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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Ode to Wodehouse


Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth;

whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul;

whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet;

and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off –

then, I account it high time to  . . . to . . .

. . . to  . . . . review some old Wodehouse quotes.

Here are some of my favorites:
His whole attitude recalled irresistibly to the mind that of some assiduous hound who will persist in laying a dead rat on the drawing-room carpet, though repeatedly apprised by word and gesture that the market for same is sluggish or even non-existent.
Dogs are philosophers. They soon forget. 
There are certain females who one respects, admires, reveres, but only from a distance. If they show any signs of coming closer, one is prepared to fight them off with a blackjack. 
I turned to Aunt Agatha, whose demeanour was now rather like that of one who, picking daisies on the railway, has just caught the down express on the small of the back.
His whole aspect was that of a man who has unexpectedly been struck by lightning. 
This news item had come to him not as rare and refreshing fruit but more like a buffet on the base of the skull with a sock full of wet sand. 
"Yes, sir,'' said Jeeves in a low, cold voice, as if he had been bitten in the leg by a personal friend.
Mike nodded. A sombre nod. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812 and said, "So, you're back from Moscow, eh?"
One of those ghastly literary lunches.... This one was to honour Emma Lucille Agee who wrote that dirty novel that's been selling in millions in America... About fifteen of the dullest speeches I ever heard. The Agee woman told us for three quarters of an hour how she came to write her beastly book, when a simple apology was all that was required [I think about Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talk on Eat, Pray, Love every time I read this line]. 
There was a silence that you could have dug bits out of with a spoon. 
"Pretty soon you'll be having to be keeping a daily memo, to remind you which actually is your current shed."  He chuckled at the quaint conceit, considered it for a moment, then, feeling that it was much too clever to be said only once, repeated it.  "Pretty soon you'll have to be keeping a daily memo, to remind you which actually is your current shed." [more context on this one below]
I’m not nearly hot enough to draw a word-picture that would do justice to that extraordinarily hefty crash. Try to imagine the Albert Hall falling on the Crystal Palace, and you will have got the rough idea.
Ambrose Tennyson, the novelist, was there, asking the bookstall clerk if he had anything by Ambrose Tennyson. 
Reggie's was a troubled spirit these days. He was in love and he had developed a bad slice with his mid-iron. He was practically a soul in torment.
He had the look of a frustrated tiger whose personal physician had recommended a strict vegetarian diet.
"If I've tried once to remember that tobacconist girl's name, I've tried a hundred times. I have an idea it began with an 'L'. Muriel or Hilda or something.''
It was a confusion of ideas between him and one of the lions he was hunting in Kenya that had caused A.B. Spottsworth to make the obituary column. He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn't.
"That,'' I replied cordially, "is what it doesn't do anything else but.''
Like so many substantial Americans, he had married young and kept on marrying, springing from blonde to blonde like the chamois of the Alps leaping from crag to crag.
Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror.
A confirmed recluse you would have called him, if you happened to know the word.
When two strong men stand face to face, each claiming to be Major Brabazon-Plank, it is inevitable that there will be a sense of strain, resulting in a momentary silence.
[The London tea-shops] have an atmosphere of their own. They rely for their effect on an insufficiency of light, an almost total lack of ventilation, a property [proprietary?] chocolate cake which you are not supposed to cut, and the sad aloofness of their ministering angels. It is to be doubted whether there is anything in the world more damping to the spirit than a London tea-shop of this kind, unless it be another London tea-shop of the same kind.
Unlike the male codfish which, suddenly finding itself the parent of three million five hundred thousand little codfish, cheerfully resolves to love them all, the British aristocracy is apt to look with a somewhat jaundiced eye on its younger sons.
He uttered a sound much like a bull dog swallowing a pork chop whose dimensions it has underestimated.
I was behind the desk, crouching on the carpet and trying to breathe solely through the pores.
She had a penetrating sort of laugh. Rather like a train going into a tunnel.
"Alf Todd,'' said Ukridge, soaring to an impressive burst of imagery, ``has about as much chance as a one-armed blind man in a dark room trying to shove a pound of melted butter into a wild cat's left ear with a red-hot needle.''
His manner was now meek and conciliatory, like that of a black-beetle which sees the cook reaching for the insect powder and does its best to show her that it fully realises that it has brought this on itself.
"I remember years ago, Bertie," said Aunt Dahlia, "when you nearly swallowed your rubber comforter and started turning purple. And I, ass that I was, took it out and saved your life. Let me tell you, it will go very hard with you if you ever swallow a rubber comforter again when only I am by to aid.
He looked like a dictator on the point of starting a purge.
Many men in Packy's position would have shrunk from diving into the rescue, fully clad. Packy was one of them.
She made one of those foolish remarks which do so much to confirm a man in his conviction that women as a sex should be suppressed.
"There is a method by which Mrs Travers may be extricated from her sea of troubles. Shakespeare.'' I didn't know why he was addressing me as Shakespeare, but I motioned him to continue. "Proceed Jeeves.''
When you have just been told that the girl you love is definitely betrothed to another, you begin to understand what anarchists feel when the bomb goes off too soon.
Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove.
Bill clutched his hair. For an artist's, it was on the short side, but a determined man can clutch at anything.
Every author really wants to have letters printed in the papers. Unable to make the grade, he drops down a rung of the ladder and writes novels.
Pongo uttered a curious hissing sound like the death-rattle of a soda-water siphon.
I spent the afternoon musing on Life. If you come to think of it, what a queer thing Life is! So unlike anything else, don't you know, if you see what I mean.
It was my Uncle George who discovered that alcohol was a food well in advance of modern medical thought.
Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to speak French.
He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice, and I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.
He blinked, like some knight of King Arthur's court, who, galloping to perform a deed of derring-do, has had the misfortune to collide with a tree.
It was one of those jolly, happy, bread-crumbling parties where you cough twice before you speak, and then decide not to say it after all.
Her hair was a deep chestnut, her eyes blue, her nose small and laid back with about as much loft as a light iron.
She spoke with the mildness of a cushat dove addressing another cushat dove from whom it is hoping to borrow money.
She was feeling like a mother who, in addition to notify him that there is no candy, has been compelled to strike a loved child on the base of the skull with a stocking full of sand.
He looked like a statue of Right Triumphing Over Wrong. You couldn't place it exactly because it was so long since you had read the book, but he reminded you of something out of Pilgrim's Progress.
The face was drawn, the eyes haggard, the general appearance that of one who has searched for the leak in life's gaspipe with a lighted candle.
Madeleine Bassett laughed the tinkling, silvery laugh that had got her so disliked by the better element.
It would be too much to say that Lady Constance snorted. Women of her upbringing do not snort.
"An old place like this...a historic old house like this . . . a real old-world chateau like this, full of interesting objects is - er - interesting to me. It interests me. I am interested in it. Most interested. It - er - interests me to - ah - potter around. I find it interesting.''
He had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life, and found a dead beetle at the bottom.
I was so darned sorry for poor old Corky that I hadn't the heart to touch my breakfast. I told Jeeves to drink it himself.
He looked haggard and careworn, like a Borgia who has suddenly remembered that he has forgotten to shove cyanide in the consomme, and the dinner-gong due any moment.
She had a latent conviction of the immorality of all artists.
As a rule, from what I've observed, the American captain of industry doesn't do anything out of business hours. When he has put the cat out and locked up the office for the night, he just relapses into a state of coma from which he emerges only to start being a captain of industry again.
The flaw in all these ideas of yours is that the hero always seems to have a half-witted friend who is eager to place himself in the foulest positions on his behalf.
Boko Bagshott we called him. Took a girl to supper once at the Gardenia. Supper scarcely concluded when an angry old gentleman plunges into the room and starts shaking his fist in Boko's face. Boko rises with chivalrous gesture. "Have no fear, sir. I am a man of honour. I will marry your daughter.'' "Daughter?'' says the old gentleman, foaming a little at the mouth.  "Damn it, that's my wife.'' Took all Boko's tact to pass it off, I believe.
. . . now tailors measured him just for the sake of exercise. As a rule, you see, I'm not lugged into Family Rows. On the occasions when Aunt is calling Aunt like mastodons bellowing across premieval swamps and Uncle James's letter about Cousin Mabel's peculiar behaviour is being shot round the family circle ("Please read this carefully and send it on Jane'') the clan has a tendency to ignore me. It's one of the advantages I get from being a bachelor--and, according to my nearest and dearest, practically a half-witted bachelor at that.
I would like to have called him a pessimist, only I couldn't think of the word.
It is no use telling me there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof.
I could see that she was looking for something to break as a relief to her surging emotions ... and courteously drew her attention to a terra-cotta figure of the Infant Samuel at Prayer. She thanked me briefly and hurled it against the opposite wall.
One half of the world doesn't know how the other three-quarters lives.
What a girl! He had never in his life before met a woman who could write a letter without a postscript, and this was but the smallest of her unusual gifts.
My personal animosity against a writer never affects my opinion of what he writes. Nobody could be more anxious than myself, for instance, that Alan Alexander Milne should trip over a loose bootlace and break his bloody neck, yet I re-read his early stuff at regular intervals with all the old enjoyment.
. . . a bleak, austere expression. She was looking more and more like an aunt than anything human. In his boyhood he had observed platoons of his aunts with their features frozen in a similar rigidity.
South Kensington ... where sin stalks naked through the dark alleys and only might is right.
The Sheridan stands in the heart of New York's Bohemian and artistic quarter. If you threw a brick from any of its windows, you would be certain to brain some rising young interior decorator, some Vorticist sculptor or a writer of revolutionary verse libre.
Even at normal times Aunt Dahlia's map tended a little towards the crushed strawberry. But never had I seen it take on so pronounced a richness as now. She looked like a tomato struggling for self-expression.
She was the first to speak. She was one of those women who are always the first to speak.
"If I had my life to live again, Jeeves, I would start it as an orphan without any aunts. Don't they put aunts in Turkey in sacks and drop them in the Bosphorus?'
"you, Jeeves, and you may quote me as saying this: Behind every poor, innocent, harmless blighter who is going down for the third time in the soup you will find, if you look carefully enough, the aunt who shoved him into it."
It was one of those jolly, peaceful mornings that make a fellow wish he'd got a soul or something.
I suppose I'm one of those fellows my father always warned me against.
If you were a millionaire, would you rather be stabbed in the back with a paperknife or found dead without a mark on you, staring with blank eyes at some appalling sight?
Rodney Spelvin was in for another attack of poetry. He had once been a poet, and a very virulent one too; the sort of man who would produce a slim volume of verse bound in squashy mauve leather at the drop of a hat, mostly on the subject of sunsets and pixies.
"Oh Bertie,'' she said in a low voice like beer trickling out of a jug, "you ought not to be here!''
The unpleasant, acrid smell of burnt poetry.
Poets, as a class, are business men. Shakespeare describes the poet's eye as rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven, and giving to airy nothing a local habitation and a name, but in practice you will find that one corner of that eye is generally glued on the royalty returns.
He felt like a man who, chasing rainbows, has had one of them suddenly turn and bite him in the leg.
After all, golf is only a game,'' said Millicent. Women say these things without thinking. It does not mean that there is any kink in their character. They simply don't realise what they're saying.
It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.
Whatever may be said in favour of the Victorians, it is pretty generally admitted that few of them were to be trusted within reach of a trowel and a pile of bricks.
His demeanour was that of a Napolean who, suffering from toothache, sees his way to taking it out on one of his minor marshals.
[Humour is] the kindly contemplation of the incongruous.
There is only one cure for grey hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It is called the guillotine.
"I may as well inform you that it is not twenty-four hours since she turned me down.'' "Turned you down?''  "Like a bedspread. In this very garden.''
She laughed. Analysing it, Jerry described it to himself as a silvery laugh. Rather like, he thought, for there was the touch of the poet in him, the sound ice makes in a jug of beer on a hot day in August.
What a curse these social distinctions are. They ought to be abolished. I remember saying that to Karl Marx once, and he thought there might be an idea for a book in it.'
His whole attitude was like that of a policeman with nothing on his mind but his helmet.
Wherever a man could bulge with muscle, he bulged. He even bulged in places where one would not have expected him to bulge.
The more I see of women, the more I think there ought to be a law. Something has got to be done about this sex, or the whole fabric of Society will collapse, and then what silly asses we shall all look.
. . . its proprietor leaped in his chair with a wordless cry like that of a sleeping cat on whose tail some careless number-eleven shoe has descended.
She looked like something that might have occurred to Ibsen in one of his less frivolous moments.
Chumps always make the best husbands. When you marry, Sally, grab a chump. Tap his head first, and if it rings solid, don't hesitate. All the unhappy marriages come from husbands having brains. What good are brains to a man? They only unsettle him.
Barmy went to the door and opened it sharply. There came the unmistakable sound of a barmaid falling downstairs.
Chimp Twist was looking like a monkey that had bitten into a bad nut, and Soapy Molloy like an American Senator who has received an anonymous telegram saying, "All is discovered. Fly at once.''
Percy continued to stare before him like a man who has drained the wine cup of life to its lees, only to discover a dead mouse at the bottom
"I'm sorry marriage depresses you, Ferris. Surely when two people love each other and mean to go on loving each other.'' 
"Marriage is not a process for prolonging love, sir. It merely mummifies the corpse.''
Then I succeeded in diverting his attention for a moment and while his scrutiny was elsewhere, I was able to insert a chemical substance in his beverage which had the effect of rendering him temporarily insensible.''  "You mean you slipped him a Mickey Finn?'' "I believe that is what they are termed in the argot madam.''
There is no doubt that Jeeves's pick-me-up will produce immediate results in anything short of an Egyptian mummy.
We may say what we will against the aristocracy of England . . . but we cannot deny that in certain crises blood will tell. An English peer of the right sort can be bored nearer to the point where mortification sets in, without showing it, than anyone else in the world.''
To my daughter Leonora without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time.
Jeeves lugged my purple socks out of the drawer as if he were a vegetarian fishing a caterpillar out of his salad.
The adjective "cross'' as a description of his Jovelike wrath ... jarred upon Derek profoundly. It was as though Prometheus, with the vultures tearing his liver, had been asked if he were piqued.
Her departure left behind it the sort of quivering stillness you get during hurricane time in America, when the howling gale, having shaken you to the back teeth, passes on to tickle up residents in spots further west.
And closing the door with the delicate caution of one brushing flies off a sleeping Venus, he passed out of my life.
She didn't like him being an atheist, and he wouldn't stop being an atheist, and finally he said something about Jonah and the Whale which it was impossible for her to overlook. This morning she returned the ring, his letters and a china ornament with `A Present From Blackpool' on it which he had brought her last summer while visiting relatives in the north.
He had the look of an ostrich that had swallowed a door knob.
I don't think I have ever seen a Silver Band so nonplussed. It was as though a bevy of expectant wolves had overtaken a sleigh and found no Russian peasant on board.
"Well, I think you're a pig.''  "A pig, maybe, but a shrewd, levelheaded pig. I wouldn't touch the project with a bargepole.''
His manner had nothing in it of the jolly innkeeper of old-fashioned comic opera. He looked more like Macbeth seeing a couple of Banquos.
The least thing upsets him on the links. He misses short putts because of the uproar of the butterflies in the adjoining meadows.
As is so often the case with butlers, there was a good deal of Beach. Julius Caesar, who liked to have men about him who were fat, would have taken to him at once. He was a man who had made two chins grow where only one had been before, and his waistcoat swelled like the sail of a racing yacht.
The hell-hound of the law gave a sort of yelp rather like a wolf that sees its Russian peasant getting away. 
Monty leaned weakly against the wall. As on a previous occasion, the steward had become two stewards and was flickering at the rims.  "Yes, sir, that's what she's gone and done. Changed state-rooms with you. Quite a general post it's been with you this voyage, hasn't it, sir?"  said Albert Peasemarch sympathetically. "I expect it's becoming a case of you dunno where you are, as the song says. First your gentleman friend shifts you, and now the lady  shifts you.  Pretty soon you'll be having to be keeping a daily memo,  to remind you which actually is your  current shed."  He chuckled at the quaint conceit, considered it for a moment, then, feeling that it was much too clever to be said only once, repeated it.  "Pretty soon you'll have to be keeping a daily memo, to remind you which actually is your current shed."
Henry glanced hastily at the mirror. Yes, he did look rather old. He must have overdone some of the lines on his forehead. He looked something between a youngish centenarian and a nonagenarian who had seen a good deal of trouble.
He wore the unmistakable look of a man about to be present at a row between women, and only a wet cat in a strange backyard bears itself with less jauntiness than a man faced by such a prospect.
A man’s subconscious self is not the ideal companion. It lurks for the greater part of his life in some dark den of its own, hidden away, and emerges only to taunt and deride and increase the misery of a miserable hour.
He looked like a bishop who has just discovered Schism and Doubt among the minor clergy.
Whenever I meet Ukridge’s Aunt Julia I have the same curious illusion of having just committed some particularly unsavoury crime and—what is more—of having done it with swollen hands, enlarged feet, and trousers bagging at the knee on a morning when I had omitted to shave.
At this moment, the laurel bush, which had hitherto not spoken, said “Psst!”
This done, he felt a little—not much, but a little—better. Before, he would have gladly murdered Beach and James and danced on their graves. Now, he would have been satisfied with straight murder.
He groaned slightly and winced, like Prometheus watching his vulture dropping in for lunch.
She looked at me like someone who has just solved the crossword puzzle with a shrewd “Emu” in the top right hand corner.
“Very good,” I said coldly. “In that case, tinkerty-tonk.” And I meant it to sting.
Mr Waddington’s expression was now that of a cowboy who, leaping into bed, discovers too late that a frolicsome friend has placed a cactus between the sheets.
To attract attention in the dining-room of the Senior Conservative Club between the hours of one and two-thirty, you have to be a mutton chop, not an earl.
It is much to say that there was a dead silence. There could never be that in any room in which Vladimir Brusiloff was eating cake. 
The drowsy stillness of the afternoon was shattered by what sounded to his strained senses like G. K. Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin. 
The more I see of women, the more I think there ought to be a law. Something has got to be done about this sex, or the whole fabric of Society will collapse, and then what silly asses we shall all look. 
“Guk,” he said reservedly. A man has to answer snakes when they speak to him, but he is under no obligation to be sunny.
His hand moved upwards, and I think his idea was to bare his head reverently. The project was, however, rendered null and void by the fact that he hadn’t a hat on. 
“…Have you ever had a what-do-you-call-it? What’s the word I want? One of those things fellows get sometimes.” 
"Headaches?” hazarded George. 
No, no. I don’t mean anything you get — I mean something you get if you know what I mean.”“Measles?”
“Anonymous letter. That’s what I was trying to say.”

Although nobody who had met him was likely to get George Cyril Wellbeloved confused with the poet Keats, it was extraordinary on what similar lines the two men’s minds worked. “Oh, for a beaker of the warm South, full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene!’‘ sang Keats, licking his lips, and “Oh, for a mug of beer, with, if possible, a spot of gin in it!” sighed George Cyril Wellbeloved, licking his; and in quest of the elixir he had visited in turn the Emsworth Arms, the Wheatsheaf, the Waggoner’s Rest, the Beetle and Wedge, the Stitch in Time, the Jolly Cricketers and all the other hostelries at which Market Blandings pointed with so much pride. 
But everywhere the story was the same. Barmaids had been given their instructions, pot boys warned to be on the alert. They had placed at his disposal gingerbeer, ginger ale, sarsaparilla, lime juice and on one occasion milk, but his request for the cup that clears today of past regrets and future fears was met with a firm nolle prosequi . Staunch and incorruptible, the barmaids and the pot boys refused to serve him with anything that would have interested Omar Khayyam, and he had come away parched and saddened.
It was one of those still evenings you get in the summer, when you can hear a snail clear its throat a mile away.
I had just lighted a cigarette as she spoke these words, and so, according to what they say in the advertisement, ought to have been nonchalant. But it must have been the wrong sort of cigarette, for I shot out of my chair as if somebody had shoved a bradawl through the seat.
“Roderick Spode? Big chap with a small moustache and the sort of eye that can open an oyster at sixty paces?”
I mean, imagine how some unfortunate Master Criminal would feel, on coming down to do a murder at the old Grange, if he found that not only was Sherlock Holmes putting in the weekend there, but Hercule Poirot, as well.
Stiffy’s map, as a rule, tends to be rather grave and dreamy, giving the impression that she is thinking deep, beautiful thoughts. Quite misleading, of course. I don’t suppose she would recognize a deep, beautiful thought, if you handed it to her on a skewer with tartare sauce.
“He is a butterfly who toys with women’s hearts and throws them away like soiled gloves.” “Right ho.” I hadn’t had a notion that that was what butterflies did. Most interesting.
Owing to the fact that the shock had caused my tongue to get tangled up with my tonsils, inducing an unpleasant choking sensation, I found myself momentarily incapable of speech. I managed to get the tongue unhitched.
A bone-crusher, if ever one drew breath, this Bartholomew Byng. Reluctant as one always is to criticize the acts of an all-wise Providence, I was dashed if I could see why a dog of his size should have been fitted out with the jaws and teeth of a crocodile. Still, too late of course to do anything about it now.
The brain seemed suddenly to give itself a shake and start off across country with its nose to the ground.
His spectacles were glittering in a hunted sort of way, and there was more than a touch of the fretful porpentine about his hair.
The word ‘not’ had left her lips like a high-powered shell, and Gussie, taking it between the eyes, rose some six inches into the air. When he returned to terra firma, his manner was apologetic and conciliatory.
Well, this Dahlia is my good and deserving aunt, not to be confused with Aunt Agatha, the one who kills rats with her teeth and devours her young.
Bones of contention pop up and start turning handsprings.
He paused at this point to dislodge a fly which had sauntered in through the open window and become mixed up with his vocal cords. Having achieved his object, he resumed.
My feelings, I suppose, were roughly what those of Mary would have been, had she looked over her shoulder one morning and found the lamb no longer among those present.
As I presented myself, she gave the moustache a swift glance, but apart from starting like a nymph surprised while bathing and muttering something about ‘Was this the face that stopped a thousand clocks?’ made no comment. One received the impression that she was saving it up.
He eyed me speculatively, heaving gently like a saucepan of porridge about to reach the height of its fever. I am a man who can observe and deduce, and it was plain to me, watching him sizzle, that something had happened pretty recently in his affairs which had churned him up like a seidlitz powder, leaving him with but two alternatives – (a) to burst where he stood and (b) to decant his pent-up emotions on the first human being who came along.
She was silent for a space. Then she spoke in what was, for her, a hushed voice. That is to say, while rattling the vases on the mantelpiece, it did not bring plaster down from the ceiling.
Few women would have been in vivacious mood, had Fate touched off beneath them a similar stick of trinitrotoluol. I imagine her emotions after Uncle Tom had said his say must have been of much the same nature as those which she had no doubt frequently experienced in her hunting days when her steed, having bucked her from the saddle, had proceeded to roll on her. And while the blushful Hippocrene of which she had just imbibed her share had been robust and full of inner meaning, it had obviously merely scratched the surface.
You’ve probably had the same experience yourself – listening to people guffawing like hyenas and not having the foggiest what the joke is. It makes you feel at a disadvantage.
It caused my heart to leap like a salmon in the spawning season and become entangled with my front teeth.
I rather think, though I can’t be sure, that at these words Stilton ground his teeth. Certainly there was a peculiar sound, as if a coffee mill had sprung into action.
I went into the silence. And as he, too, seemed disinclined for chit-chat, we stood for some moments like a couple of Trappist monks who have run into each other by chance at the dog races.
“I wished to pull your head off at the roots and make you swallow it.”
Words began to flutter from her like bats out of a barn.
I felt compelled to intervene in the debate and dispel the miasma of suspicion which had arisen, or whatever it is that miasmas do.
“Just one word”, I said, as the procession started to file out. “On swallowing the stuff you will have the momentary illusion that you have been struck by lightning. Pay no attention. It’s all part of the treatment. But watch the eyeballs, as they are liable, unless checked, to start from the parent sockets and rebound from the opposite wall.”
I remember when I was a kid at school having to learn a poem of sorts about a fellow named Pig-something – a sculptor he would have been, no doubt – who made a statue of a girl, and what should happen one morning but that the bally thing suddenly came to life. A pretty nasty shock for the chap, of course, but the point I’m working round to is that there were a couple of lines that went, if I remember correctly:
She starts. She moves. She seems to feel
The stir of life along her keel.
If ever I find this slimy, slithery snake in the grass, he had better make all the necessary arrangements at his favourite nursing-home without delay, because I am going to be very rough with him. I propose, if and when found, to take him by his beastly neck, shake him till he froths, and pull him inside out and make him swallow himself.
A sudden flame shot from her eyes, singeing my hair.
I saw that it would be fruitless to try to reason with her. Quite plainly, she was not in the vein. Contenting myself, accordingly, with a gesture of loving sympathy, I left the room. Whether she did or did not throw a handsomely bound volume of the Works of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, at me, I am not in a position to say. I had seen it lying on the table beside her, and as I closed the door I remember receiving the impression that some blunt instrument had crashed against the woodwork, but I was feeling too preoccupied to note and observe.
I could not fathom. The brain seemed to be tottering on its throne.
The nibs who study these matters claim, I believe, that this has got something to do with the subconscious mind, and very possibly they may be right. I wouldn’t have said off-hand that I had a subconscious mind, but I suppose I must without knowing it, and no doubt it was there, sweating away diligently at the old stand, all the while the corporeal Wooster was getting his eight hours. For directly I opened my eyes on the morrow, I saw daylight. Well, I don’t mean that exactly, because naturally I did. What I mean is that I found I had the thing all mapped out. The good old subconscious m. had delivered the goods.
In a situation calling for words of molten passion of a nature calculated to go through Madeline Bassett like a red-hot gimlet through half a pound of butter, he had said not a syllable that could bring a blush to the cheek of modesty.
“The pie seemed to beckon to me.”
I nodded. I knew how pies do.
Reflect what proposing means. It means that a decent, self-respecting chap has got to listen to himself saying things which, if spoken on the silver screen, would cause him to dash to the box-office and demand his money back.
A sharp spasm shook him from base to apex. The beetle, which, during the recent exchanges, had been clinging to his head, hoping for the best, gave it up at this and resigned office. It shot off and was swallowed in the night.
"Ah!" I said. "Your beetle," I explained. "No doubt you were unaware of it, but all this while there has been a beetle of sorts parked on the side of your head. You have now dislodged it."
He snorted.
"Beetles!"
"Not beetles. One beetle only."
"I like your crust!" cried Tuppy, vibrating like one of Gussie's newts during the courting season. "Talking of beetles, when all the time you know you're a treacherous, sneaking hound."
It was a debatable point, of course, why treacherous, sneaking hounds should be considered ineligible to talk about beetles, and I dare say a good cross-examining counsel would have made quite a lot of it.
But I let it go.
One thing I have never failed to hand the man. He is magnetic. There is about him something that seems to soothe and hypnotize. To the best of my knowledge, he has never encountered a charging rhinoceros, but should this contingency occur, I have no doubt that the animal, meeting his eye, would check itself in mid-stride, roll over and lie purring with its legs in the air.
It isn’t often that Aunt Dahlia, normally as genial a bird as ever encouraged a gaggle of hounds to get their noses down to it, lets her angry passions rise, but when she does, strong men climb trees and pull them up after them. 
She seemed to sway like a sapling. It is saplings that sway, I believe.
You know how it is. Love’s flame flickers and dies, Reason returns to her throne, and you aren’t nearly as ready to hop about and jump through hoops as in the first pristine glow of the divine passion.
Our host, the young Squire, was none too chirpy. The brow was furrowed, the eye lacked that hearty sparkle, and the general bearing and demeanour were those of a body discovered after being several days in the water.
The relative let out a screech rather like the Cornish Express going through a junction.
As it was, I remained tranquil. ‘Yes?’ I said. I had packed so much cold surprise and hauteur into the word that a lesser man might well have keeled over backwards as if hit by a bullet.
As to his manner, I couldn’t get a better word for it at the moment than ‘familiar,’ but I looked it up later in Jeeves’s Dictionary of Synonyms and found that it had been unduly intimate, too free, forward, lacking in proper reserve, deficient in due respect, impudent, bold and intrusive.
His was not an extensive vocabulary, and he found it impossible to think of anything which would really do justice to his feelings... Shakespeare might have managed it. So might Rabelais. Monty could not.
Nobody who had studied the works of the poet Scott at school could fail to be aware that in such circumstances a woman's duty was clear.
"Step out of the frame, Mona Lisa," said Reggie briskly. "I want a couple of words with you."
 And bring her here with Nanny Bruce floating about the place like poison gas?
"More work," said Mrs. Keating, and went off to the kitchen to attend to whatever it was on the stove that was making the house smell as if a meal were being prepared for a pack of hounds.
She was a delightful picture of radiant health. It made him feel sick to look at her.
It was one of those cold, clammy, accusing sort of eyes – the kind that makes you reach up and see if your tie is straight . . . .
I'm beginning to understand this business of matrimony. I'm beginning to see how the thing works. Would you care to hear how I figure it out, Jeeves?"
"Extremely, sir."
"Well, it's like this. Take a couple of birds. These birds get married, and for a while all is gas and gaiters. The female regards her mate as about the best thing that ever came a girl's way. He is he king, if you know what I mean. She looks up to him and respects him. Joy, as you might say, reigns supreme. Eh?"
"Very true, sir."
"Then gradually, by degrees - little by little, if I may use the expression - disillusionment sets in. She seems him eating a poached egg, and the glamour starts to fade. She watches him mangling a chop, and it continues to fade. And so on and so on, if you follow me, and so forth."
"I follow you perfectly, sir."
I had never listened in on a real, genuine female row before, and I'm bound to say it was pretty impressive.  During my absence, matters appeared to have developed on rather a spacious scale . . . . It was when the Pyke had begun to say that she had never had such a hearty laugh in her life as when she read the scene in Mrs Bingo's last novel where the heroine's little boy dies of croup that we felt it best to call the meeting to order before bloodshed set in.
One of the first lessons life teaches us is that on these occasions of back-chat between the delicately-nurtured, a man should retire into the offing, curl up in a ball, and imitate the prudent tactics of the opossum, which, when danger is in the air, pretends to be dead, frequently going to the length of hanging out crêpe and instructing its friends to gather round and say what a pity it all is. 
A roll and butter and a small coffee seemed the only things on the list that hadn't been specially prepared by the nastier-minded members of the Borgia family for people they had a particular grudge against, so I chose them.
You see, I'm one of those birds who drive a lot but don't know the first thing about the works. The policy I pursue is to get aboard, prod the self-starter, and leave the rest to Nature.
And she’s got brains enough for two, which is the exact quantity the girl who marries you will need.

As a sleuth you are poor. You couldn’t detect a bass-drum in a telephone-booth.

At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.

Besides, isn’t there something in the book of rules about a man may not marry his cousin? Or am I thinking of grandmothers?

Everything in life that’s any fun, as somebody wisely observed, is either immoral, illegal or fattening.
He trusted neither of them as far as he could spit, and he was a poor spitter, lacking both distance and control.
He vanished abruptly, like an eel going into mud.

Honoria, you see, is one of those robust, dynamic girls with the muscles of a welterweight and a laugh like a squadron of cavalry charging over a tin bridge. A beastly thing to face over the breakfast table. Brainy, moreover.  [I like:  She had a laugh like a squadron of cavalry charging over a tin bridge]

I always advise people never to give advice.

I am not always good and noble. I am the hero of this story, but I have my off moments.

I consider that of all the dashed silly, drivelling ideas I ever heard in my puff this is the most blithering and futile. It won’t work. Not a chance.

I know I was writing stories when I was five. I don’t know what I did before that. Just loafed, I suppose.

I mean, if you’re asking a fellow to come out of a room so that you can dismember him with a carving knife, it’s absurd to tack a ‘sir’ on to every sentence. The two things don’t go together.

I shuddered from stem to stern, as stout barks do when buffeted by the waves.

I suppose half the time Shakespeare just shoved down anything that came into his head.

I wouldn’t have said off-hand that I had a subconscious mind, but I suppose I must without knowing it, and no doubt it was there, sweating away diligently at the old stand, all the while the corporeal Wooster was getting his eight hours.

If he had a mind, there was something on it.
Mere abuse is no criticism.
Oh, yes, he thinks a lot of you. I remember his very words. ‘Mr. Wooster, miss’ he said ‘is, perhaps, mentally somewhat negligible but he has a heart of gold’
“Routine is the death to heroism.

She cried in a voice that hit me between the eyebrows and went out at the back of my head.

The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.

The Right Hon. was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say “When!"

There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.

To find a man’s true character, play golf with him.
Warm-hearted! I should think he has to wear asbestos vests!

“When I was a child, I used to think that rabbits were gnomes, and that if I held my breath and stayed quite still, I should see the fairy queen.” Indicating with a reserved gesture that this was just the sort of loony thing I should have expected her to think as a child, I returned to the point.


You can’t be a successful Dictator and design women’s underclothing.
His was a life which lacked, perhaps, the sublimer emotions which raised Man to the level of the gods, but it was undeniably an extremely happy one. He never experienced the thrill of ambition fulfilled, but, on the other hand, he never knew the agony of ambition frustrated....
It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.



But who is P.G. (Plum) Wodehouse, really?  You can search the internet and find arguments back and forth on whether or not he was a Nazi collaborator, whether or not he was racist, and whether or not he was anti-semitic.  I tend to find those debates irrelevant to the point at hand -- like each and every one of us, he was a product of his culture, his upbringing, his times, and his genome.  The point at hand is that he was a genius with the written word.  And I don't use that term lightly.

Yes, I know "ode" doesn't rhyme with the "wode" in Wodehouse.   Still, that's the way I like to pronounce the name, just because it makes the spelling clear to those who don't know him.

Update May 13, 2016:  A few more:

‘There is a method by means of which Mrs Travers can be extricated from her sea of troubles. Shakespeare.’

I didn’t know why he was addressing me as Shakespeare, but I motioned him to continue.

                ‘Let’s go. If it were – what’s the expression of yours?’
                ‘If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly, sir.’
                ‘That’s right. No sense in standing humming and hawing.’
                ‘No, sir. There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.’
                ‘Exactly,’ I said. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Halting abruptly, as if he had walked into a lamp-post, he stood goggling like a cat in an adage. Cats in adages, Jeeves tells me, let ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’, and I could see with the naked eye that this was what Stilton was doing.

For a moment he stood there letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’. Then he spoke.


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