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 Inimitable Jeeves was originally annotated by Mark Hodson (aka The Efficient Baxter). These notes have been reformatted and extended somewhat by others, notably Neil Midkiff, but credit goes to Mark for his original efforts, even while we bear the blame for errors of fact or interpretation.

 

The Inimitable Jeeves was published in the UK by Herbert Jenkins on 17 May 1923. In the US it appeared as Jeeves, published by George H. Doran on 28 September 1923. The text was a reworking into a continuous narrative of short stories previously published separately in magazines. Further details about differences between magazine and book appearances can be found at Neil Midkiff’s web page of the Wodehouse short stories.

Chapter(s) in The Inimitable Jeeves Story title in The World of Jeeves American magazine
version
British magazine
version
1. Jeeves Exerts the Old Cerebellum
2. No Wedding Bells for Bingo
Jeeves in the Springtime Cosmopolitan 1921-12 Strand 1921-12
3. Aunt Agatha Speaks Her Mind
4. Pearls Mean Tears
Aunt Agatha Takes the Count (earlier, different version) Cosmopolitan 1922-10 as “Aunt Agatha Makes a Bloomer” (the source of the Inimitable version) Strand 1922-04 as “Aunt Agatha Takes the Count” (an earlier, somewhat different version)
5. The Pride of the Woosters Is Wounded
6. The Hero’s Reward
Scoring off Jeeves Cosmopolitan 1922-03 as “Bertie Gets Even” Strand 1922-02
7. Introducing Claude and Eustace
8. Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch
Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch Cosmopolitan 1922-04 as “Jeeves the Blighter” Strand 1922-03
9. A Letter of Introduction
10. Startling Dressiness of a Lift Attendant
Jeeves and the Chump Cyril Sat. Eve. Post 1918-06-08 Strand 1918-08
11. Comrade Bingo
12. Bingo Has a Bad Goodwood
Comrade Bingo Cosmopolitan 1922-05 Strand 1922-05
13. The Great Sermon Handicap The Great Sermon Handicap Cosmopolitan 1922-06 Strand 1922-06
14. The Purity of the Turf The Purity of the Turf Cosmopolitan 1922-07 Strand 1922-07
15. The Metropolitan Touch The Metropolitan Touch Cosmopolitan 1922-09 Strand 1922-09
16. The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace Cosmopolitan 1922-11 Strand 1922-10
17. Bingo and the Little Woman
18. All’s Well
Bingo and the Little Woman Cosmopolitan 1922-12 Strand 1922-11

Page references in the following notes are for the original Penguin paperback edition, published from 1953 through 2000, in which the text runs from p.7 to p.224. Notes marked * below are new in 2017; notes marked ° are newly updated in 2017.


Chapter 1
Jeeves Exerts the Old Cerebellum

Some slight friction threatening in the Balkans (p.7)°

As has often been suggested, this is a statement that would not have been very far off the mark at any time in the last five hundred years or so. When The Inimitable Jeeves appeared in 1923, the main disturbing factor in the region was the overthrow of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, leading to the proclamation of Ataturk’s Turkish Republic later in 1923. This conversation was added for the book; it does not appear in the 1921 short story “Jeeves in the Springtime.”


guide, philosopher, and friend (p.8)*

When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust repose,
Whose sons shall blush their fathers were thy foes,
Shall then this verse to future age pretend
Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend!

Alexander Pope (1688–1744) An Essay on Man, Epistle IV.


Bingo Little (p.8)°

This is Bingo’s first appearance in the canon. He appears in a number of other Jeeves stories, including the second half of Carry On, Jeeves! Notice that this predates the invention of the game called “Bingo” (1927), and hence also the use of “bingo!” as an exclamation – at the time, the word existed only as a slang term for brandy, and on the evidence of this, as a schoolboy nickname. Cf. Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown at Oxford (1861): “some soda water, with a dash of bingo clears one’s head in the morning.”


cheesed it (p.8)*

stopped [doing something]. Originally 19th-c. thieves’ slang for “stop, run away” as in “Cheese it, the cops!”; OED suggests a possible derivation from “cease.”


a livelier iris (p.9)

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin’s breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;
In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove;
In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892) Locksley Hall ll. 17–20


Homburg (p.9)°

A formal daytime felt hat with a crown dented by a single front-to-back crease and a curled brim whose edge is trimmed in grosgrain, named after the spa near Wiesbaden. Made popular by Edward VII as Prince of Wales in the 1890s.


Whangee (p.9)°

Whangee is an English term, current in the late 18th century, deriving from huang, the Chinese word for the type of bamboo used for making walking sticks. The last syllable should be pronounced with a hard “g”; sometimes the spelling is given as -ghee to reflect this.


pastoral dances (p.9)°

British shepherds are not particularly known for their dancing – possibly this is an allusion to the interest in folk music and dance that developed in the 1920s (Bartók, Kodály)? Alternatively, see S. Baring-Gould, “Country Dances” in Cornhill Magazine, XI, 616 (1888); he refers to the pastoral dances of the stage as country or contre-dances, in which lines of men face lines of women, as in the Sir Roger de Coverley [cf. the Virginia Reel of the US]. Wodehouse’s intent was probably merely to indicate rustic simplicity and enjoyment of nature.


the Park (p.9)

Park with a capital “P” normally refers to Hyde Park, in London.


Serpentine (p.9)

Ornamental lake in the middle of Hyde Park.


At school he had the finest collection of actresses’ photographs of anyone of his time (p.10)*

British schoolboys collected photographs of their favorite actresses. In The Gold Bat from 1904, one such fellow has nineteen photographs of one actress, and Wodehouse himself indulged—his Dulwich scrapbook contained several photos of the lovely Gaiety Girl Ethel Haydon. (Note by John Dawson)


Ritz (p.10)°

The Ritz Hotel is at 150 Piccadilly, not far from Hyde Park. Fifty yards further east (slightly northeast, in the direction of Piccadilly Circus) would get you to the corners where St. James’s Street and Albemarle Street meet at Piccadilly, but no tea shops seem to have been just there in 1915. See the note for limado, p.11 below.


silent pool of coffee (p.10)

There is a small lake at Albury in Surrey known as the Silent Pool and associated with various horrible ghost stories. This is only a few miles from Worplesdon, where one of Wodehouse’s Deane aunts lived.


scenario (p.10)*

A detailed summary or outline of the plot of a play or film. Bertie, like his creator, is conversant with theatrical terms and uses them freely in everyday life. The term appears again in the third paragraph of Chapter 2, for instance.


jumping season (p.10)*

The time period during which horse races such as steeplechases and hurdle races are run, now officially called National Hunt racing, generally taking place in the winter and early spring for safer jumps on softer ground. Currently Grade 1 events are scheduled from November through April. Bingo’s betting successes in these races are about the last time we hear of him finishing ahead of the game; in later stories his luck is generally pretty bad, since his bets are more often hunches based on omens rather than on studying the form book (see note to p.208, below).


map (p.11)°

Slang: Face. OED has a few citations from 1899 to 1908, but Wodehouse’s stories helped popularize this colloquial usage, for example in “The Rough Stuff” [1920, collected in The Clicking of Cuthbert (1922)] and “Archie and the Sausage Chappie” [also 1920, in Indiscretions of Archie (1921)].


Soul’s Awakening (p.11)*

A sentimental portrait by James Sant (1820–1916) of his young niece (or great niece) Annie Kathleen Rendle, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1888 and widely reproduced in engravings and prints.

[The item previously noted here, “a sentimental mezzotint engraving by Charles John Tomkins (1847–1897), published by Graves in 1892,” is listed in a guide to artworks as a companion piece to The Soul’s Awakening. Also, the 1922 Rudolf Steiner book of the same name is irrelevant to this reference, as this story appeared in magazines in 1921.]

A color reproduction of the painting

An 1897 interview with the artist, with black-and-white engraving of the painting


mazzard (p.11)

The head: by analogy to “mazer” – a drinking bowl.

Knockt about the Mazard with a Sextons Spade.

William Shakespeare (1564–1616) Hamlet V,i,97


macaroon (p.11)

A biscuit made of sugar, egg white, and almonds.


the old tum (p.11)

stomach


limado (p.11)°

Mark’s original note was: Perhaps a trade-name for a soft drink – I have found no trace of the word. Presumably it is a contraction of “limonade.”

An early (1905) novel by A. A. Milne, Lovers in London, refers to “sparkling limado” as one of the offerings of the A.B.C. tea shops run by the Aërated Bread Company. The 1915 Post Office Directory shows an A.B.C. at 178 Piccadilly, about 200 yards east of the Ritz. Lyons had also opened a café at 37 Piccadilly in 1894, but it was some 350 yards east of the Ritz.


Claridge’s (p.11)*

Another of London’s first-class hotels from this era; the present building was opened in 1898 at Brook Street and Davies Street in Mayfair.


sole frite au gourmet aux champignons (p.11)

Fried sole, gourmet style, with white mushrooms.


a roll and butter and a small coffee (p.12)

In Over Seventy, Wodehouse claims to have been shaken to the foundations on discovering when he started work at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in 1900 that “a roll and butter and a cup of coffee” would in future be all he could afford for lunch.


Camberwell (p.12)

A district of South London


the old lemon (p.12)*

one’s own head; this story is the earliest citation in the OED for this sense of the word.


wrap himself round the pie and macaroon (p.12)*

Wodehouse did not invent the phrases “get outside” and “wrap oneself round” as humorous inversions of the act of putting food and drink inside oneself, but he did much to popularize these uses, beginning in 1906; see “How Kid Brady Joined the Press” and the endnote there on this phrase.


in the soup (p.13)*

Originally American slang for “in a difficulty” with OED citations dating back to 1889. Elaborations of the phrase became a Wodehouse hallmark. Psmith remarks about a character in a story he is reading: “I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. I seem to see the consommé splashing about his ankles.” (The Lost Lambs, later published as Mike and Mike and Psmith)


unto half my kingdom (p.13)*

A Biblical expression for a generous recompense by a monarch; see the Book of Esther, chapters 5–7, and Mark 6:23, in the story of Herod and Salome: “And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.”


ten quid (p.13)*

Ten pounds, a substantial sum in those days, and a substantial fraction of Jeeves’s likely annual cash income of perhaps £100 (in addition to his room and board at the Wooster residence). Wodehouse earned only £80 per year as a starting wage at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in 1900. The Bank of England inflation calculator converts £10 in 1921 to approximately £450 today.


Pounceby Gardens (p.14)

Appears to be fictitious – there is currently no street of that name.


The Sporting Times (p.15)°

The famous “Pink ’Un”, edited by John Corlett (“The Master”), which was as much a symbol of the naughty nineties as the old Pelican Club. This is a rather revealing slip on Wodehouse’s part – the Pink ’Un had ceased publication in 1914, but Bertie and Bingo clearly belong to its pre-War world rather than to the 1920s where they have been placed in many illustrations and dramatizations (cf. Murphy, In Search of Blandings, Chapter 1). We can work out other evidence of this from “Jeeves Takes Charge” (November 18, 1916, in the Saturday Evening Post). Bertie tells us that Jeeves came to him “about half a dozen years ago”—in other words, roughly 1910—and internal evidence in the story lets us know that Bertie was 24 at the time.


Rosie M. Banks (p.16)*

Norman Murphy tells us, in A Wodehouse Handbook, of three authors who may have been influential in the coinage of this character name: Ruby M. Ayres (1883–1955), Ethel M. Dell (1881–1939), and E[dith]. M[aud]. Hull (1880–1947). All found fame in romantic fiction which appealed to the British public of the time. Hull is best remembered for two novels made into Rudolph Valentino silent films, The Sheik and Son of the Sheik. Dell rose to prominence with Way of the Eagle (1912) stressing themes of “courage, the Empire, the protection of women.” Ayres wrote more conventional love stories for half a century; Wodehouse wrote to Richard Usborne that he coined “Rosie M. Banks” to give a suggestion of her name. Amusingly, a modern American romance novelist, Alan Jackson, got Wodehouse’s permission to publish a series of doctor-and-nurse romances under the pseudonym of Rosie M. Banks in the late 1950s and early 1960s.


I have an aunt, sir… (p.16)

In fact, Jeeves seems to have quite a number of them: we have already heard of two in Carry On, Jeeves!, and there are more to come.


Chapter 2
No Wedding Bells for Bingo

Rosie M. Banks (p.17)

All for love: or, The world well lost is of course a play by Dryden. There is a novel called All for Love; or, the Outlaw’s Bride by Eliza Dupuy (1878).

The British Library lists no titles resembling A Red, Red Summer Rose, Madcap Myrtle, or The Courtship of Lord Strathmorlick.

Only a Factory Girl was a song written by C. Collins and Fred Barnes, ca. 1904.


arrowroot (p.17)*

A food starch refined from the roots of several tropical plants, valued by the Victorians as an easily digestible food for children and invalids, although it provides little nutrition other than complex carbohydrate calories. It can be baked into biscuits, boiled as puddings, and used as a thickener for jellies, gravies, and clear sauces.


pippin (p.18)*

From the sense of “pippin” as a sweet dessert apple, the further meanings of “a dear young girl” and, as here, “an excellent thing, a pleasing example of its kind” were derived.


the telephone-bell rang outside in the hall (p.20)*

Even wealthy households often had only one telephone instrument at the time, and as it would usually be answered by a servant, it would be placed in a hall so that it would be accessible by a butler or maid without disturbing the household or guests until it was known who was wanted.


Subconsciously, if you know what I mean (p.21)*

Although the term was not completely new in English, the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century advances in psychology made this a fashionable word, much discussed in popular as well as academic literature of the time.


bally (p.21)*

Rhymes with “tally”; a very slangy intensive adjective, usually used as an euphemism for bloody; it has the effect of a mild imprecation such as “confounded” or “blasted.” It would definitely not be part of the vocabulary of Rosie M. Banks’s characters, and so is humorously inappropriate in the mouth of their putative author.


1917 … air-raids (p.22)

German Zeppelins bombed London on a number of occasions between 31 May 1915 and June 1917.


rank is but the guinea stamp (p.23)°

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward slave—we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;
But an honest man’s abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities an’ a’ that;
The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
Are higher rank than a’ that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.

Robert Burns A Man’s a Man for A’ That

A guinea was a gold coin of 1663 to 1813 whose value from 1717 onward was fixed at 21 shillings sterling, that is, one pound and one shilling. Even after the coin went out of circulation, it became conventional to quote professional fees and the prices of valuable artworks and similar luxury goods in guineas rather than in pounds, as if adding a small honorarium to the stated value of the equivalent number of pounds.

Early editions of the Burns poem used either the phrase “guinea’s stamp” presumably meaning the mint mark guaranteeing its authenticity and value or “guinea stamp” as quoted above.

Wodehouse makes a pun on this phrase when Bertie misquotes it to Jeeves in “Indian Summer of an Uncle” (1930, collected in Very Good, Jeeves) as “penny stamp”; when Jeeves corrects it as “guinea stamp” Bertie replies that he didn’t think postage stamps came any higher than five shillings.


ne’er so humble (p.23)

This is a frequently occurring misquotation of John Howard Payne’s song from his 1823 opera Clari, the Maid of Milan:

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble there ’s no place like home!
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne’er met with elsewhere.
Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
There ’s no place like home!

An exile from home, splendor dazzles in vain:
O, give me my lowly thatched cottage again!
The birds singing gayly that came at my call;—
Give me them,—and the peace of mind dearer than all!
Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
There ’s no place like home!

How sweet ’t is to sit ’neath a fond father’s smile,
And the cares of a mother to soothe and beguile!
Let others delight mid new pleasures to roam,
But give me, oh, give me, the pleasures of home!
Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
There ’s no place like home!

To thee I ’ll return, overburdened with care;
The heart’s dearest solace will smile on me there;
No more from that cottage again will I roam;
Be it ever so humble, there ’s no place like home.
Home! home! sweet, sweet home!
There ’s no place like home!

Payne, John Howard (1791–1852) Home, Sweet Home


the lady who for years has cooked … (p.24)°

In Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963) Gussie Fink-Nottle also marries a cook, albeit a temporary one (Emerald Stoker) whose father is a millionaire; Lord Emsworth’s sister Lady Hermione Wedge is not a cook, but often mistaken for one.


Chapter 3
Aunt Agatha Speaks Her Mind

untamed gazelle (p.26)

Byron is said to have used this expression of Lady Caroline Lamb.


Ciro’s (p.26)

A London nightclub (or possibly several at different times). In 1924 there seems to have been a club of this name in Orange Street, off the Haymarket. Jean Lensen and his Ciro’s Club Dance Orchestra played there until 1927.


dishing of young Bingo’s matrimonial plans (p.26)

Dish in this context means to spoil, do for, finish (18th century) – by association with the original sense of completing cooking by dishing the food up.


Mrs. Gregson (p.27)

In Carry On, Jeeves!, she was Mrs. Spenser Gregson. (In Ch.8 below, it turns out that her butler is called Spenser).


Roville-sur-mer (p.27)°

Fictitious, probably based on the Normandy resort of Deauville. Roville-sur-Mer had appeared in “Ruth in Exile”, “The Tuppenny Millionaire”, and The Adventures of Sally, and appears again in French Leave (1956).


miss-in-baulk (p.27)

In billiards, a player making an opening stroke from behind the baulk line is not allowed to hit another ball behind the baulk line. Thus a miss-in-baulk is a deliberate avoidance of something.


Chipley-in-the-Glen (p.29)

There is a Chipley in Devon and another in Somerset, but none in Dorset. However, the name must owe at least something to Shipley Glen, a celebrated Edwardian pleasure-garden on the outskirts of Bradford, W. Yorks.


right-and-left-hand knockers (p.29)

As well as being a fault-finder, a “knocker” in late nineteenth-century slang was also a skilled boxer – Wodehouse is cleverly mixing the two senses here.


the future of the race (p.29)°

Eugenics did not then have the ugly implications that it has today, but The Inimitable Jeeves was published in the year of the Munich Putsch. Wodehouse makes his views on the subject very clear in the character of the unpleasant Mrs. Lora Delane Porter in The White Hope / The Coming of Bill.


women’s clubs (p.30)

There were some twenty ladies’ clubs in London before the Great War. At the time they were the only places where a respectable lady could stay or eat out unescorted.


Canon Blenkinsop (p.30)°

A canon in the Church of England is a clergyman who is a member of a cathedral chapter. Blenkinsop is a name given to many of Wodehouse’s characters, the earliest probably being the cricketing curate in the story “Blenkinsop’s Benefit” (1904: collected in Tales of Wrykyn and Elsewhere).


Vicente Blasco What’s-his-name (p.30)

The Spanish realist novelist Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (1867–1928) became known in the English-speaking world because of his war-novel Los cuatro jinetes del Apocalipsis (1916, tr. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1918). Bertie has presumably read some of his earlier, less polemical books.


hidalgo (p.30)

Spanish: a gentleman or minor noble (literally: the son of somebody)


hauled up her slacks (p.30)

The meaning of the phrase is clearly "spoken," but how Bertie arrives at it is a little obscure. Possibly it is by extension to the idea that some men (teachers?) prepare themselves physically for speaking by inflating their lungs and hitching up their trousers? It certainly doesn’t imply that Aunt Agatha was actually wearing trousers: more likely it is Bertie subconsciously giving her more authority by using a masculine image.


toad under the harrow (p.32)

The toad beneath the harrow knows
Exactly where each tooth-point goes;
The butterfly upon the road
Preaches contentment to that toad.

Kipling, Rudyard Pagett, MP


up to the hocks (p.32)

The hock is a joint in a horse’s leg, between the true knee and the fetlock.


bit the bullet (p.33)

Said to come from the practice of giving wounded soldiers a bullet to bite on while surgery was performed.


Chapter 4
Pearls Mean Tears

Shades of the prison-house (p.34)

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.
Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And, even with something of a Mother’s mind,
And no unworthy aim,
The homely Nurse doth all she can
To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.

Wordsworth, William Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood 59-85


first crack out of the box (p.36)

At the first attempt – a crack is an attempt (as in “have a crack at”) and “out of the box” is something that is new, hasn’t been used before. Possibly the expression comes from a particular sport? There are some interesting research findings and speculations at the Stack Exchange website, but no definitive answers have been reached.


Tabasco (p.37)

A proprietary hot sauce made with chili peppers. Tabasco® brand products are produced by McIlhenny Company, founded in 1868 at Avery Island, Louisiana.


Mont-de-Piété (p.38)

Pawnbroker – named after the first, established by a monk in Perugia in 1462 as a charitable institution to help keep poor people out of the clutches of moneylenders. They were set up in many European towns and cities, mostly by religious institutions, in the early seventeenth century, and were generally taken over by municipalities after the French revolution. Many are now incorporated into municipal savings banks; the most famous surviving example is the Mont-de-Piété in Brussels, which has had a monopoly of pawnbroking in the city since 1618.


Who steals my purse steals trash (p.38)

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’t is something, nothing;
’T was mine, ’t is his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) Othello III:3, 180–186


asp-whatever-the-word-is (p.39)

aspersions


Lord Frederick Ranelagh (p.39)

Ranelagh is in Ireland. Ranelagh Gardens in Chelsea were a famous pleasure resort of early Georgian London.


snootering (p.42)

The OED lists this word as "only in P. G. Wodehouse" – this is apparently the first use. Derives from US slang "snoot" for nose.


call the cattle home across the sands of Dee (p.43)

“O Mary, go and call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
Across the sands of Dee.”
The western wind was wild and dark with foam,
And all alone went she.

The western tide crept up along the sand,
And o’er and o’er the sand,
And round and round the sand,
As far as eye could see.
The rolling mist came down and hid the land:
And never home came she.

“O is it weed, or fish, or floating hair—
A tress of golden hair,
A drown d maiden’s hair,
Above the nets at sea?”
Was never salmon yet that shone so fair
Among the stakes of Dee.

They row’d her in across the rolling foam,
The cruel crawling foam,
The cruel hungry foam,
To her grave beside the sea.
But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home,
Across the sands of Dee.

Kingsley, Charles The Sands of Dee


biting … in the gizzard (p.44)

The gizzard is the second stomach of certain kinds of birds. Bertie is strangely mixing his idioms – more usually the word appears in phrases like “it sticks in my gizzard.”


Mais oui, mais oui, c’est trop fort! (p.44)

French: Yes, indeed, it’s too much.


eftsoons or right speedily (p.44)

Eftsoons originally meant again or afterwards. “Soon afterwards,” the meaning it is now usually associated with – as in this case – seems to have been invented by 18th or 19th century historical novelists.


picking daisies … down express (p.45)

A “down” express is a train travelling away from London. Elsewhere, Wodehouse uses a number of variants of this image, featuring other trains such as the Cornish Express.


Ten o’clock, a clear night and all’s well (p.45)

The traditional call of the city watchman.


Chapter 5
The Pride of the Woosters Is Wounded

understudy (p.46)

Theatrical term: an actor kept in reserve to play a part if someone else is incapacitated (to ‘study’ in the theatre is to learn a part).


substitute (p.46)

In sports, especially cricket or football, a substitute is a player replacing another who has been injured during the course of a match.


Buck’s (p.47)

London gentlemen’s club, founded after the Great War at 18 Clifford Street by Captain Buckmaster for a group of fellow officers. It shares many features with the fictitious Drones Club of the later stories. Wodehouse may have been a member for a short time in the early twenties, although there is no record of this other than a remark of Evelyn Waugh’s in a newspaper article. He was certainly familiar with the club (note also the mention of McGarry, below). (cf. Murphy, In Search of Blandings, Ch.7)


Ditteredge in Hampshire (p.47)

There is nowhere in the UK called Ditteredge. However, Ditteridge, Wiltshire, is very close to Cheney Court, where Wodehouse’s maternal grandmother and four of his aunts lived (cf. Murphy).


Glossop (p.47)

Glossop is a town in Derbyshire. This is the first appearance of the Glossop family.


McGarry (p.48)

Norman Murphy has established that the barman at Buck’s was a former Irish Guardsman called McGarry. He is also mentioned in A Few Quick Ones and Plum Pie.


Haydock Park (p.48)

Racecourse near Newton-le-Willows in Lancashire


Girton (p.48)

Ladies’ college of Cambridge University. Founded at Hitchin in 1869, moved to a site two miles north of Cambridge in 1873. Wodehouse’s cousin, the philosopher Dr. Helen Marion Deane, was an undergraduate at Girton in 1898–1902, and was Mistress (head) of the college from 1931 to 1942 (cf. Murphy, chapter 17).


She walks in beauty, like the night (p.49)

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair’d the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o’er her face,
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,—
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

Byron, George Gordon Noel, Lord Byron (1788–1824) She walks in beauty, like the night


she is coming, my love, my own (p.53)

There has fallen a splendid tear
From the passion-flower at the gate.
She is coming, my dove, my dear;
She is coming, my life, my fate;
The red rose cries, “She is near, she is near;”
And the white rose weeps, “She is late;”
The larkspur listens, “I hear, I hear;”
And the lily whispers, “I wait.”

She is coming, my own, my sweet;
Were it ever so airy a tread,
My heart would hear her and beat,
Were it earth in an earthy bed;
My dust would hear her and beat,
Had I lain for a century dead;
Would start and tremble under her feet,
And blossom in purple and red.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892) Maud I:59–73


Waukeesis (p.53)*

The Waukeezi Shoe Company of Northampton produced both men’s and women’s shoes; advertisements from 1906 to 1956 use this spelling. Wodehouse generally changes the z to an s.


Oh, happy day (p.54)

…even happier if you happen to remember that the hymn “Oh, happy day” is all about baptism! (Note that the “gospel” version by Edwin Hawkins, which is often sung nowadays, didn’t appear until 1967.)

O happy day, that fixed my choice
On Thee, my Savior and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.

(Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray, and live rejoicing every day
Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away.)

O happy bond, that seals my vows
To Him Who merits all my love!
Let cheerful anthems fill His house,
While to that sacred shrine I move.

It’s done: the great transaction’s done!
I am the Lord’s and He is mine;
He drew me and I followed on;
Charmed to confess the voice divine.

Now rest, my long divided heart,
Fixed on this blissful center, rest.
Here have I found a nobler part;
Here heavenly pleasures fill my breast.

High heaven, that heard the solemn vow,
That vow renewed shall daily hear,
Till in life’s latest hour I bow
And bless in death a bond so dear.

Doddridge, Phillip (1702–1751) Oh, Happy Day (hymn)


Chapter 6
The Hero’s Reward

whack up the ginger (p.56)

summon up the courage


Australian crawl (p.59)

A swimming stroke, first developed in 1901. Wodehouse often mentions swimming in his autobiographical works, and many of his characters are good swimmers.


Ruskin (p.61)

John Ruskin (1819–1900), the great cultural critic and social theorist of Victorian England. He was a great champion of – and influence on – the pre-Raphaelites, and inspired the revival of gothic architecture. His enthusiasm for educating the working classes had a huge influence too, and has its monument to this day in the WEA and in Ruskin College, Oxford. One feels that Bertie could have fared far worse.


Chapter 7
Introducing Claude and Eustace

lofted (p.62)

Golfing term: to hit a ball upwards, e.g. to get it over an obstacle.


Death, where is thy … sting? (p.62)

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Bible 1 Corinthians 15:55


Lord Rainsby … Earl of Datchet (p.65)

Datchet is on the Thames, between Windsor and Staines. Rainsby seems to be without an obvious source.


strictly unofficial (p.66)

Oxford undergraduates were not allowed to leave the city in term-time without permission from the college authorities.


He cometh not! (p.67)

With blackest moss the flower-plots
Were thickly crusted, one and all:
The rusted nails fell from the knots
That held the pear to the gable-wall.
The broken sheds look’d sad and strange:
Unlifted was the clinking latch;
Weeded and worn the ancient thatch
Upon the lonely moated grange.
She only said, ‘My life is dreary,
He cometh not,’ she said;
She said, ‘I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead!’

Tennyson, Alfred Lord (1809–1892) Mariana ll.1–12


Chapter 8
Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch

6A, Crichton Mansions, Berkeley Street, W. (p.68)

Norman Murphy has not been able to establish a clear origin for this address. He speculates that Berkeley Mansions (in Mount Street, Bertie’s address in Thank You, Jeeves) is more likely. Crichton could be a reference to J. M. Barrie’s The Admirable Crichton.


Lord Alastair Hungerford … Duke of Ramfurline (p.68)

Hungerford is in London; Ramfurline is fictitious, but is clearly meant to sound Scottish (cf. Dunfermline).


landaulette (p.69)

A motor car made after the style of a landau, i.e. with a folding roof over the rear seats.


shindy (p.72)

row, commotion


extinguisher (p.72)

In this sense, it means a bell-shaped candle-snuffer.


a blood club (p.74)

A “blood” in public school and university slang (esp. late 19th century) was a particularly conspicuous, fashionable person, so a ‘blood club’ is a club frequented by such people.


Harrods (p.74)

A large London department store.


Chapter 9
A Letter of Introduction

olive branch … orange blossom … dove of peace (p.78)

In Genesis 8:11, the dove comes back to Noah with (at least in the Authorised Version) an olive leaf, not an olive branch in her mouth. Orange blossom is traditionally associated with marriages.


Bohea (p.79)

A type of black tea, originally from the Wu-i hills in Fuhkien, China. Later in this book, Bertie drinks Oolong tea.


Bassington-Bassington (p.80)

There are also the Kegley-Bassingtons who dominate the village concert in The Mating Season.


in time for Goodwood (p.81)

Horse races have been held on the Duke of Richmond’s estate on the Sussex Downs since 1802. The Goodwood Cup (see Ch.12) takes place at the beginning of August, and is one of the classic summer events for the fashionable world.


Now is … the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party (p.81)

This is allegedly the first sentence ever written on a typewriter, by Charles Weller in 1867.


the Lamb’s Club (p.81)

A theatrical club on 44th St, New York. The building was taken over by a church in 1975.


George Caffyn (p.81)

Possibly based in part on Wodehouse’s theatrical collaborator, Guy Bolton.


Ask Dad (p.82)

Wodehouse and Bolton wrote a show called Ask Dad, later retitled Oh, My Dear, which opened at the Princess Theatre in November 1918, and ran for 189 performances.


a state of tensity (p.84)

Tensity is normally used as a technical term in physiology to refer to physical tension (especially in muscles) – Bertie’s use of it here for mental strain is very unusual.


times that try men’s souls (p.84)

These are the times that try men’s souls

Paine, Thomas The Crisis


Chapter 10
Startling Dressiness of a Lift Attendant

Norfolk suit (p.89)

A Norfolk jacket was a loosely-fitting jacket with a waistband, worn by adults mainly for outdoor sports (cycling, shooting, etc.); when worn together with knee-breeches it constituted a Norfolk suit. Jasen has a photograph of Plum dressed like this in 1895. By 1923, it would have been rather an old-fashioned costume for a boy.


feast of reason and the flow of soul (p.90)

There St. John mingles with my friendly bowl
The feast of reason and the flow of soul;

Pope, Alexander Horace, Odes, Epistles and Satires 1st Satire, ll. 127–128


an absolutely round chappy (p.93)

It has been suggested that this might be a self-portrait of Wodehouse, though the only real similarities are the bald head and glasses. If Bring On the Girls is to be believed, the theatrical manager who takes the advice of his young son must be based on A. L. Erlanger, head of the Syndicate that controlled the Broadway theatres until the Shuberts came on the scene.


oolong (p.97)

A kind of dark tea, from Chinese Wu Lung (black dragon). Bertie also drinks this in Right Ho, Jeeves, ch.4


Chapter 11
Comrade Bingo

Marble Arch … Manchester Square (p.101)

Marble Arch and Speakers’ Corner are at the north-east corner of Hyde Park (Park Lane and Oxford St). Manchester Square (the site of the Wallace Collection) is on the north side of Oxford Street, not far away.


sponge-bag trousers (p.102)

According to Christopher Hodge on the AFW FAQ, sponge-bags (toilet cases) were formerly made from a material with a houndstooth pattern, which resembled the pattern of the material later used for formal trousers. “As currently worn” is an echo of the style of fashion reports and tailors’ advertisements.


Honours list … Lord Bittlesham (p.102)

Peerages and other honours are traditionally announced twice a year, at New Year and on the sovereign’s birthday. Although they are theoretically awarded by the sovereign, in fact the list is drawn up by the Prime Minister. Lord Bittlesham has presumably received his peerage for “services to the pharmaceutical industry” – in practice businessmen awarded peerages have usually given considerable financial support to a political party. At the time, all peerages were still hereditary, although one assumes that Lord and Lady Bittlesham are unlikely to produce an heir, and Bingo would not be eligible to inherit the title as he is not a direct descendant. Someone awarded a peerage can choose a title. Most people either use their own surname (if there isn’t already a peer with that title) or the name of a place with which they are associated. Probably Bingo’s uncle thought “Lord Little” would sound silly. Bittlesham seems to be fictitious, although there is a Bittles Farm not far from Emsworth, a Betsham in Kent, and a Bitterley in Shropshire.


I’ve got my chemise on it (p.103)

French: shirt – Bertie is implying that he has bet a substantial amount.


Charlotte Corday Rowbotham (p.105)

Marie Anne Charlotte Corday d’Armont (1768–1793) – a lady of aristocratic descent and revolutionary sympathies, who murdered Marat in his bath in revenge for his treatment of the Girondist moderates. She was guillotined in 1793.


cox of my college boat (p.107)

A college boat in this context is an eight-oared rowing shell. The coxswain is the person who steers a rowing boat and gives the necessary instructions to the oarsmen. Traditionally this role requires low body weight and a gift for forceful language.


a C3 collection (p.109)

Under the Military Service Act, 1916, men conscripted into the British army received a medical classification ranging from A1 to C3. Thus C3 (the lowest grade) implies someone very inferior in status or quality.


Chapter 12
Bingo Has a Bad Goodwood

Devonshire Club (p.113)

A Liberal political club, at 50 St. James’s St. It was founded in 1875, and in 1909 the annual subscription was 10 guineas. Bittlesham must have received his peerage from Lloyd George, the Liberal leader who was Prime Minister until 1922.


a poleaxed blanc-mange (p.113)

A blow on the head from a poleaxe was used to stun animals when slaughtering them. Thus someone who has received a severe psychological shock is often said to look as though he has been poleaxed. A blanc-mange is a dessert made with milk and gelatine, and having a tendency to quiver. The juxtaposition of the two in this image is, as usual with Bertie, totally ludicrous.


the police should be informed … no … it would hamper me (p.114)

Once again, the spirit of Sherlock Holmes appears…


stumer (p.117)

Slang, especially in Pink ’Un circles: A flop or dud. Also used for a bad cheque or a counterfeit banknote.


voice like the Last Trump (p.118)

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 I Corinthians 15:51–54


business (p.119)

Stage jargon: a prearranged set of actions


two five-pound notes … and a halfpenny (p.121)

almost as complete a list of the British currency of the time as one could wish. Only the threepence and the penny are missing. (There were twenty shillings to the pound, and twelve pennies to the shilling. A half-crown was worth two shillings and sixpence.)


collar (p.121)

As a verb, this means “take by the collar,” thus capture. Bertie is using it more loosely to mean simply “take.”


Chapter 13
The Great Sermon Handicap

Twing Hall (p.122)

Twing is fictitious (possibly a variant on Tring, Hertfordshire), but there is a Twigworth in Gloucestershire.


Lord Wickhammersley (p.123)

Seems to be fictitious, but there are many English placenames beginning with “Wickham.”


Smalls (p.123)

Popular name for Responsions, the first of the three university examinations Oxford undergraduates had to pass to qualify for a BA degree. They were abolished in 1960.


old Heppenstall (p.123)

Heppenstall is a fairly common English surname. There was a Reverend Frederick Heppenstall (1835–1879) who was headmaster of Sedbergh (a public school in the north of England) in the 1870s.


Badgwick … (p.124)

Badgwick: there is a village called Badger about a mile from Stableford.

Stapleton: The village of Stableford, Shropshire, where Wodehouse’s parents lived for some years. Stapleton first appears as a placename in Tales of St. Austin’s.

Upper and Lower Bingley: The only Bingley in England is the one in the West Riding. There is a Shipley not far from Stableford – perhaps Wodehouse took it a few miles up Airedale to make it into a Bingley?

Little Clickton-in-the-Wold: Clickton is a mystery. “Wold” is normally associated with the chalk hills of Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire.

Boustead Magna and Parva: The only Boustead is Boustead Hill, on the Solway Firth near the western end of Hadrian’s Wall. Magna and Parva (large and small) are quite common modifiers for village names.


Rev. Cuthbert Dibble (p.124)

British people of a certain generation will remember the 1960s chidren’s television series “Trumpton,” which always featured a roll-call of the firemen “Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub.” Gordon Murray, creator of the series, claims to have had no specific source for the names, but perhaps he had a subconscious memory of the Great Sermon Handicap?


dickey (p.124)

This word has a great number of slang meanings: the most common, and the one probably intended here, is a detachable shirt-front for formal evening wear. It should not be taken too literally – Bertie clearly doesn’t really mean Jeeves to make up a brown-paper parcel rather than a suitcase. He is jocularly specifying the things that might be considered necessary for a stay at a country house.


Paddington (p.125)

Paddington Station is the London terminus of the former Great Western Railway, serving the South-West of England, most of Wales, and parts of the West Midlands. It lies in west London, about a mile and a half from Arundell Street. The station was built in 1850–1854 by the GWR’s engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The great train-shed is an important early example of the structural use of iron. Slightly odd here is the use of “five-ten at Paddington” – from would seem more usual, unless Bertie means “Go to Paddington and buy the tickets there.”


locum tenens (p.125)

Someone employed by a professional person, especially a physician or clergyman, to replace them during an absence (Latin: holding the place). Often abbreviated to “locum.”


assistant-master (p.125)

In a public school, an assistant-master was a teacher who did not have responsibility for a boarding house.


the females of the species (p.127)

In Britain it used to be conventional for ladies to withdraw to the drawing room after the dessert, leaving the gentlemen free to smoke and drink port.

When the Himilayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,

He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside,
But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail,
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

When Nag, the basking Cobra, hears the careless foot of man,
He will sometimes wriggle sideways and avoid it if he can,
But his mate makes no such motion where she camps beside the trail,
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

When the early Jesuit fathers preached to Hurons and Choctaws,
They prayed to be delivered from the vengeance of the squaws,
’Twas the woman, not the warriors, turned those stark enthusiasts pale,
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man’s timid heart is bursting with the things he must not say,
For the woman that God gave him isn’t his to give away,
But when hunter meets with husbands, each confirms the others tale ---
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man, a bear in most relations – worm and savage otherwise --
Man propounds negotiations, Man accepts the compromise,
Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact,
To it’s ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

Fear or foolishness impels him, ere he lay the wicked low,
To concede some form of trial even to his fiercest foe,
Mirth obscene diverts his anger --- doubt and pity oft perple
X him in deaing with an issue – to the scandal of the Sex.

But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame,
Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same,
And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail,
The female of the species must be deadlier that the male.

She who faces death by torture for each life beneath her breast,
May not deal in doubt or pity -- must not swerve for fact or jest,
These be purely male diversions -- not in these her honor dwells,
She the other Law we live by, is that Law and nothing ese.

She can bring no more to living than the powers that make her great,
As the Mother of the Infant and the Mistress of the Mate,
And when Babe and Man are lacking and she strides unchained to claim,
Her right as Femme (and Baron), her equipment is the same.

She is wedded to convictions -- in default of grosser ties,
Her convictions are her children, heaven help him who denies,
He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild,
Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.

Unprovoked and awful charges -- even so the she-bear fights,
Speech that drips, corrodes and poisons --
even so the Cobra bites,
Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw,
and the victim writhes in anquish --
like the Jewuit with the Squaw!
 
So it came that Man, the coward, when he gathers to confer,
with his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her,
Where, at war with life and conscience, he uplifts his erring hands,
To some God of Abstract Justice -- which no woman understands.

And Man knows it!   Knows moreover, that the woman that God gave him
May command but may not govern -- Shall enthrall but not enslave him,
And She knows, because She warns him and her instincts never fail,
That the Female of Her species is more deadly than the Male.

Kipling, Rudyard The female of the species


christened something except Cynthia (p.127)

A surprising number of English poets have faced this problem (mostly not referring to a particular woman, but using the name as one of the titles of the goddess Diana, who came from Mount Cynthus), and most have avoided the issue by not putting the name at the end of the line. The most famous “Cynthia” poem (though it would certainly have offended Bertie’s delicate sensibilities) is Kynaston’s, but Fletcher, Keats, Wordsworth, Milton and a host of others might also be mentioned.

Do not conceale thy radiant eyes,
The starre-light of serenest skies,
Least wanting of their heavenly light,
They turne to Chaos endlesse night.

Do not conceale those tresses faire,
The silken snares of thy curl’d haire,
Least finding neither gold, nor Ore,
The curious Silke-worme worke no more.

Do not conceale those brests of thine,
More snowe white then the Apenine,
Least if there be like cold or frost,
The Lilly be for ever lost.

Do not conceale that fragrant scent,
Thy breath, which to all flowers hath lent
Perfumes, least it being supprest,
No spices growe in all the East.

Do not conceale thy heavenly voice,
Which makes the hearts of gods rejoyce,
Least Musicke hearing no such thing,
The Nightingale forget to sing.

Do not conceale, not yet eclipse
Thy pearly teeth with Corrall lips,
Least that the Seas cease to bring forth
Gems, which from thee have all their worth.

Do not conceale no beauty grace,
That ’s either in thy minde or face,
Least vertue overcome by vice,
Make men beleeve no Paradice.

Kynaston, Sir Francis To Cynthia On concealment of her beauty


When Cynthia smiles (p.128)

Perhaps Bingo has been dipping into Keats:

To see high, golden corn wave in the light
When Cynthia smiles upon a summer’s night,
And peers among the cloudlet’s jet and white,
As though she were reclining in a bed
Of bean blossoms, in heaven freshly shed.

Keats, John To Charles Cowden Clarke 92–97


Sunday the twenty-third (p.130)

As we know we are in August, this puts the date of the story back to 1914 or ahead to 1925. Sunday the 23rd of August 1914 was in the third week of the war, with the BEF involved in the Battle of Mons and the French retreating towards Paris.


Gatwick (p.132)

The racecourse at Gatwick, West Sussex, adjacent to the London-Brighton railway line, was opened in 1890. An airfield was built next to the racecourse in 1930, and racing continued until the RAF took over the whole site in 1939. After the war, Gatwick became one of London’s two main civil airports.


chaps in the poem … wild surmise (p.134)

Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Keats, John (1795–1821) On first looking into Chapman’s Homer


desiderated (p.135)

desired, longed for – Even in discussing brevity, Heppenstall uses an unnecessarily long-winded (though perfectly respectable) word.


S.P. (p.135)

Starting Price. With horse-races, one could place a bet either at the odds quoted at the moment of placing the bet (ante-post or A.P.), or at the odds current when the race starts (SP). With an AP bet one might well get better odds, but SP had the advantage that one didn’t lose one’s money if the horse was withdrawn before the race.


Chapter 14
The Purity of the Turf

cokernut shies (p.142)

English has long had problems with the unfortunate confusion of names between the cocoa bush and the coconut palm. The spelling “kokernut” dates back to 1620, and remained in use in commercial contexts until at least the end of the 19th century, apparently to avoid this difficulty. In Psmith in the City, Wodehouse uses “cocos” to refer to coconuts.

A coconut shy is a fairground attraction where the aim is to knock coconuts off poles by throwing hard wooden balls at them.


jamboree (p.142)

This was originally an American slang term for any sort of noisy revel or party – it was only in 1919 that it was appropriated by the Boy Scout movement.


ante-post odds or starting price (p.142)

See S.P. above


punters (p.142)

Slang for customers, especially for anyone placing a bet.


bust the Ring (p.143)

Defeat the bookmakers.


page-boy (p.145)

A boy employed as a servant to run errands, clean boots, etc. As so often in Wodehouse, he staffs his grand houses at the level that would have been usual before the First World War.


Jimmy Goode … Alexander Bartlett … Willie Chambers (p.147)

Wodehouse looked no further than his reference shelf for these three names:

Professor J. Paul Goode was responsible for editing some of the first globes and atlases produced by Rand McNally of Chicago.

John Bartlett (1820–1905) produced the first edition of his Familiar Quotations in 1855.

The brothers William and Robert Chambers, who started their Edinburgh publishing business with an edition of Burns in 1819, published their first dictionary (edited by James Donald) in 1867.


Pipped on the Post (p.149)

As usual, Wodehouse is ahead of the field with a good title: the British Library lists two novels with this title (Harold Graham 1929 and A. M. Stewart 1938). There is also a ’Pipped’ at the Post (David Dornan 1927).


Jenny, the girl jockey (p.151)

There doesn’t seem to be an obvious prototype for this.


Prudence Baxter (p.154)

In the Blandings stories, of course, Baxter is the secretary and McAllister the gardener.


Rupert Steggles (p.156)

Rupert is always a dangerous name in Wodehouse. Steggles in itself is a name that recalls the villains of 19th century fiction.


Chapter 15
The Metropolitan Touch

gazing up at his window (p.161)

Lovers in Wodehouse invariably get the wrong window in such circumstances.


épris (p.161)

French: enamoured. Used in English since the late eighteenth century.


Marie Lloyd (p.162)

Marie Lloyd (1870–1922), the famous music hall singer, reputed to be so skilled in suggestive gestures that she made even Tennyson’s Maud into something rather risqué. “The Metropolitan Touch” was first published in September 1922, just a month before Miss Lloyd’s death.


St. Cecilia (p.162)

Patron saint of music and musicians. Cecilia is said to have been martyred at Rome in the 1st or 2nd century CE. Her feastday is 22 November. In medieval paintings she is normally shown as a young woman holding a small portative organ.


Harry Lauder … “This is her-r. No, it’s a rabbut” (p.162)

Sir Harry Lauder (1870–1950) was the most famous Scottish singer and comedian of his day.I haven’t been able to identify this song yet.


Machiavelli (p.167)

Machiavelli, Niccolò (1469—1527). An important civil servant and diplomat in the Florentine Republic, he lost his job when the Medici family came to power in Florence, and retired to his country estate to write. His most famous work, based on his experience of diplomacy in the time of Cesare Borgia, is Il principe (The Prince) (1532), a book which advises an ideal amoral ruler on how to gain and maintain power. No one has ever been quite sure whether it is sincere advice or political satire, but at any rate Machiavelli has become synonymous with amoral scheming.


Friday, December 23rd (p.173)

23 December fell on a Friday in 1921.


Squire Tresidder (p.177)

In an English village, Squire is a courtesy title normally given to the main local landowner. The Cornish name Tresidder may be a reference to Stevenson’s Squire Trelawney in Treasure Island.


one of Belfast’s livelier nights (p.179)

Possibly Belfast suggested itself here because of the traditional association between Northern Ireland protestants and William of Orange.


Chapter 16
The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace

The Curse had come upon me (p.179)

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro’ the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
‘The curse is come upon me!’ cried
The Lady of Shalott.

Tennyson, Alfred Lord (1809–1892) The Lady of Shallot 109–117


Edinburgh Castle (p.179)

Mail services between Britain and the Cape were operated by the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co. Ltd. The Union-Castle ship Edinburgh Castle (the second of that name) was built in 1910 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 13362grt, a length of 570ft, a beam of 64ft 5in and a service speed of 14 knots. She was used as a troopship and auxiliary cruiser from 1914 to 1919, then reverted to passenger service until withdrawn in 1938.


lemonade on the Junior Dean (p.183)

In an Oxford college, the Dean is the Fellow (faculty member) responsible for student discipline. In the larger colleges, the Dean is assisted by a Junior Dean, also a Fellow of the college. In Something Fresh, Freddie Threepwood has been sent down for pouring ink on the Junior Dean of his college.


Burlington Arcade (p.184)

Covered shopping arcade opening off Piccadilly, next door to Burlington House (the Royal Academy). It opened in 1819, and used to belong to the Cavendish family.


Old Etonian (p.184)

An Old Etonian is someone who was educated at Eton College, a school in Windsor. According to the Sunday Telegraph there are 130 different colours of Eton sports socks in use.


Senior Tutor (p.185)

The Senior Tutor is the Fellow of an Oxford College who is responsible for organising teaching arrangements and seeing that undergraduates are devoting themselves to their studies.


moaning at the bar (p.185)

Bar in this context means the sandbar often found at the mouth of a river; to cross it is to go to sea.

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Tennyson, Alfred Lord (1809–1892) Crossing the Bar


extension night (p.186)

A night on which the club had a licence to stay open later than usual.


Covent Garden Ball (p.186)

Covent Garden Balls were a feature of the 1890s and early 1900s – once again, Bertie is showing his age rather.


Hammams (p.186)

A hammam is a Turkish bath. London’s first Turkish bath opened in Jermyn St. in 1862.


costermongers (p.186)

A costermonger is a street seller of fruit and vegetables. Covent Garden was the site of London’s wholesale fruit and vegetable market until 1972, so the aftermath of a ball would inevitably bring guests into contact with early-rising market workers.


chemmy (p.187)

Chemin-de-fer – A form of baccarat using six packs of cards. This is the first recorded use of the term “chemmy.”


Marion Wardour (p.188)°

Probably a disguised appearance of Marion Davies, one of the Ziegfeld Girls who caused so much trouble in Bring On the Girls; her birth surname was Douras.


all quiet along the Potomac (p.188)

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


tarantulas (p.191)

The wolf spider Lycosa tarantula, found in southern Europe.


travel overland to Madeira (p.201)

Don’t try this at home – you may get your feet wet. Presumably passengers to the Cape wishing to avoid the rough crossing of the Bay of Biscay would travel to Lisbon by train and take a boat to Madeira from there.


Chapter 17
Bingo and the Little Woman

Peninsular war (p.203)

The campaign against Napoleon in Spain and Portugal 1808–1813, in which Wellington distinguished himself as Britain’s foremost general. Anyone in the Senior Liberal club in 1923 who had fought in the Penninsula would be at least 128.


armistice (p.204)

The agreement ending the First World War, in November 1918. Many civilian jobs normally performed by men were taken by women during the war years.


king in Babylon … Christian slave (p.206)

Or ever the knightly years were gone
With the old world to the grave,
I was a King in Babylon
And you were a Christian Slave.

I saw, I took, I cast you by,
I bent and broke your pride.
You loved me well, or I heard them lie,
But your longing was denied.
Surely I knew that by and by
You cursed your gods and died.

And a myriad suns have set and shone
Since then upon the grave
Decreed by the King of Babylon,
To her that had been his Slave.

The pride I trampled is now my scathe,
For it tramples me again.
The old resentment lasts like death,
For you love, yet you refrain.
I break my heart on your hard unfaith,
And I break my heart in vain.

Yet not for an hour do I wish undone
The deed beyond the grave,
When I was a King in Babylon
And you were a Virgin Slave.

Henley, William Ernest To W.A.


Pink ’Un (p.206)

Unofficial name of the Sporting Times (see p.15 above).


Form book (p.208)

A collection of statistics on the performance of racehorses used as a guide for betting.


serpent’s tooth (p.208)

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
To have a thankless child.

Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) King Lear I:4, 268–269


Disturbing news from Lower Silesia (p.211)

Slightly mysterious: it was Upper Silesia, with its mixture of German, Czech and Polish populations, which was in some turmoil in the early twenties. A plebiscite held in 1921 to decide whether it should become German or Polish was partly inconclusive, and there was an armed rising of Polish Silesians in 1922 which led to partition. Lower Silesia is the area around Wroclaw (formerly Breslau).


Chapter 18
All’s Well

wedding breakfast (p.212)

The celebratory meal after a wedding is traditionally called a “breakfast,” presumably because weddings had by law to be held in the morning, and the bride and groom were presumed not to have eaten beforehand.


Lilian Gish (p.213)

Lillian Gish (1897–1993), whose name is properly spelled in the American magazine appearance of this story (Cosmopolitan, December 1922). One of the first big stars of silent pictures, worked with D. W. Griffith from 1913 to 1925 (Unseen Enemy, Birth of a Nation, Orphans of the Storm, Intolerance, etc.)


I love your son, Lord Windermere (p.214)

It isn’t clear whether Lord Windermere is the old earl or the son, but in either event it sounds as though Millicent is at a grave risk of becoming the Lady Windermere created by Oscar Wilde …

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