Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Inimitable Jeeves by PG Wodehouse

Guildford born Wodehouse is still one of the most popular authors in the English language and his most famous inventions, the unflappable gentleman’s gentleman, Jeeves, and his foppish idle rich employer, Bertie Wooster, are still a joy to read over eighty years after they were first written.

The hat pin picked out The Inimitable Jeeves this time, but I could easily have chosen any of the books as they’re all great fun and I’m certain that there would be a drink to be found somewhere in the lot of them for the purposes of 120 Units. In this volume, Bertie is put upon by the usual crowd of bossy aunts, ne’re-do-well friends and ghastly relatives, leaving Jeeves to save the day, either by subterfuge, or by the presentation of a well poured drink:

“I say, Jeeves,” I said. “Sir?” “Mix me a stiffish brandy and soda.” “Yes, sir.” “Stiffish, Jeeves. Not too much soda, but splash the brandy about a bit.”

The appearance of Bertie’s two ghastly cousins, twins Claude and Eustace, who are supposed to be on a boat en route to South Africa, gives him another headache. Not only do they take advantage of his hospitality, but his formidable Aunt Agatha is convinced that her husband is going mad after he thinks he spots one of the boys in the street. Aunt Agatha wonders if he’s seen a ghost:

“Do you think it is possible that he could see things not visible to the normal eye?” I thought it dashed possible, if not probable. I don’t know if you’ve ever met my uncle George. He’s a festive old egg who wanders from club to club continually having a couple with other festive old eggs. When he heaves into sight, waiters brace themselves up and the wine-steward toys with his corkscrew. It was my Uncle George who discovered that alcohol was a food well in advance of modern medical thought.

When one of the brats swipes Uncle George’s cigarette case, Aunt Agatha decides to have him sent off to Harrogate to take the waters:

“...You know as well as I do that your poor Uncle George has for many years not been a – he has – er – developed a habit of – how shall I put it?” “Shifting it a bit?” “I beg your pardon?” “Mopping up the stuff to some extent?” “I dislike your way of putting it exceedingly, but I must confess that he has not been, perhaps, as temperate as he should...”

Fortunately, Jeeves comes to the rescue, as ever, and tricks the twins into getting the next steamer to Cape Town and Uncle George is revived by Jeeves’ miracle pick-me-up...

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