Sunday, 31 December 2017

Gussie's Predicament

FROM STIFF UPPER LIP, JEEVES, BY SIR P G WODEHOUSE KBE

BERTIE: "But what's happened?"

I faltered, if faltered's the word.

JEEVES: "I regret to inform you, sir, that Miss Bassett has insisted on Mr Fink-Nottle [Gussie] adopting a vegetarian diet. His mood is understandably disgruntled and rebellious."

I tottered.

In my darkest hour I had never anticipated anything as bad as this.

You wouldn't think it to look at him, because he's small and shrimplike and never puts on weight, but Gussie loves food.

Watching him tucking into his rations at the Drones [Club], a tapeworm would raise its hat respectfully, knowing that it was in the presence of a master.

Cut him off, therefore, from the roasts and boileds and particularly from cold steak and kidney pie, a dish of which he is inordinately fond, and you turned him into something fit for treasons, strategems and spoils, as the fellow said.

First published in June, 2013.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Wodehouse Gems: II

Stiff Upper Lip Jeeves by Sir P G Wodehouse, KBE, published  in 1963


Bertie Wooster's arch-adversary, Roderick Spode, Earl of Sidcup, features heavily in this book.

Spode, as Bertie calls him, is a character we all love to hate.

Here is one of my favourite passages that always makes me laugh:-

'...Spode pivoted round and gave me a penetrating look. He had grown a bit, I noticed, since I had last seen him, being now about nine foot seven. ...I had compared him to a gorilla, and what I had had in mind had been the ordinary run-of-the-mill gorilla, not the large economy size'. 

...'To ease the strain, I asked him if he would have a cucumber sandwich, but with an impassioned gesture he indicated that he was not in the market for cucumber sandwiches..."a muffin?" 


No, not a muffin, either. He seemed to be on a diet.

"Wooster", he said, his jaw muscles moving freely, "I can't make up my mind whether to break your neck or not."

And so on. Wodehouse's command of the English language was supreme. Brilliant.

Wodehouse's character, Spode, is believed to be modelled on the war-time fascist leader, Sir Oswald Mosley Bt.

The Mosleys had a connection with Staffordshire, the county where Spode pottery is made; hence the Spode name.

First published in March, 2009.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Brackenber: 1956

Here is the Class of 1956 at Brackenber House School.

Malcolm Lennox kindly provided the photograph.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Dr Kevin Vaughan, a fellow pupil at Brackenber from 1953-59, has sent me the following information:
I recognise all the teachers except the lady at the end. Next to Mr Craig is Miss Rankin, then Miss McKeown, then Miss Gilbert. I think Miss Rankin's first name was Zena, not Zoe!
To the other side of Mr Craig is Norman Henry (I am two rows directly behind him, rather skinny!), then Ronnie Hunter, then Mr T P Sheehan, then Dennis Fergusson, then Mr Walmsley (spelling?) then Mr Williams who was an old boy who came to teach temporarily.
On the front row at one end is A W P Coutts, and at the other Smith, Anthony Malcomson, J A M Grant. I also recognise several of my contemporaries. After my parents moved to England, I spent my last year at Brackenber as a weekly boarder and spent the weekends with friends.
There was a small two bed dormitory where boys would occasionally stay. John Craig and Ronnie Hunter were the two masters who also lived on the premises and I got to know them both quite well.
One of my amusing memores of the school routine is that when they had finished eating lunch but before the boys where allowed to leave their seats, John Craig and Norman Henry would always get up, walk to one end of the dining hall and smoke a cigarette - it was always Mr Henry who offered Mr Craig a cigarette, never the other way round!
First published in January, 2010.