Bertie, Jeeves and the rummy affair of India’s independence

 “I go in for what is known in the trade as ‘light writing’ and those who do that – humourists they are sometimes called – are looked down upon by the intelligentsia and sneered at.” P.G. Wodehouse.

As a diehard fan of the complete works of P.G. Wodehouse, I was idly surfing the net to see what kind of material one might encounter on the Master, apart from the standard Wikipedia synopsis. I was pleasantly surprised to come across a website specially created for followers of arguably the greatest humourist the world of English literature has produced. There are those who would scoff at describing the works of the ‘Master of Farce’ as literature, but I will treat them with the scorn they so richly deserve. Rather than attempting to describe the contents of the website to the lay reader, I felt it might be better to send an email to Bertram Wilberforce (Bertie) Wooster, one of Plum’s (Wodehouse’s affectionate moniker) greatest creations, and get the lowdown on what he and his personal gentleman’s gentleman Jeeves, might have thought about it.

Bertie Wooster – ‘I say Jeeves, old horse. Here’s the damndest thing. I was fooling around with this computer thingummy, when a line flashed across the screen. “You’ve got mail”, it said. So, as directed by you, I double clicked on the dashed contraption, and guess what, the mail was from Bangalore. Where the deuce is that? Some bloke from some software company informing me that they have been retained to design a website dedicated to our creator, old Plum, and would I be so good as to agree to be interviewed online. I couldn’t follow a word of all this gobbledygook. Fill me in Jeeves, and pour me a snifter of the brandy & w while you’re at it, will you? And go light on the w.’

Jeeves – ‘Very good Sir. Bangalore, now Bengaluru, is the capital city of the state of Karnataka, formerly the princely state of Mysore in southern India. The city’s locational coordinates are Latitude 12° 58’N, Longitude 77° 34’E, elevation above sea level 2998 feet and………’

Bertie – ‘I did not ask for a geography lesson Jeeves, a subject I failed to clear in school. Painful memories. Just get on with it, will you, and where’s my life saver?’

Jeeves – ‘Sorry Sir, here’s your restorative elixir. As I was just explaining Sir, when Britain gave India its freedom…..’

Bertie – ‘What! Dash it, when did this happen? Why was I not told? You keep things from me, Jeeves. Not cricket. Our jewel in the crown and all that rot. Which fathead decided to grant freedom to India? Reckless is what I call it. Now all the other outposts will start clamouring for independence. And then, what will the harvest be? There’ll be no end to it. Britain will become a pariah nation, Jeeves. A byword and a hissing. Doesn’t bear thinking. Next thing you know, we’ll be losing to the Indians at Lord’s’.

Jeeves – ‘If we can get back to this online interview, Sir. It’s pretty simple really. They will mail you a set of questions about Mr. Wodehouse, which you will need to answer briefly. They have also sent out similar mails to Lord Emsworth, Lady Constance Keeble, Mrs. Dahlia Travers, Mr. Augustus Fink-Nottle, Lord Ickenham, Sir Galahad Threepwood, Mr.Psmith, Mr.Ukridge and Beach the Butler, amongst others’.

 Bertie – ‘Gosh, what a rogues’ gallery, eh? I almost feel sorry for this Bangalore software whatchamacallit. Little does he know what he’s letting himself in for’.

Jeeves – ‘Quite so, Sir. They also wanted to correspond with the Empress of Blandings, but the noble sow declined on account of a slight tummy upset, which could put the kybosh on her chances of winning the Shropshire Fat Pigs class competition. She even turned away her morning bran mash.’

Bertie – ‘This is the thin end of the ledge, Jeeves’.

Jeeves – ‘Wedge, Sir. Thin end of the wedge, meaning…..’

Bertie – ‘I know what it means Jeeves. Spare me the English lecture. You’re always pouncing on my slips of the tongue. Curb this habit. Lord Emsworth will be crushed if the Empress declines her breakfast. Let’s hope she recovers. I don’t think this Bangalore chappie will get any satisfaction from the seigneur of Blandings Castle, not till the Empress gets her snout back into the dinner pail. He must have buried himself in that Bible for pig lovers, “Whiffle on the Care of the Pig”.’

Jeeves –‘Precisely Sir. One’s heart goes out to his Lordship. But if I might turn your attention to the questionnaire, Sir’.

Bertie – ‘Golly, you are a hard task master. A modern day Simon Legree. I shall not be slave driven in my own home, Jeeves. Not by my own slave, at any rate’.

Jeeves – ‘My apologies Sir, but these Bangalore boffins have already created something they call a website, exclusively dedicated to Mr. Wodehouse. In fact, I just went into the site and, inspired by the author, they have items like Wodehousean Cocktail Recommendations, Quote of the Day, clips from Wodehouse based TV adaptations starring people like Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Timothy Spall and many others. Of course, in order to view these, they say you require something called a “flash plug in”.’

Bertie – ‘For God’s sake Jeeves, will you stop babbling on in Double Dutch? I can see that you are speaking English, but beyond that, I am definitely up the creek without a saddle’.

Jeeves – ‘Paddle Sir, sorry. I understand your qualms. If not actually disgruntled, you are far from being gruntled. That is one of my favourite quotes from Mr. Wodehouse’s impressive oeuvre, Sir’.

Bertie – ‘Never mind about Mr.W’s impressive whatever it was, Jeeves. I am trying to make the point that I am not in the right frame of mind to be tapping all these keys, and pressing ‘send’, and this Bangalore fellow receiving it in the blink of an eye. It’s positively indecent, this haste. Whatever happened to post haste, letters arriving sedately by sea, being presented on a silver salver, with an elegant knife to cut open the buff envelope?  I shall ponder over this matter, and first write to the Prime Minister of Great Britain with a proper fountain pen, and engage him in a dialogue on how to get India back to Britain. That is my priority. Perhaps you should also bend your brain to this issue, Jeeves. Meanwhile please ask this software geek to take a long walk off a short pier. Hope I got that one right’.

Jeeves – ‘Perfectly. I shall attend to the matter post haste Sir, if I might borrow from your impressive lexicon’.

Bertie – ‘Right ho, Jeeves. Toodle-oo, pip-pip and all that. Before you go, one more b & w to restore my frazzled tissues, if you please. This India affair has really got me down amongst the wines and spirits. Like one of Tolstoy’s Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day’s work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city’s reservoir, he turns to the wine cellar only to find the vodka bottle empty. Get my drift, Jeeves?’

Jeeves – ‘I’ll see to it in a jiffy, Sir’.

Published by sureshsubrahmanyan

A long time advertising professional, now retired, and taken up writing as a hobby. Deeply interested in music of various genres, notably Carnatic and 60's and 70's pop/rock. An avid tennis and cricket fan. Voracious reader of British humour and satire. P.G. Wodehouse a perennial favourite.

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