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At the 2nd Annual General Meeting of the shareholders of the Global Corona Corporation (GCC), Roderick Spode, the Vice President (Operations) of the company, presented his Annual Report for the period from April 2020 to March 2021.

Here are some of the salient features of his report.

  1. Due to the aggressive marketing policies followed by GCC, brand Covid has captured a major share of the market during the year under reference. As of now, close to 136 million people have suffered from this onslaught, while as many as 2.94 million have kicked the bucket. This has reduced the pressure on the limited resources of our planet.
  2. If the world population is taken to be 7.8 billion, during the last year, GCC has touched a mere 0.02% of human beings. This shows the immense market potential which lies untapped for the products and services of GCC in the times to come. We have already trained an army of Red Shorts volunteering to help us expand our footprints across all the continents. The Honourable Frederick Threepwood, the famous marketing guru who is an expert at selling Donaldson’s Dog Joy biscuits, is already on our panel of distinguished advisors.
  3. Enthused by our success so far and its future potential,  several mutants of the virus have also got launched in quick succession, keeping the Homo sapiens in a continuous state of fear and stress, twiddling their thumbs trying to figure out ways and means of countering the pandemic.
  4. This has spurred a faster transformation to digital ways of handling transactions and led to a faster evolution of Industrial Revolution 4.0. Aunt Dahlia, who had always thrived on communicating by means of telegraphic means, is delighted at the simple life she lives now. Aunt Agatha now resorts to using video calls to give a piece of her mind to her errant nephew, Bertie Wooster.
  5. Reduction of Global CO2 emissions, leading to a cleaner environment, promoting healthier flora and fauna, making Lord Emsworth a happy man.
  6. Fault lines in managing economies have been exposed and the severe limitations of capitalism brought back in focus. Billionaires world over have improved their personal wealth by 54% during the period, while the poor are struggling to keep their body and souls together. Perhaps they followed what Ukridge preached that one accumulates only when one speculates. Those who believe in get-rich-quick schemes based on the stock market are also quickly learning to live with get-poor-quick outcomes instead. Office bearers of the Senior Conservative Club are appalled at the number of nouveau riche billionaires on their waiting list seeking membership.
  7. Globally, politicos heading the so-called democratic countries have been successfully nudged to shed their sheep-wool clothing and instead reveal their wolf-like dictatorial ambitions. Truth has been revealed for the greater good, though human rights and journalistic freedoms have been trampled upon ruthlessly. Taking a leaf out of my own outrage when a prized silver cow creamer goes missing, opposition leaders and intellectuals have been beaten into a jelly. One salutes such leaders who have nerves of chilled steel and would not mind either getting hit by a potato in the eye at election rallies or having to kiss babies dribbling at their mouths at Bonny Baby contests.
  8. Many countries have quickly learnt the art of covering up deficiencies in their economic growth and health infrastructure, keeping their statisticians busy perfecting their models of exponential smoothening. We live in an increasingly macho and muscle-flexing world, aided and abetted by our social media giants, devoid of noisy and argumentative democracies and led by leaders who decide policies based on window-dressed data submitted by Yes-persons around them. The prospects for an unbridled growth of GCC’s operations are indeed brighter.
  9. Companies in several sectors and specialists of hues, sizes and shapes are laughing all the way to their banks: pharmaceuticals, personal hygiene, immunity boosters, physical fitness, motivators, loony doctors, yoga-gurus-turned-business-honchos, management experts, mentors, internet service providers and online streaming platforms launched by the likes of Perfecto-Zizzbaum Corporation, to name only a few.
  10. A massive restructuring of jobs, highlighting the following needs of the businesses: (a) getting rid of the deadwood, (b) rapid re-skilling and (c) downsizing physical infrastructure while encouraging work-from-home. Mike Jackson has already helped organizations to go in for such changes.
  11. In turn, husbands reluctant to learn such home making skills as cooking, cleaning dishes, changing diapers and doing the laundry are mending their ways. They are realizing the true meaning of chivalry, as recommended by Bertie Wooster. Homemakers, overwhelmed by the continuous presence of a dominating spouse and naughty children at home are queuing up for consultations with such loony doctors as Sir Roderick Glossop.   
  12. Getting business owners and CEOs to hone their skills of Decision Making in Extreme Uncertainty, thereby making them hotter on their jobs. In turn, they enrich the syllabi of premier management institutes the world over. Rupert Psmith is now a much sought after consultant on the subject, even helping CEOs to respect values and ethics in their decision making, identify the core purpose of their businesses and thus making their organizations evolve into conscious ones.
  13. Improving the resilience of the hoi polloi who had so far been unable to handle the harsh slings and arrows of Fate with equanimity and aplomb. Reginald Jeeves is conducting some useful workshops to attend to this segment of our operations.
  14. Cupid is busy with his e-initiatives. Betrothed couples keep postponing a walk down the aisle, thereby keeping the tender flame of love alive. This has helped many of them to live through an extended period of intense romance, delaying the mummification of the corpse of love which often takes place after a marriage gets sanctified.
  15. Highlighting the effectiveness of the following anti-depressants: quality time with loved ones, an abundance of the milk of human kindness, literature, fine arts, uplifting movies and humour as effective anti-depressants.
  16. Promoting a healthier lifestyle amongst the couch potatoes by promoting Larsen Exercises, walking, cycling, partaking nourishment which would meet with the approval of Laura Pyke and feasting on tissue restoratives with such ingredients as turmeric, basil and the like.
  17. Spiritual evolution of the human species by allowing them adequate time to connect with their inner selves and practice meditation as well as introspection.

The Annual General Meeting was followed by a world premiere of the award winning movie The Corona Gladiators, presented by Mr Schnellenhamer, the head of the Perfecto-Zizzbaum Corporation.

The premiere was followed by a lavish spread dished out by Anatole, God’s gift to our gastric juices.

On the occasion, all the shareholders also received gift coupons of Eulalie Soeurs, the premium brand of ladies’ lingerie. 

(The GCC grapevine would make us believe that Roderick Spode could soon be promoted to head the company as its Chief Executive Officer.)

(Illustration courtesy Mr Suvarna Sanyal)

(https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/07/25/the-corona-gladiators-proposal-for-a-plummy-movie

A 90 year young Peggy Mainwaring, a fan whom Plum would like to greet,

Still giggles and stares at speakers who forget speech and shuffle their feet.

 

As a friendly lion-tamer cast in the Aunt Dahlia mould,

Her steely gaze often demands perfection, though her heart is of pure gold.

 

Quite a few Berties and Angelas has she dandled on her sprightly knees,

 Brimming over with the feudal spirit, soothing the clan like a gentle breeze.

 

Her lair is full of hearty laughter, joy and dollops of Plummy bliss,

 Lavish spreads of Anatole-kind greet visitors before they get a parting kiss.

 

Melodies of the likes of Madan Mohan and Salil Chaudhary waft in the air,

Insightful poems of famous poets get read while she rocks in her chair.

 

She follows the Laura Pyke regime when it comes to her frugal diet,

Lining of her intestine stands her by, she thinks twice before taking a bite.  

 

Oh, what a transformation she has witnessed in these 90 years,

Wars, acts of terror and news of genocides have reached her ears.

 

She may miss fountain pens, LP records and telegrams,

Not to forget a cell-and-internet-free placid life, noisy cars and trams.

 

She has witnessed a man landing on the moon, a space mission to Mars,

The tragedy of having the time to network with the world but not with ours.

 

She has seen shrinking TV sets and shorter global hauls,

Several generations passing by, sprouting glitzy malls and highway tolls.

 

A transition from the rustic sophistication of Varanasi and many a boat ride,

To the hustle and bustle of a metro she has taken in her joyful stride. 

 

Time sits lightly on her mind and has certainly made her more wise,

Family and friends can lean on her shoulders, despite challenges that arise.

 

She continues to be young at heart, in her inspiration we find, 

As always, her advice is practical, objective, frank and kind.

 

With a chin up attitude, the elixir of eternal youth she has already found,

Drinking deep from the rivulets of life, a spirit of joie de vivre profound.

 

She is just short of ten to hit a century, surely a result of her positivity,

We all salute you, eager to learn more secrets of your longivity.

 

(Ms Sushama Varma is an avid fan of P G Wodehouse. Her permission to share this composition here is gratefully acknowledged.) 

Related posts:

My dear Clarence

Dear Jasper John, Happy Birthday!

 

 

 

It is indeed heartening to note that the Supreme Court of India has finally brought the curtains down on the confrontation between the Tata group and the SP group. The question of stock valuation still remains unresolved but the claims of Mr Cyrus Mistry have been set aside by the court.

(https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/company/corporate-trends/view-a-lucky-half-century-for-this-50-million-tata-stake-comes-to-an-end/articleshow/81743290.cms)

Those who follow me may recall the article below which quotes some examples from the illustrious history of the Tata group. These are examples which set the bar high when it comes to demonstrating how a Conscious Business really operates – with high values and ethics.

The directors also deserve to be complimented for standing by the group and acting as per their conscience in a manner which upholds the basic principles of Righteousness.

ashokbhatia

Respected Ladies and Gentlemen,

Some of you might be twiddling your fingers these days, trying to figure out exactly what is happening, why things have come to such a pass, and if there is some way you could pitch in to resolve the Tata-Mistry issue.

I do believe there is a way you can make a difference. You can do so by taking a stand which would make you look back at your decision in the future with a feeling of glowing satisfaction and contentment.

Allow me to share some of my own thoughts on the subject. I write with all humility at my command. I write this as a lesser mortal who is not privy to the power conflicts at the top levels of the Tata group. I write this as a common man, and also as an ex-employee of one of the companies of the group, namely…

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ashokbhatia

As ever, Jeeves entered the room at the exact time. Neither too soon or too late, but just when I was about to begin to open my eyes, the honest man shimmered into view holding the salver with the invigorating cup of morning tea.

‘Good morning, Jeeves’, I said.

‘Good morning, sir’, said Jeeves.

‘What’s the weather like, outside?’

‘Extremely clement, sir. A balmy afternoon can be expected.’

‘Just the thing to encourage a chap to go for a constitutional around the park after breakfast, preparatory for a good lunch at Simpson’s, eh, Jeeves?’

‘Under usual circumstances, most definitely, sir.’

There was a clearly unhappy undertone in that. Almost imperceptible to the untrained ear, but definitely there. I decided to probe further into the matter.

‘Is anything the matter, Jeeves? Is the park being drilled for oil? Is the Serpentine being converted into some sort of dam to generate electricity…

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Oh, Woman, Woman, I said to myself, not for the first time, feeling that the sooner that sex was suppressed, the better it would be for all of us.

(Bertie Wooster)

Jane Abbott

We run into her in Summer Moonshine. A girl of spirited nature, she is courageous herself and is an admirer of courage in others. She is fair minded and does not like reneging on her promises. She is a small, slim and pretty girl of twenty, with fair hair and a boyish jauntiness of carriage. Often, in her cornflower-blue eyes, there is a tender light which comes into the eyes of women when they are dealing with a refractory child or a misguided parent.

Her conscious but perplexed soul is torn between two love interests. The manner in which she goes about making up her mind is a quality for many of us to emulate. Analytics and mindfulness does not help her; a heartful approach to problem solving alone does.

Jill Mariner

We get introduced to her in Jill the Reckless. She is portrayed as a sweet-natured and wealthy young woman who, at the opening, is engaged to a knighted Member of Parliament, Sir Derek Underhill. Her journey through life is depicted as one through financial disaster, an adventure with a parrot, a policeman and the colourful proletariat, a broken engagement, an awkward stay with some grasping relatives, employment as a chorus girl, and the eventual finding of true love.

Lavender Briggs

Secretary to Lord Emsworth in Service With a Smile, Miss Briggs is a tall young girl, with a cold, haughty eye, harlequin glasses, and what her former employer Lord Tilbury describes as hair like seaweed. She becomes the bane of Emsworth’s life with her haughty efficiency. Requiring capital to start her own typing business, her schemes to acquire it by stealing the Empress gets her fired from her job, but her friendship with Uncle Fred sees her through.

Her character has hidden depths. If you happen to know of any teetotal bar, do please convey the details to her; she would much appreciate the kind gesture.

Whereas Lord Emsworth considers Miss Briggs to be worse than Rupert Baxter, Galahad Threepwood, as of Galahad at Blandings, believes that she may not have been as intolerable as Rupert Baxter, but she had come very close to achieving that difficult feat.

Rosie M Banks

Rosie M. Banks is a fictional romance novelist. A tall, lissome girl with soft, soulful brown eyes and a nice figure, she is devoted to her Pekingese dogs, owning as many as six at one time.

She is the author of works such as: All for LoveA Red, Red Summer RoseMadcap MyrtleOnly a Factory GirlThe Courtship of Lord StrathmorlickThe Woman Who Braved AllMervyn Keene, Clubman‘Twas Once in MayBy Honour Bound; and A Kiss at Twilight. She also wrote the Christmas story “Tiny Fingers”.

According to Jeeves, her books make for a very light, attractive reading. But Bertie describes her writing as some of the most pronounced and widely-read tripe ever put on the market.

She is a fine husband-tamer. Bingo Little, who, in his bachelor days, kept coming under the spell of as many as six females, gets transformed into a highly devoted husband in his post-nuptials phase of life. When it comes to keeping his lady-love happy and contented, there is little that he leaves to chance. When his sporting spirits make him blow up a month’s allowance on an animal which refuses to live up to his expectations, he even takes up the onerous task of tutoring someone like Thos. He quietly bears the dietary deprivations and disparaging remarks in the presence of Laura Pyke, Rosie’s school chum.

 Sally Nicholas 

She is described as a small, trim, wisp of a girl with the tiniest hands and feet, the friendliest of smiles, and a dimple that comes and goes in the curve of her rounded chin. Her eyes are a bright hazel; her hair a soft mass of brown. She has an air of distinction and carried her youth like a banner.

A democratic girl, pomposity is a quality which she thoroughly dislikes, even if it is her brother who is the guilty party. She works in NY as a taxi dancer and vigorously pursues her theatrical ambitions. A role model, indeed, for business leaders and start-up founders of our times. (Adventures of Sally)

Dr Sally Smith  

She is an American general practitioner in medicine, with abiding interest in golf. Her skills at the game impress even someone like the nerve specialist Sir Hugo Drake.

When Bill nervously confesses his feelings for her, he gets a rather unemotional response. Sally says she still has not met the right man. Sally continues to turn down Bill until she sees him do some paperwork for his dairy farm. Seeing that he does in fact work, she ends up falling for him.

She is described as a small girl and as being extremely pretty.

Sue Brown

A chorus girl, Sue is the daughter of Dolly Henderson. A tiny girl, mostly large eyes and a wide smile, she has a dancer’s figure and catches the eye of many a man, including Percy Pilbeam and in the past Monty Bodkin, to whom she was engaged for a spell, but when we first meet her in Summer Lightning, she has been fiancée to Ronnie Fish for some nine months.

Galahad Threepwood, who adored her mother in his youth, has a fatherly affection for her, and aids her considerably in her hopes of marrying Ronnie; although his sister Julia at one point accuses Gally of being her actual father, in fact Dolly Henderson married Jack Cotterleigh, an Irish Guardsman, while Gally was in South Africa. After her mother’s death, they moved to America for a time.

 

Veronica Wedge

The daughter of Lady Hermione and Colonel Wedge is a spectacularly attractive girl, a fact which never ceases to amaze her doting father and attracts many a fashion photographer whenever she appears in public. She has a direct way about her, and invariably follows her parents’ instructions to the letter, even when it comes to falling in love. Her extreme beauty is matched by her extreme simplicity of mind, a fact which does not put off Tipton Plimsoll when he meets her shortly before her twenty-third birthday, in Full Moon.

Tipton cashes in on her love for jewelry, eventually persuading her to elope to a registry office in the climax of Galahad at Blandings. 

 

Of Female Empowerment

Staunch advocates of gender parity will be pleased to note that Wodehouse has created women characters which not only call the shots in their men’s lives but also pursue their own career interests with a single-minded devotion, alacrity and aplomb. They make a wide range of career choices and make a success of the same.

Of course, his men do make unkindly comments about women. But they also recognize women’s enablement of the human race going. In any case, Wodehouse is not like Nietzsche, who warns the better sort of reader not to venture out among the ladies without a stick or a whip. Some clans may drag their women about by the hair, but Wodehouse’s gentlemen are far too inhibited. So far from going after women with whips, they can’t even go back on incautious engagements—a man’s word is his bond, and it wouldn’t do for a preux chevalier to refuse an offer made by someone from the tribe of the delicately nurtured. Nor do they believe in bandying about the name of any woman. Even if they are aware that they happen to be merely a stop-gap arrangement in the scheme of things of someone like Bobby Wickham, who, by quoting their despicable candidature to their discerning parents, merely wish them to approve the alliance really intended. We end up realizing that Wodehouse agrees with Macbeth’s witches, at least when they say that fair may be foul: he presents men as sorely tried by the fair sex.

Even conscientious men, duly frocked in the service of the Lord, find that women are apt to bring them as close to the peril of being defrocked as would be humanely possible. Stiffy Byng tries to get her man to pinch a policeman’s helmet to even a private score.

Women are not like gentle­men, who have a code in these things:

She was fully aware that she was doing something which even by female standards was raw, but she didn’t care. The whole fact of the matter is that all this modern emancipation of women has resulted in their getting it up their noses and not giving a damn what they do.

A Unique Therapeutic Proposition

In a way, there is much in common between Wodehouse’s works and those of Jane Austen. Both happen to follow strict codes. Both play out as movies rated under the category ‘U’, thereby making them a family affair. Sex is taboo.

In Plumsville, friendly romps and jocular embraces are taken a jaundiced view of. Impersonation and white lies dished out in the course of a boat ride meet with approval; So do the pinching of umbrellas, policemen’s helmets, scarabs, silver cow creamers and such members of the animal kingdom as cats, dogs and pigs. Bunging in a policeman into a cooling stream is not scoffed at. One is forever living in a world which is essentially decent, uplifting and far away from the kind of trials and tribulations one faces in real life. Practical jokes do get played, albeit within limits.

Plum’s works happen to be an effective balm for a weary and wounded soul. Women of all kinds, irrespective of their Goofiness Quotient, contribute in no small measure towards building this unique therapeutic property of his works.

(Related Posts:

Some More Shades of Women in Plumsville 3.0

Different Shades of Women in Plumsville 2.0 (Aunts and Seniors)

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/different-shades-of-women-in-plumsville

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/of-bertie-goofy-females-and-the-wooster-clan

https://honoriaplum.com/2017/02/20/money-in-the-bank-review-by-john-lagrue

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/02/14/some-tips-on-the-art-and-science-of-courtship-from-rupert-psmith)

 

You know, the more I see of women, the more I think that there ought to be a law. Something has got to be done about this sex, or the whole fabric of society will collapse, and then, what silly asses we shall all look.

(Bertie Wooster)

 

 

 

Aline Peters

Freddie Threepwood’s fiancee in Something Fresh, Aline is the daughter of J Peterson Peters, the American millionaire. She is a gentle, kindly girl who dotes on her father to the extent of starving herself to support his struggle with dyspepsia, and is in turn adored by George Emerson, who she finds too volcanic and over-dashing for her tastes.

Her old school friend Joan Valentine thinks she has been spoiled by too much ease, and that having to fight a little for her independence would be the making of her; Emerson, on the other hand, thinks her perfect. She eventually realizes her long-standing love for him, when he shows signs of weakness and brings out her mothering instinct.

One of the interesting aspects of life highlighted by Plum in Something Fresh is the personality contrast between Aline Peters and Joan Valentine. One is born with a silver spoon in her mouth, so to say, whereas the other has to struggle through life to survive and do well.

 

Anne Benedick

Her laugh is so musical and silvery that she evokes deeper emotions in Jeff; something he realizes is nothing but unalloyed love. Her laugh conjures up visions of a cozy home on a winter’s night, with one’s slippers on one’s feet, the dog on one’s lap, an open fire in the grate and the good old pipe drawing nicely.

We meet her in Money in the Bank. She is 23 years old and a secretary-companion to Clarissa. In secret, she is engaged to Lionel.

For Jeff Miller, at the first sight of Anne Benedick:

There was something about this visitor that seemed to touch some hidden chord in his being, sending joy bells and torchlight processions parading through the echoing corridors of his soul. Romeo, he fancied, must have experienced a somewhat similar, though weaker, emotion on first beholding Juliet.

When Jeff gets hit on the head during a tussle with the Molloys, Anne cries out for Jeff’s sake. The two get engaged in a cellar. The true location of the diamonds occurs to Lord Uffenham and he retrieves them from that spot. Anne agrees to marry Jeff.

 

 

Cora Starr

When it comes to her Goofiness Quotient, Cora (‘Corky’) Pirbright can easily be treated at par with the likes of Roberta Wickham and Stiffy Byng. She does not boast of having red hair, but would always approve of anything that seems likely to tend to start something. Alas, we get to meet her only in The Mating Season. 

When Constable Dobbs gets bit in the leg by Sam Goldwyn, thereby obstructing him in performing his duties to the Crown, she puts the animal’s case extremely well, pointing out that it had probably been pushed around by policemen since it was a slip of a puppy and so was merely fulfilling a legitimate aspiration if it took an occasional nip at one. When Dobbs refuses to accept her view and takes the animal in his custody, all she has to do is to snap her fingers and egg on one of the men around her to go about strewing frogs all over the chokey concerned.

Her uncle Sidney may not be chuffed at the prospect of having someone like Thos around the vicarage, she believes that it is good for a clergyman to have these trials. These make him more spiritual, and consequently hotter at his job.

Though differing from Aunt Agatha in almost every possible respect, Corky has this in common with that outstanding scourge, she is authoritative. When she wants you to do a thing, you find yourself doing it.

Bertie describes her as being one of those lissom girls of medium height whose map has always been worth more than a passing glance. In repose, it has a sort of meditative expression, as if she were a pure white soul thinking beautiful thoughts, and, when animated, so dashed animated that it boosts the morale just to look at her. Her eyes are a kind of browny hazel and her hair rather along the same lines. The general effect is of an angel who eats lots of yeast.

Corky is said to have been wowing the customers with her oomph and espièglerie since she was about sixteen. She distinctly took the eye. Two years in Hollywood had left her even easier to look at than in her earlier times when she used to attend dancing classes with Bertie.

When introduced to her, Gussie Fink Nottle’s thoughts are along the following lines:

It’s extraordinary that a girl as pretty as that should also have a razor-keen intelligence and that amazing way of putting her arguments with a crystal clarity which convinces you in an instant that she is right in every respect.

Esmond Haddock, who is in love with her, thinks she is an angel in human shape. Old Pirbright introduced the two of them. Their eyes met. And it was not more than about two days after that they talked it over and agreed that they were twin souls.

But Esmond’s aunts did not like actors. In their young days, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, actors were looked on as rogues and vagabonds. As to the aunts, her stock was plainly down in the cellar and the market sluggish.

Corky refuses to consider the idea of hitching up with Esmond unless he defies his aunts, and he very naturally gets the vapours at the mere idea. She thinks he has allowed them to oppress him from childhood, and it’s time he threw off the yoke. She wants him to show her that he is a man of intrepid courage. Her matrimonial plans thus hit a snag, since there is not even a remote chance that Esmond would ever stand up to Dame Daphne Winkworth, and the Misses Charlotte, Emmeline, Harriet, and Myrtle Deverill and make them play ball.

But Bertie and Jeeves conspire to ensure that the two end up walking down the aisle.

 

Dolly Molloy

The newcomer was a girl in the middle twenties, of bold but at the moment rather sullen good looks. She had the bright hazel eyes which seldom go with a meek and contrite heart. Her colouring was vivid, and in the light from the window her hair gleamed with a sheen that was slightly metallic.

(Sam the Sudden)

This is Dora (“Dolly”) Molloy (née Gunn), a young American woman, known to her friends as Fainting Dolly, from her practice of swooning into the arms of rich-looking strangers as a prelude to picking their pockets, hence her alternative nickname of Dolly the Dip.

She is brassy, golden-haired shoplifting wife of Soapy, the brains of the couple. Unlike her husband, Dolly is a firm believer in direct action: in Money in the Bank, Jeff Miller considers her to have the executive abilities of Lady Macbeth.

 

Elizabeth Boyd

She is a hard-working beekeeper in Brookport, Long Island, where she lives with her irresponsible brother “Nutty”, Claude Nutcombe Boyd. A letter from Jerry informs them that Nutcombe’s money went to someone called Lord Dawlish.

When we get introduced to her in Uneasy Money, Elizabeth Boyd is twenty-one, though with her hair tumbling about her shoulders she could have been taken by us to be a child. It is only when we peer into her eyes and notice the resolute tilt of the chin that we realize that she is a young woman very well able to take care of herself in a difficult world. Her hair is very fair and her eyes brown and very bright. These are valiant eyes, full of spirit; eyes, also, that see the humour of things. Her chin, small like the rest of her, is strong; and in the way she holds herself there is a boyish jauntiness.

In New York, Bill sends a letter to Elizabeth offering to split the money, but she sends a reply refusing it. However, circumstances eventually bring them together and love blossoms aboard a train. They plan to get married when the train reaches New York and later run a big bee farm together.

 

Eve Halliday

In Leave it to Psmith, Eve first catches Psmith’s eye while sheltering from the rain under the awning of a coal merchant’s joint opposite the Drones. She takes up an assignment at the Blandings Castle, cataloguing the library, a feat which has not been attempted since the year 1885.

Eve gets by on a small annuity from a late uncle, but frequently has to find work due to tempting but expensive hats, gloves and other necessities. She is a person of dash and vigour. Gazing into her soul, one is apt to find such finer sentiments there as honesty, sympathy and intelligence.

She is a girl of medium height, very straight and slim; and her fair hair, her cheerful smile, and the boyish suppleness of her body all contributed to a general effect of valiant gaiety, a sort of golden sunniness – accentuated by the fact that, like all girls who looked to Paris for inspiration in their dress that season, she often wears black.

A highly attractive young girl, Eve is adept at deflecting proposals from young men like Freddie, but finds Psmith’s advances more difficult to fend off. Capable and efficient, she works hard at her cataloguing job despite Psmith’s attempts to lure her away; a faithful and reliable friend, she does much to help her friend Phyllis get the money she deserves. By the end of the narrative, she is engaged to Psmith.

 

Honoria Glossop

Most of us are already aware that Honoria Glossop is the daughter of Sir Roderick Glossop and the elder sister of Oswald Glossop. Large, brainy, and athletic, she has an assertive personality and a forceful voice. Her laughter is said to make a noise like that of the Scotch express going under a bridge.

She plays every kind of sport, and Bertie suspects she may have boxed for her university. She has a strong presence; Bertie notes that there is something about Honoria which makes almost anybody you meet in the same room seem sort of under-sized and trivial by comparison. She is interested in intellectual pursuits, and reads Nietzsche and Ruskin.

Egged on by Aunt Agatha, Bertie reluctantly agrees to get married to her. While engaged to her, Bertie ruefully describes the time spent with her as follows:

….not a day had passed without her putting in some heavy work in the direction of what Aunt Agatha had called ‘moulding’ me. I had read solid literature till my eyes bubbled; we had legged it together through miles of picture-galleries; and I had been compelled to undergo classical concerts to an extent you would hardly believe… I had just been saying to myself, ‘Death, where is thy jolly old sting?’

But when the eminent doctor pops up for a spot of lunch at his place, the presence of few cats in his bedroom ensure that he is saved from the gallows.

To Bertie, she is simply nothing more nor less than a pot of poison. One of those dashed large, brainy, strenuous, dynamic girls you see so many of these days.

Plum has left behind for us a wide spectrum of women characters. Each one is a unique specimen, even though some of them might sound like duplicates of each other.

 

(Few more women characters to follow in the next post on the subject!)

(Related Posts:

Different Shades of Women in Plumsville 2.0 (Aunts and Seniors)


Of Bertie, Goofy Females and the Wooster Clan

Bertie, Jeeves and the Internet of Things

Some Tips on the Art and Science of Courtship from Rupert Psmith

Different Shades of Women in Plumsville

In an earlier post on the same topic, we had considered a wide range of women who dot the Plumsville landscape. Here are some who happen to play the roles of loving as well as obdurate aunts and seniors.

It is no use telling me there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof.

(Bertie Wooster)

 

 

 

Aunt Agatha 

To residents of Plumsville, she needs no introduction. She is the one who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth. When she issues orders, one simply fulfills them, there being no court of appeal.

Generally formidable in appearance, Aunt Agatha is five-foot-nine, with a beaky nose, an eagle eye, and a lot of grey hair. The mere fact that she brings up someone like Thos, her son – a fiend in human shape – is sufficient to reveal that she has nerves of chilled steel.

When it comes to Bertie Wooster, Aunt Agatha calls the shots, making him an expert at sliding down water pipes or even going off across the Atlantic so as to escape her wrath. Towards the end of The Mating Season, one finds Bertie apparently mustering up the courage to stand up to her.

She is a matchmaker who never quite gives up on Bertie, who has been intimidated by her since he was young. However, partly thanks to Jeeves’ cunning, her plans invariably fail. In Pearls Mean Tears, the party of the other part proves to be a thief, leaving her red-faced. In Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch, the presence of cats in Bertie’s bedroom scratches his fixture with Honoria Glossop, thereby saving him from the gallows.

If it is a matter of protecting saving family, Bertie is often her favoured nephew to go to. In Extricating Young Gussie, he is sent off to New York to ensure that a cousin does not marry beneath the family’s stature.

She does not approve of family matters being placed in the hands of a menial like Jeeves. We even get to meet her pet dog McIntosh, an Aberdeen terrier, in one of the stories.

 

 

Aunt Dahlia

Dahlia Travers happens to be a large, genial soul, and Bertie often praises her humanity, sporting qualities, and general good-eggishness. Though typically friendly, she is capable, with effort, of going into an authoritative grande dame act if the situation calls for it, assuming a serious expression and cold, aristocratic tone. There are occasions when she could even resort to such methods as pinching silver cow creamers, getting cats kidnapped and hold out blackmail threats in order to achieve her goals. The threat which often proves to be the most effective is that of denying her nephew access to Anatole’s lavish spreads at Brinkley Court.

She is short and solid and has a reddish complexion. According to Bertie, her face takes on a purple tinge in moments of strong emotion. She wears tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles for reading. She has a loud, carrying voice. Riding in her youth for years with such fox-hunting packs as the Quorn and Pytchley, she tends to address Bertie as if shouting across ploughed fields in a high wind. Expressions like “Yoicks!”, “Tally ho!”, “Gone away!”, and “Hark forrard!” happen to be a part of her vocabulary. One also runs into her sleepy black cat called Augustus.

Dahlia dandled Bertie on her knee when he was very young, and once saved him from swallowing a rubber comforter. When Bertie had measles as a child, Aunt Dahlia played tiddlywinks with him for hours and let him win, though Bertie maintains that his victories were due to his own skill.

The exchange of telegrams between her and Bertie are the stuff of a legend. However, the vagaries of time have made telegrams and postal services vanish from the public’s mind, depriving us of any pleasure of that kind in the present internet-driven times. On one occasion, Bertie had contributed an article about men’s dress trousers to her publication Milady’s Boudoir.

She is devoted to her husband Tom Travers and is always keen on touching him for a spot of money to keep her publication alive and kicking. Deeply concerned about the lining of his stomach, she does not display a sense of even rudimentary morality when deciding to pinch Anatole from the household of Rosie M Banks and Bingo Little.

(Why does she deserve the honour of being repeated here, despite having been covered in the previous post? Well, when an informal survey was conducted by yours truly within two of the several groups of Plum’s fans on Facebook, she was the one who was remembered most fondly across the board, miles ahead of Bobby Wickham, another all time favourite amongst those who add a dash and a punch to the proceedings in Plumsville!)

 

 

Lady Constance

She is Lord Emsworth’s most formidable sister, a strikingly handsome woman, with a fair, broad brow, and perfectly even white teeth. She has the carriage of an empress, and her large grey eyes are misleadingly genial.

She has an interest in fine arts and frequently invites writers, poets and other artists to Blandings Castle. She expects her brother to pay better attention to family members rather than either in pottering about his extensive gardens or fussing over the Empress of Blandings. She also admonishes her brother on his poor dress sense, expecting him to wear tight collars and top hats at the height of summer while giving speeches at local events. Often, while speaking to her fluffy-minded brother, she suffers a swimming sensation in the head. She connives with the gardener to convince her brother to give up his fascination with a yew alley covered with mossy growth and have instead a gravel path constructed through it but fails.

She strongly disapproves of anyone in her distinguished family marrying inappropriately, and spends much of her time trying to keep nieces and nephews away from unsuitable matrimonial prospects. She is rather fond of Rupert Baxter, the secretary of Lord Emsworth for some time, whom she considers highly capable and on whom she calls whenever she is in dire need of practical assistance.

Towards the end of the story Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend, one finds her brother having the courage to stand up to her.

 

 

Lady Hermione Wedge

Lord Emsworth’s short and fat sister, who resembles a cook, albeit a passionate one. The wife of Colonel Egbert and mother of Veronica, Hermione has all her sisters’ fear of one of the family marrying beneath them, and is incensed when Bill Lister, unsuitable suitor of her niece Prudence, mistakes her, as so many do, for a cook, in Full Moon.

When we meet her again in Galahad at Blandings, she is for a spell acting as a chatelaine at the castle, in the absence of her sister Constance, but gives it up in the face of her brother’s impossible ways; we learn that once, as a child, she struck Galahad over the head with her doll, laying him out cold.

Breeding tells. Lady Hermione Wedge might look like a cook, but there ran in her veins the blood of a hundred earls. She overcame the sudden, quick desire to strike her nephew over his fat head with the nearest blunt instrument.

A Chunk of Baloney is how Tipton Plimsoll is apt to describe her as.

 

 

The Five Aunts

In The Mating Season, we get introduced to a bevy of aunts: Charlotte, Emmeline, Harriet, Myrtle Deverill and Dame Daphne Winkworth. They exert undue influence over Esmond Haddock, despite the fact that it is he who foots the weekly bills at Deverill Hall. They come in different sizes and shapes. One is in the habit of soliloquizing to an extent that one comes to believe that if  Shakespeare would have ever come across her, he might have just liked her.

One of the aunts happens to be deaf, one dotty, one Dame Daphne Winkworth, and all of them totally unfit for human consumption on an empty stomach…

(Bertie Wooster)

They happen to be a family rooted in old customs and ways of life and do not take a kindly view of their nephew falling under the influence of Cora Pirbright, a Hollywood diva. In any case, they take a jaundiced view of actors, considering them as rogues and vagabonds. They judge everyone by their narrow county standards.

Having won a resounding approval from his audience at a public performance, the spineless hero eventually musters enough courage to stand up to his aunts, declaring her love for Corky unabashedly. Here is a part of the final words of Esmond Haddock to his aunts:

“…I really cannot have any discussion and argument about it. I acted as I deemed best, and the subject is closed. Silence, Aunt Daphne. Less of it, Aunt Emmeline. Quiet, Aunt Charlotte. Desist, Aunt Harriet. Aunty Myrtle, put a sock in it. Really, the way you’re going on, one would scarcely suppose that I was the master of the house and the head of the family and that my word was law. I don’t know if you happen to know it, but in Turkey all this subordinate stuff, these attempts to dictate to the master of the house and the head of the family, would have led long time before this to you being strangled with bowstrings and bunged into the Bosporous.”

 

Aunts and Spiritual Growth

Whether good and straight forward or bad and manipulative, aunts and senior ladies in Plumsville perk up the proceedings no end. They display a unique sense of loyalty to their families and can often be blamed for playing spoilsport. But their feudal spirit stands out.

But is there really a point in blaming aunts for any of the challenges faced by their nephews and nieces? At a given point in time, they might look like being worse than fire-breathing dragons. But this is perhaps their way of testing our mettle and the level of passion we have for what we seek. In childhood, they might have dandled us on their knees physically. In adulthood, perhaps this is their way of making us grow into more conscious, more persevering and dashing coves.

In other words, much like the many villains in our lives, they help us to evolve spiritually; to always have a chin up attitude and face the charging dragons and ferocious hippopotami we encounter in our lives with courage, equanimity, tact and resource.

 

Related Posts:

Different Shades of Women in Plumsville

Of Bertie, Goofy Females and the Wooster Clan

Bertie, Jeeves and the Internet of Things

Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend: A Visual Version

On the first anniversary of the strict lockdown imposed in India on this day, a year back!

ashokbhatia

The 24th of March, 2020 dawned upon us as any other normal day. Denizens of India were going about their daily chores with as much zombiness as they could muster. Flowers were in bloom. Birds and bees were going about doing whatever they normally do. Trees were swaying in the gentle breeze coming in from the Bay of Bengal. In other words, God was in heaven and all was well with the world.

However, by 2030 hours in the evening, our world had turned upside down. The Indian government imposed a comprehensive lockdown across a country comprising 1.3 billion persons. The Prime Minister himself appeared on our TV screens and announced this decision. By the time he finished, a mere three and a half hours were remaining for the decision to take effect.

This sudden whammy left all of us twiddling our thumbs trying to figure out as to…

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Branding is a term which originates in the realm of marketing management but is generally applicable to any product, service, entity or person which stands out amongst the crowd and calls out for any Unique Selling Proposition of its. It could be applied to countries, movie directors and even to some fictional characters from literature!

Here are some examples which demonstrate this point better.

Countries

 

 

After the Trump era (2016-20), studies have popped up claiming that the USA has slid down significantly on its soft power in the world. Same is said to be the case with many other countries where brutal suppression of dissent has become a way of life and where human rights have been trampled upon.

China keeps expanding its soft power by promoting movies out of Hollywood exposing the world to its culture. India offers spirituality and its own culture to the world.

The movie Eat, Pray, Love (2010) illustrates the point rather well. A heart-broken heroine travels through different countries. She discovers the true pleasures of the table in Italy, the soothing power of payer in India and the inner peace and balance of love in Indonesia!

Movie Directors 

Apart from other celebrities, those who wield the megaphone in the movie industry often exude soft power.

I confess I am a movie buff. Quite early in life, I discovered that a movie should be selected for viewing not based on its cast but based on its director. Each director has a distinctive perspective on life, and the manner in which he/she presents a theme is as unique as, say, one´s finger prints. Admittedly, the core brilliance of a movie is determined by the producer-director duo. But the unmistakable stamp on the narrative is that of the director. The script, the screenplay, the music, the camera work, the background score, the sets, the costumes, the editing, all these transport us to a different realm for a limited time.

To put it simply, if you sit down to watch a movie by either Steven Spielberg or Gulzar saheb, you know what to expect. Seeing a movie which is directed by, say, David Lean, is as much enriching an experience as seeing one directed by either Hrishikesh Mukherji or Basu Chatterji.

Over a period of time, a movie director builds up a brand equity for himself. It comes from the uniqueness of his style, the choice of his scripts, consistency in quality of his directorial ventures and sheer attention to detail in all the departments of movie making. This earns a well-deserved respect from the discerning viewers, crowned by some degree of commercial success.

The CEO of a Dream Merchandise Factory

A director’s role in shaping a movie would perhaps be comparable to that of either the CEO of a company or the conductor of an orchestra. A CEO’s mindset determines the business strategy of a company. His style of functioning and his value system permeates across all levels of the company. Likewise, the conductor of an orchestra blends the notes of stringed, percussion and other instruments, creating a symphony which is unique. Like a CEO guiding a company or a conductor presenting a symphony, the director also balances the strengths and weaknesses of his team members and comes up with a movie which is entertaining – and possibly educative – in the social context.

A director surely knows how to touch our heart-strings in a meaningful way. In the process, he delivers deep messages, whether social, political, economical or the spiritual kind.

Some Literary Brands

Those of us who have admired the exploits of Sherlock Holmes and Reginald Jeeves are occasionally overawed by the kind of popularity these literary figures enjoy. Both may be fictional, but the influence they exert on our consciousness is exemplary. One would not be wrong in perceiving both of them to be brands in their own right.

Sherlock Holmes: An Honorary Citizen of Meiringen

Ever heard of the charming Alpine town of Meiringen in Switzerland? It is a municipality in the Interlaken-Oberhasli administrative district in the canton of Bern in Switzerland. Ringed in by snow-covered peaks, it is located on one of the most important trade routes through the Alps for centuries.

One of Meiringen’s attractions is the Sherlock Holmes Museum which recreates the detective’s abode at 221A, Baker Street in London, besides Victorian era memorabilia. The nearby Reichenbach Falls are where, in The Final Problem, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made his hero suffer a premature death at the hands of his adversary Dr Moriarty, only to resurrect him later in The Adventure of the Empty House on persistent demands from the detective’s fans. Well, quite some time back, it had granted an honorary citizenship to Sherlock Holmes.

It stands to reason that the town had granted an honorary citizenship to Sherlock Holmes. A certificate to this effect is displayed in the museum. Also, at the base of the falls, there is a rock inscription to this effect!

When one picks up a Sherlock Holmes story, one is assured of good value for one`s time and effort. Backed by hard-nosed judgment, insightful observations and above-par analytical skills, he delivers. Go to him with a mystery and he demystifies it. His methods and skills have provided clues to investigators in many countries. He is utterly reliable. He delivers. These are the very attributes which go on to build up a brand.

Gentlemen’s Personal Gentleman

Likewise, Jeeves, created by P G Wodehouse, stands for impeccable service and a capacity to deliver results beyond the expectations of the bosses. The manner in which he helps his boss Bertie Wooster retain his bachelor status is a sterling example of his feudal spirit as also an inner cunning. His methods are often rough, but there is no doubt as to his capacity to deliver satisfactory results. He believes that bosses are like wild horses; they need to be managed with tact and resource.

In the United Kingdom, one is apt to run into laundry and other services which bear his brand name.

Many examples can be quoted from literature, fine arts and other creative fields of human endeavour.

In an earlier post, we had considered the perks of building and sustaining a shimmering brand in the market place. The focus there was on companies and individuals. Examples cited above go on to reveal to us the kind of hard work, consistency of effort and persistence which enable a softer brand to emerge. The essential principles underlying the creation and sustenance of a brand remain the same.

 

 

(Related Posts: 

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2021/03/15/the-perks-of-a-shimmering-brand-equity

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/a-brand-called-jeeves

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/sherlock-holmes-the-honorary-citizen-of-meiringen-switzerland

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/hats-off-to-these-movie-directors)

 

 

 

One amongst the many services available to the citizens of India is the vast postal network it boasts of. However, due to legacy issues and a missing proactive technology-oriented drive, it is yet to reach its full potential.

Here is a thought-provoking post on the subject.

Millennial Matriarchs

When is it that you last saw letters slipped under your door by the postman? For that matter, can you recall where your nearest postbox is?

The Indian postal system has a hoary history. The official website of India Post informs us that: ‘For more than 150 years, the Department of Posts (DoP)has been the backbone of the country’s communication and has played a crucial role in the country’s social economic development. It touches the lives of Indian citizens in many ways: delivering mails, accepting deposits under Small Savings Schemes, providing life insurance cover under Postal Life Insurance (PLI) and Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI) and providing retail services like bill collection, sale of forms, etc. The DoP also acts as an agent for Government of India in discharging other services for citizens such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) wage disbursement and old age pension payments…

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