Sunday, December 28, 2008

P.G. Wodehouse - 5

From ‘The Heart of a Goof’

To my daughter Leonora without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time

It was a morning when all nature shouted ‘Fore!’ (page 1)

I wish to goodness I knew the man who invented this infernal game. I’d strangle him. But I suppose he’s been dead for ages. Still, I could go and jump on his grave. (page 5)

I frequently find myself enrolled as a father-confessor on the most intimate matters by beautiful creatures from whom many a younger man would give his eye-teeth to get a friendly word. Besides, I had known Barbara since she was a child. Frequently – though not recently – I had given her her evening bath. These things form a bond. (page 7)

‘My angel!’ said Ferdinand.
He folded her in his arms, using the interlocking grip (page 26)

……he was heard to observe to the purser that if the alleged soprano who had just sung ‘My Little Grey Home in the West’ had the immortal gall to take a second encore he hoped that she would trip over a high note and dislocate her neck. (page 29)

I attribute the insane arrogance of the later Roman emperors almost entirely to the fact that, never having played golf, they never knew that strange chastening humility which is engendered by a topped chip-shot. If Cleopatra had been outed in the first round of the Ladies’ Singles, we should have heard a lot less of her proud imperiousness. (page 104)

His brow was furrowed and he had the indefinable look of one who has been smitten in the spiritual solar plexus. (page 144)

I have seen him in a club dining-room musing with a thoughtful frown for fifteen minutes on end while endeavouring to weigh the rival merits of a chump chop and a sirloin steak as a luncheon dish. A placid, leisurely man, I might almost call him lymphatic. I will call him lymphatic. He was lymphatic. (page 147)

‘William,’ I said ‘as one who dandled you on his knee when you were a baby, I wish to ask you a personal question. Answer me this, and make it snappy. Do you love Jane Packard?’
A look of surprise came into his face, followed by one of intense thought. He was silent for a space.
‘Who me?’ he said at length.
‘Yes, you.’
‘Jane Packard.’
‘Do I love Jane Packard?’ said William, assembling the material and arranging it neatly in his mind.
He pondered for perhaps five minutes.
‘Why, of course I do,’ he said. (page 149)

The fifth and sixth holes at Mossy Heath are long, but they offer little trouble to those who are able to keep straight. It is as if the architect of the course had relaxed over these two in order to ensure that his malignant mind should be at its freshest and keenest when he came to design the pestilential seventh. (page 162)

From ‘Money for Nothing’

John drew a deep breath. He was not one of those men who derive pleasure from parading their inmost feelings and discussing with others the secrets of their hearts. Hugo, in a similar situation, would have advertised his love like the hero of a musical comedy, he would have made the round of his friends, confiding in them, and when the supply of friends had given out, would have buttonholed the gardener. But John was different. to hear his aspirations put into bald words like this made him feel as if he were being divested of most of his more important garments in a crowded thoroughfare (pg 34)

John’s emotions as he approached the head waiter rather resembled those with which years ago he had once walked up to a bull in a field, Pat having requested him to do so because she wanted to know if bulls in fields are really fierce or if the artists who depict them in comic papers are simply trying to be funny. (pg 39)

Most of the head waiter’s eyes were concealed by the upper strata of his cheeks, but there was enough of them left visible to allow him to look at John as if he was something unpleasant that had come to light in a portion of salad. (pg 39)

‘Was that you, Ronnie?’
’Was what me?’
Hugo approached the matter from another angle.
‘Did you see anyone?’ (pg 131)

From ‘The Code of the Woosters’

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, so I tactfully changed the subject. (pg 3)

Aunt Agatha, who eats broken bottles and wears barbed wire next to her skin. (pg 4)

‘Bertie,’ she said, ’I wish to begin by saying a few words about Sir Watkyn Bassett, CBE. May greenfly attack his roses. May his cook get tight on the night of the big dinner party. May all his hens get the staggers.’
’Does he keep hens?’ I said, putting a point.
’May his cistern start leaking, and may white ants, if there are any in England, gnaw away the foundations of Totleigh Towers. And when he walks up the aisle with his daughter Madeleine, to give her away to that ass Spink-Bottle, may he get a sneezing fit and find that he has come out without a pocket handkerchief.’
She paused, and it seemed to me that all this, while spirited stuff, was not germane to the issue.
’Quite,’ I said. ’I agree with you in toto. But what has he done?’ (pg 22-23)

She was definitely the sort of girl who puts her hands over a husband’s eyes, as he is crawling in to breakfast with a morning head, and says: ‘Guess who!’ (pg 35)

Old Bassett has been listening to these courtesies with a dazed expression on the map – gulping a bit from time to time, like a fish that has been hauled out of a pond on a bent pin and isn’t at all sure it is equal to the pressure of events. (pg 36)

He gave me a look, a kind of wide-eyed, reproachful look, such as a dying newt might have given him, if he had forgotten to change its water regularly. (pg 90)

’Said he would beat you to a jelly, did he?’
‘That was the expression he used. He repeated it, so that there should be no mistake.’
‘Well, I wouldn’t for the world have you manhandled by that big stiff. You wouldn’t have a chance against a gorilla like that. He would tear the stuffing out of you before you could say “Pip-pip”. He would rend you limb from limb and scatter the fragments to the four winds.’
I winced a little.
’No need to make a song about it, old flesh and blood’ (pg 95)

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. (pg 103)

The hair was ruffled, the eyes wild, the nose twitching. A rabbit pursued by a weasel would have looked just the same – allowing, of course, for the fact that it would not have been wearing tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles. (pg 103)

He recoiled as if he had run into something hot, and a look of horror and alarm spread slowly over his face.
The whole situation recalled irresistibly to my mind something that had happened to me once up at Oxford, when the heart was young. It was during Eights Week, and I was sauntering on the river-bank with a girl named something that has slipped my mind, when there was a sound of barking and a large, hefty dog came galloping up, full of beans and buck and obviously intent on mayhem. And I was just commending my soul to God, and feeling that this was where the old flannel trousers got about thirty bob’s worth of value bitten out of them, when the girl, waiting till she saw the whites of its eyes, with extraordinary presence of mind suddenly opened a coloured Japanese umbrella in the animal’s face. Upon which, it did three back somersaults and retired into private life. (pg 119)

….Totleigh Towers was one of those country houses which had been built at a time when people planning a little nest had the idea that a bedroom was not a bedroom unless you could give an informal dance for about fifty couples in it……. (pg 126)

’What ho, Stinker.’
‘Hullo Bertie.’
‘Long time since we met.’
‘It is a bit, isn’t it?’
’I hear you’re a curate now.’
’Yes, that’s right.’
’How are the souls?’
’Oh, fine, thanks.’ (pg 137)

Stiffy… of those girls who enjoy in equal quantities the gall of an army mule and the calm insouciance of a fish on a slab of ice….. (pg 141)

I wouldn’t say he smiled – he practically never does – but a muscle abaft the mouth did seem to quiver slightly for an instant. (pg 226)

From the Introduction by Joe Keenan
‘Are you going for a stroll?’ said Aunt Dahlia, with a sudden show of interest. ’Where?’
’Oh, hither and thither.’
’Then I wonder if you would mind doing something for me.’
’Give it a name.’
’It wont take you long. You know the path that runs past the greenhouses into the kitchen garden. If you go along it you come to a pond.’
’That’s right.’
’Well, will you get a good, stout piece of rope or cord and go down that path till you come to the pond.’
’To the pond. Right.’
’And look about you till you find a nice heavy stone. Or a fairly large brick would do.’
’I see,’ I said, though I didn’t, being still fogged. ’Stone or brick. Yes. and then?’
’Then,’ said the relative, ’I want you, like a good boy, to fasten the rope to the brick and tie it round your damned neck and jump into the pond and drown yourself. In a few days I will send and have you fished up and buried because I shall need to dance on your grave.’ (pg viii)

’I admit that any red-blooded sultan or pasha, if offered the opportunity of adding M.Bassett to this harem, would jump to it without hesitation, but he would regret his impulsiveness before the end of the first week. She’s one of those soppy girls, riddled from head to foot with whimsy. She holds the view that the stars are God’s daisy chain, that rabbits are gnomes in attendance on the Fairy Queen, and that every time a fairy blows its wee nose a baby is born, which, as we know, is not the case.’ (pg ix)

Bertie himself once inadvertently proposed to Madeline while pleading Gussie’s case. Though Madeline’s passion for Gussie got Bertie off the hook, she has since viewed him as a sort of vice-fiance, ready to step in should anything go amiss with the current office-holder. Bertie’s code as a gentleman will not permit him to correct this misconception. After all, ‘If a girl thinks you’re in love with her and says she will marry you, you cant very well voice a preference for being dead in a ditch.’ (pg ix)

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