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Posts Tagged ‘Girl Friend’

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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What happens when a banking professional like Suvarna Sanyal, who has spent a life time poring over bulky ledgers and checking debit and credit figures, turns his attention to one of the popular stories dished out by P G Wodehouse? Well, he simply whips up a series of illustrations which figure some of the better known characters from the canon in some selected scenes from the story!

Savour below the results of his labour of love which, incidentally, have already undergone a scrutiny under the precise microscope of an expert in all Plummy matters.

 

‘The day was so warm, so fair, so magically a thing of sunshine and blue skies and bird-song that anyone acquainted with Clarence, ninth Earl of Emsworth, and aware of his liking for fine weather, would have pictured him going about the place on this summer morning with a beaming smile and an uplifted heart.’

 

‘Instead of which, humped over the breakfast-table, he was directing at a blameless kippered herring a look of such intense bitterness that the fish seemed to sizzle beneath it. For it was August Bank Holiday, and Blandings Castle on August Bank Holiday became, in his lordship’s opinion, a miniature Inferno.’

 

Breakfast over, Lord Emsworth’s sister, Lady Constance Keeble, looked brightly at him across the table.

 

Lord Emsworth left the table, the room and the house, but on reaching the yew alley some minutes later was revolted to find it infested by Angus McAllister in person.

Lord Emsworth told McAllister he is off to the village to judge the cottage gardens and will see him later.

 

‘It is always unpleasant for a proud man to realize that he is no longer captain of his soul; that he is to all intents and purposes ground beneath the number twelve heel of a Glaswegian head-gardener.’

He recalls the greatness of his brave and bold ancestors, whereas he himself reels under the tyranny of his sister and his head-gardener.

 

As he came to the last cottage garden, he unlatched the gate and pottered in.  A hairy, nondescript dog opened one eye and looked at him in a suspicious manner.  And when Lord Emsworth sniffed one of the flowers, the world became full of hideous noises.  He suddenly had a passionate desire to save his ankles from harm.’

At the sound of the girl’s voice, the mongrel suspended hostilities and writhed on its back with all four legs in the air.  And that was how Lord Emsworth met Gladys, and she introduced herself and her brother Ern, who was carrying a bunch of flowers.

 

‘Lord Emsworth looked at the girl almost reverentially.  Not content with controlling savage dogs with a mere word, this super-woman actually threw stones at Angus McAllister, and copped him on the shin.’

 

On learning that they would be at the Fetê in the park later, he made a vague rendezvous.

 

Clarence runs into Constance, who plans to tick off the kids who had misbehaved on their last visit to the Castle lawns.

 

‘It always seemed to Lord Emsworth that the annual Fête at Blandings Castle reached a peak of repulsiveness when tea was served in the big marquee.  It occurred to him that it would be a prudent move to take off his top hat before his little guests appreciated its humorous possibilities, but even as he raised his hand, a rock cake took it off for him.’

 

He craved solitude and made for the nearby cowshed, where he was surprised to meet a sobbing Gladys.

‘Tear-stains glistened on her face, and no Emsworth had ever been able to watch unstirred a woman’s tears.  He was visibly affected.

“Why,” he asked, “could Ern not have pinched them for himself?”’

 

Gladys recounts the encounter between Lady Constance and Ern. She concludes by saying she had told Ern she would “bring ’im back somefing nice.”

Lord Emsworth thought ‘it was like listening to some grand old saga of the exploits of heroes and demigods.’

He was further surprised to learn that Gladys had herself had no tea!

‘Do you mean to tell me that you have not had tea?’

‘No, sir. Thank you, sir. I thought if I didn’t ‘ave none, then it would be all right Ern ‘aving what I would ‘ave ‘ad if ‘ad ‘ave ‘ad.’

 

Five minutes later, Beach the butler answered the summons of a bell in the library, where he found his employer in the company of a young person in a velveteen frock.

After doing herself well at the tea-table, and clutching a well-filled parcel destined for Ern, Gladys was asked by Lord Emsworth if Ern would like something else.

‘Could he ‘ave some flarze?’

‘Certainly, certainly, certainly,’ he said, though not without a qualm. ‘Take as many as you want.’

 

When from his potting-shed Angus McAllister saw a small girl in a velveteen frock picking his sacred flowers, and realised that it was the same small girl who had copped him on the shin with a stone, he came out of the potting-shed at forty-five miles per hour.

Gladys did not linger, but scuttled to where Lord Emsworth stood and, hiding behind him, clutched the tails of his morning-coat.  Lord Emsworth’s knees shook at the spectacle of the man charging down on him with gleaming eyes and bristling whiskers.  But at that moment, Gladys, seeking further protection, slipped a small, hot hand into his.  It was a mute vote of confidence, and Lord Emsworth intended to be worthy of it.

 

Lord Emsworth pressed home his advantage while he could.

‘Angus McAllister made his decision.  Better to cease to be a Napoleon than to be a Napoleon in exile.’

 

Lord Emsworth was shaken but a novel sensation of being a man among men thrilled him.  He almost hoped that his sister Constance would come along and start something while he felt like this.

He got his wish, and asked her what the matter was.

 

He turned to Gladys.

Lord Emsworth had eventually proved worthy of his glorious ancestors.

 

This is how love conquers all. The desire to please the party of the other part. The need to be worthy of her trust and affection. Even spines made of cottage cheese get transformed into those made of chilled steel!

 

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/05/09/lord-emsworth-and-the-girlfriend-a-viewpoint

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/lord-emsworth-and-the-girl-friend-when-nature-stands-still

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/great-wodehouse-romances-lord-emsworth-and-the-girl-friend-by-ken-clevenger)

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