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.

Money for Nothing was originally annotated by Mark Hodson (aka The Efficient Baxter). The notes have been reformatted somewhat, but credit goes to Mark for his original efforts, even while we bear the blame for errors of fact or interpretation.

Money for Nothing was first published by Herbert Jenkins in the UK on 27 July 1928 and by Doubleday Doran in the US on 28 September 1928.

These annotations relate to the 1991 Penguin (UK) reprint.

 

Money for Nothing (Ch. 0; page 0)

Money for Nothing was first published by Herbert Jenkins in the UK on 27 July 1928 and by Doubleday Doran in the US on 28 September 1928.
The book was written between June 1926 and July 1927. Norman Murphy has worked out that Wodehouse started and finished it at Hunstanton Hall in Norfolk, and worked in between times at London and Droitwich.


Dedication (Ch. 0; page 0)

The Scottish writer Ian Hay (Captain Ian Hay Beith, 1876-1952) stayed with Wodehouse at Rogate Lodge in Sussex in 1928, shortly before Money for Nothing was published. He was working together with Wodehouse on the dramatisation of A Damsel in Distress: they subsequently went on a golfing holiday in Scotland together in Hay’s car.
Hay is perhaps best-known today for the early novel Pip (1907), but between the wars he was also very successful as a dramatist and screenwriter.


Chapter 1 (Ch. 1; page 1)
Introducing a Young Man in Love

Runs from pp 1 to 15 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


Rudge-in-the-Vale (Ch. 1; page 1)

There is a village called Rudge, and a Rudge Hall, in Shropshire, not far from Stableford, where Wodehouse’s parents lived for a while.
Of course, the name Rudge is also associated with the Rudge-Whitworth motorcycle company (also based in the West Midlands) and Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge. Perhaps the similarity of sound between Carmody and Barnaby suggested the name?


Jubilee watering trough (Ch. 1; page 1)

In rural districts, a frequent way to commemorate Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1897 was to erect a watering trough for the benefit of local horses, thus offering them some refreshment while their owners were in the pub. Most small villages in Wodehouse have one.


Broadway, Piccadilly, Rue de Rivoli (Ch. 1; page 1)

Famously busy streets in New York, London and Paris, respectively.


Grey stone of Gloucestershire... (Ch. 1; page 1)

This, and other evidence later in the book, suggests that the geographical location Wodehouse was thinking of was Droitwich, the small Worcestershire Spa town where part of Money For Nothing was written.


Skirme (Ch. 1; page 1)

Skirme is a surname that occurs occasionally in England, but neither Skirme nor any of its obvious variants seems to be an existing British placename or river.
The river at Droitwich is called the Salwarpe.


Norman church (Ch. 1; page 1)

Like that of Market Blandings, the church dates from the period of roughly a hundred years (1066 - 1154) which followed the Norman conquest of England. Characteristics of the Norman style of church architecture include: round-headed arches and doorways, the latter often a series of concentric, stepped-backed arches, each with its own columns, and with the doorway head often infilled with a carved tympanum; thick walls, often buttressed; the use of simple barrel or tunnel vaulting in crypts, but rarely in naves, because of the weight and outward thrust on the walls; massive columns with a plain capital, later examples being thinner and with a carved capital. [AGOL]


eleven public houses (Ch. 1; page 1)

The implausible number of pubs to be found in small English towns is a running joke in Wodehouse. Again, Market Blandings is singularly well-provided in this respect.
The reason for the existence of all these pubs is normally that the town has a weekly market serving a large and prosperous agricultural district, with a population much bigger than that of the town itself. Farmers attending the market would need somewhere to eat, drink, and negotiate business; traders coming from further afield to buy or sell would need to stay overnight.


Automobile Guide (Ch. 1; page 1)

The Automobile Association and the Royal Automobile Club both published guidebooks for their members with details of hotels, garages, and other local information for every town in Britain.


Chas. Bywater, Chemist (Ch. 1; page 1)

Chas. is a conventional abbreviation for Charles. Wodehouse is quoting his name as it would appear on the shop sign — another running joke. He seems to be the only Bywater in the canon, although there are a number of Attwaters in Wodehouse.
A “Chemist” in Britain is usually a pharmacist who also sells toiletries and the like: something like a drugstore in the US.
Cf. Jno. Banks, hairdresser, the sole live wire in Market Blandings.


Colonel Meredith Wyvern (Ch. 1; page 2)

Meredith is a traditional Welsh man’s name (originally Maredudd or Meredydd). For obscure reasons, Americans seem to have taken to using it for girls. A Wyvern is a heraldic creature — a winged dragon with an eagle’s legs and a serpent’s tail.
Colonel Aubrey Wyvern and his daughter Jill appear in Ring for Jeeves/The Return of Jeeves (1953).


the reign of Queen Elizabeth (Ch. 1; page 2)

This is Elizabeth I, who reigned from 1558-1603, of course. The future Elizabeth II was still wearing nappies when this was written.


set fire to the train (Ch. 1; page 2)

When blasting with gunpowder, it was the usual practice to lay a “train” of powder along the ground to ignite the main body of the explosive with a suitable time delay. This involved many hazards, especially when working out of doors; with dynamite, one would be more likely to use a detonator with electric ignition.


Mr Lester Carmody (Ch. 1; page 3)

Carmody is an Irish surname, particularly associated with county Clare. Mr Carmody and his nephew are the only characters of that name listed in Garrison.
Lester as a first name is more common in the US than in Britain: it seems to be related to the placename Leicester. There are a few other Lesters in the canon, e.g. Lester Mapledurham in “Strychnine in the Soup”.


suing him (Ch. 1; page 5)

Probably the Colonel would have a better case against the men doing the blasting (or Mr Carmody in his capacity as their employer) for not securing the area properly before setting off the charges. The House of Lords is the highest court of appeal in England and Wales; Wyvern would only have been able to take his case so far if he could get a senior judge to certify that it involved an important new point of law. Juries were still involved in most types of civil action when this was written — nowadays they are only used in defamation cases.


Blackhander (Ch. 1; page 5)

Presumably a reference to Ujedinjenje ili Smrt (Union or Death), also known as the Black Hand, which was a secret terrorist organisation formed in Serbia in 1911 to further the cause of Pan-Serbianism in territories then forming part of the Austrian Empire, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina. They infiltrated Serbian nationalist organisations and were most famously responsible for the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914.


picking oakum (Ch. 1; page 5)

Oakum is loose fibre obtained by unpicking ropes, and formerly used for caulking the seams of ships. Picking oakum was a tedious and unpleasant type of work commonly given to prisoners in the 19th century.
Prison sentences are awarded only in criminal cases. If he wanted to see Carmody behind bars, Wyvern would have to try to persuade the police (nowadays it would be the Crown Prosecution Service) to bring a prosecution for battery.


arnica (Ch. 1; page 6)

A tincture made from the dried flower heads of the plant Arnica Montana is often used to relieve pain when treating minor wounds.


half-crown (Ch. 1; page 6)

Patent medicines and the like always come in ‘the large, or half-crown size’ in Wodehouse: cf. “Buck-U-Uppo”. A half-crown was a coin worth two shillings and sixpence (12.5 new pence).


Old Rugbeian (Ch. 1; page 6)

The grammar school at Rugby in the East Midlands was established by a London grocer, Lawrence Sheriff, in 1567. It rose to prominence in the nineteenth century under Thomas Arnold (headmaster 1828-1842; the father of Matthew Arnold). His educational and organisatory ideas, widely copied by other schools and publicised in Thomas Hughes’s novel Tom Brown’s Schooldays, established the notion of ‘Public Schools’ as the key institutions of the English class system: if you had been to one, you were a gentleman; if not, the best you could hope for was to send your son to one.
Rugby School is also famous as the birthplace of Wodehouse’s favourite sport, of course.


Marshall Field (Ch. 1; page 6)

Marshall Field (1834-1896) started out as a shop assistant, and in 1851 established the Chicago shop which became Marshall Field & Co., the largest and most famous retail store of its day. The company was taken over by Target Corporation in 1990, but stores under the Marshall Field name still exist in most mid-western cities.
(As an aside: his grandson, Marshall Field III (1893-1956), later a successful newspaper proprietor, would have been at Eton and Cambridge at the same time as many of Wodehouse’s young men.)


crystal sets (Ch. 1; page 6)

Crystal radio receivers used a ‘cat’s whisker’ diode (a thin wire forming a Schottky contact with a selenium crystal) to separate the signal from the carrier wave. They did not have any amplification, so they could be very cheap and simple, and did not need a battery or mains electricity; the disadvantage was that you could only listen with headphones, and discrimination between stations was poor.


Robot (Ch. 1; page 6)

The word was invented by Karel Capek (1890-1938) for his play R.U.R. (‘Rossum’s Universal Robots’) (1920), translated into English in 1923. Capek also wrote a book called ‘The War of the Newts’ that gave offence to Gussie Fink-Nottle.


like the note of the Last Trump (Ch. 1; page 6)

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed,
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.


[Bible 1 Corinthians 15:51-54]


Lincoln Hotel, Curzon Street (Ch. 1; page 11)

Curzon Street is in Mayfair (not far from the Drones Club). At present, the only hotel in the street is the Curzon Plaza. There is a Lincoln House Hotel in Marylebone.


the Dex-Mayo (Ch. 1; page 12)

Seems to be fictitious, but many car makers had hyphenated names of this sort (Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, Hispano-Suiza, etc.): Mayo is a county in the West of Ireland, of course, so presumably this is meant to be an Irish make of luxury car.


Le Touquet (Ch. 1; page 13)

Le Touquet-Paris Plage is a seaside resort in northern France, about 15km south of Boulogne. Still very fashionable in the twenties, although it declined in popularity with the upper classes when they started going to the Riviera in summer as well as winter.


Doctor Crippen (Ch. 1; page 13)

Peter Hawley Harvey Crippen (1862-1910), an employee of an American patent medicine company (technically his US diploma didn’t entitle him to call himself ‘doctor’ in Britain) poisoned his wife Cora, a music hall singer, in February 1910 and buried her dismembered body in the cellar of their house in Camden Town. When the police became suspicious he fled to Canada with his mistress, Ethel Le Neve. They were spotted and arrested at sea amid huge publicity, thanks to radio telegrams sent by the captain of the ship.
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/

crippen/stratfordtext.htm
http://www.met.police.uk/history/crippen.htm


Brides-in-the-bath murderer (Ch. 1; page 13)

Another celebrated murder case of the period: George Joseph Smith (1872-1915) killed three successive wives between 1912 and 1915 by drowning them in the bath. As in the Crippen case, evidence from the forensic pathologist Sir Bernard Spillsbury was crucial in the case against him.
http://www.met.police.uk/history/brides.htm


Chapter 2 (Ch. 2; page 16)
Healthward Ho

Runs from pp 16 to 31 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


Healthward Ho (Ch. 2; page 16)

The name of Dr Twist’s establishment is obviously a reference to Westward Ho!, the only novel by Charles Kingsley to have had a Devon seaside resort named after it. (Surely “Water Babies” would have been a better choice?)


Graveney Court (Ch. 2; page 16)

Graveney is a small village in the marshes of North Kent. Murphy suggests (see also p.68 below) that Healthward Ho/Graveney Court is based on Wodehouse’s grandmother’s house Ham Hill, so perhaps there is an association of ‘ham’ and ‘gravy’ at work here?


New Men for Old (Ch. 2; page 16)

In the story “Aladdin and the enchanted lamp,” one of the standard plots for traditional British pantomime (although it now seems that this ‘traditional Arabian story’ was most probably invented by the French orientalist Antoine Galland in the early 18th century), Aladdin’s wicked uncle deceitfully offers him “new lamps for old.” Dr. Twist is being labelled as a dodgy character.


MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO (Ch. 2; page 16)

Latin: a healthy mind in a healthy body (Juvenal).
Formerly a saying frequently used when persuading people of the virtues of exercise: it has dropped out of favour, presumably because we now value healthy bodies much more highly than sound minds.


ex-Sergeant-Major Flannery (Ch. 2; page 18)

The Sergeant-Major is the senior warrant officer in an army regiment, who assists the Adjutant and is responsible for matters including the training of recruits. Before the days of specialist sports teachers, retired NCOs were often employed in schools as Physical Training instructors.
Another Flannery, a literary agent, appears in Bachelors Anonymous. He may or may not be the same as the (?imaginary) Flannery that Edgar Saxby keeps mentioning in Cocktail Time.


Julius Caesar ... about him (Ch. 2; page 18)

Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

[Shakespeare, William (1564-1616) Julius Caesar I,ii]


triturated sawdust (Ch. 2; page 21)

To triturate something is to grind it down to a fine powder or chew it, which seems somewhat redundant in the case of sawdust. Trituration has a special significance in homeopathy, where it is used to “dynamise” substances before dissolving them.


that Kruschen feeling (Ch. 2; page 21)

“He’s got that Kruschen feeling” - advertising slogan for Kruschen salts (a proprietary laxative) ca.1924.


Bond Street (Ch. 2; page 26)

Running between Oxford Street and Piccadilly, Bond Street is home to many of London's most expensive shops. The name of the street commemorates Sir Thomas Bond, a courtier and property developer who was part of a consortium that acquired the former site of Clarendon House in the late 17th century to build Old Bond St. Nowadays London’s nightlife is centered a little further east, around Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square and in Soho.


Quarrel scene from Julius Caesar (Ch. 2; page 27)

The famous quarrel between Brutus and Cassius forms the first part of Act IV, Sc. 3 of Shakespeare’s play.
http://www.bartleby.com/70/4043.html


Smokers (Ch. 2; page 27)

A smoking concert was an informal entertainment for the members of a men’s club (or as here, the undergraduates of a college). Normally the members of the club would take it in turns to get up and perform. As there were no ladies present, smoking was permitted.


Albert Hall (Ch. 2; page 27)

The construction of this concert and meeting hall in South Kensington in 1867 was one of the public projects undertaken with funds raised by the Great Exhibition of 1851. It is a large, circular building, topped by a shallow dome.
http://www.royalalberthall.com/


Eustace Rodd ... Cyril Warburton (Ch. 2; page 27)

Both seem to be fictitious. There are no major characters in the canon called Rodd or Warburton, although there are plenty of Todds and there is Lady Anne Warblington in Something Fresh.


Welter-weight (Ch. 2; page 27)

Welter-weight boxers have a weight between that of a light-weight and a middle-weight.
Wodehouse had a keen interest in both professional and amateur boxing. One of his first trips to America was timed to allow him to see an important fight, and boxing plays an important part in several of his early books (cf. e.g. The Pothunters, Not George Washington, Psmith Journalist)


Boat Race night (Ch. 2; page 27)

The Oxford and Cambridge boat race takes place on a four and a half mile course on the Thames (between Mortlake and Putney), on a Saturday during the Easter vacation. It was first held in 1829. As it is in the vacation, it used to be an occasion for large numbers of students to gather and celebrate in London.


Chapter 3 (Ch. 3; page 32)
Hugo Does His Day’s Good Deed

Runs from pp 32 to 36 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


“Yes sir ... that’s my baby” (Ch. 3; page 32)

Song by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson. Seems to have first been a hit for Blossom Seeley in 1925: later recorded by many others, of course.


Blenheim Park (Ch. 3; page 35)

Country estate at Woodstock, about ten miles north of Oxford, given to the first Duke of Marlborough in recognition of his services as a general, or possibly in gratitude for his wife’s friendship to Queen Anne. The Palace (not visible from the road) was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh.


Martyrs’ Memorial (Ch. 3; page 35)

A Victorian obelisk in St Giles (the continuation of the Woodstock Road into the centre of Oxford), designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, and erected in 1842. It commemorates the three bishops (Cranmer in 1556, Latimer and Ridley in 1555) whom Queen Mary burnt at the stake nearby in Broad St.


Clarendon Hotel (Ch. 3; page 35)

This ancient coaching inn (known as the Star before it was rebuilt with a new facade in 1743) stood in Cornmarket, a little way south of the Martyrs’ Memorial. It was demolished in a fit of civic vandalism in 1954, to be replaced by a Littlewood’s department store (now in turn replaced by a miniature shopping mall called the Clarendon Centre).


dickey (Ch. 3; page 35)

In this context, a folding extra seat on the back of a car, usually using the lid of the luggage compartment.


Chapter 4 (Ch. 4; page 37)
Disturbing Occurrences at a Night Club

Runs from pp 37 to 65 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


the Portuguese, the Argentines and the Greeks (Ch. 4; page 37)

Refrain of a mildly racist comic song by Arthur M. Swanstrom and Carey Morgan, published 1920. In the song, these three nationalities are represented as taking over everything from subway seats to American patriotism.
[The link below will take you to the sheet music]

And a funny thing — when we start to sing
“My country ‘tis of thee”
None know the words but the Portuguese,
the Argentines and the Greeks.

[Arthur M. Swanstrom and Carey Morgan The Argentines, the Portuguese and the Greeks chorus]


http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/sheetmusic/a/a02/a0232/a0232-2-72dpi.html


Cleopatra (Ch. 4; page 41)

Cleopatra VII (69-31 BCE), Macedonian queen of Egypt, the last of the Ptolemies to hold power. As head of the most economically important country in the region, she inevitably became involved in the power struggles for the control of the Roman Empire, marrying Julius Caesar and, after Caesar’s assassination, Mark Anthony (she also had to marry two of her younger brothers and one of her sons at various times to comply with Egyptian dynastic law). When Anthony was defeated by Octavian she committed suicide rather than be humiliated as a Roman captive.


Catherine of Russia (Ch. 4; page 41)

Catherine the Great (1729-1796). German-born princess who overthrew her husband, Peter III, in 1762 to become empress of Russia. During her reign, industries were built up, Russia’s military power consolidated, and the construction of St Petersburg completed. Russia was exposed to strong cultural influences from the European enlightenment, but none of them seem to have done anything to improve the lot of the peasants, who only suffered from more efficient government control of their lives.


the Laughing Cavalier (Ch. 4; page 43)

The modern name for a portrait by the Haarlem painter Frans Hals (ca.1580-1666), showing a cheerful — if not exactly lissom — young man with a fine upswept moustache and goatee beard. The painting is now in the Wallace Collection in London.


Thomas G. Molloy (Ch. 4; page 43)

The Molloys and their associate “Chimp” Twist first appeared in Sam the Sudden, three years earlier. This is their second outing.


Ben Baermann’s Collegiate Buddies (Ch. 4; page 45)

This could, just conceivably, be an allusion to the clarinettist and composer Karl Baermann (1811-1885).
Wodehouse seems to have been fond of popular songs (quite apart from writing them himself!), but evidently disliked club musicians: this is by no means the only place where a nightclub band gets a raw deal from him. Presumably, in calling the band “collegiate buddies” he wants the reader to conclude that they are neither.
In his liner notes for his recording of the Kern-Wodehouse-Bolton musical Sitting Pretty, conductor John McGlinn quotes Kern on this subject, "None of our music now reaches the public as we wrote it except in the theatre. It is so distorted by jazz orchestras as to be almost unrecognizable.(...) A composer should be able to protect his score just as an author does his manuscripts. (...) The public, through the cabaret and radio broadcasting, is not getting genuine music, only a fraudulent imitation."
Kern in fact banned the score of Sitting Pretty (1924) from being broadcast or recorded by dance bands. Wodehouse would surely have been aware of his partner's feelings on this subject and presumably agreed with him. [Ian Michaud/The Mixer]


Lot ... cities of the plain (Ch. 4; page 45)

In the book of Genesis, Lot is Abraham’s nephew. He goes to live in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Jordanian plain. In Gen.19, a couple of angels turn up and tell him to take his family and flee, as the cities are due to be demolished, without a UN mandate, for unspecified wickedness. (Christian theologians have since had a lot of fun inventing evil acts that the Sodomites might have been guilty of, had they thought of them.)
However, there isn’t any specific reference in the text to Lot himself regarding the cities in a spirit of captious criticism.


The Courtship of Miles Standish (Ch. 4; page 46)

Miles Standish (ca.1584-1656) was one of the members of the group of colonists who travelled to America on the Mayflower in 1620. He had been a professional soldier, and became the military leader and treasurer of the Plymouth colony.
Longfellow’s blank-verse epic of 1858 seems to have little or no historical foundation. Standish, a shy widower, sends his beautiful young secretary, John Alden, to court Priscilla the Puritan Maiden on his behalf. Although Pat remembers the words, she has got the plot mixed up: Alden is secretly in love with Priscilla himself, as she quickly realises, so she is chiding him for carrying another’s message, not (as Pat thinks) for relying on a messenger.
Longfellow seems to be critical of Standish not for lacking the courage to carry his own proposal, but for thoughtlessly putting his friend Alden in an impossible position.

Thereupon answered the youth:--"Indeed I do not condemn you;
Stouter hearts than a woman’s have quailed in this terrible
winter.
Yours is tender and trusting, and needs a stronger to lean on;
So I have come to you now, with an offer and proffer of marriage
Made by a good man and true, Miles Standish the Captain of
Plymouth!"

Thus he delivered his message, the dexterous writer of
letters,--
Did not embellish the theme, nor array it in beautiful phrases,
But came straight to the point, and blurted it out like a
schoolboy;
Even the Captain himself could hardly have said it more bluntly.
Mute with amazement and sorrow, Priscilla the Puritan maiden
Looked into Alden’s face, her eyes dilated with wonder,
Feeling his words like a blow, that stunned her and rendered her
speechless;
Till at length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence:
"If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me,
Why does he not come himself, and take the trouble to woo me?
If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning!"
Then John Alden began explaining and smoothing the matter,
Making it worse as he went, by saying the Captain was busy,--
Had no time for such things;--such things! the words grating
harshly
Fell on the ear of Priscilla; and swift as a flash she made
answer:
"Has he no time for such things, as you call it, before he is
married,
Would he be likely to find it, or make it, after the wedding?

[Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth The Courtship of Miles Standish III]


http://www.everypoet.com/archive/poetry/Henry_Wadsworth_Longfellow/longfellow_miles_standish_contents.htm


“My Sweetie is a Wow” (Ch. 4; page 47)

I haven’t found a song with this exact title: it could perhaps be a mixed-up reference to the opening lines of the song “If you knew Susie” (1925). Despite what Meyer and DeSylva suggest, Shakespeare seems to be innocent of the expression “... is a wow” — the OED records it as 1920s slang, with one of the first examples being from The Small Bachelor.

I have got a sweetie known as Susie
In the words of Shakespeare she's a "wow"
Though all of you may know her, too
I'd like to shout right now

[DeSylva, B.G. and Meyer, Joseph If you knew Susie ]


jellyfish ... mind of your own (Ch. 4; page 47)

A jellyfish does have a mind of its own, if not a very highly developed one. Its nervous system is distributed throughout the body, and there is no central brain.
Usually, jellyfish in Wodehouse are used to stand for spinelessness, a quality they indubitably have to excess.


you’ve gone blah (Ch. 4; page 47)

Dull, unadventurous (slang). The OED seems to have missed this one — it records the first use in print as Ngaio Marsh in 1937. (Blah as a noun, used to describe meaningless talk, is also from the 1920s.)


Keats ... forlorn (Ch. 4; page 49)

Wodehouse seems to have thought Keats wrote knell, not bell. He also uses “the very word is like a knell,” mentioning Keats, in the concert scene of The Girl on the Boat.

... The same that oft-times hath
Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
VIII
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back back from thee to my sole self!

[Keats, John Ode to a Nightingale 68-72]


Jewish black beetle (Ch. 4; page 50)

Wodehouse experts have never been able to work out how Jewish black beetles are to be distinguished from coleoptera of other faiths, although there have been some ingenious suggestions. Wodehouse didn’t often descend to this sort of cheap and inexact insult: obviously he considered nightclub musicians were not worth the price of a fully-thought-out Wodehouse insult.


Ronald Overbury Fish (Ch. 4; page 51)

This is his first appearance: he returns in Summer Lightning and Heavy Weather. Fish is not an uncommon name, but there must be at least a suspicion that Wodehouse chose the name so that people could call him “that poor Fish.”
The village of Overbury, just south of Bredon Hill in Worcestershire, is close to Hanley Castle and Malvern, where Wodehouse had relatives and spent time in his youth.
Sir Thomas Overbury (1581-1613) was a poet and courtier of James I, who died of poisoning while imprisoned in the Tower of London after upsetting the royal favourite Robert Carr and the influential Howard family.


Eton (Ch. 4; page 51)

Eton College is the oldest public school in England. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as “The King’s College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor.” A year later, the king founded King’s College, Cambridge, with the intention that scholars from Eton would continue their education there.


Trinity College, Cambridge (Ch. 4; page 51)

Established in 1546 by Henry VIII. Probably has more famous alumni than the rest of Oxford and Cambridge universities put together. Ronnie and Hugo, assuming they were up in the early 1920s, might have encountered Hardy and Ramanujan, Alfred Whitehead, Lord Rayleigh, Wittgenstein, A.E. Housman, and many other great names.


Vine Street (Ch. 4; page 56)

Vine Street is a small side street between Piccadilly and Regent Street, close to Piccadilly Circus. It was the site of a police station, now closed, the headquarters of “C” Division of the Metropolitan Police.


after hours (Ch. 4; page 56)

Until quite recently, English licensing laws didn’t make any separate provision for nightclubs, which were (theoretically) supposed to stop serving alcohol at 11, like pubs.


all quiet along the Potomac (Ch. 4; page 57)

Popular song of the American Civil War. The Potomac is the river which flows through Washington, DC.

“All quiet along the Potomac,” they say,
Except now and then a stray picket
Is shot as he walks on his beat to and fro
By a rifleman hid in the thicket.
’Tis nothing. A private or two now and then
Will not count in the news of the battle;
Not an officer lost. Only one of the men
Moaning out all alone the death rattle.
All quiet along the Potomac tonight,
Where the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming,
Their tents in the rays of the clear autumn moon,
O’er the light of the watch fires, are gleaming;
There’s only the sound of the lone sentry’s tread
As he tramps from the rock to the fountain,
And thinks of the two in the low trundle bed,
Far away in the cot on the mountain.

His musket falls slack, and his face, dark and grim,
Grows gentle with memories tender,
As he mutters a prayer for the children asleep,
For their mother, may Heaven defend her.
The moon seems to shine just as brightly as then
That night when the love yet unspoken
Leaped up to his lips when low-murmured vows
Were pledged to be ever unbroken.

Then drawing his sleeve roughly over his eyes,
He dashes off tears that are welling,
And gathers his gun closer up to its place
As if to keep down the heart-swelling.
He passes the fountain, the blasted pine tree,
The footstep is lagging and weary;
Yet onward he goes, through the broad belt of light,
Toward the shades of the forest so dreary-

Hark! Was it the night wind that rustled the leaves?
Was it moonlight so wondrously flashing?
It looks like a rifle---"Ah! Mary, good-bye!"
And the lifeblood is ebbing and splashing.
All quiet along the Potomac tonight,
No sound save the rush of the river;
While soft falls the dew on the face of the dead-
The picket’s off duty forever.



[Beers, Ethelinda (1827-1879) All Quiet Along the Potomac ]


Chapter 5 (Ch. 5; page 66)
Money for Nothing

Runs from pp 66 to 88 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


Capulets ... Montague (Ch. 5; page 67)

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, these are the two feuding families in Verona. Juliet is the daughter of Lord Capulet, and Romeo a Montague, of course.


piazza (Ch. 5; page 67)

In this context, the inner courtyard of a town house (Shakespeare does not use this Italian word).


deadline (Ch. 5; page 67)

This is the original meaning of deadline: a line (usually the perimeter of a prison) which may not be crossed on pain of death. The meaning time limit, used in the publishing industry, came in around 1920.


Lowick (Ch. 5; page 68)

Fictitious: obviously a reference to Powick, where Wodehouse’s grandmother lived. It is about twenty miles from Droitwich, the main source for Rudge.


diablerie (Ch. 5; page 70)

Devilry, mischief.


Church organ fund... (Ch. 5; page 73)

The regular income of Anglican churches comes mostly from land owned by the Church Commissioners. This tends to be only barely enough to pay the clergy, so charity work, social activities and major repairs to church buildings usually require additional funds from voluntary donations.
The charities listed are mostly obvious. Many churches used to organise social events for church members under the name Pleasant Sunday Afternoons (PSA) — presumably Pleasant Sunday Evenings are a variant on this.
A curate is a junior member of the clergy who assists the vicar of a parish. There would have been at least one in most larger parishes. An Additional Curate is one not provided for in the regular income of the parish: the Additional Curates Society is an Anglican charity which has funded such posts in many poorer parishes since Victorian times.


churl ... scurvy knave (Ch. 5; page 74)

In Anglo-Saxon times, churl was the lowest category of freeman. After the Norman Conquest most churls were reduced to the status of villein (i.e. a peasant who holds his land in return for feudal service to his lord), and the word also took on this sense.
A knave in feudal times was a male domestic servant. The adjective scurvy, in the sense of disreputable, worthless, is a 16th century word, so the expression “scurvy knave,” though popular with historical novelists, is a little anachronistic.


blue bird (Ch. 5; page 74)

The association of the ‘blue bird’ with elusive happiness comes from Maeterlinck's play L’Oiseau bleu (translated into English in 1909). Wodehouse uses this image quite often: cf. e.g. “Crime-Wave at Blandings”, Money in the Bank and Cocktail Time.


July ... golden wings (Ch. 5; page 74)

This may not be a specific allusion, as golden wings are something of a literary cliché. If looking for this phrase, it would even be possible to make a case here for “Va, pensiero” from Nabucco..!
Burns’s song “Highland Mary” doesn’t use the exact expression, but it does associate “the golden hours on angel wings” specifically with summer.

How sweetly bloom’d the gay, green birk,
How rich the hawthorn’s blossom,
As underneath their fragrant shade,
I clasp’d her to my bosom!
The golden Hours on angel wings,
Flew o’er me and my Dearie;
For dear to me, as light and life,
Was my sweet Highland Mary.


[Burns, Robert Highland Mary 9-16]


manufacturing diamonds out of coal-tar (Ch. 5; page 75)

Synthetic industrial diamonds (made from graphite, not coal-tar) were first successfully produced about 25 years after the publication of Money for Nothing.


Human Sardine (Ch. 5; page 75)

In Britain, sardines are normally sold preserved in oil and tinned.


Worcester is only seven miles away , Birmingham is only eighteen (Ch. 5; page 75)

As Norman Murphy has pointed out, Droitwich is the only place that could fit this description. Wodehouse was staying in Droitwich during at least some of the time he was writing this book.
Droitwich is a small town which originally developed as a centre for salt extraction. When the salt industry started to decline in the late 19th century, the place rebranded itself as a Spa offering brine baths.
[Murphy, N. T. P., In Search of Blandings (1986) 205]


Job (Ch. 5; page 76)

In the Book of Job, in the Bible, Job is a respectable, god-fearing and reasonably wealthy man, upon whom God inflicts a remarkable series of catastrophes to prove a theological point.


First in war... (Ch. 5; page 77)

To the memory of the Man, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.

[Henry Lee Memoirs (Eulogy on George Washington) ]


What did Gladstone say in ‘88? (Ch. 5; page 77)

W.E. Gladstone (1809-1898), leader of the Liberal Party, was Prime Minister three times. He doesn’t seem to have said anything especially notable in 1888, a period when he was out of office.
Ronnie is (mis-)quoting a remark usually attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

[Lincoln, Abraham (attributed) ]


John D. Rockefeller (Ch. 5; page 78)

John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) — Founder of the Standard Oil Company, reputedly the world’s first billionaire. Donated more than USD 540 million to charitable causes.


Charley Schwab (Ch. 5; page 78)

Charles Schwab (1862-1939). An American steel tycoon who started out working in one of Carnegie’s steelmills — first president of US Steel, was running the Bethlehem Steel Corporation at the time Wodehouse was writing.


laws governing heirlooms (Ch. 5; page 81)

In fact, as I understand it, the law had been changed by the Administration of Estates Act 1925, and most of the legal restrictions on disposing of heirlooms no longer applied.
Wodehouse also uses this plot device in Company for Henry.

Heirlooms were articles which, either from their connection with real estate or by special custom, formerly passed, on the death of the ancestor, to the heir. They were connected in this manner with real estate when they were an incident of the tenure of land, or were necessary for maintaining the dignity of the owner of land or the possessor of a title.

[ Halsbury’s Laws of England REAL PROPERTY--2. LAND AND INTERESTS IN LAND--(2) CHATTELS IDENTIFIED WITH REAL ESTATE--89. Heirlooms.]


Elizabethan salt cellar (Ch. 5; page 81)

In medieval times, a salt-cellar (often just a box or pot) would be placed in the middle of the table, marking the boundary between the parts where the gentry and the servants sat. Elizabethan salt-cellars of the type Sir Lester presumably refers to here were large, decorative table ornaments in silver or gold, normally not intended to contain actual salt.
Given Droitwich’s historical role in the salt industry, Wodehouse might well have seen such a salt-cellar during his stay there. The Chateau Impney Hotel where he stayed was the former home of the town’s main saltmaker, Sir John Corbett.


Pierpont Morgan (Ch. 5; page 83)

John Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) was a banker and financier who controlled much of the US railway network and a number of important shipping lines, including Cunard-White Star. He donated most of his vast art collection to the Metropolitan Museum in New York on his death.


Jake Shubert (Ch. 5; page 83)

Jacob J. Shubert (1880-1963), youngest of the three Shubert brothers who owned many of the theatres on New York’s Broadway.


only the imbecile laws... (Ch. 5; page 83)

He might also have had problems with the laws governing the export of antiques and works of art from the UK, of course.


Chapter 6 (Ch. 6; page 89)
Mr Carmody Among the Birds

Runs from pp 89 to 99 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


Jack ... bean-stalk (Ch. 6; page 89)

The play Jack and the Beanstalk was first produced by David Garrick in 1773. It soon became established as one of the regular subjects for traditional Christmas pantomimes. However, the origins of the story itself are obscure. There may be a link to German or Welsh stories of giant-killers.


set foot on the ladder’s lowest rung (Ch. 6; page 89)

This is, metaphorically, how all great businessmen in Wodehouse claim that they started their careers.


second floor (Ch. 6; page 89)

This would be the third floor, in American terms (in Britain only floors above the ground floor are counted).


Country Life articles (Ch. 6; page 91)

Evelyn Waugh killed this style of writing stone dead a few years later with his immortal ‘questing vole’ parody, although nature articles still persist in the British papers, many of them written by Australians.
Wodehouse doesn’t seem to be referring specifically to Country Life, a British magazine very popular with dentists and other proprietors of waiting rooms.

Feather-footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole.

[Waugh, Evelyn Scoop (1938)]


African nemesia (Ch. 6; page 91)

Wodehouse now seems to be parodying the style of seedsmen’s catalogues, too.
Nemesia are a family of plants found in southern Africa, where they flower mainly during the winter months (July to September). In the northern hemisphere they are planted as annuals. As Wodehouse says, they are noted for their brightly-coloured flowers.
(As nemesia are only native to Africa, the ‘African’ in the name is redundant.)


delphiniums, Canterbury bells, ... geum (Ch. 6; page 91)

These are all classic ‘cottage garden’ flowers, to be found in any rural English garden in the summer months.


jay (Garrulus glandarius rufitergum) (Ch. 6; page 92)

Wodehouse is playing word games again, stuffing in some over-pretentious names for comic effect. He also has a habit, wrongly, of capitalising the specific and sub-specific names -- in scientific names, only the first (generic) name should be capitalised. And no self-respecting ornithologist uses the sub-specific name except in very specialised circumstances.
Garrulus glandarius rufitergum is indeed the race of Jay (or, as we are now supposed to call it, the Eurasian Jay) which occurs throughout most of Britain and adjacent parts of the continent -- it is not easily distinguishable in the field from the Irish race, G g hibernicus; the nominate race, G g glandarius, which occurs throughout most of Europe from the Balkans to the Arctic, and which sometimes winters in Britain, can only be distinguished in the hand. [AGOL]


Corvus Monedula Spermologus (Ch. 6; page 92)

Corvus monedula spermologus is the race of Jackdaw (or, would you believe it, Eurasian Jackdaw!) which breeds in Britain and most of Europe; the nominate race, C m monedula, breeds in Scandinavia and is sometimes found in Britain as a spring visitor. [AGOL]


Prunella Modularis Occidentalis (Ch. 6; page 92)

When we come to the Sparrow, we find the first of Wodehouse's mistakes. Say "the Sparrow" to most British bird-watchers and they will assume that you are referring to the House Sparrow (yes, we are still allowed to call it that!), Passer domesticus, a bird which was, until recently, ubiquitous in almost all areas of habitation in Britain (for some reason as yet unexplained, it has become quite rare in some areas — I haven't seen one in ages).
Prunella modularis occidentalis (not occindetails, as in some editions of the book) used to be called the Hedge Sparrow, though its near relative, P collaris, was known as the Alpine Accentor. As they are not related to species of the genus Passer, P modularis is now officially known as the Hedge Accentor. [AGOL]


Dartford warbler (Ch. 6; page 92)

The Dartford Warbler (referred to a page later as the Dartmouth Warbler!), or at least the race occuring in Britain, was indeed known as Melizophilus undatus dartfordiensis. It is now recognised as a member of the genus Sylvia, and its correct name now is Sylvia undata dartfordiensis.
While never common, it used to breed throughout southern and eastern England, from Suffolk, Essex and Kent (hence Dartford, type locality for the British race) west to Cornwall, and northward as far as Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Shropshire; as it's a fairly distinctive bird, Wodehouse may have been familiar with it (he describes it accurately enough), most probably from when he lived in southern Hampshire.
But throughout the 20th Century its range contracted drastically: it's estimated that only some 12 pairs survived the severe winter of 1962-3. Although numbers have since increased into the hundreds, it's still a scarce resident, confined almost exclusively now to the fragmented remnants of lowland heathland in Surrey, Hampshire and Dorset. [AGOL]


Dryobates maior anglicus (Ch. 6; page 93)

The great spotted woodpecker, now reclassified as Dendrocopos maior.


sturnus vulgaris (Ch. 6; page 93)

The European starling


Emberiza curlus (sic.) (Ch. 6; page 93)

The cirl bunting, Emberiza cirlus — very rare in the UK, where it is only to be found in Devon.


Muscicapa striata (Ch. 6; page 93)

Spotted flycatcher. Found throughout the British isles in the summer months.


Lucknow ... Highlanders (Ch. 6; page 94)

The siege of the Residency at Lucknow (June-November 1857) is one of the most famous incidents of the Indian “mutiny”. When Havelock and Outram arrived with their Highlanders on 25 September, they were able to fight their way through the beseiging forces into the Residency, but once there they found themselves trapped too: their force was far too small to raise the siege, which continued until Sir Colin Campbell arrived in November.

Day by day the Indian tiger
Louder yelled, and nearer crept;
Round and round the jungle-serpent
Near and nearer circles swept.
‘Pray for rescue, wives and mothers,—
Pray to-day!’ the soldier said;
‘To-morrow, death’s between us
And the wrong and shame we dread.’

Oh, they listened, looked, and waited,
Till their hope became despair;
And the sobs of low bewailing
Filled the pauses of their prayer.
Then up spake a Scottish maiden,
With her ear unto the ground:
‘Dinna ye hear it?—dinna ye hear it?
The pipes o’ Havelock sound!’

Hushed the wounded man his groaning;
Hushed the wife her little ones;
Alone they heard the drum-roll
And the roar of Sepoy guns.
But to sounds of home and childhood
The Highland ear was true;—
As her mother’s cradle-crooning
The mountain pipes she knew.

[Whittier, John Greenleaf The Pipes at Lucknow 17-32]


http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/Alley/5443/indmut5.htm


swallow (Ch. 6; page 96)

Hirundo rustica, presumably.


Boadicea (Ch. 6; page 97)

Boadicea or Boudica, queen of the Iceni, a British tribe living in East Anglia, said to have been killed fighting against the Romans in 61 CE.

Regions Caesar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway,
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they.

[Cowper, William (1731-1800) Boadicea, an Ode ]


bona fides (Ch. 6; page 98)

Bona fide is Latin for “in good faith”.
Bona fides, treated as a plural noun, has acquired the meaning “proofs of good faith” in English.


if you wish to accumulate ... speculate (Ch. 6; page 99)

The saying “you must speculate to accumulate” seems to be a cliché of the financial world rather than a specific quotation.


Chapter 7 (Ch. 7; page 100)
A Crowded Night

Runs from pp 100 to 143 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


noblesse oblige (Ch. 7; page 100)

French: nobility has its obligations


joie de vivre (Ch. 7; page 100)

French: joy in living


prophet Jeremiah (Ch. 7; page 100)

The Book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament contains writings attributed to a preacher active in Jerusalem in the decades immediately preceding the Babylonian conquest of 586 BCE. As well as the usual calls on the people to mend their wicked ways and return to true religion, there are a series of more personal meditations on the likely fate of Jerusalem known as the Lamentations. Jeremiah has always been very popular in the Anglican tradition, and Jeremiah has become a generic name in English for a pessimist, while jeremiad has come to mean ‘a tale of doom and gloom’.


froth-blowing (Ch. 7; page 101)

i.e. blowing the froth off the top of a pint of beer before (implicitly) drinking it.
From 1914 to the 1990s, pubs in England opened at half-past eleven in the morning. For Hugo to have had time for a pint, it must be at least 11.45 when he meets Pat. This means that Pat can’t have gone to see her old retainer much before 10.25, so the Wyverns clearly don’t believe in early breakfasts.


non compos (Ch. 7; page 101)

Non compos mentis — legal Latin for ‘of unsound mind’


Slapped people on the ack (Ch. 7; page 102)

A misprint in the Penguin edition: should read ‘back’


was nearly konked in a railway accident (Ch. 7; page 102)

The OED records konk as a variant of conk. Things get complicated, though, because there are two unrelated slang words here:
conk(1) (apparently from French conch, a shell) meaning nose, and hence to hit on the nose, or more loosely to punch. This has been around since the early 19th century.
conk(2) (obscure, perhaps onomatopoeic) to break down (of an engine); to collapse or die (of a person). This seems to have originated among pilots in the First World War.
In the context of a railway accident, conk(2) would make more sense than conk(1), unless we assume that someone was just squaring up to hit him on the nose, when the train gave a sudden lurch and the blow missed its target...
The passive construction Hugo uses would only fit conk(1) — it sounds as though he is mixing the two words up in the same phrase to get a new level of meaning.


George W. Ancestor (Ch. 7; page 108)

“George W.” may be chosen to give an impression of antiquity by association with George Washington, or perhaps there is something inherently ridiculous in the middle initial “W” — Billie Dore talks about “Henry W. Methuselah” in a similar context in A Damsel In Distress.


the year G.X. something (Ch. 7; page 108)

Probably intended as a mixed-up reference to Roman numerals. Someone like Dolly would probably only have come across these in cinema credits, and might well read ‘C’ (100) as ‘G’. ‘X’ is 10, of course.


old antiques (Ch. 7; page 108)

Surely these would have been new antiques back in the year G.X. something?


hep (Ch. 7; page 109)

Well-informed, in the know (US slang, first recorded by the OED in 1908). Wodehouse had previously used it in Piccadilly Jim and The Adventures of Sally.


bimbo (Ch. 7; page 109)

The slang term bimbo is now usually applied to women, though it originally applied to both sexes and simply meant ‘a vacuous person.’


Singer Building (Ch. 7; page 110)

The Singer Building in New York, built in 1908 by Ernest Flagg for the Singer sewing machine company, was briefly the city’s tallest building, at 612 feet. It was demolished in 1968.
http://www.skyscraper.org/tallest/t_singer.htm


...how do we share? (Ch. 7; page 111)

This becomes another running joke: the Molloys and Chimp Twist have some version of this discussion in every book where they appear.


to hand I and Soapy... (Ch. 7; page 112)

When she first appeared in Sam the Sudden, Dolly did not have this trick of speech. Possibly she might have picked it up from Anita Loos’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which was published in 1926.
The joke, of course, is that while it’s quite common for people to say “me” when the ‘rules’ of grammar would suggest “I,” the opposite mistake is only made by those who are trying to talk posh, but have been so confused by their teachers that they come to believe that to use “me” at all is somehow coarse and unrefined.


...the nub end of the deal (Ch. 7; page 112)

This is obscure: nub normally means a knob or protuberance, or the gist or essence of some question. In 18th-century thieves’ cant it was used for the gallows, but none of these senses really seems to fit here.


Shylock (Ch. 7; page 114)

The obstinate creditor in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Despite appearances, Dolly must have some grounding in English literature!


old English glees (Ch. 7; page 115)

A glee is a form of harmonic song-setting for (male) chorus, popular in England in Georgian and early Victorian times. It differs from the Victorian part-song in comprising a sequence of short sections in different styles, rather than setting the whole text at once.
Glees were mainly secular, and were written for amateur choirs known as “glee-clubs” (this name survives among American amateur musicians, but the form itself doesn’t seem to have existed outside England).
There are at least two examples in Gilbert & Sullivan: The song presented by Sir Joseph to the crew of the Pinafore in Act One of HMS Pinafore, beginning with the words "A British tar is a soaring soul, As free as a mountain bird", is officially labelled a "glee" in the libretto, as is the quintet in Act Two of The Mikado featuring Ko-Ko, Pooh-Bah, Pitti-Sing, the Mikado and Katisha beginning with the words "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!" [Ian Michaud/The Mixer]


refined coon songs (Ch. 7; page 115)

Coon is an American slang term for a black person, now considered highly insulting, but certainly not used here with any intention of giving offence.
Coon song was the usual term for a popular song written in a style imitating African-American music for performance by Minstrel groups (white men in black make-up), a form of entertainment very popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. Stephen Foster was the most famous writer of such songs. The Misses Pond-Pond are evidently going to perform sentimental drawing-room arrangements of such songs.


Truby and Gaunt (Ch. 7; page 115)

Both seem to be surnames common in the West Midlands: I haven’t found any link between them, or Wodehouse connection.


Gas Engine (Ch. 7; page 115)

Gas engines were early internal-combustion engines: they could run on a variety of fuels, but the most likely in this case is piped coal-gas, assuming that Rudge is large enough to have a gasworks. Gas engines were very often used for powering machinery on larger farms, or in big houses for driving a generator to supply electric lighting.


Country Gentlemen’s Association (Ch. 7; page 115)

Founded in 1893 and still exists. To judge by the website, its main purpose is to obtain discounts on luxury goods for its members and sell them financial services. But that could be said of most organisations nowadays. There is no mention of seeds.
http://www.thecga.co.uk/


above the stables (Ch. 7; page 115)

The stables of big houses usually had rooms above them intended as accomodation for a large staff of grooms, coachmen, etc. Motor cars require a much smaller staff, so these areas were often converted into flats or offices.


Mona Lisa (Ch. 7; page 116)

Celebrated painting by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1521), the portrait of the wife of a Florentine merchant. One of the most famous works in the Louvre.


Russian novel (Ch. 7; page 116)

Wodehouse may well be thinking of the works of Dostoevsky.


point verging very much on the moot (Ch. 7; page 116)

A moot (from an Anglo-Saxon word for a meeting or assembly) is a mock-trial in which law students discuss a hypothetical case. Hence, in normal British usage, a “moot point” is something debatable, open to argument. Hugo is evidently using it this way, not with its American meaning, of something that is only of academic interest, not relevant to the outcome of the present case.


the argument was specious (Ch. 7; page 117)

It sounds rather as though Wodehouse meant that the argument was sound; a specious argument is one that appears strong on the surface, but does not have sound logical foundations.


Bolshevism (Ch. 7; page 117)

The (clandestine) Russian socialist party split into two factions at the second party congress (Brussels and London, 1903). The larger faction, led by Lenin, were known as the Bolsheviks, and favoured a small, tightly organised party working for revolution, while the smaller Menshevik faction under Plekhanov preferred a gradual move to socialism through bourgeois democracy. The Bolsheviks, of course, got their revolution in 1917, reforming themselves in 1918 into the Russian Communist Party.


Bessemer (Ch. 7; page 118)

The name Bessemer also appears in ‘The Masked Troubadour’ and ‘Tangled Hearts’, and was the name of Mrs Spottsworth's first husband (Ring for Jeeves). It is of course the name of Sir Henry Bessemer, FRS (1813-1898), the British engineer and inventor of a steel-making process, but there isn't any obvious Wodehouse link.


Alpha Separator (Ch. 7; page 119)

The Swedish engineer Gustaf de Laval (1845-1913) invented the first continuous-flow centrifugal milk separators (for separating milk from cream) in 1878. They were marketed under the name Alpha-De Laval. De Laval also developed some of the first successful vacuum milking machines - the gas engine referred to a few pages back could easily have been the power source for an Alpha milking parlour. The company Alfa Laval AB still exists.
An Alpha Separator prospectus also features in Doctor Sally.
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/munwai/aes.htm
http://www.alfalaval.com/


cellarette (Ch. 7; page 120)

(More usually cellaret)
A 19th century term for a small cupboard or enclosed box, used by prudent householders to lock the whisky away from the servants.


aspirin tablet (Ch. 7; page 120)

The Bayer company started selling Aspirin powder in 1899; it was not until 1915 that it became available in tablet form.
http://www.bayeraspirin.com/questions/hundred_aspirin.htm


diatheses (Ch. 7; page 121)

A diathesis is a physical condition (usually hereditary) that renders a person particularly susceptible to a certain illness.
The word also occurs in The Luck of the Bodkins, in a similar piece of pseudo-science.


pathogenic (Ch. 7; page 121)

Harmful


cachexia (Ch. 7; page 121)

[Literally:] being in a bad state; illness
- Very typical of the terms physicians use to describe a patient’s condition when they have no idea what causes it.


centrebit (Ch. 7; page 121)

A tool for boring large, round holes. Immortalised as part of the burglar’s toolkit by Gilbert and Sullivan.

SAMUEL:
(distributing implements to various members of the gang)


Here's your crowbar and your centrebit,
Your life-preserver -- you may want to hit!
Your silent matches, your dark lantern seize,
Take your file and your skeletonic keys.

POLICE:

Tarantara!

PIRATES:

With cat-like tread
etc.

[Gilbert, W.S. & Sullivan, A. The Pirates of Penzance Act II]


You must think beautiful thoughts. (Ch. 7; page 125)

Life is beautiful to whomsoever will think beautiful thoughts. There are no common people but they who think commonly and without imagination or beauty. Such are dull enough.

[Kirkham, Stanton Davis The Ministry of Beauty ]


nil admirari (Ch. 7; page 127)

Latin: Be astonished at nothing. (In Tom Jones, Fielding translates it literally as “Stare at nothing”)
In Uncle Fred in the Springtime we learn that this is also the motto of the Empress of Blandings.
The Herbert Jenkins edition of Money for Nothing has nil admirare at this point: this makes sense grammatically, but is not what Horace wrote.

Nil admirari, prope res est una, Numici
Solaque, quae possit facere et servare beatum


(To be astonished at nothing, Numicius, is the only way to become and remain happy)

[Horace Epistles Bk. I, Ep. VI, V. 1]


Webleigh Manor (Ch. 7; page 127)

There is no Webleigh or Webley in Britain - possible sources include Webheath, a few miles east of Droitwich, and Websley (a farm near Blandford Forum in Dorset).


Blondin (Ch. 7; page 130)

Stage-name of Jean-François Gravelet (1824-1897), celebrated French tightrope walker, who crossed Niagara Falls for the first time in 1859.
http://www.simpenguin.com/genealogy/blondin/charlesblondinbio.html


Doctor Bain (Ch. 7; page 136)

Bain is a fairly common surname, not least among physicians. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious Wodehouse connection.


such larks (Ch. 7; page 137)

We tend to associate "lark" in this sense with Joe Gargery in Great Expectations ("Such larks, Pip..."), but it seems to have been current at least as a slang expression since the beginning of the 19th century. The OED quotes Byron using it in a letter.


zareba (Ch. 7; page 140)

A thorn stockade protecting a village or cattle pen. Mainly used in Somalia and the Sudan (from Arabic).
Wodehouse also uses this word to describe the moustaches in “Buried Treasure.”


taraxacum and hops (Ch. 7; page 141)

Taraxacum is the latin name for the common dandelion, well-known as a diuretic, sometimes touted as an anti-inflammatory. Hops, familiar as the flavouring in beer, are reputed to have a mild sedative effect. Both are frequently found in herbal remedies.


Chapter 8 (Ch. 8; page 144)
Two on a Moat

Runs from pp 144 to 158 in the 1991 Penguin edition.

The chapter title is probably an allusion to the title of Thomas Hardy’s novel Two on a Tower (1882).


Sturgis (Ch. 8; page 145)

Other Sturgises in the canon include Miss Trimble’s boss at the International Detective Agency in Piccadilly Jim and Mortimer Sturgis who appears in two golf stories.
For some reason there seems to be a remarkable number of towns in the USA called Sturgis, the largest being the one in Michigan.


Rudge Hall (Ch. 8; page 145)

Norman Murphy explains that all the identifiable features of Rudge Hall and its grounds in the text correspond to features of Hunstanton Hall in Norfolk, as Wodehouse himself asserted in one of the letters in Performing Flea. Wodehouse stayed with his friends the Le Stranges at Hunstanton a number of times in the late 20s, and later rented the Hall from them for a summer.
[Murphy, N. T. P., In Search of Blandings (1986) Ch.VIII]


...held it for King Charles against the forces of the Commonwealth (Ch. 8; page 145)

A reference to the English Civil War of 1642-1648.
Strictly speaking, Carmody could not have been fighting against the Commonwealth, as it was only established in 1649, following the defeat and execution of Charles I. Perhaps Wodehouse is avoiding the use of the word “Parliament” in an attempt to deny the legitimacy of the forces opposing the Stuarts.


Birmingham ... Post ... Prince of Wales (Ch. 8; page 145)

Birmingham, as we have heard, is 18 miles (30km) from Rudge/Droitwich. It is the biggest city in the West Midlands.
The Post is the Birmingham morning paper. The Prince of Wales Theatre, a converted music hall that was Birmingham’s biggest theatre, was on Broad Street, not far from the present site of Symphony Hall.


Marlborough (Ch. 8; page 148)

Marlborough is a public (i.e. private) school in Wiltshire, founded in 1843 to provide education for the sons of Anglican clergymen.


the punt (Ch. 8; page 151)

A punt is a small, flat-bottomed pleasure boat, used on shallow rivers and normally propelled by pushing against the bottom of the river with a pole, although John seems to be using a paddle here. They developed in the 19th century from the work-boats used by farmers and fishermen. Punting is a very popular summer recreation in the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge.
We know from Performing Flea that Wodehouse liked to write in a punt on the moat at Hunstanton Hall (cf. also “Mr Potter takes a rest cure”).


nor your ox nor your ass ... gates (Ch. 8; page 153)

Six days thou shalt labor, and do all thy work:
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.

[Bible Deuteronomy 5:13-14]


Wenlock Edge (Ch. 8; page 157)

A ridge in Shropshire, much more spectacular than it looks on the map — a good place to go for a walk and picnic with a view. Close to Stableford, where Wodehouse’s parents lived for a while, and about 40km from Droitwich.

On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

[Housman, A.E. (1859-1935) A Shropshire Lad XXXV]


Chapter 9 (Ch. 9; page 159)
Knock-out Drops

Runs from pp 159 to 186 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


Worcester ... Shrub Hill (Ch. 9; page 160)

Worcester would have been the nearest place with a large railway station. There are two stations in Worcester: Shrub Hill, on the main line to Swindon and London Paddington, and the much smaller Foregate Street on the line to Hereford and South Wales. Both are still in use, although somewhat reduced from their size in the 1920s.
It is odd that Mr Carmody should have sent the big car, when Bolt could as easily have taken the bag to Worcester by train - Droitwich Spa was only two stops away from Shrub Hill (nowadays only one stop).


morning-room (Ch. 9; page 160)

A sitting room or (as here) small dining room, arranged to get the sun in the mornings.


Amyas Carmody (Ch. 9; page 160)

Another echo of Westward Ho! — the name Amyas seems to have gone out of favour completely, apart from the more backward corners of the USA, until Kingsley rediscovered it.
Phelps does not list anyone called Amyas in his genealogical table of the Wodehouse family.
[Phelps, Barry, P.G. Wodehouse: Man and Myth (1992) Appendix 3]


Constable Mould (Ch. 9; page 160)

Apparently, there was a Thomas Mould who was Constable of Salem, Mass. in 1688, and someone called Christopher Mould is currently the Director of National Police Training in the UK. Perhaps the family re-emigrated?


bloodstained fingerprint (Ch. 9; page 164)

Sir Edward Henry introduced the systematic use of fingerprints for criminal identification in Bengal in the 1890s. He was recalled to England in 1901 to develop a similar system for Scotland Yard. There would surely have been ample time for PC Mould to hear about the possibilities of fingerprint evidence in the intervening 25 years.


stottled ... crope (Ch. 9; page 168)

Sturtled is a known dialect form of startled, but the OED does not list stottled.
Crope was in common use until quite recently in many parts of England and the USA. It was only replaced by crept as the ‘standard’ form of the past tense of creep in the 16th century.
Wodehouse must have heard both of these from old servants on childhood visits to Worcestershire.


Hawkshaw (Ch. 9; page 173)

Hawkshaw was the name of the detective in the play The Ticket-of-Leave Man (1863) by Tom Taylor (1817-1880). It was also used in the cartoon strip Hawkshaw the Detective by Gus Mager.


I’ll bet a million dollars (Ch. 9; page 173)

Dolly seems to have forgotten that she is supposed to be an heiress: rich people never say things like this.


in cahoots (Ch. 9; page 175)

Southern and western US dialect for ‘in partnership’ or ‘in league.’ The OED suggests that it comes from French cahute, a poor hut or cabin.


pippin (Ch. 9; page 175)

Someone or something outstanding — 1890s slang, apparently from the USA.


Admiral Sir Rigby-Rudd (Ch. 9; page 179)

This is almost certainly a misprint. Referring to a knight or baronet as ‘Sir {surname}’ is a classic solecism, usually only committed by Americans and other foreigners, and most unlikely coming from someone whose former profession required him to have all the niceties of military etiquette at his fingertips. (On p.228 below, the admiral receives his correct style: ‘Sir James Rigby-Rudd.’)
Probably Wodehouse wrote ‘Admiral Rigby-Rudd’ and an officious proof-reader stuck in the erroneous ‘Sir’.
Other Rigbys in the canon are Millicent (Lord Tilbury’s secretary in Service with a Smile) and a boy at Wrykyn. There is also a prefect called Rudd at St Austins.

[Garrison, Daniel H., Who’s Who in Wodehouse (1991) ]


nursery ... bars to the window (Ch. 9; page 183)

Because children in big houses were generally kept out of sight and hearing on an upper floor, it was considered necessary to take precautions to stop them falling out of the windows.


Chapter 10 (Ch. 10; page 187)
Activity of Soapy Molloy

Runs from pp 187 to 206 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


Telephone cupboard (Ch. 10; page 187)

British houses often had the telephone tucked away in a special alcove or enclosure, ostensibly for privacy but actually to make telephoning as uncomfortable as possible and keep calls short.


I’m telling the birds, telling the bees (Ch. 10; page 189)

This seems to have been recorded by many different bands (or possibly the same band under many different names) in 1926. The title is sometimes listed as “Tellin’ the birds, tellin’ the bees,” but no-one seems to credit a composer or lyricist.


covered with green baize (Ch. 10; page 189)

The traditional separation between the public part of the house and the servants’ quarters: the green baize (the same material used to cover billiard tables) acted as sound insulation.


Methuselah’s little brother (Ch. 10; page 190)

Methuselah, son of Enoch, was the oldest man in the Bible, being said to have lived 969 years (Gen. 5:27).


done my silver (Ch. 10; page 192)

One of the butler’s traditional responsibilities is cleaning the silver.


robert (Ch. 10; page 193)

The OED doesn’t list this among the variants of rabbit. However, the English word rabbit has a common origin with Walloon robett and Flemish robbeke, so it’s not impossible that such a form might have been used in some English dialects.


General Washington (Ch. 10; page 199)

George Washington (1732-1799). Virginian landowner, commanded the Virginia militia in British actions against the French in the 1750s. Later joined the rebel forces, and became commander-in-chief of their army in the uprising of 1776-1781, and first president (1789-97) of the newly-formed United States.


if ‘twere done, ... (Ch. 10; page 199)

Macb. If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly; if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’d jump the life to come.

[Shakespeare, William Macbeth I,vii,1-7]


Upton Snodsbury (Ch. 10; page 203)

Upton Snodsbury, later to provide the source for the name of Aunt Dahlia’s local town, Market Snodsbury, is a real Worcestershire village, about five miles (8km) south-east of Droitwich.


push-bike (Ch. 10; page 204)

Mildly derogatory term for a bicycle, used by those corrupted by prolonged association with the motor-car.
Despite being athletically inclined, and not a car driver himself, Wodehouse seems to have disliked bicycles. This scene and Bertie’s epic night-time expedition in Right Ho! Jeeves (1934) mark their only significant appearances in the canon.


sans-culotte (Ch. 10; page 205)

In the French revolution, the extreme radicals of the Jacobins, who came from the Parisian working-classes, were known as sans-culottes (literally: ‘without breeches’) because lower-class men wore long trousers, rather than the knee breeches and stockings of the upper classes and bourgeoisie.
Thus a ‘sans-culotte of a bicycle’ is likely to be both unrefined and ruthless.


Chapter 11 (Ch. 11; page 207)
John in Captivity

Runs from pp 207 to 216 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


boat-race night (Ch. 11; page 207)

See p.27 above.


freshman year (Ch. 11; page 207)

Although the word freshman (more usually shortened to ‘fresher’) is sometimes used in Oxford and Cambridge for a student newly arrived at the university, the expression freshman year, used to denote the first year of a university course, comes from the American college system, and does not exist in Britain.
Oxford and Cambridge tended until recently to work in terms, rather than years, and courses could not usually be subdivided in the neat way that they are in the USA.


University football match ... Twickenham (Ch. 11; page 207)

As usual, when Wodehouse uses ‘football’ without further qualification, he means rugby football. The University (‘Varsity) match is played between Oxford and Cambridge universities every December. It was first played in 1872, and has been held at Twickenham rugby stadium, the West London headquarters of the Rugby Football Union, since 1921. John has obviously graduated quite recently — if he had gained his Blue in 1921 or 1922, it would hardly have been described as ‘one of the most spectacular games ever seen at Twickenham’.


Rip van Winkle (Ch. 11; page 208)

Eponymous hero of a story (published 1817) by Washington Irving (1783-1859). Van Winkle is a lazy, hen-pecked husband who disappears from his village on the Hudson River while on a hunting trip. He returns, not long after the death of his annoying wife, claiming that he had dropped off to sleep in the Catskill mountains and woke up to find that twenty years had passed. Oddly enough, people believe him.


non-commissioned officer (Ch. 11; page 213)

Strictly speaking, a sergeant-major is a Warrant Officer, not an NCO.


Widgeon Seven (Ch. 11; page 214)

The (fictitious) Widgeon Seven car also appears in a number of other places in the canon (e.g. Summer Moonshine), and there is a Pommery Seven in “Uncle Fred Flits By”. The Austin Seven was the first really successful small car in Britain, made in many different versions from 1922 until the war.
A widgeon is a kind of wild, freshwater duck. In Europe the term refers to the species Mareca penelope, and in North America to the similar M. americana. The OED records the use of widgeon for fool or simpleton (cf. ‘goose’) as obsolete, chiefly 17th and 18th century, but this is surely what Wodehouse was trying to suggest with the name.
(The Grumman Widgeon aircraft first appeared in 1940.)


press the bell. Nobody’ll take any notice (Ch. 11; page 215)

Could the sergeant-major have been thinking of a recently-published book about a Bear of Very Little Brain?

Owl lived at The Chestnuts, an old-world residence of great charm, which was grander than anybody else's, or seemed so to Bear, because it had both a knocker and a bell-pull. Underneath the knocker there was a notice which said:
PLES RING IF AN RNSER IS REQIRD.
Underneath the bell-pull there was a notice which said:
PLEZ CNOKE IF AN RNSR IS NOT REQID.

[Milne, A.A. Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) Ch. IV]


Chapter 12 (Ch. 12; page 217)
Unpleasant Scene Between Two Old Friends

Runs from pp 217 to 227 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


orderly-room (Ch. 12; page 217)

The administrative office of a regiment or company.


train of gunpowder (Ch. 12; page 217)

See p.2 above


Lowick station (Ch. 12; page 219)

In real life, Ham Hill is only about 1.5 km from Powick village, but Powick was not on the railway and has never had a station. The nearest would have been Bransford Road or Norton Junction (both since closed) about 5km away.
Notice how Wodehouse doesn’t bother to stick to the geography if it doesn’t serve the plot: Rudge/Droitwich has lost a station and Lowick/Powick has gained one.
It isn’t altogether clear why Dolly bothers to send the car back: perhaps she would have had to answer too many questions had she parked it at the station and bought a single ticket to London.


garridge (Ch. 12; page 220)

Presumably educated British people were still using the French pronunciation ‘gar-aazhe’ in the 1920s; nowadays the usual British pronunciation is the Sergeant-Major’s. The word entered English from French in 1902, so to Wodehouse it would still have been a recent import.


closet ... depot (Ch. 12; page 223)

Wodehouse has remembered that Soapy is supposed to talk American: a closet is a built-in cupboard, and a depot is a railway station.


hubbard squash (Ch. 12; page 226)

A large American variety of squash or pumpkin, apparently first cultivated by a Mrs Hubbard in the mid-nineteenth century. (Also appears in a similar context in Leave It To Psmith.)


Chapter 13 (Ch. 13; page 228)
Mr Molloy Speaks on the Telephone

Runs from pp 228 to 250 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


lovely in sleep (Ch. 13; page 228)

Probably just a cliché, although Wodehouse makes it delightfully incongruous by applying it to Flannery. The earliest example I came across is from Morris’s verse-novel The Pilgrims of Hope — not very likely reading-matter for Wodehouse.

Till I woke, in good sooth, and she lay there beside me,
Fresh, lovely in sleep; but awhile yet I lay,
For the fear of the dream-tide yet seemed to abide me
In the cold and sad time ere the dawn of the day.

[Morris, William The Pilgrims of Hope Ch.2]


symposia (Ch. 13; page 229)

Wodehouse is playing with the ancient meaning of the word: for the Greeks, a symposium (literally: drinking together) was a drinking party with intelligent conversation, as described in one of Plato’s dialogues; nowadays it has come to mean a formal academic discussion of a particular topic.


Housekeeper’s Room (Ch. 13; page 230)

The room in which the more senior members of the staff of a big house take their meals: see Something Fresh for more on below-stairs etiquette.


bobbed auburn head (Ch. 13; page 231)

The more radical Modern Girl started cutting her hair soon after the first world war: by the late twenties it was no longer very daring to have bobbed hair, but a woman of Mrs Evans’s generation might still look askance at it.


Old Monkey Brand (Ch. 13; page 231)

Brooke’s Soap was extensively advertised in the 1890s as ‘Monkey Brand’ with pictures showing a chimpanzee dressed in human clothes. No-one seems to have complained that chimpanzees are not monkeys but apes.
http://64.127.142.2/monkeys/


Hearts and Satins (Ch. 13; page 232)

There seems to have been quite a textile flavour to cinema in the early years of the 20th century, with titles such as Silks and Satins (1916), Satin and Gingham (1912), Satin and Calico (1917) The Satin Girl (1923), Smooth as Satin (1925) and The Satin Woman (1927). Hearts and Satins don’t seem to appear in combination, though.


shrubbery ... pipe (Ch. 13; page 232)

Perhaps Wodehouse had smoked secretly in the shrubbery of his grandmother’s house as a young men.


toastmaster ... boiler-shop (Ch. 13; page 234)

Toastmasters, who act as masters of ceremonies at formal dinners, need extremely powerful voices to cut through the noise of conversation with their “My lords, ladies and gentlemen,...”
In the days when steel structures were rivetted rather than welded, a boiler-shop, with dozens of steam riveters working at once, was probably the noisiest of all workplaces.


Chapter 14 (Ch. 14; page 251)
News for John

Runs from pp 251 to 260 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


The sun whose rays... (Ch. 14; page 251)

Surely a reference to Yum-Yum’s famous aria from Act II of The Mikado.

The sun, whose rays
Are all ablaze
With ever-living glory,
Does not deny
His majesty--
He scorns to tell a story!
He don't exclaim,
"I blush for shame,
So kindly be indulgent."
But, fierce and bold,
In fiery gold,
He glories all effulgent!

I mean to rule the earth,
As he the sky--
We really know our worth,
The sun and I!

[Gilbert W.S. & Sullivan A. The Mikado or The Town of Titipu No.13]


life was stern and life was earnest (Ch. 14; page 257)

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! --
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

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.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our heats, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead
Act,- act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead.

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
a forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
with a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

[Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth (1807-1882) A Psalm of life ]


(Ch. 14; page 257)


Chapter 15 (Ch. 15; page 261)
Plain Speech from an Ancestor

Runs from pp 261 to 274 in the 1991 Penguin edition.


Bexhill (Ch. 15; page 271)

Bexhill-on-Sea is a coastal resort in East Sussex, not far from Hastings. It was served by both the Brighton line (LBSC) and the South-Eastern Railway: Mr and Mrs Bessemer could have travelled from London Bridge or Charing Cross if they wished.


bee-stings were good for rheumatism (Ch. 15; page 274)

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that bee-stings can relieve various other kinds of pain. Bee-keepers believe this firmly, and will never admit to rheumatism. However, it never seems to have been proved to the satisfaction of the medical establishment.