A saunter down the Gallery of Rogue Kids in Plumsville leaves us amazed at the innovative skills, cunning and resource of the children we come across in the works of P G Wodehouse.
Some end up boosting the sagging morale of their fathers. Some treat their step fathers with as much scorn as they can muster at a tender age. They do not spare them while out to collect protection money. Their antics could make or break matrimonial alliances in a jiffy. Souring up business deals comes easy to them. When they burn down cottages, guests are forced to seek shelter in garden sheds.
When seniors devise a Good Conduct award, they leave no stone unturned to prove their mettle. When infatuated with celebrities, they devote their lives to being worthy of their affections. When in the company of clergymen, they end up making them more spiritual, thereby making them hotter on their jobs.
When it comes to wreaking vengeance, they do not discriminate based on one’s wealth or social stature. A Cabinet Minister has as much chance of spending a rainy afternoon out in the open marooned on an island inhabited by an agitated swan as you and I. If we have reported their misdemeanours to an unforgiving mother like Aunt Agatha, we are bound to land in a soup sooner or later. If we have decided to kick them on their backsides, we are bound to find hedgehogs in our beds at night. Retribution is invariably swift and harsh.
When delivering mischief, kids of the gentler sex appear to be deadlier than their male counterparts. But they deploy subtler methods. When playing a prank, they are more delicate in their approach. Not so for the kids of the so-called sterner sex, whose roguish tendencies manifest in a straight forward manner, in full public view. Methods as well as outcomes of the pranks played by them happen to be rough.
Rankings on the Richter Scale of Roguishness
When it comes to ranking them on a Richter Scale of Roguishness, one has to evaluate the evidence available in some of the narratives of P G Wodehouse. One sifts it based on three broad parameters. One, the gravity of the kind of pranks played. Two, if the pranks were of an ingenious nature, perpetrated by self-motivated souls, entirely of their own. Three, the goofiness of the methods deployed.
Based on the above, one would endeavour to grant them the following scores.
Here is someone who can manipulate his kidnappers with much aplomb, change the rules of the game at the school he joins and even tick off his step father. If there is a spoilt and unpleasant brat who is overindulged by his wealthy parents, it is Ogden, the supreme fiend in human shape.
A score of 8.2 would perhaps be the mot juste.
Master Thomas is one of the star attractions in the Gallery of Rogue Kids. He is the King of the Underworld. He is also known as The Shadow. He has carroty hair and a cynical expression. His manner is curt and supercilious. The only person who appears capable of outwitting him is Jeeves.
A score of less than 7.9 would be undervaluing his unique capabilities.
He is the younger brother of Florence Craye. When he tries to catch up with his acts of kindness, human life is imperiled. His acts of mercy include burning down country cottages, nipping his father and others with a Scout’s stick when mistaking them for a burglar, mending egg boilers with perilous results and pasting press clippings of ‘Spindrift’ upside down.
He deserves a score of at least 7.7.
If you do not cough up protection money when called upon to do so, things could happen to you. The fact that you happen to be an aspiring step father does not get you off the hook. Using butter slides to trip one up is one of the tricks he can teach us. This is how Bertie views him.
‘In my Rogues Gallery of repulsive small boys I suppose he would come about third – not quite so bad as my Aunt Agatha’s son, Young Thos, or Blumenfeld’s Junior, but well ahead of little Sebastian Moon, my Aunt Dahlia’s Bonzo, and the field.’
A score of less than 7.3 would be unjust.
In the world of theatre, he is an undisputed king-maker. Besides nipping the career of aspiring artists in the bud, this dish-faced specimen is also in the habit of walking off with a guest’s pet. When he takes a fancy to McIntosh, Jeeves has to intervene so that relations between Bertie and Aunt Agatha continue to be cordial.
Here is someone who deserves to be awarded a score of at least 5.1.
The boy with golden curls has hidden depths which deserve a further investigation. He tends to be direct and blunt. While in love with Clara Bow, he does not mince words when criticizing Greta Garbo. Jeeves is convinced about his proficiency in matters which might get classified as pranks in our civilized times.
A score of 4.6 would surely be in order.
Details about his escapades remain fuzzy but the opinion of his mother, Aunt Dahlia, does carry some weight with us.
‘Whenever it comes to devilry, Bonzo is a good, ordinary selling-plater. Whereas Thomas is a classic yearling.’
A score of 3.8 might do him justice.
She is a red-haired young girl with a snub-nose and an extremely large grin. She could impart lessons on unnerving the best of public speakers by using such techniques as giggling and staring.
A score of 3.6 would perhaps be in order.
The brother of the formidable Honoria Glossop, Oswald happens to be one of those supercilious souls who give you the impression that you went to the wrong school and that your clothes do not quite fit.
He deserves a score of 3.3.
She teaches us the art of going AWOL when under the care of Miss Mapleton, the female lion-tamer.
A score of 2.1 would perhaps be in order.
An innocent kid, she secures the fifth position at the local Egg and Spoon Race. However, thanks to Jeeves, she gets declared as a winner.
She deserves a negative rank on the Richter Scale of Roguishness: -1.8
Algernon Aubrey Little
Bingo Little Junior wins a bonny baby competition, giving his father the vim and courage to demand a raise from the proprietor of Wee Tots. When left in the custody of Oofy Prosser, his Godfather, the latter sees the futility of getting married in life and decides to remain a bachelor.
He scores -2.2.
The hapless parents of all the kids who score higher than 5 on the Richter Scale of Roguishness obviously have our full sympathies.
1. This list does not purport to be exhaustive in nature. Nor does it claim to be highly objective. In case of a demur of any kind, a consultation with Reginald Jeeves would provide better satisfaction.
2. This summary has been compiled for the benefit of those in a tearing hurry. For a leisurely review, the reader is hereby exhorted to either refer to the original narratives of the Master, or to look up the detailed blog posts listed herein.
-The Little Nugget
-The Mating Season
-Very Good, Jeeves
-Joy in the Morning
-Thank you, Jeeves
-The Inimitable Jeeves
-Carry On, Jeeves
-Eggs, Beans and Crumpets