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Posts Tagged ‘Humour’

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)

 

 

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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!

Residents of Plumsville would recall that this is the only story in the canon which is narrated by Jeeves.

Savour below the results of his labour of love. Yours truly takes the rap for having taken a few liberties with the original text (in italics, please).

 

“My sister will be back from India next week with her three little girls. I’ll give up this flat and take a house and have them all to live with me. By Jove, Jeeves, I think that’s rather a scheme, what? Prattle of childish voices, eh? Little feet pattering hither and thither, yes!”

“If you will pardon my saying so, sir,” I suggested, tactfully, “I think you are not quite yourself after your influenza. If I might express the opinion, what you require is a few days by the sea. Brighton is very handy, sir.”

“Well, I’m not sure you’re not right. I am feeling more or less of an onion. You might shove a few things in a suit-case and drive me down in the car to-morrow.”

“Very good, sir.”

 

While returning from Brighton, we noticed a red-haired young person with a snub nose and an extremely large grin seeking a lift. Her age might have been around twelve.

We stopped and fulfilled her wish.

 

 

“I’m going to get into a frightful row,” she began. “Miss Tomlinson will be perfectly furious. I thought I could get back in time so that nobody would notice I’d gone, but I got this nail in my shoe.”

“Oh, I say, this is rather rotten,” he observed. “Isn’t there anything to be done? I say, Jeeves, don’t you think something could be done?”

“I think it would be a legitimate subterfuge were you to inform the young lady’s school-mistress that you are an old friend of the young lady’s father; that you had been passing the school and had seen the young lady at the gate and taken her for a drive. Miss Tomlinson’s chagrin would no doubt in these circumstances be sensibly diminished if not altogether dispersed.”

The young one was delighted at this generous offer.

 

 

 

I turned in at the gates of a house of imposing dimensions, bringing the car to a halt at the front door.

 

 

I took the initiative of meeting Miss Tomlinson who turned out  to be a handsome but strong-minded person, reminding me of Aunt Agatha. ‘She had the same penetrating gaze and that indefinable air of being reluctant to stand any nonsense.’

“He did not inform you, then, that he was the Mr. Wooster?”

“The Mr. Wooster?”

“Bertram Wooster, madam.”

“Oh, Bertram Wooster!” she said.

“He is an extremely retiring gentleman, madam, and would be the last to suggest it himself, but, knowing him as I do, I am sure that he would take it as a graceful compliment if you were to ask him to address the young ladies. He is an excellent extempore speaker.”

“A very good idea!” said Miss Tomlinson, decidedly.

 

“At the school where I was employed, sir, the young ladies had a regular game which they used to play when a male visitor arrived. They would stare fixedly at him and giggle, and there was a small prize for the one who made him blush first.”

“I’d no idea small girls were such demons.”

“More deadly than the male, sir.”

The guv’nor passed a handkerchief over his brow.

 

Peggy came back to look me up.

 

 

Guv’nor returned to persuade me to leave the school premises immediately. Meanwhile, I had already foreseen the car to have suddenly developed a technical snag of some kind.

 

 

Miss Tomlinson caught up with guv’nor.

 

 

The large schoolroom was situated on the ground floor, with commodious French windows, which, as the weather was clement, remained open throughout the proceedings. By stationing myself behind a pillar on the porch or veranda which adjoined the room, I was enabled to see and hear all. It was an experience which I should be sorry to have missed. The guv’nor indubitably excelled himself.

Mr. Wooster is a young gentleman with practically every desirable quality except one. I do not mean brains, for in an employer brains are not desirable. The quality to which I allude is hard to define, but perhaps I might call it the gift of dealing with the Unusual Situation.

 

 

“Well, you know——” said the guv’nor.

Then it seemed to strike him that this opening lacked the proper formal dignity.

“Ladies——”

A silvery peal of laughter from the front row stopped him again.

“Girls!” said Miss Tomlinson. She spoke in a low, soft voice, but the effect was immediate. Perfect stillness instantly descended upon all present. I am bound to say that, brief as my acquaintance with Miss Tomlinson had been, I could recall few women I had admired more. She had grip.

I fancy that Miss Tomlinson had gauged the guv’nor’s oratorical capabilities pretty correctly by this time, and had come to the conclusion that nothing much in the way of a stirring address was to be expected from him.

“Perhaps,” she said, “as it is getting late, and he has not very much time to spare, Mr. Wooster will just give you some little word of advice which may be helpful to you in after-life, and then we will sing the school song and disperse to our evening lessons.”

 

 

She looked at the guv’nor. The guv’nor passed a finger round the inside of his collar.

“Advice? After-life? What? Well, I don’t know——”

“Just some brief word of counsel, Mr. Wooster,” said Miss Tomlinson, firmly.

“Oh, well—— Well, yes—— Well——” It was painful to see the guv’nor’s brain endeavouring to work.

“Oh, ah, yes,” said the guv’nor. “Story? Story?” He appeared completely distraught, poor young gentleman. “I wonder if you’ve heard the one about the stock-broker and the chorus-girl?”

“We will now sing the school song,” said Miss Tomlinson, rising like an iceberg.

 

 

In a very few moments the guv’nor came tottering up. The guv’nor’s is not one of those inscrutable faces which it is impossible to read. 

I had climbed into my seat and was about to start the engine, when voices made themselves heard; and at the first sound of them the guv’nor sprang with almost incredible nimbleness …..when I glanced round he was on the floor covering himself with a rug. The last I saw of him was a pleading eye.

When Miss Tomlinson asked about the whereabouts of guv’nor, I had no other option but to  express my helplessness in the matter.

“Get a move on! Start her up! Get going and keep going!”

I trod on the self-starter.

“It would perhaps be safest to drive carefully until we are out of the school-grounds, sir,” I said. “I might run over one of the young ladies, sir.”

“Well, what’s the objection to that?” demanded the guv’nor, with extraordinary bitterness.

“Or even Miss Tomlinson, sir.”

“Don’t!” said the guv’nor, wistfully. “You make my mouth water!”

 

 

“Have you succeeded in finding a suitable house yet, sir?”

“House? What do you mean, house?”

“I understood, sir, that it was your intention to give up the flat and take a house of sufficient size to enable you to have your sister, Mrs. Scholfield, and her three young ladies to live with you.”

The guv’nor shuddered strongly.

“You do get the damnedest silliest ideas sometimes, Jeeves,” he said.

 

 

 

So, how does one manage bosses and ensure they never go round the bend when they get too enthusiastic about an idea of theirs? Jeeves would heartily recommend ‘tact’ and ‘resource’!

 

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/06/28/when-bertie-entertains-thoughts-of-having-children-around

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fans of P G Wodehouse often twiddle their fingers trying to figure out if his works need to be adapted for showcasing on different artistic platforms.

Plumtopia has this unique piece which argues that there is indeed a strong case in favour of adpatations.

 

Plumtopia

My recent post on the Centenary of the P.G. Wodehouse novel Piccadilly Jim, prompted some discussion about Wodehouse adaptations.

Some people think it impossible and ought not be attempted. I disagree. What the world needs is more and better Wodehouse adaptations.

While it’s true that some of the linguistic joys of Wodehouse’s prose cannot be translated to the screen, his complex plots and fabulous characters absolutely can. But they must be handled sympathetically, by scriptwriters, directors, and cast members who appreciate the material they’re working with — and want to produce it faithfully.

For a thorough criticism of the various Wodehouse adaptations, I direct you to a piece entitled Spats, by Shadowplay.

Spats | shadowplay

Happy viewing!

HP

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ashokbhatia

Here is a limerick by Ms. Sukanya Lakshmi Narayan, an ardent fan of P G Wodehouse. It is based on a true incident, which she has beautifully captured in a typical Wodehousian manner. A fitting tribute, indeed.

PGWodehouse

Our friend, a thorough and jolly gentleman
On Wodehousian principles his life ran,
Raised by overbearing aunts and grandmas
A La Dahlias and Agathas
Even though nary a one was a gentleman.

The devoted son sent his mother
To the park with the nurse and chauffeur
The nurse got drunk
The chauffeur did the bunk
And the nurse socked the master a shiner.

The sinister saga didn’t end there
There was more mystery and dare
To cut a long story short
The master decided to take a shot
And investigate the matter threadbare.

The hunt began for the missing driver
Anyone and everyone was promised a fiver
He was finally found
After much…

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ashokbhatia

In quite a few escapades of Bertie Wooster and his bosom pals, we come across headmistresses and headmasters who remind us of our own days at school. Many of us might not have ever won a prize for Scripture Knowledge, but the mere mention of a brightly authoritative gaze touches the darker realms of our individual scholastic experiences. Invariably, it is not only about the stern look and the stiff upper lip. It is also about our dread of public speaking – and of juicy canes in the soft spots.

The tyranny of these strict disciplinarians does not remain confined to childhood days alone. It often pops up years later when their understudies have grown into adulthood. Even a chance encounter leaves Bertie shaking like an aspen and fearing yet another admonition at the hands of the lion-tamers.

The Female Lion-tamer

Take the case of Miss Mapleton in Jeeves and…

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Kind of moody the guv’nor had been for some days. Not at all his usual bright self. I had put it down to reaction from a slight attack of influenza which he’d been having: and, of course, I took no notice, just performing my duties as usual, until this evening which I’m talking about, when I brought him his whisky and siphon as was customary and he burst out at me.

“Oh, dash it, Jeeves!” he said, sort of overwrought. “I wish at least you’d put it on another table for a change.”

“Sir?” I said.

“Every night, hang it all,” proceeded the guv’nor, “you come in at exactly the same old time with the same old tray and put it on the same dashed old table. I’m fed up, I tell you. It’s the bally monotony of it that makes it all seem so frightfully bally.”

I confess that his words filled me with a certain apprehension. I had heard gentlemen in whose employment I’ve been talk in very much the same way before, and it had almost invariably meant that they were contemplating matrimony. It disturbed me, therefore, I’m free to admit, when Mr. Wooster spoke in this fashion. I had no desire to sever a connection so pleasant in every respect as his and mine had been, and my experience is that when the wife comes in at the front door the valet of bachelor days goes out at the back.

“It’s not your fault, of course,” went on the guv’nor, calming down a trifle. “I’m not blaming you. But, by Jove, I mean, you must acknowledge, I mean to say—I’ve been thinking pretty deeply these last few days, Jeeves, and I’ve come to the conclusion mine is an empty life. I’m lonely, Jeeves.”

“You have a great many friends, sir,” I pointed out.

“What’s the good of friends?”

“Emerson says a friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature, sir.”

“Well, you can tell Emerson from me next time you see him that he’s an ass.”

“Very good, sir.”

“What I want—Jeeves, have you seen that play called I-forget-its-dashed-name?”

“No, sir.”

“It’s on at the What-d’you-call-it. I went last night. The hero’s a chap who’s buzzing along, you know, quite merry and bright, and suddenly a kid turns up and says she’s his daughter. Left over from act one, you know—absolutely the first he’d heard of it. Well, of course, there’s a bit of a fuss and they say to him: ‘What-ho?’ and he says: ‘Well, what about it?’ and they say: ‘Well, what about it?’ and he says: ‘Oh, all right, then, if that’s the way you feel!’ and he takes the kid and goes off with her out into the world together, you know. Well, what I’m driving at, Jeeves, is that I envied that chappie. Most awfully jolly little girl, you know, clinging to him trustingly and what not. Something to look after, if you know what I mean. Jeeves, I wish I had a daughter. I wonder what the procedure is?”

“Marriage is, I believe, considered the preliminary step, sir.”

“No, I mean about adopting a kid. You can adopt kids, you know, Jeeves. I’ve seen it in the papers, often. ‘So-and-so, adopted daughter of Tiddleypush.’ It can be done all right. But what I want to know is how you start about it.”

“The process, I should imagine, would be highly complicated and laborious, sir. It would cut into your spare time.”

This seemed to check him for a while. Then he brightened up.

“Well, I’ll tell you what I could do, then. My sister will be back from India next week with her three little girls. I’ll give up this flat and take a house and have them all to live with me. By Jove, Jeeves, I think that’s rather a scheme, what? Prattle of childish voices, eh? Little feet pattering hither and thither, yes!”

I concealed my perturbation. The scheme the guv’nor was toying with meant the finish of our cosy bachelor establishment if it came off: and no doubt some men in my place would at this juncture have voiced their disapproval and probably got the sack for it, the guv’nor being in what you might call an edgey mood. I avoided this tracasserie.

“If you will pardon my saying so, sir,” I suggested, tactfully, “I think you are not quite yourself after your influenza. If I might express the opinion, what you require is a few days by the sea. Brighton is very handy, sir.”

“Are you suggesting that I’m talking through my hat?”

“By no means, sir. I merely advocate a short stay at Brighton as a physical recuperative.”

The guv’nor thought it over.

“Well, I’m not sure you’re not right. I am feeling more or less of an onion. You might shove a few things in a suit-case and drive me down in the car to-morrow.”

“Very good, sir.”

“And when we get back I’ll be in the pink and ready to tackle this pattering feet wheeze.”

“Exactly, sir.”

Well, it was a respite, and I welcomed it. But I began to see that a crisis had arisen which would require adroit handling. Rarely had I observed the guv’nor more set on a thing. Indeed, I could recall no such exhibition of determination on his part since the time when he had insisted, against my obvious disapproval, on wearing purple socks. However, I had coped successfully with that outbreak, and I was by no means un-sanguine that I should eventually be able to bring the present affair to a happy issue. Employers are like horses. They want managing. Some of us have the knack of managing them, some haven’t. I, I am happy to say, have no cause for complaint.

(Source: Bertie Changes His Mind – the only story in the Wodehouse canon which is narrated by Jeeves)

(Illustration courtesy Suvarna Sanyal)

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

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ashokbhatia

Can we identify a God who can be beseeched to preside over our Internet-ional GaneshaAffairs?

In Hinduism, for example, we are exposed to a mind-boggling variety of divine manifestations. Down the long corridors of time, since the dawn of history, the Hindu pantheon has evolved with a multitude of deities.

The deities offer an eclectic mix – some are highly specialized whereas others are all-purpose ones. Some are removers of any obstacles that a seeker may face in life. Some grant better learning abilities and wisdom. Some bestow immense wealth and prosperity. Then we have the generalist trinity – one is said to have crafted the creation, one runs it smoothly like a true blue CEO while another destroys and reconstructs. The latter two intervene in human affairs as and when they deem it necessary.Ravi_Varma-Lakshmi

In fact, there is no sphere of life which has not been touched by some…

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