A Really Good Time

Notes on the text

(by David Page)

[Page 238, line 2] pyjamas The definition of “Pyjammas” in Hobson-Jobson includes the following information:

…A pair of loose drawers or trowsers, tied round the waist. . . It was adopted from the Mohammedans by Europeans as an article of dishabille, and of night attire…

[Page 238, line 13] guineas a guinea was equal to 21 shillings (i.e. one pound one shilling) or £1.05 in decimal currency.



[Page 239, line 12] I.O.U. slang “abbreviation” for ‘I Owe You’ – a receipt for money lent.

[Page 239, line 15] V.P.P. Value Payable Post: a normal Indian postal service. Goods by post are paid for on delivery, to the postman. [ORG] Similar processes have also been used in other countries such as the U.S.A.

[Page 239, line 15] gineas should be ‘guineas’. A rare typographical error for one of Kipling’s publications.

[Page 239, line 21] Bowdlerisation the deletion or modification of all words and phrases that are considered by the bowdleriser to be indecent. The word comes from the name of Thomas Bowdler, M.D. (1754-1825), who published The Family Shakespeare in 1818. This was an edition of the complete plays best described by its subtitle: in which nothing was added to the original text; but those words and expressions are omitted which could not with propriety be read aloud in a family.

[Page 240, line 8] chit a note or letter. It can also mean a promissory note.

[Page 240, lines 9 & 10, et seq.] fan-teeth refers almost certainly to ‘buck teeth’ or ‘overbite’ where the upper teeth protrude over the lower teeth and, in bad cases, can look like the sticks of a partially opened fan.

[Page 240, lines 3-16] these “critical extracts” possibly come from real reviews of Kipling’s earlier books on their first appearance in London. [ORG]

[Page 240, lines 19-21] my “Other Self” Kipling published items under the pen-name “Yussuf”, all of them in Macmillan’s Magazine, including “The Ballad of the King’s Mercy” and “The Ballad of East and West” in November, December, 1889. “The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney” also appeared in Macmillan’s Magazine in December, 1889. (Note: magazines usually were published a few days before the end of the month previous to that for which they were dated).

Kipling’s only earlier publications in England were the anonymous stories contributed to the St. James’s Gazette, beginning with “The Comet of a Season”, 21 November 1889. The other two ‘Yussuf’ items were “The Ballad of the King’s Jest”, February 1890 and “The Last Suttee”, January 1890. Four poems appeared in other publications at about the same time under the same pseudonym. It seems unlikely that he used this or any other pen-names regularly after this date. In India he wrote under quite a number between 1882 and 1889, such as ‘Humphrey Chuker’, E.M., ‘Il Vecchio’, ‘K’, ‘Nick’, ‘Nickson’, ‘R.K.’], ‘Traveller’, ‘The Reveller’, etc. [ORG]

[Page 241, line 12] sarabands or sarabandes were dances that originated in Latin America in the 16th century and transferred back to Spain and thence to the rest of Europe. The original was a livelier dance than the Baroque version of the 17th and 18th centuries.

[Page 241, line 25] bornée truth the bare facts. [ORG]

[Page 242, line 1] Émile Zola (1840-1902) French novelist and critic, and founder of the “Naturalist” movement. His books covered such topics as alcoholism, sexual exploitation, and strikes by workers.

[Page 242, line 10] Neo-Gynekalistic seems to be an invention of Kipling’s. It would mean ‘New Woman – beautiful’ and so may have originated with the ‘New Woman’ of Henrik Ibsen, the great Norwegian dramatist – whose plays Gosse, Archer and Shaw were lauding to the skies, while “F. Anstey” was parodying them brilliantly in Punch. [ORG]

[Page 242, line 10] “Gyne” meant something about cow-killing this is a pun on the word ‘kine’ (meaning cattle), and probably refers to the Anti-Kine-Killing Movement (or anti-cow-killing movement) of 1880-94 in India. The story pre-dates the 1893 riot over this topic.

[Page 242, line 16] Great Landor Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864). A great author and poet but with an intractable temper. He was suspended from Oxford University and never returned. At various times he lived in Wales, France and Italy, as well as England, and frequently fell out with the various governing bodies of the Italian provinces in which he stayed.

[Page 243, line 4] Gynewallahs wallah is used as a suffix meaning ‘person’, and in Anglo-India had slightly derogatory connotations. Thus the ‘Gynewallah’ was the person who was a ‘Gynekalist’ rather than an ‘anti-Gynekalist’.

[Page 243, line 10] Gynekalisthenics another mocking play on the words ‘Gyne’ and ‘callisthenics’ (physical excercises for keeping fit).

[Page 243, line 13] fat chops fat cheeks (of the face).

[Page 244, line 4] Barnum Phineas T. Barnum (1810-1891) and James A. Bailey (1847-1906) created one of the most celebrated circuses of those times. It was in London at Olympia in 1889. Kipling recorded in a letter to Mrs Edmonia Hill that on 14 November, three days after writing this poem:

…Pip [his cousin Philip Burne Jones] …carried me off to see Barnum’s which is close to The Grange. A howling jam—the monsters made me almost sick. I do not like people without legs or hands and I hate a two headed boy. But ‘tis a great show: tho’ I never saw the tenth of it.
( Letters, Vol 1, p. 365. See also “My Great and Only” page 263, line 9.)

[Page 244, line 13] Shakl hai lekin ukl nahin hai! She/he has looks/beauty but no brain/intelligent/sense or in US parlance: ‘a dumb blonde’.
The phonetic spellings ought to be: shakkal and ukkal. (hai = is/has, lekin = but/however, nahin = no/none. (This Editor is very grateful to Sharad Keskar, of the Kipling Society, for the translation and comments).

[D. P.]
©David Page 2007 All rights reserved