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ashokbhatia

Fans of P G Wodehouse (Plum) often wonder as to why their favourite author of sublime humour is often found missing on the high table of English literature.

Comparisons are odious, but let us take the case of The Bard, considered one of the literary geniuses of our times. If he has dished out narratives rooted in such human emotions as greed, revenge, jealousy and love, so has Plum. Many of their characters are as quirky as they come. Both have contributed in so small measure to the enrichment of English. To the current generation, both sound a trifle outdated and, by and large, incomprehensible.

The Incomprehensibility Quotient

Perhaps, the reason I find The Bard’s works relatively unfit for human consumption can be traced back to their high level of Incomprehensibility Quotient.

Is there really any fun in picking up a book where, after each sentence, one has to consult…

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Allow us to welcome you belatedly to this wonderful world on a special day,

When you turn one and fans in different continents are celebrating Plum;

For this is the day he decided to hand in his dinner pail,

Leaving a rich legacy of joy, should we ever become glum.

 

Unbeknown to you, you have brought happiness in many lives,

Not only to that of your parents and immediate family members;

But also to the lives of fans suffering from Corona-induced blues,

You brought hope to a sick planet and kept aglow joyful embers.

 

You dispelled our manner of death-where-is-thy-sting-fullness,

Keeping us safe indoors, devouring the works of the Master;

Reveling in the antics of those who lived almost a century back,

Keeping our sanity intact, building immunity, recovering faster.

 

In Plumsville, Death is surely not a dreaded phenomenon,

On the contrary, it confers wealth, castles and titles upon heirs;

Hiring Jeeves or Anatole, buying white jackets with brass buttons,

But not behaving like an American millionaire, putting on airs.

 

Your first year on this planet was a tough year indeed,

When many of us lost our clear vision of 20:20;

Plum’s works kept us afloat, giving us hope of a brighter future,

We have survived to the day and can read these lines aplenty.

 

A stern look from you and the virus would have gone into hiding,

Like a rhino retreating upon seeing a White hunter with a shotgun;

Enthused, we also took it head on, savouring our enforced isolation,

Relishing opportunities for introspection and having fun.

 

Like Bertie Wooster, you may approve of our chin up attitude,

Deploying nerves of chilled steel, surviving a sudden lockdown;

Oh, how we craved renting a cottage in the countryside,

Free of the fear of an Edwin the Scout who may burn it down.

 

Lest we may contract the dreaded virus,

We had to let go of Anatole, God’s gift to our gastric juices;

A Laura Pyke type diet regime we had to follow,

Partaking immunity boosting foods, sans any dietary excuses.

 

Many unopened books adorning our shelves we could go through,

Improving our intellect with tomes dished out by brainy coves;

Curled up in a corner with a tissue restorative by our side,

While affianced couples connected over internet, cooing like turtle doves.

 

Never in our lives did we imagine watching so many flicks,

Many inane, some average and few so very well made;

Homemakers turned creative and tried myriad recipes,

Prompting many of us to don a figurative skirt and chip in with due aid.

 

The pleasures of offline shopping sprees had to be given up,

Instead, online shopping alone saved the day for many of us;

With the giant wheels of commerce temporarily shut down,

A revival of the environment turned out to be a big plus.

 

Some rarely seen birds trooped in, giant butterflies fluttering,

The bees were active, flora and fauna flourished, sky was azure;

Flowers bloomed with gaiety, greener trees swayed gently,

Nature was bountiful; the air one breathed was pure.

 

Those in metros were severely hit, spinsters all alone and forlorn,

Musicals like ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Pretty Woman’ were sorely missing;

Engagements and nuptials had to be postponed, wedding plans trimmed,

Couples had a tougher time, unsure of even an act like kissing.

 

You have brought great joy into the lives of your parents,

As you grow, you shall surely return their nurturing ways;

They are bringing you up with lots of love and care,

Your innocent smiles and hugs brightening their days.

 

May your intellect be always one up on that of Jeeves,

Your investigative skills as sharp as those of Baxter the efficient;

In culinary skills, may you surpass Anatole, in smartness, Psmith,

A heart that bleeds for its pals may also be sufficient.

 

 

When it comes to heartily gorging on your daily nourishment,

The Empress could already learn a few things from you;

As to keeping the enthusiasm of a big sister under check,

Clarence could imbibe you, proving worthy in his ancestors’ view.

 

Your crawling skills would soon evolve into brisk walking ones,

If ever you get besotted with a Hollywood diva in your pre-teen days,

Like Thos, you may walk six miles to fetch the Sporting Times for Bertie,

Aspiring to win the Good Conduct competition, winning Greta Garbo’s praise.

 

You shall grow to be like a Hercules with nerves of chilled steel,

With abundant milk of human kindness coursing through your veins;

Following the Code of the Woosters with alacrity and aplomb,

Handling overbearing aunts, using Esmond Haddock’s tact and brains.

 

You chose to be born on a very special day,

Resurrecting the spirit of Plum, of whom your grandmother is a fan;

May your own life be full of light, sweetness and joy,

As long as a benevolent and humorous sun keeps cheering up man.

 

 

(Master John Jasper happens to be the grandson of Lucy Smink, a fan of P G Wodehouse Down Under. This impromptu composition is addressed to him. Permission of the family to publish it here is gratefully acknowledged.)

(Related Posts: 

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

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/my-dear-clarence

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

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/when-masters-thos-bonzo-and-moon-rise-in-love)

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Fans of P G Wodehouse (Plum) often wonder as to why their favourite author of sublime humour is often found missing on the high table of English literature.

Comparisons are odious, but let us take the case of The Bard, considered one of the literary geniuses of our times. If he has dished out narratives rooted in such human emotions as greed, revenge, jealousy and love, so has Plum. Many of their characters are as quirky as they come. Both have contributed in so small measure to the enrichment of English. To the current generation, both sound a trifle outdated and, by and large, incomprehensible.

The Incomprehensibility Quotient

Perhaps, the reason I find The Bard’s works relatively unfit for human consumption can be traced back to their high level of Incomprehensibility Quotient.

Is there really any fun in picking up a book where, after each sentence, one has to consult a dictionary? The whole experience becomes very stiff-upper-lip-ish, if you know what I mean. Serious tomes which need super-intelligent persons to pop up in public spaces like libraries where they may enjoy their solitude, dig deeper into the contents and try and fathom the depths of the language are best avoided, I would say. Leaves the nerves a bit overburdened, don’t you think?

On the other hand, gliding through the works of Plum is sheer delight. The contrast is that reading Plum’s books in buses, trains and parks is fraught with risks. These are best devoured in private spaces, so those around, seeing one guffawing and shaking with uncontrollable mirth , do not start searching for the contact details of a loony doctor in the same class as that of Sir Roderick Glossop.

But what all this comes to is a deeper reality. The tendency of Homo sapiens to value seriousness and tragedy over humour and laughter. Anything humorous is treated by us as being frivolous and fit to be scoffed at. At management seminars and conclaves, serious talks get appreciated, but a speaker conveying the same message quoted in humour is blamed for playing to the gallery. In companies, at board meetings, detailed power point presentations of a serious kind get appreciated, whereas anything said in a lighter vein is greeted by scorn.

A Premium on Intellect and Seriousness

Martin Amis, in his new novel Inside Story, blames our tendency to put serious tomes and tragedies on “the intellectual glamour of gloom… the idea that sullen pessimism is a mark of high seriousness”.

Brainy coves are invariably in awe of intellectual gravitas, even if the narratives are pale, dark and authoritative. What appeals to them better is a stiff upper lip approach. This segment of the population is apt to cast a supercilious glance at lesser mortals who thrive on reading fluffy stuff which makes them keep falling off beds and sofas, making their insurers uneasy.

Award winning works are an output of as much intelligence as is essential to dishing out juicier works which mask equally serious messages about handling life’s harsh slings and arrows. In fact, the sugar coating of delectable humour makes the underlying message more palatable.

If the spectrum of human emotions were to be examined in some detail, seriousness may form one of its ends and humour the other one. This might give an impression that the two are opposites of each other. Not necessarily. My own knowledge of literature is very shallow, but I am sure there are authors out there who strike a balance between the two. Perhaps, therein lies the origin of satire.

In one of her scintillating posts, Honoria Glossop of Plumtopia fame speaks of the book ‘Bestsellers’ by Clive Bloom. To quote her:

‘Bloom tracks the development of ‘the bestseller’ alongside increasing literacy levels in Britain, showing how new literature classifications emerged (high-brow and low-brow) to keep class distinctions alive in literature, once the lower classes were no longer illiterate. He exposes ‘literary fiction’ as little more than snobbery, suggesting that serious literature is made purposefully unfathomable and dire to ensure it remains the province of an expensively-educated elite.’

Plum’s Messages Couched in Pristine Humour

When it comes to Plum, a master wordsmith in his own right, we often miss the underlying messages of a spiritual, economic and managerial kind. Simply because these are hidden beneath layers of what sound like inane and repetitive narratives.

Whosoever deals with goofy kids like Thos, Seabury, Edwin the Scout and others experiences a spiritual enlightenment of sorts. When Bertie Wooster tries to solve a problem single handedly, he messes things up and starts practicing detachment. He lets go of his favourite piece of apparel. He abandons his ego and decides to give up his initial resistance to a proposal made by Jeeves to go off on a cruise, thereby escaping the wrath of Aunt Agatha. Many other characters elsewhere tackle their defeats with a healthy attitude of surrender, much like Roderick Spode when confronted with the Eulalie affair.

Take the example of ‘Something Fresh.’  It covers a wide span of issues – health and fitness, perils of ageing, gender parity, economic disparities, class distinctions, the spirit of enterprise, the subtle art of delegation, importance of comforter friends in one’s life, to name just a few.

Consider the character of Reginald Jeeves. Notice the way he manages to keep his career prospects intact by using tact and resource. He maintains that bosses are like horses. They need to be managed. His methods may be rough at times, but the neat results obtained do provide satisfaction to all concerned. He believes that one needs to break a few eggs to make an omelette. He registers dissent in a diplomatic manner. He is a respectful and dignified listener, speaking only when necessary. He leads others while appearing to be a devout follower.

Dishing Out Comical Stuff

Above all, one is left awestruck with the kind of complicated plots Plum comes up with. He handles tiffs between many couples at the same time, while bringing in obdurate aunts, sulking uncles, temperamental chefs, American millionaires and their sisters and daughters, moody creatures of a canine and feline kind, and even horses and pigs. Painting a narrative on such a wide canvas obviously needs hard work – a fertile imagination, lateral thinking, a thorough knowledge of such diverse subjects as scarabs, scriptures, literature, psychology, French resorts, movie making, et al, besides and what not. Characters often get swept in a swirl of madness and mayhem, forcing a lay reader to at least chuckle and suppress a smile. When it comes to either pulling off a gag or unleashing a comical situation, the author is always a step ahead of the reader.

In other words, humour, even though appearing to be farcical and classified as escapist, is serious business indeed!

We would do well to consciously cultivate our capacity to take a lighter view of things and learn to laugh at ourselves. Many more awards along the lines of Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize deserve to be instituted.

(Related post:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/wodehouse-misremembered

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/26/the-perils-of-not-suffering-from-shakespearitis

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/the-enduring-appeal-of-pg-wodehouse-if-you-think-its-just-farcical-butlers-and-upper-class-twits-think-again)

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ashokbhatia

Bingo Little Junior and Prudence Baxter earn a negative ranking on the Richter scale of Roguishness. However, there are several others who deceive us with their apparent innocence – Kid Clamentina, Oswald and Peggy Mainwaring, to name the ones we have covered in the last post.

Here are a few more who deserve to be considered.

Bonzo

Bonzo, the son of Aunt Dahlia, has a sound reputation as a pest. But if Thos sets a gold standard in devilry, Bonzo is merely a good, ordinary mischief-maker. His proud mother compares the two as follows:

‘Whenever it comes to devilry, Bonzo is a good, ordinary selling-plater. Whereas Thomas is a classic yearling.’

When Bonzo is in love, his nature gets altered. He tries to lead a finer, betterVeryGoodJeeves life. When tempted to climb on the roof and boo down Mr Anstruther’s chimney, he refuses to oblige. When prompted to burst a…

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There are indeed times when the harsh slings and arrows of Life weigh one’s soul down with woe. The intensity of each succeeding sling shot becomes more acute. The frequency also registers an uptick. Life seems to be overtaken with a Thos-like propensity – to test the depth of one’s reserves of patience and fortitude. It appears as if each arrow is doused in paraffin and is being shot by an Edwin the Scout to douse an already raging fire in one’s cottage. One’s Guardian Angels appear to have gone off on a long vacation. The air is congested with a series of W-shaped depressions which keep hitting one at regular intervals. Even before one has had a chance to pull oneself out of the preceding episode, the next one follows, leaving one all of a twitter. The soul remains in a phase of perennial torment.

When faced with a situation of this nature, one has two options. One can either wallow in self-pity, question one’s Guardian Angels as to what one has done to deserve a harsh treatment of the kind being dished out, and generally keep looking for shoulders which would not look askance at the prospect of getting wet with one’s tears. Or, one can start exploring the possibility of clawing one’s way back up the cesspool of darkness one finds oneself in.

In case the latter option suits one’s temperament, there could be no better way to beat the blues than to immerse oneself in one’s work with a renewed vigour and enthusiasm.

Besides, the following actions, if taken, might make one realize that one should never repine, never despair, and never allow the upper lip to unstiffen, come what may.

  1. Remaining in touch with the loved ones, who care and share.
  2. Being surrounded by those who bring some sunshine into one’s life. Warm hugs and embraces perk one up no end.
  3. Having advisors like Jeeves around whose keen intelligence and resourcefulness may enrich one’s life.
  4. Calling upon the services of pals like Bertie Wooster who would never let one down.
  5. Treating oneself with a daily dose of some Larsen Exercises, making an acquaintance like Ashe Marson proud.
  6. Trying to break the mould and doing something one has never done before; visiting far off places, meeting new people, and indulging in such heavenly pursuits which had so far remained pious intentions. These could even include such acts as pinching umbrellas and policemen’s helmets.
  7. Avoiding the company of aunts who feast on glass bottles and happen to be lionesses in the garb of sheep. Instead, getting oneself invited to lairs which boast of an Anatole on the premises.
  8. Standing up to a bully like Roderick Spode and giving him a piece of one’s mind; provided, of course, one has access to a Eulalie-like secret.
  9. If one belongs to the tribe of the delicately nurtured, one may like the company of someone configured along the lines of Rupert Psmith.
  10. If one is instead from the tribe of the so-called sterner sex, one may like the company of an Emerald Stoker, a soothing and sympathetic girl one can take one’s troubles to, thereby being confident of having one’s hand held and one’s head patted. However, it may help to avoid the company of persons built along the lines of Florence Craye, Honoria Glossop, Roberta Wickham or Stiffy Byng.
  11. Curling up in bed with one’s favourite whodunit, preferably with a tissue restorative by one’s side, and with soothing music softly playing in the background.
  12. Remembering that this phase too shall pass, as the wise men have said!

Overall, one may like to brood upon the singular advantage one’s Guardian Angels have conferred on one – that of facing harsher slings and arrows of Life. The perks of such a fate are many. One develops a spiritual outlook towards life, that too at a faster pace, much like the clergymen who come in contact with Master Thos. Nerves of chilled steel get developed. One’s inner resilience improves, leaving one less prone to distress of any kind in future. One develops a tendency to focus on the sunnier side of life. The inner will to live life to the hilt gets back on its throne. The brow is no longer furrowed. Rather than believing oneself to be a victim of circumstances, one learns to go with the flow of life, adapting to change. One learns to respond to life gracefully, with ease.

One may then look north, south, east and west and discover not a single cloud on the horizon. One realizes that no matter how dark the skies may be, the sun would be shining somewhere and will eventually come smiling through; just like Bertie Wooster says somewhere in his memoirs!

(Caricature courtesy Kevin Cornell)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/shopping-therapy-and-some-plummy-techniques-to-treat-depression)

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The prattle of tender feet around one keeps one very much alive and contented. Especially so when one happens to be in a phase of life where one can have the luxury of observing their behaviour at close quarters without having to worry about their mundane needs. Other then providing unalloyed joy and sparkling mirth, it also provides one an opportunity to grow spiritually.

When a Bollywood diva casts a spell

Take the case of a one-year old toddler who takes Master Thos to be his role model. If Thos was infatuated with a Hollywood diva, he happens to be besotted with one of the Bollywood divas. Play this particular song on the TV, and he goes into a trance which even the most advanced practitioners of Zen might not have experienced. Meals get forgotten. Toys cease to be of any consequence. Those around him might not even exist.

Sonam Kapoor, the diva in question, may be delighted to know of the brand equity she carries in the mind space of this young one. There is a good chance that he might even earn the distinction of being the youngest ever fan of a Bollywood diva.

One can only hope and pray that, as he grows, he never gets to emulate the goofy schemes of Thos the Terrible. In fact, thanks to the benign influence of the diva, perhaps there is a chance that he would end up performing such noble deeds as walking a few miles to fetch a newspaper for a guest or carrying any other injured young one on his tender shoulders, so as to win over the affections of his heart-throb.

The sincerity with which he expresses his fondness for the song featuring Sonam Kapoor is something which deserves to be emulated. It teaches us the innate goodness in all things musical, artistic and beautiful.

By being under the spell of a silver screen diva, he is merely following a long-held tradition of his ancestors. Soon, though, moving doors, books or other items may take his fancy.

He also demands equality in treatment vis-a-vis other kids in the immediate vicinity. If that does not come by, he knows how to shriek and attract the attention of his seniors, so justice gets meted out. This is invariably the scenario when some ice cream is getting distributed.

There are also times when he reminds one of Algernon Aubrey Little. When the father’s boss came visiting some time back, he was a model of ideal behaviour. No tantrums. No yells. Only some cute smiles. Peace prevailed. A promotion on the job soon followed.

Norway Schhol Art 1

A respect for technical gizmos

The other young boy, all of four years old, reminds one of Edwin the scout. It is not that his daily acts of mercy include dousing fires with paraffin and setting cottages on fire. But he does try to reverse-engineer and repair an egg-boiler, with catastrophic results.

Anything that moves attracts his attention. Curious to the core, he would tend to dismantle the gadget and then look on helplessly when attempting to put it together again. Door locks get fondled with much love. Remote controlled toy cars or toy boats are never safe in his vicinity. A family senior testing blood sugar or injecting insulin is an object to be closely observed and supported.

As he has grown, cell phones and iPads have gained his respect as reliable sources of perennial entertainment. Thus, these are no longer subjected to the kind of rigorous quality tests he used to conduct in his formative years. In his younger days, he has dunked many a cell phone in a mug of piping hot tea, marvelling at their steadfastness when compared to, say, biscuits.

One is yet to notice if, like Edwin, he is an expert on ant behaviour. But dogs, pigs, cows and horses do come in for stark appraisals under his watchful eye.

Locking up people inside dark rooms comes naturally to him. So does sneaking up from behind and suddenly yelling in one’s ear, thereby leaving one all of a twitter. Often, sudden bouts of some karate moves make one run for cover, lest one may need to review one’s medical insurance cover. Tying up one’s shoe laces surreptitiously makes him burst into uncontrollable laughter, much to the chagrin of the party of the other part.

Dealing with him is very instructive. His knowledge of all things mechanical and electronic makes one humble. One simply aspires to be a quick learner like him, so as to be able to quickly absorb the latest that technology has to offer and make progress in life, as defined by contemporary standards.

Norway School Art 2

A goofy mind, a tender heart

Consider also the case of a young girl of 6 odd years whose flair for drawing, painting and singing is often a talking point. But beneath the veneer of sophistication and innocence lies a mind which could churn out goofy schemes at the drop of a hat. The likes of Roberta Wickham and Stiffy Byng could learn quite a few tricks of the trade from her.

Much like Peggy Mainwaring, she is used to staring and giggling at odd times, leaving the party of the other part shaken to the core. A relentless chatter emanating from her often leaves one yearning for some peace and quietitude. A continuous barrage of queries fired at one leaves one exasperated at times. The value of courage and perseverance is thus learnt the hard way.

Compassion comes naturally to her. She loves being surrounded by pets she can shower her motherly affection on. When a bitter feud with a younger sibling results into the latter getting hurt, she gets immediately transformed into a caring and loving nurse. But Homo Sapiens often get bluntly ticked off by her for the slightest of perceived infractions on their part.

When germs of acute goofiness strike, the sky is the limit. A younger sibling’s trousers are found wet in the middle of the night. Wisdom dawns when one notices the empty bottle of drinking water by the side of the bed. Guilt-less pleasure is felt when the younger sibling gets a reprimand for an act of omission committed by her own self.

Post-ablutions, she turns out to be a great bathroom singer, requesting the support of a senior to clean up. ‘Potty is over’ is belted out, in tune with a nursery rhyme like ‘Twinkle twinkle little star….’.

Her receptivity is not to be taken lightly. When it is playing time at a friend’s place, she realizes the rest, solitude and enjoyment the hapless mother would experience while she is away. The hapless mother’s rights to such well-deserved rest and recuperation come in for open and frank criticism.

Norway School Art 3

Competing with the Bermuda Triangle

Yet another case which merits consideration is that of a young lass of 7 years who is built along the lines of Kid Clementina. She is a not-so-quiet saint-like child, when in a good mood. When taken out for a movie and a dinner, she is full of gratitude. She gazes at her benefactor in silent admiration. But while at home, a stubbornness tests the patience of the seniors around.

Great deal of perseverance is required so she may partake of any single meal which may last well over 90 minutes. Each morsel is punctuated by a commercial break, so to say. Unless, of course, the meal comprises a pizza alone, followed by the temptation of either an ice cream or a chocolate.

The threat of changing the WiFi password alone works wonders and makes her obey various commands at home. Fond of playing such brainy games as chess, she is quick to perceive that an attempt is being made to make her falsely win the game of patience and strategy. She resents such acts of chivalry. Her artistic skills are remarkable. So is her passion for karate.

There being no ink pots around these days, one is sure that she is unable to put any sherbet in the same in her classroom. But messing up the password of the iPad of a schoolmate comes readily to her. Rapid progress gets made by her in the realm of mastering all kinds of technical gizmos.

She believes in keeping one on one’s toes. While going out of the house in a hurry, one suddenly finds one’s footwear missing. Or, a ping-pong ball resting inside one of the shoes. A toothbrush can suddenly vanish, leaving one gnashing one’s teeth in disbelief and dismay. A toothpaste tube could get replaced by a cold cream tube. Unless one is alert and agile, the experience leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth, literally as well as figuratively. One’s shaving kit could go into hiding for two weeks, leaving one feeling like a distressed soul pining for one’s beloved, beard and all. One’s favourite comb could get hidden, leaving one shuddering at the prospect of making an appearance in public. Overall, the house appears to provide stiff competition to the Bermuda Triangle.

Norway School Art 4

A Core of Innocence

Put any two of the kids together and the results could be disastrous. Put all four of them together and the foundations of civilization start quivering.

The combined goofiness of a group of kids is directly proportional to the square of the number of kids together.

Unlike what the Theory of Relativity postulates about there being an upper limit for the speed of light, one does not believe there could be an upper limit for kids’ goofiness. With three kids of his own, Einstein himself might have been in agreement with this proposition.

Their interpersonal interactions are more like sinusoidal curves, putting the Dow Jones Index and the Sensex to shame. Loving embraces are quickly followed by bitter arguments, accompanied by loud background music and tantrums of all kind.

Their minds are highly creative. Their imagination is vivid and fertile. More often than not, they are a reflection of what one is and how one behaves in their presence. In a way, they hold a clear mirror to us, especially when it comes to ethics, values and social leanings.

It is true that kids are simply adorable. Perhaps because their external sheath of goofiness is built around a core of touching innocence – a virtue which one loses as one advances in age. They radiate the purity of their chaste souls, yet to be corrupted by social prejudices and materialistic considerations. A sheltered upbringing obviously helps.

Towards spiritual progress

mothersymbolmeaningThe Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram has spoken of twelve attributes which help a spiritual aspirant to make progress. Sincerity. Humility. Gratitude. Perseverance. Aspiration. Receptivity. Progress. Courage. Goodness. Generosity. Equality. Peace.

Being with kids surely paves the way for rapid spiritual progress, besides keeping one amused and entertained at all times.

The challenge of minimizing Screen Time

While families have shrunk, technology has entered the family space. For hapless parents, there are two challenges. One, that of minimizing Screen Time, weaning away kids from gadgets and involving them in outdoor activities. Two, that of imparting them the values which would last them a life time. Perhaps it is time to consciously revert back to the joint family system. More about this in another blog post.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/some-plumsville-kids-and-the-richter-scale-of-roguishness-part-1-of-3

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/when-masters-thos-bonzo-and-moon-rise-in-love

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/bringing-up-kids)

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'The Thinker' : Rodin

‘The Thinker’ : Rodin

The Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies desires to hire the services of a Director Marketing who would assume the responsibility of aggressively marketing its unique range of technologies and products.

The Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies is an ISO-certified international academy of goofy schemes which are designed to resolve ticklish issues afflicting our society. It does so by promoting and propagating non-violent techniques of registering protests and wreaking vengeance upon those who profess views which are at odds with those of theirs. The Academy brings together the world’s leading scientists, engineers and technologists to advance and promote excellence in innovative methods designed to secure socially desirable results.

The First Fellows of the Academy include such illustrious figures as Roberta Wickham and Stephanie Byng. Researchers and innovators of all hues continue to be inspired by their inimitable schemes to pursue the lofty goals of the Academy.

Some examples of technologies developed and gadgets patented so far by illustrious fellows of the Academy include:

  1. Laser-guided Needles usable for puncturing hot water bottles. These guarantee deadly precision, with minimal risk of exposure to the fleshy parts of the target person at the receiving end.
  2. Infra-red Incinerators which allow one to burn offending scripts and memoirs at the push of a button. No smoke is emitted, thereby allowing complete secrecy even within confined spaces.
  3. Magnetic Props which are highly effective in pinching policemen helmets. Field tests have demonstrated a high rate of success even for novice clergymen who might be out to pinch such objects merely to please their current heart-throbs.
  4. Machines which automatically produce 3-D versions of butter slides. These are found very useful by step-sons who have been refused protection money by their would-be step-fathers.
  5. Adhesives of an advanced nature, which allow party of the one part to affix and remove with much ease fungus of any colour from the visage of the party of the other part.
  6. Software which develops and delivers juicy speeches of all kinds to large gatherings of giggling and staring school girls and boys, thereby simplifying life for all those who are left all of a twitter when invited to address the wards under the charge of such illustrious lion-tamers as Rev. Aubrey Upjohn and Miss Tomlinson.
  7. Advanced e-learning kits which enable enthusiasts to learn to play such musical instruments as banjeoles. By using blue-tooth technology, such kits enable one to practice without disturbing one’s neighbours.
  8. Artificial Intelligence enabled gentlemen of gentlemen, duly configured with a Jeeves Service Package. These are extremely popular as wedding gifts which the brides-to-be accept with much glee, enabling them to show the door to the real Jeeves in their would-be husbands’ lives in the post-nuptial phase.
  9. Silver Detectors which can be used by enterprising aunts to locate and steal cow creamers and such other collectibles from castles of rivals. Smart nephews who do not wish to lose the privilege of feasting on Anatole’s delectable spreads use such contraptions to keep their aunts in good humour.
  10. Calorie Counters specifically designed to monitor the feeding pattern of the Empress of Blandings. These enable her to keep winning the top slot at international level sow competitions.
  11. Advanced Algorithms capable of accurately forecasting the results of all kinds of speculative sports. Bingo Littles of the world are thus enabled to keep the dove of matrimonial bliss flapping above their humble abodes at minimal costs.
  12. Aniseed Perfumes specifically developed for those who specialize in stealing detective dogs from the enemy camp in a peaceful and non-violent manner.
  13. Electronic Stunners which can be used for inducing temporary disability amongst cops who might be chasing well-meaning persons out to serve the delicately nurtured members of the society.
  14. Digestive Capsules designed to eliminate any problems of the lining of the stomach amongst those who are routinely taken in by the pleasures of the table and do not believe in the efficacy of Larsen Exercises popularized by Ashe Marson.
  15. Anti-aunt Apps designed to block communications from obnoxious aunts when they refuse to be gentlemen.
  16. Spider Footwear which make it easy to slide down pipes to escape the fury of aunts who insist on having a word with their nephews who are in no mood to face the firing squad.

The Academy has several exciting projects on the drawing board which are set to revolutionize the ways in which any goofy scheme is planned and executed. These include Body Scanners which can enable a member of the delicately nurtured tribe to ascertain the Chivalry Quotient of a matrimonial aspirant; Mental Imagers which can check the Pumpkin Quotient of a person; Cat Detectors which bleep when a bunch of feline characters are in the vicinity; Powder of Milk of Human Kindness and the like.

Countries need no longer wage deadly wars against each other. Terrorists no longer need to use violent methods to achieve their political ends. Almost all the patents mentioned hereinabove can be used to achieve the same goals in a non-violent manner. Comrades owing their allegiance to Brigades of all hues can make the haves of the society simplify their wasteful style of living and instead start philanthropic endeavours to fulfill their social responsibilities.

Harassed husbands do not need to inflict violence upon any of the delicately nurtured to ensure peace and harmony at home. Loving spouses need no longer tutor such despicable kids as Thos, merely to recoup their losses incurred at the turf. Owners of prized sows can enjoy good sleep, free of worries concerned with the calorie intake of their prized possessions.

The Director-Marketing shall be assisted by a team of crack salesmen comprising eminently rogue characters of the stature of Thos, Seabury, Edwin and many others.

The Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies is an equal opportunity employer. Its compensation packages are based on the psychology of the individual and compare with the best in the industry.

Those interested may forward their resumes within a fortnight to directorHR@ragt.com.

(Related Post: Click here )

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ashokbhatia

Santa Inc is an undisputed leader in the Happiness Industry, committed to spreadingSanta Elf_ornament cheer and hearty laughter all over the universe. With its headquarters at Island-222 on Kepler-22b, its top-line boasts of zillions of smiles and cheer all over.

With operations slated to increase at an annual compounded growth rate of 30%, it is on the look out for smart and tech-savvy elves who would be:

  • Able to demonstrate hi-tech toys and gizmos like smart phones, i-Pads, apps of all kinds, notebooks and fablets to the current generation of tiny tots.
  • Would assist Santa Claus in motivating kids to exchange their previous years’ gizmos with more conventional toys like dolls, train sets, racing cars, bikes and board games like Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, etc., thereby reviving their interest in traditional means of entertainment.
  • Elves who charm TV and internet-addicted bleary-eyed kids into playing more of outdoor games and can wean…

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Bingo Little Junior and Prudence Baxter earn a negative ranking on the Richter scale of Roguishness. However, there are several others who deceive us with their apparent innocence – Kid Clamentina, Oswald and Peggy Mainwaring, to name the ones we have covered in the last post.

Here are a few more who deserve to be considered.

Bonzo

Bonzo, the son of Aunt Dahlia, has a sound reputation as a pest. But if Thos sets a gold standard in devilry, Bonzo is merely a good, ordinary mischief-maker. His proud mother compares the two as follows:

‘Whenever it comes to devilry, Bonzo is a good, ordinary selling-plater. Whereas Thomas is a classic yearling.’

When Bonzo is in love, his nature gets altered. He tries to lead a finer, betterVeryGoodJeeves life. When tempted to climb on the roof and boo down Mr Anstruther’s chimney, he refuses to oblige. When prompted to burst a paper bag below the chair of a resting old man, he merely walks off in a huff.

We get introduced to him and also to Sebastian Moon in The Love that Purifies (Very Good, Jeeves).

Sebastian Moon

Sebastian Moon has goggle eyes and golden curls. He has a breezy candidness about him. Few years junior to both Thos and Bonzo, he happens to have long nourished a deep regard for Miss Clara Bow.

Except for his presence in the short story mentioned above, more details of his escapades are not available.

 

Kid Blumenfeld

Here is a dish-faced kid who, despite his tender age, controls the theatrical productions of his father.

A king maker

In A Letter of Introduction (The Inimitable Jeeves), he wrecks the career aspirations of Cyril Bassington-Bassington, much to the relief of Aunt Agatha and Bertie. He is a stoutish infant with a lot of freckles. He has one of those cold, clammy and accusing sort of eyes. He looks at you as being an unnecessary product brought in by a cat after rummaging through a trash can.

Having been taught by his mother to be brutally frank while expressing hisPGW Inimitable_jeeves opinions, he tells Bertie that his (kid’s) father happens to be richer than him (Bertie). He has no hesitation in telling Cyril upfront that he is fish-faced, thereby inviting a scuffle between the two.

The father believes that the kid has the IQ of an average audience’s, and can be relied upon to certify the suitability of any play. Conversely, what he does not like will be too rotten for anyone.

This is how the scene unfolds at a rehearsal.

‘You got to work good for my pop!’ said the stout child, waggling his head reprovingly at Cyril.

‘I don’t want any bally cheek from you!’ said Cyril, gurgling a bit.

‘What’s that?’ barked old Blumenfeld. ‘Do you understand that this boy is my son?’

‘Yes, I do,’ said Cyril. ‘And you both have my sympathy!’

‘You’re fired!’ bellowed old Blumenfeld, swelling a good bit more. ‘Get out of my theatre!’

Thus ends the artistic career of Cyril, much to the delight of Aunt Agatha. Jeeves is equally contented, having taken the liberty of gifting Bertie’s favourite purple socks to the lift attendant.

A fancy for Aberdeen terriers

The kid also puts in an appearance in Episode of the Dog McIntosh (Very Good, Jeeves).

When Blumenfeld Sr comes over from New York to check if there are any plays worth buying, the kid is brought along to put his seal of approval on any good play he comes across.

Bobbie Wickham, in her keenness to get her mother’s dramatized version of a novel of hers, allows the kid to walk off with McIntosh, Aunt Agatha’s Aberdeen terrier, left in Bertie’s charge while she goes off to Aix-les-Bains to take the cure.

A sense of Noblesse oblige restrains Bertie from dashing off to the Savoy and demanding the pet back. As always, Jeeves comes up with a solution – a look-alike replacement is arranged for the kid, whereas Bertie rescues McIntosh after sprinkling his trousers with aniseed powder. Aniseed has an aroma which appears to speak straight to the deeps of the terrier’s soul. The innocent subterfuge works. Peace prevails.

 

Seabury of the Butter-slide fame

Seabury puts in an appearance in Thank you, Jeeves. He is described as a smallish, freckled kid with aeroplane ears. He has a supercilious gaze which leaves you wondering what you had done wrong.

‘In my Rogues Gallery of repulsive small boys I suppose he would come about third – not quite so bad as my Aunt Agatha’s son, Young Thos, or Blumenfeld’s Junior, but well ahead of little Sebastian Moon, my Aunt Dahlia’s Bonzo, and the field.’

If you run into him, he is apt to demand protection money. If you decide not toPGW ThankYouJeeves pay up, things could happen to you. There could be a lizard in your bed, crawling up the left pyjama leg when you slip between the sheets for some well-earned sleep.

Unpleasantness ensues between Master Seabury and Master Dwight Stoker when the latter refuses to part with a sum of one shilling and sixpence for protection. A brawl follows. Lady Chuffnell behaves like a tigress out to protect her cub. Pop Stoker kicks in on behalf of his progeny. Diplomatic relations between the two families get severed, thereby putting the sale of Chuffnell Hall in jeopardy. Prospects of Chuffy proposing to Pauline Stoker nosedive.

Another romance which gets threatened in its embryonic stage by Seabury is the one between his tigress mother and the renowned looney doctor, Sir Roderick Glossop. Having failed in his endeavours to extract a sum of ten shillings from his future stepfather, Seabury plans something in the nature of a reprisal.

‘He wouldn’t have the nerve to do the dirty on a future stepfather, would he?’

‘Young gentlemen are headstrong, sir.’

‘True, one recalls the case of my Aunt Agatha’s son, young Thos, and the Cabinet Minister.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘In a spirit of ill-will he marooned him on an island in the lake with a swan.’

‘Yes, sir.’

A butter-slide is laid as a trap. Stealthily followed by Mary, a parlour maid of a somewhat frivolous nature, Pop Glossop takes a toss with some heaviness. A rift ensues between the two seniors. The tidal wave of an injured motherly love scores over the affection felt by Woman Chuffnell for Sir Roderick Glossop.

Eventually, the mother realizes her folly and laments her having been too harsh on the looney doctor, who, in act of unparalleled magnanimity, had blackened his face to merely amuse the fiend in human shape – Seabury.

 

Edwin the Boy Scout

Like many of his contemporaries listed above, Edwin plays a key role in shaping events in the life of Bertie when he lands up at Steeple Bumpleigh on an errand of mercy for Uncle Percy. Even otherwise, when Edwin tries to catch up with his acts of kindness, human life is imperiled. We get to meet him in Joy in the Morning.

Edwin is a small boy with a face like a ferret. He is a conscientious Boy ScoutJoyInTheMorning who insists on keeping his score of charitable acts up to date at all times. The list of his charitable acts includes cleaning up cottage chimneys using gunpowder. If a chimney were to catch fire, he rushes in to douse it with paraffin, thereby making the whole cottage go up in flames.

When he finds a brooch meant for his sister, Florence Craye, he loses no time in handing it over to her, claiming it to be a birthday present from Bertie. The sister returns the true love of her life, Stilton Cheeseright, to store and decides to get married to Bertie, leaving him all of a twitter.

In order to get de-Florenced, Bertie decides to deliver a forceful kick to her favourite brother in her presence. Edwin educates Bertie on the behavior of ants, ex-members of the Hymenoptera family. Upon stooping down, he does receive a juicy one from Bertie. However, rather than getting annoyed, Florence is appreciative of the act, because Edwin has been pasting press clippings on her latest book ‘Spindrift’ upside down in an album of hers!

When he finds burglars on the lawns in the middle of the night, he promptly tackles them using a Scout’s stick. UncleWodehouse characters Percy gets biffed on his trouser seat. Bertie gets sloshed on the back hair, leaving him with a golf ball sized contusion.

When he decides to mend an egg boiler, a hapless egg kept in position flies off like a bullet, catching a prospective egg consumer like Boko on the tip of his nose which continues to bleed for a few hours.

Yet another act of kindness he does is to place a hedgehog in Bertie’s bed. While doing so, he notices a policeman’s uniform on the bed and promptly reports the matter to Stilton, who has been missing his own after a swim in the river. Bertie comes very close to getting pinched, being saved at the last minute by his Uncle Percy. The latter refuses to sign on the warrant authorizing Bertie’s arrest, ticking off the officers of the Law who forget their sacred obligations and bring trumped-up charges right and left in a selfish desire to secure promotion.

This revolting exhibition of fraud makes Stilton resign from the Force, thereby removing the barrier between himself and Florence. Bertie avoids the peril of walking down the aisle with an ace spiritual reformer in his life.

Ogden Ford, the darling of kidnappers

Here is someone who could give all the other kids a run for their money. He is fourteen years of age, round andPGW PiccadillyJim overfed. If there is a spoilt and unpleasant brat who is overindulged by his wealthy parents, it is Ogden, the supreme fiend in human shape. Here is a juicy description of his.

Years of grown-up society and the absence of anything approaching discipline had given him a precocity on which the earnest efforts of a series of private tutors had expended themselves in vain. They came, full of optimism and self-confidence, to retire after a brief interval, shattered by the boy’s stodgy resistance to education in any form or shape. To Mr. Pett, never at his ease with boys, Ogden Ford was a constant irritant. He disliked his stepson’s personality, and he more than suspected him of stealing his cigarettes. It was an additional annoyance that he was fully aware of the impossibility of ever catching him at it.

He thinks nothing of ticking off his step-father. Forever in the eyes of kidnappers, he loses no time in introducing numerous vices to the boarding school he is sent to. We meet him and his mother, Nesta, in two narratives – The Little Nugget and Piccadilly Jim.

Both Edwin and Ogden compete with Thos for the top ranking on the Richter scale of Roguishness.

(To be continued; caricatures of characters courtesy www)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/some-plumsville-kids-and-the-richter-scale-of-roguishness-part-1-of-3

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/some-plumsville-kids-and-the-richter-scale-of-roguishness-part-3-of-3

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/when-masters-thos-bonzo-and-moon-rise-in-love)

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Santa Inc is an undisputed leader in the Happiness Industry, committed to spreadingSanta Elf_ornament cheer and hearty laughter all over the universe. With its headquarters at Island-222 on Kepler-22b, its top-line boasts of zillions of smiles and cheer all over.

With operations slated to increase at an annual compounded growth rate of 30%, it is on the look out for smart and tech-savvy elves who would be:

  • Able to demonstrate hi-tech toys and gizmos like smart phones, i-Pads, apps of all kinds, notebooks and fablets to the current generation of tiny tots.
  • Would assist Santa Claus in motivating kids to exchange their previous years’ gizmos with more conventional toys like dolls, train sets, racing cars, bikes and board games like Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, etc., thereby reviving their interest in traditional means of entertainment.
  • Elves who charm TV and internet-addicted bleary-eyed kids into playing more of outdoor games and can wean them off junk foods can expect faster promotions and better recognition. Those who make it to the top five of this group of elves could enjoy special dinner sessions with the founder Santa Claus himself. 
  • Aspirants should have had value-based education in any discipline from any institute of repute, with a CGPA ranging between 5.01 and 5.99. The company encourages aspirants who score higher on their Emotional and Moral Quotients.
  • Preference will be given to those who have had at least five years’ hands-on experience in any of the following industries: FMCG, Hospitality, IT, Logistics, Packing & Forwarding, Animal Husbandry, Entertainment, Toys and Vehicle/Sleigh Maintenance.
  • Aspirants should be familiar with at least five languages out of the several which are spoken on the planet referred to as Earth. Knowledge of languages spoken on other planets is desirable.
  • Should be willing to travel anywhere in the universe at a short notice. Prior exposure to inter-galactic or inter-planetary travel would help.
  • An ideal elf would be one with a pleasing personality. He/she would be without any family encumbrances, and shall possess the ability to work under high-stress situations.
  • Candidature of those possessing a Good Conduct Certificate from Rev. Aubrey Upjohn, Miss Tomlinson or Miss Mapleton shall be accorded higher priority.
  • Aspirants who have spent time with such Plumsville kids as Thos, Ogden Ford, Seabury, Edwin and Peggy Mainwaring are unlikely to be considered.
  • Prior experience in riding sleighs, sliding down chimneys and taking care of reindeers with care and compassion would be highly desirable.

Those interested in this exciting career opportunity are welcome to log on to hohoho.santaclaus.org and post their brief bios within fifteen Earth-days. Short-listed aspirants would be contacted by our Chief Elf Officer’s staff with further details of our screening process.

To those who are selected and decide to come on board, Santa Inc shall provide a three-month rigorous induction-cum-training program. A personal surety and bond of at least three years will need to be signed by those selected.

Canvassing in any form is strictly discouraged. Those making telephonic inquiries by calling up our Planetary Headquarters on Earth at its North Pole would run the risk of getting disqualified.

Santa Inc is an equal opportunity employer. Its remuneration packages compare favorably with the rest of the Happiness Industry anywhere in the universe.

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