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Posts Tagged ‘Lord Emsworth’

ashokbhatia

The quiet evening saw the silver rays of moonshine descending upon Blandings Castle. The soft and silvery glow dimly lit up its ivied walls, its rolling parks, its gardens and its outhouses. The frenzied revelries of Christmas were another month away. Peace prevailed. Tranquillity ruled.

Blandings castle-enIn the cozy smoking room of Blandings Castle, two persons could be sighted. In the big chair nearest to the door, one could see the Earl of Emsworth, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Plumsville. He had a cigar in his mouth and a weak highball at his side. His fuzzy brain was softly whispering in his ears that life could not get any better. His son, Hon. Freddie, was happily busy in America, executing his marketing plans for Donaldson’s Dog-Joy Biscuits. Lady Constance Keeble was off to some South American countries on a charity drive for a few more weeks. He was…

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The festival season is already upon us. Markets and malls are full of wide-eyed wannabe shoppers who are out to strike good bargains.

Time to revisit and recount the festive frenzy which sweeps all Homo Sapiens off their delicate feet at regular intervals.

ashokbhatia

The festival season is already upon us, yet again. Those in the Western world are gearing up for celebrating Christmas and New Year. Those in such emerging economies as India are already in the midst of a shopping frenzy, having kick-started the season with Raksha Bandhan, Janamashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Vijayadashmi and Muharram.new-year-2014-firework

They now eagerly look forward to celebrating Guru Nanak Dev’s birthday, Diwali, the festival of lights, and Eid. These would be followed by Christmas, just before the New Year rings in, bringing in its wake Pongal, celebrated in the southern parts and Makar Sankranti, celebrated in the northern parts of India.

Come festive season and a new spirit seems, every year, to cast its spell over the entire community. A spirit of outwardly cheerfulness and goodwill prevails. Fresh rays of hope penetrate through the dense clouds of gloom. Concerns of…

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The winter Sunday was in its latter half. With a light fog enveloping Asker in Norway, the fading daylight was falling on a little garden which the recent spate of snowfall had converted into a quaint little skating rink. Some children were honing their skating skills under the watchful but indulgent eyes of their parents. The air was fresh with a whiff of ozone, imbued with a chilly sharpness so very characteristic of Nordic winters.

From Facebook to Face-to-Face

In a cosy corner of Egon, an artistically done up restaurant near the Asker train station, a meeting of some members of the Drones Club was in progress. An Egg, a Bean and a Crumpet could be seen happily chatting with each other.

Introductions and exchange of pleasantries had got over. The conversation had already covered such wide-ranging topics as genealogy, the open-ended social milieu of Norway, the economic challenges being faced owing to the dip in oil fortunes and the state-of-art infrastructure of the country. Concern had been expressed about the global challenge of maintaining harmony and peace in these troubled times. The relevance of the Code of the Woosters to usher in a phase of sustainable peace had been discussed.

A dash of patriotism

Norway National DayThe Egg and the Bean spoke of the National Day of Norway, which is celebrated with much gaiety and fervour on the 17th of May every year. The Constitution of Norway was signed on this day in the year 1814. The constitution declared Norway to be an independent kingdom in an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden after Denmark–Norway’s devastating defeat in the Napoleonic Wars. All residents come out in their respective national dresses and participate in a parade. The King and the Queen are an integral part of the proceedings.

The Crumpet shared the details of the Indian Republic Day which honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950. The military might of the country is on full display in a parade which marches down an important thoroughfare of the capital city New Delhi. So is the social diversity which gets covered in several colourful tableaux which form a part of the parade. Indian Republic Day

The Egg and the Bean touched upon their exploits in the Norwegian military in their younger days. The Crumpet was delighted to know that the delicately nurtured had equal opportunity to join those of the so-called sterner sex in guarding the national frontiers of Norway. The Egg and the Bean were also happy to be informed that the Indian armed forces follow a similar policy.

The Drones who sought Leave of Absence

The audience would surely be wondering by now as to why there were only three members present and where the other members were. Well, a Whisky and Soda had already explained that he would be on the road attending to a critical chore which was essential to keep his body and soul together. A Pieface could not join in because he was confined to bed and was trying to nurse a viral infection with one of Jeeves’ pick-me-ups.

A Gin and Tonic had not responded, apparently because she was busy somewhere on the slopes of Galdhopiggen, tending to some injury of Pauline Stoker’s suffered by her during a skiing adventure. A Couch Potato had also not responded to the overtures, possibly owing to a lack of expertise in throwing darts, should a competition got organized.

Aurora_Borealis_and_Australis_PosterAn intellectual cove, who is one of the forty odd literarily gifted persons having had the distinction of translating Plum’s work into the Norwegian language, was discovered just after the meeting. He was said to be busy enjoying the mesmerizing display of Northern Lights somewhere in the Arctic Circle. The loss was entirely that of the members assembled.

Thus, only the Egg, the Bean and the Crumpet had trooped in.

The joy and the pall of gloom

At one stage, the emotions of the three members assembled had almost overpowered them. These called for a ready outlet. They wanted to stand up and announce that a common passion had brought together persons from two countries – Norway and India – which are as different as chalk and cheese. But the ambience of the place restrained them. They wanted to stand on the sturdy table in front of them and sing ‘Sonny Boy’ in unison. But they could not do so because customers would complain. They wanted to shout three cheers in a boisterous fashion, but couldn’t do so. The management would have looked askance and perhaps called in some rozzers eager to augment their incomes on a Sunday evening.

The pall of gloom which such severe restrictions cast on them did not last too long. Miss Postlethwaite, the efficient barmaid, soon popped up. The quiet simplicity of her costume and the devout manner in which she pulled the wine-handle brought in the requisite cheer. Soon, the pot-boy appeared with a steaming hot creamy fish soup which appeared to be coming straight from the stables of Anatole. Nose bags were duly put on and a free-flowing conversation followed.

Of Plummy affairs

The Egg brought up the innumerable qualities of Jeeves, expressing his ardent wish he could get hold of one such gentleman’s gentleman. The Bean admired the woolly headedness of Lord Emsworth and wondered if he did not possess similar qualities. The Crumpet spoke reverentially of the personality traits of independent women like Joan Valentine and Sally. The goofiness of Madeline Bassett got an honourable mention. So did the romantic nature of Mrs. Spottsworth. The Eastern connections of Captain Biggar-Biggar and his own Code of Conduct were fondly recalled.

Lessons of good health espoused by Ashe Marson came in for general praise. Several escapades of Bingo Little and Rosie M. Banks which contribute to the cause of matrimonial harmony were mentioned. The paramount importance of women having their afternoon cup of tea was analysed threadbare. The fact that not many details were available concerning the parents of Bertie Wooster came up for discussion.PGW HughLaurie-BertieWooster

An action movie on Master’s works?

Over coffee, the Egg and the Bean mentioned the authors whose work they read. The Crumpet lamented his being at the terminal stage of Wodehousitis, making him incapable of devouring anything else. The general opinion of the group was that if reading Wodehouse is escapism, then all forms of literature and fine arts could also get labelled likewise.

Movies with a Wodehousian sense of humour came up for discussion. The members present wondered if ever an action movie could be based on the works of the Master. It was doubted if any movie moghul would consider sliding down pipes to escape the fury of an aunt interesting enough. Or, for that matter, either the case of a minister facing an angry swan while perched on a roof in the midst of heavy rains, or the burning down of country cottages by conscientious boy scouts.

Spreading the virus of Wodehousitis

Norway Drones Club Jan 2016The Bean raised the sartorial standard of the meeting by wearing a Drone Club tie which is no longer in circulation. The Egg and the Crumpet are now in the market looking for benevolent souls who might like to donate theirs!

While the deliberations were on, darkness had stealthily enveloped the surroundings. Decorative lights put up by merchants hoping to clear their shelves by offering hefty January Sale discounts were imparting a soft glow to the snow on the streets. It was time to get back to the real world.

The meeting ended with much back-slapping. Hopes were expressed that more such meetings would get planned in future, thereby spreading the virus of Wodehousitis far and wide.

Notes:

  • The intellectual cove who could not be invited: Prof Johan I Borgos. He can be reached at http://www.borgos.nndata.no/Wodehouse.htm
  • The members who attended the meeting: Morten Arnesen, Jo Ingebrigt Spalder and Ashok Bhatia.
  • Should Jeeves come across this narrative, the members shall have no objection to its contents getting entered in the dreaded book maintained by the Junior Ganymede Club. Prior intimation would, however, be necessary.
  • The members deliberately chose not to pass any adverse comments about the several aunts which populate Plumsville. This ensures that Anatole’s services can be sought for future meetings of this nature.

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The quiet evening saw the silver rays of moonshine descending upon Blandings Castle. The soft and silvery glow dimly lit up its ivied walls, its rolling parks, its gardens and its outhouses. The frenzied revelries of Christmas were another month away. Peace prevailed. Tranquillity ruled.

Blandings castle-enIn the cozy smoking room of Blandings Castle, two persons could be sighted. In the big chair nearest to the door, one could see the Earl of Emsworth, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Plumsville. He had a cigar in his mouth and a weak highball at his side. His fuzzy brain was softly whispering in his ears that life could not get any better. His son, Hon. Freddie, was happily busy in America, executing his marketing plans for Donaldson’s Dog-Joy Biscuits. Lady Constance Keeble was off to some South American countries on a charity drive for a few more weeks. He was his own boss.

Since he had assumed charge as a titular head of Plumsville, the only interruptions to his leisurely strolls through the gardens came in the form of visiting dignitaries. Earlier in the day, a Japanese delegation had called upon him. They had come to invite him to visit their country. He vaguely remembered that they had hoped that a technical collaboration could come about between the two nations – something to do with the need for their citizens to learn to laugh more and worry less.

Next to him sat a young man whose eyes, glittering through rimless spectacles, were concentrated on the dimly lit screen of a tablet PC. Rupert Baxter, the President’s invaluable secretary, was in the habit of relaxing his busy brain by answering some inane mails received from the President’s fans all over the world. More often than not, these pertained to either requests for an appointment for taking a selfie with the Empress, or enquiries regarding some children wanting to attend the upcoming Carnival.

The President sat and smoked, and sipped and smoked again, at peace with all the world. His mind was as nearly blank as that of a child who, while being forced to sit in the classroom, finds the idle swaying of plants just outside the window more alluring. The hand that was not holding the cigar was at rest in his trousers pocket. The fingers of it fumbled idly with a fairly large-sized object which appeared to be a folded letter of some kind.

In due course of time, it dawned upon the President’s mind that this large-sized letter was not familiar. A part of his mind mildly protested. What was the use of having a so-called efficient secretary if a letter were to be found in his trouser pockets? He yielded to a growing curiosity and drew it out. He examined it. It appeared to be an official invitation of some kind. A detailed letter, with an insignia depicting three lions embossed on the top. It touched no chord in him. He looked at it with amiable distaste.

“Now how in the world did that get there?” he said.

Rupert Baxter looked up from his tablet PC.

“Hon’ble President?”

“I have found this curious looking letter in my pocket, Baxter. I was wondering how it got there.”

He handed the thing to his secretary. Rupert Baxter gasped.

“So, here it is!” he cried. “Superb!”

Lord Emsworth looked at him inquiringly.

“It is the invitation from India, sir. Just today morning, I was wondering where it was. Because we have to respond to it quickly. A true honour, and yet another feather in your cap!”

“Is it? But is the event not already over, Baxter?”

“No, Mr President. It is around eight weeks away.”

“Eight weeks away, you say? But she just one the prize once again, right?”

“What are you referring to, Mr President?”

“Well…er…did you not mention an invitation for the Empress to participate in an upcoming international event? She has just been through one and her nerves are just beginning to relax after the ordeal.”

“I beg your pardon, Mr President. Perhaps you refer to our national pride, the Empress. I was instead alluding to the call received by us some time back from the Prime Minister’s Office in India. They had said that they would consider it a great honour for you to be the Chief Guest at their next Republic Day Parade. You had conveyed your positive inclination to do so over telephone, if you would remember. They had then sent this official invitation.”

Lord Emsworth shook his head. “I do not remember this, Baxter. India, you say? Is it not the country of snake charmers and elephants? What will I do there?”

“Mr President, India is a fast upcoming country. You have the world’s greatest fan following there. Many of Plumsville’s products have huge potential there. Our Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies would be delighted to have access to that market. Every year, on January 26, they celebrate their Republic Day. It is their custom to invite a Head of State as a Chief Guest at the Parade. This time, they have invited you. It is a great honour.”

“Baxter, I fail to understand this. Is India not a poor country? Why would they be interested in inviting someone from Plumsville? We are not a super power. Nor do we have oil reserves at our command. I believe all countries deal with each other only so they might enjoy better energy security. From the view-point of religious dogmas, you know that we are neutral. I fail to understand this invitation.”

“Mr. President, Plumsville is unique in the sense that it is undeniably rich in good, clean, non-vindictive humour. Its denizens are experts at solving complex problems using some simple but out-of-the-box schemes which might sound somewhat goofy to lesser mortals of the world. We have erudite butlers, absent-minded earls and youngsters who spend their time pleasing the delicately nurtured in their lives by pinching policemen’s helmets, stealing cats and performing convoluted acts of petty larceny. When it comes to chivalry, they set a gold standard. Even married members of the males of the species go to extra lengths to ensure that the dove of peace keeps hovering above their home and hearth. They could be faulted for risking three months’ allowance on a sporting adventure, but they make prompt amends. They ensure that their wives never fail to get their afternoon cup of tea. Our divorce rates are insignificant. Our kids are a happy lot, pampered as they are by their doting parents.”

A vague memory stirred the fuzzy brain of Lord Emsworth.

“Baxter, you forget that we recently heard some reports about kids burning down cottages and misbehaving with guest speakers by simply giggling and staring at the poor souls. Er…, I forget the names, but you would surely remember the delegation of school principals which made a presentation on the Goofiness Rankings of their wards recently?”

“Sir, kids will be kids. Some allowance will need to be made for their rogue behaviour. Our own family is no exception to this.”

Lord Emsworth shuddered. He frowned. He looked sharply at his secretary.

“Baxter, I thought you were recounting to me the unique things that Plumsville offers to humanity in general?”

“My apologies for the digression, Mr. President. Our citizens are indeed unique. Their codes of conduct are centred round helping their pals, come what may. They bow to the merest whims and fancies of their tyrannical aunts. Compared to the better known countries, we have abundant supplies of the milk of human kindness. Our crime rate is zero and is a matter of envy amongst the so-called super powers. Our denizens are free from an affliction known as depression. No one commits a suicide. Many research institutes the world over are keen to get to the depth of these unique traits of our supremely contented and joyful citizens. Even our relatively poorer citizens go about their lives smilingly. It is widely known that if not actually disgruntled, they are far from being gruntled. We are the only country on our planet which has no boundaries. People need no passports and visas to visit us. All they need is a sense of humour.”

“That does make some sense. Yet, what leaves me baffled is the keen attention the Indians shower on us. Does this not sound a bit puzzling to you, Baxter?”

“In a way, it is. Only around ten percent of their population is familiar with the Queen’s language. But they have a large population, next only to that of China. You may know that for a better part of two centuries, Indians were ruled by the dispensable siblings of the British nobility. Perhaps they still carry a feeling of awe and respect for us. Perhaps the idea of acquiring a linguistic skill and being on an equal footing with their erstwhile ruler appeals to them. I believe that by keeping a keen eye on the escapades of our citizenry, at a conscious level, they are temporarily relieved of the pain of their poverty, misery and lack of quality infrastructure and civic services. At a subconscious level, I suspect this is their style of fighting the ghosts of imperialism while fuelling their own sense of nationalism. Whatever the reason, they appear to be dead serious about deepening their engagement with our unique Republic.”

“Bless my soul!” Lord Emsworth beamed. “Your analysis is extremely interesting, Baxter. I recall having heard that they had unrest in India because its inhabitants used to eat only an occasional handful of rice.”

“But they had a great leader who put them on the path of civil disobedience.”

A distant memory came back to Lord Emsworth’s foggy brain.

“Yes, was Mahatma Gandhi not his name? I am told he was a person of strict dietary habits and never sat down to a good juicy steak. Had he done so, and then followed it up with roly-poly pudding and a spot of Stilton, world history would perhaps have been different.”

“I am not qualified enough to comment upon this, Mr President.”

Rashtrapati Bahavan“Baxter, one has heard so much of the princely states of India. I wonder if I could get to meet any of the princes or kings, if I do decide to make the trip.”

“The princes and kings are long since gone. They do have rich businessmen, politicians and landowners who rule the roost. You will surely get to meet quite a few of them. In fact, you would be enjoying the hospitality of the President of India. His palace is said to be having 340 rooms. It also has an excellent garden boasting of many exotic flowers. You would surely relish a saunter down the famous Mughal Gardens.”

Lord Emsworth blossomed like a watered flower.

“Flowers?! That does sound very interesting. Wonder if they would have Damasks and Agryshires there?”

“I doubt if their tropical climate is favourable to such flowers. But I have been told that they have a great variety of flowers there. Especially, roses. Even orchids.”

“One has also heard so much of the hospitality of Indians. How exceedingly kind of them to have thought of us, Baxter. By the way, would you have an idea as to what my engagements there would be like?”

“They have a military parade where you shall be the Chief Guest. Then there would be a couple of meetings. The President of India would host a banquet in the evening. Two days after the main parade, they also have a great ceremony – ‘Beating the Retreat’. I believe you would not be expected to attend the same.”

“Military parade, you say, Baxter?”, Lord Emsworth squirmed in his seat.

“Besides military hardware and soldiers walking in perfect tandem, they also have cultural tableaux, Mr. President. I understand that they are planning an extensive coverage of iconic Plumsville locations and characters this year.”

“I cannot imagine what they would have planned. Would you have a clue, Baxter?”

“Yes, Mr President. The leading one would be that of the Empress of Blandings. Then there would be ones depicting the Senior Conservative Club and the Drones Club. A model of our Prime Minister Mr Rupert Psmith, shown working in a bank, would be there. This would make people appreciate his humble origins and also enthuse them to open bank accounts. This might assist the Government there to fulfil its goals of financial inclusion. Scenes from the life of our Minister of Milk of Human Kindness, Mr Bertie Wooster, would be recreated. These would demonstrate the premium we place on chivalry. These would be designed to promote the cause of gender equity. Some youth might even follow his example and decide to remain bachelors. The Government of India believes this would help them in population control.”

“This does sound ingenious, Baxter. One would feel happy at having helped others to achieve their goals. What else would they be covering?”

“Yes. Our Minister of International Affairs, Mr Reginald Jeeves, would feature in one of the tableaux. The Bingeese – I allude to Mr Bingo Little and his wife Mrs Rosie M Banks – shall be featured to demonstrate our values in matrimonial harmony. One will depict a full-scale model of a silver cow-creamer. Yet another will depict some of the better known animals and pets we have – Potato Chip, McIntosh, Bartholomew, Poppet, Tabby,  Augustus and the like. There are quite a few others which, I am sure, you would enjoy.”

“This would certainly be an experience I would treasure. You also mentioned some official talks, Baxter?”

“Yes. There will be a delegation accompanying you to attend to those details. You may get to inaugurate an Indian Institute of Chivalry, so they might address the challenge of mistreatment of the delicately nurtured more effectively. If all goes well, you may also lay the foundation stone of a manufacturing complex, to be set up in technical collaboration with our Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies.”happy-republic-day

“Well, quite a busy schedule, as I can see. Hope I shall get enough time for some rest and recuperation. Possibly, some palatable food as well.”

“I shall personally attend to the matter. Indian dishes and curries are now a hot favourite all over the world. Thanks to your active lifestyle, your stomach lining is in good shape, Mr President. I am sure you would relish them.”

From afar came the silver booming of a gong. Lord Emsworth rose.

“Baxter, I daresay you pay too much attention to food. I still remember the occasion when you allowed your passion for midnight snacks to take precedence over your bounden duties. Our museum lost a precious scarab that way.”

Baxter stood up and shuffled his feet.

“Several times have I tried to explain the matter………”

Lord Emsworth drew himself up to his full height.

“No need. I certainly appreciate the invitation received, though I must confess that from a purely practical standpoint it leaves me a little cold. I wonder if the Indians are capable of looking after her dietary needs.”

Baxter looked up in surprise. “The Empress?”

“Of course. Do you think we could be so careless as to leave her here? Especially, when the next Shropshire Agricultural Show is coming up in a few months’ time?”

“But George Cyril Wellbeloved would be back on duty in the first week of January, Mr President. You need not be anxious on that account.”

“Do you think she will be getting fed as per the Wolff-Lehmann feeding standards, Baxter?”

“I am certain, Mr President.”

“If so, shall we go ahead with the trip? Have you consulted Mr. Psmith?”

“Yes, sir. He is positive about it. In fact, he plans to meet you early next week, so as to be able to brief you about the future plans he has for us to deepen our engagement with India.”

Lord Emsworth inched towards the door.

“Right, Baxter, do call him over. Let us go ahead with this.”

“Thank you, Mr President. I shall initiate the official process without further delay.”

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/invitation-to-a-swearing-in-ceremony-at-blandings-castle

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/a-goofy-career-opportunity-for-marketing-professionals

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

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When the dark clouds of sorrow envelop us and Life makes us glum,

A brilliant ray of humour breaks through in the form of a narrative Plum;

The deep blues of despair and despondency get chased away,

Replaced by a warm glow of joy which holds us in its sway.

 

There is no problem which a brilliant Jeeves cannot solve,

Be it an intellectual girl friend or a scheming aunt with a goofy resolve;

When he shimmers in with one of his pick-me-ups on a tray,

Our hangovers evaporate, making us forget all shades of grey.

 

All his solutions are based on the psychology of the individual,

His approach to solving problems is often circuitous and gradual;

Breaking a few eggs to make an omelette is a sign of his maturity,

By ensuring his master never ties the knot, he enjoys job security.

 

With a pal like Bertie Wooster around, never to let us down,

He pleads the case of a tongue-tied lover, his face without a frown;

To bring together two hearts, he would even shove a kid into the lake,

The Code of the Woosters he follows, would do anything for a pal’s sake.

 

The pride of the Wooster clan is close to his heart, the feudal spirit intact,

For the sake of an aunt, restoring a stolen cat to its owner is part of a pact;

For the happiness of an uncle, thirty days without the option is no big deal,

At the end of which he merely aspires for a delectable Anatole meal.

 

The sporting spirit of Bingo Little keeps our spirits soaring,

His endeavours to touch the son’s Godfather for a tenner are endearing;

A knight in shining armour, he ensures Rosie gets her afternoon cup of tea,

For matrimonial nectar to pour in, he works as hard as a honey bee.

 

The generosity of Lord Emsworth is an example for all of us to follow,

A girl friend deserves to be treated lavishly, sans any hospitality hollow;

McAllister notwithstanding, the sanctity of the moss-covered yew alley is to be maintained,

For the Empress to feed well, thoughts of drawing a parson’s son as a niece’s life partner may be entertained.

 

Those who wish to unleash their animal spirits get great entrepreneurial advice,

The likes of Sally and Joan Valentine are there to inspire them at the throw of a dice;

Unless you speculate, you do not accumulate, is what Ukridge strongly recommends,

Those burning their houses to claim insurance get caught and need to make amends.

 

Psmith provides us many tips to survive and do well at our place of work,

Cultivating a Friendly Native is something from which he would never shirk;

Motivating an efficient deputy like Mike to do his bidding is a part of his plan,

Haunting the boss at his club or at public rallies he does with great suavity and elan.

 

Mr Mulliner gives us a sneak peek into the world of eccentric movie producers,

Of struggling starlets, dreamy script writers and subservient nodders;

Fighting a guerilla to win the affections of a lady love is the work of a moment,

When fed only on the juice of an orange, people go to war with their souls in torment.

 

Ashe Marson is there to provide tips to all those wanting to remain fit,

Larsen exercises, brisk walks and cold baths form a part of his wellness kit;

Troubles of the lining of the stomach unite those who are young at heart,

Forsaking the pleasures of the table and allowing Prudence to win over Greed is a worthy art.

 

Hapless rozzers watch with dismay as criminals are let off the hook by the Justices of Peace,

Members of the canine species restraining them from discharging their duties they catch with ease;

Ceaseless vigil is their motto, but they face the professional hazard of getting their helmets pinched,

They have their own methods of investigation, but their sinister ‘Ho’s and ‘Ha’s fail to get a matter clinched.

 

When judges look at us with a stern eye, dishing out a hefty fine of five bobs,

We think on our feet and give out an assumed name, sparing the family some sobs;

Supportive members of the delicately nurtured tribe rescue us from confinement,

The art of pinching umbrellas and silver cow-creamers surely needs some refinement.

 

Boy scouts out on their errands of mercy use paraffin to douse a chimney fire,

Would-be step-fathers not paying up protection money face consequences dire;

Rogue ones, when in love with Hollywood divas, start behaving angelically,

Priests need them around so as to be hotter on their jobs and to evolve spiritually.

 

Female lion-tamers appear in the form of a school headmistress,

A sharp reprimand on smoking in the shrubbery causes much distress;

Escapades to steal cookies are met with steely eyes and a stiff upper lip,

Getting six juicy ones on the soft spot is a chance we would like to give a slip.

 

Dogs gaze at us with soulful eyes, get led like a lamb with the whiff of aniseed,

Sleepy cats adore those who scratch them behind the ears whenever they need;

Young hippopotami wilt and retreat when faced with White Hunters duly armed,

Cabinet Ministers brave heavy rain, face an angry swan and return shaken but unharmed.

 

Touch any aspect of life and Plum would have covered it in one of his works,

They cast a spell, improve mental health, and protect us from life’s harsh jerks;

Some may label it escapism, others the portrayal of an era long since past,

Oh, what a pleasure it is to bask in the sunshine of Plumsville’s plains vast.

 

Each narrative embellished with the pristine language of the Queen,

Laced with lofty codes of conduct flouting which is no task mean;

Eccentric characters, delightful situations, unalloyed humour, sparkling wit,

Enough to earn us ridicule in public places but a great prescription for keeping fit.

 

His works carry life lessons which we can pick up and apply,

Amongst his characters, milk of human kindness is never in short supply;

On offer are sumptuous literary quotes and many a spiritual insight,

Keeping our passion for laughter and happiness alive and shining bright.

 

(This composition has also been translated into Italian language. Same can be accessed at http://www.ilcovile.it/scritti/COVILE_935_Wodehouse_2.pdf)

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The festival season is already upon us, yet again. Those in the Western world are gearing up for celebrating Christmas and New Year. Those in such emerging economies as India are already in the midst of a shopping frenzy, having kick-started the season with Raksha Bandhan, Janamashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Vijayadashmi and Muharram.new-year-2014-firework

They now eagerly look forward to celebrating Guru Nanak Dev’s birthday, Diwali, the festival of lights, and Eid. These would be followed by Christmas, just before the New Year rings in, bringing in its wake Pongal, celebrated in the southern parts and Makar Sankranti, celebrated in the northern parts of India.

Come festive season and a new spirit seems, every year, to cast its spell over the entire community. A spirit of outwardly cheerfulness and goodwill prevails. Fresh rays of hope penetrate through the dense clouds of gloom. Concerns of eking out a living fade away, giving way to a transient resurgence of happiness. Relationships get nurtured afresh. Networking concerns reign supreme.

Much before the actual festival, a tornado of gigantic preparations hits the unsuspecting populace. Hectic preparations get made. Almost all segments of the community experience a rush which sends the adrenaline shooting up to stratospheric heights. Many bemoan the fact that there is so much work to do that there is hardly any time left to, well, celebrate!

Some corporate sparklers

The CEOs in companies can be seen burning the midnight oil to scrutinize the list of VIPs and friends who deserve to Deepawali-festivalbe gifted this year, ostensibly in proportion to their Helpfulness Quotient to the company they work for. Hapless managers can be seen working late hours in warehouses and super markets, collecting either samples or bulk deliveries of the goods to be ferried to the offices and residences of the high and mighty.

HR honchos are busy trying to freeze their festival bonus negotiations. Finance wizards are scratching their heads, trying to dig up deep resources for the upcoming heavy strain on their company’s accounts. Marketing experts are busy ensuring that all promotional campaigns run with clockwork precision, and that distributors’ payments are rolling in at the same speed at which the goods are flying off the shelves. Hassled production guys are praying for the festive rush to get over so they might be able to return to their home and hearth, sit by the fireplace and spend some quality time with their families.

Inwardly, lesser mortals twiddle their thumbs trying to figure out how to manage the finances for buying new clothes, sweets, gifts, crackers and decorative items which go along with the festivities. Much time and effort is spent in ensuring that their bosses – whether at home or at the place of work – are not left behind with a sour taste in the mouth after the festivities get over and the last of the sweets have been shoved down the hatch.

The retail fireworks

Those still in the business of brick-and-mortar retail continue to have sleepless nights. Stocking the right goods, replenishing stocks at the Sikh_Gurus_Guru Nanak with_Bhai_Bala_and_Bhai_Mardanaspeed of Light and changing the window displays thrice in a day are only some of the challenges they have to cope with.

Owners of shopping malls chew their nails trying to figure out which happening brand to bring in next year so as to arrest the downward spiral of customer footfalls.

As e-retailers become more aggressive, hefty discounts allure the lay customer. Courier companies make hay while the festive sun shines. Telecom companies register abnormal jumps in their revenues. Career prospects of delivery boys and girls brighten up. The economy gets a solid boost, cheering the politicians who claim absolute credit for better days having finally arrived for the hoi polloi.

In traditional communities, the festival of Diwali cannot be consummated unless some yellow metal is bought afresh. Bullion traders, designers, jewelers and craftsmen work round the clock and laugh all the way to their respective banks.

A positive spin on the news of the day

Those who devour their daily newspaper with much relish, a cup of steaming hot tea by their sides, are a happier lot these days.

News of a depressing kind – terror, violence, murder, rape, vindictive politics – is relegated to the background. Instead, full-page advertisements and pull-outs featuring scantily dressed models enticing them to own the latest smart phones, electrical appliances, cars, furniture, clothes, jewellery, pickles and such other items greet them upfront.

An alien being passing by our planet these days, were she to come across some of the enticements on offer, could be excused for believing that she has finally landed in Heaven!

The frowning calorie-counters

At festive times, managers face a different genre of pressure – not the ‘peer’ kind but that of the ‘pear’ kind. Since noeid-e-miladunnabi_64275 celebration is complete without their gorging on an assortment of delectable sweets and cakes, not to mention their having to guzzle down a wide range of tissue restoratives, the fitness freaks amongst them are a worried lot.

Calorie-conscious denizens are revisiting their exercise related pious intentions stated in their last New Year’s resolutions. Larsen Exercises popularized by Ashe Marson are being looked up on Google. Gym memberships are hard to come by. Sales of physical fitness equipments zoom.

Some models which fail

Minor employees of shops, departmental stores and other nests peddling their goods and services smile invitingly when approached by customers. Lured by hefty but deceptive discounts, the latter shop to their heart’s content. In supermarket aisles, it is common to see hassled husbands hidden behind a tower of shiny gift packets dutifully following their wives to the nearest billing counter. Lobby managers in hotels and restaurants can be seen perspiring, trying to manage the queue of weary shoppers pouring in.

Those in the transportation business have no moment to spare either. Since everyone wants to travel to some place or the other, even the best of linear programming models and queuing theories fail to provide succour to a professionally trained manager desperately trying to satisfy her customers.

Thrifty homemakers

What happens to all the festival presents? This is a question which has long vexed thinking Homo sapiens. EveryChristmas-and-New-Year-Gifts year, a tsunami of incredibly useless junk bursts upon our civilization. Experts in Sustainable Development advocate drawing recycling lessons from many of our religious outfits which permit the same invocatory items to be sold and resold to gullible devotees, till the process of natural decay or irreparable damage takes over.

Thrifty homemakers rummage through their cupboards to pull out gifts received from others during the year. Skills in polishing leather, silver and brass items help them to burnish their own brand value. Experts at repackaging the same for another set of beneficiaries, their shopping is merely confined to glistening gift wrapping papers, shiny ribbons and cute little cards which must carry the name of the gift-giver more prominently than that of the clueless gift-receiver.

If they happen to possess qualities of humaneness and genuine love, they gift items which can be recycled by the unsuspecting recipients next year round. The risk, of course is for them to receive the same item back a few years down the road.

Members of the rag-picking tribe do a wonderful job – that of picking up the junk discarded by haughty recipients and handing it back to retail chains which are happy to recycle the stuff at the next festival that comes bounding up.Chrisrmas_postcard_1907

It stands to reason that the tribes which manufacture and distribute such items strongly resent such practices.

Sulking youngsters

The young brats who cause many a doting parent to wonder if the decision to bear a progeny was indeed a wise one can be seen sitting in a dark corner with a sullen expression on their faces.

Santa Claus appears to have neglected them. Their friends have procured the latest range of crackers – a feat which their father has not been able to accomplish. The i-Phone or the tablet they were hoping to get by way of a gift is nowhere in sight. Instead, they have been dumped with some creaky plastic toy which has long since gone out of fashion. An uncle who has popped up from a distant land has merely brought a digital time clock so they may get up in time to catch the school bus.

Surely, all this does not deserve the old-time gratitude, warmth and sincerity which even a chocolate bar used to merit a few years back. The Yuletide spirit is singularly absent.

Raising the level of intellect

Some shop for books to be gifted. Shiny volumes of Shakespeare, Tennyson or Wordsworth get chosen for the elderly.CodeOfTheWoosters Neatly packed omnibus editions of Omar Khayyam, P G Wodehouse, Khalil Gibran and Rabindranath Tagore get selected for the young-at-heart. Shimmering publications in the Harry Potter series fly off the warehouse shelves, delighting old and young alike.

All these activities generate much-desired revenue for a number of writers who refuse to abandon the proverbial pen and keep churning out stuff which gets devoured only by a select group of their fans. Employers who have been deprived of their services breathe easy, having been spared the torture of hiring and firing absent-minded writers who would have otherwise messed up quite a few things in their company’s operations.

Publishers who are still in the conventional mould rely on the festive season to help them to get rid of several non-moving worst-seller tomes which they have published during the past few months, merely to oblige their spouses’ relations.

Of e-greetings

Thanks to advancements in technology, the tedious task of selecting shiny greeting cards, signing them individually and then ensuring that the same get posted well within time to the right addresses of the intended recipients has got simplified. The omnipresent Internet ensures that common relatives and friends can get greeted with effortless ease over mails, social media or applications like WhatsApp.

Invoking the Guardian Angel

The manner in which we view our festivals depends on the phase of the life we are in.

For a homemaker bringing up irrepressible kids in a joint family, there is no time to brood over such matters. She canChristmas Nativity_tree2011 be seen hurriedly pulling out all the grandma’s recipes so as to effectively compete with Anatole and get praised by her family as ‘God’s gift for the gastric juices’. The so-called Lord and Master of the household can be seen scouring the markets for the best deal possible for gifts to be procured.

A quieter soul like that of Bertie Wooster might wish to skip all the buzz and plan to instead go off on a retreat and enjoy a few weeks of rest and repose. A country cottage built along the lines of Wee Nooke would get booked. Arrangements would be made to ensure that Edwin the Boy Scout is not around. All supplies of paraffin would be cleverly concealed. While Jeeves would ensure a steady supply of soluble piscine vitamins, Bertie would invoke his Guardian Angel and practice on his banjeole. His batteries would then be fully charged up for the big bash lined up at Drones on the eve of Christmas.

An elderly person in the mould of Lord Emsworth might just continue to potter around the sprawling gardens at Blandings Castle and wonder if there a way to stay aloof from all the commercial jazz. Instead, he might simply prefer to find a quiet meditative spot in the moss-covered yew alley, get connected to the higher power which any particular festival is supposed to invoke, and pray for an all-in-one package to be granted: For the Empress to remain in the pink of health, for the Hon. Frederick Threepwood to remain preoccupied with the promotion of Donaldson’s Dog-Biscuits in distant lands, and for Lady Constance to remain off his abode for a long time to come.

Peace would prevail. God would be in heaven. All would be well with the world. Real celebrations can then begin!

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PGWodehouseThe foundations of our civilization are quivering. Homo sapiens are faced with a medical crisis of gigantic proportions. There is widespread concern about the pace at which the epidemic of Wodehousitis is spreading across countries and continents. Medical researchers of all hues are twiddling their thumbs, trying to figure out a cure for this dreaded affliction.

Wodehousitis is reported to be a disease which affects all human beings, irrespective of their age, sex, cast, creed or ethnicity. It is said to be highly contagious. A word of mouth is all that is required to lead one to contract it. One merely borrows a work of P G Wodehouse. A cursory perusal of any part of a narrative follows. A lifetime of bondage ensues. Frequent purchases of his books gladden the hearts of many a publisher. When one is not able to lay one’s hands on a particular title, one’s moral upbringing goes for a toss. Intentions of returning borrowed titles weaken. Stealing a book from the shelf of a friend becomes the norm.

To put it simply, once the germs of Wodehousitis have managed to find a foothold in any neuro-system, one’s fate is sealed.

The Symptoms

Wodehousitis manifests itself in many ways. Public display of uncontrolled mirth, a tendency to erupt into laughter at inappropriate moments, occasional falls from a chair or a sofa while lapping up one of the juicy narratives, an insatiable thirst for acquiring as many titles of his works as is humanly possible, a relentless devouring of the works of P G Wodehouse, a perpetual state of intoxication with his words of wisdom, and a pitiless analysis of the scintillating characters created by him – these are but some of the symptoms.

As a tribe, bloggers suffering from Wodehousitis also display peculiar symptoms. They cannot help themselves but publish posts based only on Master’s works. With each subsequent post, the time interval between two posts gets shortened. When they pick up any work of his, the simple joy of reading it gets subdued, only to be replaced by a tendency to analyse the narrative from different angles. An irresistible urge to compile some juicy quotes takes over, casting a gloomy spell on the otherwise sparkling wit and humour embedded in the Master’s works.

The most serious symptom happens to be the disinclination of all those suffering from Wodehousitis to seek a cure for this dreaded affliction. Once afflicted, one is apt to remain happy to continue in a state of perennial addiction. Medical fraternity is yet to find a solution to this unique kind of drug resistance.

Medicos use these symptoms to ascertain if the person under scrutiny deserves to be classified as one suffering from Wodehousitis.

Three Stages

There are three stages of Wodehousitis which have been identified and catalogued so far.

In the first stage, one displays occasional signs of having any of the symptoms described above.

In the second stage, one shows grave signs of many of these symptoms, but is still considered treatable.

The third stage is the most critical one, with no cure in sight as of now. Medicos continue to be baffled. In this stage, one is obsessed with all facets of Plum’s narratives, much to the exclusion of every other piece of literature one comes across. In each and every situation of life, a streak of one of the narratives is invariably noticed. All relatives and friends get identified with one or the other characters created by P G Wodehouse.

A person suffering from the last stage of Wodehousitis often complains of a stifling sensation. No other work of literature appeals any longer. The allure of catching up on the latest best sellers fades away. All friends, philosophers and guides sound like Jeeves. All aunts appear to be moulded along the lines of either Aunt Agatha or Aunt Dahlia.

Cops sound like Constable Oates, using their investigating skills to the hilt, but meekly surrendering to the dictates of the Justices of Peace. Introspection leads one to identify oneself with the woolly-headedness of the likes of Bertie Wooster and Lord Emsworth. All kids appear to have traces of traits like those of Thos and Edwin.

Even pets assume a halo of some kind – the canine ones sound either like a Bottles or a Bartholomew; the feline ones sound like an Augustus. All pigs look like malnourished cousins of the Empress of Blandings.

A psychoanalyst, having examined a person who has attained this blissful state, would be forgiven for certifying the person to be eminently fit to be admitted to a loony bin.

Searching for a cure

Governments the world over are justifiably worried over the relentless spread of this affliction. If our armed forces contract this affliction, fighting wars would be a thing of the past. Ex-service-persons would need to identify alternative employment avenues. Cops would take a benevolent view of law and order problems. Doctors may end up prescribing only Laughter Therapy to seriously ill patients. Politicos mighst take a leaf out of the Code of the Woosters and start rolling out welfare schemes based only on the milk of human kindness, thereby resulting in empty coffers. The socio-economic implications of widespread Wodehousitis are mind-boggling indeed.

While steps are being taken to motivate medicos to come up with a cure for Wodehousitis, fans of the author wonder if finding a solution to this endemic problem is really necessary. The overriding feeling is that the germs of Wodehousitis should instead be deployed cleverly, thereby improving the score of Gross National Happiness of all countries.

The case against finding a cure for Wodehousitis

Imagine a scenario where reading Wodehouse is made mandatory at all levels of education, all across the world. Pretty soon, professionals of all hues would end up being afflicted with Wodehousitis. Judges would end up having stiffer lips, possibly dishing out harsher sentences. Their propensity to get swayed by non-judicial considerations would get curtailed. Illegal activities of any kind would get nipped in the bud. Lawyers, doctors, engineers and professionals across all vocations would have a better sense of humour. As a consequence, their ability to deliver results would improve drastically.

Members of the so-called sterner sex would end up being more chivalrous, thereby minimizing misdemeanours directed at the delicately nurtured. Following the dictums propounded by Jeeves, match-making quality would improve. Divorce rates would plummet. Loving husbands would be more likely to follow the example of Bingo Little, thereby ensuring that the doves of peace keep their wings flapping over their humble abodes.

Even kids who are normally a threat to societal peace would aspire to be worthy of their favourite silver screen divas. Headmasters and headmistresses would lose their faith in the old adage which exhorts them to spare the rod and spoil the child.

Global peace and harmony

The premier of a country who is toying with the idea of unleashing violence upon a neighbouring country would simply meet up her counterpart, say ‘What ho!’ and gift the other a set of Wodehouse books. Peace and love would stand a better chance.

Those planning a terror strike would look at their plans askance and wonder if better results could not be achieved by persuasive methods of a gentler kind. If advised by the likes of Roberta Wickham, they might even conclude that their goals could be met more effectively by merely ensuring that the hot water bottles of the dissenting politicians and their immediate family members get punctured at frequent intervals.

Money being spent on arms of all kinds would eventually get deployed to eradicate poverty across all our continents. Gross Happiness Indices of all countries would reach stratospheric heights.

International bodies such as the United Nations would come up with a Charter of Global Happiness and take initiatives designed to spread cheer and happiness amongst all the citizens of our planet. Peace Keeping Forces would be trained in Wodehousian skills and redeployed to monitor and promote laughter and mirth in strife torn areas.

In other words, Wodehousitis need not be contained or cured. On the contrary, it needs to be spread as quickly as may be possible. This could ensure that God continues to be in heaven and all remains well with the world.

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