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Posts Tagged ‘P G Wodehouse’

ashokbhatia

The character of Bertie Wooster is a study in contrasts. He has a dreamy sweetness about him. He is soft and chivalrous. He has a generous soul. He declines all proposals of marriage in a very polished manner. He never bandies about a woman’s name. Code of the Woosters Cover 1

But very often he also displays a unique strength of character. He can also speak his mind. If there is a fruity scheme which might result in the Code of the Woosters getting compromised, he is not game.

The delicately nurtured invariably corner Bertie and persuade him to do something truly goofy and get him into a jam. Gwladys puts her boyfriend with a broken leg in his flat. Pauline Stoker invades his rural cottage at the dead of night in a bathing suit. Florence Craye, Pauline Stoker, Roberta Wickham, Vanessa Cook, Nobby and Stiffy Byng are some other characters which immediately spring to one’s…

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In order to celebrate the 137th birth anniversary of P G Wodehouse, the Pittsburgh Millionaires decided to meet up on the 14th of October, 2018. The meeting took place at one of the Panera Cafés in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh, USA.

Lest some of you get an impression that the millionaires foregathered to discuss some trustworthy sources from where one could secure either a cow creamer or a scarab, you would be sadly mistaken. If your ambitions lead you to believe that you could have run into an arts dealer offering The Girl in Blue, the famous Gainsborough miniature, to one of the millionaires present at the gathering, you would be even more off the mark.

Had you been able to make it to the gig, you would have discovered the Pittsburgh Millionaires to be a group of strong and adventurous folks, well endowed and successful in more ways than one.

Besides being successful at keeping their respective bodies and souls together, they possess an immense wealth which could make many of us green with envy. Their wealth is not to be measured in terms of the millions of dollars they possess, but also in terms of the trillions of units of common love and fondness they have for the verbal musician of our times, P G Wodehouse. A profound knowledge of his canon is another wealth they possess.

Eve Halliday and Phyllis Jackson were already seated on the table when Rupert Psmith and the not-so-efficient Baxter trooped in. Stiffy Byng fluttered in like a rose-leaf on the wind. Pauline Stoker floated in pretty soon thereafter and the meeting was called to order. Picture post cards featuring The Empress of Blandings were gifted by Eve Halliday to those present.

The management of the Panera Café has a stiff-upper-lip policy. Target practice by throwing bread crumbs is out of the question. The place does not boast of fans of any kind, ceiling or otherwise. Hence, hurling boiled eggs at such contraptions is also ruled out. The ambience of the place is not such as to allow a boisterous rendering of The Sonny Boy.

Wisdom prevailed. A reading of the story ‘Goodbye to All Cats’ followed. Curious customers on nearby tables were taken aback by the intermittent ripples of mirth emanating from the table. The management was polite enough not to interrupt but ensured that the tray-carrying trolleys generated sound-bytes which were loud enough to deliver suitable admonitions to the members of the Plummy troupe. Needless to say, the same were duly ignored.

Bits and pieces of the Wodehouse canon were fondly recalled by those present. The Bertie-Jeeves relationship was dissected at length. The challenge of popularising his works amongst the youth of today was discussed. Eve Halliday recommended the practice of ‘fairy books’ where some of his works, duly gift wrapped, could be left in public places, spreading joy amongst those who venture to pick these up. Stiffy Byng commented that her interests included not only the narratives dished out by Wodehouse but also the whipped up by Alfred Hitchcock. Pauline Stoker lovingly mentioned the BBC series.

Deferring to the wishes of the café management, no cake was cut on the occasion. The meeting ended on a cordial note, with much ‘What-ho’-ing and ‘Pip-pip’-ing. Baxter was wished a happy travel back to India.

(Note: Yours truly is grateful to Abigail Thompson, Filomena Conti, Allison Thompson, Carol Colby and Sandip Chaudhury, who could spare the time to grace the occasion. Special thanks are due to Allison Thompson who took special interest in coordinating the gathering and even brought along an Augustus look-alike to attract the attention of incoming millionaires).

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Many of our homemakers happen to be depressed these days,

They wish their spouses to refrain from inviting yours truly to their homes;

Lest he behave like a male Laura Pyke, exhorting them to lay off the vitamins,

And while away his own time merely devouring some literary tomes.

 

A lazy bum, he continues to gobble up cookies from the kitchen jar,

Making the Aubrey Upjohn in the family take a jaundiced view of things;

He opens the hatch to guzzle down jugfuls of tea and milk,

Much like Bertie, he gets up very late, anticipating what the morning tray brings.

 

His cooking abilities are limited to boiling milk and eggs,

An apprenticeship under Anatole is what he desperately needs;

Doing the dishes and tidying up the place is not his idea of fun,

Oh, how they wish these could count as some of his chivalrous deeds.

 

Very badly does he need a crash course in baby-sitting,

The prospect of changing nappies leaves him cold;

Bingo Little could surely teach him a trick or two,

While touching neighbours for a tenner he is rather bold.

 

His face glows when he is in the vicinity of an array of tissue restoratives,

Or that of a well-endowed member of the tribe of the delicately nurtured;

But his Gussie Fink Nottle style fumbling and tongue-tied-ness,

Leaves the tender hopes of the party of the other part somewhat fractured.

 

His is a visage that shows him to be a man of baser instincts,

Eyeing female profiles as if following a hill train on a curvaceous track;

Divas from Hollywood to Bollywood he is frequently in love with,

Any record of the romances of Bingo Little he could beat by a crack.

 

Much like a soggy Donaldson dog biscuit, he looks bored and listless,

Yet, unexplained bursts of mirth often escape from his bedroom;

Curling up with a narrative by Plum is apparently all that his heart desires,

Often do they spot him sneaking with one to the solitude of the restroom.

 

Plopping down on the sofa with a book in hand he loves,

Falling off with uncontrolled laughter leaves his insurers in anguish;

His permanent companions happen to be his books and his laptop,

Unleashing some inane stuff which smells more like a stale dish.

 

 Never has he been known to have won any prize in Scripture Knowledge,

But he remains enthusiastic about sharing his thoughts with the younger lot;

Travelling to far off places, sharing nuggets of managerial wisdom,

Many amongst his clueless audience are known to ask for a sleeping cot.

 

Having this vagabond infest their home these homemakers abhor,

Shuddering at the prospect as soon as they recall and brood;

Fervently do they pray that he stays put at the Brinkley Manor of his life,

Wishing that their Guardian Angels always remain in a benevolent mood.

 

(Image courtesy www) 

(Related Post:  https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/about-me)

 

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ashokbhatia

When it comes to delivering bad news gently, Bertie Wooster is good. His technique involves an adequate amount of foreplay and inane conversation, followed by the news which is likely to leave the other person all-of-a-twitter.Code of the Woosters Cover 2

However, when the situation demands, he can also be tough on the errant person, putting him or her in place. Mind you, he does not offend. He merely follows the Code of the Woosters and plays firm and steady. He does so till the time the object of his derision wilts and relents.

He asserts himself. Much like the ancient Roman gladiators, he also chooses to be aggressive at times, whereupon his agility and nippiness knows no bounds. If he is sarcastic, his nonchalant manner rules supreme. It is another matter that his brand of subtle sarcasm is often lost on a hard-boiled party of the other part.

Here are some instances from ‘

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ashokbhatia

One of the sterling qualities Bertie Wooster possesses is that of breaking any bad news gently to those who are apt to shiver from the base of their toes to the top of their heads upon receiving it. There is a great deal of finesse to his approach. Seldom do we find him rushing abruptly into a conversation which involves the party of the other part finding itself at the receiving end. CodeOfTheWoosters

In ‘The Code of the Woosters’, we find that he uses an ultra-soft approach while trying to convey a disturbing news. This is true not only for a pal like Gussie Fink-Nottle but also for a quirky character like Pop Bassett.

Asking for Pop Bassett’s Niece’s Hand in Marriage

Prodded by the inimitable Jeeves, Stiffy Byng manages to persuade Bertie to break it to Pop Bassett that he proposes to get married to her. Since this…

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ashokbhatia

In the last post, we considered the political leanings of Sir Roderick Spode and Harold Winship, aka Ginger. Here are two more characters of a political nature we come across in Plumsville.

The challenge of handling hecklers

Let us look at some of the challenges faced by Mr. John Bickersdyke, manager of the London branch of the New Asiatic Bank, who is a keen aspirant for a Parliamentary slot. He has the singular misfortune of having the immaculate and loquacious Psmith working under his supervision.  (Psmith in the City)

He might have been defeated in an earlier attempt by a couple of thousand votes. He might have now switched overPsmith from being a Liberal to a Unionist. All this does not deter him from making a speech at the local Town Hall.

However, Kenningford, S. E., happens to be a tough place. The electorate is more inclined towards a…

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ashokbhatia

In Plumsville, we get to meet quite a few characters who happen to nurse political ambitions. Some happen to be born crusaders and revolutionaries. Others appear to have gravitated towards politics by chance. Yet others have a career in politics thrust upon them by a ruthless fiancée.

The name of Sir Roderick Spode readily springs to our minds. Comrade Bingo’s revolutionary pals, the Heralds of the Red Dawn, pop up in our consciousness. Our grey cells remind us of the Hon’ble A. B. Filmer, the Cabinet Minister who gets readily intimidated by an angry swan.

The morally dubious Conservative and Unionist candidate Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe is another person whom we cannot afford to ignore. When not busy pinching sow-keepers and the Empress of Blandings, he plans to stand in a by-election in the Bridgeford and Shifley Parliamentary Division of Shropshire.

The candidature of John Bickersdyke, who has the singular misfortune…

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