Saturday, June 25, 2011

P.G.Wodehouse - 10

From ‘My Man Jeeves’

…… 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 the captain of industry again. But Mr. Worple in his spare time was what is known as an ornithologist. He had written a book called American Birds, and was writing another, to be called More American Birds. When he had finished that, the presumption was that he would begin a third, and keep on till the supply of American birds gave out.

“Sir?” said Jeeves, kind of manifesting himself. One of the rummy things about Jeeves is that, unless you watch like a hawk, you very seldom see him come into a room. He’s like one of those weird chappies in India who dissolve themselves into thin air and nip through space in a sort of disembodied way and assemble the parts again just where they want them. I’ve got a cousin who’s what they call a Theosophist, and he says he’s often nearly worked the thing himself, but couldn’t quite bring it off, probably owing to having fed in his boyhood on the flesh of animals slain in anger and pie.

Jeeves smiled paternally. Or rather, he had a kind of paternal muscular spasm about the mouth, which is the nearest he ever gets to smiling.

She fitted into my biggest arm-chair as if it had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing arm-chairs tight about the hips that season…….. She made me feel as if I were ten years old and had been brought into the drawing-room in my Sunday clothes to say how-do’you-do. Altogether by no means the sort of thing a chappie would wish to find in his sitting-room before breakfast.

……. I’m all for rational enjoyment and so forth, but I think a chappie makes himself conspicuous when he throws soft-boiled eggs at the electric fan. And decent mirth and all that sort of thing are all right, but I do bar dancing on tables and having to dash all over the place dodging waiters, managers, and chuckers-out, just when you want to sit still and digest.

There was something sort of bleak about her tone, rather as if she had swallowed an east wind. This I took to be due to the fact that she probably hadn’t breakfasted ……….
“Won't you have an egg or something? Or a sausage or something? Or something?”
“No, thank you.”
She spoke as if she belonged to an anti-sausage society or a league for the suppression of eggs.

“Father,” said Clarence, “did you meet a mewing cat outside? I feel positive I heard a cat mewing.”
“No,” said the father, shaking his head; “No mewing cat.”
“I can’t bear mewing cats,” said Clarence. “A mewing cat gets on my nerves!”
“A mewing cat is so trying,” said Elizabeth.
“I dislike mewing cats,” said old Mr. Yeardsley.
That was all about mewing cats for the moment. They seemed to think they had covered the ground satisfactorily …….

“We’ll fling the door open and make a rush,” said Bill.
“Supposing they shoot, old scout?”
“Burglars never shoot,” said Bill.
Which was comforting provided the burglars knew it.

She looked at me in rather a rummy way. It was a nasty look. It made me feel as if I were something the dog had brought in and intended to bury later on, when he had time.

Somehow it was brought home to me that she didn’t like Englishmen, and that if she had had to meet an Englishman, I was the one she’d have chosen last.

He said that the tango and the fox-trot were devices of the devil to drag people down into the Bottomless Pit. He said that there was more sin in ten minutes with a negro banjo orchestra than in all the ancient revels of Nineveh and Babylon.

From ‘The Crime Wave at Blandings’

….. he wanted solitude. In the course of the afternoon he had had so much female society thrust upon him that if Helen of Troy had appeared in the doorway of the writing-room and yoo-hooed him, he would merely have accelerated his pace.

From ‘Ukridge’

‘E’ wants to see the murders,’ explained Flossie’s mother.

She spoke as if it were the most reasonable of boyish desires, but it seemed to me impracticable. Homicides do not publish formal programs of their intended activities. I had no notion what murders were scheduled for today.

‘E always reads up all the murders in the Sunday paper,’ went on the parent, throwing light on the matter.

‘It’s the places ’e wants to see,’ said Flossie’s mother, amiably tolerant of my density.

…. His looks! She didn’t want his looks spoiled. Why, damme, he hasn’t got any looks. There isn’t any possible manner in which you could treat the man’s face without improving it.

‘ …… 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.’

Around the room on those gilt chairs which are only seen in subscription-dance halls weird beings were talking in undertones, probably about the trend of Scandinavian literature.

….. a youth in my house at school named Coote. J. G. Coote. And he was popularly known as Looney on account of the vain and foolish superstitions which seemed to rule his every action. Boys are hard-headed, practical persons, and they have small tolerance for the viewpoint of one who declines to join in a quiet smoke behind the gymnasium not through any moral scruples – which, to do him justice, he would have scorned – but purely on the ground that he had seen a magpie that morning. This was what J. G. Coote did, and it was the first occasion on which I remember him being addressed as Looney.

But, once given, the nickname stuck; and this in spite of the fact – seeing that we were caught half-way through the first cigarette and forcefully dealt with by a muscular head-master – that the magpie of his would appear to have known a thing or two.

There is something about a Welsh voice when raised in song that no other voice seems to possess – a creepy, heart-searching quality that gets right into a man’s inner consciousness and stirs it up with a pole.

Her whole appearance was that of a woman designed by Nature to instill law and order into the bosoms of boisterous cannibal kings.

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