The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba

The page numbers are from “Lord Peter” published by Harper & Row. The excerpts are copyrighted 1972 by Harper & Row.

242 ~ a trifle more point-device than the best taste approves
point-device: An actual, honest-to-God word — from 1546 — meaning scrupulously correct. From the French for “fixed point.”

243 ~ Bermondsey
An area of South London in the Southwark borough.

jostled the elbow of a flash person
flash: A show-offy person, particularly in dress.

245 ~ fished out of the river down Rotherhite way
Rotherite: A district in southeast London in the Southwark borough.

246 ~ See that wet, see that dry!
A promise that the person is telling the truth. The childhood line can conclude: “”Whack my back if I tell a lie.”

(Contributed by Karla Denovo)

bring the slops to this pub
slops: A form of backward slang, in which the new word is created by reversing the letters. So, “police” becomes “ecilop,” and modified to “slops.”

254 ~ There ain’t nobody loves me
The song (as of 2012) is not known to have existed. “Ain’t” is not commonly used in England. The nearest possibility is “Nobody Loves Me,” published in 1906 with words by Harry B. Smith and music by Victor Herbert.

259 ~ “A Barmecide feast, I see”
Barmecide: A word from the Arabian Nights, meaning someone who offers an imaginary advantage or benefit. Named for a prince of the Barmecide family, who pretended to set before the hungry Shacabac food, on which the latter pretended to feast.



264 ~ like Pantaloon at the circus
Pantaloon was a stock character in the Italian Commedia dell’arte

“where I keep my cash and my Froth Blower’s cuff-links”

Froth Blowers: The Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers

Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers cardsThe Ancient Order of Froth-Blowers was a popular service club during the 1920s, sort of like the Rotary and Lions and Elks, only centered around the more convivial activities in a pub. They held dances, raised money and performed good works for charities.

You might get a sense of how they saw themselves from this quotation in their handbook, in which they described themselves as:

“A sociable and law abiding fraternity of absorptive Britons who sedately consume and quietly enjoy with commendable regularity and frequention the truly British malted beverage as did their forbears and as Brittons ever will, and be damned to all pussyfoot hornswogglers from overseas and including low brows, teetotalers and MP`s and not excluding nosey parkers, mock religious busy bodies and suburban fool hens all of which are structurally solid bone from the chin up.”

There is a reference to the Froth-Blowers in “The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club.”

(c) 1995-2016 by Bill Peschel