I feel very sorry for the child who nearly choked on his biblical cord, and for the gentleman who feels "out on a limbo". I think we have all felt out on a limbo sometimes, perhaps especially the lady who "has a milestone round her neck".
Her mother is, as always, the champion of the spoken word:
Mrs Winterson used to talk about an interfering madam she disliked as a "proper Cleopatra". On further inquiry I discovered she had "a rod up her asp". When I asked what this meant, Mrs Winterson replied: "she won’t let sleeping snakes lie."