- [title] Reaper Man
The title Reaper Man parodies Alex Cox's 1984 cult movie Repo Man.
More accurately, Repo Man itself is a pun on 'reaper man', a very ancient name for Death (compare also e.g. 'the grim reaper'). But apparently Terry has said elsewhere (i.e. not on the net), that his 'Reaper Man' was indeed meant as a pun on the movie-title (much to the chagrin of his publishers, who would have probably preferred it if he had called it Mort II).
- The 'Bill Door' sections of this novel have many parallels with classic Westerns, e.g. High Plains Drifter.
- If you liked the idea of the trolley life-form, you may also want to check out a short story by Avram Davidson called Or All The Sea With Oysters. It's all about the life cycle of bicycles and their larval stages: paperclips and coat hangers.
- [p. 7] "It is danced under blue skies to celebrate the quickening of the soil..."
Whatever the original idea behind Morris dancing was, it long ago indeed became associated with Spring ("As fit as [...] a morris for May Day" -- Shakespeare), and nowadays many Morris teams begin their dancing season with a May Day performance. See the ...and Dance section of Chapter 5 for more on Morris dancing.
- [p. 7] "It is danced innocently by raggedy-bearded young mathematicians [...]"
The Morris used to be a peasants' dance, but these days Morris dancers often are, for some reason, scientists, mathematicians, or, yes, librarians.
- [p. 9] Azrael is not a reference to Gargamel's cat in the Smurf cartoons. Rather, both Azraels are references to the Islamic Angel of Death, supposedly the very last creature to die, ever.
In the actual legend, Azrael is bound in chains thousands of miles long, and possesses millions of eyes: one for every person that has ever lived or will ever live. When a person dies, the eye in question closes forever, and when Azrael goes blind it will be the end of the human race.
- [p. 14] "The front gates of Nos 31, 7 and 34 Elm Street, Ankh Morpork."
Minor inconsistency: we are told the conversation between the pines lasts seventeen years, so when the old one finally gets chopped down, its age should have been 31751 years, not still 31734.
- [p. 16] "The pendulum is a blade that would have made Edgar Allan Poe give it all up and start again as a stand-up comedian [...]"
Refers to Poe's famous story The Pit and the Pendulum in which a victim of the inquisition is tied up beneath a giant descending, sweeping, razor-sharp pendulum.
- [p. 24] "'What I could do with right now is one of Mr Dibbler's famous meat pies --' And then he died."
The attributed last words of William Pitt the younger were: "I think I could eat one of Bellamy's veal pies."
- [p. 25] "There was no shape, no sound. It was void, without form. The spirit of Windle Poons moved on the face of the darkness."
An allusion to the Biblical creation of the universe as described in Genesis 1:2: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
- [p. 30] "'Did you see his eyes? Like gimlets!' [...] 'You mean like that Dwarf who runs the delicatessen on Cable Street?'"
A Gimlet Eye is a piercing stare or squint. See also the annotation for p. 27 of Soul Music .
- [p. 30] "'Anyway, you can't trust those voodoo gods. Never trust a god who grins all the time and wears a top hat, that's my motto.'"
This god is Baron Samedi (or Saturday), the most important (and best-known) voodoo god or loa. He is the God of the Dead, and is traditionally associated with cross-roads.
For more information about Baron Samedi you should, of course, read Witches Abroad (see also the annotation for p. 157 of that book).
- [p. 35] "'Yes, but they drink blood,' said the Senior Wrangler."
I suppose most people will know that a wrangler is somebody who rounds up cattle or horses, but it may be less common knowledge that a 'Senior Wrangler' is in fact the title given to the top 12 maths graduates at Cambridge University. In maths, those who get firsts are called Wranglers, seconds are senior optimes, and thirds are junior optimes.
- [p. 53] "'Celery,' said the Bursar."
A few correspondents thought that the Bursar's particular choice of vegetable might have been motivated by an old episode of the BBC Goon Show radio comedy programme, where a sketch goes in part:
Sheriff of Nottingham: "What? Tie him to a stake?"
Bluebottle: "No, do not tie me to a stake" (pause) "I'm a vegetarian!"
Prince John: "Then tie him to a stick of celery."
- [p. 55] The address of the Fresh Start Club: 668 Elm Street.
Connects a reference to the Nightmare on Elm Street series of horror movies with the tentative title for a Good Omens sequel: 668 -- The Neighbour of the Beast (see the Good Omens annotation on that subject).
- [p. 60] Ridcully's uncle disappeared under mysterious circumstances after eating a charcoal biscuit on top of a meal spiced up by half a pint of Wow-Wow Sauce.
The circumstances may become less mysterious once you realise that charcoal, sulphur and saltpetre are the basic ingredients of gunpowder.
Also, there actually exists a condiment called Wow-Wow Sauce, which was popular during the 1800s. More information can be found in the Discworld Companion, and an actual recipe is given in Nanny Ogg's Cookbook.
- [p. 65] "Many songs have been written about the bustling metropolis, [...]"
Ok, let's see.
'Ankh-Morpork! Ankh-Morpork! So good they named it Ankh-Morpork!' comes from 'New York, New York' (see also the annotation for p. 130 of Johnny and the Dead ), 'Carry Me Away From Old Ankh-Morpork' is 'Carry Me Back To Old Virginia', and 'Ankh-Morpork Malady' may be 'Broadway melody'.
'I Fear I'm Going Back to Ankh-Morpork' has not been traced to a particular song title, but general opinion holds that it is a spoof of the Bee Gees song 'Massachussets', which starts out "Feel I'm goin' back to Massachussetts".
- [p. 69] "'Did it take long to get it looking like that?' 'About five hundred years, I think.'"
Or, as Terry explains more poignantly in a Sourcery footnote (on p. 21/22): "You mows it and you rolls it for five hundred years and then a bunch of bastards walks across it."
A few people thought these might have been references to a scene in one of the Asterix comics, but this is another case of two authors both using the same, older source.
As Terry explains: "The lawns line was I believe a comment made by a University gardener to an American tourist years and years ago; it turns up from time to time."
- [p. 69] "'Isn't that one off Treacle Mine Road?'"
And on p. 155 we learn that One-Man-Bucket was run over by a cart on Treacle Street. Treacle is another word for molasses, and most people will be familiar with the concept of "a hole in the ground from which you get molasses" through Alice in Wonderland's Mad Tea Party.
Terry jokes: "Treacle mining is a lost British tradition. There used to be treacle mines in Bisham (near Marlow, on the Thames) and in several northern towns, I believe. But the natural treacle was too sharp and coarse for modern tastes and the industry was finally killed off by the bulk import of cheap white sugar in the last century."
"I know the Bisham treacle was very crudely melted into moulds and sold in slabs. Shops used to smash the slabs up and sell the solid treacle as sweets. It's quite a different stuff to the crude 'golden syrup' treacle still occasionally sold."
- [p. 72] "'A couple of'em had a bit of a tiff or something? Messing around with golden apples or something?'"
In Greek mythology it was a golden apple that indirectly led to the Trojan war and to the accompanying complete division of the divine pantheon into two opposing camps.
- [p. 79] "[...] honorary vestigial virgining [..]"
Pun on the Vestal virgins (priestesses of the goddess Vesta) in ancient Rome. 'Vestigial' of course means "remaining or surviving in a degenerate or imperfect condition or form".
- [p. 87] "Who is he going to call! We're the wizards around here."
A reference to the catchphrase "Who ya gonna call?!" from the movie Ghostbusters.
- [p. 88] "Mr so-called Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents!'"
Send-up of the folk-story The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and of course the first seed of what would later become The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents.
+ [p. 89] "'[...] it puts a bloody RSVP on it!' 'Oh Good. I like sherry,' said the Bursar."
I used to think (and annotated this in previous versions of the APF) that was Bursar misremembering the acronym 'VSOP', which indicates a type of brandy, not sherry. (RSVP, of course, stands for "Respondez s'il vous plait" -- please reply [to this invitation].)
I have since learned that there actually existed a cheap British-made sherry (from grapes grown elsewhere) that was called R.S.V.P., so the Bursar's association actually makes perfect sense.
- [p. 94] "'Don't stand in the doorway, friend. Don't block up the hall.'"
This is an almost verbatim line from Bob Dylan's 'The Times They Are A Changin'.
- [p. 94] "Or sporting a Glad To Be Grey badge"
'Glad To Be Gay' was the well-known slogan of the Gay Liberation movement, a decade or so ago (as well as the title of an excellent Tom Robinson song). In the late 80s, 'Glad To Be Grey' badges were actually commercially available.
- [p. 95] The names of the Fresh Start Club members.
Count Notfaroutoe refers to Count Nosferatu, the vampire from Friedrich Murnau's classic 1922 movie Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (remade in 1979 by Werner Herzog, starring Klaus Kinski). 'Lupus' is Latin for wolf, so 'Lupine' means 'wolfish', similar to e.g. 'feline'. Finally, there exists a mineral called ixiolite. Note, by the way, that banshees are traditionally supposed to be female creatures.
When someone on a.f.p. asked if Reg Shoe was based on Reg, the leader of the Judean Peoples' Front in Monty Python's Life of Brian, Terry answered:
"No. Not consciously, anyway.
As with other 'real world' Discworld names, like Susan, Victor, Albert, etc, I picked the name because of... er... associational harmonics. Albert is an 'old' name. Reg is a good working class name and has a post-war feel to it. It's hard to explain it further, but all popular names carry a burden of associations. The best examples in the last decade have been Sharon and Tracy; whatever the truth, the perception is that these are working-class, Essex bimbo names, although twenty or thirty years ago they'd have been considered glamorous (which is why, the myth runs, the kids got given them). Any Brit would probably associate a type or age with names like, say, Victoria, Emma, Kylie, Sid, Wayne and Darron. Reg is a good name for a dependable guy, the sort who runs the skittles league (I know this, 'cos my Uncle Reg did...)"
See also the annotation for p. 132 of Equal Rites .
- [p. 97] "Every full moon I turn into a wolfman. The rest of the time I'm just a ... wolf."
This interesting twist on the age-old werewolf idea has been thought of and used by others a few times before. I'd particularly recommend 'What Good is a Glass Dagger', an excellent short story by Larry Niven. (I realise that merely by mentioning it here I may have spoilt it for you, but I think the story is still very enjoyable, regardless).
- [p. 100] "'[...] songs like 'The Streets of Ankh-Morpork' [...]'"
Refers to the classic Ralph McTell song 'The Streets of London'. An impressive set of lyrics for 'The Streets of Ankh-Morpork' can be found on the L-space Web.
- [p. 120] "I EXPECT, he said, THAT YOU COULD MURDER A PIECE OF CHEESE?"
Echoes p. 24 of Mort, where Death says to Mort: "I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I COULD MURDER A CURRY".
- [p. 129] "LAST YEAR SOMEONE GOT THREE STREETS AND ALL THE UTILITIES."
The game 'Exclusive Possessions' is of course the Discworld equivalent of Monopoly.
- [p. 131] "When he turned the blade, it made a noise like whommmm. The fires of the forge were barely alive now, but the blade glowed with razor light."
This description evokes images of the light sabers in the Star Wars movies.
- [p. 132] "On the fabled hidden continent of Xxxx, somewhere near the rim, there is a lost colony of wizards who wear corks around their pointy hats and live on nothing but prawns."
The continent referred to in this quote is Australia (which means that we are talking here about the Wizards of Oz, right?), where there exists a brand of beer called 'XXXX' (pronounced 'Four Ex'), produced by the Castlemaine Tooheys brewery. A New Zealand correspondent tells me that the reason the beer is called 'XXXX' is that if it had been called 'BEER' the Australians wouldn't have been able to spell it. Ahem.
(The actual origin of the name 'XXXX' lies in the number of marks used by Castlemaine to indicate alcoholic strength. Most European beers today are of 4X strength, with some being 3X or even 5X.)
The corks around the pointy hats refer to the supposedly traditional headwear of Australian Swagmen: Akubra hats with pieces of cork dangling on strings around the wide rim in order to keep the flies off the wearer's face. Needless to say, you can live a lifetime in Australia and never get to actually see somebody who looks like this. Monty Python's 'Philosophers' sketch is a good send-up of the stereotype.
Since then, the stereotype has been reinforced by a series of Australian Tourism Commission ads promoting Australia in the US and Britain on 1980s television, which featured Paul 'Crocodile Dundee' Hogan saying something along the lines of: "Come on down here, and we'll throw another shrimp on the barbie for you" ('barbie' = barbecue).
At the risk of boring you all to death with this, I must admit that I am curious as to the exact wording of that Hogan ad. I have received extraordinary amounts of mail about this annotation, and so far there have been seven different phrases mentioned, namely:
-- toss another shrimp on the barbie for you
-- throw another shrimp on the barbie
-- chuck another prawn on the barbie
-- slap a prawn on the barbie for you
-- shove a couple more prawns on the barbie
-- pop another prawn on the barbie for you
-- put another prawn on the barbie for you
So, can anybody tell me (a) whether the ad said 'shrimp' or 'prawn', (b) whether the "for you" was actually part of the sentence or not, and (c) whether these poor animals were in fact tossed, thrown, chucked, slapped, shoved, popped, or simply put on the barbie?
Finally, an Australian correspondent tells me that "Don't come the raw prawn with me, sport" is a local saying having a meaning somewhere in between "Pull the other one, it's got bells on" and "Don't give me that crap". Use this information at your own peril.
Annotation update: Some time after the above annotation appeared in APF 7.0 I received email from a correspondent who had actually managed to obtain a compilation video from the Australian Tourist Commission, containing all the ads Paul Hogan did for them in the 1984-89 period. Among those was, indeed, one he did for the internationally targeted campaign, at the end of which he clinches his spiel by saying:
"C'mon. Come and say g'day. I'll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie
I find it highly ironic that the actual mystery verb turns out to be one that was not mentioned by any of my previous correspondents...
More updates: Thanks to the magic of YouTube, it has now finally become possible for anyone to view the original commercial.
- [p. 136] "'I don't hold with all that stuff with cards and trumpets and Oo-jar boards, mind you.'"
An Ouija board is a well-known means of communicating with the dead. It is a board with letters and symbols on it, and the spirits supposedly move a glass over it and spell out messages. The name 'Ouija' derives from 'oui' and 'ja', two words meaning 'yes', one of the symbols on the board.
- [p. 133] "'Everyone thought you were to do with taxes.' NO. NOT TAXES."
As Benjamin Franklin once wrote: In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
- [p. 138] "[...] especially if they do let the younger wizards build whatever that blasted thing is they keep wanting to build in the squash court."
This is a reference to the fact that the first nuclear reactor, built by Enrico Fermi, was indeed erected under a squash court.
Irrelevant, but interesting, is that for a long time Russian physicists, misled by a poor translation, believed that Fermi's work was done in a 'pumpkin field'.
- [p. 147] "'Ah... many a slip 'twixt dress and drawers,' said Duke."
See the annotation for p. 189 of Wyrd Sisters .
- [p. 153] "Behind him, the kettle boiled over and put the fire out. Simnel fought his way through the steam."
The joke here is that Ned Simnel is trying to think of a new, better way to power his Combination Harvester, when he is interrupted by the "pointless distraction" of his kettle boiling over. This refers to our world's anecdote about James Watt, who supposedly got his idea for improving the steam engine when he watched the condensing steam from a kettle on the boil.
(Note that contrary to popular belief, Watt didn't invent the steam engine itself: what he did was have revolutionary new ideas (e.g. the use of a condenser) on how to make the steam engine really (cost-)efficient, practical and portable.)
For more information on steam engines, see also the annotation for p. 186 of Small Gods .
- [p. 157] "Mustrum Ridcully trotted into his study and took his wizard's staff from its rack over the fireplace. He licked his finger and gingerly touched the top of his staff."
Gary Cooper does this a few times in the 1941 movie Sergeant York. According to my source, Cooper's explanation in the movie was "It cuts down the haze a mite" -- or something along those lines.
- [p. 160] "'It's from the Dungeon Dimensions!' said the Dean. 'Cream the basket!'"
Basket is a British euphemism for bastard. In this case it of course also applies to the shopping trolley (or basket).
- [p. 164] "'No, Not "with milk"', said Windle."
See the annotation for p. 243.
- [p. 168] The harvesting battle between Death and the Combined Harvester has echoes of various similar contests in American folklore.
There is for instance the story of the legendary American lumberjack Paul Bunyan and the Lumber Machine. According to that legend (as told in the Disney cartoon, ahem), Paul realised, after a magnificent battle at the end of which the Machine had won by a quarter-inch more timber, that the age of the great lumberjacks was over, and he wandered off with his steed Babe the Blue Ox, never to be seen again.
There's also the much older American folk song 'John Henry', which describes a similar contest in which John Henry beats the new steam-driven pile-driver (he was a railway builder, and drove in the spikes that held the rails down), but dies of the effort.
- [p. 176] "Stripfettle's Believe-It-Or-Not Grimoire"
Ripley's Believe It Or Not! was more or less the forerunner of today's tabloids of the '500 pound baby' variety. However, his items were supposedly true and he had a standing offer to provide notarised proof if you didn't believe him. Typical items included potatoes that looked like President Eisenhower, dogs that could hold a dozen tennis balls in their mouths, and a fireplace that cast a shadow that looked like the profile of the owner of the house, but would only cast the shadow at the exact time of the owner's death.
- [p. 179] "Remember -- wild, uncontrolled bursts..."
From the movie Aliens: "Remember -- short, controlled bursts...".
This entire section is filled with action-movie references ('Yo!'), but Alien/Aliens seems to have been a particularly fruitful source. Many quotes and events have direct counterparts: "Yeah, but secreted from what?", "No one touch anything", "It's coming from everywhere!", and "We are going" are only a few examples, and of course there is the matter of the Queen...
- [p. 191] "The raven cleared its throat. Reg Shoe spun around. 'You say one word,' he said, 'just one bloody word...'"
Edgar Allen Poe rears his head once more in a reference to his famous poem, The Raven, which is all about death, doom and gloom. In the poem, the ominous raven in question constantly repeats just a single word: Nevermore.
- [p. 204] "Windle snapped his fingers in front of the Dean's pale eyes. There was no response. 'He's not dead,' said Reg. 'Just resting,' said Windle."
A reference to Monty Python's famous Parrot Sketch.
- [p. 204] "'I used to know a golem looked like him, [...] You just have to write a special holy word on 'em to start 'em up.'"
For those needing a refresher course in Jewish magic, a golem is indeed a clay automaton. The special holy word is either the name of God, or the Hebrew word for truth, 'emet' (aleph-mem-tav). To turn the golem off, you erase the name, or, if you used 'emet', the initial aleph, which changes the word to 'met' (mem-tav), meaning dead.
Starting with Feet of Clay, golems will become an important group of Ankh-Morpork inhabitants.
- [p. 206] "'Artor! Nobblyesse obligay!'"
From the phrase noblesse oblige, meaning "rank imposes certain obligations".
- [p. 215] "'Bonsai!'"
A typical Pratchettian mix-up of two different things: 'Banzai!' is the Japanese war cry shouted by kamikaze pilots as they performed their suicide runs. It means 'ten thousand years', and was originally an honorary greeting used in front of the Emperor, whom the kamikazes were, of course, dying for.
'Bonsai' is the art of growing tiny potted trees shaped and stunted into very particular growth patterns.
- [p. 215] "'Like... small trees. Bush-i-do. Yeah.'"
'Bushido' means "the way of the warrior", and is pronounced bu-shi-do.
- [p. 216] "Occasionally people would climb the mountain and add a stone or two to the cairn at the top, [...]"
My correspondents tell me that there are many such mountains to be found around the world. In Ireland there is one specific mountain called Maeves Grave. On the top of it is a heap of stones which is believed to be the grave of the evil Celtic Queen Maeve. To prevent her from ever leaving the grave, each visitor to the mountain is supposed to pick up a stone, and carry it up the hill and put it on the grave.
- [p. 226] "'I'm just going out,' he said. 'I may be some time.'"
A quote that Terry uses again in another, similar situation. See the annotation for p. 170 of Small Gods .
- [p. 226] The idea of a were-man and were-woman who fall in love, but whose animal and human phases are out of sync with respect to each other was the main plot element in the 1985 fantasy movie Ladyhawke, starring Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer.
- [p. 230] "Azrael, the Great Attractor, the Death of Universes, [...]"
In previous editions of the APF, I said that the Great Attractor was part of an astronomical theory that had been discredited some time ago. It turns out that this is far from the truth.
Basically, astronomers have discovered that there are large regions of the cosmos being held back from the smooth overall expansion (or Hubble flow) as dictated by the Big Bang/Expanding Universe theory.
The culprit would seem to be something or some things within a vast clumping of galaxies that appears to be causing an acceleration of all the surrounding galaxies in its direction. In an offhand comment during a press conference, Alan Dressler referred to this galactic pileup as the 'Great Attractor', and the name immediately stuck.
Although the theory was not universally accepted by all scientists, I understand the evidence for it has held up well, and in fact I saw a recent newspaper article claiming that the Great Attractor had actually been identifier by a group of international astronomers as the cluster Abel 3627.
- [p. 231] "LORD, WHAT CAN THE HARVEST HOPE FOR, IF NOT FOR THE CARE OF THE REAPER MAN?"
Some folks thought that this line sounded familiar and wondered if it was a quote, but Terry has assured us that he made this one up all by himself.
- [p. 232] "YES"
In the hardcover edition of Reaper Man, this super-large word appears on a left page, so that it takes the reader by surprise as she turns the page. In the paperback edition this is not the case, thus spoiling the effect entirely.
When questioned about this, Terry said: "Do you really think I'm some kind of dumbo to miss that kind of opportunity? I wrote 400 extra words to get it on a left-hand page in the hardcover -- then Corgi shuffled people in the production department when it was going through and my careful instructions disappeared into a black hole. Go on... tell me more about comic timing..."
The American paperback edition, by the way, also gets it right.
- [p. 235] "To deliver a box of chocolates like this, dark strangers drop from chairlifts and abseil down buildings."
A reference to a UK TV commercial for 'Milk Tray' chocolates, in which a James Bond-like figure does death-defying stunts, only to leave a box of chocolates in some place where a woman finds them at the end of the ad.
- [p. 235] "'DARK ENCHANTMENTS', he said."
A reference to a brand of chocolates called 'Black Magic'.
- [p. 237] "'Chap with a whip got as far as the big sharp spikes last week,' said the low priest."
Refers to the Raiders of the Lost Ark movies, in which Indiana Jones (with trademark whip) always steals stuff from sacred temples loaded with spikes, big rolling balls, and nasty insects.
- [p. 238] "The priests heard the chink of a very large diamond being lifted out of its socket."
This is the sequence where Death enters the Lost Jewelled Temple of Doom of Offler the Crocodile God and purloins the massive diamond called the Tear of Offler from the statue therein.
On p. 109 of the The Light Fantastic, however, Twoflower tells Bethan the story of Cohen the Barbarian stealing this very same sacred diamond.
There are ways around this inconsistency, of course. The most reasonable one seems to me the fact that there is no reason why we have to assume that all the stories told about Cohen are necessarily true.
- [p. 242] "'Let's see ... something like 'Corn be ripe, nuts be brown, petticoats up ...' something.'"
This is a paraphrase or alternate version of an existing "ould Sussex Folk Song", quoted in Spike Milligan's autobiography Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall as follows:
Apples be ripe, nuts be brown,
Petticoats up, trousers down.
- [p. 242] "'I take it you do dance, Mr Bill Door?' FAMED FOR IT, MISS FLITWORTH."
Dancing with death is of course a metaphor as familiar as playing a game of chess or Exclusive Possessions with Death.
- [p. 242] "[...] 'Do-si-do!' [...]"
A do-si-do (or 'dosado') is a square dance figure in which two dancers start facing each other, then circle round each other, passing back to back. The phrase originates in the French 'dos-a-dos', a dance movement movement used in various kinds of dances (such as e.g. Regency court dances).
- [p. 243] "'I know this one! It's the Quirmish bullfight dance! Oh-lay!' 'WITH MILK'?"
Oh-lay!, a phonetic version of the Spanish cry !Olé!, sounds also the same as the pronunciation of the French phrase "au lait" which means "with milk", as in e.g. 'café au lait'.
- [p. 246] "One yodel out of place would attract, not the jolly echo of a lonely goatherd, but fifty tons of express-delivery snow."
A reference to the puppet sequence in The Sound of Music, a song in which both yodelling and lonely goatherds are featured.
- [p. 246] "'And who was that masked man?' They both looked around. There was no one there."
Refers to a catch phrase from The Lone Ranger, a US radio and early television show about a masked Texas ranger in the American Old West.
- [p. 248] "'Just me, your lordship,' said the watchman cheerfully. 'Turning up like a bad copper.'"
'Copper' is a British colloquialism for policemen (see also the annotation for p. 140 of Men at Arms ), but 'copper' is also a somewhat archaic synonym for 'penny', which gives the link to the saying: "turning up like a bad penny".
Hence also the old joke: 'What do you call a policeman's night shift pay?' 'Copper nitrate'.
- [p. 249] "'You know,' said Windle, 'it's a wonderful afterlife.'"
It's A Wonderful Life is the title of Frank Capra's classic 1946 movie about a special kind of undead (or rather: unliving) man.
- [p. 250] "WINDLE POONS? 'Yes?' THAT WAS YOUR LIFE."
Reference to the TV show This Is Your Life, where a noted celebrity is surprised and (hopefully) embarrassed by having the high (and occasionally low) points of his/her life recounted by friends and acquaintances during a half hour programme.
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