Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Wauvian Wodehouse--or should it be the Wodehousian Waugh?

From Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family (2004), by Alexander Waugh
[B]y popular request Papa [Auberon Waugh] used to declaim his grandfather's "Bax Passage" . . . in a fluty, ecclesiastical tone for family and friends round the dinner table. My mother, who disliked this form of showing off intensely, barracked him with loud protestations to desist, but at each interruption he would look up to the ceiling, stick out his tummy, and say, "Right, I shall begin again." And begin he did, from the very top, with his voice pitched a semitone higher and the volume defiantly turned up.

From "The Letter of the Law," by P. G. Wodehouse, collected in Lord Emsworth and Others (1937)
The Oldest Member, who often infested the seventh tee on a fine afternoon, nodded. . . . "The only man I ever knew who derived solid profit from driving into somebody who was not out of distance was young Wilmot Byng . . ."

The two men started.

"Are you going to tell us a story?"

"I am."


"I knew you would be pleased," said the Oldest Member.

From Fathers and Sons
[Evelyn Waugh's wife] Laura's happiness at Piers Court was drawn mainly from her cows. She owned six or seven of them, some named after her daughters, all jealously guarded by herself and the cowman, Mr Sanders. . . . The happiest moments of her day were spent in discussing her herd with Sanders, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of individual beasts, comparing moos with milk yields, moving them slowly from one field to another and wondering what to do with them next. . . . If Bron [Auberon Waugh] ever suspected that his mother was more interested in Sanders and her cows than she was in her children, he may have been right. . . . In his autobiography he wrote: "My mother had only a few cows and they cost a fortune to keep, but she loved them extravagantly, as other women love their dogs or, so I have been told, their children."

From "The Crime Wave at Blandings'" by P. G. Wodehouse, collected in Lord Emsworth and Others (1937)
She drew the pallid peer aside, and spoke with sharp rebuke.

"Just like a stuck pig!"

"Eh?" said Lord Emsworth. His mind had been wandering, as it so often did. The magic word brought it back. "Pigs? What about pigs?"

"I was saying that you were looking like a stuck pig. You might at least have asked Mr. Baxter how he was."

"I could see how he was. What's he doing here?"

"I told you what he was doing here."

. . . .

"You mean the chap's out of a job?" he cried aghast.

"Yes. And it could not have happened at a more fortunate time, because something has got to be done about George."

"Who's George?"

"You have a grandson of that name," explained Lady Constance with the sweet, frozen patience which she so often used when conversing with her brother.

From Fathers and Sons
One summer [Evelyn] grew a handlebar moustache, which made him look like a motor-bike queen on the Earl's Court Road circa 1968: "Every man must grow a moustache or a beard at least once in his life," he said--one piece of his advice that I have never taken. His family thought he looked loathsome with that on his face.

From "Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg," by P. G. Wodehouse, collected in Carry On, Jeeves (1925)
I was sorry if Bicky was in trouble, but, as a matter of fact, I was rather glad to have something I could discuss freely with Jeeves just then, because things had been a bit strained between us for some time, and it had been rather difficult to hit on anything to talk about that wasn't apt to take a personal turn. You see, I had decided--rightly or wrongly--to grow a moustache, and this had cut Jeeves to the quick. He couldn't stick the thing at any price, and I had been ever since in an atmosphere of bally disapproval till I was getting jolly well fed up with it. What I mean is, while there's no doubt that in certain matters of dress Jeeves's judgment is absolutely sound and should be followed, it seemed to me that it was getting a bit too thick if he was going to edit my face as well as my costume. No one can call me an unreasonable chappie, and many's the time I've given in like a lamb when Jeeves has voted against one of my pet suits or ties; but when it comes to one's valet's staking out a claim on your upper lip you've simply got to have a bit of the good old bulldog pluck and defy the blighter.

From Fathers and Sons
[Evelyn] had no expectation for [his son James] as a writer, believing him devoid of literary taste. "James is reading P. G. Wodehouse with great seriousness. 'Don't you find it funny, James?' 'I think this book is meant to be serious, Papa.' The book was Carry on Jeeves."

From "Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg"
It was a wrench, but I felt it was the only possible thing to be done.

"Bring me my shaving things."

A gleam of hope shone in the man's eye, mixed with doubt.

"You mean, sir?"

"And shave off my moustache."

There was a moment's silence. I could see the fellow was deeply moved.

"Thank you very much indeed, sir," he said, in a low voice.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks!

    You might enjoy this obituary of Lord Michael Pratt: