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In order to celebrate the 137th birth anniversary of P G Wodehouse, the Pittsburgh Millionaires decided to meet up on the 14th of October, 2018. The meeting took place at one of the Panera Cafés in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh, USA.

Lest some of you get an impression that the millionaires foregathered to discuss some trustworthy sources from where one could secure either a cow creamer or a scarab, you would be sadly mistaken. If your ambitions lead you to believe that you could have run into an arts dealer offering The Girl in Blue, the famous Gainsborough miniature,, you would be even more off the mark.

Had you been able to make it to the gig, you would have discovered the Pittsburgh Millionaires to be a group of strong and adventurous folks, well endowed and successful in more ways than one.

Besides being successful at keeping their respective bodies and souls together, they possess an immense wealth which could make many of us green with envy. Their wealth is not to be measured in terms of the millions of dollars they possess, but also in terms of the trillions of units of common love and fondness they have for the verbal musician of our times, P G Wodehouse. A profound knowledge of his canon is another wealth they possess.

Eve Halliday and Phyllis Jackson were already seated on the table when Rupert Psmith and the not-so-efficient Baxter trooped in. Stiffy Byng fluttered in like a rose-leaf on the wind. Pauline Stoker floated in pretty soon thereafter and the meeting was called to order. Picture post cards featuring The Empress of Blandings were gifted by Eve Halliday to those present.

The management of the Panera Café has a stiff-upper-lip policy. Target practice by throwing bread crumbs is out of the question. The place does not boast of fans of any kind, ceiling or otherwise. Hence, hurling boiled eggs at such contraptions is also ruled out. The ambience of the place is not such as to allow a boisterous rendering of The Sonny Boy.

Wisdom prevailed. A reading of the story ‘Goodbye to All Cats’ followed. Curious customers on nearby tables were taken aback by the intermittent ripples of mirth emanating from the table. The management was polite enough not to interrupt but ensured that the tray-carrying trolleys generated sound-bytes which were loud enough to deliver suitable admonitions to the members of the Plummy troupe. Needless to say, the same were duly ignored.

Bits and pieces of the Wodehouse canon were fondly recalled by those present. The Bertie-Jeeves relationship was dissected at length. The challenge of popularising his works amongst the youth of today was discussed. Eve Halliday recommended the practice of ‘fairy books’ where some of his works, duly gift wrapped, could be left in public places, spreading joy amongst those who venture to pick these up. Stiffy Byng commented that her interests included not only the narratives dished out by Wodehouse but also the whipped up by Alfred Hitchcock. Pauline Stoker lovingly mentioned the BBC series.

Deferring to the wishes of the café management, no cake was cut on the occasion. The meeting ended on a cordial note, with much ‘What-ho’-ing and ‘Pip-pip’-ing. Baxter was wished a happy travel back to India.

(Note: Yours truly is grateful to Abigail Thompson, Filomena Conti, Allison Thompson, Carol Colby and Sandip Chaudhury, who could spare the time to grace the occasion).

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ashokbhatia

Those of you who are fond of cats would perhaps be able to draw a parallel between the behavioral traits of the bosses they deal with at their place of work and the feline creatures whose company they cherish at home.

Here are some of the roles which appear to be common between the two species.cat 4

Actors

Both expect to be treated like royalty. The way they conduct themselves is nothing short of regal. They lord over whatever they survey. They can show off annoyance at being interrupted – while devouring a slice of fish as well as while delivering a sermon on office manners.

Never would they show appreciation for what you do. The only time you find them cuddling up close and purring is when they need a tacit assurance of your support towards an assured delivery against a juicy target set by the top dog.

Try and…

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ashokbhatia

We live in times when the only feline creatures we happen to know are from the realm of cat-toons. We knowPGW Doraemon Doraemon, Felix, Garfield, Tom and Top Cat, to name just a few. Their eccentricities we adore. Their haughtiness we endure. Their ingenuity makes our spirits soar. Their ruthless manner in handling mice of all kinds we ignore. To put it simply, in a world dominated by TV and internet, they have become a part of folklore.

Now, one does not mean to offend any of these personalities whose intrinsic felineness is rather unmistakable. But there are several others from the realm of literature who are no less admirable. They were born in times when the printed word was ruling the roost. They have left an indelible impression on the minds and psyches of several generations. They have exemplified the traits of bosses and the bossed-over alike. Surely, once in…

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We live in times when the only feline creatures we happen to know are from the realm of cat-toons. We knowPGW Doraemon Doraemon, Felix, Garfield, Tom and Top Cat, to name just a few. Their eccentricities we adore. Their haughtiness we endure. Their ingenuity makes our spirits soar. Their ruthless manner in handling mice of all kinds we ignore. To put it simply, in a world dominated by TV and internet, they have become a part of folklore.

Now, one does not mean to offend any of these personalities whose intrinsic felineness is rather unmistakable. But there are several others from the realm of literature who are no less admirable. They were born in times when the printed word was ruling the roost. They have left an indelible impression on the minds and psyches of several generations. They have exemplified the traits of bosses and the bossed-over alike. Surely, once in a while, they also deserve to be remembered, honored and feted for having shaped the mindset of humanity.

Take the case of Plumsville. The feline creatures we meet here have sterling qualities of head and heart. Almost all of them wish their privacy to be respected. Some are outright lazy and must have theirPGW Garfieldand_friends twenty-three hours of beauty sleep. Some love being tickled beneath the ears before extending a paw of friendship. Others would go to any lengths to ensure that they get their daily dose of vitamins.

Some of them believe in the power of collective bargaining. They tend to assemble under the bed of an eligible bachelor and end up ensuring that his betrothal to a female lion tamer gets scratched. Some exercise great influence over horses, making them win or lose races for their masters.

For those of us who wish to shake a friendly paw with them, here is a quick recap.

The Burden of Snootiness

All feline creatures find it difficult to forget that in some ancient civilizations, they were revered as gods.

Cats, as a class, have never completely got over the snootiness caused by the fact that in Ancient Egypt they were worshipped as gods.PGW Tom and Jerry

(The Story of Webster, Mulliner Nights)

One can readily understand the burden of snootiness they carry on their slender shoulders. Perhaps, this also explains the high-handed behavior they exhibit when dealing with humans.

When a Fish wants an Apology

Fans of Bertie Wooster shall forever remain in debt of the bunch of twenty-three cats found underneath his bed. Thanks to this bunch, Bertie could avoid the dreaded prospect of a saunter down the aisle with Honoria Glossop. (The Inimitable Jeeves)

I was about fed up with the whole thing. I mean, cats in your bedroom—a bit thick, what? I didn’t know how the dickens they had got in, but I was jolly well resolved that they weren’t going to stay picknicking there any longer. I flung open the door. I got a momentary flash of about a hundred and fifteen cats of all sizes and colours scrapping in the middle of the room, and then they all shot past me with a rush and out of the front door: and all that was left of the mob-scene was the head of a whacking big fish, lying on the carpet and staring up at me in a rather austere sort of way, as if it wanted a written explanation and apology.

Elsewhere, Pop Glossop appears in a dialogue of this nature:PGW Inimitable_jeeves

‘No, she’s got a lunch date. She’s browsing with Sir Roderick Glossop, the loony-doctor. You don’t know him, do you?’

‘Only from hearing you speak of him. A tough egg, I gather.’

‘One of the toughest.’

‘He was the chap, wasn’t he, who found the twenty-four cats in your bedroom?’

‘Twenty-three,’ I corrected. I like to get things right. ‘They were not my cats. They had been deposited there by my Cousins Claude and Eustace. But I found them difficult to explain. He’s a rather bad listener. I hope I shan’t find him at Brinkley, too.’

Suffering from Traumatic Symplegia

In Jeeves in the Offing, we get introduced to the inimitable Augustus. When it comes to a choice between hunting mice and catching up on his sleep, his priorities are very clear.

‘I thought as much, or you would be aware that Augustus is a broken reed to lean on in the matter of catching mice. My own acquaintance with him is a longstanding one, and I have come to know his psychology from soup to nuts. He hasn’t caught a mouse since he was a slip of a kitten. Except when eating, he does nothing but sleep. Lethargic is the word that springs to the lips. If you cast an eye on him, you will see that he’s asleep now.’

‘Coo! So he is.’

‘It’s a sort of disease. There’s a scientific name for it. Trau-something. Traumatic symplegia, that’s it. This cat has traumatic symplegia. In other words, putting it in simple language adapted to the lay mind, where other cats are content to get their eight hours, Augustus wants his twenty-four. If you will be ruled by me, you will abandon the whole project and take him back to the kitchen. You’re simply wasting your time here.’

My eloquence was not without its effect. She said ‘Coo!’ again, picked up the cat, who muttered something drowsily which I couldn’t follow, and went out, leaving me to carry on.PGW JeevesInTheOffing

Then we have the scene depicting an encounter between Augustus and Poppet which gets played out by the side of a lake. The Rev. Aubrey Upjohn, his step-daughter Phyllis, Bobbie Wickham, Wilbert Cream, Kipper and Bertie Wooster have gathered there. As per plans, Bertie is to shove Upjohn into the water, followed by Kipper diving in and saving him. This, it is hoped, would improve the chances of Kipper persuading Upjohn to withdraw the libel case he is planning in connection with a derogatory review Kipper has written of an article of his.

At the moment when Augustus touched ground and curling himself into a ball fell into a light doze, Poppet had completed his tenth lap and was preparing to start on his eleventh. Seeing Augustus, he halted in mid-stride, smiled broadly, turned his ears inside-out, stuck his tail straight up at right angles to the parent body and bounded forward, barking merrily.

I could have told the silly ass his attitude was all wrong. Roused abruptly from slumber, the most easygoing cat is apt to wake up cross. Already Augustus had had much to endure from Phyllis, who had doubtless jerked him out of dreamland when scooping him up in the garden, and all this noise and heartiness breaking out just as he dropped off again put the lid on his sullen mood.

He spat peevishly, there was a sharp yelp, and something long and brown came shooting between my legs, precipitating itself and me into the depths. The waters closed about me, and for an instant I knew no more.

The Object of a high-bred Horse’s Affections

In Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, we run into a feline creature which exercises great influence on Potato Chip, a race horse.PGW AuntsArentGentlemen

To recover from pink spots, Bertie goes to Maiden Eggesford in Somerset, with its two leading men, Jimmy Briscoe and Pop Cook, their respective horses, Simla and Potato Chip, and their dark rivalry. Aunt Dahlia, a friend of Jimmy Briscoe, has bet on Simla only to find that it isn’t a cinch. Bertie is annoyed to see old enemy Major Plank (previously met in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves) in residence with Vanessa Cook and her Pop Cook. The latter takes an instant dislike to Bertie when he is found tickling a passing cat which is a favorite of his horse Potato Chip.

Highly bred horses like Potato Chip often develop a strong affection for either a goat or a sheep. In this narrative, the object of his affections is a cat which sleeps in his stall and is there to meet him when he returns from his daily exercise. In the cat’s absence, Potato Chip becomes listless and even refuses any nourishment offered.

We do not get to learn the cat’s name, but Bertie describes his first encounter as follows:

It was a cat of rather individual appearance, being black in its general color scheme but with splashes of white about the ribs and also on the tip of its nose. I chirruped and twiddled my fingers, as is my custom on these occasions, and it advanced with its tail up and rubbed its nose against my leg in a manner that indicated clearly that in Bertram Wooster it was convinced that it had found a kindred soul and one of the boys.

I scratched this one behind the ear, and it received the attention with obvious gratification, purring like the rumble of distant thunder.

Things get muddy when Aunt Dahlia gets a neighborhood poacher to steal the cat in the hope to impede its horse friend, embroiling Bertie in the to-do.

As always, Jeeves rises to the occasion. Thanks to him, Bertie avoids getting married to Vanessa Cook. He also avoids getting into the bad books of Aunt Dahlia.

Tabby Terror

Ever met a cat who has a black heart hidden by a sleek coat of tabby fur? We would consider stroking one such cat a luxury, little knowing that its shapely head hides a scheming brain. Moreover, like other members of its species, this cat has a conscience as well.

The struggle between Prater’s cat and Prater’s cat’s conscience was short, and ended in the hollowest of victories for the former. The conscience really had no sort of chance from the beginning.

When a can of sardines is found empty on the premises, investigations of a Sherlock-Watson nature are undertaken. Considering the harsh reality that the alleged culprit troops in without knocking, different ways to get rid of the feline menace get deliberated upon.PGWodehouse

At tea on the following evening the first really serious engagement of the campaign took place. The cat strolled into the team room in the patronising way characteristic of his kind, but was heavily shelled with lump sugar, and beat a rapid retreat… From that moment its paw was against every man, and the tale of the things it stole is too terrible to relate in detail. Like Death in the poem, it knocked at the doors of the highest and the lowest alike. Or rather, it did not exactly knock. It came in without knocking.

In the hands of P G Wodehouse, animals display not only their intrinsic traits. They also acquire characteristics which set them apart from the rest of the crowd. Pigs charm us by their majestic manner. Dogs regale us with their propensity to bite the rozzers who disrupt the normal flow of our carefree lives.

Cats also get etched out with the attention to detail they deserve. They acquire personable traits. Pointy ears, whiskers, round eyes and a propensity to meow could, after all, also describe a person. But in Plumsville, cats evolve into real characters with a distinctive personality of their own, often surpassing human beings in more ways than one.

A real cat scene, so to say!

[Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/delightful-characters-of-the-canine-kind-in-plumsville, https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/seven-traits-that-bosses-share-with-cats%5D

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Those of you who are fond of cats would perhaps be able to draw a parallel between the behavioral traits of the bosses they deal with at their place of work and the feline creatures whose company they cherish at home.

Here are some of the roles which appear to be common between the two species.cat 4

Actors

Both expect to be treated like royalty. The way they conduct themselves is nothing short of regal. They lord over whatever they survey. They can show off annoyance at being interrupted – while devouring a slice of fish as well as while delivering a sermon on office manners.

Never would they show appreciation for what you do. The only time you find them cuddling up close and purring is when they need a tacit assurance of your support towards an assured delivery against a juicy target set by the top dog.

Try and meet them to complain about a missed promotion. They are apt to put on a deadpan expression and look at you with glassy eyes. When presented with a request which they have decided to decline, they could simply mumble a ´let us see´and walk off to attend an all too important meeting with a top government honcho.

Like cats, bosses are also acrobats, athletes and entertainers – all rolled into one. Great artists to learn from any day.

Companions

They are silent but steadfast companions. They are wont to growl at any other member of the tribe that dare threaten any of the team members.

In tough times, they rally around with a warmth and gentleness which would make you want to get back at resolving the crisis with renewed vigor and zeal.

They often provide a work environment which offers the perfect balance between solitude and companionship – two of the many features loved by cats.

Detached Souls

You may enjoy an excellent rapport with them. You might have even got used to hanging on to their coat tails or skirts as they clawed, purred and hissed their way up in the hierarchy. Beware. Do not take them for granted. One fine morning, they could spring a surprise and announce their plans to switch over to another family/company.

As a species, they have perfected the art of remaining detached.

Detectives

Just as all new items being brought into a home must undergo a mandatory sniff test, all those joining the company must undergo a compulsory briefing by those who claim to be effective managers.

All lazy, uncooperative and under-performing rats who hide in their comfort zones must be hunted down and asked to either shape up or be ready to get shipped out (read devoured).

Any cat-and-mouse game being played within the team must be brought to their notice. Romantic escapades of all kinds must be investigated in full and acted upon firmly without fear or favor.

All movements of the top dog and his cabinet of puppies must be monitored at all times.

Healers

They lower your blood pressure while keeping you on your toes. Come to them depressed and they would fuss over you so charmingly that you could waltz out of their cabin doing a samba.

All those applying for sick leave have to necessarily listen to the simple home remedies the manager has on offer.

Need advice on the joys of procreation? They have a simple solution to share. A bunch of kids sick at home? Learn from them the art of tele-medicine. You can always lick your cubs if and when you eventually get home.

Lone Crusaders

They are quite lonely at times.

Their sense of insecurity is invariably higher at the start as also at the tail end of the day. Getting back to them in advance on all pending critical assignments for the day reduces their blood pressure. It brings some cheer into their lives which are often full of struggles to survive in the corporate jungle.

If you stroke their backs first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening, they come to admire and respect you.

Private Birds

Their need for privacy is paramount.

You would often find them vanishing from the public spaces. The feline ones would do so either when they wish to relieve themselves or when bringing a fresh bevy of beauties into this world. The office ones would either be discussing strategic matters with their own bosses or simply working on a top-secret but otherwise widely known downsizing plan.

Handling Catty Bosses

How do you handle bosses who are excessively catty?

If you are a simpleton, you could choose to behave like a devoted dog. This works out fine as long as you have a unique skill which the boss does not possess. So, you avoid getting treated like a doormat.

If you happen to be a born diplomat, you could develop an underground channel of communication to the boss´ boss.

You could also consider switching over to another rat hole. However, there is never a guarantee you would not have to deal with a cattier boss in the new outfit!

Do you think there are other common traits between bosses and cats? Or, would you like to share your own recipe for handling a catty boss? Go ahead. Post a comment.

(Image courtesy Tumblr)

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