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Posts Tagged ‘Wodehousitis’

Happy birthday, Plum!

ashokbhatia

Many of the fans of P G Wodehouse suffer occasional pangs of anxiety. They fear that the species comprising the admirers of P G Wodehouse may soon become extinct. They suspect that not many of the younger generation may be getting infected enough with the delectable affliction of Wodehousitis, simply because his works belong to a bye-gone era which fails to connect with the youth of today.

When they sit down to relish the pleasures of the table, the food – even if it is dished out by a spouse who might be God’s gift to the gastric juices – simply turns into ashes in their mouths. Their brow is furrowed. They shudder at the prospect of a PGW-less society in the future, devoid of the pristine humour which makes one unwind after the harsh slings and arrows of Life have taken their toll. The human race, which is trying…

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Many of the fans of P G Wodehouse suffer occasional pangs of anxiety. They fear that the species comprising the admirers of P G Wodehouse may soon become extinct. They suspect that not many of the younger generation may be getting infected enough with the delectable affliction of Wodehousitis, simply because his works belong to a bye-gone era which fails to connect with the youth of today.

When they sit down to relish the pleasures of the table, the food – even if it is dished out by a spouse who might be God’s gift to the gastric juices – simply turns into ashes in their mouths. Their brow is furrowed. They shudder at the prospect of a PGW-less society in the future, devoid of the pristine humour which makes one unwind after the harsh slings and arrows of Life have taken their toll. The human race, which is trying to cope with such dark clouds on the horizon as global warming, terrorism, economic inequality, exclusivity, et al, deserves as many rays of bright sunshine as life can offer. Unless the young ones take sprightly interest in some Plummy offerings, the future would be utterly dull, dreary, desolate and depressing, to say the least.

But what the well-meaning coves ignore in the process are the kind of positive vibes being generated and the good work being done by PGW societies in UK, Netherlands, USA and elsewhere. Erudite scholars keep coming up with delectable analyses of the Master’s works across dedicated websites and blog sites. Authors of all hues keep dishing out Plummy narratives at frequent intervals. Ardent fans keep exchanging Plummy notes with each other over various social media platforms. Then there are celebrities and members of royal families who keep chipping in with their endorsements, thereby facilitating the spread of Wodehousitis.

The bright parabola of joy

The bliss one experiences while devouring any segment of the Master’s canon is cheerfully bright. His innovative use of language is only one of the factors. The sunlit streets of Plumsville are paved with cobbled stones of subtle humour. These also have a depth which comprises a rich foundation of diverse facets of human knowledge, values and psychology. While pottering about in these, one is apt to come across not only such intellectual coves as Spinoza and Nietzsche, but also literary giants like Shakespeare, Tennyson, Byron, and even historic figures like Julius Caesar, Sir Philip Sidney and Napoleon. Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and several other Biblical references keep popping up.

When admiring the gardens at Blandings Castle, one comes across a delightful variety of flora and fauna which enlarge the frontiers of one’s knowledge. Many of his narratives enthuse one to not to give in to the pleasures of the table and thereby keep one’s lining of the stomach in the pink of health. Some others impart lessons in morality, especially when it comes to pinching manuscripts, scarabs, silver cow creamers and even cooks. Not to forget the kind of spiritual and pragmatic lessons underlying in his works.

In fact, the more the human race hurtles forward on its perilous journey plagued by such technological developments as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Data Analytics and the Internet of Things, the higher would be the relevance of the kind of rich lessons embedded in the fare dished out by Plum. Industrial Revolution 4.0 (or even 5.0) notwithstanding, humans cannot be wished away. Yes, with each leap of technological faith, their role in the society would evolve. But one wonders if the psychology of the individual would ever vanish from the face of our planet. And herein lies the hope for the survival of Wodehousitis.

In defence of the Escapist tag

In a thought-provoking article ‘P G Wodehouse: Balm for the Modern Soul’, (Wooster Sauce: March 2019), Dean Abbott argues as follows:

‘Outside of the sheer pleasure that reading a Wodehouse story provides, there are deeper rewards a reader gleans from his work, benefits that accrue long after any volume is closed. Wodehouse excels at providing the reader two important spiritual benefits: consolation from the sufferings of the world and some insight regarding why we suffer in the first place. In the end, his work is singular balm for the modern soul, comedy that tends towards theodicy.

‘The reality is that modern people, even if they are unconscious of it, require consolation, a buffer against and an escape from the disappointment and turmoil of earthly life, as much as people in any other period ever did – quite possibly more so. People in the old world, at least, could admit without shame their need for consolation. We are denied even that.’

One could not agree more with the proposition that the modern man, mentally fatigued by the relentless pounding of social media and 24×7 connectivity, richly deserves to win a reprieve for himself and his loved ones. Project this into a future replete with technological advances, and one would realise the increasing relevance of the scintillating and wisdom-laced humour found in the Master’s repertoire.

A peep into the future

Just imagine the future. The day is not far off when the following would cease to surprise:

  1. Someone of the calibre of Spinoza releasing a tome entitled An Ethical Theory for Bots.
  2. Gussie Fink Nottle gushing over genetically modified newts.
  3. Madeline Bassett using an Emotion Tracking App to check the right time to gaze up at the stars and reaffirm these to be God’s daisy chain.
  4. Uncle Tom deploying Artificial Intelligence to keep the taxation wolves at bay.
  5. Aunt Dahlia using crowd-funding to keep Milady’s Boudoir alive and kicking, so her nephews like Bertie Wooster could contribute such articles as What the Well-Dressed Robots are Wearing.
  6. Jeeves using Data Mining and Data Visualisation to be able to argue against the suitability of wannabe spouses for Bertie Wooster, thereby keeping his own career prospects as bright as ever.
  7. Gussie, when suspecting that his notebook containing juicy remarks on Pop Bassett and Roderick Spode may be in Stiffy’s possession, merely using a paper-whiffing GPS-enabled gadget to locate the same, rather than trying to persuade Bertie to give up his chivalrous tendencies.
  8. Bingo Little deploying the Internet of Things to ensure that Rosie M Banks never misses her afternoon cup of tea, thereby ensuring that matrimonial peace prevails.
  9. Silver cow creamers coming with embedded smart chips, making it easier to track them, thereby rendering endeavours to register scorn at them in antique shops futile, thus reducing the carbon footprints of mentally negligible nephews.
  10. The Efficient Baxter leveraging technology to ensure that the Empress of Blandings gets her daily nourishment of 57,800 calories, as per the Wolff-Lehmann feeding standards, thus maintaining the prospects of her winning silver medals at the Shropshire Agricultural Show year after year.

The possibilities are endless. The mind boggles.

An informal reality check

Arising out of a discussion between two PGW fans at the virtual Drones Club, a query was recently posted by Pradeep Swaminathan (the gentleman who had recently unleashed his book ‘Enter Mrs Bertie’ on the unsuspecting public) as to the age of the fans in the group. Of the 145 fans who responded, as many as 103 were found to be below the age of 40! Moreover, 4 of the fans were of 80 years and above, what with Mrs Sushama Varma from India (who has already seen 88 springs in her life time, though she is merely 22 at heart) being the senior most fan active in the gang.

A very small and unrepresentative sample from the universe inhabited by Plum’s fans the world over, skeptics might be quick to point out. Admittedly, yes. But hope remains in the form of the younger ones who march into the future with their chins up and with their upper lips unstiffened, duly emboldened by the germs of Wodehousitis coursing through their veins.

And if some of them were to decide to walk the aisle together, the progeny is quite likely to inherit the pleasurable affliction alluded to here. This would mean that the nurses, the baby-sitters, the governesses, the private-school masters and the public-school masters who will take on the responsibility of looking after such rare specimen of humanity who represent a delectable blend of the genes of their parents, could breathe easy.

So could those of the well-meaning souls which worry about the future of Wodehousitis.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/the-epidemic-of-wodehousitis

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/the-need-to-look-for-plummy-soul-mates

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/spreading-wodehousitis-some-plummy-awards)

 

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As the next pit stop in time looms ahead, yours truly is feeling a wee bit chuffed up. Wodehousitis appears to be spreading far and wide. Conventions are taking place. Exhibitions are getting organised. Meetings of Wodehouse fans are happening all over. Scholarly articles are popping up. Books containing some juicy narratives are getting dished out. Blue-blooded royals are peeping out of their cocoons and confessing their love for the Master Wordsmith of our times. Fans are travelling to different continents and engaging with all things Wodehousean.  Flowers are in bloom, birds are chirping, God is in heaven and Homo sapiens appear to be headed in the right direction.

Here is a delightful post from a fan Down Under. He sauntered across to UK recently, and caught up with the kind of goofy and not-so-goofy things happening there.

The Traveller

Anyone who has an affinity with the English language and happens to be in London would be well rewarded by braving the crowds and paying the moneylenders at Westminster Abbey just to visit Poets’ Corner.

You’ll be able to sit there for a while, among the slabs of stone and the pompous statues commemorating many of the greatest exponents of our tongue, and ponder why it is that in a place given over to tombs and memorials for kings and queens, heroes and saints – in, as many believe, the presence of God – mere dreamers and story-tellers should be elevated to holiness in a place of their own.

Maybe you’ll find the experience as strange and wonderful as I did . . . because this was the morning after the announcement that Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was to have a memorial stone placed in the Abbey. It transformed a…

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ashokbhatia

Respected Sir,

As a lay citizen of India, allow me to say that you are spearheading a great drive to reform the education system of the country. There may be no big ticket announcements, but one can see some incremental steps which would help our youth to realize their full potential in the years to come.

I write this with all humility at my command, merely to suggest one such incremental reform, which, I am reasonably certain, can help our youth to develop their soft skills faster and better.

I write this to suggest that a special drive be launched to expose Indian students to the works of the eminent humourist, P G Wodehouse. By discovering, delving into and devouring these, our future citizens shall turn out to be cheerful, joyous and happy. India would soon become a country which would be not only chasing her Gross Domestic Product numbers…

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“There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature,” said P.G. Wodehouse.

Well, someone of my dubious literary intelligence cannot claim to know what exactly defines literature. Allow me, therefore, to take the argument a bit further and surmise that a common love for some selected authors could prove to be a good foundation for a bond of friendship to evolve and develop.

This is precisely what I rediscovered recently, while on a short visit to the City Beautiful of India – Chandigarh.

The basic idea was to chew some fat together with some other fans of P G Wodehouse in the city. But the Guardian Angels, ostensibly concerned about my cholesterol levels, directed me to the lair of Prof. Ashwini Agrawal, with whom a simple cup of tea, accompanied by some savouries, facilitated the creation of a bond which is sure to develop into a long-lasting friendship in the years to come.

Arthur Hailey

Any discussion about Plum remains incomplete without his fans gushing over his use of the English language, his unique turn of phrase, the relentless lampooning of the British aristocracy in his works, and the sharpness with which his characters, whether human or otherwise, get etched. His dazzling wit comes in for praise, as does his scintillating humour. Our meeting was no exception to this general rule.

Besides Plum, several authors whose works we both had devoured in the past got discussed. The breezy whodunits dished out by James Hadley Chase came up for discussion. So did the erudite works of Arthur Hailey and Irwing Wallace. The meticulous thrillers of Frederick Forsyth got covered. Many other authors whom both of us admired in the past found their way into the brief discussion we had.

Frederick Forsyth

Some challenges got discussed. Getting the young millenials to read itself topped the list of concerns expressed. To attract their attention to Plum’s works came in a close second. The scheme mooted at the New Delhi meet of Plum’s fans – that of launching a matrimonial website which would facilitate bonding between two souls of which at least one happens to be a die-hard fan – was considered a good solution towards ensuring that the genes of Wodehousitis get passed on to the coming generations.

Professor Ashwini Agrawal rued having recently lost a great collection of his books, including those of Wodehouse, to the vagaries of imperfect plumbing in a portion of his house. As a renowned archaeologist who specializes in Numismatics, he also has a room overflowing with books of professional interest.

He is an avid traveller. It just so happened that we could meet up. The credit of leading me to him rests entirely on the slender shoulders of Ms. Abha Singhal

Prof Ashwini Agrawal

Joshi, another Plum fan based in New Delhi. Those of you who follow my blog posts may recall her having played the role of Gladys Biggs at the last gig in the metropolis, held on the 11th of November, 2017.

Like Switzerland, Chandigarh also hides its Plum fans rather well. One hopes that this post might ferret out a few more who reside in the City Beautiful. This could pave the way for a Drones Club to come up there, so those aspiring for an Olympic medal for throwing of bread crumbs may get some well-deserved practice and even those aiming to get a Grammy for a boisterous rendering of Sonny Boy might get a platform to showcase their skills.

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/11/23/a-plummy-encounter-in-new-delhi-india)

 

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The Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies hereby invites nominations for its annual awards meant to spread the affliction of Wodehousitis all over our planet.

The Aubrey Upjohn Award

For teachers who have:

  • Taken effective steps during the year to introduce their wards to the pleasures of reading the works dished out by P G Wodehouse.
  • Developed syllabi which make learning at school fun, inducing students to read humorous books, especially those from the canon of the Master. The continuous giggling, guffawing and laughing out loud moments at school must comprise at least 25% of the total number of hours spent by them within the walls of the institution they happen to be a part of.

The A B Filmer Award

Meant for politicians who have taken adequate measures to persuade the governments of their country to:

  • Introduce the works of P G Wodehouse in the college level curriculum for all streams of education.
  • Have managed to get ‘What ho!’ declared a national greeting.
  • Have taken steps through proper channels to popularize the use of such phrases as ‘Oh, rather!’, ‘Pip pip’, ‘Capital, capital’, and the like.

The Bertie Wooster Award

  • Bachelors or spinsters who have lobbied hard and achieved demonstrably good results to get their pals to draw soul mates who have Wodehousean leanings, thereby perpetuating the genes of Wodehousitis.
  • Nephews and nieces who have done the bidding of their aunts and undertaken such delicate missions as sneering at cow creamers, stealing cats and pinching such objects as policemen’s helmets and umbrellas.

The Anatole Award

Those who have earned an enviable reputation about their culinary skills and are considered God’s gift to the gastric juices in their immediate social circles.

The Miss Mapleton Award

For lion tamers who happen to be part of the management of any educational institution for having:

  • Organized visits by Wodehouse fans to interact with their students.
  • Hosted debates and essay writing competitions relating to such eminent characters as Lord Emsworth, Reginald Jeeves, Rupert Psmith, Mr Mulliner and Sir Roderick Glossop.
  • Organized field visits by their wards to read out Plum’s short stories and books to senior citizens in the area.

The Eve Halliday Award

Librarians who have pro-actively worked through the year to:

  • Persuade their managements to stock books of P G Wodehouse in their libraries.
  • Held special book reading sessions and related promotional events, motivating students to read more of the Master’s works.
  • Encouraged students for book swaps involving Master’s works.

The Oofy Prosser Award

For those who have either sponsored, or gifted some of the books in their Plummy collection to any of the following:

  • Local students who have done well, whether in academics or in their extracurricular activities.
  • Patients, specifically those in the maternity wards in nearby hospitals.
  • Hospices and senior citizen homes in their area.
  • Public libraries.

The Rupert Baxter Award

Awarded to those who:

  • Keep a track of local literary scene and organize get-togethers, howsoever modest.
  • Whenever visiting a different country/city, they take steps to meet up Plum fans there.

The Rupert Psmith Award

Meant for those who:

  • Promote humour at their place of work.
  • Persuade hassled superiors and colleagues to relax at the end of the day with Plummy audio books, possibly when commuting between their homes and offices.

The Bingo Little Award

For those who:

  • Promote matrimonial harmony at all costs and under all circumstances.
  • Read a Wodehouse book when the wife/kid is around; when caught falling off their sofa/bed and when asked as to what is up, they mysteriously reply ‘nothing whatever’ and keep the book back on the shelf.
  • When chuckling or guffawing, they encourage family members to cover them on a video which, when played to unsuspecting friends and relatives, arouses curiosity and jealousy, thereby promoting the works of the Master.

The Igor Llewelyn Award

For movie mughals who have executed such projects as:

  • Creation of audio visuals directed at the weary eyed youth of today, promoting Plummy narratives in a shorter and crisper manner.
  • Likewise, animation short promos for the same purpose.
  • Promote a string of movies based on the narratives of P G Wodehouse, capturing the relevance of wisdom contained in his works for contemporary issues faced by humanity.
  • Launch a news channel which would broadcast only cheerful news, by way of an antidote to the stressed lives many of us lead.

The Gussie Fink Nottle Award

For those who have had the gumption to address students in nearby schools, colleges and university departments, introducing them to Wodehousean bliss, whether at prize distribution ceremonies or otherwise as guest lecturers.

The Rosie M Banks Award

For bloggers, writers and authors of all hues, who have published blogs, articles, books or book reviews concerning anything Plummy.

The Ukridge Award

For social entrepreneurs who have set up innovative start-ups with the sole purpose of spreading joy and cheer all around.

The Reginald Jeeves Award

For brainy coves who come up with juicier suggestions to ensure a sustained spread of the virus of Wodehousitis.

General:

  1. Nomination forms can be downloaded from the official website of the Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies.
  2. Each nomination must be proposed and supported by at least 10 members of any of the following: (a) Members of any recognized society of Plum’s fans, and (b) Members of any of the prominent groups of Master’s fans on such social media platforms as Facebook.
  3. The nominations received shall be scrutinized by an eminent panel of seven members comprising such experts as Lord Emsworth, Sir Watkyn Bassett, Aunt Dahlia, Aunt Agatha, Roberta Wickham, Stiffy Byng and Honoria Glossop.
  4. The decision of the jury shall be final and binding.

(Note: Yours truly is indeed obliged to have received suggestions made in this blog post from many of the fans of P G Wodehouse. These include, in an alphabetical order:

Adithya Ramachandran

Ali Nobari

Anitha Perinchery

Deepa Ramanii

Guy Moffitt

Honoria Glossop

Imad Ali

Jim Wickham

John-Paul Warner

Laura Johnson

Louis Oppermannn

Michele Mantinen

Mike Chaloner

Milind Ranade

Morten Arnesen

Murray Harper

Paul Robinson

Robert S Childers

Satish Pande

Sriram Paravastu

Stefan Nilsson

Sukanya Lakshmi Narayan

Thomas Langston Reeves Smith

Tom Hutcheson

Vivek Murarka)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/the-epidemic-of-wodehousitis

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/a-plummy-appeal-to-the-honble-human-resource-development-minister-of-india

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/the-need-to-look-for-plummy-soul-mates)

 

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The more the thoughts dwell on the fate of Wodehousitis in the decades to come, the more the soul recoils in horror. One peers into the future, and shudders at what one sees there.

Most youth of today are blissfully ignorant of the sunlit valleys of Plumsville, where rivulets of subtle humour offer a gentle reprieve from the stress of an incessant exposure to social media. Where roads are lined on both the sides with trees which offer low hanging fruits of eternal wisdom. Where characters offer solutions to such delicate challenges in life as handling loopy soul mates, diet-obsessed girl friends and spouses, obdurate aunts, thrifty uncles, moody pigs, overbearing dogs and sleepy cats.

Unless prompt steps are taken through proper channels now, the epidemic of Wodehousitis may soon become a part of folklore, confined to the dustbins of history.

A singular characteristic of this affliction is that it passes from one generation to the next. It follows that if steps are taken to facilitate its inheritance, better results may ensue. Stocking all editions of all the works of P G Wodehouse on our book shelves could help. Ensuring that the technical gizmos lying around in our humble abodes carry some of the juiciest stories in the canon could help. Occasionally replaying some episodes of the movies featuring Bertie Wooster and Jeeves could make the younger ones in the family sit up and take notice. Gifting appropriate books to those in the family way could help.

At a recent meeting of the Master’s fans in New Delhi, India, the germ of another idea popped up – that of identifying potential soul mates with Plummy leanings for the young ones who are yet-to-be-affianced. It was felt that even if one of the parents carries the Wodehousean gene in his/her chromosome, the coming generations would be likely to lead happier and fuller lives. If the parent belonging to the tribe of the delicately nurtured caries it, the drive to make Wodehousitis sustainable might yield better results.

One way of initiating a search of this kind could be to come up with matrimonial advertisements which actively seek life partners suffering from the dreaded affliction of Wodehousitis.

Here is a draft which could be refined and sent across to various sites which offer matrimonial services.

“A well-bred professional, a male rabbit of about 27 winters, well endowed in physical and materialistic terms, is on the lookout for a soul mate who is a gentle and mild dormouse with whom he could settle down peacefully and nibble lettuce.

The aspiring soul mate would be expected to be smart, intelligent and well read. Specifically, the party of the first part strongly believes that those familiar with the works of P G Wodehouse would make an ideal party of the other part.

What the party of the first part intends to bring to the proposed union is a modern notion of chivalry. Opening car doors and holding chairs is passe. Instead, the emphasis would be on sharing household responsibilities and in providing soulful companionship. All possible endeavours shall be made to ensure that the party of the other part never misses her afternoon cup of tea. 

Ability of the party of the other part to think of goofy schemes to ward off those who prey on the millions of the party of the first part would be preferred. So would be those who have strong entrepreneurial leanings, much along the lines of Joan Valentine and Sally.

Spending some quality time together while gazing moodily at the stars would be encouraged. But espousing theories about God’s daisy chains and fairies would be discouraged.

Skills which keep invading cousins, aunts and ex-fiancees away from the home and hearth would be greatly admired. So would be the ability of retaining cooks and maid servants in the face of stealthy moves by scheming aunts who refuse to be gentlemen.

Costs of adequate medical insurance shall always be a part of the household budget. This would cover any damage to limbs caused by the cup of mirth brimming over while reading together a work of the Master and one falling off from a sofa and rolling over on the floor, and any such eventualities.  

The party of the better part shall be encouraged to pursue her own professional career. It is expected that the pocket-money meant for the party of the worse part would get dished out without any hesitation or remorse. Nor would its usage be ever questioned or doubted, thereby supporting the sporting spirits of the party of the worse part.

It may kindly be noted that the party of the first part shudders at the prospect of swimming a mile and then playing five sets of tennis post lunch on weekends. Also, an improvement in one’s intellect is not on the agenda of the proposed union. It is hoped that the party of the better part would keep such sensibilities in mind and refrain from using softer tactics to get the party of the worse part to abide by her wishes.

Both parties would enjoy equal rights in terms of occasionally spending time with their own circle of friends at clubs and in other social circles. Valets and house maids who are members of clubs which insist on keeping records of juicy goings on in the lives of either of the parties shall not be hired.

Members of the tribe of the delicately nurtured who happen to be pure padded cell from the foundations up are discouraged to respond to this missive.

It is hoped that when either of the parties faces one of Life’s harsh slings and arrows and is twiddling her/his thumbs trying to cope with a challenge, the other one would rally around and act like a Jeeves, marshalling not only his/her keen intelligence but also a deep understanding of the psychology of the individual.

The intended purpose of the proposed union is not only to enjoy life long companionship, especially at an advanced age when the lining of the stomach poses unique challenges to the parties concerned. It is also about little feet pattering about the home – feet which support a head which is steeped in Plummy thoughts and a heart within which sloshes an abundant supply of the milk of human kindness.

The union would be expected to produce offspring who will inherit the combined Plumminess of both the parents. Offspring in the vicinity of whom human life would not be under any threat. Bright kids who might be goofy but shall not seriously endanger the peace of mind of the nurses, the governesses, the private-school masters and the public-school masters who will eventually take on the responsibility of looking after a blend of the parties of the better and the worse part.

This alone will ensure that flowers shall always be in bloom, birds shall always chirp merrily, peace shall prevail, the sun shall shine merrily and God shall continue to be in heaven.”

What do you think?

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/11/23/a-plummy-encounter-in-new-delhi-india)

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