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At the beginning of Chapter III of Dorothy Sayers' Strong Poison, Waffles Newton says

"Look here, old man, I'm going to push my stuff in. Will you let me know what happens?"

What is meant by "push my stuff in" here?

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1 Answer 1

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Waffles Newton is a journalist covering the trial of Harriet Vane for the murder of Philip Boyes, and he is talking to Salcombe Hardy, another journalist. This situation at the start of chapter 3 is that the judge has just finished his summing-up, and the jury have been sent out to deliberate. Newton thinks that the case is cut-and-dried:

“They won’t be long, I shouldn’t think,” said Waffles Newton, “it’s pretty damned obvious.”

Dorothy L. Sayers (1930). Strong Poison, chapter 3. London: Gollancz.

but Hardy replies:

“We shall miss the 6:30 edition, I’m afraid, unless they† hurry up. The old man‡ is careful but he’s damned slow.”

† the jury ‡ the judge

So by “push my stuff in”, Newton means “submit my copy to the newspaper”.

stuff, n. 7.a. Literary or artistic matter; compositions, productions […] colloquial among journalists and professional authors = ‘copy’.

Oxford English Dictionary.

Hardy also has “stuff” to submit: he asks Newton “if you don’t mind dropping mine in at our place as you go”.

The choice of “push” is interesting: it suggests that Newton will have to exert some force or effort to get the copy into the edition, in comparison to Hardy, who can just have his “dropped in”. Perhaps this reflects a difference in the editorial processes at the respective newspapers, or more likely Newton’s use of “push” is slightly facetious.

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  • Yeah, in retrospect this was how I was leaning, but I'm not clear as to why the verb here is "push." Jun 9 at 14:57
  • @DanielMcLaury I wonder if it's at all related to push vs. pull in logistics--push here is Newton telling his editor that the article is done, whereas pull would be the editor asking Newton if the article is done. In that case "push" doesn't indicate a huge effort, it's more about who's doing it. Jun 10 at 15:50

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