Moulders Lane

Category: P. G. Wodehouse

A Partial Book Review: Middlebrow Wodehouse: P. G. Wodehouse’s Work in Context ed. Professor Ann Rea (2016)

Rather like looking for a word in Chambers, running a Google search means you never know what odd thing you’re going to discover. The latest piece of flotsam to strike my bemused gaze is a new book on Wodehouse: Middlebrow Wodehouse: P. G. Wodehouse’s Work in Context published in January of this year and written by a gaggle of American and British academics. Having read through some of the sections previewed online, I’m rather intrigued to know if anyone’s read it and, if so, what they think?

Although claiming to be examining Wodehouse ‘in context’ it seemed to me that the writers knew pretty little about that context: Read the rest of this entry »

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A Wodehouse Gallumifray

Following a link at Honoria’s site, I found this selection of Wodehouse book reviews from The Aroma of Books with some well-chosen quotes that had me screeching aloud in sudden laughter, proving, once more, that there really is no other like him.

I think we should be campaigning for a sticker on any future editions: WARNING ! Reading this book in public can lead to Severe Embarrassment.

Thank goodness only the Aged P. was around to hear me sounding like a macaw that had just had its toe trodden on …

Profanity and publishing

A piece on the writing standards that seem to characterize our current era from one of blogosphere’s ‘trio of Wodehouse fame’ (Ashok, Honoria, Noel, in case you didn’t know).

He’s sound on trains too.

The Traveller

Let’s talk about swearing in journalism. Once upon a time, there was none, at least not commonplace as it is now. For a swear word to reach print or, heaven forbid, the airwaves, it took long, anguished philosophical debate or monumental carelessness in the editorial process.

I remember as a cadet on the Courier-Mail in Brisbane a rolling argument through high levels and low about publishing a review of a small play called Norm and Ahmed by Alex Buzo, which included its controversial punchline. The play was one of Ozlit’s first forays that I can remember into the fraught topic of race relations. Its dramatic height came with either Norm or Ahmed (it hardly matters which) advising the other to go fornicate, in the Big Word that was considered most shocking in the 1960s.

Maybe we published the review with the word in and maybe we didn’t. I don’t remember. The point here…

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A Wodehouse Conundrum

Sticking my head round the door one evening to wish the Aged P. ‘Goodnight’ before retiring, I found her watching an episode of the rather splendid BBC Jeeves and Wooster series, starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. To my increasing puzzlement I found it was an episode I’d never seen before, despite having the three series DVD box set which proclaims on its cover: ‘The Complete Jeeves and Wooster’.

Casting my mind back to when the series first came on television in the late Eighties/early Nineties, the first two of which I video-taped, leaping like a startled gazelle towards the ‘Pause’ button at intervals in an attempt to cut out the adverts, I seem to remember other differences too. The opening scenes of the very first television episode were much shorter than the box set, easily explained as putting back deleted footage, but there was an episode in the second series which hinged on the acquisition of a water spaniel, which isn’t on the box set; and neither is the episode of the Choir Boys’ Steeplechase which the Aged P. was watching.

Google can’t throw any light on the subject so I’m turning to the international world of Wodehouse.

– Why do the series’ shown on television differ from those available on the DVD box set?

– How many episodes are missing from the box set?

– How do I get hold of the missing episodes?

and, most importantly,

– Why are us Wodehouse fans being short changed in this way ??

Annoyed of Brinkley Court

 

The 2016 Writing Challenge

My New Year’s Resolution was to write book reviews, after having read so many on other blogs, but when my first attempt took several months to complete and I couldn’t get going with subsequent ones, I realised I needed something to break the impasse. Finding my old notebook of writing exercises from Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones has inspired me to try these again; and in the spirit of other bloggers that set themselves reading challenges to help get them out of their comfort zone, I’ve decided to set myself a Writing Challenge.

So here it is – each week I’ll be posting a writing exercise on this blog, with the results of the previous one, in an attempt to keep myself up to the mark; and also to encourage any other readers with literary leanings to do likewise themselves.

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Preparing to Write

Most of my day is spent trying to clear things out of the way so that I can get on with what it is I’m actually trying to do; and I’m coming to the conclusion that the only way I’m going to achieve anything in the writing line, is to get up before the day’s obstacles have a chance to get going. I’m not sure I can emulate Honoria Plum, who’s settled down at her writing-table at seven every morning, to get an hour or so in before work – not until the clocks go forward anyway – but I definitely do need to find an uncluttered space in which to write.

Wodehouse was a noted slogger: McCrum’s biography describes ‘formidable powers of application’. When working at a London bank, in his late teens, Wodehouse wrote all evening after work instead of socialising, only going out and about in search of copy, and in his first freelance days he was producing enough to receive up to eight rejected manuscripts each day. Even as a schoolboy working for a scholarship his dedication was remarkable: ‘I sprang from my bed at five sharp each morning, ate a couple of petit beurre biscuits and worked like a beaver at my Homer and Thucydides.’ The dawning lesson is: if I really do want to write, I have to be serious about making time for it.

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On Trying to Write

imgI’m currently reading Julian Maclaren-Ross: Selected Short Stories introduced by Paul Willetts. It’s a first edition from 2004 that was given me by a friend in the days when I spent most weekends in London; and although I dipped into it briefly, its appeal was more book-as-pleasurable-artefact: good quality paper, a clear font and layout, and a rough pencil-sketch illustration of a pub interior on the cover that all seemed to say London Review of Books bookshop (which is probably where he got it from.)

A casualty of my move back here, its once pristine white pages are now randomly spotted with little dots of damp, and it was while flicking through them in resigned irritation, some days ago, that a few sentences caught my eye and I went back and read the Introduction. It opens:

Julian Maclaren-Ross was the quintessential Soho bohemian. Flamboyantly dressed, feckless, egotistical, pill-popping, alcoholic and more often than not hard up, he possessed an intriguing combination of saturnine good looks and unflappable movie star panache. During the 1940s and 1950s … he was one of that area’s most celebrated personalities.

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Book Review: Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield (1930)

img_0005There’s something cosily domestic about being indoors on a rainy day with no need to go out; it’s a time to do all those unimportant yet essential little jobs like turning out the kitchen cupboards or matching all your black socks. A time to dig out a pleasantly undemanding book like my recently unearthed copy of The Diary of a Provincial Lady in its rather nice Virago green edition from the Eighties.

This is a doorstop sized omnibus of four books: Diary of a Provincial Lady (1930); The Provincial Lady Goes Further (1932); The Provincial Lady in America (1934); and The Provincial Lady in Wartime (1940) which started life as a weekly instalment in the periodical Time and Tide. The first, that I’m currently re-reading, was so successful it was turned around to cash in on the Christmas book market within two months of it ending; a satirical look at the foibles, follies and social anxieties of the upper middle classes in the 1930s, it was effectively the Bridget Jones’s Diary of its day.

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The Girl’s Own Wardrobe – dressing for summer in the inter-war period

After unearthing the previous article on Christmas Decorations during the inter-war period of the classic Wodehouse novels, I’ve been looking further through my copy of The Girl’s Own Annual for 1922/23. What strikes me is that many of the articles on How to Negotiate Life are just as relevant for us today, with many of the ideas we think of as new and excitingly contemporary disclosed as concepts with which our great-grandmothers were familiar.

I rather liked this article on concerns about fashion trends, the machinations of the fashion industry and how to get around post War (post Recession) straitened circumstances, which could have been written today, not 92 years ago. I suppose now we have the (option?) of buying cheap throw-away garments made in a country with un-regulated working conditions by people on pitifully low wages. Without wishing to go into ‘Spode mode’ on the subject of British manufacturing (the decline of Marks and Spencer as the bulwark of British made high quality basics is a whole other post!) we do seriously need to put more thought and effort into choosing items of clothing – as outlined in this delightful article.

Transcribed by myself; copyright The Lutterworth Press.

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Christmas at Blandings

A festive article from the Girl’s Own Annual describing decorations for a Christmas Tree in the interwar period of the classic Wodehouse novels. I like to think it was penned by Lady Constance in a graciously benign mood as she deplores modern trends and suggests something far more suitable.

I am not sure at what point today’s angel replaced Father Christmas as the topmost decoration for the tree and the mention of ‘gollywogs’ as decorations will strike modern readers as somewhat bizarre. As late as the Seventies these were still common toys in England, and not thought of at all as anything else but, so I suppose you have to take the idea of such decoration as era specific and try to banish any Strange Fruit resonances from our more enlightened age.

Transcribed by myself; copyright The Lutterworth Press.

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