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Posts Tagged ‘Bertie Wooster’

ashokbhatia

Netizens who have made the cardinal error of following me on any social network could be forgiven for imagining me as a dashing speaker, blogger and author.

Not a Jeeves in the realm of Management

Snapshots, videos and blog posts would inevitably depict me as a managementPGW MuchObligedJeeves expert dishing out sage advice with an impish sparkle in the eyes, often misconstrued as indicating supreme intelligence. Seasoned observers would notice a receding hairline and imagine me to be an intellectual cove. Perhaps a head bulging out at the back, much like that of Jeeves, would lead many amongst my followers to conclude that I would have minted millions by this time, squeezing the last penny out of some Bertie-like super rich but mentally negligible bosses I would have assisted in a long career.

Well, nothing could be father from the truth. Those who wish to dig deeper into the subject of…

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The literary canvas of the works of P G Wodehouse is vast, drawing upon the works of several other literary figures we admire.

Here is a blog post from Plumtopia which connects our favourite author’s work to the narratives dished out by Jane Austen.

Plumtopia

pgw

“Bertie, it is imperative that you marry.”

“But, dash it all…”

“Yes! You should be breeding children to…”

“No, really, I say, please!” I said, blushing richly. Aunt Agatha belongs to two or three of these women’s clubs, and she keeps forgetting she isn’t in the smoking-room.”

The Inimitable Jeeves

Once again, Plumtopia is celebrating the romances of P.G. Wodehouse to commemorate the anniversary of his death on St Valentine’s Day 1975.

This year’s topic is the romances of Bertie Wooster. It’s a potentially controversial subject because Bertie is best known — celebrated even– as one of literature’s bachelors. Despite numerous engagements and entanglements, he always manages to slip the wedding knot.

Bertie’s romances, if we can call them that, are mostly unwanted entanglements brought about by Aunt Agatha’s efforts to marry him off, and his own chivalric code.

In Right Ho, Jeeves, Bertie makes it clear that…

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ashokbhatia

Other than the topsy-turvy romances of younger couples, P G Wodehouse also regales us with romantic affairs of those who are advanced in age and young at heart. An affection which was discernible in a couple’s younger days – whether declared or otherwise – survives the harsh slings and arrows of life. A chance meeting unearths and rekindles the deep buried embers of love. A well seasoned romance bears fruit. The Valentine Spirit prevails.PGW Man with two left feet

One such couple we get to meet is that of Joe Danby and Aunt Julia, who make an appearance in the story entitled ‘Extricating Young Gussie’ (The Man with two Left Feet). This is how the narrative unfolds.

An inconsiderate Aunt Agatha drags Bertie out of bed ‘in the small hours’ (perhaps around half past eleven in the morning!), much before he has finished his dreamless and sipped his first cup of tea. She is…

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ashokbhatia

PGWodehouseThe 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…

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PGWodehouse

ashokbhatia

All diehard fans of P G Wodehouse are well aware that when Jeeves takes charge, things begin to happen. When PGW HughLaurie-BertieWoostermatters spin out of control and Bertie is twiddling his thumbs trying to figure out how to handle the harsh slings and arrows of life, Jeeves invariably comes to his rescue. With his eyes gleaming with intelligence and the head bulging out at the back, Jeeves is there to provide solace to his master. All others who repose their trust in his superior problem-solving abilities merely need to leave matters in his deft hands and positive results start showing up. More often than not, anyone who comes to depend upon him is concerned if he is eating enough fish those days. And no one really minds being a mere pawn in his hands because he delivers solid results.

How does Jeeves really pull it off? Here are some of the…

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The brand called Jeeves stands for impeccable service. It signifies delivery of results which exceed one’s expectations, that too with due respect, politeness and sagacity. The methods may be rough at times, but the neat results obtained do provide satisfaction to all concerned.

On the flip side, the brand also represents cunning. An undercurrent of subterfuge often manifests itself. An excessive control over the affairs of the hapless and mentally negligible masters is a cost to be borne to avail of the service package on offer.

Residents of Plumsville often wonder as to how Jeeves, the well-known gentleman’s personal gentleman, acquired the traits that eventually made him an indispensable asset to the upper crust of English society – the art of shimmering in and out, the detailed knowledge of Debrett’s British Peerage, the knack of solving some tricky problems facing his blue-blooded masters or his pals, and, of course, a deep understanding of the psychology of the individual.

C. Northcote Parkinson, the proponent of the famous law so very well known in management and bureaucratic circles, in his inimitable whodunit entitled Jeeves: A Gentleman’s Personal Gentleman’ (ISBN 0-312-44144-4), unravels the kind of life Reginald Jeeves led, much before we get introduced to him in the memoirs of Bertie Wooster. For good measure, he also captures for us his life in the later years.

The making of the brand Jeeves

A rolling stone gathers no moss, the wise men have said. Jeeves, with his keen intelligence and a bulky head bulging at the back, uses each of his career pit stops to acquire diverse skills. Failures do not deter him. Instead, he uses these to learn and assimilate his knowledge, to be used for any future employer who might end up needing it.

Jeeves has learnt to beware of aunts. He has learnt to move silently, hear everything and say nothing. As a page boy in an academy for young ladies, he has learnt that all girls are to be avoided as much as possible and that those with red hair are especially dangerous. He has learnt that the ideal employer must always be, and should always remain, a bachelor. He has understood the nuances of flat racing. He has realized that a gentleman’s gentleman leads a more interesting life than that of a butler. He has discovered his talent in playing bridge and poker.

The repertoire of his skill sets is vast indeed. Regrettably, the narrative is completely silent on the kind of fish Jeeves is said to be fond of.

What makes Jeeves happy?

Intense introspection has led him to conclude that his inner happiness lies in resolving a tricky situation in such a manner as to merit a hearty round of applause from all concerned. The final scene has to belong to him. While all others are bewildered and confused, he would like to walk in, offering a neat solution to the problem at hand. He must be imperturbable, dignified and conclusively right. The solution may be such as to not only solve the main problem at hand, but also tie up a couple of other loose ends as well, thereby winning a warm approval from a wider cast of actors in the play. At this stage, the curtains may fall.

His keenest pleasure is in solving problems for people whose ability fell short of his.

Looking for an ideal employer

During the course of his long career, Jeeves has found that his preference is for prosperous and reasonably but not fanatically honest men. His employer must always be a gentleman, without a passion for horses, dogs, goldfish and parrots.

Pragmatic to the core, Jeeves does not boast of exceptionally high moral principles. Instead, he places a higher premium on social standards, excellence in sartorial tastes and polite behaviour.

Glisteroll in hair he does not approve of. Dazzlo toothpaste he scoffs at. Use of Seductor after shave lotion he does not recommend. Such are his exquisite tastes.

Bunter, the man of Lord Peter Wimsey, the detective, advises Jeeves to never work for a very clever gentleman like his own employer. After all, of what use is to work for someone whom one can never hope to deceive, someone who sees through every excuse and knows every trick? One has one’s own private life to lead. One should therefore find an employer who need not be mentally handicapped but should certainly be far from clever.

By seeking an employer who is stupid – good-natured, popular, but utterly brainless – he has the great possibility of making him dependent on himself. In his career, he aspires to be a Holmes to a Dr. Watson.

According to the narrative at hand, Jeeves goes out of his way to ferret out an employer who matches his expectations. Diving deep into the exhaustive journal maintained at the Junior Ganymede Club, he comes across one Bertram Wilberforce Wooster.

For Jeeves to identify his manservant Meadows and file a complaint against him for misappropriating his employer’s socks is the work of a moment. Meadows gets the sack and a vacancy gets created.

Two days later, Jeeves calls at 6A, Crighton Mansions, Berkeley Street, W1, only to find that there is indeed a vacancy for a gentleman’s personal gentleman.

The rest, as we all know, is history.

From valeting to buttling

Bertie taking a fancy to playing the banjolele marks the beginning of a phase where he and Jeeves start drifting apart.

Whereas a butler becomes the key figure in an established household, he does miss his days of roving the world as a bachelor’s personal attendant. ‘In becoming a valet the former valet admits to himself that middle age has arrived. He is about to settle down and put on weight.’

Jeeves accepts a position with the fifth baron Chuffnell, who is struggling to maintain Chuffnell Hall with his limited means. Once the baron decides to settle down with Pauline Stoker, Jeeves moves back to Bertie, when assured that the banjolele had been burnt in a fire at the cottage.

But this turns out to be a short reunion. Soon, the master decides to go off to learning the art of mending socks and Jeeves takes up the role of a butler to William Egerton Bamfylde Ossingham Belfry, 9th Earl of Rowcester, who is struggling to stay afloat at Rowcester Abbey, a picturesque ruin subject to regular flooding. Having assisted him in resolving his problems, Jeeves tactfully gives notice.

Jeeves yearns for permanence

Followers of Plum’s narratives would recall Jeeves returning to Bertie in the role of a valet thereafter. But Parkinson would have us believe that Jeeves has by then realized that to achieve stability and permanence in life, he has to settle down in the role of a butler, but not with some impoverished nobleman. A background of solid wealth is necessary. Eventually, he decides to return to Lord Worplesdon, who is now married to the wealthy Mrs. Gregson, Bertie Wooster’s formidable Aunt Agatha.

For many years, Aunt Agatha has avoided an inner urge to ask her middle-aged nephew to walk down the aisle. Results of her last attempt to do so, when a seemingly innocent girl at Cannes had turned out to be a gangster’s moll, had proven to be highly embarrassing. This time round, however, her attention is focused on Valerie Pendlebury-Davenport. Unbeknown to her, Jeeves intervenes and saves Bertie from losing his bachelor status.

Working with Aunt Agatha needs nerves of chilled steel, something which could be trying even for someone like Jeeves. Moreover, he now goes about polishing the silver with a dwindling enthusiasm and a growing dislike of the Countess, whose dislike for him is fully reciprocated.

Eventually, he puts in his papers and starts wondering as to how to use his many talents in some other field.

Support from a dashing Bertie Wooster

Meanwhile, with the death of Sir George Wooster, the Earl of Yaxley, Bertie Wooster has inherited the family estate, Wooster Castle, which also comprises Angler’s Rest. Countess Maud Wilberforce plans to return to her previous home in East Dulwich.

 

Armed with a title and property, Bertie enjoys a higher degree of self-confidence. He is now a justice of the peace and can no longer afford to pinch policemen’s helmets. No longer can he be considered as one being mentally negligible.

He decides to take a walk down the aisle with one of the most famous, though dreaded, characters from the tribe of the delicately nurtured, overcoming serious objections from her mother. One would not like to play a spoil sport here and reveal the identity of the new Countess, though.

Bertie also offers Jeeves the position of a landlord at Angler’s Rest. If one were to visit it these days, one can be sure of being told by him one of the several Hollywood stories concerning the two movies he had appeared in: Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Vampire of Vitriola, both produced by Perfecto Zizzbaum. Alas, Mr Mulliner has faded slowly into the cold and darkness of the night.

Brand Jeeves: Managing bosses

The character of Jeeves has a distinctive aura of its own. It teaches us the art of managing bosses. Significantly, it also teaches us how to manage our own selves better.

A brand stands for reliability and credibility. It signifies professional excellence. It delivers satisfaction to those it serves. Jeeves qualifies to be labeled as a brand on all these fronts.

The narrative dished out by C. Northcote Parkinson reaffirms the following to be the key factors behind his success in his chosen profession:

  1. Clarity as to what he loves doing in life, and a relentless endeavour to steer his career in that direction.
  2. Using his intelligence to introspect and understand the profile of an ideal employer to suit his temperament; taking adequate steps through proper channels to zero in on such employers from time to time.
  3. A keen sense of observation which helps him to anticipate the needs of his blue-blooded employers; ensuring continued dependence of his employers on him.
  4. Being a respectful and dignified listener, speaking only when necessary.
  5. Excellent learning ability; seeking advice from those in the know of things and following the same when it matches with his own values.
  6. Leading people by appearing to be a devout follower.
  7. Cultivating a boss who would take care of one in one’s sunset years.

Managers of all hues, sizes and shapes could learn much from the brand called Jeeves. An ability to introspect and strategize. Understanding one’s own strengths and weaknesses. Making the best use of opportunities that come our way. Using our inner resources to neutralize the threats we come across. Meeting the boss, dim-wit or otherwise, half-way through. Learning from successes as well as from failures. Being open minded. Choosing the company to work for with due diligence. Commanding respect and building one’s brand equity by delivering in excess of what is expected of oneself.

Those who are not blissfully ignorant of the existence of Jeeves can belong to two schools of thought. One, those who admire Jeeves and would love to have someone like him at their disposal. Two, those who detest him and would not like someone like him controlling their lives, even if it means their having to handle the harsh slings and arrows of Fate single-handedly.

But if there were indeed a Jeeves’ Academy of Boss Management, would you not like to enroll for a course thereat, irrespective of the school of thought you happen to belong to? It might add a unique sparkle to your career graph!

Jeeves by Northcote Parkinson

The fictional biography of Jeeves whipped up by C. Northcote Parkinson supplements the Wodehouse canon beautifully. It is built around characters and events that Plum fans are already familiar with. It captures the spirit of Jeeves’ character very well.

One is left wondering as to how Monte Carlo never came up with the idea of offering a honorary citizenship to Reginald Jeeves, following the example of Meringen (Switzerland) which has honoured Sherlock Holmes thus!

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/jeeves-seeks-a-placement

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/introducing-jeeves-saviour-or-snake

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/when-jeeves-takes-charge

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/when-jeeves-takes-charge-2-0

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

 

 

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Angelina Jolie had faced it. Gwyneth Paltrow has had to bear it. Kate Winslet has hinted at it. Ashley Judd has admitted to it. Many others have now joined the crusade against Harvey Weinstein who had preyed on them. A police investigation has just started gathering steam.

Leading ladies from Hollywood have finally shown the courage to stand up and spill the beans. Irrespective of the time that has elapsed, it is praiseworthy. It encourages many other silent sufferers amongst the tribe of delicately nurtured to openly name and shame their oppressors.

Would some of our Bollywood divas also take a cue and come out with a ‘MeToo’ revelation? Some of them have charted their own paths in the entertainment business and have built their own brand equity. Sure enough, they can help many other struggling artists and starlets to stand up to amorous advances being made by their possible benefactors?

So far, Konkona Sen Sharma, Rahika Apte and few others have come out in support of the drive. But one looks forward to a far more widespread support.

What they also need to do is to repudiate the views of actor Mayim Bialik who has suggested in a column that dressing conservatively and looking ‘unglamorous’ often helps skirt amorous advances. This is, yet again, placing the blame at the doorstep of the victim.

The Casting Couch

The existence of this phenomenon has been Bollywood’s worst kept secrets. By going public with the acts of sexual predators, perhaps some degree of self-regulation may come about, thereby helping the vulnerable to avoid getting exploited.

Once in a blue moon, Bollywood has, through some of its own offerings, confessed to the presence of this scourge. Movies like Fashion (Madhur Bhandarkar, 2008) and Luck by Chance (Zoya Akhtar, 2009) had clear references to the sordid practice.

Hormones moderated by Chivalry?

Some of the members of the so-called sterner sex would also do well to introspect and mend their ways. The least they can do is to undergo a crash course at the Bertie Wooster Institute of Chivalry.

 

(Ref: https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/10/harvey-weinstein-accusers-sexual-harassment-assault-rose-mcgowan-ashley-judd-gwyneth-paltrow)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/female-power

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/romancing-the-boss-in-reel-life

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/hormones-vs-hierarchies

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/to-all-ye-ogling-males)

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