The good name "Hodges" . . .
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 decides to start her own business and advertises her newly founded Tadfield Manor Conference and Management Training Center:
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)
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.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.
She provided it. (page 100)
Amen to Good Omens.