The timing of the qualifying races for the 2016 Rio Olympics
for Rikki’s age group is true.
In Heathen mythology, Bifrost is the rainbow bridge
between Asgard and Midearth. It will break at Ragnarok.
The accents of the Protestant and Catholic communities in
Northern Ireland are often different.
(Northern Irish idiom) = an annoying person
who gets on your nerves.
Neck or nixie is the Germanic name for an undine (water
Gloucester was badly affected by the Severn flood in
Kelpie is the Scots name given to a shape-shifting water
spirit that takes the form of a horse to drag its victims underwater.
In Heathen mythology, Heimdall signals the start of Ragnarok
by blowing his horn, Gjallarhorn.
Sigils are a type of magic that uses symbols to achieve their
aim. They have been used in Western magic since at least the 17th
century, or earlier if one counts Icelandic runestaves. Modern practice derives
largely from the 20th
-century occultist, Austin Osman Spare. Within the
modern practice, sigils can be set to utilise third-party attention.
Izzy’s description of Michael’s lesson is a standard modern
method of producing a sigil. Sex can be used to charge one.
My imaginary Paragraph 13A of the Theft Act 1968 is based
on Paragraph 13, which is about stealing electricity.
The rain began in the UK in April 2012. There were
numerous floods through the year and the winter of 2012/13 was one of the
stormiest on record.
Wyrd is a Heathen concept related to fate.
(Northern Irish idiom) = good, trustworthy.
Wee is a common adjective in Northern Ireland and
Scotland. It means small. It’s applied to everything and anything, irrespective
In Heathen mythology, Hermoðr was sent to petition Hel
for the release of Baldr. His epic journey is described in the Prose Edda Gylfaginning
is a 1996 film based on a book by Irvine
Cheeky wee get
(Northern Irish idiom) = impudent
and unpleasant person
Florianopolis has some of the best surfing beaches in the
world. Prainha Beach is in Rio.
(French) = good.
(Turkish) = lamb
(French) = grandad.
Although Sweet Angel Ponies don’t exist, bronies do. They
are the male fan base of My Little Pony, a toy franchise owned by the US
Bandages are a sexual fetish in Japan. And probably elsewhere
The Death Star is a fictional mobile space platform and galactic
superweapon featured in the Star Wars franchise.
Loki was also known as Lopt which means something like
‘the airy one’. Skywalker is one of the names given to him by some modern
The Valley of Death is a phrase from the poem The
Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Tennyson. The Brigade rode into
cannonballs and perished.
The information about Banksy and Blek le Rat is true.
Youse (Northern Irish idiom) = you (usually more
than one person).
Rag societies are student charitable organisations. They
are widespread in the United Kingdom. They usually have a week of crazy
fundraising activities each year.
The position, history and regional administration of Denny
Island and the two Holms is true.
Lynette White was murdered in 1988. South Wales Police
charged five black and mixed-race men with the murder, despite the absence of
evidence. Three of the men were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1990. Two
years later the convictions were quashed following a decision that the police
had acted improperly. What Izzy says about the trial of the police is true.
The word hell is taken from the Heathen term for the
realm of the dead, Hel.
Someone tried to lay claim to Denny island in the early
2000s and prevent it being registered as common land.
Tom Sharpe wrote popular satirical novels in the late 20th
Downton Abbey is a British TV period drama series
(2010 to 2015).
The water spirits are drawn from the folklore of various
countries. Jenny Greenteeth (English folklore) is a river hag, as are Peg
Powler and grindylows.
From December 2013 onwards the Somerset Levels suffered
Aughiskies (Scottish folklore) are the more vicious
version of a kelpie. They eat everything except the liver.
A thing was a governing assembly in early Germanic
society. I’ve used it for the council of a pack.
The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces unit of
the British Army. Their barracks are in Credenhill in Herefordshire.
In Heathen mythology, Yggdrasil is a cosmic tree that holds
the worlds in its branches and under its roots. Creatures live in and below it.
Disir (Old Norse) = female ancestors.
Ah, bon (French) = really? (sarcasm).
The information about John Dee, Edward Kelley and the Enochian
and Theban scripts, is true.
In Heathen mythology, ulfhednar were similar to
berserkers except they shifted into a wolf rather than a bear.
Lysistrata is a play by Aristophanes, originally
performed in classical Athens in 411 BC. It is a comic account of a woman's
mission to end the war between Greek city-states by denying all men in Greece
In Heathen mythology, Sigurd could understand the
language of birds after tasting a dragon’s blood. Prose Edda, Skaldskaparmal
Chicken-on-the-head is one of the curses in the card game
Munchkin, by Steve Jackson and John Kovalic.
Bien sûr (French) = of course!
Farsi is the Persian language. What Declan says about
Arabic is true.
Netjeru (ancient Egyptian) = gods.
Orlog is a concept from Heathen mythology related to
wyrd. It is primordial law.
Puss in Boots is a European fairy tale character who appears
in the 2004 film Shrek 2. Donkey is Shrek’s sidekick.
‘A gift for a gift’ is a modern Heathen maxim based on
pre-Christian Heathen practices.
The Wagon was the name given by ancient Heathens to the
constellation we call the Plough. I made up Urdh’s belt.
The ancient Egyptians believed that akhu (the dead
who had passed the tests of the underworld) joined the gods as stars. See the Unas
Pyramid Texts spell 245.
Red magic – in ancient Egypt, the colour red signified
the Outland and things from it.
Hoist with his own petard is a phrase from William
Shakespeare's play Hamlet. It means a bomb-maker who has been blown up
by his device.
In Heathen mythology, Ginnungagap is the primal void
between Misthome (Niflheim) and Firehome (Muspelheim).
The general information about Houses of Life is true.
Setnakht fought in the civil war at the end of the 19th
Dynasty and founded the 20th Dynasty. His reign was extremely short.
He was the father of Rameses III. The information about the decline of the
kingdoms is true.
Ma’at is an ancient Egyptian goddess. She represents
balance, which was a central concept of Kemetic culture.
The Magic Book of Princess Ahura was written
around 1100BCE. It is one of a cycle of tales about Setne Khaemweset. Setne was
a real person: the fourth son of Ramesses II (13th century BCE). In
the first cycle, he finds a book of powerful magical spells: the Book of
The Egyptologist mentioned by Teazle was Margaret Murray,
better known for her later work The God of the Witches, which was a
significant early influence on Wicca. She was an unofficial assistant to the
famous Egyptologist Flinders Petrie and helped excavate the sacred city of Abydos.
The temple of Seti I at Abydos contains inscriptions dubbed the ‘Helicopter
hieroglyphs’ as they supposedly depict a helicopter and a tank.
During the 19th and 20th dynasties,
Sepermeru was a centre for the 19th Nome. It was one of the chief cult centres
of Set, whose temple there was excavated and identified in the 1980s.
The information about the Setne documents, the Fayum/Fayyum,
the canal, Sepermeru, nomes, and the Oxyrhynchus documents is true.
Big boys' games, big boys' rules is an SAS maxim
about their use of lethal force.
The information about the resolutions of CCTV used for
child protection in 2013 is true.
Kitsune are magical foxes in Japanese mythology. They are
Declan’s comment about shares is a quote from common
Bête noire (French) = black beast. The bane of
Conard (French slang) = asshole/dick.
Il est un branleur (French slang) = he’s a useless
idiot. (Wanker is the English equivalent.)
C’est une raclure de bidet (offensive French
slang) = it’s bidet scum.
Keep your friends close but your enemies closer is
misattributed to various historical sources. It is from The Godfather movies.
Occam’s Razor – the principle that the more assumptions a
theory requires, the less likely it is to be true.
Je m’appelle Isolde Ambrose (French) = my name is
“I'm seventeen. Looking at linoleum makes me wanna have
sex” is from the episode Innocence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a
popular TV series written by Joss Wheldon.
Veles is a god from Slavic mythology. Otso appears in The
Enemy of the State is a 1998 American
action-thriller film directed by Tony Scott. Its theme is the ability to obtain
information about an individual.
Perita (Latin) = skilled, proficient, adept.
The information about ANPR is true.
The author referred to is Tony Geraghty. The book was The
I Dream of Jeannie was a popular 1960s American TV
shows about a jinniyah.
What is said about the jinn and mirrors is true.
Although 80% of a badger’s diet is earthworms, they will eat
small mammals including rabbits.
The laws about homosexual relationships in the UK are real.
The age of consent for gay sexual relationships was lowered from 21 to 18 in
1994. Equality of age of consent came in 2001. Single-sex couples could register
a civil partnership from 2004. Same-sex marriage became legal in England, Wales
and Scotland in 2014 and Northern Ireland in 2020.
The Book of Thoth is a fable. In ancient Egyptian mythology,
the god Djehuty (Thoth) is a great magician and the inventor of writing.
Flex-foot blades are used by runners. Carbon fibre blades
are superior. The normal route for children to obtain sports-quality blades is
true. LimbPower exists.
The Severn Bore exists. The information about it is true.
Minsterworth near Gloucester is one of the best viewing points. The Qiantang
River in China has the largest bore in the world.
What Declan says about Discordianism is true. The
ingredients for a Discordian spell are an adaptation of the Paper Clip
Sacrifice from Erisian Ritual Magic II.
The pub The Severn Bore exists.
The Severn Estuary has the third largest tidal range in
the world. The river is tidal as far as Gloucester.
Many cultures considered it ill-luck to let the hearth
fire go out. The tinderbox and tools were the common ones used before matches. Hearths
were usually in the centre of the house until the advent of chimneys and
Cluedo (Clue in the US) is a popular board game about
solving a murder.
The Angel of the North is a sculpture designed by Antony
Gormley. It stands 20 metres tall, with wings measuring 54 metres across.
The TARDIS is the transport of Doctor Who, the
protagonist of a BBC TV series. It is stuck in the shape of a mid-20th-century
British police box.
The age of consent is 14 in several European countries,
including Germany. For changes in the age of consent for homosexual sex in the
UK, see the note to Chapter 38.
The finfolk are from the folklore of the Orkney Islands,
situated in northeast Scotland. What is said is authentic folklore.
Bronies hold conferences. Their ethic is to be kind and
The information about the Sweet Angel Pony franchise is
largely taken from My Little Pony.
The information about CBIR engines is true.
The Lisa Simpson version of the 2012 Olympics logo is
true. I can’t use the authentic logo as it is subject to copyright.
The logo was created by the brand consultancy firm Wolff
Olins. It was unveiled in 2007.
In Heathen mythology, the fetch (Old Norse fylgja)
is part of a person.
Gullveig is a mysterious witch in Heathen mythology who
was burnt to death three times and came back to life. She may be Freya. The
story is in the Poetic Edda Voluspa 21-22.
In Heathen mythology, Vanadis is one of Freya’s titles.
It means something like ‘protective female spirit of the Vanir’. Laufeyjarson
is Loki’s matronymic (surname).
Sessrumnir (Old Norse) = seat-room. It is the name
of Freya’s hall.
The name ‘Budweiser’ is used in the USA by ABInBev and in
Europe by the Czech companies Budweiser Budvar and Budweiser Bier Bürgerbräu.
Mr Tumnus and the lamppost come from The Lion, the
Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis.
Emrys (Welsh for Ambrosius) is a name given to Merlin. Ellwood
is an Anglo Saxon surname deriving from a place in the Forest of Dean. It means
old wood or elder wood.
Cantrefs were medieval Welsh administrative areas.
In Heathen mythology, the idesa (Old Norse: disir) and hamingjar
(the word I have rendered as luckwives) are female protective spirits. There
also ordinary norns in addition to the three Great Norns. According to the
Prose Edda Gylfaginning 15, they were descended from gods, elves or
dwarves. All norns shaped lives.
In Heathen mythology, Ratatosk is a squirrel who runs up and
down the world tree Yggdrasil.
Beating the Bounds is an ancient English ritual that
seems to have its roots in ancient Heathen practices of land taking. Wassailing
apple orchards on Twelfth Night is an old custom in southern England.
A form of toga dyed solid purple was used to clothe
images of the gods in the Roman religion.
(Latin) = Lord Mars
Parcae (Latin) = the Fates. Morta chose the manner
and time of death.
Roman citizens could appeal to a tribune about the
decisions of a magistrate. The tribune was obliged to determine the legality of
the action before a magistrate could proceed.
The original version of Gone with the Wind was
released in the UK in 1940.
In Heathen mythology, the three Norns mend the damage
done to Yggdrasil.
The flooding in Somerset continued during January and
February 2014. Two councils declared a major incident. The army was called in
The information about the effects of the storms in early
2014 is true. A crisis committee was called by the Prime Minister after the
The Special Boat Squad (SBS) is the Royal Navy’s special
The Fastnet race is real.