Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Psmith’

Residents of Plumsville admire Psmith for more reasons than one. Eve Halliday is another character which deserves better attention than it normally gets.

What happens when the two run into each other? How does their romance progress?

Here is a delightful post which celebrates the gradual evolution of their relationship. Cupid, were he to come across it, would surely approve.

Plumtopia

32-23This February’s Great Wodehouse romances series continues with another guest author, K.V.K. Murthy, known to Facebook friends as James Joyce.  His piece takes us on a walk through romantic literary history with Psmith and Eve Halliday (Leave it to Psmith).

A note on the Psmith-Halliday romance

by K.V.K. Murthy

The question of favourites is mostly subjective, and Wodehouse’s vast canvas of miniature romances doubtless provides for each taste. The Gussie-Bassett, Tuppy-Angela, Bingo-Banks and others too numerous to mention are all miniatures :a concatenation (to use Jeeves’ word) of comical situation, Edwardian silly-assness and a bit of fat-headedness thrown in for seasoning. They are the staple of drawing-room one-act plays of a certain generation, given occasional revivals in schools to round off the Annual Day shindig. Barring minor changes in detail, they are all more or less cast from the same block. Wodehouse’s success with that block – or formula –…

View original post 417 more words

Read Full Post »

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…

View original post 2,530 more words

Read Full Post »

Psmith put the newspaper away. A sigh escaped him.

“Nothing makes sense”, he muttered.

For the space of about twenty-five seconds, Mike, sitting across a small table on a sunlit balcony ingateway-of-india Mumbai, India, sat in silence.

“What is wrong with you?”, asked Mike, with a concerned look on his face.

Some time back, Psmith and Mike had been posted to the Mumbai branch of the New Asiatic Bank. It had taken them some time to get used to the hustle bustle of the noisy metropolis, often reeking of stale fish.

They had a centrally air-conditioned apartment all to themselves at Worli in one of the high-rise buildings overlooking the Arabian Sea. Being a Sunday, both were in a relaxed state of mind.

“How could people be so very excited about being taxed differently?”

“Who is excited? What are you referring to?”

“You would know that India is soon set to hop on to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bandwagon. What the poor guys do not realize is that life is not going to be a bed of roses, as it is being made out to be.”

Mike continued to concentrate on the designer tea-pot in front of him, a complete picture of the model gown-wearing bank officer on his weekly off day.

“It is good to notice the concern you display for the citizenry which managed to slip out of British control some seventy years back. Perhaps, you are upset that it took them so long to realize that their entire country needed to be a unified market?”

“No. What I object to is the fundamental flaw in the GST. It is un-Indian. It is just too simple.”

Mike looked up in surprise. “What do you mean?”

“Comrade Jackson, no Indian tax system could be that simple. A universal tax percentage applied to everything so you know how to calculate it is just not right. It is handing over the power of understanding a tax to the people. Does this not take away the basic right of Indian taxation: confusion, opacity and obfuscation?’”

“But, surely, that should be good news?”

“Not for the few bespectacled gentlemen who try to figure things out, buried under the weight of those heavy tax books in some library of a government department. They would be rendered simply rudderless. They would resent this sudden deprivation of their tremendous power – of being the select few who could interpret and explain away the laws, the bye-laws, the rules, the notifications, the rulings by various tribunals and councils from time to time, and what not. I sense a revolt of sorts brewing up soon enough.”

“Oh, you mean to say that the bureaucrats would not be too pleased with the new taxation system?”

“Elementary, my dear Jackson. They would surely not relish the prospect of losing their power over the people. Also, the only way they can earn the extra money required to keep their families grinning from ear to ear.”

“Hmm…you do have a point there.”

“Not only this. Should a simple taxation law come into play, imagine the number of taxation experts India Parliament Housewho would be rendered jobless. Their care-worn clients would no longer be spending hours in their plush offices, trying to figure out the nuances of filing quarterly returns. They would instead be sitting in a fine dine restaurant, treating their lissome secretaries to a sumptuous dinner, while having told the spouse of a pressing need to attend a crucial meeting at the office.”

“But you would agree that the GST idea is indeed noble, simple, global and logical.”

“Which is why I suspect there is so much resistance to it. The government has been trying to sit people down and explain to them why the current system of taxation is the work of some mad people who happen to grace the opposition chairs now. Of late, it even decided to reach out to the latter and ensure that they were no longer sulking at the party presently in power walking off with all the credit for having brought in this landmark change. And note that the party in power now had itself obstructed the same change when it happened to be in the opposition.”

“But what do you think is so very exciting about the present system? I think it is known as Value Added Tax. They have several other taxes as well.”

“Well, for one, that should be known instead as Value Reduced Tax, simply because you have less value once you have paid it. Then they have excise, individual state taxes, octroi tax, entry tax, professional tax, luxury tax, entertainment tax, sleeping peacefully at night tax, Bengali sweets tax, South Indian dosa and idli tax, North Indian chhole bhatoore tax, West Indian poha and shri khand tax, did-not-tell-your-wife-and-came-to-Pondicherry tax, Clean India tax, farmers’ mental happiness tax, road accident tax, child-not-doing-too-well-at-school tax, mother-in-law irritant tax, enduring the politicians tax, having-to-watch-inane-movies tax, waiting for delivery of public services tax, and many more in the same genre.”

“Ah, life could be surely simpler!”

“But the good point here is that the common citizen can never afford to be lazy or complacent. The Indian tax system has always been designed to keep the common citizen on his toes. Agile. Confused. Uncertain. Feeling illiterate. There has always been an element of surprise. He opens a letter and finds that he has a tax due. And he starts asking himself, ‘What tax is this? I was not aware a tax like this existed. Do I need to pay it? Is there no way to avoid paying it?’ And off he goes to seek some solace from his tax consultant who is happy to demystify the affair and get another excuse to raise a bill on the hapless wannabe tax-evader.”

“You appear to be quite impressed with the Indian taxation system!”

“Yes, Comrade! They have an excellent system which matches their age-old spiritual values. Anythingemblem_of_india-svg that makes you feel small, negligible and illiterate is bound to flatten your ego in no time. You could even be a director of our bank. But when you get a tax notice which you do not understand, you feel all of a twitter. You take a more benevolent view of humanity in general. Even your driver and your lift operator seem like angels in distress, facing similar challenges in life. You realize that there is no escaping the taxation system. It is as immortal as a soul is said to be.”

“But what makes you think the GST is likely to be simpler, when it comes to the fine print? I was told that it would need even the humble barber to file as many as forty odd returns to the government every quarter?”

Psmith slid out of his chair with a disgruntled sigh, and dusted his dressing gown. “Perhaps there is something in what you say. I propose that we call the new system as the Great Spiritual Tax instead. It would make all businesses across all the states and territories of India equally worried. They might even turn to spirituality and seek divine intervention to set their house in order. It would not be wrong to surmise that a commercial crisis has indeed arisen. A period of great anxiety has begun, especially so for small businesses.”

Mike looked up with some surprise.

“Let me explain,” said Psmith, raising his hands. “Once the new system takes over, all businesses would be required to register. Whether for manufacturers, distributors or retailers, it would be virtually impossible to escape the tax net. The luxury of doing business based on fake bills would no longer be theirs. In fact, past transactions could also come in for greater scrutiny. Besides, the Income Tax sleuths would be easily able to figure out the real income levels of businessmen of all hues, sizes and shapes. The entire business eco-system would totter.”

“Are you trying to say that the size of the Indian parallel economy would shrink?”

“Quite possible, Comrade Jackson. Your keen intelligence reaffirms my faith in your unique abilities. However, I doubt if this could be good news for the country.”

“How do you say this?”

“If you would delve deep into your memory cells, you would recall the 2008 financial crisis which engulfed the world. Do you think the Indian economy suffered as much as our so-called advanced economies then?”

“I do not think so. The Indian economy showed greater resilience then.”

“If so, allow me to point out that one of the major factors discovered and held to have helped India then was the existence of an underground economy.”

“Indeed?!”

“I do believe so, though I confess I am not an expert at such matters. Take the informal economy awayRashtrapati Bahavan and what do you get? A rigid and formal economy which has a much higher dependence on formal debt markets. The risk of overstating debts grows manifold. Next time round, when another Lehman Brothers show up on the horizon, the Indian economy could be found in deeper waters. Having a thriving parallel economy helps.”

“You surely surprise me. You sound like an ardent advocate of the parallel economy!”

“On the contrary, I do not. My point is very simple. Why should we allow only our businesses to suffer when the political parties themselves continue to enjoy the fruits of an underground nature? Why not clean up the Indian political act as well and provide a level playing field to all her citizens? Why should the Indian politicos be spared of a taste of their own medicine that they prescribe for the toiling masses?”

“Whatever, the Indian GST is now already on a roll. The bill has received the assent of the President of India. The only hope you can entertain is that of the implementation getting goofed up and the process getting delayed somehow. My understanding is that if the steps of setting up a GST Council, an agreement on a basic tax rate and the detailed procedures take longer than a year, the implementation deadline might as well get shifted to April 2018. If that happens, the government itself may keep it on the back burner for some time.”

“Oh, you allude to the risk of embracing unpredictable consequences of adopting a new taxation system in the run-up to the 2019 parliamentary elections!”

“Yes. In fact, yet another challenge before them might be that of the absence of internet connectivity all over the country. Even if the GST Network gets perfected, how would they ensure that a dealer in, say, Sikkim, can secure a registration in Kerala? It is good to hear of a seamless market, but a smooth roll-out would need a strong internet backbone all across.”

“Well, sure enough, their best men would be working out the finer details and smoothening the road to implementation. The stakes are high indeed. The reputation of the present government rides on how it handles a challenge of this nature. But what you are missing on, Comrade Jackson, is the key factor of human ingenuity. When it comes to paying any taxes, it knows no bounds.”

“But I am not quite sure if there could be an easy escape route for any business, as you yourself had rightly pointed out just now.”

“But we underestimate the propensity of human beings to go to any lengths to avoid paying any taxes. Innovation is the name of the game in this case. Sure enough, the Indian tax experts would now bemap-of-india burning the proverbial mid-night oil, getting ready to advise their anxious clients about some new creative practices they could adopt under the new tax regime. Given the level of primal hate harboured by all businesses towards the act of paying any kind of taxes, advisors in the business of tax avoidance would be twiddling their thumbs, endeavouring to figure out ingenious methods of beating the new system at its own game.”

Mike smiled.

“As always, you have hit the nail on its head. But this is a universal fact which governments all over the world have to cope with. Is there any other thing you are not too comfortable about?”

“Yes, though I do not know how your intuitive faculties are so very advanced as to guess this. I do not quite see eye to eye on the strategy of dumping more and more indirect taxes on the hapless citizenry, while not working aggressively to expand the direct taxes base.”

“I really do admire your depth of thinking on the subject. Do you refer to recent reports that merely one percent of the people pay income tax in India?”

“Indeed. What an irony!”

“Perhaps, you imply that politicians of all hues lack the courage to take some unpopular steps. Rather than chasing more people to pay income tax, they prefer to use the indirect taxes route which is relatively invisible?”

“Yes. Perhaps they follow the advice of their sage Chanakya who famously said that taxes should be collected by inflicting the least possible pain on the citizens, much like a bee would collect nectar from a flower in bloom!”

“And what do you think our own bank would have to undergo?,” Mike asked.

“Serious matter. Under the new dispensation, we shall need to register in all the states and unionpsmith-1909 territories. Perhaps, even in districts, where we have branches. This is going to be a compliance nightmare. I hear some talk of all the banks lobbying for a facility to register with a centralized agency which would pool, reconcile, analyze and audit our transactions. If so, this agency could distribute the revenue earned through us to different states where the transaction has occurred.”

Mike rose from his chair and stretched his arms. His gaze drifted off to a couple of fishing boats bouncing up and down on the bluish-green waters of the Arabian Sea.

“These are deep waters, indeed. I wonder why we are discussing such matters on a lazy Sunday morning? I rather think I’ll nip down to Haji Ali and take some fresh air into my lungs,” said he. “You couldn’t come too, I suppose?”

“On the contrary,’ said Psmith, ‘I could, and will. A stroll will just restore those tissues which the gruelling discussion of the last half-hour has wasted away. It is a fearful strain, this taxation toil. Let us trickle towards the place mentioned by you. Comrade Jackson, lead me to this picturesque dargah of yours of which I have heard so much.”

Read Full Post »

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)

Read Full Post »

If you missed being with Psmith in Pseattle, do not worry. Here is a quick recap of the revelries which ensued. Honoria Glossop recounts her escapade with some juicy details in this post of hers.

Her speech on the psychology of the Plum reader, ostensibly delivered after she had gulped down a jugful of the right stuff, was received with much enthusiasm.

Soak in the sunny details!

Plumtopia

Goodies

What Ho, old beans!

Last week I attended an excellent binge at The Wodehouse Society’s (TWS) 18th convention, Psmith in Pseattle. It was my first TWS convention, and even more psensational than anticipated. So, climb upon my knee, Sonny Boy, and I’ll tell you about it.

Introductions
As a TWS first timer, I entered the lobby of the impressive Fairmont Olympic Hotel under a cloud –not one of Seattle’s famous v-shaped depressions, but a personal one. Having lived almost exclusively behind a keyboard for the last few years, my people skills are not what they once were. Nor are my trousers, which are let out far more often than I am. So it’s fair to say I was not at my confident best, and beginning to wish I’d stayed under my little rock in Somerset UK. Added to this, I had recklessly agreed to appear as a speaker and…

View original post 1,730 more words

Read Full Post »

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 robust kind of humour which could even incite such physical acts as smashing shop-windows and kicking policemen.

This is how Wodehouse sums up political meetings:

‘All political meetings are very much alike. Somebody gets up and introduces the speaker of the evening, and then the speaker of the evening says at great length what he thinks of the scandalous manner in which the Government is behaving or the iniquitous goings-on of the Opposition. From time to time confederates in the audience rise and ask carefully rehearsed questions, and are answered fully and satisfactorily by the orator. When a genuine heckler interrupts, the orator either ignores him, or says haughtily that he can find him arguments but cannot find him brains. Or, occasionally, when the question is an easy one, he answers it. A quietly conducted political meeting is one of England’s most delightful indoor games. When the meeting is rowdy, the audience has more fun, but the speaker a good deal less.’

Armed with a penetrating, if harsh, voice, Mr. Bickersdyke begins well. He casts a spell over his audience. He says a couple of nasty things about Free Trade and the Alien Immigrant and then turns to the Needs of the Navy and the necessity of increasing the fleet at all costs.

‘This is no time for half-measures,’ he said. ‘We must do our utmost. We must burn our boats–‘
‘Excuse me,’ said a gentle voice.
‘How,’ asked Psmith, ‘do you propose to strengthen the Navy by burning boats?’

The inane question breaks the spell. The story of ‘Three Men in a Boat’ is used to amuse the audience. When Mr.

Psmith 1909 by T. M. R. Whitwell

Psmith 1909 by T. M. R. Whitwell

Bickersdyke goes on to point out the lack of genuine merit in the achievements of His Majesty’s Government, applause follows.

The irrepressible Psmith once again interrupts and points out that the story is not an original one. A fiasco follows. How Psmith manages his boss the next day is something to be learnt from.

Mr. Bickersdyke ends up winning the election, though with a slender margin over his opponent, about whose background some damaging revelations get circulated on the eve of the poll, projecting him as a German spy.

Astute politicians always ensure that their speeches are cleverly crafted and dramatically delivered. These are designed to be monologues, interspersed either with loud applause from the audience or with sloganeering, cheering and flag-waiving from time to time.

A mulish cop who refuses to stand for Parliament

A member of the Drones Club, Stilton is a hulking chap with a large head compared to a pumpkin and a ‘face that looked like a slab of pink dough’. He is educated at Eton and Oxford, but considered a fine fellow only ‘as far northwards as the neck’.

In Joy in the Morning, we find him to be the local cop at Steeple Bumpleigh. However, his fiancée, Florence Craye, does not approve of his career choice. Here is a part of the exchange of views on the subject between her and Bertie:JoyInTheMorning

‘I should have thought you would have been rather bucked about it all. As giving evidence of Soul, I mean.’
‘Soul?’
‘It shows he’s got a great soul.’
‘I should be extremely surprised to find that he has any soul above those great, clodhopping boots he wears. He is just pig-headed. I have reasoned with him over and over again. His uncle wants him to stand for Parliament and is prepared to pay all his expenses and to finance him generously for the rest of his life, but no, he just looks mulish and talks about earning his living. I am sick and tired of the whole thing, and I really don’t know what I shall do about it.’

Towards the end of the narrative, Stilton gets ticked off by Uncle Percy for forgetting his sacred obligations and bringing up wild and irresponsible accusations in a selfish desire to secure promotion. This revolting exhibition of fraud and skullduggery makes him resign from the Force, thereby restoring the romantic relations between him and Florence. Whether he eventually makes it to the Parliament is not known.

Politicos and their invaluable contribution to humour

Politics offers a great opportunity to humourists of all hues. Cartoonists are forever snapping at their heels, irrespective of their popularity at any given point in time. Writers keep coming up with articles which project the funnier side of their acts of omission and commission. Stand-up comedians earn their living based on scripts and acts which are centered on their misdemeanours.

We might love or hate politicos, but they do provide us comic relief. Their contribution to promoting diverse careers is indeed praiseworthy. Above all, they are marketing honchos who have perfected the art of selling dreams to their gullible public.

P G Wodehouse was not a political or social commentator. Yet, he gave us a handful of politically inclined characters. All of them happen to be as cranky in Wodehouse’s world, as indeed they are in ours.

I wonder if he ever etched out a political character from amongst the delicately nurtured of the Plumsville species. Aunt Agatha would have surely made a fine politician; so would have Joan Valentine and Sally!

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/politicos-in-plumsville-part-1

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/the-hapless-rozzers-in-plumsville)

Read Full Post »