Big Over Easy – some references ‘explained’

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This entry is intended to describe impressions  of some of the signifiers in Jasper Fford’s book.   Signifiers that might not be easily recognised by none-UK readers:

  • 10 (p239, chptr 27).   Standard UK womens clothes size.   Bust: 36″ Waist: 29″ Hips: 38″.   I’ve never really been able to work out US sizes.    I have clothes that fit me  in US  2,4,6 and 8.    This clothing size conversion chart didn’t help me at all:
  • Allegro – an exceedingly ugly  car produced in the late 1960’s by the nationally owned car industry then called ‘British Leyland’  before it morphed into the recently demised Rover group. Wikipedia’s entry describes my understanding of the car “Allegro is widely regarded as a poor design in almost every significant respect… …The Allegro gained a reputation for unreliability and poor build quality—another unfortunate nickname applied to it was the ‘All-Aggro’   ”.   Its the sort of car you expect a ‘dork’ or ‘loser’ to own.   Unlike the Rover,   which was  the car of choice amongst Bank Managers…  
  • Argos   (chapter 10). A chainstore that first grew membership via a paper-based catalog selling system in the mid 1970’s.   Known for providing very cheap goods.
  • Barbour Wellies (p206).   Wellies,   Wellingtons,  are rubber boots used for gardening and working in fields and garden.   Barbour is a brand name that markets to the wealthy middle class and above.
  • Bin (p266, Chptr 32).   also known as ‘waste bin’,  ‘rubbish bin’,   ‘litter bin’, ‘Dustbin’,   ‘Recycle’ and ‘Refuse’.  US = ‘Trash can’. Covers large outdoor and small indoor containers.   Some photographs of the larger outdoor bins are available on:
  • Conservatory (p246, Chptr 30).   A home extension that can someties be added without local government planning permission.   A popular way to cheaply extend your home.   I’ve put ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs of a  conservatory built this year,   to this entry.   More examples provided at:
  • Littlewoods (p234, Chapter 29). A company started by John Moores in Liverpool in the 1930’s.   Like Argos,   initially using paper catalog sales.   Unlike Argos,   targetting the upper working class and lower middle class market.
  • Mobile.   Cell phone,   example labeling of UK cell-phone store web-site:
  • Reading – A city in the UK that is pronounced ‘Red-ing’.   Microsoft’s UK headquarters,   and “Oracle” are based in Reading.   It has a large indoor shopping Centre (Mall) called ‘The Oracle’.   Signposting for ‘The Oracle’ is more prominent than signposting for ‘Oracle’.   I suspect many visitors to the company accidentally end-up lost in the Mall.   The city is not well-known for being ‘cute’,   ‘beautiful’ or a place you would choose to go.   One of my University friends described herself as having ‘escaped’ from Reading.   I’ve never been to the town of  Basingstoke.   Motorolla have a  research centre there.
  • Red Rum (p.137).   A famous horse that won a dramatic race called the  ‘Grand National’ for a record  3 times (1973, 74, 77).  
  • Shandy – a drink made of half Beer (bitter, lager) and half UK Lemonade.   The Lemonade makes the beer weaker and sweetens the flavour.   The nearest equivalent to UK Lemonade in the US is a 7-up.   The drink is typically given to people who don’t like ‘real’ beer,  ‘girls’ and designated drivers.
  • Smarties  (p128).  Small candy-coated chocolate sweets that come in a tube.   The UK version is different from the US version.  
  • Special  (p116).   Mary Mary orders a ‘Half of Special“.   Half a pint of a strong beer.   Special is short for  ‘special brew’ which appears to mean a stornger alcohol content.  
  • Stubbs (George),   the artist that produced Spratt’s mother’s ‘cow’ painting.   He is increadibly famous in the UK mainly working in the late 1770’s.   Most famous for his paintings of  Horses.    Pubs and Hotels often have copies of his paintings on the wall, and they are popular themes for dining room  table place-mats.   Wikepedia description.
  • Terraced House (p.31).   Inner city 19th Century homes for working class people.   Known as ‘2-up, 2-down’ because they normally have 2 rooms downstairs (kitchen & front) and 2 rooms upstairs (bedrooms).   Humpty Dumpty’s Grimm st. residence is described as a red-brick terraced house and he fell from a wall that could have been similar to this one.
  • The Relief of Mafeking (p349, Chptr 42).   A battle in the Boer war (Sout Africa),   a poem, the birth of the ‘boy scout’ movement,  and a famous painting.   The Poem and historical context are avilable at:
  • Wireless (p270, Chptr 32).    A ‘Radio’,   the term was commonly used when Radios first became prevalent in UK homes.
  • Wootton Bassett   (p.234, Chptr 29).   Comically named very old small town in Wiltshire, close to Swindon,   on the M4 corridor.

Wendy (finished reading the book Aug 7th)

Big Over Easy – some references ‘explained’
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