The Girl in Blue
P G Wodehouse
Literary and Cultural References
This is part of an ongoing effort by the members of the Blandings Yahoo! Group to document references, allusions, quotations, etc., in the works of P. G. Wodehouse.
The Girl in Blue was published in Britain by Barrie & Jenkins Oct. 29, 1970. February 22, 1971 was the date of the book’s American publication by Simon and Schuster. It was also published, condensed, in the April 24, 1971 issue of The Star Weekly, the weekend magazine supplement of The Toronto Star newspaper, which was distributed nationally in Canada.
The annotators would like to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of the resources provided by N. T. P. (Norman) Murphy and Father Rob Bovendeaard. Tony Ring, an authority on Wodehouse’s work in the theatre, also saved us a good deal of time by quickly identifying a musical comedy reference in Chapter 6. Colonel Murphy’s books, In Search of Blandings (1981) and A Wodehouse Handbook (2006) provide annotators with a treasure trove of information on the sources Wodehouse used for his quotations, literary and cultural allusions, and physical settings and are an essential addition to the bookshelves of all Wodehouse readers. Tony Ring’s latest book titled Second Row, Grand Circle is a reference guide to Wodehouse’s work in the “legitimate” theatre. Fr. Rob Bovendeaard’s Biblia Wodehousiana web page provides the sources of the countless Biblical quotations and allusions appearing in the Wodehouse canon.
Chapter 1 (Pages 1–5 in the Simon and Schuster edition)
Guildenstern's Stores, Madison Avenue, New York (p. 1)
Although best known for its advertising agencies, Madison Avenue is also in the heart of New York's shopping district, running, as it does, parallel to and between Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue one block away in either direction. Guildenstern's is a fictional store, presumably named after one of the minor characters in Shakespeare's Hamlet. In fact, in the play Guildenstern and his pal Rosencrantz were considered so unimportant to the plot they were completely eliminated when French composer Ambroise Thomas set Hamlet to music for his 1868 opera. Although Shakespeare and Thomas gave R&G short shrift, W. S. Gilbert and Tom Stoppard recognized their potential and promoted them to title characters in their plays. Gilbert's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern was written in 1874, but not performed until 1891. Wodehouse played Guildenstern in a school performance in 1900. Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead premiered at the 1966 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and enjoyed long runs in the London West End and on Broadway in the late sixties.
Homer Pyle - (p. 1)
Gomer Pyle, a gentle, simple-minded bungler with a heart of gold played by actor Jim Nabors, was a staple on American television in the sixties. Beginning in 1962, Nabors spent two seasons in a supporting role on The Andy Griffith Show before his Gomer character was spun off to join the U.S. Marines in 1964 and he spent the next five seasons as the star of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
uneasy air of a cat on hot bricks - (p. 1)
This would be a nervous or skittish person unable to remain still. The expression can be traced back to "like a cat on a hot bake-stone" in John Ray's Proverbs in 1678. Another version, "cat on a hot tin roof," was the title of a 1955 Tennessee Williams play.
can take it as well as dish it out - (p. 1)
Probably started as a boxing cliché in the first decades of the twentieth century, but its usage has expanded to include everything from political debates to, in this case, corporation lawyers.
like Jean Kerr's snake, was having all the lines - (p. 2)
Jean Kerr (1922–2003) was an American author and playwright. Although her best known book was Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1957), Wodehouse obviously read and enjoyed her The Snake Has All the Lines (1960).
form-fitting tweed dress from Tailored Woman - (p. 2)
Tailored Woman, now long defunct, was a legendary women's clothing store located at 57th Street and 5th Avenue in the heart of New York's shopping district. The store promoted itself as the home of "good style, good lines, good quality, and quiet colors." It seems quite likely Wodehouse would have had personal knowledge of this store as it sounds like the type of place Ethel Wodehouse would have patronized while they were living a short cab ride away at 1000 Park Avenue in the early 1950s.
Gimbel's - (p. 2)
Unlike Guildenstern's, Gimbels (without the possessive apostrophe Wodehouse inserted before the 's') actually was a major American department store chain, founded in 1887, rising to become the largest department store chain in the world by 1930, before closing its doors forever in 1987. Its New York flagship store maintained a famous rivalry with Macy's, with the two stores' close proximity in Herald Square adding fuel to the fire.
P.E.N. - (p. 3)
PEN, founded in London in 1921 (John Galsworthy, president), originally stood for "Poets, Essayists and Novelists" but now includes writers of any form of literature, including journalists and historians. It was founded to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers, but its goals now include fighting for freedom of expression and to act as a voice for writers harassed, imprisoned or killed because of their views. In his poem "Printer's Error" Wodehouse imagined the PEN committee erecting a statue to honour the aggrieved author who got
A gun at great expense and shot
The human blot who'd printed "not"
When he had written "now".
going loco in the rat race - (p. 3)
Rat race is a term usually used to describe the tedium of a person's job, as it conjures up an image of a lab rat trying to escape while futilely running around in a maze or in a wheel. Loco is an American slang word meaning looney.
songs of protest - (p. 3)
Protest songs expressing political dissent have been around for hundreds of years but at the time Wodehouse was writing this book they were particularly prevalent, with the Vietnam War being a favourite target. Top protest songs in the 1960s included Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier," Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind," and John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance." Although it's unlikely Wodehouse's radio would have been tuned to a pop or rock station (one can only imagine his probable reaction at being urged by a pop singer to 'wear a flower in his hair'), it would have been impossible for him not to have been familiar with them.
the manager's sanctum - (p. 3)
A sanctum is a private room where one is not to be disturbed. But in the original Latin, the word meant "holy place."
toad beneath the harrow - (p. 4)
Bertie Wooster was once said to be as near to being a toad at Harrow as a man can be who was educated at Eton. In his 'Pagett M.P.' Kipling wrote:
Exactly where each tooth-point goes,
The toad beneath the harrow knows.
But, as Murphy points out in his A Wodehouse Handbook, the expression goes back at least 500 years before Kipling and simply meant anyone under constant persecution or oppression.
Duane Stottlemeyer - (p. 4)
Although he supported the National League's New York Mets, baseball fan Wodehouse certainly would have been familiar with Mel Stottlemeyer, a mainstay of the New York Yankees' pitching staff from 1964 to 1974. Another Stottlemeyer reference popped up in A Pelican at Blandings (U.S. title: No Nudes is Good Nudes) in 1969 with Lord Emsworth providing it as an example of the bizarre names he encountered on his recent trip to America.
one of those country houses where they take in paying guests - (p. 5)
Walsingford Hall, the country house of Sir Buckstone Abbott in Summer Moonshine also falls into this category.
advertisement in The New Yorker - (p. 5)
An upmarket American magazine founded in 1925 with a readership demographic ideally suited for advertisers hoping to lure paying guests to British country mansions.
Mellingham Hall - (p. 5)
The 1973 novel Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin (U.S. title: The Plot That Thickened) is also set at Mellingham Hall but that may not be the same Mellingham Hall we visit in this book. More on that mystery in the annotation for "Hampshire or Sussex or somewhere" (P 95).
Scrope, Willoughby and Crispin - (p. 6)
Scrope (pronounced Scroop) is an old English family name of Norman origin. Like the Woosters and the Mulliners, the Scropes came over with the Conqueror. Legend has it the name may be derived from an old Anglo-Norman word for crab and it began as a nickname for a club-footed son of an English princess by a Norman knight. Willoughby is an old English name while Crispin is of Latin origin, meaning curly-haired. Saint Crispin was a third century martyr who came to be known as the patron saint of shoe-makers.
Chapter 2 (Pages 6–16)
civil law courts in the Strand (The British book adds further details: The Queen's Bench Division Three court in the Strand.) - (p. 6)
The Royal Courts of Justice, commonly called "the Law Courts," is an imposing grey stone edifice of Victorian Gothic style thrown up in the 1870s in the Strand, about a kilometre from the Central Criminal Court or "Old Bailey" where criminal trials are held. The Queen's Bench division hears a wide range of contract law and personal injury or general negligence cases.
Gerald Godfrey Francis West - (p. 6)
West is a long-established English family name - there were Wests on the Rolls lists of Norfolk and Essex as early as the 12th century. A West was the male romantic lead in a Wodehouse novel as early as 1924's Bill the Conqueror. Gerald and Godfrey are both names of German origin - while Francis is from the Latin.
diligently enquire and true presentment make - (p. 6)
This is part of the traditional oath taken during the swearing in of a jury although the somewhat archaic language has since been modernized.
struck on the frontal bone by an atom bomb - (p. 6)
Even if the bomb didn't detonate, this would make quite an impression on the victim. The first atom bombs in 1945 tipped the scales at 4,400 to 4,600 kilograms (about 10,000 pounds) and, although they'd slimmed down a goodish bit by the time Wodehouse was writing this book in 1970, an atom bomb striking the frontal bone would certainly get a person's attention.
A's love for B (...) C's love for D - (p. 6)
Using alphabetically-ordered initials to represent anonymous or hypothetical individuals was a favourite trick of W. S. Gilbert in his Savoy Operas. In a quintet in Act II of The Mikado the title character reflects:
"See how the Fates their gifts allot,
For A is happy - B is not.
Yet B is worthy, I dare say, of more prosperity than A!"
In Act II of The Yeomen of the Guard Jack Point gets all the way to F in his song 'Oh! a private buffoon is a light-hearted loon' while in Act I of The Grand Duke Ernest Dummkopf manages to work his way up to H in 'Were I a king in very truth.'
one of those explosions in London street which slay six - (p. 6)
Wodehouse often used phrases like this, slaying four or six. According to Murphy's A Wodehouse Handbook: "In the 1920s, as new suburbs sprang up round London and other cities, there were several of these incidents. Many occurred through the gas companies not indicating clearly where their pipes were laid and their subsequent dramatic discovery by water, electricity and sewage workmen wielding pickaxes."
a borough treasurer, a registered dentist, a gaoler's subofficer, or one of the Brethren of Trinity House - (p. 7)
A subofficer is a rank used in many military forces to indicate ranks below commissioned officers. In Britain it can also apply to some members of the Fire and Rescue services. The Brethren of Trinity House are responsible for maintaining lighthouses, buoys, etc. in British waters. The rules governing exemption from jury duty have since been tightened, but at one time it was felt that a person who might, for example, be called away at any moment to subdue a prison riot or replace a burned-out bulb in a lighthouse should not be tied down to jury duty.
Onapoulos and Onapoulos versus the Lincolnshire and Eastern Counties Glass Bottling Company - (p. 7)
The events described in this book must have been happening concurrently with the events set down in 1969's A Pelican at Blandings/No Nudes is Good News for that book's male romantic lead, barrister Johnny Halliday, spent an unpleasant morning appearing in court on behalf of the Onapouloses, losing the case, being rebuked by the judge, and spoken to harshly by his clients, who held the view that it was only the incompetence of their advocate that prevented them from winning by a wide margin.
song of birds in the shrubbery of some old-world garden at eventide - (p. 9)
Presumably Jerry wasn't comparing the pretty juror's voice with the song of the peacocks found in the old-world garden of King Herod, as described in the Richard Strauss opera Salome or the earlier play by Oscar Wilde on which the opera libretto was based.
A Daniel come to judgement - (p. 9)
This was Shylock praising the wisdom of a young judge (actually Portia in disguise) in Act IV of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. In the fullness of time, Shylock's opinion of the judge would undergo a marked reversal. Shakespeare was referring to the Biblical story of Daniel, who proved the innocence of Susanna, who had been falsely accused of adultery.
Johnny Halliday - (p. 9)
The son of the late J. D. "Stiffy" Halliday of the Pelican Club and godson of the Hon. Galahad Threepwood, Johnny joined the roster of impostors to visit Blandings Castle in A Pelican at Blandings/No Nudes is Good Nudes. Strictly speaking, to avoid any possible accusations of bias by a member of the jury, Jerry should have disclosed the fact that one of the lawyers was a personal friend. If the Onapouloses had won the case, the Glass Bottlers might had grounds to appeal the jury's verdict.
fiat justitia ruat caelum - (p. 9)
This is a legal phrase from Latin, but apparently without a classical source, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."
Gadarene swine (...) prowess at the short sprint - (p. 9)
In an incident that took place in the Gadarenes, east of the Sea of Galilee, we read in the Bible (Mark 5:11–13) "Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea."
something lingering with boiling oil - (p. 10)
In Act II of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, the title character, always eager to find a punishment that fits the crime, rather thought that something lingering involving boiling oil would be a fitting way to execute the prisoners Ko-Ko, Pooh-Bah and Pitti-Sing.
painting Russian princesses lying in the nude on tiger skins - (p. 10)
A popular misconception about how artists spend their working days. Probably Jerry, if he ever found himself sharing a room with a scantily-clad princess reclining on a tiger skin would, like Blair Eggleston in Hot Water, have taken a chair as near to the door as possible and talked about the weather.
an aunt who lives in Bournemouth - (p. 11)
Bournemouth is a coastal resort town with a population of about 160,000 located in Dorset about a two-hour drive from London. Its favourable climate makes it a popular retirement home for the elderly aunts of pretty jurors.
maître - (p. 11)
French for 'master.' It's not surprising Jerry was momentarily deprived of speech. Even Psmith found his poise wobbling when Aileen Peavey addressed him this way in Leave it to Psmith - and Psmith's emotions weren't further complicated by being in love with the girl.
air hostess - (p. 11)
They're called "flight attendants" nowadays but aching cheek muscles from perpetual smiling is still one of the hazards of the job.
Roedean, Cheltenham - (p. 12)
These are two long-established and highly regarded independent day and boarding schools for girls aged 11 to 18. Roedean is located near Brighton, while Cheltenham is in Gloucestershire.
not the girls' school, the other one - (p. 12)
As opposed to Cheltenham Ladies College (est. 1835) from the previous annotation, Cheltenham College was established in 1841 as a boys public school. It is now a co-educational institution, but didn't start to admit girls until 1969, so Wodehouse probably still thought of it as a boys-only public school when he was writing The Girl in Blue.
Barribault's - (p. 12)
This haunt of Texas oil millionaires and visiting maharajas made its first of numerous appearances in the canon in the 1947 novel Full Moon. In his A Wodehouse Handbook, after examining the available clues, Murphy wrote, "It is clearly somewhere on the northern side of Mayfair and there are only two possible candidates: the Connaught in Carlos Place or Claridge's on the corner of Brook Street and Davies Street." Murphy then "unhesitatingly" nominated Claridge's as the real-life inspiration for Barribault's and provided several excellent reasons (which you can read for yourself in your copy of A Wodehouse Handbook) to back up his choice.
an opalescent daydream - (p. 13)
This would be a daydream with a milky iridescence, rather like looking at an opal. Imagine the kind of blurry special effects you see in a film when they cut to a flashback or fantasy dream sequence.
Vera Upshaw - (p. 13)
Upshaw is another old English family name, first found in Yorkshire where they were lords of the manor at Upsall, near Eston, before and after the Norman conquest of 1066. Vera is a given name of Slavic origin, meaning 'faith' in Russian or 'truth' in Latin. It could also be a diminutive or nick-name for Veronica.
plighted his troth - (p. 13)
From the traditional wedding vow: "I plight thee my troth."
Dame Flora Faye, the actress - (p. 14)
The surname Faye could be from a French place-name (Fay), an Olde French word for a person with supernatural qualities ('fae' meaning elf or fairy), or a medieval English word, 'fei' meaning a trustworthy or loyal person. Flora is a name of Latin origin meaning flower. The actress May Whitty and the opera diva Nellie Melba became the first theatrical Dames of the British Empire in the 1918 Honours List although Whitty's honour was principally for her charity work during World War Ì.
came out in spots from too much champagne - (p. 14)
Like Oofy Prosser of the Drones Club.
outer crust - (p. 14)
Although usually, as in this case, Wodehouse used "outer crust" to describe a person's clothes, it could also refer to a person's personal appearance as, for example, this description of Madeline Bassett in The Mating Season: "As far as the outer crust is concerned, there is little, I fully realize, to cavil at in this pre-eminent bit of bad news. The eyes are large and lustrous, the features delicately moulded, the hair, nose, teeth and ears well up to, if not above, the average standard." In Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves Bertie Wooster describes dressing as "climbing into the outer crust of the English gentleman."
(a songwriter once described as) a specimen of the dressy men you meet up West - (p. 14)
In his A Wodehouse Handbook Murphy suggests Wodehouse may have been thinking of a music hall song "Burlington Bertie From Bow," written by William Hargreaves and performed by his wife Ella Shields while dressed in male attire. Youtube uploads of this song include one from the 1968 film Star! featuring Julie Andrews. As the film was based on the life of Wodehouse's old Broadway colleague Gertrude Lawrence, it is likely the author attended a screening of Star! in which case the song would have been fresh in his memory while writing this book. Gertrude Lawrence, fondly recalled as "Gertie" by Wodehouse in his letters and book of theatrical reminiscences (Bring on the Girls - 1954), was the star and title character of the 1926 George Gershwin-Ira Gershwin-Wodehouse-Bolton Broadway musical Oh, Kay!
the Savoy - (p. 14)
Theatre impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte was doing so well financially from promoting Gilbert and Sullivan's operas that he felt it was a mug's game to rent a theatre and decided to build his own for the exclusive use of his G&S company. When it opened in 1881 Carte's Savoy Theatre on the Strand was the first public building in the world to be lit entirely by that new-fangled gimmick called "electricity." The theatre proved to be such a good investment that in 1891 Carte built the luxurious new Savoy Hotel next door. The Hotel's restaurant is a popular spot, not only for well-heeled lawyers to meet their nephews for lunch, but for apres-theatre meals, such as the one that took place there in Jill the Restless (U.S. title: The Little Warrior).
"When is your lunch?" "One-thirty" - (p. 14)
Jerry must have been either extremely confident or extremely naive to arrange a luncheon date at 1:30 on a day when he was on jury duty. How could he have known how long it would take the rival lawyers to present their closing arguments or how long it would take the Learned Judge (who tend, even the best of them, to be a bit long-winded) to do his or her summing up? And how could he have known his jury colleagues would be able to come to such a speedy verdict?
just us chickens - (p. 14)
"Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" was a hit 1946 song recorded by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five with music and lyrics by Alex Kramer and Joan Whitney. The catch-phrase is older than the song, going back to the 19th century and gaining mass popularity from its use in a 1931 "Our Gang" film when Farina and Stymie crawled into an empty chicken coop to evade a social worker. Not convinced by Farina's rooster noises, the man asked "Who's in there?" and Stymie replied "Just us chickens."
scullions or scurvy knaves - (p. 15)
In Romeo and Juliet the Nurse, after being mocked by Mercutio, complained to Romeo about the conduct of the recent "scurvy knave," objecting that she wasn't one of his flirt-gills or skains-mates. Scullion was also a favourite Shakespearean word as, for example, in Henry IV Part 2, when Falstaff was heard to exclaim, "Away you scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe!"
the deaf adder in Holy Writ - (p. 16)
From Psalms 58. 4–5 "Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely."
perpetual and irrevocable (...) original indentures (...) draw up a summons and complaint (...) demanding the termination of the trust - (p. 16)
Authentic legal jargon supplied to the author free of charge by his lawyer grandson Edward (later Judge, Sir Edward) Cazalet.
Chapter 3 (Pages 17 - 27)
Bedford Row - (p. 17)
A short street stuffed to bursting point with solicitor's offices. Bedford Row is next to Grays Inn, one of the four inns of court where barristers have their chambers, so is a very convenient location for solicitors. Murphy points out that Wodehouse's British agents A. P. Watt had just acquired a Bedford Row address which was probably another factor in the street's appearance in this book.
203 pounds, 6 shillings, and fourpence - (p. 18)
Various web-pages that attempt to measure historic values suggest it would take about 2,450 pounds in the year 2012 to purchase goods and services worth 203 pounds in 1970.
what it costs to put a man on the moon - (p. 18)
The American Apollo space programme succeeded in taking men to the moon when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins landed on the lunar surface July 20, 1969. Even more impressive, the trio safely returned to earth. The total cost of the programme came in at 23.9 billion dollars.
corn before my sickle - (p. 18)
The plough he guided, and the scythe he swayed
And the ripe corn before his sickle fell
[From William Wordsworth's "The Excursion" (1814)]
younger son (...) thrust out into the world to earn a living - (p. 19)
"Unlike the male codfish, which, suddenly finding itself the parent of three million five hundred thousand little codfish, cheerfully resolves to love them all, the British aristocracy is apt to look with a somewhat jaundiced eye on its younger sons." From the short story "The Custody of the Pumpkin" (1935).
highest income-tax bracket - (p. 19)
The highest income tax rate in Britain was around 90 percent for most of the fifties and sixties, before being cut to 75 percent in 1971. This rate was applied on income over 20,000 pounds, the equivalent of about 240,000 pounds today.
catch the one-fifteen - (p. 20)
We learn later in the book that Mellingham Hall is located in "Hampshire or Sussex or somewhere." Most trains to Hampshire leave London from Waterloo Station, about two kilometres from Bedford Row. Depending on traffic, a cab ride could take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, compared to 13 minutes by public transit or about 30 minutes by foot. Assuming Crispin plans to take a cab, he should leave Bedford Row no later than 12:45 to provide a margin for error. Most Sussex-bound trains leave from Victoria Station, three kilometres from Bedford Row, about 13 minutes by cab in light traffic, but more like half an hour in normal mid-day conditions, which makes the 21-minute journey by public transit a little more attractive if Crispin, as seems to be the case here, was running late. For the energetically inclined, it's about a 48-minute walk. To take three largish Hampshire destinations at random, it's about 50-minutes by train from Waterloo Station to Basingstoke, about 70-minutes to Winchester, and about 90 to 100 minutes to Southampton. Sussex destinations tend to be a bit closer to London. As we will learn in Chapter 13, Mr. Willoughby Scrope has at his disposal an expensive-looking automobile driven by an expensive-looking chauffeur, so he won't have to deal with the 18-minute walk from his Bedford Row office to the Savoy Hotel to keep his 1:30 p.m. luncheon date with Jerry.
cats in adages (...) letting "I dare not" wait upon "I would." - (p. 20)
In Act I of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, observing what appeared to be a pronounced case of cold feet exhibited by her lord and master, urged him to get on with the job of assassinating the king instead of "letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would' like the poor cat i' the adage." This proverbial cat was known for sitting at the edge of a pond, eager to catch a fish for dinner but reluctant to gets its paws wet.
manufacturing chinaware up north - (p. 21)
In Wodehouse's preceding novel, 1969's A Pelican at Blandings/No Nudes is Good Nudes we learned that The Duke of Dunstable's late wife was "the daughter of one of those chaps up North who make cups and basins and things."
Daffodil Days (...) Morning's at Seven (...) whimsical essay - (p. 21)
In Aunts Aren't Gentlemen (U.S. title: The Catnappers) Bertie Wooster picked up a copy of Daffodil Days and found it "even less fit for human consumption" than he had expected. When she titled her second book Morning's at Seven Vera was pinching Browning's stuff from "Pippa's Song."
The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven--
All's right with the world!
Morning's At Seven was also the title of a 1939 play by Paul Osborn.
liked the dead past to bury its dead - (p. 21)
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead past bury its dead.
[From Longfellow's "A Psalm For Life"]
This is also the poem that includes that "Life is real! Life is earnest!" quotation that Wodehouse made frequent use of, including later in this book. Longfellow's "dead past bury its dead" line was no doubt lifted from the Bible:
"And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead."
Bernadette Clayborne, commonly known as Barney - (p. 22)
Wodehouse women with masculine or unisexual sounding names or nicknames - like Barney, Bill, Billie, Bobbie, Terry, Stiffy, and Nobby - tend to have outgoing, energetic, friendly personalities but are perhaps slightly too prone to stir things up to suit the temperament of those people who enjoy a quiet, placid life.
Chaucer (...) father of English poetry (...) Wife of Bath - (p. 23)
"The Wife of Bath's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer (1343–1400) tells the story of a woman of a certain age, who had already been married five times. While not beautiful (she is unkindly described as an "old hag"), she was forceful, vivacious and wise and ended the tale happily married to a sixth husband, one of King Arthur's knights.
his iron front had crumbled beneath the impact of second thoughts - (p. 24)
The Iron Front was the name of a German anti-Nazi organization founded in 1931 but Wodehouse used the expression as early as 1923's Leave it to Psmith when Joseph Keeble showed an iron front to hairdressers who tried to inflict lotions upon him. The expression means to show steadfast, unwavering determination to do (or to refuse to do) something.
this jeremiad - (p. 24)
This is a prolonged lamentation or mournful complaint and is an allusion to the Lamentations of Jeremiah in the Old Testament.
you've got the brokers in - (p. 25)
The broker's man, sometimes known as "The man in possession," is an agent acting on behalf of a party that is owed money by moving into a debtor's home until the sum is paid. Wodehouse had a writing credit for the 1931 MGM film The Man In Possession in which Robert Montgomery was a broker's man who, like Chippendale in this book, pretended to be a butler. Complications ensued when Montgomery's character fell in love with the lady of the house. Charles Dickens wrote an 1835 short story called "The Broker's Man."
Oliver Twist (...) Cheeryble brothers (...) sort of elderly boy scouts - (p. 26)
Willoughby might have been right up to date on the subject of Chaucer and The Wife of Bath (although we look askance at his comparing Barney to someone described as an "old hag"), but he needs to brush up on his Dickens as the Cheeryble brothers appear not in Oliver Twist, but in Nicholas Nickleby.
Gainsborough (...) the Regency (...) called The Girl in Blue - (p. 26)
Thomas Gainsborough (1727–88) was a portrait and landscape painter, best known for his 1770 painting "The Blue Boy." When Willoughby and Crispin guessed that he was from the Regency period they were out by a decade or two. Officially the Regency was from 1811 to 1820, the final nine years of the life of "mad" King George III when the Prince of Wales ruled as the Prince Regent. Unofficially, the Regency era, representing the transition between the Georgian and Victorian eras, was from about 1795 to 1837.
Sotheby's (p. 26)
The world famous auction house was founded in London March 11, 1744. Since 1983 it has been owned and headquartered in the U. S. and now has more than 1,400 employees in 90 locations in 40 countries with annual sales of 5.8 billion dollars in 2011.
that Murphy business - (p. 27)
Your annotators wondered if this could be an allusion to Norman Murphy, but he reports that he was still unknown to Wodehouse at this time. Three years later Colonel Murphy sent Wodehouse a much appreciated Pink 'Un and Pelican book and in Bachelors Anonymous, the novel Wodehouse was writing at the time, "Murphy's Mews" was given as the London address of one of the book's characters.
Chapter 4 (Pages 28 - 34)
Browning (...) Pippa (...) God was in His heaven and all right with the World - (p. 28)
See "Daffodil Days ... Morning's at Seven" annotation from Page 21.
that bit in the Psalms about joy coming in the morning - (p. 28)
Specifically, from Psalm 30:5. "For his anger endureth but a moment: in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
sitting pretty with his hat on the side of the head - (p. 28)
In the days when men always wore hats in public and were likely to be stopped and questioned by the police if they were bare-headed, they could indicate their frame of mind by the way they wore their hat. A hat clapped jauntily on the side of the head indicated a certain joie de vivre and zest for life. Murphy's A Wodehouse Handbook reports that the 1933 British film Jack Ahoy! included a song titled 'My hat's on the side of my head' sung by the film's star, Claude Hulbert. Sitting Pretty was the title of a 1924 Jerome Kern-P. G. Wodehouse-Guy Bolton Broadway musical.
that Dictaphone thing on the desk - (p. 29)
Dictaphone was an American company that produced machines used to record speech for later playback, usually by a typist transcribing the bon mots of her or his boss in the form of a letter. The machines originally used a wax cylinder as a recording device but by 1970 the model in Willoughby's office probably used a magnetic sound sheet. Wodehouse experimented with a Dictaphone while writing Right Ho, Jeeves, but when he heard his own voice being played back ("a voice like that of a very pompous schoolmaster") he sold the contraption and, feeling "like the Ancient Mariner when he got rid of the albatross," went back to the good old typewriter.
bring the blush of shame to the cheek of modesty - (p. 30)
A line from Archibald Grosvenor's dialogue as he boasted about the virtues of his latest poem in Act II of Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience.
dates back to Ethelbert the Unready or somebody like that - (p. 30)
Presumably what Bill actually told Barney was that the house "dates back to Ethelred the Unready or somebody like that." Æthelred II or "Æthelred the Unready" was the King of England from 978–1013 and from 1014 until his death in 1016.
seven maids with seven mops - (p. 30)
A reference to:
"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.
[The Walrus and the Carpenter from Lewis Carroll's Alice Through the Looking Glass.]
Scropes at Mellingham at the time of the Flood - (p. 31)
The story of Noah and the Flood is told in Chapter 6–9 of the Book of Genesis and chapter 71 of the Quran.
brow racked by pain and anguish (...) ministering angels - (p. 31)
O Woman! In our hours of ease,
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made;
When pain and anguish rack the brow,
A ministering angel thou!
[From Walter Scott's "Marmion" (1808).]
an early Scrope about to be beheaded on Tower Hill -(p. 31)
Tower Hill is an elevated spot northwest of the Tower of London and was frequently the site of public executions of high profile criminals, including numerous earls, dukes and at least two Archbishops of Canterbury.
John Dryden (...) sweet is pleasure after pain -(p. 31)
John Dryden (1631–1700) dominated the literary life of Restoration England and was made Poet Laureate in 1668. This quotation is from "Alexander's Feast."
Bacchus' blessings are a treasure,
Drinking is the soldier's pleasure;
Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure,
Sweet is pleasure after pain.
Newmarket -(p. 32)
The Suffolk town of Newmarket is a Mecca of British horse racing, the home of the largest cluster of training yards in the country and two flat-racing courses that, between them, stage eight of British racing's 32 annual "Group 1" horse races.
an account with Slingsby's - (p. 32)
Every High Street of every British town will have at least one bookmaker's shop, usually part of a national chain, and all perfectly legal and above-board.
Brotherly Love - (p. 33)
From the Bible (Romans 12:10) "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another."
Not that I'm the one to cast the first stone - (p. 33)
In the Bible (John 8:7) Jesus came to the rescue of a woman accused of adultery, for which the penalty was death by stoning, by telling her accusers, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."
Out of the everywhere into the here - (p. 33)
Where did you come from, Baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into the here.
[From the poem "Baby" by Scottish poet, children's author, and minister George Macdonald (1824–1905).]
I think I'll call him Crippen - (p. 33)
A nick-name not likely to be welcomed by Crispin, considering the notoriety of the Dr. Crippen who was hanged in 1910 for murdering his wife.
Chapter 5 (Pages 35 - 47)
Flannery and Martin's book shop in Sloane Square - (p. 35)
Sloane Square is a small square at the intersection of Sloane Street and the King's Road at the boundaries of the fashionable central London districts of Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Chelsea.
the inevitability that was such a feature of Greek tragedy - (p. 35)
After studying the classics at Dulwich, Wodehouse was thoroughly familiar with the formulas used in writing and staging Greek tragedies, dealing as they did with infanticides, matricides, regicides and assorted other varieties of murders, betrayals, jealousies and similar goings-on.
31 Chelsea Square - (p. 35)
As Murphy first pointed out in In Search of Blandings, lawyer Willoughby Scrope's home address was in 1970 the home address of Wodehouse's lawyer grandson Edward Cazalet. Although we're told here that "Sloane Square is not far from Chelsea Square," it's actually about 18 minutes on foot, with most of the trek along the King's Road, which is a major shopping street, so it's quite likely that Homer browsed through a few other book shops before looking in at Flannery and Martin's establishment.
belles-lettres of an older vintage - (p. 36)
From the French, belles-lettres literally means beautiful or fine writing. One definition is "the more artistic and imaginative forms of literature, as poetry or romance, as opposed to more pedestrian and exact studies."
Indian Mutiny (...) skirl of the bagpipes at the siege of Cawnpore - (p. 36)
Actually, the skirl of the bagpipes announced the arrival of troops to relieve the siege of Lucknow in 1857. The siege of Cawnpore did not end so happily for the British.
My Life on the Links by Sandy McHoots (as told to Colin Jeffson) - (p. 37)
One wonders if the former British and American Open winner's life story included a mention of the golf lessons he gave to Vincent Jopp, as described in the short story "The Heel of Achilles."
Theatre Memories by Dame Flora Faye (as told to Reginald Tressilian) - (p. 37)
Could Reginald be a son or grandson of Lord Runnymede's son, the Hon. Clarence Tressilian, who kept goal for Houndsditch Wednesday in the 1912 short story "The Goalkeeper and the Plutocrat"?
the Helen of Troy class - (p. 37)
In Greek mythology Helen was the wife of the Spartan King Menelaus and was said to be the most beautiful woman in the world. When she left her husband to join Paris, the son of Troy's King Priam, it sparked the Trojan War. Hers, as Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593) pointed out in his Doctor Faustus, was "the face that launched a thousand ships."
one of those empresses of stormy emotion - (p. 40)
Several Wodehousean stars of the silver screen from Hollywood's Golden Age were billed and promoted in this way. Mrs. Adela Shannon Cork from The Old Reliable and Mrs. Grayce Llewellyn of Bachelors Anonymous were both known as the Empress of Stormy Emotion during their acting careers. Mrs. J. Z. Schnellenhamer from "The Rise of Minna Nordstrom" (The Queen of Stormy Emotion) and Ms. Hortensia Burwash from "The Juice of an Orange" (The Empress of Molten Passion) had similar titles.
Everything in life that's any fun (...) is either immoral, illegal or fattening. - (p. 40)
An adaptation of a nifty from American drama critic and playwright Alexander Woollcott (1887–1943), who was making his mark as a drama critic for The New Yorker at the same time Wodehouse was making his mark as a Broadway musical comedy lyricist.
Mother who knew best - (p. 42)
The catch-phrase "mother knows best" has been in use for hundreds of years and appears in print as early as 1732 in a tome snappily titled: Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British. Collected by Thomas Fuller, M. D.
weaving a circle around him thrice, his aspect being (...) that of one who on honeydew had fed and drunk the milk of Paradise - (p. 42)
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
[From "Kubla Kahn" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834).]
nothing like a dame - (p. 43)
"There is nothing like a dame," sung by a men's chorus of sailors, was one of the hit songs of the 1949 Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein musical South Pacific. Ironically, the song was originally written with the title "There is nothing like a Dane" for a planned musical version of Hamlet but after doing a spot of soliloquizing Messrs R & H decided that particular show was NOT to be.
entertaining a mongrel at the Westminster Kennel Show - (p. 45)
Although the uninitiated could be forgiven for assuming this would take place in the City of Westminster - that is to say, London - in fact, the Westminster Kennel Club is based in New York and its annual dog show, now in its 137th year, takes place in Madison Square Garden.
full of a stern resolve - (p. 45)
In the 1817 dramatic poem "Zapolya" Coleridge wrote, "Mistake not for assent / The unquiet silence of a stern resolve / Throttling the impatient voice."
Chapter 6 (Pages 48 - 59)
Dear Abby or Dr. Joyce Brothers - (p. 48)
These wre two of the leading syndicated advice columnists or "agony aunts" in American newspapers. Joyce Brothers was a psychologist and television personality who began her newspaper column in 1960, continuing right up to her death at the age of 85 in 2013. Pauline Phillips (1918–2013) started the Dear Abby column in 1956 using the pen-name Abigail van Buren and continued until her retirement in 2002 when her daughter Jeanne took over the column and the "Dear Abby" pen-name.
Aunt Phyllis on the weekly paper (...) a fat man in his fifties with a passion for lager beer - (p. 48)
Wodehouse had a brief career as an advice columnist for the weekly paper Tit-Bits in 1908 but was let go because his editor took the column and the correspondents' questions more seriously than Wodehouse.
guardian angel - (p. 49)
The concept of a guardian angel or spirit assigned to watch over and protect an individual or group exists in many religions and philosophies. "Hats off to the good old guardian angel," was Pongo Twistleton's attitude in Uncle Dynamite and Jerry held similar views here.
There must be no folding of the hands, no sitting back and taking it easy - (p. 49)
From the Bible (Proverbs 6:9–11) "How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man."
life is stern and life is earnest - (p. 50)
A slightly misquoted allusion to Longfellow's "A Psalm For Life":
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Queen Victoria (...) not easily amused - (p. 50)
Victoria is famously and possibly apocryphally quoted as frostily saying, "we are not amused" after listening to either a slightly risqué joke or a jocular comment about another reigning monarch. But Princess Alice, granddaughter of the queen, said she once asked her grandmother about the famous quotation and Victoria denied ever saying it.
a lunch that would go down in legend and song - (p. 50)
This would be a meal so famous that it will not only be remembered as a legend, but in a popular song as well. Like the numerous songs that recall Omar Khayyam's simple meal consisting of a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.
bien-être - (p. 51)
This is French for a feeling of well-being.
corporeal entity (...) astral body - (p. 51)
Corporeal is from the Latin for human body, so a corporeal entity is a living, breathing entity. Astral is also Latin, meaning 'from the stars'. But theosophists - and Wodehouse's brother Armine was a theosophist - believe a supersensible substance pervades all space and forms the substance of a second or "astral" body belonging to each individual. This astral body accompanies its host through life, but is able to leave the host's body at will and survive after its host's death.
collapsed onto the banquette - (p. 51)
The pretty juror's "table near the door" must also have been next to a wall, as a banquette is a long bench with an upholstered seat, usually along a restaurant wall.
trap drums - (p. 51)
This is a set of drums and other percussion instruments (cymbals, etc.) set up so they can be played by a single player.
the base Indian (...) who threw the pearl away richer than all his tribe - (p. 52)
In the final scene of Shakespeare's Othello, before killing himself the title character urged his auditors to remember him thusly: "then must you speak (...) of one whose hand, like the base Indian, threw a pearl away richer than all his tribe."
white slavers - (p. 53)
These merchants, more often found in fiction and melodramas than in real life, were in the business of kidnapping Europeans, especially attractive young women, and transporting them to some exotic destination where they would be obliged to perform duties that would win the approval of very few aunts living in Bournemouth.
Joe the Lascar's Underground Cellar in Limehouse - (p. 53)
Limehouse in the Docklands of London's East End is on the northern bank of the Thames. The area became notorious in the late 19th century for its Chinese opium dens, and thriller writers like Sax Rohmer and Edgar Wallace took full advantage of the setting in their fiction. Wodehouse was known to be a great fan of Wallace and a google search has produced no fewer than 182 Limehouse appearances in Wallace books. Lascars are East Indian sailors who were also known to pop up in Wallace's thrillers. (Aren't all cellars underground?)
Mr. Bones - (p. 53)
Part of a Minstrel Show cross-talk act with Mr. Bones (the musician playing the bones) and Mr. Tambo (the musician playing the tambourine) trading punch lines instead of the Pat and Mike featured in the cross-talk act at the annual Drones Club smoker. The "bones" could be real bones but were more often pieces of carved wood about 15 to 20 cm in length. The bones player would hold two or possibly even four "bones" between the fingers of each hand and then play them as a percussion instrument.
the Roman emperor Vitellius - (p. 54)
Vitellius (born 22 AD) was Rome's eighth emperor, but held that office for only eight months before being overthrown by Vespasian and executed by the latter's soldiers in 69AD. He is remembered for being overly fond of eating and drinking, and apparently was in the habit of sitting down to four banquets a day and sending his navy to procure rare foods for his feasts.
dyspepsia, sleeplessness, headache, weak eyes, asthma, bronchitis, rheumatism, lumbago, and sciatica, and brings you out in spots - (p. 54)
We're not told the name of the aunt in Bournemouth, but it sounds like she might be Rollo Podmarsh's mother from "The Awakening of Rollo Podmarsh." Mrs. Podmarsh was of the opinion that smoking causes "dyspepsia, sleeplessness, gnawing of the stomach, headache, weak eyes, red spots on the skin, throat irritation, asthma, bronchitis, heart failure, lung trouble, catarrh, melancholy, neurasthenia, loss of memory, impaired willpower, rheumatism, lumbago, sciatica, neuritis, heartburn, torpid liver, loss of appetite, enervation, lassitude, lack of ambition, and falling out of hair."
King Solomon and Brigham Young - (p. 55)
The Bible tells us that King Solomon "loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites. (...) And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart." Brigham Young, the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from 1847–1877, wasn't in the Solomon class, leaving a total of 55 widows on his death in 1877.
the soubrette - (p. 55)
In opera and musical theatre the soubrette is usually the heroine's friend, daughter, sister or maid, and is quite often involved in the secondary love story. Characters played by soubrettes are usually light-hearted, slightly flirtatious, sassy, saucy and street-wise. Vocally, they usually have a lighter and slightly higher voice than the leading lady, although sometimes, such as with Norina and Adina in, respectively, Donizetti's Don Pasquale and The Elixir of Love, a role written for a 'soubrette soprano' can be the show's leading lady. If someone set The Code of the Woosters to music, Stiffy Byng would be a soubrette role, Madeline would go to a lyric soprano, and Aunt Dahlia would be sung by a contralto.
They manage these things better in musical comedy - (p. 55)
And this scenario (a man casually breaking an engagement by telling his fiancée "I forgot to tell you about that; it's off.") is from the 1917 Kern-Wodehouse-Bolton musical Leave it to Jane. Tony Ring, an authority on Wodehouse's work in the theatre, sets the scene: "It comes almost at the end of Leave It To Jane, when Flora Wiggins, a waitress at the College, reminds Harold ('Bub') Hicks, the freshman son of a state senator, that he seems to have forgotten they are engaged, and when he has confirmed that it is off, she says 'That makes five or six times them students have done this to me. I'm just about gettin' discouraged.'"
Wednesday matinee - (p. 55)
Pleasing a Wednesday matinée audience is traditionally one of an actor's biggest challenges. In the London West End a Wednesday matinée audience will probably include a bus-load or two of pensioners from the provinces and a few tourists looking in because the weather is too wet for the Tower or the Zoo and museums bore them. If the play being given is a "classic" or has a classical theme that might be included in a school curriculum, there could also be bus-loads of students taking in the performance. A web-page offering discounted tickets for Broadway plays has this to say about Wednesday matinées: "The audience at these matinées can be a bit eccentric - expect to see a lot of elderly couples, dressed down tourists, and school groups. Surprisingly, the school children are usually fairly attentive audiences, since they're still new to the magic of theater. The old folks are probably the more disruptive group, as they can be heard snoring, commenting too loudly on the action, or adjusting their high-pitched hearing devices."
ewe lamb - (p. 56)
From the Bible (2 Samuel 12:3) "But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter."
an orchestra stall - (p. 56)
The expensive seats down front where the nibs seat.
Gustave Flaubert - (p. 56)
Flaubert (1821–1880) was a French writer best known for Madame Bovary. As Wodehouse hints here, Flaubert was known for being a painstaking perfectionist, constantly pruning and polishing every sentence in quest of le mot juste while eschewing clichés.
étourdit - (p. 56)
More like stunned or dazed than boneless; désossé would perhaps be le mot mieux for 'boneless.'
condemned man on scaffold .. messenger on foaming horse...reprieve in hand - (p. 56)
A staple in fiction was to have a last-minute reprieve arrive seconds before the execution of a condemned man. Jonas Hanway, in his 1774 account of the Damon and Pythias legend, used the words "scaffold" and "foaming horse" in his description of Damon's timely arrival to save his friend's life although, strictly speaking, Damon wasn't a "messenger" and wasn't bearing a reprieve.
golfing holiday (...) Sandwich - (p. 57)
Sandwich in the county of Kent is the home of two world class golf courses, the Royal St. George's and Prince's. Royal St. George's is the more famous of the two and has hosted the British Open thirteen times.
Jane Hunnicut - (p. 58)
Hunnicut is another old English family name, first appearing after the Norman conquest of 1066. They lived in Somerset at the manor of Hunecote (sometimes spelled Hunnecota) from where they took their name. With the notable exception of Jane Yorke of "Lord Emsworth Acts For the Best," any girl named Jane appearing in a Wodehouse story, play or musical can be counted on to be a thoroughly good egg.
Lot's wife (...) pillar of salt - (p. 59)
From Genesis 19:26 "But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt." At his Biblia Wodehousiana webpage Father Rob Bovendeaard explains "When Lot, Abraham's nephew, was summoned by angels to take his wife and his daughters and leave the city of Sodom, which was soon to be destroyed, he was told that they should not look behind them. Lot's wife did, however, with disastrous results."
pennies from heaven - (p. 59)
A popular American song by Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston, sung in the 1936 film Pennies from Heaven starring Bing Crosby.
impecunious suitor trying to marry the heiress - (p. 59)
Lord Dawlish (Uneasy Money), Baron Chuffnell (Thank You, Jeeves) and Captain Biggar (The Return of Jeeves/Ring For Jeeves) are just three of many other impecunious men in Wodehouse stories hampered by their scruples from getting hitched to an oofy lady.
Chapter 7 (Pages 60 - 62)
as if new life had been breathed into the inert frame - (p. 60)
Apparently the impact of a tea break on Mabel is rather like the effect one of Jeeves's patented pick-me-ups has on Bertie Wooster after a night out.
Percy the office boy - (p. 60)
Office boys were common in the first decades of the twentieth century with Pugsy Maloney of Psmith, Journalist (1915) being perhaps Wodehouse's best-known specimen. But would a London lawyer's office in 1969 or 1970 have employed an office boy like Percy? We don't know Percy's age, but the fact that he reads comic books would indicate he's probably quite young. The Children and Young Persons Act of 1933 made it illegal to employ anyone under the age of 15 (14 for "light work") or to employ anyone under the age of 16, which was the age of compulsory school attendance, during school hours.
a china cup instead of one of those cardboard things - (p. 60)
Those cardboard things at least were preferable to the ubiquitous polystyrene cups of today which take forever to biodegrade with the result that today's litter will still blight the environment a hundred years from now.
peculiarly repellent brand of hair oil - (p. 61)
Possibly the same brand of 'air-oil young Ern used for the Feet in the story "Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend"?
Minnie Shaw - (p. 61)
Probably a complete coincidence but Minnie Shaw was the name of a Broadway chorus girl in the early 1920s. She doesn't seem to have appeared in any Wodehouse musicals, but she did have a small role in a show called Topsy and Eva which starred the Duncan Sisters, who were originally supposed to star in the Kern-Wodehouse-Bolton musical Sitting Pretty.
mopping it up all day like a vacuum cleaner - (p. 61)
Eggy Mannering, Biff Christopher, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Tippy Plimsoll and Smedley Cork, to name just five, have also been accused of "mopping the stuff up like a vacuum cleaner" when the conditions seemed to call for it.
Chapter 8 (Pages 63 - 71)
Mellingham-in-the-Vale - (p. 63)
No Mellinghams appear in the Gazetteer of British Place Names although there is an abundant selection of Bellinghams, Ellinghams, and Wellinghams scattered through the country. As will be discussed in the Cathedral annotation to Page 82 and the "Hampshire or Sussex or somewhere" annotation for Page 95, it is difficult to pinpoint Mellingham's location.
But Norman Murphy volunteered his opinion: "Although Wodehouse used several locations in 'Hampshire/Sussex', they were usually pure fiction, as opposed to Blandings and Market Snodsbury, which we can trace. So, since nowhere is specifically identified, why not just settle on the area just north of Emsworth on the Hants/Sussex border which he did know well. Sorry, that's the best I can do. These Hampshire/Sussex locations have annoyed me for years. The early ones, up to 1925 or so, I can trace but the post-war ones, well, P.G. was writing from pure imagination. Though I'd bet that the history of Mellingham Hall is a memory of Hunstanton Hall, Norfolk, a mediaeval Great House he knew better than any other - and where he stayed longer (a year in total) than any other stately home in England."
the Goose and Gander - (p. 63)
There are at least two other Goose and Ganders in the canon. We learn in Service With a Smile that Market Blandings also has a pub with this name. And a word of warning if you ever drop in to the Goose and Gander in Walsingford Parva - the food is terrible. At least, that was the case in Summer Moonshine. Perhaps the cuisine has improved somewhat since that book was published in 1937.
Constable Ernest Simms, the local police force - (p. 63)
It's astonishing how many country police officers in Wodehouse books are victims of theft (usually helmet but occasionally uniform or bicycle), or inundated by a plague of frogs, or bitten by dogs, or assaulted by duck ponds, or knocked unconscious by girls wielding serviceable spanners or valets armed with confiscated coshes. P.C. Simms would do well to be careful, very careful, for the next seven chapters.
glad, glad, glad, like a male Pollyanna - (p. 65)
Pollyanna was a best-selling 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter that spawned several sequels and, eventually, a 1960 Walt Disney film starring Hayley Mills. The title character, Pollyanna Whittier, was a young orphan girl with a perpetually optimistic attitude.
Hunstanton in Norfolk - (p. 65)
As Murphy pointed out in the Mellingham-in-the-Vale note (P63), Wodehouse was a frequent guest at Norfolk's Hunstanton Hall in the late 1920s. Could this reference to P.C. Simms's mother living in Hunstanton be Wodehouse recalling someone of that name he knew there forty years earlier?
Marlene Hibbs - (p. 65)
Hibbs is a name of Anglo-Saxon origin first found in Yorkshire where they held a family seat, and can be traced well before the Norman conquest of 1066. Marlene is a name of German origin which combines the Latin name Maria and the Greek name Magdala to form a tribute to the Biblical figure Mary Magdalene.
that bicycle was Crown property - (p. 66)
All government property, ranging from policemen's bicycles all the way up to the biggest battleship in the Navy is considered to be the property of the Crown or the monarch.
He said he'd make me wish I'd never been born - (p. 66)
This may be an allusion to the first words of Job's lamentations from Job 3:1–3 "After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job spake, and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived."
calling me the fuzz, which is an expression she must have picked up at the cinema - (p. 66)
Or, perhaps, by reading a P. G. Wodehouse novel?
a Mexican jumping bean - (p. 67)
A Mexican jumping bean is a seed pod that has been inhabited by the larva of a small moth. The bean jumps when heated by the sun because the larva spasms in an attempt to roll to a cooler environment.
Chippendale (...) Has he made any good chairs lately? - (p. 68)
The name is of English locational origin from the Lancashire town of Chippingdale. 'Cieping' or 'Ceping' was an old pre-seventh century word for market or market town and 'dale' was the medieval English word for valley. The "good chairs" gag is a reference to Thomas Chippendale (1718–1776), an influential London cabinet-maker and furniture designer.
make him a hissing and a byword at the bar of world opinion - (p. 68)
From the Bible (Jeremiah 29:18) "And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and a hissing, and a byword, among all the nations whither I have driven them."
a Harley Street specialist - (p. 68)
Doctors are even more plentiful in Harley Street than lawyers in Bedford Row. Records show that Harley Street in the City of Westminster had 20 doctors in 1860, 80 by 1900, 200 doctors by 1914, and 1,500 when Britain's National Health Service was established in 1948. E. Jimpson Murgatroyd and Sir Roderick Glossop are among the Wodehousean medicine men who maintain practices there.
fry me for an oyster - (p. 69)
A catch phrase frequently used by Bertha Cool, one of the principals in the Cool and Lam series of detective novels written by "A. A. Fair," a pen-name used by Perry Mason author Erle Stanley Gardner.
Gorblimey - (p. 71)
A Cockney contraction of 'God blind me' to express surprise, anger, etc. In "Indian Summer of an Uncle" Bertie Wooster described how his Aunt Agatha, when peeved, "uttered an exclamation that nearly broke the window. It sounded something like 'Gor!' as if she had started to say 'Gorblimey!' and had remembered her ancient lineage just in time."
Chapter 9 (Pages 72 - 83)
singing like the cherubim and seraphim - (p. 72)
Cherubim and seraphim are the two highest orders of angels. This is probably an allusion to Samuel Johan Hedborn's hymn "Glorious Majesty."
Lo, hosts of cherubim and countless seraphim
Sing hosanna, holy is God
old saying attributed to Pliny the Elder (...) stuffed eelskin - (p. 72)
Pliny the Elder (AD 23 - 79 AD) was a Roman author, naturalist, philosopher and military commander. Although Pliny said a lot of good things, the ancient Greeks seem to have originated the proverb that Fate or Nemesis is always waiting around the corner to take Hubris down a peg or two with or without the assistance of a stuffed eelskin (or a bit of lead piping when Bertie Wooster recalls the proverb, wrongly attributing it to Shakespeare).
ears pricked up like a Doberman pinscher's - (p. 72)
In their natural state a Doberman's ears flop down the side of the head, but in many countries breeders perform cosmetic surgery on Doberman puppies at the age of 8 or 9 weeks by cropping their ears so they stand up straight with pointed tips. In Germany, where Friedrich Dobermann (spelled with two 'n's) developed the breed around 1890, the practice of cropping their ears is illegal.
Alexander Graham Bell - (p. 76)
The eminent Canadian scientist and inventor (1847–1922) is credited with inventing the first practical telephone in 1876 although Wodehouse quite sportingly didn't give him all the blame in a 1917 article for Vanity Fair magazine, when he wrote: "It was either Doctor Page of Salem or Phillipp Reis of Freiderichsdorf or Alexander Graham Bell who invented that wonderful piece of mechanism which today enables you to sit in your armchair, call up the editor of Vanity Fair, and in a single instant to be speaking to Gimbel's Store."
sixty-six inches of him - (p. 77)
Or about 168cm in metric.
Whenever Father won a bit on the dogs - (p. 78)
Greyhound racing continues to be a popular sport in Britain, especially with urban working class punters who aren't able to travel to the country where most of the horse-race tracks are located. Chippendale's speech patterns indicate a London upbringing, so the chances are that Mr. Chippendale liked to spend his evenings at either the White City Stadium (demolished in 1985) or at Wembley, best known as a football (soccer) shrine, but also used for greyhound racing until the sixties. Pongo Twistleton still shudders when he thinks of the time he accompanied his Uncle Fred to a dog-racing track.
soliloquy - (p. 78)
A Latin term, it means to talk to oneself. Many of Shakespeare's characters utter soliloquies, such as Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech.
the balloon would certainly go up - (p. 79)
This expression originated in the trenches of the First World War. One side would launch a balloon with the intention of learning the enemy's positions and strength. As a result, the hoisting of a balloon served as a warning to the infantry that a major attack was imminent.
poor bastard - (p. 79)
Unusually strong language for Wodehouse, but this word did pop up two or three times in his fiction after World War II, with other examples being found in French Leave (1956) and 1949's The Mating Season while the same word with an 'r' inserted after the 'a' in the first syllable appears in 1948's Spring Fever as well as a little later in this book at which time your annotators will direct you back here.
the nick (...) jug him - (p. 79)
"Nick" is an all-purpose slang word. Used as a noun here by Chippendale, being bunged into the nick means being sent to prison. As a verb, if the police nicked Chippendale, it would mean they arrested him. But if Chippendale nicked the miniature, it would mean he stole it. As a further indication of the word's versatility, in the 1956 novel French Leave an elderly gentleman with the Christian name of Nicolas was known by friends and enemies alike as "Old Nick" which happens to be an informal or jocular name for Satan. "Jug" is a similar slang word, but perhaps not quite as versatile as "nick." In this connotation, used as a verb, "to jug him" means to imprison him. Used as a noun, the jug is the prison.
lovely splosh - (p. 80)
Another British slang word, this one means money.
Cor chase my Aunt Fanny up a gum tree - (p. 80)
A working class British exclamation of amazement, dating to the 1930s. Cor, like Gor in the 'Gor blimey' note on Page 71, is a way of saying "God" without actually saying "God." Although why a busy personage like Cor or Gor, with a million things on His mind, would want to chase Chippendale's Aunt Fanny up a gum tree (or around a mulberry bush in an alternate version of the expression) is beyond us.
The age of chivalry (...) Chevalier Bayard - (p. 80)
Pierre Terrail, the Seigneur de Bayard (1473–1524), was the French chevalier sans peur et sans reproche (knight without fear and without reproach) whose bravery and courtesy to his foes made him famous across Europe. The Chevalier himself wasn't happy with that flowery title and preferred to be known more simply as "le bon chevalier" or "the good knight." The English word 'chivalry' comes from the French word for knight, 'chevalier.'
horses strained fetlocks - (p. 81)
The fetlock is the common name for the metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints on horses and other large animals. Without adding another five or six lines of long scientific Latin words, let's just say a horse's fetlock is the approximate equivalent of a human ankle. Crispin knew only too well that disaster would ensue if Brotherly Love had the misfortune to strain a fetlock on the morning of the race.
result from the ticker at his club - (p. 81)
All horse race tracks would be connected to a teletype or ticker-tape service to get the results to the country's newspapers and betting shops within minutes of the conclusion of a race. Gentlemen's clubs and other interested parties could also subscribe to the service.
hurricanes off the eastern coast of America that become so emotional on arriving at Cape Hatteras - (p. 81)
Cape Hatteras is located on the coast of North Carolina at the spot where the southerly-flowing cold water from the Labrador Current meets the northern-flowing warm water of the Florida Current or Gulf Stream, creating the potential for violent weather.
driving me over to Canterbury (Salisbury in the U.K. book) to see the cathedral - (p. 82)
The cathedral in the Kent town of Canterbury was founded in 597 and completely re-built from 1070 to 1077. A World Heritage Site, it is the home cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England. But in the U.K. (Barrie & Jenkins) edition of this book the drive was to the Wiltshire town of Salisbury to see the cathedral, which dates from the 13th century and boasts the tallest church spire in the U.K. This obviously complicates the question of Mellingham Hall's location and will be discussed further in the annotation for Page 95.
the Shimmy - (p. 82)
A popular dance in the 1920s, considered daring and provocative. In Act 2 of the London musical The Cabaret Girl a London show-girl demonstrates the dance for the rustics in Woollam Chersey by singing "Shimmy with Me," to lyrics and music by Wodehouse and Jerome Kern.
The Collected Sermons of Bishop Pontifex (Oxford University Press, 1839) - (p. 82)
The author's name is a joke, as pontifex (bridge-builder in Latin) was in ancient Rome a member of the Supreme Council of priests led by the Pontifex Maximus. The word is now used by the Catholic Church where the Pope is known as "the pontif." A priest named "Bishop Pontifex" would be rather like a Ms. Copper becoming a police officer (Constable Copper) or a Mr. Cook opening a restaurant and calling himself Chef Cook.
occipital bone - (p. 82)
The saucer-shaped membrane bone at the back and lower part of the cranium.
a combination of epilepsy and ague - (p. 82)
Ague is a fever, usually associated with malaria, and frequently accompanied by successive cold, hot, and sweating fits and shaking chills while epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurring and unprovoked seizures.
Chapter 10 (Pages 84 - 91)
Rodin's celebrated Penseur - (p. 84)
Le Penseur (The Thinker), a bronze and marble statue by French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840–1907) showing a naked man sitting, hunched over with his chin resting on his hand, apparently deep in thought, was cast in 1902 and can now be found in Paris's Musée Rodin.
weakest possible reed on which to lean - (p. 84)
From the Bible (Isaiah 36:6) "Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him."
Archie Goodwin in the Nero Wolfe stories - (p. 84)
In mystery author Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series Archie supplied the legwork and did the heavy lifting while Wolfe directed operations from his easy chair, from which he only budged at meal-times or to admire his orchid garden.
sit hemming and hawing - (p. 85)
To hem and haw is to be uncertain or evasive in speech while avoiding saying anything meaningful. Trained politicians, when they can't or don't want to answer a question, can talk so convincingly and confidently that most of the time their victims don't realize until much later that the original question wasn't answered. The rest of us mere mortals tend to sit hemming and hawing a good deal in that sort of situation.
one of the streets off the King's Road, a short step from Chelsea Square - (p. 85)
The street connecting the King's Road with Chelsea Square one block away is Manresa Road. James Orlebar Cloyster, the narrator of the 1907 book Not George Washington, had lodgings at 93A Manresa Road.
the iron heel - (p. 86)
The Iron Heel was the name of a 1908 novel by Jack London that influenced George Orwell, the future author of 1984. London didn't invent or create the expression, as the iron heel of various things (despotism, religious bigotry, military domination, oppression, etc.) can be found in literature going back for hundreds of years. Wodehouse used the expression as early as 1909's The Swoop when golf greens were dented by the iron heel of the members of an invading army "who rarely, if ever, replaced the divot."
pourparlers - (p. 86)
A French word meaning an informal or preliminary conference, usually designed to lead to an eventual agreement.
feet of clay - (p. 87)
The expression, indicating a character flaw, generally a lack of reliability, comes from the second chapter of the Bible's book of Daniel. In a weird dream Nebuchadnezzar beheld a great image with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, legs of iron and feet partly iron and partly clay. In Daniel 2:42 Daniel offered this dream interpretation: "And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken."
Easy Street - (p. 89)
An American colloquialism dating back to the first decade of the last century to indicate a state of financial independence where the living is easy. The upper case letters are optional - it was easy street in 1922's The Adventures of Sally and a few years earlier it was Easy Street in Piccadilly Jim. It was also the title of a 1917 short (23 minute) Charles Chaplin film.
why not say so - (p. 89)
This probably isn't a quotation or an allusion at all. After all, "Why not say so?" is a commonplace question to ask. But, as there have been so many other allusions to The Mikado in this book (including the next annotation, which comes two paragraphs later in the novel), it's possible this is from Act II when Ko-Ko came up with a not very convincing attempt to explain to the Mikado why he had not executed Nanki-Poo as he earlier testified he had: "It's like this: When your Majesty says, 'Let a thing be done,' it's as good as done — practically, it is done — because your Majesty's will is law. Your Majesty says, 'Kill a gentleman,' and a gentleman is told off to be killed. Consequently, that gentleman is as good as dead — practically, he is dead — and if he is dead, why not say so?"
blooming like the flowers in spring - (p. 89)
The flowers that bloom in the spring,
Breathe promise of merry sunshine —
As we merrily dance and we sing,
We welcome the hope that they bring,
Of a summer of roses and wine.
And that's what we mean when we say that a thing
Is welcome as flowers that bloom in the spring
Tra la, etc.
[From a duet for Nanki-Poo and Ko-Ko, ably assisted in the refrain by Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing and Pooh-Bah, in Act II of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado.]
tremble like aspens - (p. 90)
Actually, according to the poets Tennyson and Scott, aspens were known for quivering, not trembling:
Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
[Tennyson's "Lady of Shallot" (1837)]
For the quivering aspen in Walter Scott's "Marmion" (1808), see the pain and anguish rack the brow annotation from Page 31.
she was my guest and bursting with my salt - (p. 90)
Among the Arabs to eat a man's salt or partake in his hospitality was considered to be a sacred bond between a host and his guest. No one who has eaten of another's salt should speak ill of him or do him an ill turn. It would therefore be considered a serious faux pas for a guest, having broken bread with his or her host and eaten his or her salt, to pinch or attempt to pinch the host's miniature/ silver cow creamer/French chef/etc. In his The Newcomes (1855) William Makepeace Thackeray's narrator Arthur Pendennis said, "Once and again, in two or three years, Mr. Hobson Newcome would meet me, and ask me to fill a vacant place that day or the next evening at his table; which invitation I might accept or otherwise. But one does not eat a man's salt, as it were, at these dinners. There is nothing sacred in this kind of London hospitality. Your white waistcoat fills a gap in a man's table, and retires filled for its service of the evening."
Chapter 11 (Pages 92 - 115)
Eaton Square - (p. 92)
Eaton Square is a garden square and exclusive residential neighbourhood in London's Belgravia district, a short stroll from Buckingham Palace. In shape, the green-space is more of a narrow, three-block long rectangle than a square and is dominated by the 16th century St. Peter's Church at one end. If she's walking, depending on which end of the rectangle-shaped Square Vera and Dame Flora call home, it's anywhere from two to eight minutes to the Sloane Square book shop. (See Page 35 annotation.)
her brow was knitted - (p. 92)
This means to lower the eyebrows so they make a "V" shape to produce a thoughtful, worried or sullen look which, we suspect, isn't an unusual visage for Vera. The expression appears in print as early as 1645 in Samuel Torshell's The Womans Glorei. "Every passion or inordinate affection disguiseth; Malice hath a sullen and down-look which dissembling can hardly hide; Anger appeares upon the knitted brow; Desire discovers itselfe in the eye; Prudence keepes in all these that would gad abroad into the visage to tell what newes within."
her little body was a-weary of this great world - (p. 92)
In Act I of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Portia, with or without a knitted brow, tells her waiting woman, Nerissa, "By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is a wearie of this great world."
Emma Lucille Agee, who wrote that dirty novel that's been selling in millions in America - (p. 92)
She doesn't have a triple-barreled name but Wodehouse may have been thinking of Jacqueline Susann whose Valley of the Dolls was number one on the American best-selling list in 1966 and finished in third place on the 1969 best-selling list with The Love Machine.
lots of delegates from the Balkans - (p. 93)
As one of its goals is to fight for freedom of expression and to act as a voice on behalf of writers harassed (or worse) for their views, it's not surprising that a PEN Conference at this time (1969–70) would include an abundance of delegates from the Balkans.
charabanc expedition to Malines - (p. 93)
A charabanc was an early motor-coach (originally a horse-drawn vehicle), usually open-topped for sight-seeing, but would have been at least forty years out of date by this time. The Belgian town of Malines, better known as Mechelin, is in Flanders, about halfway between Antwerp and Brussels.
carillon concert - (p. 93)
A carillon is a musical instrument consisting of at least 23 cast-bronze cup-shaped bells, usually found in the bell-tower of a church. The total weight of the bells alone can top 100 tons, making the carillon the heaviest of all musical instruments. The Sint- Romboutskathedraal (Saint Rumbold's Cathedral) of Malines (better known as Mechelin) has a particularly fine carillon.
inspection of Antwerp Harbour - (p. 93)
Antwerp, the capital of the Belgian province of Flanders, has one of the largest seaports in Europe, second only to Rotterdam in total freight shipped.
registering it on stage - (p. 93)
A subtly raised eyebrow will do the job in a film close-up but on stage an actor's emotions have to be bigger and grander to carry all the way to the back row of the balcony.
Vera was not to be comforted - (p. 94)
As Father Rob Bovendeaard points out at the Biblia Wodehousiana web-page, several Bible texts speak of people refusing to be comforted but Jeremiah 31:15 ("Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.") is the most likely one to have left its mark in Wodehouse's memory, as it is quoted by the evangelist Matthew to illustrate the distress of the mothers of the slaughtered innocents.
swineherds in fairy stories - (p. 94)
Probably a reference to Hans Christian Andersen's 1841 fairy tale Svinedrengen ("The Swineherd") about a prince who disguised himself as a swineherd to woo an arrogant princess.
let concealment like a worm i' the bud feed on his damask cheek - (p. 95)
In Act II of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night Viola, who loved the Duke but was disguised as a man, told the Duke that her father had a daughter who " never told her love, But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought, And with a green and yellow melancholy She sat like patience on a monument, Smiling at grief."
in Hampshire or Sussex or somewhere - (p. 95)
Two English counties along the country's south coast. If you travel due south from London, once you pass through the neighbouring county of Surrey, you arrive in Sussex. Hampshire is to the west of Sussex and to the southwest of London. To further complicate the question of Mellingham Hall's location, in the U.S. (Simon and Shuster) edition of the book, Barney is invited to go on a drive to Canterbury Cathedral, while in the U.K. (Barrie & Jenkins) edition, the trip is to Salisbury Cathedral. Salisbury is located in the county of Wiltshire, which should put Mellingham somewhere in the western part of Hampshire, near the Wiltshire border. Canterbury is way over in the eastern part of Kent in the southeast corner of the country, 230 kilometres due east of Salisbury so in the American book Mellingham would appear to be in east Sussex. The Mellingham Hall that appears in both the British and American editions of the 1973 book Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin (U.S. title: The Plot That Thickened) is set firmly in Sussex, and is said to be about an hour's drive from Brighton. According to Google Maps, Emsworth is a 70-minute drive from Brighton, which fits nicely with Murphy's theory (see Mellingham-in-the-Vale note for Page 63) that Mellingham is somewhere around Emsworth.
Let there be no stint - (p. 96)
Possibly a quotation from J. S. Blackie's 1866 English verse translation of Homer's Iliad. This is from Hector's final confrontation with Achilles in Book 22.
Now be the lust of battle lord, and let there be no stint Of spears, and let us know whose sword can give the deeper dint;
This could also be an allusion to a splash of dialogue from Act I of The Mikado when Ko-Ko, seeking guidance on how much money to spend on his forthcoming wedding, was advised by his private secretary Pooh-Bah, "as the city will have to pay for it, don't stint yourself, do it well" only to have his Chancellor of the Exchequer (also Pooh-Bah) warn him that "due economy must be observed."
feel like turning my face to the wall - (p. 98)
From the Bible (2 Kings 20:1–2) "In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord."
like a devouring flame - (p. 98)
From the Bible and Isaiah 29:6 - "Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire." And from Isaiah 30:30 - "And the Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall show the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones."
nice bits of bijouterie in Bond Street - (p. 99)
From the French "bijou," bijouterie is a collection of jewellery. Bond Street, one of London's most famous high fashion shopping streets, is awash with jewellers, with no fewer than 34 shops in the "fine jewellery and watches" category listed at the Bond Street web-page.
company's own water - (p. 99)
No, it doesn't mean that company (houseguests) could expect running water in their bedrooms. As Murphy explains in A Wodehouse Handbook, the words "company's own water" could be found in almost every British housing advertisement from 1900 to about 1930. As new housing estates grew up around the country's major cities buyers wanted reassurance about the purity of the water supply. The companies were the municipal water companies, which were subject to stringent medical and legal registration.
A bright light had flashed upon her - (p. 99)
Probably from Isaiah 9:2 "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."
like the Canadian mounted police, would not fail to get her man - (p. 101)
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police became famous for "always getting their man" when a 1932 manhunt for Albert Johnson, AKA "The Mad Trapper of Rat River," made headlines around the world. The Mad Trapper, who wore his snowshoes backwards to confuse his pursuers, led the Mounties on a merry 240-kilometre chase for more than a month through the wilds of a Northwest Territories winter before finally being brought to justice. Despite the best efforts of Hollywood script-writers, the motto of the RCMP is not "We always get our man" - it's "Maintiens le droit."
a warhorse that has heard the sound of the bugle (...) It starts. It quivers (...) and says "Ha, ha" among the trumpets - (p. 102)
The plucky behaviour of the war-horse was noted in Job 39:25 "He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting."
practicing moody cannons - (p. 102)
In billiards a cannon, which is worth two points, is when a player's shot-ball clicks off both of the other two balls on the table. A "moody cannon" is one of Wodehouse's signature transferred epithets. Other examples include "lit a thoughtful cigarette", "pronged a moody forkful of eggs", "soaping a meditative foot" and, as early as the 1902 story 'The Tabby Terror' from The Tales of St. Austin's, "over a sorrowful cup of tea."
heart executed a Nijinsky leap - (p. 103)
Vaslav Nijinsky (1889–1950) was the world's dominant male ballet dancer in the early twentieth century and his gravity-defying leaps were legendary. During a rough crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in The Luck of the Bodkins "Ivor Llewellyn, prone in his bunk and holding on to the woodwork, was able to count no fewer than five occasions when the vessel lowered Nijinsky's record for leaping in the air and twiddling the feet before descending."
see him steadily and see him whole - (p. 103)
Who saw life steadily, and saw it whole;
The mellow glory of the attic stage;
Singer of sweet Colonus, and its child.
[From "Sonnet to a Friend" by Matthew Arnold (1822–1888).]
"Ha!" said Crispin, as if he were saying it among the trumpets - (p. 103)
Another reference to the warhorse annotation from Page 102.
it must be an earthly paradise - (p. 104)
From Genesis 2:8 "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed." Fr. Rob Bovendeaard explains the Hebrew word for 'garden' was translated as 'paradise' in the Greek version of the Old Testament.
(prayer) for those in peril on the sea - (p. 106)
The original words were written as a hymn by Rev. William Whiting (1825–78) after surviving a furious storm in the Mediterranean.
Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!
Jumble Sale in aid of the Church Lads Annual Outing - (p. 106)
Let's hope for the sake of the vicar and his volunteers that the Church Lads Annual Outing is a little less raucous than the Church Mothers' Annual Outing that Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps was called on to chaperone in the story "Tried in the Furnace."
book of sermons ... Canon Whistler - (p. 107)
We don't know if he was a canon, but a Rob G. Whistler published a book of sermons in 1815.
blush of shame would have mantled the cheek - (p. 107)
A frequently used cliché found in many 19th century books. In Pendennis (1850), Thackeray wrote, "she was not a child, but she was scarcely a woman as yet, her tears had dried up, and her cheek mantled with youthful blushes..." A few years earlier, in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall Emily Brontë wrote of "a faint blush mantling her cheek."
fretful midges - (p. 108)
A Fretful Midge was the title of a 1957 book by Irish author Terence De Vere White. A midge is a small two-winged fly.
technically known as one over the eight - (p. 109)
British military slang meaning the patient has had one drink too many and is now officially pie-eyed. The idea at that time being that a man could safely drain eight glasses of beer, but a ninth glass was dangerous.
inner sanctum - (p. 109)
See manager's sanctum note for Page 3. Inner Sanctum Mystery was the name of an American radio series running from 1941 to 1952 and was spun-off as a television series, running for one season in 1954. There was also a 1948 film called Inner Sanctum about a murderer who was on the run and hiding out in a small town. Unbeknownst to him, he was not only hiding out in the same boarding house as the only witness of his crime, they were sharing the same room. Another Inner Sanctum film was released in 1991, but was not a re-make of the earlier plot.
keep the thought of that hundred steadily before him - (p. 110)
Arthur Robinson, at his webpage devoted to PGW's use of G&S quotes and allusions, suggests this could be an allusion to a splash of dialogue in Act I of The Grand Duke when Ludwig, having observed someone eat three sausage-rolls, sensed a conspiracy was afoot, and warned, "Keep that fact steadily before you. Three large sausage-rolls." http://home.lagrange.edu/arobinson/wodehousegilbert.htm
like Kipling's soldier (...) "Peace, be still." - (p. 110)
In his poem "Back To The Army Again" Kipling wrote:
I took my bath, an' I wallered -- for, Gawd, I needed it so!
I smelt the smell o' the barricks, I 'eard the bugles go.
I 'eard the feet on the gravel -- the feet o' the men what drill
An' I sez to my flutterin' 'eart-strings, I sez to 'em, "Peace, be still!"
the Gorgon of Greek mythology - (p. 110)
In Greek mythology the Gorgons were three terrifying sisters with hair of venomous snakes. Stheno and her sister Euryale were immortal; the third sister Medusa was not and had the misfortune to be slain by the hero Perseus.
the Band of Hope - (p. 111)
The Band of Hope was established in 1847 by a Baptist minister in Leeds to teach children the importance and principles of sobriety and teetotalism. They grew to about three million members in Britain by 1935 before the temperance movement ran out of steam. Today known as "Hope UK", the organization remains concerned with children's welfare.
fountains at Versailles - (p. 112)
There are no fewer than fifty fountains with a total of 620 jets of water sprinkled through the Gardens of Versailles. The fountains date from the time of Louis XIV and still use the same hydraulic system installed during the Ancien Régime.
I have passed through the furnace - (p. 112)
There are many passages in the Bible which compare chastening experiences to the fire of a furnace, including Isaiah 48:10 "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."
Shakespeare it may have been, or Queen Victoria - (p. 114)
While it might be amusing to speculate about the likely subject of a nude statuette, I think we can safely eliminate Chippendale's speculation that Shakespeare or Queen Victoria posed for it.
Chapter 12 (Pages 116 - 129)
stricken battlefield (...) (...) Moscow - (p. 116)
Connie Parker ("Uncle Fred Flits By") and Gordon Carlisle (Cocktail Time) are just two of many other Wodehouse characters whose demeanour when things have gone wrong has been compared to Napoleon's on his retreat from Moscow in the Winter of 1812.
that thing in Alice in Wonderland. Speak roughly to your little boy and beat him when he sneezes. He only does it to annoy, because he knows it teases. - (p. 117)
The Duchess in the Lewis Carroll classic probably won't be among the contenders for the Mother-of-the-Year Award, judging by her philosophy of child-rearing:
Speak roughly to your little boy
and beat him when he sneezes
he only does it to annoy
because he knows it teases.
I speak severely to my boy
I beat him when he sneezes
for he can thoroughly enjoy
the pepper when he pleases.
(heard voices) So did Joan of Arc, but she didn't hide in cupboards - (p. 118)
Saint Joan (1412–1431) claimed to have had visions from God and divine guidance instructing her to reclaim France from English domination during the Hundred Years War. Very far from hiding in cupboards, she played a prominent role in lifting the siege of Orleans in only nine days and rallied the French troops to several other swift victories.
Florence Nightingale - (p. 118)
Florence Nightingale (1820–1910) came to prominence for her pioneering work in nursing by tending to the wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War when she was known as "The Lady With the Lamp" because she often made her rounds at night. Her birthday, May 12, is celebrated around the world as International Nurses Day.
Let 'em eat cake - (p. 118)
The French Queen Marie Antoinette, upon being informed that the peasants had no bread, is famously quoted as saying "Let them eat cake." But, like that "We are not amused" quote (see annotation for Page 50) attributed to Queen Victoria, there's no evidence that she actually said it.
demon lover for whom women wailed - (p. 119)
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
[From Coleridge's "Kubla Khan."]
that base Indian who was such a poor judge of jewelry -(119)
See note for Page 52.
if men were dominoes he would be the double blank -(p. 120)
A domino set consists of 28 tiles. Seven of the tiles are "doubles" with the same number on both ends, ranging from double-blank up to double-six. The other 21 tiles are "singles" - tiles with different numbers on each end or a number and a blank.
He's including himself out? - (p. 122)
Hollywood magnate Sam Goldwyn is famously thought to have said "include me out" when he decided to resign from an industry group. But, like those "We are not amused" (see annotation for Page 50) and "Let them eat cake" (Page 118) quotes appearing elsewhere in this novel, there's some doubt he actually said it. In their 1990 book They Never Said It authors Paul F. Boller and John H. George claim the malaprop first appeared in a 1925 humour magazine and was later assigned to Goldwyn. In Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves Bertie Wooster borrowed Goldwyn's line by declining to participate in Stiffy Byng's latest looney scheme with a suave "Include me out."
take up the torch from where he has dropped it - (p. 122)
An old idiom, to take up the torch is to take on a challenge or responsibility, usually after someone else has failed.
Once bitten, twice shy - (p. 122)
15th century English writer and printer William Caxton is credited with the first version of this proverb in his translation of Aesop's Fables: "He that hath ben ones begyled by somme other ought to kepe hym wel fro(m) the same." English novelist Robert Surtees in his Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour (1853) wrote, "(He) had been bit once, and he was not going to give Mr. Sponge a second chance."
the burned child dreads the fire - (p. 123)
John Lyly (1553–1606)in his Euphues, the Anatomy of Wit (1580) wrote, "a burned child dreadeth the fire."
Sherlock Holmes (...) Five Orange Pips (...) put the miniature on the sundial - (p. 124)
The 10-year-old Wodehouse certainly would have read this Conan Doyle short story in the November, 1891 issue of The Strand magazine. "Five Orange Pips" later appeared in the book The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
When a house is on fire, everyone's impulse is to carry out from the flames the thing most precious to them - (p. 124)
To find out if Sherlock Holmes was correct, read the short story "A Scandal in Bohemia" collected in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Bertie Wooster learned to his cost that the theory wasn't fool-proof in Right Ho, Jeeves.
on the horns of dilemmas - (p. 127)
This refers to a sticky situation where one is forced to decide between two options and no matter which choice is made, the result will be unpleasant. The "horns" are a metaphor for a bull's horns. No matter which of the two horns you select, you run the risk of being impaled.
tête-à-tête - (p. 127)
From French, literally translated as "head to head," it means a private or intimate conversation between two persons.
all those demonstration marches and battling the police - (p. 128)
Like the songs of protest in the Page 3 note, these were almost an everyday occurrence when Wodehouse was writing this book. Come to think of it, they still are!
seeking whom he might devour - (p. 128)
From the Bible (1 Peter 5:8) "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
a man who has failed to find the bluebird - (p. 129)
Wodehouse made frequent use of The Bluebird of Happiness, which surprisingly was an invention of that notorious Gloomy Gus, Maurice Maeterlinck, in his 1909 play The Blue Bird. Tenor Jan Peerce's hugely popular 1945 record 'The Bluebird of Happiness' served to keep the expression in the public mind.
those messengers in Greek tragedy (...) bringing news of ruin and disaster -(p. 129)
Not just in Greek tragedies. In plays, operas and Wodehouse novels messengers rarely bring glad tidings. One thinks, for example, of the unfortunate messenger in Antony and Cleopatra who had the job of informing his queen that Antony had married Octavia. Wodehouse messengers and telegram boys usually bring word that engagements have been broken, Dunstable has invited himself to Blandings, and similar calamities.
down to the res without preamble - (p. 129)
A Latin word and a legal term, res translates as 'thing' but can also be applied to about fifty variations of thing, including substance, object, matter, issue, affair, circumstance, etc.
a voice which (...) might have come from a tomb - (p. 129)
Possibly an allusion to an Act II duet with Ernest (who is legally dead) and Julia in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Grand Duke:
You cannot neglect, O remember,
A voice from the tomb!
That stern supernatural diction
Should act as a solemn restriction,
Although by a mere legal fiction
A voice from the tomb!
Chapter 13 (Pages 130–157)
stiff upper lip - (p. 130)
Crispin, Jerry, and Chippendale all are failing to preserve their composure on receipt of this news. The instruction to “keep a stiff upper lip” means to refrain from display of excessive emotion and is generally associated with British people and a stereotypical view of them as less expressive than other nationalities. The phrase seems to have originated not in Britain but in America in the early 1800s. The Oxford English Dictionary cites usage as far back as 1800. A character in Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) advises Uncle Tom to “keep a stiff upper lip.” There is also the use in the 1963 Wodehouse novel Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves.
dying rooster - (p. 130)
According to Murphy’s Handbook a dying rooster was an inflatable rubber container that made a sound like a dying rooster when air was expelled. They were sold along with other miscellany by pedlars on the streets of London. Murphy calls it a “sort of Whoopie cushion.”
laying up treasure in heaven - (p. 130)
Matthew 6:20 / But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
False teeth . . . crack Brazil Nuts - (p. 131)
According to John Adams, George Washington ruined his natural teeth by cracking brazil nuts. Wodehouse managed to make brazil nuts a humorous topic in several contexts.
In Galahad at Blandings G. Threepwood seeks some firsthand facts about a fellow of whom he had heard who grew a second set of teeth in his eightieth year and used to crack Brazil nuts with them.
In Cocktail Time Lord Ickenham is told of a boy who shoots Brazil nuts and responds, “Not sitting Brazil nuts, I trust?” An Egg in conversation clarified, "He shoots things with Brazil nuts."
Church Lads - (p. 131)
Lord Ickenham’s nephew Pongo in Service with a Smile asks his uncle, “How do you mean, church lads?” Lord Ickenham has been telling how their friend Lord Emsworth is much beset by Church Lads. His explanation of the term is, “Weren’t you ever a church lad? . . . Well, many of the younger generation are. They assemble in gangs in most rural parishes. The Church Lads Brigade they call themselves. Connie [Lord Emsworth’s sister Constance] has allowed them to camp out by the lake.” Lord Emsworth found them noisy and disruptive and believed them responsible for knocking off his top hat with a crusty roll. We have not been able to determine whether PGW himself ever was a church lad.
Go off in a charabang with buns and hardboiled eggs and lemonade - (p. 131)
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a charabanc as a “long and light vehicle with transverse seats facing forward.” In Wodehouse, pleasure seekers touring the stately homes of England and such seem to travel in them. As charabanc was spelled correctly in Chapter 11 (see note for p. 93) when spoken by Vera Upshaw the 'charabang' spelling here reflects Chippendale's Cockney accent. In the U.K. edition of the book the correctly spelled word 'charabanc' came out of Chippendale's mouth.
drown the little bastards in a bucket - (p. 131)
See the note for Page 79 for another use in this book of this most un-Wodehousean word. In the case of this word, Chippendale apparently pronounced it as it is spelled - "bastards" in the U.S. book while "barstards" came out of his mouth in the U.K. edition.
Fitted him like the paper on the wall - (p. 132)
Assuming, of course, that the person hanging the wallpaper knows his business.
get its loaf of bread snapped off - (p. 132)
Chippendale's first use of Cockney rhyming slang. While one of the American characters in this book might have been at a loss to know what Chippendale was saying, Jerry and Crispin, although not Cockneys, didn't need a translator to tell them that loaf of bread = head.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson . . . thoughts too deep for tears - (p. 132)
Alfred, Lord Tennyson quoted it but that is in fact the final line of William Wordsworth’s ode, “Intimations of Immortality.” “A flower can summon/ Thoughts too deep for tears.”
lowered his pride to the dust - (p. 133)
A frequently used cliché in fiction from the Victorian era. Alexander Pope (1688–1744) may have been the first to use a variation. In his Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot Pope wrote:
Beauty that shocks you, parts that none will trust,
Wit that can creep, and pride that licks the dust.
stimulate his little gray cells - (p. 133)
Beginning in 1920 with The Mysterious Affair at Styles, his little grey cells supplied Hercule Poirot's brain-power for five decades of Agatha Christie mysteries. They appeared in a Wodehouse book as early as 1934's Thank You, Jeeves, and were mentioned as "gray matter" ten years before Poirot, in Wodehouse's story "The Matrimonial Sweepstakes."
Grinning in the manner popularized by Cheshire cats - (p. 134)
The reference is to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Wodehouse cited both the grin and the ability to vanish several times. A pig is described as vanishing like a Cheshire cat in Pigs Have Wings.
Trappist monks - (p. 134)
The Trappists are a Roman Catholic religious order of cloistered contemplative monastics who follow the Rule of St. Benedict. Although Benedict's rules, written in the sixth century, do specify a lack of speech, contrary to popular belief and the impression Wodehouse may have given his readers, members of the order are not required to take a vow of silence.
Darkest before the dawn - (p. 134)
The phrase probably was in use earlier, but the first occurrence in print seems to be by English author Thomas Fuller who wrote in 1650: "It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth."
ruddy miniature...ruddy vicar...ruddy possession...ruddy well - (p. 134–135)
As we saw earlier in the book when Chippendale used "Gor" and "Cor" as a way of saying "God" without actually saying "God," here "ruddy" was Chippendale's way of saying "bloody" without actually saying the word. Eighty-two years earlier W. S. Gilbert got in trouble when he tried to name his tenth collaboration with Arthur Sullivan Ruddygore. Eventually Gilbert was compelled to reluctantly change the spelling to Ruddigore.
animalcula in stagnant ponds - (p. 135)
From the Latin animalculum, meaning small animals, animalcula are microscopic animals such as amoebas.
plates of meat - (p. 136)
meaning "feet," as is clear in the text. This represents an example of Cockney rhyming slang. An early use of "plates of meat" is from an 1887 edition of Referee magazine:
As she walked along the street
With her little ‘plates of meat’,
And the summer sunshine falling
On her golden 'Barnet Fair'."
Manna in the wilderness - (p. 137)
Bertie Wooster explains this well in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves:
“Having won that prize for Scripture Knowledge I was speaking of, I had no difficulty in grasping her allusion. She was referring to an incident which occurred when the children of Israel were crossing some desert or other and were sorely in need of refreshment, rations being on the slender side. And they were just saying to one another how well a spot of manna would go down and regretting that there was none in the quartermaster's stores, when blowed if a whole wad of the stuff didn't descend from the skies, just making their day.”
From the Biblia Wodehousiana website:
The original story is that after their flight from Egypt, God provided the Israelites in the desert with a miraculous sort of food, called "manna" (full story in Exodus 16:1–36).
Deuteronomy 8:16 / Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end.
John 6:49 / Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
lord love a duck - (p. 138)
Seems to be a British expression dating from the early 20th century. The Oxford English Dictionary cites its use in Ulysses by James Joyce, "Paddy Leonard eyed his alemates. Lord love a duck, he said. Look at what I'm standing drinks to!" It appears in The Coming of Bill (1920), "'Well, Lord love a duck!' replied the butler, who in his moments of relaxation was addicted to homely expletives of the lower London type." Subsequently it is used frequently in the Wodehouse canon, not exclusively by the lower classes. Bertie's Aunt Dahlia employs it.
The Three Musketeers...Cardinal Richelieu - (p. 138)
It's probably not necessary to provide an annotation identifying the extremely well known 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas, except to add that Wodehouse was the lyricist for a 1928 musical adaptation of The Three Musketeers (music by Rudolf Friml) that ran for 318 performances on Broadway.
He'll be right on the key veeve - (p. 140)
Presumably he means “qui vive” [Fr.] On the alert.
Chingachgook - (p. 140)
Chingachgook is a character in several of American author James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales, including The Last of the Mohicans and The Deerslayer.
weighed down with weight of woe - (p. 141)
One of Wodehouse's frequently consulted books, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, gives the credit for this to English theatrical manager and lyricist Alfred Bunn (1790–1860), whose lyrics include the lines:
The heart bowed down by weight of woe
To weakest hope will cling."
Oh what a tangled web we weave - (p. 141)
from Sir Walter Scott’s "Marmion" (1808)
Cleanse his stuffed bosom of the perilous stuff that weighs upon the heart . . . - (p. 142)
From Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 3.
Let nature take its course - (p. 143)
to allow events to develop naturally, without human interference
Ridge of high pressure extending over the greater part of the United Kingdom - (p. 145)
A typical way for Wodehouse to describe pleasant weather in England. He employs nearly the same phrase in Summer Moonshine and Cocktail Time.
a headache in a hog's head - (p. 147)
A hogshead (spelled as one word rather than Chippendale's "hog's head") was a unit of measurement for a large barrel or keg usually holding between 50 and 60 imperial gallons of wine, beer or spirits. "Not a headache in a hogshead," meaning the beverage was of the highest quality, appears to have been an expression of Irish origin and was frequently found in 19th century literature. The following dialogue is from Mrs. S. C. Hall's 1836 play The Groves of Blarney, not to be confused with a popular Irish song of the same name.
O'Gorman: Mister Peter, sir, have ye been long enough in Ireland to learn to drink whiskey?
Peter: No! But I've often tasted it.
O'Gorman: But not the stuff that we'll give ye. By my troth there is not a headache in a hogshead of it.
Peter: I always find a headache in the second tumbler.
O'Gorman: Then always skip the second tumbler and go on to the third.
Singer's Midgets - (p. 147)
Singer's Midgets were a performing act of midgets who came to America in 1910 and performed in circuses and ended up playing the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz.
physiognomist - (p. 148)
Someone who judges a person's character or disposition by studying the subject's face or features.
that song about singing in the rain - (p. 149)
Best known for Gene Kelly's dancing and singing on the silver screen in 1952, this song (whose official title, like the 1952 film, is “Singin’ in the Rain”) by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown was first sung in the film Hollywood Revue of 1929.
cast the first stone - (p. 155)
From John 8:7 / So when they continued asking him, he [Jesus] lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
Kipling’s If - (p. 156)
Rudyard Kipling’s still very popular 1895 poem If:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you...
Wodehouse referred to it frequently. In Galahad at Blandings it was (mis)quoted, “If you can something something and never something something.” It provides tips on keeping a stiff upper lip (see that annotation) and is referenced in the Oxford English Dictionary ‘stiff upper lip’ entry.
Chapter 14 (Page 158–169)
time the great healer - (p. 158)
In his Handbook Murphy suggests Ovid's "Time, devourer of all things" from Metamorphoses as the possible source of this frequently used expression.
bantamweight fairy princesses - (p. 158)
A bantamweight is one of boxing's lightest weight classes, for boxers ranging from 115 to 118 pounds. At the time Wodehouse was writing this book flyweight was the only lighter weight division at 112 pounds.
persnicketty - (p. 160)
If a google search can be trusted, this is the only time this word appears in a Wodehouse book, although most dictionaries spell it with just one 't.' The British edition of this book gives the word its original Scottish spelling - pernicketty - although once again the second 't' would appear to be superfluous to requirements. However the word is spelled, words like finicky, fussy and nit-picker can be applied to a persnickety person.
won over twelve hundred pounds - (p. 161)
According to various web-pages that attempt to measure historic currency values, £1,200 in 1970 had the purchasing power of £15,000 in 2012.
Armed so strong in honesty that they pass me by like the idle wind which I respect not - (p. 165)
These words, which do not occur to Chippendale, but express what he wishes to convey, were spoken by Brutus to Cassius in Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3.
at every famous victory - (p. 166)
Chippendale says to Crispin, “We didn’t half put it across that copper, did we, mate? What you’d call a famous victory, like in the poem. Ever read that poem? I learned it in Sunday school. Kid finds a skull and takes it to her grandfather, and he tells her about the battle they had in those parts, out in Belgium somewhere it was. I’ve forgotten most of it, but I remember it ended up, ‘Things like that, you know, must be at every famous victory.’ “
He refers to the poem “The Battle of Blenheim” by Robert Southey, which chronicles the battle near Blenheim, Bavaria, in 1704. English and Austrian forces defeated the French and Bavarians.
Chapter 15 (Page 170–182)
Everything was for the best in this best of all possible worlds - (p. 171)
Originally coined by German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz in 1710 but best remembered today because Voltaire pinched it for his 1759 novella Candide.
Designing Delilah - (p. 172)
A biblical reference explicated at Fr. Bovendeaard's Biblia Wodehousiana web-page. Full story in Judges 16:4–22. Samson's wife Delilah betrayed the secret of his great strength—namely that his head had never been shorn—to the Philistines, lulled him to sleep in her lap, and summoned a man who sheared Samson's hair. The Philistines were so enabled to seize him and put out his eyes.
parents are bound to lose their heads at the font - (p. 172)
As Pelham Grenville Wodehouse and his brothers Ernest Armine and Philip Peveril knew only too well. As Bertie Wooster pointed out in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (U.S. title: Bertie Wooster Sees It Through) when he learned that L. G. Trotter's given names were Lemuel Gengulphus, "there's some raw work pulled at the font from time to time."
Lancelot and Gawain - (p. 172)
In Arthurian legend, Sir Lancelot is a Knight of the Round Table. Sir Gawain, Arthur’s nephew, is a good friend of his. After Lancelot’s actions result in the death of Gawain’s brothers and sons they no longer get along so well. Alfred, Lord Tennyson retold the story in his Idylls of the King, published between 1856 and 1885.
Plimsoll line - (p. 173)
The Plimsoll line is a load line required to be placed on the hulls of British ships, defining the ship's maximum safe displacement, and making it evident if overloaded with cargo. After S. Plimsoll, MP for Derby, who was responsible for the passage of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1876.
Commination service - (p. 174)
A service threatening of Divine punishment or vengeance. Barney is stating her disapproval in no uncertain terms.
Anything Goes - (p. 175)
"Anything Goes" is a song in the eponymous Cole Porter musical (1934). Guy Bolton and Wodehouse wrote the original theatrical script on which the final version by Lindsay and Crouse is based.
skip like the high hills - (p. 178)
Psalm 114:4, The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.
battered repaints - (p. 178)
Used and battered lost golf balls collected in the rough by scavenging youngsters, spruced up with a dab of white paint and pressed back into service.
bird of passage - (p. 181)
The Oxford English Dictionary says this phrase describes any migratory bird. Here it describes a person who cannot necessarily be found in one particular place.
Spread a Little Happiness - (p. 181)
"Spread a Little Happiness" is a song from the 1929 musical Mr. Cinders (1929) by Vivian Ellis. It was the theme tune for the BBC Radio 4 comedy series in 2009, also named Spread a Little Happiness.