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Posts Tagged ‘P G Wodehouse’

all flockbinkers are treadknicious... and other salient observations

Abstract:  In which P.G. Wodehouse’s classic creation Mr. Bertram Wooster dines at Chili’s with two classical Asian philosophers–Mr. Confucius and Mr. Buddha–and finds himself, oh, a bit out of his depth. Eh what?


If you’ve ever dipped into the fiction of British author P.G. Wodehouse, you are doubtless familiar with the character of Bertie Wooster.  You know, the somewhat sub-brainful scion of one of the English ruling families of about a hundred years ago.  And if you’ve ever dipped into the literature of the Ancient East, you are probably familiar with the characters of Kung Fu Tzu (Confucius) and Shakyamuni (the Buddha).

But…ha! And i shall say it again: Ha! Has it ever occurred to you to imagine the conversation that might arise should Young Bertram find himself in the presence of these two ancient worthies, at Chili’s Restaurant? No! Of course it hasn’t. That’s why i’m the one…

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ashokbhatia

A saunter down the Gallery of Rogue Kids in Plumsville leaves us amazed at the innovative skills, cunning and resource of the children we come across in the works of P G Wodehouse.

Some end up boosting the sagging morale of their fathers. Some treat their step fathers with as much scorn as theyPGW PiccadillyJim can muster at a tender age. They do not spare them while out to collect protection money. Their antics could make or break matrimonial alliances in a jiffy. Souring up business deals comes easy to them. When they burn down cottages, guests are forced to seek shelter in garden sheds.

When seniors devise a Good Conduct award, they leave no stone unturned to prove their mettle. When infatuated with celebrities, they devote their lives to being worthy of their affections. When in the company of clergymen, they end up making them more spiritual, thereby making them…

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ashokbhatia

We have already discussed the antics of some of the kids we encounter in Plumsville. Barring Edwin the Boy Scout and Ogden Ford, we have failed to meet anyone who can aspire to rise to the same heights of roguishness that Master Thomas achieves.

Thos

Master Thomas is the King of the Underworld. He is also known as The Shadow. He has carroty hair and a cynical expression. His manner is curt and supercilious. Annoy him, and he could arrange for a drawing pin to greet your fleshy parts when you sit on your favourite chair.

A tip from Captain Flint

In Jeeves and the Impending Doom (Very Good, Jeeves), Thos is being tutored by Bingo Little at Woollam Chersey, Aunt Agatha’s place, where Bertie has been invited over. Unbeknown to him, the aunt aspires for a secretarial career for Bertie, assisting Mr Filmer, the Cabinet Minister.

When…

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ashokbhatia

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

Here are a few more who deserve to be considered.

Bonzo

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

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

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

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ashokbhatia

P G Wodehouse has etched out the kids in his works with much finesse.  When it comes to ranking these kids on a Richter scale of Roguishness, our task is not too difficult. If Edwin, Thos and Seabury secure the top ranks, kid Blumenfeld, Bonzo and Sebastian Moon occupy the middle order. Kid Clementina, Oswald and Peggy Mainwaring appear to be competing for the lower ranks.

We also get to meet kids who can only earn a negative rank on the Richter scale of Roguishness. Their conduct is as pure as driven snow.

Prudence Baxter does not herself outsmart the real winners at an Egg and Spoon race. It is Jeeves’ desire to help a Bingo in distress which helps her to claim the prize.

Bingo Junior wins a baby contest and is blissfully unaware of the extent to which his accomplishment boosts up the morale of his father. He…

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Adults love obedience. But give them a simple kid who is plain subservient and they start complaining about life being rather monotonous and dull. Kids who are not naughty at all could prove to be somewhat boring. The higher the Naughtiness Quotient (NQ) of a kid, the brighter the life is. The challenge of having a high NQ kid around keeps one on one’s toes. One becomes hotter at one’s job. Outlook towards life becomes more indulgent. Capacity to handle the harsh slings and arrows of life shows a substantial improvement. Spiritual growth gets hastened up.

P G Wodehouse gave us such sterling kids as Thomas Travers, Seabury, Edwin the Scout and many others. Hanry King Ketcham gave us Dennis the Menace, based on the daily exploits of his own son.

Here is a quick look at some of the escapades of Dennis which amuse and entertain us just like those of Plummy kids.

Just the question Algernon Aubrey Little would have asked his parents, Bingo Little and Rosie M Banks, had they been living in our internet-infested times these days!

 

A scene of unalloyed domestic bliss, with the chivalrous husband wearing a skirt and pitching in to assist in domestic chores!

 

When hapless parents bringing up a Thos-like son yearn for some kid-free time!

 

This is what could happen if Edwin the Scout were to complain to D’Arcy Stilton Cheesewright about a friend of his!

 

The progeny of Stiffy Byng and Harold Stinker Pinker would invariably be unpopular amongst the public at large. The poor souls get to inherit the combined loopiness of both their parents.

 

A sentiment dreaded by such lion-tamers as Rev. Aubrey Upjohn, Miss Mapleton and Miss Tomlinson!

 

Refuse to cough up protection money and the prospect of treading down a hard staircase covered with soft butter would await one.

 

When he grows up a little bit, he might make some such confessions so as to be worthy of the affections of either a Greta Garbo or a Clara Bow.

 

Many of us would be inclined to be patient and give Dr. E. Jimpson Murgatroyd here a chance to check on the pink spots on Dennis’ chest!

 

The fate of a clueless Ann Banister when endeavouring to baby sit for Joey Cooley!

It is not easy to compare the brilliance of the written word with that of an illustration. Perhaps, there is no need for us to compare the two genres. We just need to sit back and bask in the pristine humour these two forms of art represent.

The fulcrum which makes the two forms of art converge is that of the Naughtiness Quotient of the kids in general. Or, their rank on the Richter Scale of Roguishness.

(Dennis the Menace cartoons courtesy the world wide web)

 

(Related Posts:

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

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

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Lord Emsworth

The narratives dished out by Plum not only amuse but also educate the lay reader. Critics may label these as escapist fares, but that does not take away the kind of social and spiritual lessons which are embedded therein.

When a girl whom you have come to respect seeks your protection, you try to rise to her expectations. Suddenly, the spine which was made of cottage cheese gets transformed into one of chilled steel. You stand up to bullies and tell them where they get off. You look them in the eye and make them wilt, making them beat a hasty retreat from their time-tested positions. Like Angus McAllister, they suddenly find more merit in ‘ceasing to be a Napoleon than to become a Napoleon in exile.’

The Parva School Treat Transformation

When the story begins, we find that Lord Emsworth’s soul is weighed down with woe. The sun is going about its task with great aplomb, but he is unable to potter around in his own gardens. For, this is the day of the August Bank Holiday, ‘when a tidal wave of the peasantry and its squealing young engulfed those haunts of immemorial peace.’ In place of an old coat, he is forced to wear a stiff collar and a top hat and be genial. As if this were not enough, he is expected to make a speech in the evening.

However, by the time the story reaches its climax, he has become a transformed man. He has become a man amongst men. He can stand up to Angus McAllister, his gardener, and boldly reject his proposal to lay a gravel path through the moss-covered yew alley. He has even found the courage to give a piece of his mind to Constance, his dominating sister.

His foremost concern is to bring some sunshine into the life of Gladys, his girlfriend. If she has not had any nourishment, she must be provided a sumptuous fare not only for her but also for her younger brother, Ern. If she asks for flowers from the Blandings gardens, she must have them. He would rather walk back with her to the cottage she is staying at, rather than face the prospect of making a speech.

Doing the ancestors proud

Lord Emsworth detests the fact that he is no longer the captain of his soul. But he ends up acquiring the courage to stand up to the bullies in his life. From being a spineless and unspeakably unworthy descendant of ancestors who had certainly known how to handle employees, he can now boast of being a tough egg. Even though his soul quivers, the simple act of Gladys seeking his protection from a menacing Angus McAllister by slipping her small, hot hand into his, he secures a mute vote of confidence. It is something that he wishes to be worthy of.

Learning from kids of a metropolitan origin

Street smart kids of metropolitan origin have perfected his survival and self-preservation skills. They acquire a ‘breezy insouciance’ which their country cousins lack. Shyness is not one of the virtues they can boast of. They have no difficulty in translating their thoughts into speech. Their dog-management skills are something to write home about.

If they need to pick flowers, they stoop to conquer. They have no reservations about throwing stones at those who endeavour to thwart their floral ambitions. Those attempting to do so even run the risk of getting copped on the shin. And if someone were to deliver a sharp reprimand, they are not averse to biting them in the leg.

These are the kind of personality traits which appeal to someone like Lord Emsworth who believes that he is not a captain of his own soul. Kids with a kindred spirit end up earning his unalloyed reverence.

One of the kids who earns the awe and admiration of Lord Emsworth is Gladys. She is described as a ‘small girl, of uncertain age – possibly twelve or thirteen, though a combination of London fogs and early cares had given her face a sort of wizened motherliness which in some odd way caused his lordship from the first to look on her as belonging to his own generation. She was the type of girl you see in back streets carrying a baby nearly as large as herself and still retaining sufficient energy to lead one little brother by the hand and shout recrimination at another in the distance.’ Ern, her younger brother, also falls in the same category.

Pristine love that uplifts

A streak of independence, disobedience and childlike vehemence invariably appeals to someone who is not himself in the firing line. When it affects the parties who happen to be the tormentors, the sense of awe and admiration experienced by the tormentee grows manifold. Lord Emsworth is no exception to this general rule.

Love results into a spiritual upliftment of sorts. One is no longer concerned only about one’s own discomforts, whether material or spiritual. One starts looking at the broader picture. The vision is no longer myopic. The scales fall from one’s eyes. One works towards bringing some sunshine into the lives of those who are somewhat disadvantaged. Social and economic barriers fade away. Empathy and compassion kick in. So does the milk of human kindness. One focuses only on providing adequate succour to the object of one’s affections.

(Illustration courtesy Suvarna Sanyal, a retired banker who has an eye and an ear for all there is to see, listen to and laugh at in this world.)

(Related Posts: 

https://honoriaplum.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/great-wodehouse-romances-lord-emsworth-and-the-girl-friend-by-ken-clevenger

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

 

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