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  • Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post
    I wonder how keen on horse racing James Maybrick was. He may have been in regular contact with ‘Buffoon’.
    Very keen, it appears, Gary.

    I believe he was a regular attendee at the Grand National during the 1880s, and we know he went to the Wirral races on 27th April 1889, despite waking up that morning feeling unwell. It poured with rain that day and he went home soaked through. He took to his bed that evening feeling even worse, and he was dead in a fortnight.

    The hoaxer presumably checked that JM wasn't in America when the Grand National was run, and also worked out that he could reasonably have compared the turf and the pace of recent years and perceived that the 1889 race 'was the fastest' he'd seen.

    Again, if this was something the Barretts bothered to check out, Mike didn't think to mention it in his affidavit of 5th January 1995. It was not until June 1995 that Keith first discussed this reference in the diary with Paul Feldman, and with Carol Emmas's help in Liverpool they decided to look into the history of the Grand National.

    Love,

    Caz
    X

    "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


    Comment


    • Originally posted by caz View Post

      Hi Gary,

      Gilbert & Sullivan featured a few buffoons in The Mikado, which enjoyed a very popular rerun at the Savoy from March to June 1888, and the song 'Oh! a private buffoon is a light-hearted loon...' is from The Yeomen of the Guard, which was first performed at the Savoy on 3rd October 1888.

      I'm not sure the Barretts knew that, but the hoaxer's timing in Mike's "old book" is pretty spot on, if we assume the brothers Maybrick would have frequented the theatre that year.

      Love,

      Caz
      X
      I found a very amusing little ditty with the refrain, ‘Buck-Buck-Buckinghamshire Buffoon’

      They loved their alliteration those late Victorians, and they were extremely amused by the word ‘buffoon’.

      But they would never in a million years have considered combining ‘bumbling’ and ‘buffoon’.

      We know that because Google tells us so.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post


        In The Tatler of 7th March, 1956, we can read of an Oxford rowing coach quoted as saying that he “quite enjoys bumbling round a harbour in a dinghy if there's a pretty girl in the stern."


        So, it looks like we have a nautical usage that may have gone underground* for half a century.


        *i.e. Has proved Google-proof.


        I’ve now had a chance to look for the nautical term “bumbling” (or “bumble” or “bomble” or any similar word) in the following reference books:

        A Naval Encyclopedia: Comprising a Dictionary of Nautical Words and Phrases (Philadelphia, 1884)—fully 872 pages long.

        The Nautical Nomenclator; or Dictionary of the British Navy – William Losack (London, 1802)

        The Sailor’s Word-Book: An Alphabet Digest of Nautical Terms – Admiral W. H. Smith (London, 1867)

        Sailor’s Language: A Collection of Sea Terms & Their Definitions – William Clark Russell (London: 1883)

        The Complete Nautical Dictionary by Nathanial Bowditch (2010)

        There’s bumpkin, bumboat, and bombard (a type of cask) but nothing whatsoever like “bumbling,” let alone any reason why anyone would associate it with “buffoon.”

        I can only conclude that the reason why the nautical term “bumbling” stayed “Google proof” in the 19th and 20th Centuries, because no such term existed. Commander Currey was comparing the humming of his engine to the bumbling of a bumble bee—nothing more.

        P.S.

        From the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 10 April 1886: “the Parnellites (in the House of Commons) volley forth their Yeah! Yeah! Yeahs! with more than equal delight.” And, of course, the phrase “she loves you” was in wide usage throughout the Victorian age, including in the serialized novel, “A Bitter Revenge” (1889)

        Thus, I can see no reason why it would have been problematic if Maybrick had combined the two phrases to write “She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” 80 years before The Beatles. It is certainly possible that he could have done so, just he could have been the first human being to coin the now recognizable insult “bumbling buffoon" six decades before any known example.

        So move along, folks, there's nothing to see here…

        Comment


        • Hey, how did the word "blimey" come about? What it a pirate term for "blow me down"? Hum...

          Comment


          • Hi Scotty,

            I believe it's short for "Gor blimey!", meaning "God blind me!"

            From my window I can see all the bumble bees bumbling around our lavender plant.

            Love,

            Caz
            X
            "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


            Comment


            • Originally posted by caz View Post
              Hi Scotty,

              I believe it's short for "Gor blimey!", meaning "God blind me!"
              That's exactly what I was told at school, by a teacher, in my younger years.

              Regards, Jon S.

              Comment


              • Tedious comment alert.

                When a journalist is using slang, or a term that has only recently entered the English language, don't they often put it in quotation marks to signal this fact to their readers?

                For example, in a book review in a Philadelphia newspaper from May 2010, the relatively new word selfie is put in quotation marks:

                Click image for larger version  Name:	May 2010.JPG Views:	0 Size:	27.0 KB ID:	741538

                By putting "selfie" in quotation marks, it identifies it as a new phenomenon. A photograph of one's self, made with a cellphone.

                With this in mind, the phrase "out fox" or "out foxed" has been suggested as a possible anachronism in the diary. I think it escapes that charge...but only barely. I found an example dating to the 1850s...but only one example, which is somewhat strange had it been in wide circulation.

                By the 1890s, the term begins to appear in print quite regularly, but, interestingly enough, The San Francisco Examiner, writing in April 1892, still deemed it necessary to put the phrase in quotation marks, as if it had only just now come into vogue.


                Click image for larger version  Name:	SF Examiner 28 April 1892.JPG Views:	0 Size:	45.4 KB ID:	741539


                Why would they do this if their readers would have immediately recognized it?

                I don't think they would have, and the lack of examples of similar usage in the 1870s and 80s seems suggestive.

                Still, it is fair to say that "Maybrick" has dodged a bullet on this one. The 1890s are close enough.

                By contrast, I'm not seeing "spread" or "spreads" or "spreading" mayhem before the 1930s.

                The well-known American dictionary, Webster's, doesn't include the modern definition (in the sense of random mischief or "rowdy disorder") until after the year 2000. Before then, it is simply given as an alternative spelling of "maim."

                Click image for larger version  Name:	Webster's 2001.JPG Views:	0 Size:	28.0 KB ID:	741540

                Compare to Webster's in 1910:



                Click image for larger version  Name:	1910.JPG Views:	0 Size:	28.1 KB ID:	741541

                I don't know how someone would explain this other than that the definition "rowdy disorder" didn't start gaining wide acceptance until sometime between 1910 and 2000. I think this was discussed on the message boards a couple of years ago.

                The 1930s and 40s appear to be the initial hot-spot for "spreading mayhem."

                "Spreads maiming" is not a credible substitute.

                Last edited by rjpalmer; 09-08-2020, 07:50 PM.

                Comment


                • I suspect if James MAY-brick had been called James Carr instead, our hoaxer might have had 'Sir Jim' spreading CARnage, or Carr-nage, with the knife in his hand, instead of MAY-hem. And if it was Mike Barrett, he might have had him doing it at 'the dark end of the street'.

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HC3AXQ8dPJM

                  Mayhem wasn't perfect for precisely what JtR was spreading round Whitechapel, but you have to cut your garment according to your cloth, and when your cloth is MAY, then Mayhem - in the old sense of the word - is a decent enough fit and none too shabby.

                  Suit you, Sir Jim.

                  Love,

                  Caz
                  X
                  "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                  Comment


                  • Hi Caz.

                    I find it somewhat interesting that, like "bumbling buffoon," the phrase "spread/spreads/spreading mayhem" appears to be much more popular in the U.S. than in the U.K.

                    At least that's what I'm seeing. You can correct me if you think otherwise.

                    For instance, if you punch 'spread mayhem' or its variants into the BNA site, only two dozen hits pop up, none of them dating before 1980, despite there being thousands and thousands of British newspapers digitized from the years 1800-1930. (There is one false hit from 1861, but it actually reads "broad-spread sapphire").

                    I think it is fair to ask why this is. Don't journalists spend their days talking to people and hanging out in pubs and at political events? Wouldn't we expect their language to reflect the phrases in common use? But not a single hit. 'Spreading mischief' is common; 'spreading mayhem' is AWOL.

                    By contrast, if you punch the phrase into a popular American newspaper archive, you get over 1,500 hits, dating from the 1930s-2020. But not a single hit before 1930.

                    Thus, I suspect that the word 'mayhem' got bastardized in America. We didn't really have a good grasp of its legal meaning and started using it in the sense of "random mischief" or "crazy misbehavior" sometime after World War One--and it caught on.

                    And like "bumbling buffoon," it seems to have been particularly popular among those writing for (and about) the film or television industry:



                    Click image for larger version  Name:	mayhem 1985.JPG Views:	0 Size:	18.9 KB ID:	741641 Click image for larger version  Name:	mayhem 1965.JPG Views:	0 Size:	35.2 KB ID:	741642 Click image for larger version  Name:	mayhem 1959.JPG Views:	0 Size:	80.1 KB ID:	741643


                    Do we know anyone connected to the Maybrick Diary who might have unconsciously picked-up blurbs and phrases from movie/tv journalism?

                    Or would that merely fit anyone alive and breathing after the 1950s?


                    Click image for larger version  Name:	Look-In.JPG Views:	0 Size:	29.5 KB ID:	741644




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                    • It's all rather intriguing, isn't it RJ?

                      Thanks for looking into this. I'd have no problem with a diary author who was influenced by American English, either from the media or personal experience. Could have been a Maybrick 'tourist' visiting Battlecrease at any time up to 8th March 1992 - if you get my drift.

                      But as with 'bumbling buffoon' - in the older, fussy bumble bee sense - I still feel the MAYhem being spread with the knife in 'Sir Jim's hand is far better suited to the old sense of carnage.

                      JtR wasn't spreading 'random mischief', was he? He was spreading the blood of Whitechapel unfortunates.

                      JM had tolerated his 'bumbling buffoon' of a family doctor over a good number of years, and Hopper had even delivered baby Gladys. Hopper simply had JM down as a hypochondriac, which 'Sir Jim' couldn't stomach.

                      Love,

                      Caz
                      X
                      "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                      Comment

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