region where it was originally mined and adopted as a pigment for art.

+ [p. 71] "'So he was shot in the back by a man in front of him who could not possibly have used the bow that he didn't shoot him with from the wrong direction...'"

The live film of JFK's assassination, allegedly, shows similar inconsistencies with the official account.

+ [p. 72] "'[...] he thinks it'll magically improve his shot.'"

The official account of JFK's assassination describes how a bullet moved in some very strange ways through his body. Conspiracy theorists disparage this as the "magic bullet theory".

+ [p. 76] "'It looks like a complete run of Bows and Ammo!'"

See the annotation for p. 126 of Hogfather .

+ [p. 77] "'Bugger all else but sand in Klatch. Still got some in his sandals.'"

When the First World War broke out, Britons were much comforted by the fact that the supposedly unstoppable "steamroller" of the Russian army was on their side. Rumours spread that Russian troops were landing in Scotland to reinforce the British army, and these troops could be recognised by the snow on their boots. Ever since, the story has been a standard joke about the gullibility of people in wartime.

+ [p. 79] "'[...] that business with the barber in Gleam Street.' 'Sweeney Jones,'"

Legend tells of Sweeney Todd, a barber in Fleet Street, London, who would rob and kill (not necessarily in that order) solitary customers, disposing of their bodies via a meat-pie shop next door. The story is celebrated in a popular Victorian melodrama, in a 1936 film, in a musical by Stephen Sondheim (1979), and in rhyming slang ("Sweeney Todd" = "Flying Squad", an elite unit of the Metropolitan Police).

The story was the most successful of a spate of such shockers dating from the early 19th century. Sawney Bean, the Man-Eater of Midlothian was supposedly based on a real 13th-century Scottish legal case; also published about this time were two French versions, both set in Paris. All of these were claimed to be based on true stories -- but then, this pretence was standard practice for novelists at the time. The "original" version of Sweeney Todd was written by Edward Lloyd under the title of The String of Pearls, published around 1840.

+ [p. 81] "'He was shot from the University?' 'Looks like the library building,'"

Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy from the Texas Schools Book Depository, on the fifth floor.

+ [p. 82] "'Carrot, it's got "Mr Spuddy Face" on it.'"

Mr Potato Head is a child's toy based on putting facial features on a potato. Nowadays, Mr Potato Head, produced by Hasbro Inc, has a plastic body and has achieved great fame by starring in the Toy Story films.

+ [p. 85] "'He just kills people for money. Snowy can't read and write.'"

In later editions of the book, this sentence was altered to 'Snowy can barely read and write' -- presumably for consistency with the Clue about the notebook (p. 106).

+ [p. 87] "'Dis is der Riot Act.'"

The Riot Act was an old British law that allowed the authorities to use deadly force to break up crowds who were gathered for subversive purposes, such as trade unionists or Chartists. It was an unusual law in that it had to be read out to the crowd before it came into force -- hence the significance of Detritus' attempt to read it -- and the crowd was then supposed to be given a reasonable time to disperse. However, it was wide open to abuse, and was associated with some very nasty incidents, such as the Peterloo Massacre in 1818. It was not finally abolished in the UK until the mid-20th century, when the government decided that it would not be an acceptable way to deal with the regular riots then taking place in Northern Ireland.

+ [p. 93] "'"Testing the Locksley Reflex 7: A Whole Lotta Bow"'"

Named after the most famous archer of English mythology: Robin of Locksley, AKA Robin Hood.

In our world, there really do exist 'reflex bows': they are a type of bow that will curve away from the archer when unstrung.

+ [p. 98] "'Good evening, Stoolie.'"

"Stoolie" is sometimes an abbreviation for "stoolpigeon", a police informant. Of course, a stool is also something you might find in an Ankh-Morpork street...

+ [p. 99] "'That one had plants growing on him!'"

It has been pointed out -- and I feel bound to inflict the thought on others -- that Stoolie is technically a grassy gnoll. (And if that doesn't mean anything to you in the context of political assassinations -- be thankful.)

+ [p. 100] 'Rinse 'n' Run Scalp Tonic'[...] "Snowy had cleaned, washed and gone."

Two references to the shampoo 'Wash and Go', a trademark of Vidal Sassoon.

+ [p. 104] "'Hah,' said the Dis-organizer."

See the annotation for p. 73 of Feet of Clay . According to legend, Dis is also the name of a city in Hell -- particularly appropriate to a demon-powered organiser.

+ [p. 111] "'Apparently it's over a word in their holy book, [...] The Elharibians say it translates as "God" and the Smalies say it's "Man".'"

One of the most intractable disputes in the early Christian church was over the nature of Christ -- to what extent he was God or man. In 325, the Council of Nicea tried to settle the question with the Nicean Creed, but the dispute immediately re-emerged over a single word of the creed: one school said that it was "homoousios" (of one substance), the other that it should be "homoiousios" (of similar substance). The difference in the words is a single iota -- the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet -- and the schism (between Eastern and Western churches) continues to this day.

+ [p. 115] "Why play cards with a shaved deck?"

"Shaving" is a method of marking cards by trimming a very, very thin slice from one edge, perceptible only if you know what to look for.

+ [p. 118] "'Prince Kalif. He's the deputy ambassador.'"

Caliph was the title of the leader of the Muslim world, from the death of the Prophet in 632 onward; although the title has been divided and weakened since the 10th century, it was only officially abolished by the newly-formed Republic of Turkey as recently as 1924.

+ [p. 119] "'War, Vimes, is a continuation of diplomacy by other means.'"

Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz (1780-1831), a Prussian general who fought against Napoleon, wrote a standard textbook On War (Vom Kriege, first published 1833), in which he said that "war is simply a continuation of political intercourse, with the addition of other means". If you want to understand Lord Rust's mindset as expressed by someone with a working brain, read Clausewitz.

+ [p. 119] "'You've all got Foaming Sheep Disease.'"

When Jingo was being written, there was much speculation about whether "mad cow disease" had first been transmitted from sheep to cattle, and whether it could be transmitted from cattle to humans. Both ideas are now widely accepted.

+ [p. 120] "'The Pheasant Pluckers.' [....] 'We even had a marching song,' he said. 'Mind you, it was quite hard to sing right.'"

Many British army regiments have, or had, nicknames of this sort, based either on some historical event or on some idiosyncrasy of their uniforms. The marching song is a famous old tongue-twister: "I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's mate/ I'm only plucking pheasants since the pheasant plucker's late." (Another variant substitutes "son/come" for "mate/late".)

+ [p. 121/122] "'he stuck it in the top pocket of his jerkin [...] whoosh, this arrow came out of nowhere, wham, straight into this book and it went all the way through to the last page before stopping, look.'"

Apparently there are "well-documented" cases of this sort of miraculous escape, but it has become a much-parodied staple of Boys' Own-style fiction. One well-known occurrence comes at the very end of the Blackadder III television series. Another can be found in the 1975 movie The Man Who Would Be King, starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine.

+ [p. 126] "'[...] the moon rising over the Mountains of the Sun'"

Medieval Arab legend identifies the source of the Nile as being in "the Mountains of the Moon".

+ [p. 128] "'My strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure.'"

A direct quote from Tennyson's poem Sir Galahad:

My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.

+ [p. 130] "'The Klatchian's Head. My grandad said his grandad remembered when it was still a real one.'"

There's a pub in Bath called "The Saracen's Head", which supposedly has a similarly colourful history.

+ [p. 138] "'VENI VIDI VICI: A Soldier's Life by Gen. A. Tacticus'"

'Veni vidi vici' ('I came, I saw, I conquered') is a quotation attributed to Julius Caesar, one of several great generals who contributed to the composite figure of Tacticus. For more on Tacticus, see the annotation for p. 158 of Feet of Clay .

There are similarities between Tacticus' book, as expounded later in Jingo, and The Art of War by the Chinese general Sun Tzu.

+ [p. 142] "'It is always useful to face an enemy who is prepared to die for his country,' he read. 'This means that both you and he have exactly the same aim in mind.'"

General Patton, addressing his troops in 1942: "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

+ [p. 143] "'[...] this note will self-destruct in five seconds[...]'"

From the beginning of every episode of the television series Mission: Impossible.

+ [p. 143] "[...] extending from the cylinder for all the world like the horn of a unicorn [...]"

Historically, the tusk of the narwhal has sometimes been taken for that of a unicorn.

+ [p. 145] "'But usually I just think of it as the Boat.'"

Das Boot (The Boat) was an epic German film, made by Wolfgang Petersen in 1981, telling the story of a German submarine in 1941.

+ [p. 150] "'[...] which kills people but leaves buildings standing.'"

Said of the neutron bomb, which delivers a very heavy dose of radiation but relatively small explosive power or fallout. Mind you, it could fairly be said of most crossbows.

+ [p. 152] "'Just me and Foul Ole Ron and the Duck Man and Blind Hugh [...]'"

Inconsistency alert: on p. 74, Carrot told Vimes that Blind Hugh had 'passed away last month'.

+ [p. 154] "'I thought that was for drillin' into the bottom of enemy ships --'"

The first working submarine was a one-man, hand-propelled vessel called the Turtle, designed to use an augur to attach explosive charges to the hulls of enemy ships, the enemy in this case being the British during the American War of Independence. The Turtle attacked HMS Eagle in New York Harbor on 6 September 1776, but the hull was lined with copper and the screw failed to pierce it.

+ [p. 158] "D'reg wasn't their name for themselves, although they tended to adopt it now out of pride."

This has several parallels in our own world, most notably the Sioux, who adopted that name from their neighbours and habitual enemies the Ojibwa.

+ [p. 165] "'That's St Ungulant's Fire, that is!'"

The description matches St Elmo's Fire, a corona discharge of static electricity sometimes seen on highly exposed surfaces (such as ships) during thunderstorms. In our world, it's supposed to be a good omen. For more on St Ungulant, see Small Gods.

+ [p. 167] "'According to the Testament of Mezerek, the fisherman Nonpo spent four days in the belly of a giant fish.'"

According to the Bible, the prophet Jonah did much the same (Jonah 1:17).

+ [p. 174] "'The Sykoolites when being pursued in the wilderness [...] were sustained by a rain of celestial biscuits, sir.'"

The Israelites, while fleeing from Egypt, were sustained by a divinely provided rain of bread (Exodus 16:4).

+ [p. 175] "'Fortune favours the brave, sir,' said Carrot cheerfully."

Another Roman saying, coined by Terence (c.190-159 BC): "Fortune aids the brave."

+ [p. 180] "The motor of his cooling helmet sounded harsh for a moment [...]"

For the story of Detritus' helmet, read Men at Arms.

+ [p. 181] "'"Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set him on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life."'"

The original proverb is "Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, teach him to fish and he can eat for the rest of his life."

+ [p. 183] "'those nautical stories about giant turtles that sleep on the surface, thus causing sailors to think they are an island.'"

One of the many adventures of Sinbad, in The Thousand and One Nights.

+ [p. 192] "'"If you would seek peace, prepare for war."'"

From the 4th/5th century Roman writer Vegetius: "Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum" -- "Let him who desires peace, prepare for war."

+ [p. 204] "'"Gulli, Gulli and Beti"'"

The troop of entertainers that our heroes become is modelled on the old time Music-Hall team of Wilson, Kepple and Betty, whose act included 'The Sand Dance'. There's also a nice resonance of names with the Paul Simon song 'Call Me Al':

And if you'll be my bodyguard,
I can be your long lost pal,
And I can call you Betty,
and Betty, when you call me, you can call me Al.

+ [p. 210] "'[...] I thought that a flying column of guerrilla soldiers --'"

Since getting into his flowing white robes, Carrot appears to be fast turning into Lawrence of Arabia. See also the annotations for pp. 259 and 264.

+ [p. 215] "'Egg, melon! Melon, egg!'"

Vetinari's patter seems to be based on that of the fez-wearing British comedian Tommy Cooper.

+ [p. 223] "'En al Sams la Laisa'"

This is, as Vetinari later translates, almost-Arabic for "where the sun shines not".

+ [p. 224] "'Oh, I've got a thousand and one of 'em.'"

One of the best-known (in the west, at least) works of Arabic literature is The Thousand and One Nights. Several classics of children's literature -- including Aladdin and Sinbad the Sailor -- appear in this collection. Nobby's version would appear to be rather more PG-rated.

+ [p. 224] "'Especially the one about the man who went into the tavern with the very small musician.'"

See the annotation for p. 195 of Feet of Clay .

+ [p. 227] "'Donkey, minaret,' said Lord Vetinari. 'Minaret, donkey.' 'Just like that?'"

Another Tommy Cooper reference (see also the annotation for p. 215).

+ [p. 229] "'He had a city named after him...'"

The most famous example in our world is Alexandria, built by Alexander the Great.

+ [p. 230] "A statue must have stood here [...] Now it had gone, and there were just feet, broken off at the ankles."

A reference to Shelley's sonnet Ozymandias. See the annotation for p. 271/259 of Pyramids .

+ [p. 243] "We were going to sail into Klatch and be in Al-Khali by teatime, drinking sherbet with pliant young women in the Rhoxi."

British officers in the First World War, when encouraging their men to go over the top, would quip that "We'll be eating tea and cakes in Berlin at teatime." (Captain Blackadder observed irritably that "Everyone wants to eat out as soon as they get there".)

+ [p. 245] "'That's "Evil Brother-in-Law of a Jackal",' said Ahmed."

See Pyramids for the Discworld convention on the naming of camels.

+ [p. 246] "'That is a reason to field such a contemptible little army?'"

In 1914, the Kaiser apparently made a similar observation of the British Expeditionary Force sent to oppose the German advance through Belgium. The soldiers later proudly adopted the name 'Old Contemptibles'.

See also the annotation for p. 158.

+ [p. 249] "'That's a Make-Things-Bigger device, isn't it? [...] They were invented only last year.'"

Judging from the name, this could be one of Leonard's creations -- but actually we've learned in Soul Music (p. 137) that this particular invention was the work of Ponder Stibbons at Unseen University.

+ [p. 257] "'And Captain Carrot is organizing a football match.'"

There's a famous but true story of how, on Christmas Day 1914, troops from British and German units came out of the trenches and played football in No-Man's Land.

+ [p. 259] "'Why don't you take some well-earned rest, Sir Samuel? You are [...] a man of action. You deal in swords and chases, and facts. Now, alas, it is the time for the men or words, who deal in promises and mistrust and opinions. For you the war is over. Enjoy the sunshine. I trust we shall all be returning home shortly.'"

This speech is very similar to the end of the film Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962). Prince Feisal tells Lawrence: "There's nothing further here, for a warrior. We drive bargains, old men's work. Young men makes wars and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage and hope for the future. Old men make the peace and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution."

+ [p. 264] "'The trick is not to mind that it hurts.'"

Early in the film Lawrence of Arabia, Lawrence is sitting in an office drawing maps and talking to his compatriot about the Bedouin attacking the Turks. Another man joins them and Lawrence lights a cigarette, putting the match out with his fingers. The newcomer tries the same trick, but drops the match with a shout of "it hurts." To which Lawrence replies: "The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

+ [p. 268] "'Say it ain't so, Mr Vimes!'"

'Shoeless' Joe Jackson was the star player of the Chicago White Sox during the 1919 World Series. When it emerged that he had (allegedly) accepted bribes to throw the series, the fans' collective reaction was of shocked incredulity: the line "Say it ain't so, Joe!" became the canonical form of begging someone to deny an allegation that is too shocking to accept, but too convincing to disbelieve.

+ [p. 282] "'It is a far, far better thing I do now [...]'"

At the end of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton, good-natured layabout and occasional drunk, goes to the guillotine in the place of his beloved's beloved.

The book's famous last line is not a direct quote from Sydney (since he's already dead by then), but rather what the narrator feels he might have said: "If he had given any utterance to his [thoughts], and they were prophetic, they would have been these: '[...] It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.'".

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