Thirty-One Of The Gang

Pepper’s ghost is an illusion technique, named after John Henry Pepper. A brightly lit figure out of the audience’s sight below the stage is reflected in a pane of angled glass placed between the performer and the audience. To the audience, it appeared that there was a ghost on stage. Pepper perfected the technique, such that the illusion could be carried off in virtually any theatre or music hall. When he first demonstrated it in a scene from Charles Dicken’s The Haunted Man in December 1862, it was received rapturously by audience and critics alike.

The piece of glass, in showmen’s argot, was known as a phant, derived from the first syllable of phantom. They were anxious to avoid giving any reference to glass, in case they gave the game away.

Pig months were the eight months with an “r” in their name, in which it was said to be safer than the summer months to eat fresh pork.

A pigott was a lie, brazen and unvarnished, derived from the Irish journalist Richard Pigott, who forged evidence that Charles Stewart Parnell of the Irish Land League had been involved in the murders of senior representatives of the British government. Parnell sued successfully for libel and Pigott committed suicide, shooting himself in 1889. A forerunner of the johnson, I suppose.

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