ogre downstairs -- behold the crap edition! (lengthy, and spoily)

Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk
Tue Apr 16 05:00:34 EDT 2002





> yes, i have now officially christened the altered 1996 UK edition of the
> ogre downstairs the "crap edition". =)

Congratulations on a great piece of scholarship!

I started reading the UK paperback (Puffin 1997, reprinted 1986) which I think
is identical to the original (MacMillan, 1974).  I'm only about 40% of the way
through, but:

> to begin with, of course, there's the "classical music" being substituted
> for "commercial pop" that's one of the biggest disasters in the crap
> edition. ("I think he's frightful," Caspar had said frankly. "And I bet he
> listens to classical music. He's bound to, with low eyebrows like that." -
> page 4, crap edition)

Check.  Puffin: Commercial pop.  Indeed a disaster - it makes nonsense of the
low brows => lowbrow joke.

> and of course, the magical transformation of records into tapes, which was
> vaguely anachronistic in 1996 -- for the US, anyway. though not being a kid,
> i don't know for sure. i'm sure someone like douglas would have a CD player
> in the very least, however.

ISTR the same comment - LPs should become CDs - was made in Charmed Lives a few
years ago.  LPs throughout the Puffin edition, of course.

> throughout the book, "LP" is changed over to "album", "record" to "tape",
> etc. i shan't bother with every instance. they didn't make any amusing
> mistakes in the crap edition. pity. =)

:-)

> pg 10 (crap):
>
> "Because you're such little monsters," said Malcolm. "And Douglas hasn't got
> anything either."
> "That's because he's a big monster," said Caspar. "Beside Douglas, you're
> not even a monster. You're just a slimeball."
>
> pg 8 (new US):
>
> "Because you're such little frights," said Malcolm. "And Douglas hasn't got
> anything either."
> "That's because he's a big fright," said Caspar. "Beside Douglas, even your
> frightfulness pales."
>
> don't ask me why they changed this one. the original is definitely better,
> imo.

As you guessed, the original is the frights.

> before i do the next one... brace yourself. this is right after the ogre
> goes to check on how malcolm's doing with the chemistry set for the first
> time.
>
> pg 15 (crap):
>
> The Ogre's sons always called him Father. The Ogre would not let them say
> Dad like normal people.
>
> this passage is not even in the new US edition. it always struck me as a
> rather odd and obtrusive passage. now i know why. yech.

Nor in the original.  (If you want to know how DWJ would make that particular
point, read the short story "Carruthers".)

> for the next, i'm not sure if this is a UK/US thing (meaning that it's
> actually original in the crap edition) or if it was actually changed. the
> crap edition says "face-flannel" where the US says "towel." the reason i
> suspect it might be face-flannel in the UK originally is because this book
> is the first place i'd ever heard this phrase. it's not said in the US at
> all. i inferred it to be the equivalent of US "washcloth" (meant for washing
> one's face) as opposed to "towel" (meant for drying oneself) originally,
> though. towels make more sense contextually, since they're always being used
> to mop up things in the book.

Good guess.  Puffin: Face-flannel.  At least, in the passage where they've just
washed the vol. pulv. off Gwinny, and are clearing up the mess, they are using
face-flannels, and staining them purple.

Wash-cloths, known over here as face flannels, are often made of the same sort
of cloth as towels (I think it's called terry), so it's not totally incongruous.

> page 31, crap:
>
> "...until Sally said that their landing seemed like a plague-spot to her."
>
> in the US edition, "a plague-spot" is "an affliction." (pg 24)

Again, the crap edition is following the original, and the US edition making
changes!  Puffin: Plague-spot.

> for what it's worth, since i started on tapes as a kid, save for when i was
> really tiny -- i was born in 1977 -- i have no clue about anything decent
> when it comes to turntables. so "one of those attachments" is meaningless to
> me, except to assume it automatically cleans records as they play, or
> something. =) so i can understand why they did it -- but that doesn't mean
> they should have. it was very easy to infer and i am sure i could've
> inferred it just as easily when i was 12. i had no problems with DWJ back
> then.

The attachment consists of a small brush and a roller wrapped in record cleaning
cloth on the end of an arm like a pick-up arm.  You sit it on the record, and as
the record rotates it picks up the dust.  It follows the grooves to the centre
of the record just as the stylus does.  My Papa got one at about that date (mid
'70s), and it's a fun idea, but it's not as effective as a proper cleaning brush
or cloth.  (It also doesn't work with an autochanger, but then no-one who cares
for their records uses an autochanger...)

FWIW I was born in 1967 and started with tapes, not records, but my brother, 3
years younger, started with records.

> the moment. also, amusingly, a £5 note becomes a £20 note in the crap
> edition. that's inflation for you!

:-)

(The following is typical of my geekdom.  Non-anoraks may ignore this paragraph
if they wish).  I looked up the Retail Price Index for 1974 and 1996.  This is
the standard measure of the purchasing power of money in the UK.  In January
1974 it stood at 25.3 points [*], and in January 1996 it stood at 150.2.  So to
keep pace with inflation, £5 in 1974 would have had to be about £29.70 in 1996.
So yes, inflation really was that bad in the '70s.  (I don't know about in the
US, but the pound was worth abou $2.50 in the 1970s, and fell to about $1 in the
early 1980s, before recovering to todays levels.)

> one more thing that i recall is that in the crap edition, douglas says (this
> is from my head) "Are you going to lend it me?" and in the new US says, "Are
> you going to lend it to me?" Now, they didn't really get rid of any other
> anglicisms like that in the new US edition, so i wonder, again, which one
> matches the original text. then again, if you're a kid in the US, "are you
> going to lend it me?" parses like you're asking if the listener is going to
> lend you to his belonging. =) someone in the US would say "are you going to
> lend me it?" (or "lend it to me?" as it appears in the new edition.)

I have read that passage, and I can't remember what Douglas said.  I shall have
to look it up.

UK English now generally accords with US - "Lend me it" or "Lend it to me" but
the other is not unknown.

> and before i forget, "disco club" in the crap is "discotheque" in the US.
> neither sounds very contemporary, to my mind. i don't know about british
> teenagers in 1996, but US kids would simply go to a "club" or "go clubbing"
> in 1996, and even now. i guess "club" would be too vague without the
> "disco".

"Discotheque" in the original.  I always found this incongruous - UK kids in the
'70s would have said "disco".  Nowadays, I think (I'm not 100% up on youth
culture now!) "disco" is the event or the equipment, but you go to the "club".

On the subject of incongruities, the original has them listening to a
guitar-solo and Douglas has his party in the dining-room, with hyphens as you
noted from the US edition.

I cannot help thinking that these might be deliberate incongruities, introduced
by DWJ to emphasise the fact that Jack, Douglas and Malcolm are from a different
background, speak differently, and all the rest.

Whether or not this is the case, it leads me to the hypothesis that Douglas and
the other kids talk about the "discotheque" simply because Jack won't permit the
use of such a sloppy word as "disco" in his house.

You know, at the beginning of the book Jack is quite reminiscent of Angus
Flint...

> anyway, that's all i have found. maybe i should write a faq. whew. i'm done.
> ^_^;;

Go for it!

Philip.

[*]  If any reader is a mega-geek, you will have noticed that the RPI actually
stood at 100 points in 1974.  However it was later re-normalised so that the 100
point mark corresponded to January 1987, and I have therefore adjusted the 1974
figure to be comparable with post-1987 values.







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