The Peter Grant Glossary

British Floor Conventions
Are very simple - what the Americans call the First Floor is in fact the Ground Floor. The floor above that is the First Floor (which is the Second Floor in American). Above that floors are  numbered sequentially.

Some people like to have sex in the open air, some people like to watch other people having sex in the open air, fortunately some people like to have people watch them while they have sex in the open air. The term used to describe these activities in the UK is 'dogging' as in "I was out dogging last night."  There are websites and other forms of social networking to allow people to arrange hook ups but for many this lacks the exciting randomness of just turning up at a dogging location and seeing what happens.

Ford Asbo
Peter's trusty 2006 Ford Focus ST was nicknamed by Jeremy Clarkson as the Ford Asbo during an episode of Top Gear.

Fry Up
Otherwise known as the traditional English Breakfast and the opposite of a Continental Breakfast(1). It usually involves a combination of three or more of the following - eggs (fried, scrambled or omelet), bacon, sausage, baked beans, black pudding(2), liver, bubble and squeak(3), onions, mushrooms, chips(4), toast or fried slice(5).

The full expression of this culinary cornucopia can usually be found in two locations, mid-level hotels or a traditional greasy spoon cafe. A proper English person upon moving into a new area will always seek to locate a suitable greasy spoon for those mornings when you just got to eat right no matter what your partner, dietitian or cardiologist says.

(1) Hotels would love to switch to offering just a continental breakfast because it's much easier to arrange a couple of croissants, some fruit and a selection of jams than the wonderful artery clogging panoply of the traditional breakfast,

(2) A blood sausage made from oatmeal and pork blood.

(3) Are you sure you want to know? Okay it's basically a dish designed to recycle leftover vegetables from a big roast beef dinner. So you get yesterday's potatoes, brussel sprouts, cabbages, peas and anything else you might have lying around - and then you fry them until they're a nice crispy brown on both sides. It was big during the dark days of rationing but now it's mostly made from fresh ingredients.

(4) French Fries.

(5) A Fried Slice of bread. Oh god now I'm hungry.

Is an English County in the West Midlands. It is part of the borderland that once sheltered the rest of the English from the rapacious and warlike Welsh - or possibly it was the other way round? No matter it as rural a County as it's possible to get in England without running into a Northerner or a distressed celt.

Some statistics...
Population: 183,000 and change...
Population Density: 84 people per km2 (3rd lowest in England)
Ethnicity: 97.1% White, 1.2% Asian, 0.8% Mixed, 0.4% Black, 0.3% Other and 0.2% Fae(1)

Herefordshire is famous for potholes, top quality beef, cider, being the inspiration to Edward Elgar(2) and, in a spurious attempt to link the place back to Rivers of London/Midnight Riot, the birthplace of actor David Garrick.

(1) Or possibly Aliens...
(2) Amongst other things he wrote Pomp and Circumstances which is known the UK as Land of Hope And Glory and thus causes British people to burst out laughing at American High School graduations(3)
(3) Some British people anyway.

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
An organisation founded in 1967 to provide practical help for immigrants to the UK and to campaign for reform of the UK's immigration  policy.

General slang for Police Stations, sometimes on it's own 'Let's get back to the Nick' or used to identify a specific station - 'Let's get back to Leominster Nick.'

Raymond Erith

For better or for worse the dominant mode of architecture in the period following World War Two was 'modernism', buildings were square, roofs were flat and the comfort of the occupant a low priority compared to the expression of form and volume. If you want to know why this was the case then you can't do worse then read Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus to Our House although some have pointed out that modernism has since been superseded by post-modernism(1).

Herefordshire Folly 1961
Raymond Charles Erith RA FRIBA (that's Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects to you peasant) was having none of that. 

While his contemporaries excited themselves with the patterns wooden forms made in concrete and dreamed of vast depersonalised plazas, walkways and swathes of plate glass Erith drew on the classical tradition to build homes and public buildings that evoked the past without slavishly copying it.

There is about his work a joie de vivre so noticeably lacking from the work of his peers. I dare you to look upon his Herefordshire Folly, with it's copper awnings and it's rooftop viewing platform, without at least a hint of a grin.

That said he shared many of the foibles of his more 'modern' contemporaries, a strange disregard for kitchens for one and a love for spiral staircases that can only be kindled in the heart of someone who's never had to manhandle a wardrobe up one of the bloody things.

(1) Which is like modernism but with sloping walls and curvey bits added.

The Glorious Twelfth
The 12th of August when grouse come into season and thousands of people tramp around the countryside banging away with shotguns. Unlike foxhunting you're supposed to eat what you kill and it's supposed to be enormous fun - although not, presumably, for the grouse.


noun: the vernacular

1. the language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people of a country or region. "he wrote in the vernacular to reach a larger audience"
synonyms: everyday language, spoken language, colloquial speech, native speech, conversational language, common parlance, non-standard language, jargon, -speak, cant, slang, idiom, argot, patois, dialect; regional language, local tongue, regionalism, localism, provincialism;
informallingo, local lingo, patter, geekspeak; rareidiolect
 "he wrote in the vernacular and adopted a non-academic style accessible to the public"

2. architecture concerned with domestic and functional rather than public or monumental buildings.
"buildings in which Gothic merged into farmhouse vernacular"

 3. what Ben Aaronovitch writes the Rivers of London books in...

UKIP (UK Independence Party)
A political party founded in 1993 to campaign for the immediate withdrawl of the UK from the European Union. Beyond their central policy concern they also favour carvorting druids, death by stoning and dung for dinner(1)

 (1) Well maybe not although you never know..


Artyspice x said...

Love eeeeet...Love Rivers of London more...just getting stuck into Whispers Underground...will there be more?

Ste Carroll said...

Just found out today that Broken Homes comes out 25th July. Can't wait. Keep em coming Ben!

Kim Lear said...

Have just read Broken Homes, after reading the two previous books. I have read the books over and over again, they are so well written and entertaining. There must be a TV series in these books...I for one, would be hooked! Look forward to reading more of Nightingale and Peter, and of course the mysterious Molly. Can't wait for the next one!

John B. said...

You should have a Paypal donate button, I just read one of these checked out from the library and it was soo good that I feel the need to give back. Keep them coming!

Rhys said...

Coming from South Australia and having forgotten or missed that particular episode of Top Gear, I have been unsure of what sort of car an Asbo was since reading the first Peter Grant book. I was beginning to think it was perhaps a hot Ford hatchback and am pleased to see that indeed it is. I assume "Asbo" refers to the form you get when caught driving in a dangerous manner in the UK. Might I suggest an explanation be provided for those of us outside of the UK Ben? I love the books by the way.

Kirsty Jane Fussell said...

ASBO - Anti Social Behavior Order :)

sarah causley said...

I see the new cover but...when is the next book coming out? I have read them all and I am very impatient!! :D (apologies if the info is stated somewhere on here and I have missed it!)

sarah causley said...

I have seen the cover but...when is the next book coming out?! - I have read all the others and I am very impatient!! :D

Bearyhugs said...

I found these books on audible. fantastic stories. Kobna Holdbrook Smith is the narrator. perfect choice.

Joi said...

Rivers of London is a wonderful series and Kobna Holdbrook Smith brings Peter Grant to life as perfectly as Jim Dale did Harry Potter.

Rachel Yehudit said...

Love your books, Ben - only came across them by accident - yeah, I know, there are no accidents.
Its like Harry Potter but all grown up with long pants and a sh%%load of attitude.
Plus, being an expat Brit, who lived in Rotherhithe - as a squatter for a time, in the 80's - I miss my home - and the magic of London.
Now off back to China PLEASE write more.....we are hungry. Feed us.

greeneggs said...

I never knew where the name Asbo came from. Thanks for clearing that up!

Gaz H said...

Just finished forglove summer on my kindle. Loved the whole series so far. Any news on the next instalment?

Joe said...

Yes, when is the next book due? I read Foxglove Summer when was first released in the U.S., and am impatient for more.

nkk said... friend turned me onto your books and I tried really hard to make Foxglove Summer last as long as possible, but ate it up way too quick! When will the next book be out???? I'm hungry!!!!!

John Gayley said...

I was laughing so hard at "Foxglove Summer" while riding public transport in the U.S. that I almost got thrown off the "quiet train car". But what other reaction is warranted when you run across written pearls of prose such as "Caratacus suffered the double indignity of being taken to Rome in chains and having an opera written about him by Elgar."? It would take 5 intensive hours of interrogation in a local nick to explain to a group of Yanks why that was so hysterically funny. I'd probably be sectioned.

Helen Griffiths said...

My daughter introduced me to Rivers of London in 2012. I have since read and hung out for every single episode. I love the sense of fantsy/ridiculous that permeates all of them. They make me laugh as well as hanging onto every page to see what happens next. I am about to introduce them to my slightly "la de dah" bookclub group and can't wait to see what reaction I get. If they don't like them, I think I will find a new book club.

Joe said...

I suppose "The Glorious 12th" would be analogous to the 1 st Satuday in Nov. here in Kansas. Opening of pheasant and quail season. Was a great day in my youth way behind me now.

Joe said...

Nightingale needs to switch Molly from "Jaime at Home" to "Jaime's Italy"' I, for one like it much better. JMHO.

Emma.V Leech said...

I bought this series of books for my nephew who is in the Kent police. He's addicted to the series now and has kindly lent them to me ... and now I can't put them down either. Wonderfully well written. Oh, and to those who have apparently remarked they are "too English"??? What utter tosh! ;)

Robert Mowat said...

I love the Peter Grant books - but I am a little perplexed as to why the next in the series (The Hanging Tree) has had its publication delayed! Originally listed on Amazon as due out November 2015 - this has now changed to July 2016!

Is there any particular reason - apart from the vagaries of publishers?

Steven Carroll said...

I hear Rivers of London is coming to TV. What do people think about Rupert Penry Jones as the ideal actor to play Nightingale?

Liz Reynolds said...

I really enjoy these books. I listen via Audible and often go to sleep having one of the books read to me by Kobna Holbrook-Smith.

If you ever get a producer to take up the option of doing a TV series Id like to put Kobna forward as the on screen Peter Grant.
Meanwhile as I've bought all the books on audible I can listen to them again and again. Ive also got my husband hooked who has just found out that the latest book has been delayed until next July!

Keep up the good work.

Richard Stanford said...

Nicely done! As a British ex-pat now living in the 'States, I'd add "Wardrobe" to your list - over here, its called an Armoire and the word wardrobe typically refers to your clothing collection. Love the books btw.

Jeff K said...

I just love these books, sometimes I laugh so hard I nearly wet myself!

They are more than just funny though, they are so factually rich that I have to keep breaking off from reading to look things up. If school had been this much fun I would have learnt way more!

Thank you Ben Aaronovitch!

BTW does anyone know what dog batteries are (Broken Homes)? Google just gives loads of results for batteries for toy robot dogs, or what to do if your dog eats a battery (put light bulbs in its ears when you take it out for a walk at night?)

David Farnsworth said...

Have just re-read all the first 5 in preparation for the Hanging Tree. And I'm sure that I'll read them all again. To find the depth of background with the height of humour is a rare treat. I now wish to visit Herefordshire to find all those places; London I can visit via Streetview but I (almost) want to live there to visit first-hand. These books keep me awake at night... I have to keep reading. Splendid.
Barbara Cartland used to knock out a book a week... what do you do with the other 103 weeks between books? P.S. We use ventilators in Intensive Care, fire fighters use respirators. Salut!

sheilaj said...

what I cannot work out is how your writing is so use simple words and images and I am right there in the the actors the nick canteen. I can smell the honeysuckle and the to be glamour stored in the books right?

Robin Rowland said...

I recently came across the Rivers series and immediately fell in love with the stories from here in the far Northwest of British Columbia. Luckily, our small bookstore had the first three and I read Foxglove on Kindle. I once lived in London for a year. as a semi-retired journalist I have covered police in Canada on and off for decades, and I drive a Ford Focus. But for all those colonials (and others) out there, I hope you (or an assistant if any if you`re too busy writing) would one day update the Glossary to include all those MET acronyms and communications codes you use (I am used to various forms of ten codes 10-4) so we`d know what they mean.

Pippa White said...

I lifted Rivers of London from the book swap at Oval stain one particularly grim evening. Having been part of the MPS's experiment to have Holmes (the original) taught by civs... I live the fact that the police bit is pretty much there. Can't comment about the magic but one of my first incident room DCs was a member of the magic circle.
So I read, and love the accuracy. Pippa

James Culatto said...

Loving the books. Don't live in UK but was recently there and noticed a nicely hidden gate under Abbey Road DLR station bridge. Reminded me of the Underground book and thought it was interesting!

sheilaj said...

Ben, if you are reading this, four words “as any fule kno’ You (and Peter Grant) are the wrong generation to know this, I, however am not. i want to be a character in one of your books please. I wouldn’t mind a horrid death but want to be on Nightingale’s side.

hatusu said...

Currently reading Hanging Tree, I second the request to have a glossary of Met acronyms somewhere, as most the the ones online are predominantly comprised of US police acronyms and whilst interesting and diverting, are of little use in the quest to decipher TST, TSG, etc. I am a person who lives to read to sorts of well-researched books that require semi-frequent trips to Wikipedia for deeper knowledge of some of the people, places and objects mentioned, so you can imagine how much I love the RoL series. The London you write about is a living thing, and when I'm there, walking the streets, your books (among others) give new depth to the things I see there. Your honest, warts-and-all love for the place shines through. Basically, I think you're great *giggle, shuffle*

Charis N. said...

I feel as if I've been waiting YEARS for The Hanging Tree, why look! It HAS been two years, gahhhhhb!

Unknown said...

I finished the Hanging tree in a day. I need more, more, more. What are the plans for the next book?

DLeonard said...

I also found this helpful with a lot of the acronyms -

Arwen S said...

Thanks for the glossary. As I am from the States, some of the vernacular is a little obscure. I started a list for my Brit friend to translate. You might consider expanding the glossary if you've got the time. Not a big deal; the vernacular is part of the charm. I discovered your books fairly recently. Just finished Broken Homes. Unlike most series, which experience a decline in quality, I think that Broken Homes is maybe the best so far. Expansion of character was great. LOVED (and was completely surprised by) the twist at the end.

jmellby said...

In "A Book of Cunning Device" They refer to Harold Postmartin, DFL FRS. Free is obviously Fellow of the Royal Society. What is DFL?