I'm reading The Muse by Jessie Burton. The following descriptions are about a woman who comes from the upper class of London in 1967:

"Wide black slacks that billowed like a sailor’s as she walked. A pale-pink silk blouse with a grey satin necktie loosely slung inside it. She looked like something out of Hollywood."

"I imagined her in her twenties, raffing round London with a glamorous set, a cat amongst the Blitz."

Firstly, I'm having a hard time picturing the way she dressed. The dictionary says "to sling" means to drop carelessly. So I guess there's a casualness to her style. But then I can't imagine a woman wears her necktie "inside" her blouse. Is this the fashion in that era or have I misunderstood the sentence?

Secondly, I did find the definition for "raff" in Wiktionary, which says it means "to sweep, snatch, draw, or huddle together". But then I don't understand what "raff round London" means. Is it the same idea as "wonder around"?

Finally, I believe "Blitz" refers to the German bombing of London during World War II. But when the author describes this character as "a cat amongst the Blitz", what does it mean?

Can anybody help me with those ideas?


Sling in this case means "suspend or arrange (something), especially with a strap or straps, so that it hangs loosely in a particular position" (Oxford Dictionary). She's wearing her necktie tucked under her blouse, like so.

Raffing is harder. Raff is usually a British noun that can mean "people of the lowest social class considered collectively; disreputable or undesirable people" (Oxford Dictionary). In this case, I believe the writer has made an analogous verb to the colloquial verb slum, meaning "spend time at a lower social level than one’s own through curiosity or for charitable purposes" (Oxford Dictionary). In other words, raff means the the character was spending time among a disreputable or lower class than her own.

Cat amongst the Blitz is also harder. In this case, the narrator is imagining what the woman was like during the Blitz when she was younger. In British parlance throw a cat among(st) the pigeons means "a disturbance caused by an undesirable person from the perspective of a group" (Wikipedia). I believe that the narrator means that the woman generally caused a disturbance in London when she was young. The Blitz here more means "London during the Blitz".

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.