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Posts Tagged ‘Bickersdyke’

ashokbhatia

In the last post, we considered the political leanings of Sir Roderick Spode and Harold Winship, aka Ginger. Here are two more characters of a political nature we come across in Plumsville.

The challenge of handling hecklers

Let us look at some of the challenges faced by Mr. John Bickersdyke, manager of the London branch of the New Asiatic Bank, who is a keen aspirant for a Parliamentary slot. He has the singular misfortune of having the immaculate and loquacious Psmith working under his supervision.  (Psmith in the City)

He might have been defeated in an earlier attempt by a couple of thousand votes. He might have now switched overPsmith from being a Liberal to a Unionist. All this does not deter him from making a speech at the local Town Hall.

However, Kenningford, S. E., happens to be a tough place. The electorate is more inclined towards a…

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In the last post, we considered the political leanings of Roderick Spode and Harold Winship, aka Ginger. Here are two more characters of a political nature we come across in Plumsville.

The challenge of handling hecklers

Let us look at some of the challenges faced by Mr. John Bickersdyke, manager of the London branch of the New Asiatic Bank, who is a keen aspirant for a Parliamentary slot. He has the singular misfortune of having the immaculate and loquacious Psmith working under his supervision.  (Psmith in the City)

He might have been defeated in an earlier attempt by a couple of thousand votes. He might have now switched overPsmith from being a Liberal to a Unionist. All this does not deter him from making a speech at the local Town Hall.

However, Kenningford, S. E., happens to be a tough place. The electorate is more inclined towards a robust kind of humour which could even incite such physical acts as smashing shop-windows and kicking policemen.

This is how Wodehouse sums up political meetings:

‘All political meetings are very much alike. Somebody gets up and introduces the speaker of the evening, and then the speaker of the evening says at great length what he thinks of the scandalous manner in which the Government is behaving or the iniquitous goings-on of the Opposition. From time to time confederates in the audience rise and ask carefully rehearsed questions, and are answered fully and satisfactorily by the orator. When a genuine heckler interrupts, the orator either ignores him, or says haughtily that he can find him arguments but cannot find him brains. Or, occasionally, when the question is an easy one, he answers it. A quietly conducted political meeting is one of England’s most delightful indoor games. When the meeting is rowdy, the audience has more fun, but the speaker a good deal less.’

Armed with a penetrating, if harsh, voice, Mr. Bickersdyke begins well. He casts a spell over his audience. He says a couple of nasty things about Free Trade and the Alien Immigrant and then turns to the Needs of the Navy and the necessity of increasing the fleet at all costs.

‘This is no time for half-measures,’ he said. ‘We must do our utmost. We must burn our boats–‘
‘Excuse me,’ said a gentle voice.
‘How,’ asked Psmith, ‘do you propose to strengthen the Navy by burning boats?’

The inane question breaks the spell. The story of ‘Three Men in a Boat’ is used to amuse the audience. When Mr.

Psmith 1909 by T. M. R. Whitwell

Psmith 1909 by T. M. R. Whitwell

Bickersdyke goes on to point out the lack of genuine merit in the achievements of His Majesty’s Government, applause follows.

The irrepressible Psmith once again interrupts and points out that the story is not an original one. A fiasco follows. How Psmith manages his boss the next day is something to be learnt from.

Mr. Bickersdyke ends up winning the election, though with a slender margin over his opponent, about whose background some damaging revelations get circulated on the eve of the poll, projecting him as a German spy.

Astute politicians always ensure that their speeches are cleverly crafted and dramatically delivered. These are designed to be monologues, interspersed either with loud applause from the audience or with sloganeering, cheering and flag-waiving from time to time.

A mulish cop who refuses to stand for Parliament

A member of the Drones Club, Stilton is a hulking chap with a large head compared to a pumpkin and a ‘face that looked like a slab of pink dough’. He is educated at Eton and Oxford, but considered a fine fellow only ‘as far northwards as the neck’.

In Joy in the Morning, we find him to be the local cop at Steeple Bumpleigh. However, his fiancée, Florence Craye, does not approve of his career choice. Here is a part of the exchange of views on the subject between her and Bertie:JoyInTheMorning

‘I should have thought you would have been rather bucked about it all. As giving evidence of Soul, I mean.’
‘Soul?’
‘It shows he’s got a great soul.’
‘I should be extremely surprised to find that he has any soul above those great, clodhopping boots he wears. He is just pig-headed. I have reasoned with him over and over again. His uncle wants him to stand for Parliament and is prepared to pay all his expenses and to finance him generously for the rest of his life, but no, he just looks mulish and talks about earning his living. I am sick and tired of the whole thing, and I really don’t know what I shall do about it.’

Towards the end of the narrative, Stilton gets ticked off by Uncle Percy for forgetting his sacred obligations and bringing up wild and irresponsible accusations in a selfish desire to secure promotion. This revolting exhibition of fraud and skullduggery makes him resign from the Force, thereby restoring the romantic relations between him and Florence. Whether he eventually makes it to the Parliament is not known.

Politicos and their invaluable contribution to humour

Politics offers a great opportunity to humourists of all hues. Cartoonists are forever snapping at their heels, irrespective of their popularity at any given point in time. Writers keep coming up with articles which project the funnier side of their acts of omission and commission. Stand-up comedians earn their living based on scripts and acts which are centered on their misdemeanours.

We might love or hate politicos, but they do provide us comic relief. Their contribution to promoting diverse careers is indeed praiseworthy. Above all, they are marketing honchos who have perfected the art of selling dreams to their gullible public.

P G Wodehouse was not a political or social commentator. Yet, he gave us a handful of politically inclined characters. All of them happen to be as cranky in Wodehouse’s world, as indeed they are in ours.

I wonder if he ever etched out a political character from amongst the delicately nurtured of the Plumsville species. Aunt Agatha would have surely made a fine politician; so would have Joan Valentine and Sally!

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/politicos-in-plumsville-part-1

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/the-hapless-rozzers-in-plumsville)

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