Growing Up (1943)

Picture of the dust cover of "Growing up"

References for the novel Growing Up, by Angela Thirkell.

‘Relusions’ for the Hamish Hamilton 1943 edition.
Compiled by Penny Aldred and Hilary Temple (2008).

*There are references throughout to August Folly, The Brandons, Summer Half, Northbridge Rectory and Marling Hall.

Chapter 1

5 The station at Winter Overcotes – see notes on August Folly, Worsted, Somercotes, Bluebell Line, etc.

Hornby, Bassett-Lowke – Rival manufacturers of model railways. Hornby also made Meccano, the construction toy.

All was vanity – “Vanity of Vanities”, saith the Preacher, “All is vanity.” Ecclesiastes, chapter 1 verse 2.

6 English locomotives sent abroad – 138 of them were abandoned in France in 1940, while 151 were sent to Persia in 1941.

9 Darkness made visible – “No light, but rather darkness visible”, Description of Hell, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I.

11 Calling out the name of the darkened station – signposts and station names had been removed in case of enemy invasion and blackout was in force.

12 an alien race without the law – “lesser breeds without the law”, Rudyard Kipling poem ‘Recessional’.

14 stew ponds – mediaeval equivalent of a fish farm.

16 His lines had fallen in pleasant places – The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. Psalm 16 verse 6. Also Miss Bunting 125.

17 Dear Sophy – Dickens, but is this Traddles’s “dearest girl” in David Copperfield, or Dick Swiveller’s Sophy Wackles in The Old Curiosity Shop? Neither fits the description of crying without sniffing.

18 Cerecloth – cloth coated with wax, used for wrapping the dead.

19 Mutta Kundra: a joke, I’m sure, but what?

20 pin-larded – larding is to insert strips of pork fat into the skin of a joint of meat, usually in neat rows, often by using a larding needle.

21 The People’s Tailoring Ltd – probably the Fifty Shilling Tailors, a multiple men’s clothing store.

Chapter 2

35 Ralph Nickleby – wicked uncle of Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby. Also Nickleby references in Cheerfulness Breaks In 38, A Double Affair 257, Love At All Ages 100.

38 convalescent soldiers in bright-blue flannel suits and red ties – Despite what Lady Waring thinks, this was still the uniform in WWII. Several members of the Sussex Group can remember seeing them, and reminiscences such as BBC2 People’s War confirm this.

40 Ladysmith Cottages – Commemorating the Relief of Ladysmith in February 1900, during the Boer War.

Pampler’s Entire – “entire” is a strong, blended ale, sometimes known as porter. Angela Thirkell would have known the Sussex brewery company called Tamplins and there is a picture of a window engraved “Tamplins Entire” in a Brighton pub on a website of brewery history.

42 Kitchener moustaches – Like the famous recruitment poster, Your Country Needs You, showing Lord Kitchener, secretary of state for war at the beginning of WWI.

44 The Elder Edda – The Elder Edda is a collection of Icelandic poems, sometimes called the poetic Edda, and with Snorri Sturluson’s younger or prose Edda, an influence on Norse and Teutonic literature. See August Folly 19.

Common [rather than mutual] friend – Correct usage, but of course the underlying joke is that Lady Waring and Noel Merton would consider Captain Hooper to be common. Miss Bunting 73, Never Too Late 200, Love At All Ages 134.

45 Dr Ford lectured at Guy’s – yet the other London hospitals are given pseudonyms, see page 214 below.

46 introduced Lady Waring to… A typical solecism by Captain Hooper, since the inferior person should be introduced to the social superior. Hence “Etiquette is not the word”, said Dr Ford.

47 Universal Favourite – the womanising Tom Musgrave, in Jane Austen’s unfinished novel The Watsons.

48 argle-bargle – a verbal dispute, sometimes “argy-bargy”, derived from “argument”.

50 A pleasure I’m sure – another example of “non-U” parlance by Captain Hooper.

Not quite – In snobbish speech, short for “not quite nice” or “not quite the thing”. (On occasion a person might be described as “not quite quite”!) Again, Angela Thirkell is mocking Hooper’s lack of self- awareness.

51 mensar – Beginners in Latin were given mensa (table) to decline as a typical noun, though when I was learning [HT] it had become puella (girl). The addition of the intrusive r shows how common Capt. Hooper is (see also Russiar on the previous page).

Time and tide– here Captain Hooper pre-dates Sam Adams, one of whose favourite sayings is “Timontide”. See also page 169 below.

New Army – presumably Sir Harry thinks that the Army isn’t what it was in his day, with such inferior social types allowed to become officers.

Chapter 3

56 Soother than the creamy curd – “With jellies soother than the creamy curd/ And lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon”, Keats ;poem ‘The Eve of St Agnes’.

57 Rent the welkin – welkin is an archaic word meaning the sky or the heavens. To rend the welkin is to make a loud noise, as in a thunderstorm, eg. “When storms the welkin rend”, from a poem beginning “Not seldom, clad in radiant vest/Deceitfully goes forth the Morn;” William Wordsworth at his most bathetic.

58 Waters at once closed over their heads – see also Miss Bunting 267, County Chronicle 145.

59 The Heir of Redclyffe – Chapter 2 of the novel by Charlotte M Yonge opens with a description of Mrs Edmonstone’s sitting room – “a sort of upstairs parlour …. It had an air of great snugness.” Also Heir of Redclyffe references in Summer Half 82, Happy Returns 221, Double Affair 210, 256, Love At All Ages 70.

Henry Birkett – Mr Birkett is Henry in this and Three Score And Ten. In 17 other books he is called William/Bill.

63 The Brownings – Here Everard is referring to Browning’s marriage to Elizabeth Barrett. Browning references occur throughout the works, eg Summer Half 241, The Old Bank House 155, 189, County Chronicle 314, Happy Returns 48, 267, What Did It Mean? 41, 101, Enter Sir Robert 23, 131,148, Love At All Ages 17, Three Score And Ten 5, 8, 84,136.

69 British warm – A British warm is an army officer’s short, thick overcoat.

70 territorialled – been in the Territorial Army, a force of volunteers (formed in 1907 as the Territorial Force, renamed 1922) to support the regular army as required.

The worms they crawl in – from a poem dating back at least to the Crimean War, popular with both British and American children, with several versions on the lines of:

Did you ever think when a hearse goes by
that you may be the next to die
They cover you with a big white sheet
From your head down to your feet
They put you in a big black box
and cover you with dirt and rocks
All goes well for about a week
and then your coffin begins to leak.
The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out
They play pinochle on your snout.
They eat your eyes, they eat your nose
They eat the jelly between your toes.”

By, with and from – Latin grammar again (influence of Angela Thirkell’s father?), as this is the meaning given to a noun by the ablative case.

75 Happy Hypocrites – title of a short story Max Beerbohm, parodying Oscar Wilde. Also Love Among the Ruins 340.

Magnum’s – Fortnum’s Fortnum and Mason grocery store, with the implication of ‘large’!

Chapter 4

83 After Dunkirk – No! See Cheerfulness Breaks In. Noel and Lydia were married just before Noel went off to Dunkirk and the book ends with Lydia opening the telegram which will tell her whether he is safe or not.

Little Lucy … baby sister – by the time she appears in The Duke’s Daughter etc, she has become Maria. Johnny Pate in his Dictionary has charitably assumed that she is Lucy Maria.

89 bits of VAD and land work – See below, page 148.

90 hanger – distinctive ancient woodlands, usually beech, on the South Downs, in Sussex and Hampshire, particularly associated with Gilbert White’s Selborne.

Purling – flowing or rippling with a murmuring sound. Can also mean the sound itself. Is there any connection with purl in knitting?

91 pig-control – As in the 1984 film A Private Function, set post-war, but when food rationing was still in force.

The Children of the New Forest – Children’s novel published in 1847 by Frederick Marryat, where a forester, Jacob Armitage, shelters the children of a dead Cavalier in his cottage.

92 the gipsy’ s stew that Mr Toad partook of – Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, Chapter 10. Also Private Enterprise 345, Love Among the Ruins 195.

93 A certain Barkis-like flavour creeping into their conversation – Barkis’s courtship of Peggotty in Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, Chapter 5.

94 Witch of Endor – Samuel I, chapter 28 verses 3-25. Saul asked the witch to conjure up the spirit of the Prophet Samuel.

95 common friends – See above page 44, but no underlying meaning here, just correct usage.

97 Lord Woolton – Minister of Food during World War Two.

Sir Abel Fillgrave – must be a descendant of Dr Fillgrave in Anthony Trollope’s Doctor Thorne. Also The Headmistress 49.

99 enjoyed thoroughly – A vulgarism/genteelism (like “commenced” lower down the page) much used by Matron and nurses. More pointedly on page 100; also page 118.

103 MC – Military Cross, a medal for gallantry established in World War One.

Chapter 5

104 The art of reading through a book with her eyes only and letting her subconscious mind pounce on the facts it needed – I recognise this only too well!

104 Desdemona-like – had Othello been a head keeper’s son, much discomfort would have been saved. Continues on page 105. Presumably Jasper is Iago. William Shakespeare, Othello. Also Summer Half 135; Othello references in Summer Half 83-5, The Old Bank House 38, Jutland Cottage 229, Enter Sir Robert 7. Similarly I always think that if the postal service had been better in Verona Romeo and Juliet would not have turned out as it does.

a very large teacup – like the one used by Morris when he visited the Burne-Joneses, on view at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow. Also page 111.

111 full diapason – outpouring of sound, also the name of one of the principal timbres or stops of an organ.

123 young Holinshed – interesting choice of name, as Holinshed’s Chronicles was one of Shakespeare’s major plot sources. See Summer Half.

125 varium et mutabile semper [femina] – Woman is ever fickle and capricious [la donna e mobile]: Virgil, Aeneid, IV, 569. Also The Duke’s Daughter 275, Never Too Late 244.

Chapter 6

127 Observer Corps – The Royal Observer Corps was a defence warning organization manned mainly by civilian volunteers, who wore a Royal Air Force-type uniform. But Mr Churchill’s “boiler suit” was a siren suit.

128 OCTU – Officer Cadets Training Unit.

130 the last of England – Painting by Ford Madox Brown (in Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum, also Fitwilliam Museum, Cambridge), very Pre-Raphaelite in style although he was not a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

wine women and song – the only source I can find is translation from Martin Luther, where women is singular! (Wein, Weib und Gesang) [HT]. According to Wikipedia it is a triad or hendriatis, versions of which exist in many languages [PA].

the girls he left behind him – ‘The girl I left behind me’ was a popular song dating back at least to the American Civil War; also the title of a 1915 film.

131 The Poubelle in Hentzau Street – Rupert Street (Rupert of Hentzau, popular historical romance by Anthony Hope) is in Soho. The French Pub in Dean Street, also in Soho, was the meeting place for the French Resistance during WWII. Poubelle means dustbin (Captain Hooper probably thinks this is something to do with “belle” meaning beautiful).

132 “tu te rappelles ….. une amende” – “You remember when those two characters tried to take our reserved carriage and beat you. Ah, how I miss our Mixo-Lydian railways. And the stationmaster who slapped you in the face, you remember? And the judge who sentenced you to a fine?”

133 “Montez donc, imbecile” …..”Nous allons lui causer un peu des Russes, Gogo n ’est-ce-pas. Avez-vous jamais vu éventrer une femme par un Russe par exemple?” … “On va vous en dire des nouvelles –. En Mixo-Lydie ––––”:
Get in then, idiot. We’re going to have a little chat about the Russians, Gogo, aren’t we. Have you ever seen a woman disembowelled by a Russian, for instance? I’ll tell you what – in Mixo-Lydia ––’’ HT says that “des nouvelles” means “tell you all about it”, but I translated it thinking of Lucy Marling, though she has only so far made an appearance in Marling Hall, where she didn’t encounter the Mixo- Lydians.

135 quite pleasantly situated – possibly ‘”You are very pleasantly situated here!”’ said Mrs Pardiggle (Dickens, Bleak House chapter 8)

136 Boon’s Benefit – could be any of the many ancient almshouses existing in market towns in England. There is a Woolstaplers’ Hall in Chipping Campden, where Angela Thirkell’s parents were staying for the duration of the War, and some almshouses, though they are stone-built.

138 A stranger in my cup of tea – a piece of stalk floating in your tea means you are going to meet a stranger. Doesn’t happen nowadays with teabags, of course!

Chapter 7

148 If you’ve been on the land more than six months you can’t join the Land Army – I have tried to check this, which does indeed seem ridiculous, but can’t trace it.

VAD – Voluntary Aid Detachment: Formed by a link between the Red Cross and the order of St John of Jerusalem in 1909, consisted of mainly middle or upper class women, working in hospitals, to supplement the work of registered nurses.

150 fiancé – in other books Angela Thirkell is very scornful of the use of this word, but presumably Selina knows no better.

152 the road winding uphill – “ ‘Does the road wind up-hill all the way?’ ‘Yes, to the very end.’/ ‘Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?’/ ‘From morn to night, my friend.’ ” Christina Rossetti poem ‘Up-Hill’.

154 gilded youth – now a conventional phrase, but originally a translation of “jeunesse dorée”, a movement led by Louis Fréron during the French Revolution to persecute Jacobins.

155 Go and see what Master Alfred is doing and tell him not to – A Punch cartoon, but what date?

156 Matron’s Banquo seat – an empty seat – filled by Banquo, the ghost, at the feast in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 4.

158 Twitcher – in Northbridge Rectory and elsewhere Twicker.

160 Oh, love, love, love – ‘O Love, Love, Love!/O withering might!/ O sun, that from thy noonday height/shudderest when I strain my sight.’ Alfred Lord Tennyson, Fatima

162 Kick against the pricks – “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks”, Acts, chapter 9 verses 5-6. A farmer would control an ox with a pointed stick or goad. If the ox kicked out against it he suffered even more pain.

Chapter 8

165 Saturnalia – Roman feast held on 17 December (later taken over by the Christians as Christmas) which involved much eating, drinking and merrymaking.

zoning – as its name suggests, restricting rationed goods to particular areas.

166 Straddling like Apollyon – Apollyon (Greek meaning Destroyer), the “foul fiend” who assaulted Christian in the Valley of Humiliation in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, usually depicted as a giant, attacking Christian – here presumably the fireplace represents the flames of Hell.

Seas between them braid had roared since they last met – “But seas between us braid hae roar’d/Sin’ auld lang syne”, Robert Burns poem Auld Lang Syne.

Hallo, Lydia … not to be outdone – She has called him by his Christian name for the first time. But saying hallo is considered not quite the thing by Angela Thirkell in other books, so perhaps Philip feels he is being extra daring. Surely by this date and in wartime the use of Christian names was not really so daring – another example of Angela Thirkell transferring her own experiences to a later generation, though men would have referred to colleagues and old school friends by their surnames. See also page 201.

169 auld acquaintance – Auld Lang Syne again.

Captain Gumm the dentist and Mr Wagstaffe of Signals – rather appropriate surnames!

Reverend Villars – another of the good Captain’s solecisms: should be the Reverend Mr Villars (or, presumably, Mr Villars or the Rector of Northbridge).

To whom Mrs Spender reludes – June Cox points out that this is the first use of this portmanteau word, pre-dating Sam Adams, who doesn’t appear until The Headmistress.

became the head of the table – “where the MacGregor sits is the head of the table” is proverbial, may have been originated by Rob Roy MacGregor (1671-1734) himself!

173 Beveridge plan – W. H. Beveridge’s committee produced a seminal report on social insurance in 1942 which formed the basis of post-war legislation.

178 Cold Comfort Farm – comic novel by Angela Thirkell’s friend Stella Gibbons, published in 1932, parodying authors of the time such as Mary Webb. Also various references in The Old Bank House 367, The Duke’s Daughter 301, Three Score and Ten 27. Cold comfort on its own in Love Among the Ruins 148; Seth Starkadder in Happy Returns 227.

Liddle button – Lydia’s gift of the button is like Flora Poste giving Adam Lambsbreath a “liddle mop”.

182 The White Ship – Henry I’s son and heir went down with the White Ship in 1120, after which the king never smiled again.

185 felicity of unbounded domesticity– W. S. Gilbert, Pirates of Penzance.

Chapter 9

198 Optional changes to the marriage service – The marriage service in the Book of Common Prayer in use in Angela Thirkell’s youth contained some very explicit passages, (eg. “a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication”) which were tamed down in the amendments proposed in 1927-8, which although often used were not officially authorised by the Anglican Church until 1966. See also 254 below.

201 Mrs Jellyby – From Charles Dickens’s Bleak House. Mrs Jellyby is so busy working on projects for aid to Africa that she neglects her own family.

206 and all the daring parents of one peculiar child – [sounds to me like a parody of something Tennysonian, but blessed if I can think what – HT]

Chapter 10

210 the enchanter Vergilius – Vergil, author of the Aeneid, became confused in the Middle Ages with Vergil of Seville, and regarded as a magician, hence his inclusion in Dante’s Inferno as a guide to the underworld.

212 Book jackets – echoes of recycling today. Book jackets have been in existence since the early 19th century, though at first they were used simply as packaging and were thrown away.

214 Knights – Barts (which here is the nickname for St Bartholomews Hospital, not the abbreviation for baronets – who rank above knights!).

Mid-Central – The Middlesex Hospital. Both hospitals are in London.

216 Manchester Watch Committee – Watch Committees controlled police forces in cities until 1967 – but why Manchester? Had there been some well-known incident in the news?

217 Wreathe itself in silvered tendrils – (Also page 263 wildly wreathing hair) Also [various references and Poppy Turner as well as Serena] – Love Among the Ruins 251, Jutland Cottage 263, What Did It Mean 153, 208, 298, A Double Affair 168 .

218 Taliesin Arms – Taliesin was a Welsh bard at the Court of King Arthur.

Mr Day’s pupil – “The ideas of Rousseau and Mr Day on education had filtered down through many classes, … It is well known that Mr Day broke off his intention of marrying Sabrina, the girl whom he had educated for this purpose, because, within a few weeks of the time fixed for the wedding, she was guilty of the frivolity, whilst on a visit from home, of wearing thin sleeves.” Mrs Gaskell, Life of Charlotte Bronte, Chapter III.

221 exercise books, which are a perfectly frightful price now – Angela Thirkell herself frequently complained about the price of exercise books; see her letters to Margaret Bird.

222 Delphic frenzy – The Pythoness, or oracle, at Delphi, was said to have uttered words from the gods while in a trance or a frenzy, nowadays thought to have been induced by gases emanating from the waters in her cave.

223 Count of Monte Cristo – Did he have a habit of lingering in the doorway for a second? Or maybe he did in a film version – there have been several, including a 1934 one with Robert Donat. Also Miss Bunting 35, Enter Sir Robert 242, Love At All Ages 297. Also numerous Dumas references throughout, eg Summer Half 211, The Headmistress 274, The Old Bank House 386, Happy Returns 225, Never Too Late 150, Three Score And Ten 29.

226 Hope deferred – “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick”: Proverbs chapter 13 verse12. Also What Did It Mean 130, Enter Sir Robert 102.

Fantastic– in its true meaning, not wonderful, or excellent, as today.

Chapter 11

232 Arundel prints: -high quality prints of Italian old master frescoes published by the Arundel society for Promoting the Knowledge of Art from 1848-1897

233 Arius or Pope Celestine V – Arius was a priest from Alexandria in the 4th century whose teachings became known as the Arian heresy: Celestine V abdicated as Pope after only five months in 1294, and was placed near the gates of Hell by Dante in the Divine Comedy because of his indecision.

Phthisis – Tuberculosis (Greek word meaning consumption).

The barren fig-tree – St Luke chapter 13 verses 6-9. The owner of the tree wanted it cut down, but the gardener begged him to wait one more year to see if it would bear fruit.

236 Jorrocks – Mr Jorrocks, a Cockney grocer who takes up fox-hunting, in Jorrocks’ s Jaunts and Jollities, 1838, and other novels by R S Surtees.

Doing up the Vicarage– it would have been difficult if not impossible to get “paint, paper and so forth” with the restrictions in force at that time.

247 Singapore – Singapore fell to the Japanese in February 1942 and remained so until the war with Japan ended in August 1945.

Chapter 12

254 The one psalm which is the most a degenerate age can stomach – see also page 198 above – originally there were two psalms appointed for each day.

an anathema – Greek word originally meaning something offered up to God, but gradually coming to mean something banished, off-limits, eventually accursed, a curse or execration.

267 terkwoises – The reason for this version of phonetic spelling may be that at this date (and still today for some people) turquoise is pronounced in the French way.






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