Something Fresh by P G Wodehouse (1915)

Please, please, please, squeeze this in. Not just this first in the series, but the whole Blandings lot (list below).

It’s heaven. The stories are full of joy and funniness and charm. And there’s a pig too. How’s that for style?

Evelyn Waugh said this of Wodehouse: “Mr Wodehouse’s idyllic world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in.”

Can’t utter better.

But how’s he do the word thing?

In a zillion ways. Some sprinkles for you.

Pushing repetition beyond the eccentric…

I’m afraid I’m disturbing you.

“No, no,” said Ashe. “Oh no, not at all, not at all, no, oh no, not at all, no,” and would’ve continued to play upon the theme indefinitely, had not the girl spoken again.

Bliss. Six noes and three nots in seventeen words is a neat run rate.

Changing just one word for impact…

Regular hoodoo there’s been on me. If I’d walked under a ladder on a Friday to smash a mirror over the dome of a black cat I couldn’t have had it tougher.

Heaven. Which one? It’s that dome, isn’t it? Change it to ‘head’ and it just ain’t the same.

Want another?

“Anyone can see he’s head over ears in love with this girl…”

Lovely.

Another? Oh, do, let’s…

“You could’ve knocked me down with a toothpick.”

Delightful.

Pushing the improbable…

Old Uncle Gally [a hell raiser] apparently never went to bed until he was fifty.

Utopian.

Jamming together contrasting concepts…

“Have you ever tasted a mint-julep, Beach?”

“Not to my recollection, sir.”

“Oh, you’d remember it alright if you had. Insidious things. They creep up on you like a baby sister and slide their little hand into yours and the next thing you know the Judge is telling you to pay clerk of the court fifty dollars…”

Elysian.

Coo, one could go on and on and on about this wonderful wodge of about three thousand pages of pure joy, but let’s call it a day with a handful of what Waugh describes as Wodehouse’s “uniquely brilliant original similes”.

…he had ears like alabaster shells…

…he drew back like a cat from a cream jug, when the Hon. Galahad arrived…

“…she said I danced like a dromedary with the staggers…”

…he swallowed painfully, like an ostrich swallowing a brass door-knob…

[cycling drunk]…he might swoop from side to side of the road like a swallow in pursuit of a mayfly…

“You’re as tight as an owl.”

The Duke’s eyes were protruding like a snail’s.

Thanks for being here.

Buy Something Fresh (free delivery, cardboard wrapping)

Here’s the Blandings series, in order. Eleven novels and nine short stories. You’ll need your deerstalker to find some of them, especially the short story collections…

Something Fresh (1915)

Leave it to Psmith (1923)

Blandings Castle and Elsewhere (1935)

Summer Lightning (1929)

Heavy Weather (1933) (Debatable if this should be before Summer Lightning – doesn’t matter)

Lord Emsworth and Others (1937) (The Blandings story is The Crime Wave at Blandings)

Uncle Fred in the Springtime (1939)

Full Moon (1947)

Nothing Serious (1950) (The Blandings story is Birth of a Salesman)

Pigs Have Wings (1952)

Plum Pie (1966) (The Blandings story is Sticky Wicket at Blandings)

A Pelican at Blandings (1969)

Sunset at Blandings (1977)

Enjoy. x

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Guy Nicholls

Writer and book bore.

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