A Friend of the Family

Notes on the text

(edited by Lisa Lewis and George Kieffer)


[Page 305, lines 3-4] a warm April night MacLean’s adds “in ’19.”

[Page 305, line 4] Three initiations and two raisings These ceremonies would have taken place in the Lodge proper, not the Lodge of Instruction described in “In the Interests of the Brethren.”

The initiation of a candidate is a first step or degree in Freemasonry, when he becomes an Entered Apprentice; it is followed by passing to the degree of a Fellowcraft and finally raising to the degree of a Master Mason. The object of the ritual of the raising is the contemplation of death. In an active Lodge, and certainly in those days, it is not unusual to have several candidates for each ceremony. Normally all candidates for a degree would be processed together, and it is fair to assume that there were two ceremonies on this evening. If they were performed in full for each separate candidate, it would have made for a very long evening of three hours or so.

[Page 305, lines 7-8] certain music In MacLean’s this is specified as “The Dead March” (from the oratorio Saul (1739) by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), often played at funerals).

[Page 305, line 11] “Last Post” The bugle or trumpet call sounded at the grave-side of a soldier.

[Page 305, line 13] “Tipperary” One of the marching songs of the British army during World War I. Words and music by Jack Judge and Harry Williams. The words of the chorus, which were claimed by Alice Smythe B. Jay (U.S.A., 1908) are:

It’s a long way to Tipperary, it’s a long way to go;
It’s a long way to Tipperary, to the sweetest girl I know;
Good-bye, Piccadilly, farewell Leicester Square!
It’s a long, long way to Tipperary,
But my heart’s right there!

[Page 305, line 14] firing-irons ORG suggests that this means the branding irons on a ranch. As the brands make permanent marks on an animal’s hide, so special smells, sounds, places and scenes affect us permanently (a recurrent theme in Kipling).

[Page 305, line 21] Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire in southern England, to the west of London.

[Page 306, lines 12-13] near Thiepval In MacLean’s for this read “on the Somme somewhere.” Thiepval, a town south-west of Arras in northern France, was captured from the Germans during the Somme offensive.

[Page 306, line 25] St Firmin Dump A large store of ammunition, etc., was located near St Firmin in northern France, behind the British lines in 1914-5, and made an obvious target for enemy artillery. “Dump” was the usual word used by the troops for such reserves.

[Page 307, line 8] which are home-made Instead of this in MacLean’s: “for Brother Lemming, of Lemming and Orton, the print sellers, breeds the pigs at his little place in Berkshire.” [See “In the Interests of the Brethren,” page 77, lines 29-33, and page 78, lines 1-2.]

[Page 307, line 12] “Ne-ver again for me” The annotator of ORG comments: “Many thousands of us who fought in the 1914-1918 war said this, but almost all those who were young enough in 1939 tried to serve again.”

[Page 307, line 17] push A common expression for one’s own companions in platoon, troop or mess.

[Page 307, lines 17-18] that Republic of yours Then as now (2004) there were movements in favour of an Australian republic.

[Page 307, line 33] Tichborne one The heir to the Tichborne estates was presumed drowned at sea in 1854. An Australian butcher called Orton claimed to be the missing heir, but was tried and sentenced for perjury in 1872.

[Page 308, line 22] alongside After this in MacLean’s: “beneath the portraits of Peter Gilkes and Barton Wilson, the Fathers, as we know, of ‘Emulation’ working.” [See “In the Interests of the Brethren,” page 62, lines 16-24, and notes.]

[Page 309, line 3] stoush Australian slang, combining the meanings of “douse” and “crush.” Survives as a noun meaning “violence” or “fight.”

[Page 309, line 11] Bevin at last After this in MacLean’s, “They’re too high for me.”

[Page 309, line 32] Brisbane There are parts of Queensland that are over 1200 miles from Brisbane.

[Page 310, line 1] Bevin insisted The manuscript ends here.

[Page 311, line 27] Goal-keeper In MacLean’s this is “full back.”

[Page 313, line 2] was-sers Has-beens, men with their careers behind them.

[Page 313, line 5] Hun The German soldier of 1914-18. In a note on his poem “The Rowers,” written for an American edition of The Years Between, Kipling claimed to have originated this usage [see Pinney, ed. Letters, vol. 4, 1999, pp. 541 and 545n.]

[Page 313, line 6] Mwor osee Bevin’s pronunciation of French Moi aussi – me too.

[Page 314, line 1] Canterbury lamb Canterbury, in the South Island of New Zealand, was famous for the quality of its mutton and lamb. The U.K. used to import much New Zealand lamb before joining the European Community, when import duties became payable on it.

[Page 314, line 20] Doullens South-west of Arras and north of Amiens. Kipling describes it in The Irish Guards in the Great War [Vol. 1, p. 274] as “the little city.”

[Page 314, line 29] Haig Later Field Marshal Earl Haig, Commander-in-Chief of the British armies in France, 1916-8.

[Page 314, line 30] winkle-pin Bayonet. Winkles are small snail-shaped molluscs, which when cooked used to make a popular snack. A large pin was used to “winkle” them out of their shells. ORG suggests that “the bayonet was used to get the German soldier out of his dug-out.”

[Page 315, line 10] crumped Onomatopoeic word, which according to ORG referred to the sound of the shell exploding in deep mud.

[Page 315, line 18] pip Slang for a star, the badge of rank of a 2nd Lieutenant in the British Army.

[Page 315, line 29] trench-fever So-called because it was common among soldiers in the trenches. Transmitted by lice, it is an acute febrile illness characterised by great prostration, with severe pain in the muscles and bones. Attacks often recur at intervals of 5 or 6 days.

[Page 316, lines 2-3] drawin’ a V.C. Being awarded the Victoria Cross, highest decoration for bravery in the British forces.
…getting Number Umpty rest-camp being sent for such psychiatric treatment as was available at that time, which was chiefly designed to return the sufferer to the trenches.

…a firing party before breakfast being shot at dawn for cowardice.

[Page 316, line 17] take the pin out A hand-grenade would be safe until the pin was taken out, after which there was a matter of seconds (allowing just time to throw it at an enemy) before it would explode.

[Page 316, line 18] the Chinks The Chinese labour force working behind the British lines [see note on “The Bull that Thought”, p. 208, lines 8-9]. “Beauty” has not been identified.

[Page 316, lines 29-30] the Australian In MacLean’s this reads: “the merciless Australian.”

[Page 316, line 31] Too de sweet! Pronto! tout de suite (French): at once. Pronto: U.S. army slang for immediately, from the Spanish.

[Page 317, lines 1-2] Roehampton A hospital in Surrey where most of the work of fitting artificial limbs was carried out.

[Page 317, lines 9-10] a fresh stiff on snow A newly-killed soldier’s body lying in the snow.

[Page 318, line 3] mafeesh The end, finish (Arabic).

[Page 318, line 26] regulation blue, khaki warm Convalescent casualties allowed out of hospital wore a bright blue uniform. A khaki warm was a hip-length uniform overcoat.

[Page 319, line 21] nightie Before pyjamas came into general use at the end of the 19th century, men slept in long shirts.

[Page 319, line 30] flammenwerfer German for flame-thrower. A portable version was used by the German army as a weapon.

[Page 320, lines 20-1] Russian night of it Reference to the anarchy that followed the Russian revolution in 1917.

[Page 320, lines 26-7] butcher’s stores Steers and heifers kept by a butcher for fattening until ready for killing.

[Page 321, line 3] accommodation land Acreages of grass, usually quite small, rented from year to year; as distinct from either a freehold, or land taken on a definite lease for 3, 5, 7 or more years.

[Page 321, lines 23-4] Act of God An accident caused by uncontrollable natural forces. The phrase used to be used in excluding such accidents from insurance policies.

[Page 322, line 15] Sherlock Holmes Famous fictional detective in the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

[Page 322, line 19] Mills bomb A proprietary make of hand-grenade.

[Page 324, line 3] medder Bevin’s pronunciation of ‘meadow’.

[Page 324, line 25] said Orton After this in MacLean’s, “illuminated with delight.”

[Page 324, lines 30-1] coal was bein’ delivered For large deliveries, the coal would be poured from a tipper-truck down a chute into the coal-cellar, with a sudden loud roaring noise.

[Page 325, line 13] But by Gord! After this in MacLean’s: “Bevin suddenly slapped his fat smooth fist on his knees.”

[Page 325, line 29] said Orton After this in MacLean’s: “with his thin-lipped smile.”

[Page 326, line 5] Digger Nickname for an Australian, recalling the days of their gold mines rush.

[Page 326, line 9] your place For this in MacLean’s read “Aylesbury.”

[L.L. and G.K.]