Monday, March 23, 2009

The good name "Hodges" . . .

Good Omens
Neil Gaiman
Terry Pratchett
(Image from Wikipedia)

The good name "Hodges," oft maligned in this world through the literary works of the likes of Jane Austen, finds itself blessed in Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens.

Oh, you weren't aware that Austen maligns the good name of "Hodges"?

Well, consider chapter 27 of Emma, in which a certain cook named "Mrs. Hodges" -- in her depiction by the voluble Mrs. Weston quoting some servant named "Patty" quoting some other servant -- comes across as cross:
Mrs. Hodges, he said, was quite displeased at their being all sent away. She could not bear that her master should not be able to have another apple-tart this spring. He told Patty this, but bid her not mind it, and be sure not to say any thing to us about it, for Mrs. Hodges would be cross sometimes.
All this displeasure over missing apples! As though the fruit hadn't been intentionally "sent away"! As though Mrs. Hodges had inordinate charge over the Garden of Eden and had discovered her precious apples gone! What a proud, overbearing, self-important cook! (Not anything like a genuine self-effacing Hodges.)

By contrast, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett offer us in the "Wednesday" chapter of Good Omens a Hodges with character, a Hodges who develops, a Hodges who improves through adversity. Formerly known as Sister Mary Loquacious, she must rebuild her life when her Chattering Order of Saint Beryl -- a rather unusual order of 'nuns', admittedly, but let's not dwell on that -- finds its hospital struck by lightning shortly after a newborn baby destined to change the world is gently taken home by his unsuspecting 'parents'. Left for the first time to her own devices, her order disbanded, her convent largely destroyed, Sister Mary changes:
Then something very strange happened to her. Left alone in the rambling building, working from one of the few undamaged rooms, arguing with men with cigarette stubs behind their ears and plaster dust on their trousers and the kind of pocket calculator that comes up with a different answer if the sums involved are in used notes, she discovered something she never knew existed.

She'd discovered, under layers of silliness and eagerness to please, Mary Hodges.

She found it quite easy to interpret builders' estimates and do VAT calculations. She'd got some books from the library, and found finance to be both interesting and uncomplicated . . . . So she'd started reading the kind of magazine that talked about mergers. (page 99)
She decides to start her own business and advertises her newly founded Tadfield Manor Conference and Management Training Center:
It had turned out to be an overwhelming success, because Mary Hodges realized early in her new career as Herself that management training didn't have to mean sitting people down in front of unreliable slide projectors. Firms expected far more than that these days.

She provided it. (page 100)
I'm not yet certain what she's providing by way of service, for I've only reached page 100, but I'm sure that it's well-respected and highly successful, altogether a blessing -- rather than a blight -- on the good Hodges name.

Amen to Good Omens.

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At 4:28 AM, Blogger writtenwyrdd said...

Do tell us whether or not you choose to revise that last statement in about twenty pages, when things get complicated.

I adore that book. I have nearly every Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman book. Both are geniuses.

If you wish for social commentary delivered with vast dollops of humor, though, read the Discworld books by Pratchett. Start with the early ones.

At 4:44 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You mean . . . all is not as it seems?

(Actually, I've read Good Omens before . . . but can't recall what becomes of Mary Hodges.)

I've been thinking that I need to read Discworld. Thanks for the encouragement.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least they didn't steal dimes or far as anyone knows.

At 5:48 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, Uncle Cran, there has been the occasional Hodges reprobate, but I'm trusting that Mary Hodges will prove to be one of the elect.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:04 AM, Blogger writtenwyrdd said...

Yes, she was only a worshiper of Old Nick.

At 7:42 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yeah, that part was clear from her membership in the Chattering Order. I was more interested in her career after that order's demise. She's popped up again but has done little other than go into a trance. More later...

Jeffery Hodges

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