Modified From The Original

Three years ago, I drew your attention to William Hope Hodgson, a strangely compelling writer. To see that post, go to the archive here, and scroll down to February 13th and Breakfast Of Hideousness!

I have just read Hodgson’s 1909 novel The Ghost Pirates, and though I could witter on about its peculiarities of narration, language, and even punctuation, there is one particular point that struck me and which I wish to share with you. Note that the copy I was reading was a first edition. On page 181 we find this:

The ropes were foul of one another in a regular ‘bunch o’ buffers.’ *

The asterisk alerts us to the following footnote:

* Modified from the original.

What in the name of heaven can this mean? What was the original version of ‘bunch o’ buffers’? Why was it modified? This being the first edition, ‘the original’ must presumably refer to the manuscript. Is it the only change from the manuscript to find its way into the printed book? And why tell us, in any case, given that if we were not told we would never know?

I am both perplexed and inspired by this footnote. My perplexity I have explained, my inspiration is something readers may well encounter at Hooting Yard in the near future – the inexplicable or paradoxical or gratuitous or tangential or bonkers or winsome or wilful footnote.

13 thoughts on “Modified From The Original

  1. Perhaps the original was ‘bunch o’duffers’. The word ‘duffer’ – now no more than the mildest of insults – was once (according to all the lewdest books) a fierce old word, used only in the darkest of underground bars, by the roughest sort of men. How it came to be thus, I cannot say, though it might have had something to do with Lord Duffer of Shrewsbury, aka The Shropshire Corpse-Muncher

  2. ‘Duffer’ takes me back to history lessons at my bog-standard community hub knowledge bestowing facility.
    Mr. Tomlinson was of the opinion that all his fresh-faced charges were ‘duffers’.
    He would write his proposed lesson on the board, in an incomprehensible long-hand, then fall into a fitful slumber waking only to have another cigarette (10 in a 40 minute lesson).
    He died a year later.
    His last words were broadcast from a tape-recorder at assembly one morning.
    His subject “The folly of nicotine addiction”.

    (I got a ‘U’ in History)

  3. This is more for O.S.M

    Did Mr Tomlinson also have terribly squeeky leather soled shoes?

    And when angered did he tend to throw the board rubber across the room at the duffer who was the subject of his ire?

    I was just wondering

  4. Now when he taught me it was at St. Aidan’s 1969-70. But he didn’t teach me after that. I wasn’t doing ‘O’ level History and he rather disappeared from my radar.
    I don’t recall his death or the assembly. When was that?

    My apologies for this excursion off the beaten track Mr. Key but this is to ridiculous of a coincidence to be allowed to go unexplored.

  5. Mr. Jennings let me expand this ridiculous coincidence by saying that the Neural Circus E.P. is being re-released in Germany within the next two weeks…
    You may remember joining us on a Yamaha CS10 for a couple of gigs many years ago..

    During conversation with Mr. Key in a London snack bar he mentioned Fred Frith.
    I thought to myself ‘there’s only one other person I’ve ever heard mention F.F.’
    Small, small world…


  6. Something somewhere in my hazy memory says this is indeed so. But I can’t remember any details whatsoever. Where was this? Harrogate?
    Did it involve a cover version of Halfway to Paradise with Gordon Whitelock?
    Many gigs have come and gone in the years since and I don’t remember but so many of them either.
    My memory is a wretched, withered thing.

    I know it wasn’t my Yamaha though.

  7. Nice to hear the Neural Circus e.p. is back out there, and I just heard that Wally reformed following the sad death of Paul Garret. Whatever next, Certain Ants product maybe?

  8. Goodness me nodrog. it took you a while to find your way here. The question is how??
    This World Wide Interweb is a very strange thing.

    Now if you clicked the ‘follow-up comments’ box…

  9. Brenda googled my name for some reason and your chat with outa spaceman cropped up. Did try find you via that dragonfly/damsel fly site but all was quiet. Still lounging in sunny Chorlton, follow up comment box duly ticked…

  10. Ahh yes, the check box. Didnt think of that. Try Facebook Im there Brenda made me join LOL. And I’m in the Facebook Hooting Yard group

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