As a rule, you see, I’m not lugged into Family Rows. On the occasions when Aunt is calling Aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps and Uncle James’s letter about Cousin Mabel’s peculiar behaviour is being shot round the family circle (‘Please read this carefully and send it on Jane’) the clan has a tendency to ignore me. It’s one of the advantages I get from being a bachelor – and, according to my nearest and dearest, practically a half-witted bachelor at that.
– P.G. Wodehouse
Believe it or not, I had never watched Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie’s laugh-out-loud worthy adaptation of Jeeves & Wooster until recently. Shocking I know, and deeply upsetting since I love the P.G. Wodehouse short stories of the hapless Wooster and the loyal butler who routinely drags him out of the soup. Luckily, I found the the whole series and have been joyfully devouring it (and struggling not to address friends with “What ho!” and say goodbye with “Toodle pip!”)
These stories are required reading for anyone who loves how really good humorous writing sounds. “Fellows who know all about that sort of thing— detectives, and so on — will tell you that the most difficult thing in the world is to get rid of the body.”
The characters are fantastic! Bertie Wooster, who may not be brilliant but is always good intentioned. Jeeves, a gentleman’s personal gentleman, who protects his master from ill-suited marriage minded maidens, sticky legal situations, or unpleasant social obligations. And an assortment of pals who all have those unlikely nicknames of 1920-30’s Britain (Bingo, Gussie, and Biffy among others).
And the fearful Aunt Agatha! Who is inevitably introduced as, “My Aunt Agatha who eats broken bottles and is strongly suspected of turning into a werewolf at the time of the full moon,” or “Aunt Agatha, the one who kills rats with her teeth and devours her young…” If I wasn’t so set on becoming a favorite aunt I’d love to end up the sort of dictatorial wealthy dowager who orders profligate nephews about without compunction.
I recommend staring with Carry on, Jeeves as it tells of how Jeeves came to be in Bertie’s service, but there are dozens of Jeeves and Wooster stories, as well as that hilarious adaptation for television. I mean, come on. Two words: