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ashokbhatia

Howsoever irrational and demanding his pals, Bertie would never let them down. Show him a soul in torment and he would rush in to provide the healing touch. A couple whose union is threatened by either a parent or an uncle gets his unstinted support, even if it means his taking the rap for a misdemeanor he is not at all connected with.Code of the Woosters Cover 5

We see him rallying around when a member of the so-called sterner sex is incapable of expressing his tender feelings to a member of the tribe of the delicately nurtured. Often, we find him persuading a member of the opposite sex to end a bitter feud with a friend who has been returned to store on account of some misunderstanding.

At times, we find him charming his returned-to-store pals against running across the Atlantic. This ensures that they remain readily available for a speedy reconciliation between the…

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ashokbhatia

The code that Bertie Wooster follows while interacting with the denizens of Plumsville has several finer shades to it.Code of the Woosters Cover 3

Here are some more examples, as gleaned from The Code of the Woosters.

Being a Boy Scout and a Bulldog

Bertie is invariably happy when playing the role of a boy scout. Performing little acts of kindness makes him happy. When Aunt Dahlia sends him off on a mission to sneer at the cow-creamer in an antique shop, he does not mind his morning plans getting changed.

When he arrives at the shop on Brampton Road, he runs into Sir Watkyn Bassett, CBE. The bulldog strain in the Woosters comes into play. He does not run away. He stands firm.

A Resilience of Nature

These are his feelings when, prodded by Jeeves and Stiffy, he agrees to go and tell Pop Bassett that he plans to marry Stiffy.

It has…

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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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Howsoever irrational and demanding his pals, Bertie would never let them down. Show him a soul in torment and he would rush in to provide the healing touch. A couple whose union is threatened by either a parent or an uncle gets his unstinted support, even if it means his taking the rap for a misdemeanor he is not at all connected with.Code of the Woosters Cover 5

We see him rallying around when a member of the so-called sterner sex is incapable of expressing his tender feelings to a member of the tribe of the delicately nurtured. Often, we find him persuading a member of the opposite sex to end a bitter feud with a friend who has been returned to store on account of some misunderstanding.

At times, we find him charming his returned-to-store pals against running across the Atlantic. This ensures that they remain readily available for a speedy reconciliation between the sundered souls. This also protects him from the perils of losing his own bachelorhood!

This personality trait – to never let a pal down – shines through all memoirs of his. In ‘The Code of the Woosters’, we find him facilitating two love affairs – one involving Madeline Bassett and Gussie Fink-Nottle, and another involving Stephanie Byng and the Rev. Harold Pinker.

As the narrative unfolds, we find him advising the first pair. As to the second pair, despite his better judgment, he gets persuaded by Stiffy to carry out some of her fruity schemes, leaving him all-of-a-twitter.

An Altruistic Nature

Madeline has severed her ties with Gussie and declared her willingness to instead make Bertie happy. Bertie is trying to establish that Gussie’s motives in being intimate with Stiffy were as pure as the driven snow, namely, to secure his notebook which contains some juicy references to Sir Watkyn Bassett and Roderick Spode.

‘It is useless, Bertie. I know, of course, why you are speaking like this. It is that sweet, generous nature of yours. There are no lengths to which you will not go to help a friend, even though it may mean the wrecking of your own happiness. But there is nothing you say that will change me. I have finished with Augustus. From tonight he will be to me merely a memory – a memory that will grow fainter and fainter through the years as you and I draw ever closer together. You will help me to forget. With you beside me, I shall be able in time to exorcise Augustus’ spell.’

Bertie once again tries his best to prove to Madeline that Gussie is more to be pitied than censured.

‘And you say Stephanie has hidden this notebook in Daddy’s cow-creamer?’
‘Plumb spang in the cow-creamer.’
‘But I never heard such an extraordinary story in my life.’
‘Bizarre, yes, but quite capable of being swallowed, don’t you think? What you have got to take into consideration is the psychology of the individual. You may say that you wouldn’t have a psychology like Stiffy’s if you were paid for it, but it’s hers all right.’
‘Are you sure you are not making this all up, Bertie?’
‘Why on earth?’
‘I know your altruistic nature so well.’

Advising a Newt-fancier

Despite having shown the notebook to Madeline, Gussie manages to get Pop Bassett to ban his marriage to her. It is then left to Bertie to advise him on the right course of action.

‘Listen, Gussie,’ I said. ‘I think I’ve got it.’

His face lit up. I could see that optimism had stirred and was shaking a leg. This Fink-Nottle has always been of an optimistic nature. Those who recall his address to the boys of Market Snodsbury Grammar School will remember that it was largely an appeal to the little blighters not to look on the dark side.

‘Yes, I believe I see the way. What you have got to do, Gussie, is pinch that cow-creamer.’

The Risk of a Saunter down the Aisle

Denizens of Plumsville would recall that – in another narrative – when Gussie Fink-Nottle had shrunk from pleading his cause with Madeline Bassett, he had asked Bertie to plead for him. The result was that Madeline thought that Bertie was pleading his own case. So, when Gussie fell out of favor (after a sozzled-up prize-giving ceremony at the school), Madeline had lost no time in attaching herself to Bertie and returning Gussie to store.

Mercifully, things had got straightened out, saving Bertie the trauma of having to spend the rest of his life with Madeline.

Mourning for a Loony Pal

Constable Oate’s pinched helmet has been hidden by Stiffy in a suitcase of Bertie’s. Its discovery by the butler has landed Bertie in a soup. He faces the prospect of thirty days without the option.

Meanwhile, Pop Bassett has forbidden the union between Stiffy and the Rev. Pinker. Bassett Senior has taken umbrage at the part played by Pinker in allowing the purloiner of the cow-creamer to effect her/his escape.

Does Bertie feel happy at the misfortune being faced by Stiffy? No. Despite the predicament in which he finds himself – entirely due to Stiffy – he still wishes the young loony well and mourns for her in her hour of disaster.

The Inheritance of Combined Loopiness

Bertie is not only worried about the relationship between Stiffy and Stinker Pinker getting blesses by her uncle. He is even concerned about the upcoming generation.

‘The more the thoughts dwell on that young shrimp, the more the soul sickens in horror. One peers into the future, and shudders at what one sees there. One has to face it, Jeeves – Stiffy, who is pure padded cell from the foundations up, is about to marry the Rev. H. P. Pinker, himself about as pronounced a goop as ever broke bread, and there is no reason to suppose – one has to face this, too – that their union will not be blessed. There will, that is to say, ere long be little feet pattering about the home. And what one asks oneself is – Just how safe will human life be in the vicinity of those feet, assuming – as one is forced to assume – that they will inherit the combined loopiness of two such parents? It is with a sense of tender pity, Jeeves, that I think of the nurses, the governesses, the private-school masters and the public-school masters who will lightly take on the responsibility of looking after a blend of Stephanie Byng and Harold Pinker, little knowing that they are coming up against something hotter than mustard.’

Never Letting a Pal Down

Sidney Carton confessing his feelings to Lucie Manette

Sidney Carton confessing his feelings to Lucie Manette

Stiffy invokes the Code of the Woosters to get Bertie to fall in line, ensuring that Pinker does not have to take the rap for stealing Constable Oate’s helmet and thereby face the prospect of getting defrocked.

‘I can’t have my precious angel Harold doing a stretch.’
‘How about your precious angel Bertram?’
‘But Harold is sensitive.’
‘So am I sensitive.’
‘Not half so sensitive as Harold. Bertie, surely you aren’t going to be difficult about this? You’re much too good a sport. Didn’t you tell me once that the Code of the Woosters was ‘Never let a pal down?’

She had found the talking point. People who appeal to the Code of the Woosters rarely fail to touch a chord in Bertram. My iron front began to crumble.

‘That’s all very fine-‘
‘Bertie, darling!’
‘Yes, I know, but, dash it all –‘
‘Bertie!’
‘Oh, well!’
‘You will take the rap?’
‘I suppose so.’
‘Thank you, Bertie darling. I knew you would be sweet about it. I can’t tell you how grateful I am, and how much I admire you. You remind me of Carter Paterson…no, that’s not it…Nick Carter…no, not Nick Carter…Who does Mr Wooster remind me of, Jeeves?’
‘Sidney Carton, miss.’
‘That’s right. Sidney Carton. But he was small-time stuff compared with you, Bertie.’

Whenever Bertie finds a friend of his in peril of any nature, the milk of human kindness sloshing about within his bosom comes to the fore. There is nothing he would not do to save a friend in need. This personality trait forms the core of the Code of the Woosters.

(Part 5: De-codifying the Code of the Woosters)

[Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/bertie-wooster-and-the-art-of-breaking-bad-news-gently/

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/when-bertie-wooster-decides-to-assert-himself/

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/of-bertie-goofy-females-and-the-wooster-clan/ https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/some-finer-shades-of-the-code-of-the-woosters

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/de-codifying-the-code-of-the-woosters%5D

Read Full Post »

The code that Bertie Wooster follows while interacting with the denizens of Plumsville has several finer shades to it.Code of the Woosters Cover 3

Here are some more examples, as gleaned from The Code of the Woosters.

Being a Boy Scout and a Bulldog

Bertie is invariably happy when playing the role of a boy scout. Performing little acts of kindness makes him happy. When Aunt Dahlia sends him off on a mission to sneer at the cow-creamer in an antique shop, he does not mind his morning plans getting changed.

When he arrives at the shop on Brampton Road, he runs into Sir Watkyn Bassett, CBE. The bulldog strain in the Woosters comes into play. He does not run away. He stands firm.

A Resilience of Nature

These are his feelings when, prodded by Jeeves and Stiffy, he agrees to go and tell Pop Bassett that he plans to marry Stiffy.

It has been well said of Bertram Wooster by those who know him best that there is a certain resilience in his nature that enables him as a general rule to rise on stepping-stones of his dead self in the most unfavourable circumstances. It isn’t often that I fail to keep the chin up and the eye sparkling.

The Chin-up Attitude

When Bertie decides to go and search Stiffy’s room for Gussie’s notebook containing some juicy references to Pop Bassett and Roderick Spode, he is not very delighted at the prospect of carrying out his own plans.

I hate these surreptitious prowlings. Bertie Wooster is a man who likes to go through the world with his chin up and both feet on the ground, not to sneak about on tiptoe with his spine tying itself into reef knots.

When a butler tells Bertie that Madeline Bassett desires him to spare a moment for her, he can foresee the impending doom.

I gazed at the man dully, like someone in a prison cell when the jailer has stepped in at dawn to notify him that the firing squad is ready.
I braced myself with the old Wooster grit. Up came the chin, back went the shoulders.
‘Lead on,’ I said to the butler, and the butler led on.

Being Humane

Bertie is not fond of Sir Watkyn Bassett, CBE. He is the magistrate who had pinched Bertie for five quids by way of a fine at Bosher Street.

While being a guest of Aunt Dahlia’s, he has the audacity to make a job offer to Anatole, God’s gift to gastric juices. When Uncle Tom tells him about a silver cow-creamer being held for him at an antique shop on Brampton Road, he hatches a devilish plot to beat him to it. A sumptuous lunch made up of cold lobsters and sliced cucumber follows, making Uncle Tom miss his rendezvous with the shop keeper. Pop Bassett then nips across and buys the cow-creamer himself.

When Bertie is a guest of his at Totleigh Towers, he is not averse to getting his room searched for either a cow-creamer or a policeman’s helmet. Nothing in his record suggests that he possesses a niceness of feeling and a respect for the basic laws of hospitality.

But Bertie is a gentleman at heart. Having just given Pop Bassett a shock by stating that he intends to marry his niece Stiffy, he does not like the idea of Madeline rushing in to tell her father that she wants to marry Bertie. His humane instincts come to the fore.

I started. I could still see Pop Bassett’s face when he had thought that he was going to draw me for a nephew. It would be a bit thick, I felt, while he was still quivering to the roots of the soul at the recollection of that hair’s-breadth escape, to tell him that I was about to become his son-in-law. I was not fond of Pop Bassett, but one has one’s humane instincts.

‘Oh, my aunt!’ I said. ‘Don’t do that!’

A Stickler to Rules

When policemen’s helmets have to be pinched, there is a standard technique to be followed. Giving the forward shove before the upwards lift is the right way to going about it. But when Stinker Pinker swings into action, Constable Oates has taken his helmet off and put it on the ground. Pinker merely creeps up and grabs the desired object.

Bertie believes this to be a wrong way of pinching a helmet. He considers Stinker Pinker’s behavior morally tantamount to shooting a sitting bird.

Members of the Drones Club have strong views on these things. Even in acts of a goofy nature, rules must be scrupulously followed.

The Pumpkin Quotient

Bertie is quite clear when it comes to his ranking on a scale which measures the extent to being pumpkin-headed.

‘I can’t understand you, Bertie – the way you’re always criticizing poor Harold. I thought you were so fond of him.’
‘I love him like a b. But that doesn’t alter my opinion that of all the pumpkin-headed foozlers who ever preached about Hivites and Jebusites, he is the foremost.’
‘He isn’t half as pumpkin-headed as you.’
‘He is, at a conservative estimate, about twenty-seven times as pumpkin-headed as me. He begins where I leave off. It may be a strong thing to say, but he’s more pumpkin-headed than Gussie.’

Being aware of one’s Pumpkin Quotient is a quality many of us can learn.

Never Allowing the Upper Lip to Unstiffen

Depression comes in all sizes and shapes. But irrespective of whether it is U-shaped, V-shaped or W-shaped, we would do well to remember this advice from Bertie Wooster.

‘A short while ago, the air was congested with V-shaped depressions, but now one looks north, south, east and west and descries not a single cloud on the horizon – except the fact that Gussie’s wedding is still off, and that can’t be helped. Well, this should certainly teach us, should it not, never to repine, never to despair, never to allow the upper lip to unstiffen, but always to remember that, no matter how dark the skies may be, the sun is shining somewhere and will eventually come smiling through.’

Code of the Woosters has several facets. Each one tells us how (or how not) to lead our lives. The appeal of Bertie Wooster’s character perhaps lies in the fact that these aspects of his conduct touch our inner chords, that too in a manner which is light-hearted and liberally laced with heady humor.

(Part 4: Decodifying the Code of the Woosters)

[Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/bertie-wooster-and-the-art-of-breaking-bad-news-gently

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/when-bertie-wooster-decides-to-assert-himself

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/of-bertie-goofy-females-and-the-wooster-clan

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/bertie-never-lets-a-pal-down

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/de-codifying-the-code-of-the-woosters%5D

Read Full Post »

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 declaration is likely to leave her uncle all-of-a-twitter, the plan is for Stiffy to walk in and declare her love instead for Stinker Pinker. Pop Bassett is then likely to experience overwhelming relief, leading him to view Stiffy’s union with Stinker with a more kindly eye.

Even though a Justice of the Peace who has already stripped Bertie of five quid for having endeavored to steal a policeman’s helmet is viewed as a formidable foe, he does not wish to break the artificial news of his betrothal to Stiffy in an abrupt manner. A few preliminary pour-parlers are very much in order before getting down to the nub.

The conversation between Bertie and Pop Bassett first touches upon the treatment to be meted out to the culprit who has recently pinched Constable Oates’ helmet. Bertie then steers it around to the love life of newts, starfish, under-sea worms and seaweed.

Eventually, an exasperated Pop Bassett is forced to make a confession thus:

“I am afraid, Mr. Wooster, that you will think me dense, but I have not the remotest notion of what you are talking about.”

This paves the way for Bertie to overcome his diffidence and ask for Stiffy’s hand. Here is a juicy description of how Pop Bassett hits the ceiling.

There was no question as to its being value for money. On the cue ‘niece’s hand’, he had come out of his chair like a rocketing pheasant. He now sank back, fanning himself with the pen. He seemed to have aged quite a lot.

When summoned, Stiffy gives an extremely convincing performance. She stares at Pop Bassett. She stares at Bertie. She clapses her hands and perhaps even manages to blush. She then proceeds to declare her plans to marry Harold Pinker instead, making hope dawn once again in her uncle’s bosom. Understandably, he needs little persuasion to accord his approval for the two to get united in matrimony.

Avoiding the Surgeon’s Knife with Gussie

Earlier in the narrative, we find Bertie treating Gussie with a similar kid-glove treatment. Gussie has made some juicy comments about Sir Watkyn Bassett and Roderick Spode in a notebook, which he has managed to let it fall in the hands of Stiffy Byng. A scheme to make her part with the same while being charmed by Bertie has flopped miserably.

The onus of passing on this dreadful news to Gussie obviously falls on Bertie, who decides to avoid the surgeon’s knife. He shrinks from the mournful task of administering a very substantial sock on the jaw to an old friend.

While Jeeves is ordered to bring in a bottle of brandy, Gussie is first made to sit comfortably in an armchair. A desultory conversation about the weather and the crops follows. Further prattling on part of Bertie leads to a dialogue of this nature:

“Bertie, I believe you’re pie-eyed.”
“Not at all.”
“Then what are you babbling like this for?”
….”You don’t mean she hasn’t got it?”
“That is precisely the nub or crux. She has, and she is going to give it to Pop Bassett.”

I had expected him to take it fairly substantially, and he did. His eyes, like stars, started from their spheres and he leaped from the chair, spilling the contents of the glass and causing the room to niff like the saloon bar of a pub on a Saturday night.

A pat on Gussie’s shoulder starts calming him down. A reference to Archimedes who was apparently killed by a soldier and passed out smiling then follows. Eventually, Reason returns to its throne and a meaningful dialogue takes place between the two.

These are but two specimens of the extent to which Bertie Wooster would go to break some bad news gently to those in his circles.

When the milk of human kindness is sloshing about within us, we try to be gentle while conveying a piece of negative news, whether to a friend or to a foe. This is an invaluable social skill which many of us can imbibe from Bertie Wooster.

(Part 1: Decodifying the Code of the Woosters)

[Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/when-bertie-wooster-decides-to-assert-himself

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/of-bertie-goofy-females-and-the-wooster-clan

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/some-finer-shades-of-the-code-of-the-woosters

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/bertie-never-lets-a-pal-down

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/de-codifying-the-code-of-the-woosters%5D

Read Full Post »