The foundations of our civilization are quivering. Homo sapiens are faced with a medical crisis of gigantic proportions. There is widespread concern about the pace at which the epidemic of Wodehousitis is spreading across countries and continents. Medical researchers of all hues are twiddling their thumbs, trying to figure out a cure for this dreaded affliction.
Wodehousitis is reported to be a disease which affects all human beings, irrespective of their age, sex, cast, creed or ethnicity. It is said to be highly contagious. A word of mouth is all that is required to lead one to contract it. One merely borrows a work of P G Wodehouse. A cursory perusal of any part of a narrative follows. A lifetime of bondage ensues. Frequent purchases of his books gladden the hearts of many a publisher. When one is not able to lay one’s hands on a particular title, one’s moral upbringing goes for a toss. Intentions of returning borrowed titles weaken. Stealing a book from the shelf of a friend becomes the norm.
To put it simply, once the germs of Wodehousitis have managed to find a foothold in any neuro-system, one’s fate is sealed.
Wodehousitis manifests itself in many ways. Public display of uncontrolled mirth, a tendency to erupt into laughter at inappropriate moments, occasional falls from a chair or a sofa while lapping up one of the juicy narratives, an insatiable thirst for acquiring as many titles of his works as is humanly possible, a relentless devouring of the works of P G Wodehouse, a perpetual state of intoxication with his words of wisdom, and a pitiless analysis of the scintillating characters created by him – these are but some of the symptoms.
As a tribe, bloggers suffering from Wodehousitis also display peculiar symptoms. They cannot help themselves but publish posts based only on Master’s works. With each subsequent post, the time interval between two posts gets shortened. When they pick up any work of his, the simple joy of reading it gets subdued, only to be replaced by a tendency to analyse the narrative from different angles. An irresistible urge to compile some juicy quotes takes over, casting a gloomy spell on the otherwise sparkling wit and humour embedded in the Master’s works.
The most serious symptom happens to be the disinclination of all those suffering from Wodehousitis to seek a cure for this dreaded affliction. Once afflicted, one is apt to remain happy to continue in a state of perennial addiction. Medical fraternity is yet to find a solution to this unique kind of drug resistance.
Medicos use these symptoms to ascertain if the person under scrutiny deserves to be classified as one suffering from Wodehousitis.
There are three stages of Wodehousitis which have been identified and catalogued so far.
In the first stage, one displays occasional signs of having any of the symptoms described above.
In the second stage, one shows grave signs of many of these symptoms, but is still considered treatable.
The third stage is the most critical one, with no cure in sight as of now. Medicos continue to be baffled. In this stage, one is obsessed with all facets of Plum’s narratives, much to the exclusion of every other piece of literature one comes across. In each and every situation of life, a streak of one of the narratives is invariably noticed. All relatives and friends get identified with one or the other characters created by P G Wodehouse.
A person suffering from the last stage of Wodehousitis often complains of a stifling sensation. No other work of literature appeals any longer. The allure of catching up on the latest best sellers fades away. All friends, philosophers and guides sound like Jeeves. All aunts appear to be moulded along the lines of either Aunt Agatha or Aunt Dahlia.
Cops sound like Constable Oates, using their investigating skills to the hilt, but meekly surrendering to the dictates of the Justices of Peace. Introspection leads one to identify oneself with the woolly-headedness of the likes of Bertie Wooster and Lord Emsworth. All kids appear to have traces of traits like those of Thos and Edwin.
Even pets assume a halo of some kind – the canine ones sound either like a Bottles or a Bartholomew; the feline ones sound like an Augustus. All pigs look like malnourished cousins of the Empress of Blandings.
A psychoanalyst, having examined a person who has attained this blissful state, would be forgiven for certifying the person to be eminently fit to be admitted to a loony bin.
Searching for a cure
Governments the world over are justifiably worried over the relentless spread of this affliction. If our armed forces contract this affliction, fighting wars would be a thing of the past. Ex-service-persons would need to identify alternative employment avenues. Cops would take a benevolent view of law and order problems. Doctors may end up prescribing only Laughter Therapy to seriously ill patients. Politicos mighst take a leaf out of the Code of the Woosters and start rolling out welfare schemes based only on the milk of human kindness, thereby resulting in empty coffers. The socio-economic implications of widespread Wodehousitis are mind-boggling indeed.
While steps are being taken to motivate medicos to come up with a cure for Wodehousitis, fans of the author wonder if finding a solution to this endemic problem is really necessary. The overriding feeling is that the germs of Wodehousitis should instead be deployed cleverly, thereby improving the score of Gross National Happiness of all countries.
The case against finding a cure for Wodehousitis
Imagine a scenario where reading Wodehouse is made mandatory at all levels of education, all across the world. Pretty soon, professionals of all hues would end up being afflicted with Wodehousitis. Judges would end up having stiffer lips, possibly dishing out harsher sentences. Their propensity to get swayed by non-judicial considerations would get curtailed. Illegal activities of any kind would get nipped in the bud. Lawyers, doctors, engineers and professionals across all vocations would have a better sense of humour. As a consequence, their ability to deliver results would improve drastically.
Members of the so-called sterner sex would end up being more chivalrous, thereby minimizing misdemeanours directed at the delicately nurtured. Following the dictums propounded by Jeeves, match-making quality would improve. Divorce rates would plummet. Loving husbands would be more likely to follow the example of Bingo Little, thereby ensuring that the doves of peace keep their wings flapping over their humble abodes.
Even kids who are normally a threat to societal peace would aspire to be worthy of their favourite silver screen divas. Headmasters and headmistresses would lose their faith in the old adage which exhorts them to spare the rod and spoil the child.
Global peace and harmony
The premier of a country who is toying with the idea of unleashing violence upon a neighbouring country would simply meet up her counterpart, say ‘What ho!’ and gift the other a set of Wodehouse books. Peace and love would stand a better chance.
Those planning a terror strike would look at their plans askance and wonder if better results could not be achieved by persuasive methods of a gentler kind. If advised by the likes of Roberta Wickham, they might even conclude that their goals could be met more effectively by merely ensuring that the hot water bottles of the dissenting politicians and their immediate family members get punctured at frequent intervals.
Money being spent on arms of all kinds would eventually get deployed to eradicate poverty across all our continents. Gross Happiness Indices of all countries would reach stratospheric heights.
International bodies such as the United Nations would come up with a Charter of Global Happiness and take initiatives designed to spread cheer and happiness amongst all the citizens of our planet. Peace Keeping Forces would be trained in Wodehousian skills and redeployed to monitor and promote laughter and mirth in strife torn areas.
In other words, Wodehousitis need not be contained or cured. On the contrary, it needs to be spread as quickly as may be possible. This could ensure that God continues to be in heaven and all remains well with the world.