Lord Emsworth and the Girlfriend

I have several times reached the point at which I have had enough P.G. Wodehouse.

In the same way that I have sometimes had enough fine wine; or enough tiramisu; or enough restful sleep; or enough  strolling through an ancient village in Oxfordshire; I know it is possible to indulge in too much of a good thing, so it is best to stop for a while when I have had enough and am satisfied.

Until this morning, I had read no Wodehouse for about 6 months, and it seemed like the right time to plunge in once again. Christopher Hitchens describes Pelham Grenville Wodehouse as ‘the gold standard of English wit’. Sebastian Faulks writes: “P.G. Wodehouse wrote the best English comic novels of the century.”  And Stephen Fry observes of Wodehouse prose: “You don’t analyse sunlit perfection, you just bask in its warmth and splendour.”

My favourite Wodehouse line goes something like: “There came a sound like Mr. G. K Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin,” and there are so many more laugh-out-loud lines like that set in Wodehouse’s uniquely fragile and delicate butterfly of stories, settings and characters.

Today, I got as far as the second sentence in “Lord Emsworth and the Girlfriend” and decided I had had enough to last me for a while. When I have sufficiently savoured and digested these 100 or so sublime words, I will carry on reading…

“The day was so warm, so fair, so magically a thing of sunshine and blue skies and birdsong that anyone acquainted with Clarence, ninth Earl of Emsworth, and aware of his liking for fine weather, would have pictured him going about the place on this summer morning with a beaming smile and an uplifted heart. Instead of which, humped over the breakfast-table, he was directing at a blameless kippered herring a look of such intense bitterness that the fish seemed to sizzle beneath it.”

I don’t think I will ever forget that “blameless kippered herring”.


~ by Garry on January 13, 2013.

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