Paratalk or torque?

My new column, with a title that somehow makes sense. From now on until I stop I will be examining a paragraph in whatever detail I choose. This is also a good time for guests to pop in and do their own paragraph.

This week my paragraph is from a book that’s out of print. It was written by comedian Richard Digance whose claim to fame (in my eyes and mine alone) is that he worked with Chris Barrie who later became Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf. The book is called Run Out in the Country. I have no idea why I have a book about cricket, can’t even tell you if I’ve read it.

A few spots of rain fell on Slogger’s forehead as he faced up to Trevor with an oddly retaken guard of off stump. The squarer stance enabled him to get behind the ball more quickly to execute his favourite stroke over deep mid-on. If he missed it was LBW, but after such a slow start he felt like taking the chance. Jackson realised his ploy and moved Baird across from the front of the pavilion to the on side, some twenty feet in from the boundary, within whispering distance of John Copeland. A dangerous proximity because the pair hadn’t spoken since John’s retriever had bagged a pheasant Baird’s shotgun had taken on the rise.

What do we have in here?

What I see here are two forms of sport, both with their own jargon. And I understand precious little of it. I’ve heard of most of the phrases so I’m able to identify them as jargon associated with cricket but that’s as far as I go.  What they actually mean is a mystery and will remain mysterious to me as I just don’t care to find out and then figure out what is actually happening.

Then there are some other words or phrases in the last sentence that tells me the narrator is likely to be talking about pheasant shooting, a sport that’s been popular in England for quite some time. I was under the impression sport was meant to be friendly and that you didn’t take animosity from one sport into the field of another. But obviously I was wrong.

What I really want to say about this paragraph is that if the copy-editor didn’t know it was jargon they would look at this paragraph and make vast changes which would likely change the meaning to reflect a boxing game or something entirely different. Essentially, make sure your copy-editor knows enough about the topic you’ve written about to be able to make valuable suggestions to improve your writing rather than changing the piece entirely.