Posts Tagged ‘P G Wodehouse’


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.


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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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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The brand called Jeeves stands for impeccable service. It signifies delivery of results which exceed one’s expectations, that too with due respect, politeness and sagacity. The methods may be rough at times, but the neat results obtained do provide satisfaction to all concerned.

On the flip side, the brand also represents cunning. An undercurrent of subterfuge often manifests itself. An excessive control over the affairs of the hapless and mentally negligible masters is a cost to be borne to avail of the service package on offer.

Residents of Plumsville often wonder as to how Jeeves, the well-known gentleman’s personal gentleman, acquired the traits that eventually made him an indispensable asset to the upper crust of English society – the art of shimmering in and out, the detailed knowledge of Debrett’s British Peerage, the knack of solving some tricky problems facing his blue-blooded masters or his pals, and, of course…

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Now, when a friend like Psoumya approaches with a problem of Plummy proportions what is one to do? I mean noblesse oblige and all that rot.

Especially a pal with whom you have swapped creative juices while working on a series of books, a saga that you have let loose on unsuspecting masses in five bally parts. Add to that more such collaborations are in the works, to be hurled at naïve souls when they are at their most vulnerable.

The Code of the Psenguptas compels you to spring into action, sleeves rolled up and palms spat on. The old bean races like a cheetah resolved to catch the first scene before the curtain is raised, unscheduled maintenance work on Piccadilly notwithstanding.

You see, Psoumya was just pottering about, minding her own business and generally spreading sweetness and light, when she was blind-sighted by this blighter of a friend asking her to compile a list of ten books. Following that she was to publish the list, one measly volume after another, into what has become the tangled web of our lives, FaceBook – that mingled yarn, fusing good and ill together.

Being an artist, and a topping one at that, Psoumya decided to put her own crafty spin on it. With her diligent brush-strokes, she dragged her choice of books onto canvas. She made them wear the frame, Spode-like, around their spines and leather jackets. To cut a long story short, she started making paintings of each book in her list.

And having dipped the wick of her creative soul in the dangerous spirit of graphic novelling, in which yours truly has waded alongside as her comrade in arms, she was ignited with the desire to put words into the mouths of the books. As if all that they held from cover to cover was not good enough. She brought in speech bubbles.

Being a Plummite herself, it was not too long before she plunged for Doctor Sally among her choices. And with jolly old Wodehouse fare literally in the picture, so to say, she rang for her partner in crime to come to her aid.

“What ho!”

“Of all the infernal nuisance …”

“Good morning to you too.”

“I picked Doctor Sally.”

“Did you now? No Psmith, no Blandings, no Jeeves. That’s the most unkindest cut of all.”

“I could pick only one Wodehouse book. Dashed difficult thing too, given he seems to have produced one every alternate day.”

“I wonder what the rest of the volumes have to say about that in your cartoon?”

“They will have some testy tinkerty-tonks up their sleeves, won’t they?””

“Given they will be cut to the quick at not being picked, I doubt they will stop at the unprintable.”

“They are books, for g’s sake. They cannot access the unprintable.”

“Take it from me, old p-in-c, that little technical impossibility won’t stop them. Besides, this is the electronic world. Print is passe and all that sort of thing… Also, given a shelf, they can stand up for themselves … and they don’t lack spines.”

There was what you would call a pregnant silence before she gushed forth:

“I say, can you help me come up with some words for these pestilent perishers?”

“Well, you see, what with this thing and that …”

“Arun, I mean now!”

“Oh, sure, indeed, right-ho, sure thing, happy to help and all that.”

So, that was the gist of it. As rummy old Shakespeare says, if you’re going to do a thing you might as well pop right at it and get it over.

With firmness of purpose we did just that, and in the image above you see the result.

If for some reason you find yourself intrigued about the Psoumya-Psengupta collaborations I surreptitiously hinted at (perhaps because someone took away your all-day sucker at the age of six), I am adding the details of the blasted lot without a blush of shame on our cheeks of modesty.

(Sportswriter Arun Sengupta and artist Soumya Ganesh (Maha) have collaborated in producing a series of graphic novels based on the History of World Cup Football. However, both remain Plummy types. Hence, faced with a FaceBook challenge, they combined to produce something Wodehousean.

Arun Sengupta writes the story behind the Plum-piece. The artwork is by Soumya Ganesh.

Sudden Death: An Illustrated History of World Cup Football as a Mystery Thriller Volumes 1 to 5 by Arun and Maha …published by Criketsoccer … available from Amazon and other outlets)

(This article appeared in the May-June 2019 issue of Nothing Serious, the journal of the P G Wodehouse Society of Netherlands)

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Dear All,

As an Executive Secretary of the Animal Division of the International League of Happiness, I hereby appeal to all of you, especially sociologists, linguists, litterateurs, politicos and legal luminaries amongst you, to quickly evolve a purely vegan code of conduct for the usage of English and also to push through some judicial reforms, thereby facilitating happiness in the animal world.

Several species of animals are miffed at direct as well as indirect references to the members of their respective tribes, often in a derogatory manner. They believe that the tendency of Homo sapiens to use references to animals of any kind is to be curbed. They also plead for some legal reforms to be pushed through.

Some of the species which have already registered a protest with us are as follows:

  • Potato Chip, the famous race horse, takes a jaundiced view of the fact that politicians…

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

Savour below the results of his labour of love.


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


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


Clarence wilts under the steely gaze of his head gardener.


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

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


This is how Lord Emsworth meets Gladys!


Lord Emsworth experiences surprise and admiration while listening to what Gladys has to report. Her brother, Ern, joins in.


A rendezvous gets fixed up!


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


Lord Emsworth in the tea tent; he attempts to lift his top hat, while a rock cake, singing through the air like a shell, takes it off for him.


Lord Emsworth meets a sobbing Gladys in the cow shed.


Gladys recounts the encounter between Lady Constance and Ern.

Lord Emsworth is surprised that Gladys has not had any nourishment.

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

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


Lord Emsworth and Gladys in the library, with Beach the butler in attendance.



When they are back on the lawns, Lord Emsworth asks Gladys if Ern, her brother, would like anything else.

‘Could he ‘ave some flarze?’

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

And when a small girl in a velveteen frock is seen flitting about McAllister’s sacred gardens and picking his sacred flowers – that too, a girl who had copped him on the shin with a stone just the other day, he rushes out of his den at forty-five miles per hour.

Lord Emsworth’s soul quivers at the spectacle of the man charging down on him with gleaming eyes and bristling whiskers. But with the soft hand of Gladys in his hands, he feels he should be worthy of the love received and the trust reposed in him.

A cold exchange takes place between McAllister and Lord Emsworth.


Angus McAllister decides it is better to cease to be a Napoleon than to be a Napoleon in exile.


Lord Emsworth stands up to his sister.


Lord Emsworth eventually proves worthy of his glorious ancestors.

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


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