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Posts Tagged ‘Bertie Wooster’

Day 1

It is widely believed that Jeeves was fed a lot of fish in his childhood, thereby making him a brainy cove, with his head bulging at the back. However, all bloggers may not have had the same fortune. Their grey cells often register a protest, refusing to budge, much like Balaam’s Ass.

But there are indeed times when the creative juices are in full flow and an idea pops up!

Day 2

The idea simmers within. Many sub-ideas spring up and fall into the creative cauldron. The blogger often behaves like Angus McAllister, nurturing the Achilleas, the Bignonia Radicans and the Yucca in the Blandings garden, eventually creating a bouquet of exotic ideas, cleverly brought together.

The outcome is a juicy idea which often gives a sleepless night to the blogger who twiddles her thumbs to figure out words and phrases so the key idea gets draped appropriately.

Day 3

Thanks to one of Jeeves’ pick-me-ups, the idea takes the shape of words which flow on to the writing instrument preferred by the blogger. A working draft emerges. Many refinements take place over meals comprising soluble vitamins recommended by Laura Pyke. Putting different kinds of tissue restoratives down the hatch aids the creative process.

Day 4

The blogger sleeps over the draft. On the following day, when the sun is shining bright, birds are twittering and butterflies are hopping around taking in as much nourishment as they can muster, she gets back to her work station.

Much like Florence Craye, she makes several refinements. A chipping here, a cut there, and the stone of the core idea takes a well-hewn shape. Some cross references get traced. Spellings and grammar get checked.

Day 5

The D day arrives. After a final review, the blogger has a nice feeling about the way the post has shaped up. She has by now started developing a sense of detachment to the post, wanting it to have an independent existence of its own. Like Gwladys Pandlebury, she casts a final look at the portrait of Bertie Wooster, takes a deep breath and punches the ‘publish’ button!

Prompt steps are taken through proper channels to circulate the post over different social media platforms. She finally experiences the inner bliss of having conveyed her idea to the universe at large.

Day 6

A blogger does not necessarily court praise. Many scriptures also recommend that the adulation of the multitude should mean very little to a person. But when one has taken the trouble of whipping up what, in her opinion, is a highly juicy piece which would benefit a deep-in-the-soup society in many ways, her soul anticipates some nurturing by means of a meaningful interaction with a wider audience.

Absence of any feedback, or getting trolled for the same, upsets her deeply. It leads to a V-shaped depression getting experienced.

Some likes and fewer comments make her heave a sigh of relief, much like Rosie M Banks discovering that Bingo Little had indeed deposited the tenner entrusted to his care in the kid’s bank account.

The Law of Bloggers’ Happiness kicks in. The more the number of likes, the happier the blogger feels. Answering meaningful comments raises her Happiness Quotient even higher.

Day 7

Whether in moments of heart-bowed-gloominess or of the nectar of happiness brimming over the cup of life, there is nothing that calms the soul like a good go at one’s beauty snooze – a creative one, tuning the mental antenna to the creative forces of the universe, keenly searching for the next idea to pop up!

 

(Illustrations courtesy Ms Shalini Bhatia)

(Related posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/of-writers-and-their-blocks

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/a-plummy-way-to-banish-the-cruelty-that-authors-face

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/some-blogging-lessons-from-the-bhagavad-gita

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/bertie-social-media-and-blogging-blues)

 

 

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In fond memory of Eduardo Garcia who handed in his dinner pail recently.

ashokbhatia

(Disclaimer : This composition is not by Ralston McTodd. But poets are, after all, also God’s creatures…)

I wish I could be Bertie, and let Jeeves do all the thinking
Whilst avoiding hard work – about it having no inkling,
I worship Ickenham’s horror of convention
And yet, often, am prevailed upon to avoid contention;

I yearn to saunter between tailor, bootmaker and hatter 
Rather than dentist and supermarket – whilst enduring boring chatter,
I dream of living in Blandings, superbly waited on by Beach
Unconcerned about rules I daily feel inclined to breach;

But, alas, one cannot live other’s lives – that’s our lot
And however irksome one’s existence, of it one cannot be shot,
So one must find solace in laughter, fellowship and books
To escape – however briefly – boredom’s nasty hooks;

And there is a place to go, unlike any other one
Which uplifting powers are…

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I confess I have never had the chance of listening to the prattle of tender feet around me. However, this does not mean that I do not observe kids. I do so, with all the shrewdness at my command. When they giggle and stare at public speakers, the latter are all of a twitter. When they seek protection money from their wannabe step fathers, the soul cringes. When they use paraffin wax to douse fires, one sickens in horror. When they decide to extract a revenge of sorts from cabinet ministers who have reported their smoking endeavours in the shrubberies, one draws appropriate conclusions. When they celebrate their birthdays by either putting sherbet in ink pots or by going AWOL to enjoy a dinner and a movie, one gets overawed with the kind of courage they have.

Having suffered at the hands of such obnoxious kids as Thos, Seabury, Edwin the Scout, Kid Blumenfeld, Peggy Mainwaring and Kid Clementina, I have willy-nilly come to the conclusion that these kids need not be derided and mocked at. Rather, they deserve to be treated as role models for most other kids who would infest our planet in the decades to come.

Their parents need not be pitied and censured. On the contrary, they need to be applauded for the unique contribution they have made to the society at large. One, they have delivered roguish kids who are totally self-centered and can tackle the harsh realities of life with a chin up attitude. Two, they have demonstrated the kind of nerves of chilled steel they have by bringing up kids with such modern values as hatred, disdain, habit of questioning authority, strong faith in falsehoods and fake information, bullying and knowing which side their bread is buttered on. Those weaker than themselves get trampled upon and squished like crawling insects under a pair of size 11 boots. As to stronger bullies, they analyze their psychology, bury their egos and become submissive ‘nodders’. Social recognition, a rapid rise in a rigid hierarchy and accumulation of wealth is bound to follow them in due course.

A Set of Futuristic Values

What I am driving at is simply this. To prepare kids for a glorious future, we need to revamp our education policies. Parents –whether of the present or the aspiring kind – need to be clear as to the set of values which would serve their offspring better in the times to come.

Besides teaching them the virtues of the likes of Jesus, Rama, Krishna and Mahatma Gandhi, kids also need to be told of the sterling qualities of such figures as Satan, Ravana, Kansa, Duryodhana and Dushasana. Villains such as Sher Khan (The Jungle Book), Scar (The Lion King) and Tai Lung (Kung Fu Panda) could see them surviving the harsh slings and arrows of life with aplomb.

They need to be imparted skills as to how to thrive in an environment of hate, untruth, dishonesty, skulduggery, bullying and hoodwinking the weak and the vulnerable while sucking up to those who happen to be in power. A high degree of proficiency in hypocrisy is what they need to be egged on to achieve.

Hating the ‘Other’

Armed with a hateful attitude, they would prod the not-so-blessed kids into achieving perfection.  In any case, concepts like empathy, harmony and compassion are already passé. To teach them to love their neighbours no longer makes sense. Best opportunities come up for those who are selfish and have deep reserves of hatred towards the ‘other’. These could be people of a different race, religion, caste, creed, skin colour and economic wherewithal. Children need to be groomed to operate in an ecosystem of hate.

The Perks of Lying

Being glib liars, they would waltz through their lives in a smoother manner. The market share for truth is shrinking with each passing year. The market for falsehood, misleading data and fake news is zooming. By adopting a value system along these lines, explaining one’s conduct to either an aggressive boss or a nagging spouse would be far easier. Many of our leaders who have the unenviable task of governing countries have already perfected this art.

The Art of Cheating

A related core life skill is that of cheating. Fraud is a global industry which is recession proof. Companies do it all the time. Governments routinely resort to it so as to protect their public image. One is never too sure of the quality of data being unleashed upon the gullible public, whether regarding economic progress or public health. Reneging on sovereign guarantees by invoking a force majeure clause is set to become a norm.

Even when faced with a raging pandemic, human ingenuity in ripping off hapless patients has never been found wanting. Many healthcare professionals are capitalizing on the fear of the pandemic and laughing all the way to their banks.

Civic Disobedience

With a questioning mindset, innovations would rule the roost, propelling our civilization faster on the path of evolution.  The merits of standing up to those in power need to be driven home in a ruthless manner. In fact, with youth unrest spurting in many countries, we already have an inkling of the shape of things to come. All such protests produce a younger generation of leaders who would improve the delivery of services to a lay citizen. Homo sapiens will make mighty strides in all their endeavours.

Bullying and Nodding

The meek do not inherit the earth, so to say. One cannot be like my friend Gussie Fink Nottle who is tongue-tied when it comes to proposing to a female he feels attracted to. One has to be groomed to be a dasher. If one’s Dashiness Quotient is high, one can hope to achieve goals better and faster. Bullying and pushing others are habits which help one at all stages of one’s life.

But when it comes to those stronger than us, and those who are in power, one has to kowtow to their mighty egos. Becoming a professional ‘nodder’ and a thorough Yes-person is bound to bring home the bacon.

Proficiency in Hypocrisy

Scriptures impart our kids moral lessons which are much past their expiry date. Some of you may recall my having won a Scripture Prize while at school. But you may not be able to point out how that knowledge had ever helped me to wriggle out of the prospect of a saunter down the aisle. Invariably, it was Jeeves who always came to my rescue.

The guy who said that our thoughts, our words and our actions should be aligned was surely an ass of the first order. What works these days is exactly the opposite. Let us say you hate your government or your boss. If you say so openly, you could either be found cooling your heals in a jail – without the option, of course – or keep missing some juicy promotions in your career. If Bingo Little were to confess to having blown up his allowances on some sporting endeavour, the dove of matrimonial peace would hastily pack its bags and abandon his home and hearth.

Enabling a Faster Spiritual Evolution

Kids armed with such futuristic values would play an important role – that of hastening the process of spiritual evolution of our species.

Someone, whose name I forget, spoke of survival of the fittest. What I propose here, if followed by conscientious parents and our education policies, will surely lead us to nurture kids who would not only survive but also do well in the times to come.

If this were to happen, one could safely peer into the future and grunt in satisfaction in much the same manner as one would after having put down the hatch one of the lavish spreads dished out by Anatole. The soul, weighed down by current anxieties, would get revived.

Couples in the reproductive age bracket, whose unions get blessed with roguish kids, will be assured of a very bright future for their coming generations. By inheriting the combined loopiness of their parents, such kids would ensure a rapid spiritual growth of all those around them – the aunts, the uncles, the nurses, the governesses, the headmasters, the teachers, the priests, the sports coaches, the drivers, the liftmen, the gardeners and many others.

Some of you are already raising kids who are disobedient and undisciplined at home. Outside, they happen to be gun toting monsters. You deserve to be richly complimented for the many sacrifices you make for your progeny. Your decision to expose tender minds to inane television shows, inappropriate content on social media and violent cartoon shows is obviously helping.

Making Kids Hotter  

Even those amongst you who are convinced that I happen to be mentally negligible would agree with me that all kids need to be groomed into becoming ideal citizens of their respective nations and make a positive contribution to society through their ability to hate, lie, cheat, bully the weak and by learning the refined art of sycophancy, cozying up to those in power. They need to use resource and tact to break their eggs and whip up sumptuous omelettes for themselves and their near and dear ones.

Kids these days are already hot stuff. We need to take immediate steps through proper channels to make them hotter in the decades to come.  Bringing up losers is surely not your idea of having fun in life. Scripture knowledge has limitations. Character development centered on such values as love, respect, humility, compassion and empathy takes bright kids on a negative trajectory.

Who Can Bell the Cat?

Who can bring about this change in our thinking? Perhaps not our political leaders, many of whom hide their dictatorial ambitions behind a thin veneer of democratic principles. Our mandarins thrive on opacity and an innovative capacity to come up with roadblocks to whatever is proposed. When combined together, both love an obedient, subservient, meek and complaint public. For them, a vibrant, independently thinking and questioning citizen is a highly undesirable commodity.

Closer home, Lord Sidcup may not approve of the idea but deserves to be sounded out on this fruity scheme. I believe it is safe to interact with him over internet these days. I would not run the risk of being torn from limb to limb.

Perhaps Rosie M Banks and Bingo Little can be persuaded to spearhead a revolution of this kind.

Another possibility could be someone like Stiffy Byng or Roberta Wickham taking up the cudgels. When it comes to propagating values of the kind being proposed by me, their credibility is bound to be much higher. A promotional drive by them, directed at parents, would strengthen the foundations of our civilization no end. Education ministers and mandarins across different countries who do not pay heed will run the risk of either their hot water bottles being punctured or cell phones getting pinched.

Would you have any suggestions?!

(Inputs from Mr Satish Pande, an ardent fan of P G Wodehouse, are gratefully acknowledged)

 

(Related Post:  https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/07/05/the-gallery-of-rogue-kids-in-plumsville)  

 

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ashokbhatia

panjab-university-ubs

An academic course in management obviously does not offer lessons in managing the affairs of the heart. But the Class of 1977 broke through the academic shackles, with some of its members walking out of the campus with a clear strategy as to who their future soul mate shall be.

The stiff-upper-lip approach

Management education is all about the stiff-upper-lip approach of the mind. Analytical skills rule supreme, leading to rummy situations where analysis often leads to paralysis. Linear programming models get worked upon. Statistical techniques get dished out by stern looking professors who might have been hotter in their jobs more as police officers or as judges.

Hapless students are made to understand exponential smoothening techniques so as to be able to forecast business parameters in an uncertain business environment. Those with an engineering background struggle to match their debits and credits. The lucky ones who have had a…

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ashokbhatia

Ladies and Gentlemen of the world,

Allow me to lodge a protest.

The derogatory manner in which I am generally referred to by the Homo sapiens is a matter of sincere regret. I wish to ass-everate that I have sterling qualities of head and heart. Even though a vast majority of you copy me ass-iduously in your day-to-day lives, you hold the member of my species in a low esteem. This is patently unfair. Permit me to set the record straight and ass-ert myself.

Members of your species have always given me a raw deal. You wilfully neglect some of my great contributions in diverse fields of life. Prohibition, literature, health, discipline, education, free speech, human values, law and order, science, politics, management, architecture, adventure and logistics are some of the fields where I have enabled your civilization to scale great heights.

Here is a quick recapitulation of some of…

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Of all the reading that I have done, I have never ever had so much fun,
Than whilst perusing Wodehouse, Laughing to burst out of my blouse.

That Bertie Wooster is so British, such a jolly good fellow,
Can erupt like a volcano at times, yet is disarmingly mellow,
Ample bosomed Aunt Agatha et al bully him into the ground,
Bertie would be lost if Jeeves, that paragon wasn’t around.

The aunts make mincemeat of Bertie without so much as a by your leave,
If it wasn’t for Jeeves the saviour, we’d weep for Bertie and for him grieve,
The Wooster name would fall into ruin, rust corrode their noble family crest,
Sans Jeeves to keep a vigilant eye and shoo away both aunt and other pest.

Bertie Wooster is so upper class, so stiff upper lip, simply so very English,
He belongs to the right club, yet tormented by kinsfolk who can be devilish,
He can be downright foolish dealing with matters of finance and of the heart,
Both sorted out impeccably by Jeeves, his man for all seasons from the start.

Bertie’s a sharp judge of character, he knows a man who is a good egg,
In a silk dressing gown B.W. loves to lounge all day without shake of a leg,
If a challenge confronts his intellect he turns to Jeeves with a : What ho?
What ho? What ho? he choruses on till his Man Friday makes it right to go.

Of all the reading that we do, Wodehouse brings us so much fun,
Don’t ask me why, just pick up a book, turn the pages and no further look.

 

(Ruby Haider loves to write. The magic of language fascinates her. She has been a teacher and an advertising professional. She loves poetry and believes herself to be a bit of an idealist and dreamer.

Her permission to blog this composition here is gratefully acknowledged.)

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ashokbhatia

Bertie Wooster, as you know,
Is not really a true Lothario.
Sure, he’s admired a girl or two,
As lively young Drones are apt to do.

There was Bobby, of the fiery tresses,

Who got Bertram into tangled messes.

And haughty Lady Florence Craye,

A lovely profile, seen sideway.

Pauline Stoker gave him quite a scare,
Lolling about in his gents’ sleepwear.
Honoria Glossop was a strong maybe,
‘Til her father gave the nolle prosequi.

The menace of Madeleine Bassett was there,
Like Damocles’ Sword, hung above Bertie’s hair.
Only Gussie Fink-Nottle, her prospective mate,
Stood between Bertram and a most hideous fate.

An English gentleman’s honour code,
Pointed Bertie down the matrimonial road.
Only an iron hand in a velvet glove,
Could loose the tightening fetters of love.

Fresh off a fish-containing snack,
Head visibly bulging at the back,
Jeeves glides in and finds a way,
To free…

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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 for the Metropolis?’ I inquired.

‘Not exactly, sir. But circumstances have arisen that will prevent our leaving the flat for some time.’

‘Surely not, Jeeves. An Englishman’s right to roam the land of his birth is sacred. Am I being stalked by some malevolent aunt wanting to use me as an instrument of her devilments? Are we surrounded by bailiffs clamouring for the settlement of unpaid bills or some such nonsense?’

‘No, sir. No aunts have presented themselves at the door, and neither have any bailiffs. And all the bills have been satisfactorily settled.’

‘What’s the snag, then? Why can’t we leave the flat? Have our basic liberties been rescinded?’

‘Rescinded is not the right word for the present situation, sir. Suspended would be a more apt choice of word, if I may say so. And only in the case of venturing outside, sir. For one’s own health, sir.’

‘Come, come, Jeeves. I think that this massive brain of yours has sprung a leak. There’s nothing healthier than the bracing air of the Metropolis on a fine day. It has been proven time and again, eh?’

‘The metropolitan air is now filled with a new strain of virus, sir. It is called Coronavirus, and hails from China. Its effects are most unpleasant and human contact must be kept to a minimum to avoid its dissemination and contagion.’

I was jolted by that. I sat up in bed as if my spine had become a switchblade and the steaming cup was nearly flung across the bedroom in the process. But I composed myself and pressed on with the questioning.

‘Are you trying to tell me that we are facing some kind of Spanish Flu, Jeeves?’, I asked, clearly alarmed.

‘Of a kind, sir. But I have been reassured by an article which appeared in The Lancet that if all the proper precautions are taken, there is not much to be concerned about.’

‘Dash it, Jeeves! Confound it! Of all the bally things that could have been sprung upon is, this is one of the balliest, eh?’

‘It certainly disrupts one’s normal life, sir. But one must also look upon it as bringing some measure of not unimportant rewards.’

‘And beyond remaining in proper form to take part in the 02:30 Sweepstake at Kempton Park on Saturday, what rewards might those be, Jeeves?’

‘Well, sir, you will remember telling me that you urgently needed respite from Mrs. Gregson’s constant campaigns to affiance you to a suitable young lady.’

‘I do’, I replied pensively.

‘Also, the chances of encountering Miss Honoria Glossop will be most slender’.

‘They will’ said I cheering up considerably.

‘Not to mention Lord Sidcup. And Miss Madeline Basset…’

‘And her blasted father, Sir Watkyn Basset!’ I added, now positively positive about the whole thing.

‘Indeed, sir.’

There was definitely a hopeful, even cheerful note about the whole thing ringing in the air. The dark gloom lifted from the atmosphere, which became instantly light and suffused by golden hues. I could gladly face a bit of domestic incarceration if I could be protected from that oriental virus and the aforementioned human pests.

‘Well, Jeeves. There certainly are some compensations in all this, eh? Besides, I have recently stoked up on records and music sheets, as well as a dozen or so of the ripest detective stories available. And I am sure that you have made arrangements for a decent supply of victuals for the flat and books for you, also, eh? Spinoza’s latest and all that, what?’

‘Precisely, sir. And I have been fortunate enough to secure on loan from Lord Yaxleys’ wife her book of recipes for cocktails, a memento she kept from her days at the Criterion.’

‘Have you now, Jeeves? I have heard that some of them are legendary and have never been tasted ever since she retired’.

‘And there is one more thing, sir. I fear I have been remiss about not having advised you sooner about it.’

I knew it. Just as I had cheered up in the face of such news, Fate was there, about to wield the stuffed eel skin once more. But we Woosters are made of stern stuff. I braced myself for the blow.

‘What is it, Jeeves?’

You will remember, sir, that yesterday the Junior Ganymede Club hosted a dinner for Monsieur Anatole, for his services to culinary excellence.’

‘I seem to remember you mentioning it before you left to go there, Jeeves’.

‘When the ceremony ended, I offered to escort M. Anatole to Paddington, to catch the last train to Brinkley Court. But, alas, the taxicab developed a mechanical problem and we were unable to reach the station in time, so I took the liberty of offering M. Anatole a bed in the spare room.’

‘You mean to say, Jeeves, that Anatole is here for the duration?’

‘Yes, sir. And he is so grateful for our hospitality in the face of this virus that he has committed to cook for us on a daily basis for as long as he is prevented from returning to Brinkley Court.’

‘You mean to say, Jeeves, that on top of being free from pests of all imaginable sorts, having more than enough reading and musical material and being able to taste once more cocktails that have gone into legend we will be having Anatole’s culinary wonders for breakfast, lunch and dinner’?

‘Not to mention tea, sir.’

The beauty of the plot dawned on me. Jeeves had done it again. That gigantic brain had found the perfect solution for a tricky problem once more.

‘Jeeves’, I said, ‘Did you know about this Coronation virus, or whatever it is called, before the curfew was announced?’

‘My copy of the Lancet arrived here, as ever, three days ago, sir.’

‘So can one also take it that the problem with the taxicab was not altogether due to chance?’

‘The fact that the driver is married to one of my cousin Albert’s nieces cannot be wholly discarded from the equation, sir.’

‘Jeeves, you’re a wonder.’

‘Thank you, sir.’

 

(Eduardo Garcia introduces himself thus:

Eduardo “Duca” Garcia is quite probably the most un-trendy and least technologically-savvy person involved with Trends Studies. He is also a human salad, having been born in Rio, received an anglicised education and lived in the UK, Spain, Central Asia and Portugal. To complicate matters further, he is married to a woman of Brazilian, English, U.S. and Greek extraction – whose stepfather was a Dutchman – and his son lives and works in Denmark.

His career was mostly devoted to Marketing and Advertising, something that forced him to look at the consumer, society and mentalities in more detail – if only to avoid sending the wrong message to the wrong people at the wrong time and being rightly sacked for doing so – and his start in Trends Studies began when he was in Kazakhstan and Carl Rohde was unwise enough to invite him to contribute to Science of the Time.

He can be contacted at eduardo.garcia@40maislab.pt or through Facebook.)

 

(Permission to publish this piece on this blog site is gratefully acknowledged!)

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(Disclaimer : This composition is not by Ralston McTodd. But poets are, after all, also God’s creatures…)

 

 

I wish I could be Bertie, and let Jeeves do all the thinking
Whilst avoiding hard work – about it having no inkling,
I worship Ickenham’s horror of convention
And yet, often, am prevailed upon to avoid contention;

I yearn to saunter between tailor, bootmaker and hatter 
Rather than dentist and supermarket – whilst enduring boring chatter,
I dream of living in Blandings, superbly waited on by Beach
Unconcerned about rules I daily feel inclined to breach;

But, alas, one cannot live other’s lives – that’s our lot
And however irksome one’s existence, of it one cannot be shot,
So one must find solace in laughter, fellowship and books
To escape – however briefly – boredom’s nasty hooks;

And there is a place to go, unlike any other one
Which uplifting powers are huge, and cannot be undone,
Stemming not from order or discipline but, rather, farce and disaster
Recounted and made supremely enjoyable by the art of The Master;

So here’s to you, my fellow members of this most noble institution
Stalwarts of culture, wit, joy and laughter – genteel forms of revolution,
Where the burdens and anxieties are shed as one mocks
Spode’s brutality or even, say, one’s “less understated” socks…;

Unlike our Dover Street heroes we do spin and, indeed, must toil
But here, like them, we find peace and sanctuary – and can uncoil,
So I state with the utmost certainty, never having to recant or atone
That one of the greatest boons of life is this: being a Drone!

 

(Eduardo Garcia is a fuddy-duddy human salad, having been born in Rio, received an anglicized education and lived in the UK, Spain, Central Asia and Portugal. To complicate matters further, he is married to an American citizen – whose stepfather was a Dutchman – of Brazilian, English, U.S. and Greek extraction and his son lives and works in Denmark. This does not explain his liking for P.G Wodehouse, but may well have to do with his behaviour being often associated to some of the Master’s less mentally stable characters.)

(Visual courtesy Wikipedia)

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There come some truly humbling moments in one’s life when, while imagining that one’s Guardian Angels are surely in a benevolent mood, one suddenly wakes up to a reality which appears to be quite to be contrary. Scales fall from one’s eyes. One realizes with sudden horror that one had perhaps been promoted to the post of an honorary Vice President of the Global Association of Morons, exuding negative vibes to all the hapless souls around. Or, as P G Wodehouse would have put it, one looks ‘like the hero of a Russian novel debating the advisability of murdering a few near relations before hanging himself in the barn.’ 

Yours truly was recently in a suburb of a city known as Trondheim in Norway. Nudged by my hosts, I had decided to take a walk on a relatively lonely road overlooking the fjord. Seagulls were having a gala time, hunting for their supper. A gentle wind was blowing, creating small ripples in the water. Several boats belonging to a bunch of houses nearby were gently rolling in the mild waves, awaiting their turn to be able to provide satisfaction to their masters. Motor boats were occasionally sipping across, leaving trails of white foam in the otherwise bluish-green waters. The sun was on its home run, rushing to get a well-earned night’s repose.

To be able to access the beach, I had been advised to cross a railway track which lay between the beach and the road. Somehow, given the low level of my intelligence, I had not been able to locate the point from where one could cross the tracks. Having taken a walk along the road, I had been unsuccessful in locating either an underpass or an over bridge across the tracks. Nor did I imagine one coming across an unmanned railway crossing in an advanced country like Norway. Having temporarily given up hopes of being able to make it to the beach, I decided to sit on one of the several benches which dotted the road. The bliss of a contemplative communion with Nature is unique. I was relishing the same.

Two young girls, perhaps around 8 years of age, passed me by, accompanied by a devoted member of the canine species. The latter gave me an inquisitive glance. Having quickly ascertained that I had nothing of interest to offer, it continued to march onwards to greener pastures. After some time, the trio returned, with the canine in tow. The girls were enjoying their ice cream bars and merrily chatting between themselves in Norwegian.

Having crossed me, the girls went ahead a little. Then, suddenly, one of them returned to where I was. Her outstretched hand carried a few coins of Norwegian Kroner, the local currency. She addressed me in clear English.

“Please, sir, these are for you.”

I looked at her dumbstruck. I could not fathom her thought processes.

“No, thanks”, I bleated.

“We want you to be happy. Please accept this.”

My first reaction was shock and surprise. Then came to me an appreciation for the kind of etiquette and manners this young girl friend of mine had. While I was contemplating giving her a long lecture on what money could or could not buy one in life, she was giving me a sympathetic look, a faint smile on her face. She was obviously enjoying one of her daily acts of kindness, a la Edwin the Scout. I dismissed the thought of a lecture, deciding not to spoil her day.

“No, thanks. I do not need this.”

Disappointed, she turned and started to walk away. An idea struck me then.

“If you want to see me happy, perhaps you could do me a favour?”

She turned and walked back up to me, happy to be of some assistance. Fearless, composed and courageous, she looked enquiringly into my eyes.

“For some time now, I have been trying to find a way to the beach. Do you think you could help me, please?”

She was obviously delighted at this suggestion. Excitedly, she gesticulated and tried to indicate to me the spot down the road from where the tracks could be crossed.

“If you have some time, could you please show me where exactly the spot is?”

“Sure….come along.”

She took me to a dead end in the road. Next to this was a wooden gate, held in position by a loose metal chain. She took it off, showing me from where exactly to cross the tracks. I thanked both of them profusely. Goodbyes were exchanged. The pet wagged its tail tentatively. The trio resumed their walk towards their respective abodes.

I confess to being a bit woolly headed, much like Lord Emsworth happens to be. But I have neither a big castle nor a large estate to take care of. Nor do I have the need to hire Scottish gardeners or to worry about such important things in life as the calorie count of the Empress of Blandings or oversized pumpkins winning prizes. Having been born a single child to my parents, I am spared the trauma of being bossed over by someone like Constance. On Parva School Treat days, I don’t have to go pottering about, judging cottage gardens in villages and running into girl friends in the Gladys mould, made of far sterner stuff than that of mine.

But the episode brought home few things very clearly.

One, on that fateful evening, I must have been radiating negativity in very large doses, turning all radioactive materials which appear in our Periodic Table green with envy. Sure enough, a Byronic gloom had enveloped me.

Two, kids in advanced countries are perhaps brought up believing that money can buy anything, especially if the intended recipient appears to hail from a dark continent faraway.

Three, their benign motives deserve to be commended. So do their courage and fearlessness in approaching desolate-sounding strangers, with an idea to bring some sunshine into their lives. Perhaps when they grow up, they might be taken through some migrant camps, or even deputed for some time to one of the emerging economies, so they could understand the kind of deprivations a major part of the humanity puts up with.

The fact remains that there is no shortage of the milk of human kindness coursing through their veins – a sentiment that Bertie Wooster would surely approve of. One merely hopes that the heat of advancement in age does not make the milk evaporate, come what may!

 

(Comment:

In the famous story ‘Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend’, it is the latter which seeks protection from the former’s irate head gardener. Having done the needful, Lord Emsworth feels like a man amongst men. However, in the encounter that yours truly had, the party of the other part turns out to be the benefactor.

In case you wish to look up a visual version of the original story, please check out the following link:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/06/08/lord-emsworth-and-the-girl-friend-a-visual-version)

(Illustration courtesy: Suvarna Sanyal)

 

 

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