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The code that Bertie Wooster follows while interacting with the denizens of Plumsville has several finer shades to it.Code of the Woosters Cover 3

Here are some more examples, as gleaned from The Code of the Woosters.

Being a Boy Scout and a Bulldog

Bertie is invariably happy when playing the role of a boy scout. Performing little acts of kindness makes him happy. When Aunt Dahlia sends him off on a mission to sneer at the cow-creamer in an antique shop, he does not mind his morning plans getting changed.

When he arrives at the shop on Brampton Road, he runs into Sir Watkyn Bassett, CBE. The bulldog strain in the Woosters comes into play. He does not run away. He stands firm.

A Resilience of Nature

These are his feelings when, prodded by Jeeves and Stiffy, he agrees to go and tell Pop Bassett that he plans to marry Stiffy.

It has…

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The code that Bertie Wooster follows while interacting with the denizens of Plumsville has several finer shades to it.Code of the Woosters Cover 3

Here are some more examples, as gleaned from The Code of the Woosters.

Being a Boy Scout and a Bulldog

Bertie is invariably happy when playing the role of a boy scout. Performing little acts of kindness makes him happy. When Aunt Dahlia sends him off on a mission to sneer at the cow-creamer in an antique shop, he does not mind his morning plans getting changed.

When he arrives at the shop on Brampton Road, he runs into Sir Watkyn Bassett, CBE. The bulldog strain in the Woosters comes into play. He does not run away. He stands firm.

A Resilience of Nature

These are his feelings when, prodded by Jeeves and Stiffy, he agrees to go and tell Pop Bassett that he plans to marry Stiffy.

It has been well said of Bertram Wooster by those who know him best that there is a certain resilience in his nature that enables him as a general rule to rise on stepping-stones of his dead self in the most unfavourable circumstances. It isn’t often that I fail to keep the chin up and the eye sparkling.

The Chin-up Attitude

When Bertie decides to go and search Stiffy’s room for Gussie’s notebook containing some juicy references to Pop Bassett and Roderick Spode, he is not very delighted at the prospect of carrying out his own plans.

I hate these surreptitious prowlings. Bertie Wooster is a man who likes to go through the world with his chin up and both feet on the ground, not to sneak about on tiptoe with his spine tying itself into reef knots.

When a butler tells Bertie that Madeline Bassett desires him to spare a moment for her, he can foresee the impending doom.

I gazed at the man dully, like someone in a prison cell when the jailer has stepped in at dawn to notify him that the firing squad is ready.
I braced myself with the old Wooster grit. Up came the chin, back went the shoulders.
‘Lead on,’ I said to the butler, and the butler led on.

Being Humane

Bertie is not fond of Sir Watkyn Bassett, CBE. He is the magistrate who had pinched Bertie for five quids by way of a fine at Bosher Street.

While being a guest of Aunt Dahlia’s, he has the audacity to make a job offer to Anatole, God’s gift to gastric juices. When Uncle Tom tells him about a silver cow-creamer being held for him at an antique shop on Brampton Road, he hatches a devilish plot to beat him to it. A sumptuous lunch made up of cold lobsters and sliced cucumber follows, making Uncle Tom miss his rendezvous with the shop keeper. Pop Bassett then nips across and buys the cow-creamer himself.

When Bertie is a guest of his at Totleigh Towers, he is not averse to getting his room searched for either a cow-creamer or a policeman’s helmet. Nothing in his record suggests that he possesses a niceness of feeling and a respect for the basic laws of hospitality.

But Bertie is a gentleman at heart. Having just given Pop Bassett a shock by stating that he intends to marry his niece Stiffy, he does not like the idea of Madeline rushing in to tell her father that she wants to marry Bertie. His humane instincts come to the fore.

I started. I could still see Pop Bassett’s face when he had thought that he was going to draw me for a nephew. It would be a bit thick, I felt, while he was still quivering to the roots of the soul at the recollection of that hair’s-breadth escape, to tell him that I was about to become his son-in-law. I was not fond of Pop Bassett, but one has one’s humane instincts.

‘Oh, my aunt!’ I said. ‘Don’t do that!’

A Stickler to Rules

When policemen’s helmets have to be pinched, there is a standard technique to be followed. Giving the forward shove before the upwards lift is the right way to going about it. But when Stinker Pinker swings into action, Constable Oates has taken his helmet off and put it on the ground. Pinker merely creeps up and grabs the desired object.

Bertie believes this to be a wrong way of pinching a helmet. He considers Stinker Pinker’s behavior morally tantamount to shooting a sitting bird.

Members of the Drones Club have strong views on these things. Even in acts of a goofy nature, rules must be scrupulously followed.

The Pumpkin Quotient

Bertie is quite clear when it comes to his ranking on a scale which measures the extent to being pumpkin-headed.

‘I can’t understand you, Bertie – the way you’re always criticizing poor Harold. I thought you were so fond of him.’
‘I love him like a b. But that doesn’t alter my opinion that of all the pumpkin-headed foozlers who ever preached about Hivites and Jebusites, he is the foremost.’
‘He isn’t half as pumpkin-headed as you.’
‘He is, at a conservative estimate, about twenty-seven times as pumpkin-headed as me. He begins where I leave off. It may be a strong thing to say, but he’s more pumpkin-headed than Gussie.’

Being aware of one’s Pumpkin Quotient is a quality many of us can learn.

Never Allowing the Upper Lip to Unstiffen

Depression comes in all sizes and shapes. But irrespective of whether it is U-shaped, V-shaped or W-shaped, we would do well to remember this advice from Bertie Wooster.

‘A short while ago, the air was congested with V-shaped depressions, but now one looks north, south, east and west and descries not a single cloud on the horizon – except the fact that Gussie’s wedding is still off, and that can’t be helped. Well, this should certainly teach us, should it not, never to repine, never to despair, never to allow the upper lip to unstiffen, but always to remember that, no matter how dark the skies may be, the sun is shining somewhere and will eventually come smiling through.’

Code of the Woosters has several facets. Each one tells us how (or how not) to lead our lives. The appeal of Bertie Wooster’s character perhaps lies in the fact that these aspects of his conduct touch our inner chords, that too in a manner which is light-hearted and liberally laced with heady humor.

(Part 4: Decodifying the Code of the Woosters)

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