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.

Ukridge was originally annotated by Mark Hodson (aka The Efficient Baxter). The notes have been reformatted, edited, and extended, but credit goes to Mark for his original efforts, even while we bear the blame for errors of fact or interpretation. Notes newly added in 2018 are flagged with * instead of a page number reference but can be located by interpolation. Newly revised notes are flagged with ° next to the page number.

The stories in Ukridge originally appeared in magazines in 1923–24, as detailed in the heading of the notes for each story below. For more information on variants between versions, see Neil Midkiff’s page of the Wodehouse short stories.

 


Ukridge’s Dog College (pp. 1 to 22)

This story runs from pp. 1 to 22 in the 2000 Penguin edition of Ukridge. It was first published in Cosmopolitan in the US in April 1923 and in the Strand in the UK in May 1923; in book form it appeared in Ukridge (Herbert Jenkins, UK, June 1924) and He Rather Enjoyed It (Doran, US, March 1926).

[Jasen, David A.: P. G. Wodehouse, A Portrait of a Master (1981)]


Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge (p. 1)

The character Ukridge (pronounced “Yoo-kridge”) first appeared in the novel Love Among the Chickens (1906, 1909, 1921). Apart from the present collection, there are Ukridge stories in Lord Emsworth and Others (1937), Eggs, Beans and Crumpets (1940), Nothing Serious (1950) and Plum Pie (1966). The distribution of stories between these books varies between the UK and US, of course! Usborne has an interesting chapter comparing the Ukridge of the short stories to Love Among the Chickens. Murphy has done some detective work into the real prototypes for Ukridge, and claims to have found Aunt Julia’s house.

The origin of the name Ukridge is unclear.

Featherstonehaugh (pronounced “Fanshaw”) is a Northumbrian surname, from the name of a village near Haltwhistle.

Stanley is a common English surname, which possibly owes its popularity as a boys’ name in the late nineteenth century to the Welsh-born explorer Henry Morton Stanley (1841–1904).


son of Belial *

See Love Among the Chickens.


pots of money *

Wodehouse’s characters often use this phrase for a fortune: Ukridge again in the 1921 version of Love Among the Chickens, Reggie Pepper in “Doing Clarence a Bit of Good” (1913), and the sibyl in “Pots o’ Money” (1913).


fifty thousand pounds *

The Bank of England inflation calculator gives a factor of 57.5 from 1923 to 2017, so in current terms this would be nearly £2.9 million or US$3.8 million.


half-a-crown (p. 2) °

A coin worth 2 shillings and sixpence, one-eighth of a pound sterling (12.5 p in decimal currency). For obscure reasons the half-crown coin continued to exist until the introduction of decimal currency in 1971, even though the crown (five shillings) had long since disappeared.


sported on the green (p. 2)

It was a summer evening,
Old Kaspar’s work was done,
And he before his cottage door
Was sitting in the sun;
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.

[Southey, Robert: After Blenheim 1–7]


wore his school cap *

Reminiscent of Harrison wearing his cap while out of bounds in “The Manœuvres of Charteris”.


flitting about the world like a snipe *

See Sam the Sudden.


Buenos Ayres (p. 2)

Obsolete spelling of Buenos Aires (Argentina), common in the nineteenth century, and still often seen in the names of older institutions.


George Tupper (p. 2)

Tupper is usually claimed to be a Huguenot name, and nothing to do with the reproductive habits of sheep. A Professor Tupper-Smith appears in “A Prisoner of War” (1915).

The only famous bearers of that name sems to have been:

(1) Martin Tupper (1810–1880), author of Proverbial Philosophy, the much-mocked Sophie’s World of the mid-Victorian period.

(2) Sir Charles Tupper was one of the Fathers of Confederation, that bushy-bearded gaggle of nation-builders that, against all the odds, managed to create the dominion of Canada July 1, 1867, blazing the trail for the younger dominions, (Australia, NZ, SA, etc.) to follow in the years to come. When not serving as high commissioner to London, Tupper was a senior cabinet minister in Prime Minister John A. MacDonald’s Tory cabinets (1867–73; 1878–91), finally becoming the country’s sixth Prime Minister in 1896, ten weeks before the Tories were thrashed by Laurier’s Grits in the general election of that year. Unfortunately, Charles Tupper’s periods as High Commissioner in London seem to have been at least a decade before George Tupper would have secured his position in the Foreign Office.

[note by Ian Michaud]


head of the school *

That is, the senior student trusted by the authorities with supervising the other prefects who helped maintain discipline and order among the junior students.


Wimbledon Common *

A large open space of heathland in southwestern London, formerly the the property of the Earls Spencer, but designated in 1871 as public parkland for recreation and conservation. The adjacent private homes are naturally desirable residences; see The Mating Season for a list of Wodehouse characters who lived next to the Common.


commissionaires (p. 3)

Uniformed doorkeepers, especially outside expensive shops and hotels.


Selfridge’s (p. 3)

The Oxford Street department store was opened by the American retailer H. Gordon Selfridge (1856–1947) in 1909. Selfridge learnt his trade with Marshall Field in Chicago, and caused eyebrows to rise in London with his ideas of shopping as entertainment.


browsing and sluicing *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


Ichabod (p. 3)

Inglorious. From the name of an Old Testament character (Eli’s grandson) who had the bad luck to be born at the moment that the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, the same day that his father, uncle and grandfather died.

15  Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.
16  And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled today out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?
17  And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.
18  And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.
19  ¶ And his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her.
20  And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast borne a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it.
21  And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband.
22  And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.

[Bible: 1 Samuel 4:15–22]


Elba ... Napoleon (p. 4)

Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated and was exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba after the allied forces entered France in 1814. He remained there from the 4th of May, 1814 until the 1st of March, 1815, when the unpopularity of Louis XVIII encouraged him to come back for another go. He landed on French soil at Cannes, where Wodehouse was to live for a while in the 1930s.


Ebury Street (p. 4)

A mainly-residential street in the Belgravia district of London, behind Victoria coach station.

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=528592&Y=178880&A=Y&Z=1


Bowles (p. 4)

First appears in these stories.


eyes of a lightish green *

Another character with “light green eyes” is Ike Goble, in The Little Warrior (Jill the Reckless, 1920).


not at all what I have been accustomed to in the best places *

Wodehouse returns to this later in life, describing the butlers of his Edwardian youth in Over Seventy (1957):

an august figure, weighing seventeen stone or so on the hoof, with mauve cheeks, three chins, supercilious lips and bulging gooseberry eyes that raked you with a forbidding stare . . . “Not at all what we have been accustomed to,” those eyes seemed to say.


Pekingese dogs *

Mark Hodson noted that Wodehouse’s interest in Pekes seems to have started with his marriage in 1914, and certainly he and Ethel owned many Pekes over the years. Among his characters who own Pekingese are Georgiana, Lady Alcester (four in “Company for Gertrude”); Rosie M. Banks (six including Ping-Poo and Wing-Fu in “Bingo and the Peke Crisis”); Billie Bennett (Pinky-Boodles, in Three Men and a Maid); Elizabeth Bottsworth’s hostess (Clarkson, in “The Amazing Hat Mystery”); George Spenlow’s blonde friend (Eisenhower, in “Birth of a Salesman”); Luella Mainprice Jopp (Tinky-Ting, in “The Heel of Achilles”); Mrs. John Smith, the Sausage Chappie’s wife (Marie, in “Archie and the Sausage Chappie”); Beatrice Chavender (Patricia, in Quick Service); Mabel Hobson (Percy the Pup, a gift from Reginald Cracknell, raised by Ginger Kemp in The Adventures of Sally); Celia Todd (Pirbright, in “Tangled Hearts”); Tipton Plimsoll’s aunt Miss Plimsoll (six in “Birth of a Salesman”); Mrs. Spottsworth (Pomona, in Ring for Jeeves/The Return of Jeeves); Julia Purkiss (“Bingo and the Peke Crisis”); Marcella Tyrrwhitt (Reginald, renamed Percival by Beatrice Watterson in “Open House”); Mrs. Herbert J. Rossiter (“The Man Who Gave Up Smoking”); Lady Vera Mace (Sham-Poo, in Big Money); Lulabelle Sprockett (“Feet of Clay”); and of course Julia Ukridge in the present story. Ian Michaud notes that Frederick Mulliner buys a Peke as a present for Jane Oliphant in “Portrait of a Disciplinarian.”


Sheep’s Cray, in Kent (p. 6)

There are a number of Kent villages on what is now the edge of London with names like Foot’s Cray, St. Mary Cray, etc., (cray is an archaic word for chalk, of which there is no shortage in Kent). Sheep’s Cray seems to be fictitious, however. Possibly it was inspired by Sheepscombe (Gloucestershire)?


life is stern and ... earnest (p. 6) °

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 destin’d end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
 Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and time is fleeting,
 And our hearts, 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 glorious Present!
 Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
 We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
 Footsteps on the sands of time.

Footsteps, 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

 [Knickerbocker Magazine, September 1838, vol. 12, p. 189; updated 2015-12-08 NM; thanks to Dirk Laurie for spotting missing stanza]


sumptuous raiment (p. 6)

Seems to be a literary cliché, rather than a specific allusion. Sir Richard Burton’s overuse of it in his translation of the 1001 Nights may have been responsible for bringing the expression into common use, but he certainly didn’t invent it: the OED cites Alexander Barclay’s Eclogues (ca. 1515).


distinctively individual *

From the advertisements for Fatima cigarettes; see the UCSF library web site for one illustration.


bright yellow mackintosh (p. 6)

A waterproof coat. To judge by the colour, probably a sailor’s oilskin coat.


ginger-beer wire (p. 6)

Ginger-beer contains a lot of carbon dioxide under pressure, because most of the fermentation takes place in the bottle. Consequently, it was sold in bottles sealed like champagne bottles with a cork held down by twisted wire. This wire would have been useful for improvised repairs in the days before adhesive tape.

Pince-nez are spectacles without earpieces that clip on to the nose: Ukridge has converted his to ordinary spectacles.


a plaster cast of the Infant Samuel at Prayer *

See The Clicking of Cuthbert.


England paved with Pekingese dogs (p. 7)

The surface area of England is about 130 000 sq km. If we assume that to pave England with Pekingese requires about four dogs per square metre (and ignore the practicalities), Ukridge’s stated business plan would reach this output after the 37th group of dogs.


nine hundred dollars ... Ford car business (p. 8)

James Couzens (1872–1936) was working as a bookkeeper to the Detroit coal-dealer Alexander Malcolmson when Malcolmson and Henry Ford set up the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Couzens scraped together $900 of his own savings and borrowed a further $1500 to buy 24 shares in the new company.

His investment made him a millionaire, and he went into banking and became mayor of Detroit. At the time this story appeared he had just entered the US Senate, which would have brought his story to Wodehouse’s attention.


Charing Cross (p. 8)

Charing Cross station, near Trafalgar Square, is the West End terminus of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. It’s a small mystery why Ukridge would take a taxi to Charing Cross rather than travel from the London, Chatham and Dover Railway’s terminus at Victoria, about two minutes’ walk from Ebury Street, starting point for many trains to Kent.


Job ... Bildad (p. 8)

Bildad the Shuhite, presumably one of the descendants of Abraham’s son Shuah, is the second of Job’s (uncomforting) comforters in the Bible (see Job chapters 8, 18 and 25).

Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,
How long wilt thou speak these things?
And how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?
Doth God pervert judgment?
Or doth the Almighty pervert justice? (etc.)

[Bible: Job 8:1–3]


Ballet Russe (p. 9)

The Ballets Russes company (the name was always given in the plural form) was founded in Paris in 1909 by Serge Diaghilev, and broke up after his death in 1929. Diaghilev worked with all the most famous dancers, choreographers, composers and designers of the early twentieth century, and his company had a huge influence on the development of ballet and music.


Gooch, the grocer (p. 9) °

Gooch is a name that appears quite frequently for minor characters in Wodehouse – Garrison (1991) lists eleven, from a fag in “Educating Aubrey” (1911) to the cook in Uncle Dynamite (1948); the forthcoming third edition lists thirteen. In A Damsel in Distress there is a (fictitious) Little Gooch Street.

It is not a particularly uncommon name, but the only real Gooch of any note seems to have been the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway, Sir Daniel Gooch (1816–1889), often described as “Brunel’s right hand”.

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


Six pounds, three and a penny (p. 9)

i.e. six pounds, three shillings and one old penny, or roughly 6 pounds, 15.5p in decimal coinage.


Upon my Sam (p. 9)

The origins of this expression seem rather obscure – it may have been popularised by Kipling’s Stalky and Co. (1899), but according to the OED it existed in Devon, at least, before that, so Kipling could have picked it up at school. The similarly obscure “Upon my salmon/Salomon/sang” seem to be much older.


Nickerson (p. 10)

This is the only Nickerson in the canon. It seems to be a fairly common name in the USA (possibly they are all Nixons who have changed their names??), but not often seen in Britain: there is no obvious Wodehouse link.


Kempton Park (p. 10)

Racecourse, opened in 1878 at Sunbury-on-Thames, just outside London.


Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party (p. 11) °

See The Code of the Woosters.


subscription lists ... memorials and presentations (p. 11)

In the early twenties, most school Old Boys’ groups would have been raising money to erect memorials to staff and former pupils killed in the recent war.


declare war on Switzerland (p. 11)

Presumably in response to the Swiss navy’s bombardment of Lyme Regis (cf. The Swoop, ch.3)


San Marino (p. 11)

The tiny republic of San Marino (an enclave within Italy) was technically neutral in both World Wars. However, it did have a government closely allied to Mussolini’s Fascists from the early 1920s until 1943.


cold welsh rabbit (p. 11) °

Welsh rabbit is one of those mysterious names that has no obvious connection with the thing it is describing, in this case grilled cheese on toast. Some sources consider it an ethnic slur implying that the poor Welsh could not even afford rabbit and had to be content with cheese instead. In any event, it is a dish best served hot.


set the parrot on to you *

The first appearance of this story, in Cosmopolitan magazine (US), had “sick the parrot on you” here. It is interesting to note that Ukridge’s future bride Millie has an aunt, Lady Lakenheath, with a parrot too, in “Ukridge Rounds a Nasty Corner.”


like one that on a lonesome road (p. 13)

And now this spell was snapt: once more
 I viewed the ocean green,
 And look’d far forth, yet little saw
 Of what had else been seen—
 
 Like one that on a lonesome road
 Doth walk in fear and dread,
 And having once turn’d round, walks on,
 And turns no more his head;
 Because he knows a frightful fiend
 Doth close behind him tread.

[Coleridge, Samuel Taylor: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner VI]


without credit commerce has no elasticity *

Ukridge states this in the same words in the 1921 version of Love Among the Chickens, though not in the earlier 1906 or 1909 versions.


shrubbery *

See The Inimitable Jeeves.


Amalekites (p. 14)

The descendants of Esau’s son Amalek, who were displaced from Canaan and the Sinai peninsula by the Israelites after a long struggle.


stuffed eel-skin *

See The Inimitable Jeeves.


borrowed a dead cat *

The first appearance of this story, in Cosmopolitan magazine (US), omits the word “dead” here, and later in the paragraph, after “parked the dogs in my sitting room,” inserts “unleashed Cuthbert the cat”; the magazine illustration by T. D. Skidmore also shows an indubitably live cat running ahead of Ukridge.


a beaky nose *

Although the narrator does not see her until a later story, he imagines Aunt Julia in much the same terms as Bertie Wooster uses in describing his Aunt Agatha:

…there’s about five-foot-nine of Aunt Agatha, topped off with a beaky nose, an eagle eye, and a lot of gray hair, and the general effect is pretty formidable.

“Aunt Agatha Makes a Bloomer” (the chapter “Aunt Agatha Speaks Her Mind” in The Inimitable Jeeves, or “Aunt Agatha Takes the Count” in The World of Jeeves)


Ukridge’s Accident Syndicate (pp. 23 to 43)

This story runs from pp. 23 to 43 in the 2000 Penguin edition of Ukridge. It was first published in a shortened version in Cosmopolitan in the US in May 1923 and at full length in the Strand in the UK (as “Ukridge, Teddy Weeks and the Tomato”) in June 1923; in book form it appeared, using the Strand text and the Cosmopolitan title, in Ukridge (Herbert Jenkins, UK, June 1924) and He Rather Enjoyed It (Doran, US, March 1926). °

[Jasen, David A.: P. G. Wodehouse, A Portrait of a Master (1981) ]


Ukridge, sternest of bachelors (p. 23) °

He was, of course, married to Millie on his previous appearance in Love Among the Chickens. Wodehouse evidently decided that he could do more with the character if he became a bachelor again. [Since he meets and woos Millie in the last of these ten stories, it seems that the stories all predate the events of Love Among the Chickens, as do the Ukridge stories collected in later books, despite the order in which they were published. —NM]


obsequies (p. 23)

Funeral honours – the narrator is using the term ironically.


Number eleven foot (p. 23)

Size 11 in the British system for men’s shoes is roughly equivalent to 12 in the US and 44 or 45 everywhere else. Large feet, however measured.


Barolini’s ... Beak Street (p 23)

Beak Street is a side street off Regent Street in the Soho district of London, a likely place to find a cheap Italian restaurant in those days, and an expensive one today.

According to the Italians I have consulted, the name “Barolini” does not have any particular regional or class associations. The Barolinis to be found on the web all seem to be writers or academics.


a shilling and sixpence (p. 24) °

7.5p (!) [Even applying the inflation factor mentioned above, this is something like £4.35 in modern terms, so still seems quite philanthropic.]


Teddy Weeks (p. 24)

Only appears in this story. The only other Weeks listed in Garrison is the butler in “The Mixer” (1915). There is a Weems in French Leave, of course.


Only a Shop-Girl (p. 24)

Compare the Rosie M. Banks novel Only a Factory Girl, from “Jeeves in the Spring-Time” (revised as the first two chapters of The Inimitable Jeeves). Could perhaps be a reference to Margaret Leahy, a shop-girl from Brixton who, in a flood of publicity, won a competition in the Daily Sketch in 1922 to become a film star.


Victor Beamish (p. 24)

The first of a number of characters in the canon to be called Beamish. The most prominent is of course the self-improving author J. Hamilton Beamish (The Small Bachelor).

Sally Beamish may sound as though she should be a Wodehouse character, but is actually a respected Scottish composer.

Beamish is a village in County Durham, now the site of a large open-air museum. Cf. also Lewis Carroll’s use of the word as an adjective (“my beamish boy...”) in “Jabberwocky”.


that picture … in the advertisement pages *

Wodehouse must have known one or more aspiring artists who had to turn to commercial illustration to make a living; several of his characters are in that line of work. Ian Michaud wonders if Wodehouse’s friend and collaborator William Townend did advertisement art as well as book and magazine illustrations.

“In the advertisement pages,” said Annette. “Mr. Sellers drew that picture of the Waukeesy Shoe and the Restawhile Settee and the tin of sardines in the Little Gem Sardine advertisement. He is very good at still life.”

“The Man Upstairs” (1910)

Corky managed to get along by drawing an occasional picture for the comic papers—he had rather a gift for funny stuff when he got a good idea—and doing bedsteads and chairs and things for the advertisements.

“Leave It to Jeeves” (“The Artistic Career of Corky”) (1916)

[Note that the “Corky” above is Bruce Corcoran, aspiring New York portrait painter and friend of Bertie Wooster, not the James “Corky” Corcoran who narrates the Ukridge short stories. He is unnamed in these first two stories anyway; we learn his name in “The Début of Battling Billson” below.]

Audrey Blake’s late father in The Little Nugget, Paul Boielle in “Rough-Hew Them How We Will” (1910), Bunny Farringdon in American editions of Cocktail Time (1958), and Gwladys Pendlebury in “Jeeves and the Spot of Art” (1929) all turn their artistic gifts to advertisements at one time or another.


Piccadilly Magazine (p. 24) °

??? From the few references I have found, it isn’t easy to say whether this really existed, or is meant as a pastiche on the real Strand Magazine (where this story appeared). If it existed, there may have been two or three different, presumably short-lived, publications with this title.

[A list of This Week’s Books in the Saturday Review for 2 September 1899 notes issue no. 1 of The Piccadilly Magazine. The Bulletin of Bibliography and Magazine Notes for January 1916 notes a Piccadilly Magazine published monthly in London, with vol. 1, no. 1 in September 1914. A reference in Neill of Summerhill gives their address as 40 Fleet Street. More possibilities are listed at the FictionMags Index. On the other hand, two 1908 stories in the Strand use the name in an apparently fictional manner. —NM]


Bertram Fox (p. 24) °

Seems to be the only active Fox in the canon [though the late Bingley Fox, author of Sixty Years of Society, is mentioned in magazine versions of “The Awful Gladness of the Mater” (1925)]. Given the next name on this page, it is a reasonable assumption that Wodehouse looked at the lid of his tobacco tin for inspiration: James J. Fox of London have been marketing pipe tobacco since the 1880s.

Wodehouse evidently liked the name Bertram – as well as Bertram Wilberforce Wooster, there is also Bertram Lushington in “The Code of the Mulliners”. It probably comes from the character in Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, although there are Bertrams in Scott and Jane Austen too, of course.


Robert Dunhill (p. 24)

The only Dunhill in the canon. Dunhill is a brand of cigarettes and pipe tobacco.


New Asiatic Bank (p. 24)

The name Wodehouse always uses for the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (now HSBC) where he worked for a couple of years (at a salary of eighty pounds a year) after leaving Dulwich. This reference is a strong hint that we should see this story as set in the London of Wodehouse’s bachelor days and Not George Washington, in other words about 1900 rather than 1923.


Ashes of Remorse (p. 24)

Perhaps another tobacco allusion?

Ashes seem to have been popular in the cinema around this time: the Internet Movie Database lists Ashes of Hope (twice), Ashes of Three, Ashes of Remembrance, Ashes of the Past, Ashes of Love, Ashes of Desire, Ashes of Revenge, Ashes of Vengeance, and Ashes of Doom for the period 1912–1923. But Ashes of Remorse apparently remains unproduced.


Barrow-in-Furness ... Bootle (p. 24)

Barrow is a port and industrial town in Cumbria (formerly Lancashire), chiefly remarkable for its remoteness from anywhere else. There are two Bootles in England – the village of this name in Cumbria is quite close to Barrow, but far too small to have had a theatre, so Wodehouse presumably means the port on Merseyside, a mile or so downstream from Liverpool city centre.

If you accept the hypothesis that the character of Lord Emsworth was inspired in part by the then Duke of Devonshire, it might be interesting to add that the Cavendish family owed much of their wealth to the development of Barrow and the Furness Railway.


Cork Street (p. 25)

Cork Street was the original centre of high-class tailoring in London, where men like Beau Brummel bought their clothes. Savile Row (two streets away) later took over as the focal point of the trade: Cork Street is better known for art galleries today.


Moykoff (p. 25) °

Moykopf (not Moykoff) was the name of a firm of bootmakers with a shop in the Burlington Arcade. They seem to have gone out of business around 1956. [The Cosmopolitan magazine version of this story uses the correct spelling.]


Moses Brothers (p. 25) °

A slightly disguised reference to Moss Bros. of Covent Garden. [The Cosmopolitan magazine version of this story uses the actual name.]


Freddie Lunt (p. 25)

Seems to be the only Lunt in the canon.

The name Lunt is usually said to come from Norse or Swedish words meaning a copse or small wood: there are a number of villages in the north of England with names like Lunt, Lund, Lunds, etc. Of course Lund is also the name of a city in Sweden.


accident insurance *

This is by no means a flight of fancy by Wodehouse. From small beginnings (e.g. a £10 policy for fatal accidents for subscribers of the Sheffield Independent in 1920) the competition between papers led to ever-increasing coverage. See this advertisement (large image, opens in new tab or window) from the Birmingham Gazette, 1 May 1922. [NM]


speaking-tube *

See Leave It to Psmith.


See Love Among the Chickens.


area *

A railed-off sunken space at the front of a city house, giving access to the basement via steps leading down from the sidewalk level.


Cicero ... Clodius (p. 34)

Cicero and Clodius had a long-running and bitter dispute, which started with the great orator prosecuting Clodius for sacrilege (he had sneaked into a religious ceremony dressed as a woman, in the course of a liaison with Caesar’s wife, Pompeia). Clodius got off by bribing the jury, and later found himself in a position to take revenge by driving Cicero into exile on trumped-up charges and taking possession of his estates. Cicero had the last laugh, however, defending Clodius’s main political opponent, the tribune Milo, after he had killed Clodius, apparently in self-defence.


so yellow and few in the pod *

Yellow here implies lack of courage; few in the pod is an obscure phrase but could well mean a lack of “beans” meaning energy, as in “feeling full of beans.” The probable source is Sinclair Lewis’s 1920 novel Main Street:

“Now, frien’s, there’s some folks so yellow and small and so few in the pod that they go to work and claim that those of us that have the big vision are off our trolleys. They say we can’t make Gopher Prairie, God bless her! just as big as Minneapolis or St. Paul or Duluth.”

When this story appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine, the blurb above the title read “By P. G. Wodehouse, Who Laughs in London and is Heard in Gopher Prairie”—leading one to wonder if this was just coincidence or if the headline writer recognized the quotation. [NM]


Moses on Pisgah (p. 36)

1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho: and the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,
2 and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea,
3 and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.
4 And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.
5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.

[Bible: Deuteronomy 34:1–5]


pawn a banjo *

David Jasen’s P. G. Wodehouse: A Portrait of a Master tells (pp. 34–35) that Wodehouse himself bought a banjo in 1905, but that it was pawned by his colleague and occasional house guest Herbert Westbrook.


eight shillings the quart bottle (p 36)

Eight shillings is 40p.

A normal English quart is two pints, or about 1136ml. However, before metrication, wines and spirits were sold in a measure known as the reputed quart, defined as one-sixth of an imperial gallon, or about 757ml (slightly larger than the standard 750ml wine bottle of today).

Nowadays a bottle of cheap Champagne sells in Britain for about 15 pounds, although other fizzy wines are cheaper: one suspects that Signor Barolini may not have been too fussy about his terminology.


What was actually in the champagne … remains a secret *

The By the Way column in the Globe newspaper for June 13, 1903 (a day on which Wodehouse worked on the column), noted that “the manufacture of weird wines is becoming quite an art” and gave a recipe for imitation Burgundy. The item was sparked by an item in the Lancet of that date titled “Fictitious Wines: Some Interesting Recipes” in which methods of counterfeiting various brands of Champagne are given. [NM]

As late as 1964 in Frozen Assets Jerry Shoesmith and Kay Christopher were served something in a Paris bistro that “at first taste seemed to be carbolic acid but which actually was brandy or something reasonably like it” which Kay speculated “was probably used for taking stains out of serge suits.” [IM]


banana-skin *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


whip-round *

An appeal to a number of persons for contributions to a fund.


ingenuity of their various competitions *

Satirized by Wodehouse and Westbrook in The Globe By the Way Book; see John Dawson’s article on it for examples.


The Début of Battling Billson (pp. 44 to 69)

This story runs from pp. 44 to 69 in the 2000 Penguin edition of Ukridge. It was first published in Cosmopolitan in the US in June 1923 and in the Strand in the UK in July 1923; in book form it appeared in Ukridge (Herbert Jenkins, UK, June 1924) and He Rather Enjoyed It (Doran, US, March 1926).

Ukridge’s boxing protégé Battling Billson appears here for the first time. He later appeared in “The Return of...” and “The Exit of...,” (both in the present volume) and in “The Come-back of...” in Lord Emsworth and Others. He has a walk-on part in the novel Something Fishy as the brother-in-law of Keggs.

Wodehouse was a keen amateur boxer in his school days. Poor eyesight forced him to abandon the sport, but both professional and amateur boxing feature in many of his stories, and he clearly followed it closely. On his first trip to the US in 1904 he went to meet the boxer “Kid” McCoy in his training camp. See the endnotes to one of the Kid Brady stories for more. °


hair-trigger memories … correspondence courses … Mr. Addison Simms of Seattle *

Only the magazine versions of this story add the two-sentence reference to Addison Simms and the granary deal. The Roth Memory Course was widely advertised in magazines with the tag phrase “Of course I place you! Mr. Addison Sims of Seattle.” Here is a typical ad (magazine scan from Google Books, opens in new browser window or tab).


Saturday, September the tenth (p 44) °

This suggests that the story could be set in 1921, 1910 or 1904, assuming that Wodehouse bothered to check the calendar, which seems unlikely. Corky was therefore born on 8 September 1894, 1883, or 1877, respectively.

(Wodehouse was born on 15 October 1881.)


photographically lined on the tablets of my mind (p. 44) °

One winter—I am shaky in my dates—
Came two starving Tartar minstrels to his gates;
  Oh, Allah be obeyed,
  How infernally they played!
I remember that they called themselves the “Oüaits.”

Oh! that day of sorrow, misery, and rage,
I shall carry to the Catacombs of Age,
  Photographically lined
  On the tablet of my mind,
When a yesterday has faded from its page!

Alas! Prince Agib went and asked them in;
Gave them beer, and eggs, and sweets, and scent, and tin.
  And when (as snobs would say)
  They had “put it all away,”
He requested them to tune up and begin.

[Gilbert, W. S.: Bab Ballads – “The Story of Prince Agib” ll. 16–30]


sling or arrow of outrageous Fortune *

Adapted from Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy.


put the lid on *

Many of Wodehouse’s characters use this slangy way of referring to “the last straw” or a final stage in things getting worse.

In addition, Bristow wore a small black moustache and a ring, and that, as Psmith informed Mike, put the lid on it.

Psmith in the City (serialized as “The New Fold”, 1908–09)

“I guess that’s put the lid on it,” she said. “It’s too bad of me! Making that kind of a break! Oh, well!”

Della Morrison, in The Prince and Betty (UK text) (1912)

And then I put the lid on it. With the best intentions in the world I got myself into such a mess that I thought the end had come.

The dog narrator of “Breaking into Society” (1915)

Well, that seemed to me to put the lid on it. I didn’t mind a heart-to-heart talk, but this was mere abuse.

Reggie Pepper, in “The Test Case” (1915)

And then, just when I was beginning to think I might safely pop down in that direction and gather up the dropped threads, so to speak, time, instead of working the healing wheeze, went and pulled the most awful bone and put the lid on it. Opening the paper one morning, I read that Mrs. Alexander Worple had presented her husband with a son and heir.

Bertie Wooster, in “Leave It to Jeeves” (1916) (later revised as “The Artistic Career of Corky” in Carry On, Jeeves!)

“And that crimson hair! It sort of put the lid on it.”

Archie Moffam’s brother-in-law Bill Brewster, in “Paving the Way for Mabel” (1920)

…he had realized that Fate, after being tolerably rough with him all day, had put the lid on it by leading him into his rival’s lair…

Freddie Widgeon, in “Trouble Down at Tudsleigh” (in UK collection Young Men in Spats) (1935)


bezique (p. 44)

A complicated card game for two players, using either two or four 32-card packs. Baxter in the Blandings stories is an enthusiast.


registering Determination *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


fruity ex-butler way *

See The Inimitable Jeeves.


finnan haddie (p. 45)

Finnan haddock (or haddie) is a filletted haddock smoked without additional dye, a traditional Scottish dish.


Gaiety Theatre (p. 46)

The Gaiety Theatre on the Strand (near where Bush House now stands) was one of the most fashionable of Edwardian London. When George Edwardes set it up in the 1880s, he laid great stress on getting the prettiest girls in his chorus. Many of them later married into the aristocracy, as Murphy reports. The original theatre was demolished in 1903, to be replaced by the New Gaiety (closed 1939, demolished 1956).

This is another clue that the events of the Ukridge stories have more to do with Edwardian London than with the twenties.

[Murphy, N. T. P.: In Search of Blandings (1986) 18–20]


The Coal Hole (p. 46)

This pub, in the Savoy Building at 91–92 Strand, still exists. As well as the cellar bar frequented by Ukridge, there is a street-level bar noted for its original Art Nouveau decoration.


Tod Bingham ... Alf Palmer (p. 46) °

Perhaps Tod is related to the pugnacious East End curate “Beefy” Bingham? There are half a dozen other Binghams in the canon.

Alf Palmer is also presumably fictitious, but the name Palmer, although common in Britain, appears only one other place in the canon, as Bellamy Palmer, owner of a stolen painting by Romney in “Doing Clarence a Bit of Good”.


Hyacinth (p. 48)

There have been lots of real and fictional ships named after flowers, from battle cruisers to Mersey ferries: it’s difficult to guess what might have been the inspiration for Wodehouse’s choice of Hyacinth here. Maybe Conrad’s Narcissus?


trimmers (p. 48)

In a coal-fired ship, the trimmers were men whose job was to go into the coal bunkers and shovel the coal to where it was needed by the firemen (stokers), who fed the actual fires.

In a figurative sense, a trimmer is also someone or something with a lot of fight, or likely to succeed.


A.B.s (p. 48)

“Able-Bodied” seamen – experienced sailors who could “hand, reef and steer”.


the Crown in Kennington (p. 48)

It’s not clear whether Ukridge is referring to a fictitious pub, or to the real Crown in Walworth (does that still count as Kennington?), which was later run by Great Train Robber Robert Welsh.


the White Hart at Barnes (p. 49)

The White Hart (nowadays it is “Ye White Hart”) is by the Thames near Barnes Bridge, the finishing line of the Boat Race.


Wonderland (p. 49) °

A former East End hall at 100 Whitechapel Road, Mile End, London, where many boxing matches took place from the late 1890s until it was destroyed in August 1911 by a mysterious fire. [Another clue for dating these short stories roughly to the Edwardian era.]


under-secretary (p. 49)

Broadly speaking, an under-secretary is two steps from the top of the civil service hierarchy, below the deputy secretary and the permanent secretary of a ministry.


Wilberforce (p. 50)

After William Wilberforce (1759–1833), the politician and Evangelical preacher who was one of the main leaders of the British anti-slavery campaign, and has been held up as a hero to Nonconformist Sunday-school children ever since. Anyone with Wilberforce as a first name must have had parents who were Chapel, and is therefore, almost by definition, working-class.

This doesn’t seem to apply to middle names: Bertram Wilberforce Wooster was, of course, christened in honour of a race horse on which his father won a packet. There was also a Samuel Wilberforce Gosling in the early public school novel The Prefect’s Uncle and, although a mere day boy, he presumably came from middle class stock or higher.


“How about Battling Billson?” *

In the original appearance of this story in Cosmopolitan magazine, Ukridge here asks “How about Battling Nelson?” and it is Corky who comes up with “Battling Billson.” Battling Nelson was the ring name of a real-life fighter; see Sam the Sudden for more on him. It seems plausible that the Cosmopolitan reading was Wodehouse’s original, rather than the familiar version from the Strand and the book collections, for two reasons: Ukridge praises the choice of name as “genius. Sheer genius” which would be effusive even for him if he had come up with the moniker himself; and a few paragraphs later Corky refers to the Battler as “my godchild” which seems odd if Ukridge had been the one to select the name. [NM]


the smile that wins *

Though this phrase appears from time to time in earlier literature and poetry, it was popularized in business and sales training courses in the 1910s, and “it’s the voice with the smile that wins” was used by the Bell telephone companies in the USA from about 1915 to encourage success in sales by telephone. The earliest connection so far discovered of the precise phrase to Pepsodent toothpaste is from 1948, although their ads had mentioned “winning smiles” from at least 1928 onward. Wodehouse titled one of his Mulliner stories “The Smile That Wins” in 1931.


Take him for all in all *

Hamlet, speaking to Horatio of his late father (Act I, sc. ii):

He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.


hearts of oak *

Referring literally to the wood used in British sailing ships and figuratively to the character of the men who sail in them. “Heart of Oak,” the official march of the Royal Navy, was originally written for a 1760 theatrical piece by composer William Boyce and actor David Garrick.


Underground station (p. 52)

If they were travelling from Ebury Street, they would presumably have taken the Metropolitan District Railway (later District Line) from Victoria to Whitechapel (opened 1884) or Mile End (1902).


jellied eels (p. 53) °

Jellied eels are a famous speciality of the East End of London. Wodehouse frequently uses them to stand for working-class East End culture.

Fresh eels are skinned and boned, then stewed until tender and served cold in a jelly. There seem to be two approaches to preparing them, one of which uses added gelatine and one of which claims that the eels form their own jelly.

A recipe using gelatine, from brittania.com

A recipe without gelatine, from erecipe.com


science *

In boxing, referring to technique and strategy as opposed to brute strength and endurance. From his earliest writing days, Wodehouse frequently praised science in boxing, both in his sports reporting (here is a 1901 example) and his fiction, including his 1902 novel The Pothunters, in which “the feather-weights gave excellent exhibitions of science” in Chapter I.


whistling ‘Comrades’ (p 54)

Possibly the 1916 song by R. Huntington Woodman?

Online sheet music at Duke University library


that zest for combat which had been so sadly to seek in round one *

An old-fashioned use of the infinitive “to seek” meaning “lacking, absent” here.


“Do It Now” *

See Leave It to Psmith.


the third button of his waistcoat *

See Thank You, Jeeves.


silent, sympathetic Scotch and soda *

Not only artful alliteration, but a double transferred epithet. See Leave It to Psmith.


burned her hand at the jam factory (p. 57)

Scalding was a well-known hazard for jam workers before the introduction of jar-filling machinery.

(My great-great uncle, Arthur Lealand, patented one early type of jar-filler shortly before World War I.)


“Kind hearts,” I urged, “are more than coronets.” *

See Love Among the Chickens.


Regent Grill *

That is, the grill-room (informal restaurant, specializing in steaks, chops, and the like) of the Regent Palace Hotel, built 1914–15 near the north side of Piccadilly Circus, on a triangular site bordered by Glasshouse Street, Sherwood Street, and Brewer Street. The hotel closed in 2006, and the historic listed building was converted into a retail and office complex which opened in 2011; the grill-room was restored in 1930s Art Deco style. An earlier image of the grill room:


I had an earnest talk with the poor zimp *

A search of vintage slang dictionaries, as well as the OED, has not turned up a definition for “zimp.” (Ignore the recent entry in the Urban Dictionary online.) The Cosmopolitan magazine version revised this to “simp” (colloquial short version of “simpleton”; earliest OED citation is from 1903 as circus-workers’ slang for an easy mark), and Wodehouse would use the phrase “You poor simp” in Bill the Conqueror (1924), so it is at least plausible that Wodehouse had heard “simp” spoken and then spelled it with a z when at his typewriter.

Ian Michaud notes that Anastatia Bates calls Rodney Spelvin a zimp in “The Purification of Rodney Spelvin” (1925); once again, the American magazine editor (Saturday Evening Post this time) changed the spelling to “simp.”


Shoreditch Empire (p. 60) °

The Empire Theatre in Shoreditch was designed by the well-known theatre architect Frank Matcham in 1894; its first names were the London Theatre of Varieties and the London Music Hall, and it maintained a variety program (music hall/vaudeville as well as sporting events and films) until it was bought out in 1934 and demolished in 1935. It had 2,332 seats (a roomy house indeed, as later mentioned in the story). This photograph appeared in The Playgoer in 1901:

Shoreditch is also in the East End of London, and has a place in theatre history as the original site of “The Theatre”, where the Lord Chamberlain’s Men gave the first performances of many of Shakespeare’s plays. (When a new landlord put the rent up, in 1599, Burbage, who owned the timber, had the theatre dismantled and shipped across the river to Bankside, where it was re-erected as “The Globe”.)


Gatling gun (p. 60)

The first successful design of machine gun, developed by Dr. Richard Gordon Gatling in the USA in the 1860s.


bare-headed *

A fastidious chap like George Tupper would of course wear a hat outside at all times in normal circumstances, so we must infer that he has already arrived at the restaurant and checked his hat, and is now just temporarily at the door looking for the narrator.


picture hat *

A wide-brimmed woman’s hat, typically elaborately decorated with flowers or feathers


Daily Sportsman *

A London paper founded in 1865; the 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica describes it as the leading paper in its category.


Florence Burns (p. 64) °

Poor Flossie goes through as many different surnames as Aunt Julia’s butler: although she is still called Burns in “The Return of...”, by “The Come-Back of...” she is called Dalrymple; in Something Fishy she has changed her name to Billson for entirely legitimate reasons, but her maiden name has been retrospectively changed to Keggs.

[Barmaids did often adopt a different name for their work; recall that Maudie Beach (later Mrs. Stubbs) worked at the Criterion bar under the nom de guerre of Maudie Montrose, as recalled in Pigs Have Wings. —NM]


Cheese it! *

See Leave It to Psmith.


at each other with a wild surmise *

See Thank You, Jeeves.


that other and sterner bird which haunts those places of entertainment *

Hissing by the audience; see Leave It to Psmith.


First Aid for Dora (pp. 70 to 92)

This story runs from pp. 70 to 92 in the 2000 Penguin edition of Ukridge. It was first published in Cosmopolitan in the US in July 1923 and in the Strand in the UK in August 1923; in book form it appeared in Ukridge (Herbert Jenkins, UK, June 1924) and He Rather Enjoyed It (Doran, US, March 1926).
(Wodehouse had used the similar title “First Aid for Looney Biddle” for one of the stories making up The Indiscretions of Archie three years earlier.)


Shaftesbury Avenue (p. 70)

One of the main thoroughfares of the London theatre district, running between Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street. It is named after the great Victorian social reformer, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury (1801–1885), who is commemorated by the “Eros” statue in Piccadilly Circus.


matinée audiences (p. 70) °

English theatres traditionally gave afternoon performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Wednesday was a half-holiday for many shop-workers and others who had to work on Saturday afternoons.

[In The Girl in Blue veteran thespian Dame Flora Faye called the Wednesday matinée the curse of her life and related the show business anecdote about the actress who was walking past the fish shop and saw all those fishy eyes staring at her. “That reminds me,” she said, “I have a Wednesday matinée.” —IM]


assisting ... to mount an omnibus (p. 70) °

This sounds much more like the horse-buses that dominated the London streets around the turn of the century than the motor buses that had taken over some ten years before this story appeared.

[I am not sure what gave Mark Hodson this impression. The illustration by Reginald Cleaver in the Strand shows Dora stepping up to the back platform of a traditional double-decker London motor bus, with curving back stairs leading to the upper deck. —NM]


Sir Walter Raleigh (p. 70)

Sir Walter Ralegh (or Raleigh), c.1554–1618, Elizabethan poet, courtier and adventurer. Was involved in a certain amount of commercial piracy, and many voyages of exploration, including an abortive attempt to colonise North America.

There is an apocryphal story of him laying his cloak in a puddle to allow Queen Elizabeth to cross dryshod.


“object-matrimony” *

In personal advertisements then and now, “Object: matrimony” is a brief way to express that the advertiser is seeking a spouse rather than merely a temporary romantic fling.


Dora Mason (p. 70) °

Other Masons in the canon include the theatrical agent Mortimer “Pa” Mason (Summer Lightning) and the playwright Wally Mason (The Little Warrior). [A student at Wrykyn in The White Feather and grocery executive Brock Mason in The Coming of Bill/The White Hope round out the list. —NM]

Wodehouse occasionally drops references to the Freemasons into his stories, but there’s no particular reason to see this as one.


Old Tuppy *

That is, George Tupper (see note above at p. 2).


the Apollo (p. 70)

The Apollo theatre, which opened in 1901, is at the Piccadilly Circus end of Shaftesbury Avenue.


steeped to the gills (p. 71)

A variant, probably invented by Wodehouse, on the conventional phrase steeped to the lips, which the OED attributes to Shakespeare. The word gills is often used jocularly to replace lips, cheeks, etc.


Pen and Ink Club (p. 71)

This is clearly a reference to International P.E.N., founded in 1921 by Mrs. C. Dawson Scott. The first president of the London branch was John Galsworthy. Wodehouse, of course, disapproved of writers who took themselves so seriously as to proclaim a political mission for the profession.

http://www.pen.org/


A.B.C. shop (p. 71)

The Aerated Bread Company ran a chain of bakeries in the London area. In 1864, the manageress (often mentioned, never named) of the London Bridge branch tried the experiment of serving tea to customers in the back room. It was a success, and soon the ABC were running a chain of tea shops. Their main competitors were Lyons.


Criterion (p. 72)

Bar, restaurant and theatre on Piccadilly Circus. The theatre has the unusual distinction of being largely underground; the bar and restaurant were frequented by a racy set in Edwardian days, but are now very posh – the current chef is one of the few in Britain to have been given three stars by Michelin.

[When he was still known as Piggy Wooster, Lord Yaxley met the future Lady Yaxley serving behind the bar of the Cri. (“Indian Summer of an Uncle”) —IM]


the Derby (p. 72)

The Epsom Derby, founded in 1780 by the 12th Earl of Derby, is one of the premier events in the English horse-racing calendar. The race, which is open only to three-year-old colts, is run each June over a distance of 1 mile 4 furlongs on Epsom Downs in Surrey.


Gunga Din ... a hundred to three (p. 72)

The name of the horse is a reference to Kipling’s famous ballad, of course.

The starting odds mean that anyone who had bet three pounds on this horse would have received a hundred pounds (plus the original stake) if it had come first. This implies that the bookies, at least, did not have a very high opinion of this particular horse’s chances.

’E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An’ a bullet come an’ drilled the beggar clean.
’E put me safe inside,
An’ just before ’e died,
“I ’ope you liked your drink,” sez Gunga Din.
So I’ll meet ’im later on
At the place where ’e is gone—
Where it’s always double drill and no canteen;
’E’ll be squattin’ on the coals
Givin’ drink to poor damned souls,
An’ I’ll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
  Yes, Din! Din! Din!
 You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
  Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,
  By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
 You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

[Kipling, Rudyard: Gunga Din (last stanza)]


sweepstake (p. 72)

It is common for the members of a group (co-workers, members of a club, etc.) to organise a sweepstake on the result of a big sporting event, usually a horserace. It is a kind of raffle, relying entirely on chance. Each participant puts in the same stake, and draws a ticket with the name of a competitor in the event: the person lucky enough to hold the ticket with the name of the winner gets the pool.


Mario’s (p. 72)

Fictitious – this club also appears in a number of other srories, including Summer Lightning and “The Shadow Passes”. The name suggests Ciro’s in Orange Street, off the Haymarket, but on the strength of the balcony Murphy identifies it as the Café de Paris, which seems to have been one of London’s most fashionable night clubs for much of the twenties and thirties.

[Murphy, N. T. P.: Reminiscences of the Hon. Galahad Threepwood (1993)]
http://www.mgthomas.co.uk/Dancebands/IndexPages/LondonDancePlaces.htm


Earl of Oxted (p. 74)

Oxted is in Surrey, on the southern fringe of London (it is just outside the ring of the M25 motorway, which is nowadays usually taken to define the limits of the Metropolis).

There does not appear to have been a real Earl of Oxted. The most celebrated Earl of Oxford was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl (1550–1604) whom some promote as the “true author” of Shakespeare’s plays. Wodehouse has fun with such ideas in a number of places in the canon.

In 1925, a couple of years after this was written, the former Liberal prime minister H. H. Asquith (1852–1928) was raised to the peerage as 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith. Asquith knew Wodehouse and was the dedicatee of Meet Mr. Mulliner.


Moth-balls! *

Before the introduction of slowly-sublimating petrochemical mothballs made from naphthalene or 1,4-dichlorobenzene, mothballs were typically made of camphor, a waxy, pungent aromatic solid obtained from vapor distillation of wood chips from certain varieties of trees.


balcony ... not dressed (p. 75)

Not dressed here means ‘not wearing evening dress.’ The dress code at Mario’s is a key element in the plot of Summer Lightning, of course.


James J. Jeffries (p. 76) °

Jeffries (1875–1953) was world heavyweight boxing champion from 1899–1905. Corky and Ukridge are surely far too young to have seen him in the ring, even at his celebrated attempted come-back fight against Jack Johnson in 1910.

[Or maybe not; one point of view is that all the Ukridge short stories take place before his marriage, which was recent in Love Among the Chickens (1906), so are Edwardian in setting. —NM]


Ouida (p. 76) °

Ouida was the pen name of the popular English writer Marie Louise de la Ramée (1839–1908), who published more than forty books including historical-romantic novels, stories set in society life, children’s books, etc., during her long career. Her books had the reputation of being racy and provocative in the Victorian era. Two of her well-known novels, Under Two Flags and A Dog of Flanders, have each been adapted several times for motion pictures.


faultless evening dress (p. 76)

This expression seems to have become a cliché through the works of popular writers of the Edwardian period (e.g. Guy Boothby, Egerton Castle – oddly enough I haven’t found it in Ouida) but more serious writers of the time (Wells, Bennett) also use it. It appears frequently in Wodehouse’s own works, of course.

The use of evening dress to describe men’s evening costume seems to date from around the 1880s – before that an evening dress was a garment worn by a lady.


Hamlet ... full of bread (p. 76)

This may need a bit of unpacking. The allusion is to the scene (Act III, scene 3) where Hamlet comes upon his uncle praying, and resists the urge to avenge his father’s death there and then. Hamlet sr. died without the chance to purge his soul by confessing his sins — Full of bread is a reference to Ezekiel 16.49: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness...” — and Hamlet jr. wants to serve his murderer the same way. (Well, it’s as good an excuse as any other for dragging his indecision out through two more acts...)

Corky, however, need have no such scruples: he has caught Ukridge ‘full of bread’ and could dispatch him there and then in a state of sin.

Hamlet:  Now might I do it pat, now he is praying.
And now I’ll do ’t—And so he goes to heaven;
And so am I reveng’d. That would be scann’d.
A villain kills my father, and for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
To heaven.
Oh, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
He took my father grossly, full of bread,
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
And how his audit stands who knows save Heaven?
But in our circumstance and course of thought
’Tis heavy with him. And am I then reveng’d,
To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and season’d for his passage?
No!
Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent:
When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,  
Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed;  
At gaming, swearing, or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in ’t;  
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,  
And that his soul may be as damn’d and black  
As hell, whereto it goes.

[Shakespeare: Hamlet III:iii, ll.76–99]


perilous stuff that weighs upon the heart (p. 76)

Corky is in Shakespearean mode, but we have moved on to Macbeth and the Physician discussing the problems of mental illness.

  Macb.  (...)
How does your patient, doctor?  
  Doct.        Not so sick, my lord,  
As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies,  
That keep her from her rest.
  Macb.        Cure her of that:  
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas’d,  
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,  
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote  
Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff  
Which weighs upon the heart?  
  Doct.        Therein the patient
Must minister to himself.  
  Macb.  Throw physic to the dogs; I’ll none of it.

[Shakespeare: Macbeth V:iii ll.44–58]


a toad under the harrow *

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

Rudyard Kipling: Pagett, M.P.


a hissing and a byword *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


newly discovered hieroglyphic *

Recall that King Tutankhamun’s tomb had only been discovered in 1922, the year before this story appeared in magazines, so Egyptology was a timely topic.


ex tempore (p. 82) °

Spontaneous, unprepared. [Spelled “extempore” without italics in both magazine appearances of the story. —NM]


miss-in-balk (p. 83)

(More usually spelled miss-in-baulk, as it appears in both magazine versions of this story)

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


Woman’s Sphere (p. 83)

Women’s magazines come and go, so it’s difficult to be certain, but this one seems to be fictitious. The real British magazine Woman’s Realm was published from 1958 to 2001; there also seem to have been a number of magazines in Britain and the US called Woman’s World.

The idea of “Woman’s Sphere” – a narrow area of life within the bounds of which women were supposed to have a pre-eminent role – is particularly associated with Victorian writers like John Ruskin.


Heath House, Wimbledon Common (p. 85)

This house appears under a number of names in the canon. In the later Ukridge stories it is usually ‘The Cedars.’

Murphy has identified it as Gayton Lodge, Parkside, the house (now demolished – follow the link below for a map) of a Mrs. Holland, an aunt of Wodehouse’s cousin, the lawyer Edward Isaac. Isaac, whom Murphy suggests as the source of much of the legal terminology Wodehouse uses, lived nearby in Wimbledon.

[Murphy, N. T. P.: In Search of Blandings (1986)]
http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=523566&Y=171661&A=Y&Z=3


stately homes of Wimbledon (p. 85)

The phrase “stately homes of England” seems to have been invented by Mrs. Hemans of Casabianca (“The boy stood on the burning deck”) notoriety. Noël Coward’s celebrated song of 1938 is a parody. Possibly he was provoked by Mrs. Hemans’s choice of epigraph?

Where’s the coward that would not dare
To fight for such a land?
[Walter Scott: Marmion]

The stately Homes of England,
How beautiful they stand!
Amidst their tall ancestral trees,
O’er all the pleasant land.
The deer across their greensward bound
Through shade and sunny gleam,
And the swan glides past them with the sound
Of some rejoicing stream.

The merry Homes of England!
Around their hearths by night,
What gladsome looks of household love
Meet in the ruddy light!
There woman’s voice flows forth in song,
Or childhood’s tale is told,
Or lips move tunefully along
Some glorious page of old.

The blessed Homes of England!
How softly on their bowers
Is laid the holy quietness
That breathes from Sabbath-hours!
Solemn, yet sweet, the church-bell’s chime
Floats through the woods at morn;
All other sounds, in that still time,
Of breeze and leaf are born.

The Cottage Homes of England!
By thousands of her plains,
They are smiling o’er the silvery brooks,
And round the hamlet-fanes.
Through glowing orchards forth they peep,
Each from its nook of leaves,
And fearless there the lowly sleep,
As the bird beneath the eaves.

The free, fair Homes of England!
Long, long in hut and hall,
May hearts of native proof be reared
To guard each hallowed wall!
And green for ever be the groves,
And bright the flowery sod,
Where first the child’s glad spirit loves
Its country and its God!

[Hemans, Felicia Dorothea (1793–1835): The Homes of England ]


submerged tenth *

See Something Fresh, and p. 93 below.


Miss Watterson (p. 87)

Another Watterson, Beatrice, appears in “Open House” (1932).

The name Watterson seems to be particularly associated with Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.


Mr. Jevons (p. 87)

Another Jevons is the servant in “Creatures of Impulse” (1914), and Horace Jevons is a former employer of the Efficient Baxter (see “The Crime Wave at Blandings”).

William Stanley Jevons (1835–1882) was a noted economist and logician.


The Heart of Adelaide (p. 89)

Neither the British Library nor the Library of Congress list this title, so we must assume that Miss Ukridge failed to complete it, or had a different title foisted upon her by a publisher.


the Sheik *

Hero of Edith Maude Hull’s 1919 novel The Sheik, famously portrayed in a 1921 silent film by Rudolph Valentino.

walked the whole way back (p. 91)

The distance from Wimbledon Common to Ebury Street is about 8km (5 miles).


Sheep’s Cray Cottage (p. 91)

See “Ukridge’s Dog College”.


The Return of Battling Billson (pp. 93 to 117)

This story runs from pp. 93 to 117 in the 2000 Penguin edition of Ukridge. It was first published in Cosmopolitan in the US in August 1923 and in the Strand in the UK in September 1923; in book form it appeared in Ukridge (Herbert Jenkins, UK, June 1924) and He Rather Enjoyed It (Doran, US, March 1926). It is the second story to feature the boxer Battling Billson. It is also the first Ukridge short story in which the name of the narrator is revealed to be James “Corky” Corcoran. (He was merely “Mr. Corcoran” in “First Aid for Dora” and unnamed before that.) °


showing a gold tooth *

References to dental gold in Wodehouse are rare, but generally associated with the lower classes, as here and in:

And, while she may have had a heart of gold, the thing you noticed about her first was that she had a tooth of gold.

Bertie Wooster’s description of Charlotte Corday Rowbotham in “Comrade Bingo” (1922)

His face, besides being freckled, was a dull brick-red in colour; his lips curled back in an unpleasant snarl, showing a gold tooth; and beside him, swaying in an ominous sort of way, hung two clenched red hands about the size of two young legs of mutton.

Looney Biddle, in “First Aid for Looney Biddle” (1920, collected in Indiscretions of Archie).


muscles of his brawny arms ... strong as iron bands (p. 93)

Under a spreading chestnut tree  
  The village smithy stands;  
The smith, a mighty man is he,  
  With large and sinewy hands;  
And the muscles of his brawny arms
  Are strong as iron bands.  
  
His hair is crisp, and black, and long,  
  His face is like the tan;  
His brow is wet with honest sweat,  
  He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,  
  For he owes not any man.

[Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth (1807–1882) The village blacksmith 1–12]


to take mankind for my province (p. 93)

Elsie Bean (Anne-Marie Chanet) suggests that this could be an allusion to Francis Bacon’s “I have taken all knowledge to be my province”, perhaps mixed up with the Roman playwright Terentius’s Homo sum, nil humani a me alienum puto (“I am a man: nothing human is strange to me”).


submerged tenth (p. 93)

The lowest sector of the poor classes — the phrase was popularised by the book In Darkest England and the Way Out (1889) by William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. Booth argued that one tenth of the British population were living below what we now call the poverty line. Jack London also uses the phrase in his writings on the London poor.


worked in a fried-fish shop *

Kit Malim in Not George Washington (1907) works in a fried fish shop, though in the Tottenham Court Road rather than the East End.


Ratcliff Highway (p. 93) °

One of the main roads in the older part of London’s docks, running from the Tower to Ratcliff (now part of Limehouse). The street was later renamed St George’s Street, and is now known simply as The Highway and designated A1203. Notorious for various brutal murders in Victorian times.

[The Cosmopolitan magazine appearance of the story spells it Ratcliffe, and there is quite a bit of historical background to justify that choice. Both UK and US books follow Strand in the shorter spelling.]

http://www.victorianlondon.org/districts/ratcliffhighway.htm

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=535250&Y=180750&A=Y&Z=1


Prince of Wales (p. 94)

There are many pubs in East London called “The Prince of Wales,” but apparently none of them are on the Ratcliff Highway.


improve the occasion *

From the French profitons de l’occasion: to use a situation as an opportunity for pointing out a moral lesson


standing not upon the order of his going (p. 96)

Lady M. I pray you, speak not; he grows worse and worse;
Question enrages him. At once, good-night:
Stand not upon the order of your going,
But go at once.

[Shakespeare: Macbeth III:iv, ll.140–143]


scenario *

That is, the outline or preliminary sketch of a black eye; see Sam the Sudden.


to walk back to Ebury Street *

Depending on where Corky’s flat and the Prince of Wales pub are in their respective streets, this might be anywhere from roughly four to six miles.


“little” *

We know that Ukridge can wear Corky’s dress clothes, so Corky must be almost Ukridge’s size, and Ukridge is “quite six foot two, and tremendously filled out” (according to Corky’s friend Lickford in Love Among the Chickens). So Billson must be massive indeed to consider Corky “little.”


Phillips-Oppenheim-like (p. 99)

E. Phillips Oppenheim (1866–1946), British author of over 150 novels, mostly mysteries or spy stories.


Euston (p. 100)

London terminus of the London & North Western Railway, and starting point for trains to the West Midlands, Lancashire and the West of Scotland.

The original station, built in 1838 for the London & Birmingham Railway and with its entrance marked by a huge Doric triumphal arch, was demolished by British Railways in 1962, to be replaced by a hideous concrete structure.


building on sandy soil *

Evoking the “foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

[Bible: Matthew 7:26–27]


rat-faced *

Others in the canon described as rat-faced are Rupert Steggles (in “The Great Sermon Handicap”) and the late Rat-Faced Rupert, the Bermondsey Twister, who reformed and became a Salvation Army colonel and the father of Annabel Purvis in “Romance at Droitgate Spa” (1937).


...women removed their hats in Westminster Abbey (p. 102)

Traditionally, men uncovered their heads and women covered theirs when entering a Christian church. The growth of feminism and decline of hat-wearing since 1945 have led to the abhorrence of bare female heads being quietly abandoned, at least in most protestant churches.


homicides *

The use of “homicide” to mean “murderer” (rather than the act of killing another person) has somewhat fallen out of use, but according to the OED is slightly older, dating to the fourteenth century.

The Cosmopolitan editor apparently amended the passage to conform to American usage: “Murderers do not publish programs. I had no notion what homicides were scheduled for today.”


“Speaking as far as I’m personally concerned...” (p. 103)

Flossie’s mother has a number of speech habits that are typical of Northern working-class speech, like transposing them/those and was/were. “Dropping aitches” is something that happens in all types of English speech, but for some reason it is popularly considered a marker of working-class speech, so that in reality people like Flossie’s mother, who want to appear to come from a higher social class, tend to overcompensate and add aitches where they are not needed.

The introduction of redundant words and phrases (e.g. “I’m personally”; “rather prefer”) is also typical of the way pompous but uneducated northerners spoke at the time – I can remember my grandfather (b.1900) talking like this.

However, “keb” (for “cab”) is surely Cockney, rather than northern?


Stepney ... Canning Town (p. 103)

Both areas of East London – Stepney is just north of the Ratcliff Highway, where this story opened; Canning Town somewhat further east, about 15km from Ebury Street.


Canning Town ’Orror ... Jimes Potter (p. 103)

Seems to be fictitious. Notice how young Cecil speaks with a marked Cockney accent, even though he is a stranger to London.


’anged ’im at Pentonville (p. 104)

Pentonville prison was built in 1842, the first British prison to apply Bentham’s “Panopticon” design. After the closure of Newgate prison in 1902, Pentonville took over as the site of executions in the London area, a total of 120 prisoners (including Crippen) being hanged there before capital punishment ended in 1961.


the Bing Street ’Orror (p. 104)

There is currently no Bing Street in London, though there is a Byng Street in Millwall, another area of East End dockland.


...was found in the cellar (p. 104)

This sounds like a reference to the celebrated case of “Doctor” Crippen (1910) – the headless body of Crippen’s wife Cora was found in the cellar of their house in Cambden Town (not Canning Town). Cambden Town is in north London, not far from Euston station.


Arundel Street, Leicester Square (p. 104)

Arundell (not Arundel) Street no longer exists. It used to lie west of and run parallel to Rupert Street in the London W1 postal district, within a stone’s throw of Piccadilly Circus and two minutes’ walk from Leicester Square. Prior to being known as Arundell Street, it was called Panton Square.

In his Introduction to Performing Flea (1953), Bill Townend wrote: ‘In the year 1906 I was living in one room in Arundel (sic) Street, a cul-de-sac off Coventry Street, where Lyons’ Corner House now stands, my expenses being paid by Plum, a quid pro quo, as it were for a service I had unwittingly done him.’ The service, as he went on to explain, was to tell an anecdote which Wodehouse worked up into his first book for adults, Love Among the Chickens (1906).


Universal (p. 107)

There does not seem to have been a Universal boxing venue in London – from the description on p.110, this sounds as though it is meant as a thinly-disguised version of the National Sporting Club, founded in 1891 by members of the Pelican Club. It was at 43 King Street, in Covent Garden, formerly Evans’s Supper Rooms (an up-market music hall).


put the kibosh on... (p. 108) °

Blocked, prevented. This is an expression of considerable obscurity. It appeared in London slang of the early 19th century, first getting into print in Dickens’s Sketches by Boz, but except for some – rather implausible – theories that it comes from Irish or Yiddish, no one knows where it came from.

[Stranger still, although the first appearance in Cosmopolitan spelled it “kibosh” as here, the Strand appearance and both original hardback editions in UK and US have the spelling “kybosh” which is even rarer.]

http://www.quinion.com/words/articles/kibosh.htm


till the sands of the desert grow cold (p. 108) °

Title of a song, written in 1911 by George Graffe Jr. (words) and Ernest R. Ball (music).

(Duke University only has the instrumental version available – see URL below)

http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/sheetmusic/a/a22/a2228/

[The piano-vocal sheet music can be downloaded from the Connecticut College Digital Commons.]


You’d think he had been living on iron jelloids or something. *

This sentence appears only in the Cosmopolitan magazine version of this story, following “after shaking hands with him.” Ian Michaud notes that Iron Jelloids (with capital letters) “was a real brand name of a medicated gelatin tablet or lozenge that was supposed to deal with anæmia or an iron deficiency. From the product’s advertisements it looks like its benefits were similar to those of Mulliner’s Buck-U-Uppo, although the latter was a liquid tonic taken by the tablespoonful. Buck-U-Uppo came in two grades, the A and the B, while Iron Jelloids came in three grades, 1, 2, and 2A.”

Two Iron Jelloids advertisements, including a full colour ad from 1924: (images open in a new tab or browser window)

https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/images/3/30/Im19290504PicW-Iron.jpg
http://www.historyworld.co.uk/content/jelloids.jpg


one might have been in church *

Wodehouse was brought up in the Church of England – as Norman Murphy tells us in A Wodehouse Handbook, four of his uncles were clergymen – and the description here of the atmosphere of the Universal Sporting Club relies heavily on terms more familiar in a religious context: ecclesiastical, acolytes, devoutly, ritual, presiding minister, congregation, service, priest, reverent, worshippers, vestry (the “dressing room” of a church where the clergy put on their robes), aisle, pews, padre, congregation (again); vicar, edifice, minor clergy (in later paragraphs).


Nippy Coggs (p. 110) °

Perhaps this was how Lord Ickenham – certainly someone who would have been a regular at the NSC – encountered his future butler?

[Though these are the only two members of the Coggs family in the canon, it is difficult to imagine a bantamweight fighter becoming a large, stout, moon-faced butler.]


je ne sais quoi (p. 110)

An indefinable quality (French: literally “I don’t know what”).


I’m always chasing rainbows (p. 113)

I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,
Watching clouds drifting by.
My schemes are just like all my dreams,
Ending in the sky.
Some fellows look and find the sunshine,
I always look and find the rain,
Some fellows make a winning sometime,
I never even make a gain,
Believe me,
I’m always chasing rainbows,
Waiting to find a little bluebird
In vain.

[Carroll and McCarthy: I’m Always Chasing Rainbows (song, 1918)]


grafted monkey-glands *

Dr. Serge Voronoff (born 1866 in Russia; studied medicine in France and was naturalized there in 1895; died 1951 in Switzerland) experimented in the 1920s with transplanting tissue from monkey testicles into the testicles of human men, purporting to reverse the effects of aging, increase vigor and sexual performance, and prolong life. The reference here is timely, as a July 1923 international meeting of surgeons in London had praised his work (see this snippet of a Time magazine article), but experience eventually showed that his claims were unfounded.


the end of a perfect day *

When you come to the end of a perfect day,
And you sit alone with your thought,
While the chimes ring out with a carol gay,
For the joy that the day had brought,
Do you think what the end of a perfect day
Can mean to a tired heart,
When the sun goes down with a flaming ray,
And the dear friends have to part?

[Carrie Jacobs-Bond: A Perfect Day (1910), verse 1]


Ukridge Sees Her Through (pp. 118 to 140)

This story runs from pp. 118 to 140 in the 2000 Penguin edition of Ukridge. It was first published in Cosmopolitan in the US in September 1923 and in the Strand in the UK in October 1923; in book form it appeared in Ukridge (Herbert Jenkins, UK, June 1924) and He Rather Enjoyed It (Doran, US, March 1926).


typewriting and stenographic bureau (p. 118) °

A stenographer is a person who transcribes speech into shorthand. The Pitman system of shorthand was introduced in 1837 and the Gregg system in 1888, although other systems have been in existence since ancient times.

Wodehouse describes his own unsuccessful attempt to write by dictating in Over Seventy (1957) and in the preface to the 1975 Barrie & Jenkins edition of Thank You, Jeeves:

…the only book of mine which I tried to produce without sitting down at the typewriter and getting a crick in the back. Not that I ever thought of dictating it to a stenographer. How anybody can compose a story by word of mouth, face to face with a bored looking secretary with a notebook is more than I can imagine.

He tried using a dictating machine but failed, and sold the machine next day.


speaking eye *

See A Damsel in Distress.


registered *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


Dora Mason (p. 118)

See “First Aid for Dora” earlier in this volume.


tête-à-tête (p. 118) °

A private conversation (French: “head to head”).


his brain has been withdrawn and replaced by a cheap cauliflower substitute *

An allusion to George Ade’s More Fables (1900), in “The Fable of the Author Who Was Sorry for What He Did to Willie”:
“His Brain felt as if some one had played a Mean Trick on him and substituted a Side-Order of Cauliflower.”


two minds with but a single thought *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


Norfolk Street (p. 119)

Wodehouse lived at 17 Norfolk Street, Mayfair, in 1927 and again in 1928–30. The street, just east of Park Lane, is now called Dunraven Street. Lady Julia Fish (Summer Lightning) has her house there.

Mayfair seems an unlikely address for a typewriting agency: probably Wodehouse just chose a street name at random: it presumably wouldn’t have had any personal significance for him at this point.

[Murphy, N. T. P.: In Search of Blandings (1986) 193]


the night when he had sneaked my dress clothes *

See “First Aid for Dora” earlier in this volume.


a confused noise without *

See Sam the Sudden.


Rothschild (p. 122) °

The Rothschild family took their name from the banking house their ancestor Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744–1812) ran in Frankfurt-am-Main. (The name derives from the German for “at the red shield”—the sign identifying the house.) They became very wealthy (largely by arranging government loans to pay for the American and French revolutionary wars) and established branches in all the main cities of Europe in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, more-or-less inventing the idea of international banking, and becoming a focal point of 19th and 20th century anti-semitism and conspiracy theory.

Nowadays the family’s main business activity is a London merchant bank.


hear the beating of its wings *

The phrase became popular after the politician John Bright made a powerful speech in the House of Commons in 1855 in which he said: ‘The angel of death has been abroad throughout the land; you may almost hear the beating of its wings.’

[Murphy, N. T. P.: A Wodehouse Handbook (2006), v. 1, p. 57]


first crack out of the box *

See The Inimitable Jeeves.


great open spaces where men are men *

See Leave It to Psmith.


Farmingdons ... Cavendish Square (p. 122)

Farmingdons seem – not surprisingly – to be fictitious (possibly the name is a variant of “Farringdon”?). There are quite a number of real estate firms based in and around Cavendish Square.


five shillings ... half a sovereign (p. 124) °

Respectively a quarter or half a pound sterling (25p or 50p in decimal terms). A sovereign was a coin worth one pound.


wandering boy (p. 124)

Popular ballad, words and music by the Reverend Robert Lowry, 1877.

Also the title of a 1922 film starring Cullen Landis as a young man who leaves home and sweetheart and becomes involved with a cynical chorus girl.

Where is my wandering boy tonight
The boy of my tenderest care
The boy that was once my joy and light
The child of my love and prayer

Where is my boy tonight
Where is my boy tonight
My heart o'erflows, for I love him, he knows
O where is my boy tonight

Once he was pure as morning dew
As he knelt at his mother’s knee
No face was so bright, no heart more true
And none was so sweet as he

O chould I see you now my boy
As fair as in olden time
When prattle and smile made home a joy
And life was a merry chime

Go for my wand'ring boy tonight
Go search for him where you will
But bring him to me with all his blight
And tell him I love him still

[Reverend Robert Lowry: Where is my wandering boy tonight ]


Pall Mall (p. 125)

The street linking Trafalgar Square to St James’s Street. This would be on Corky’s way home to Ebury Street from the Piccadilly Circus/Shaftesbury Avenue area, a likely place to meet actors in pubs.


hoped…to sell a one-act play *

Our narrator, James “Corky” Corcoran, is certainly versatile: he writes short stories, a novel, a play, and takes journalism assignments to cover events like the Pen and Ink Club dance. In fact, he is much like the young Wodehouse himself, trying to earn a living by writing anything and everything that can bring in money.


Hardy’s fishing tackle shop (p. 125)

The celebrated fishing tackle manufacturers, established in 1880 at Alnwick in Northumberland, still have a London shop at 9 Pall Mall.

http://www.house-of-hardy.co.uk/


Hank Philbrick (p. 125)

There is another Philbrick in “The Voice From the Past” (1931).

The name Philbrick seems to be mostly confined to the East Coast of the US, from a Suffolk family who settled in New Hampshire in the early 17th century.


mixed benedictine, chartreuse, kummel, crème de menthe, and old brandy *

A few more experiments might well have led him to Lord Ickenham’s formula for May Queen; in Uncle Fred in the Springtime it is given as “any good dry champagne, liqueur brandy, armagnac, kümmel, yellow chartreuse, and old stout to taste.”

Bénédictine is a liqueur flavored with a proprietary blend of 27 herbs and spices; it was invented in the 19th century despite its claim to be a medieval recipe of monks in Normandy. Chartreuse is another herbal liqueur with a multitude of flavoring ingredients, whose claims of monastic origin are apparently well-founded. Kümmel is a caraway-flavored liqueur, also including cumin and fennel flavors. Crème de menthe is a sweet liqueur flavored with peppermint leaves. Brandy is not a liqueur but a distilled spirit prepared from grape wine.


Carlton (p. 126)

The Carlton Hotel (part of the Savoy Group, originally managed by Ritz and Escoffier) was just round the corner from Pall Mall, on the Haymarket.


Pen and Ink Club (p. 127)

See “First Aid for Dora” earlier in this volume.


son of Belial (p. 128)

Belial is one of the Hebrew names for the Devil. In the Bible, ‘son of Belial’ is used as a conventional expression for an evil or irreligious person.

Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial, they knew not the Lord.

[Bible: 1 Samuel 2:12]


Tishbite (p. 128)

Elijah the prophet is designated the ‘Tishbite’, probably to signify that he was born at Tishbi, a place in Upper Galilee according to the apocryphal book of Tobit:

And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

[Bible: 1 Kings 17:1 ]


Ostriches took his correspondence course in digestion *

Besides being another instance of Wodehouse’s fascination with correspondence courses (see above), this is a reference to the second most popular myth about ostriches (after the one about burying their heads in the sand). They are reputed to be willing and able to swallow almost anything, probably because they do swallow small stones and pebbles into their gizzard to break up their food, having no teeth for chewing. Wodehouse attributed “the digestion of an ostrich” to a fellow lyricist-librettist in a 1916 article. While claims of their swallowing broken glass and nails are common elsewhere, Wodehouse often talks of ostriches and doorknobs.

The earliest joking reference so far found to an ostrich swallowing a doorknob comes from the Strand magazine in 1893, and it is easy to imagine the young Wodehouse absorbing this and retaining it for later use, for instance in Uncle Fred in the Springtime (1939), in which Pongo Twistleton falls in love at first sight with Polly Pott, gazing at her “like an ostrich goggling at a brass doorknob.” Other uses are in chapter 7 of Summer Lightning (1929), in “All’s Well With Bingo” (1937), and in Pigs Have Wings (1952).


Egypt ... Illinois (p. 129)

In fact, it is Cairo which is a town in Illinois – it lies at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. There are villages called Egypt in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachussets.


Lotus Rooms, Knightsbridge (p. 131)

Knightsbridge runs along the southern edge of Hyde Park: there is a cavalry barracks, Harrods, and several large hotels, but I haven’t found any reference to the Lotus Rooms.


meditating on the body upstairs *

Reminiscent of the distressed gentlewomen’s tea-shop in A Damsel in Distress:

They, too, were whispering. Their expressions suggested that they looked on life as low and wished they were well out of it, like the body upstairs. One assumed that there was a body upstairs. One cannot help it at these places.


log-rolling *

The colloquial term originated in early 19th-century US politics, meaning two candidates praising or assisting each other in campaigning; the OED states “Suggested by the proverbial phrase ‘You roll my log and I’ll roll yours’.” Literary log-rolling, dating from 1845, refers to reciprocal kindness in book reviewing and publicity. In Wodehouse’s satirical article “The New Advertising” (1906), Mr. Lucien Logroller is the author of The Dyspepsia of the Soul.


Of all sad words of tongue or pen *

See Leave It to Psmith.


Brooks’s ... Carlton (p. 134)

Brooks’s Club on St James’s was the most prominent Whig political club in the 18th century; the Carlton Club is its Tory counterpart.

http://www.victorianlondon.org/entertainment/brookesclub.htm


Charlton Prout (p. 135)

The “Progressive Utilization Theory” (Prout) was only invented by Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar in 1959, so obviously isn’t relevant here.

More likely, Wodehouse is mischievously giving the club secretary a name with equal overtones of Rex Stout and Marcel Proust.


A Shriek in the Night (p. 135)

Once again, Wodehouse has invented a fictitious title too good to be wasted – it was used ten years later for a movie starring Ginger Rogers. There don’t seem to be any books that use it, however.


Who Killed Jasper Blossom? (p. 135) °

There are hundreds of books and films with titles starting “Who Killed...?” but there does not seem to be a Jasper Blossom recorded.

[All original magazine and book appearances of this story read “Jasper Bossom” here; the change to “Blossom” must be due to a later editor.]


Grey Myrtles (p. 135) °

Some have suggested that this might be a dig at Aldous Huxley – however, the idea of “pastels in prose” sounds more Decadent than Modernist – maybe Ronald Firbank or even Walter Pater would be a more likely target. There are pieces of music with similar titles, but no books.

[In Wodehouse’s “Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court” (1929), Aubrey Bassinger writes Pastels in Prose for highbrow weeklies under the name Aubrey Trefusis.]


single spies ... battalions (p. 136)

O, this is the poison of deep grief; it springs
All from her father’s death. O Gertrude, Gertrude,
When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
But in battalions.

[Shakespeare: Hamlet IV:iii, 40–43]


Warner’s Stores (p. 137)

Fictitious: This ought to be a little dig at the poet and novelist Rex Warner, but sadly he was only 18 at the time, and still unknown. The only Warner in the canon is the slippery Sir Jaklyn Warner, Bart., in Bachelors Anonymous, who is certainly not the heir to a retail chain.


Mr Biggs (p. 137)

There are a number of other minor characters called Biggs in the canon – perhaps we can speculate that the Hon. Sec. is the future mayor of Tooting East (“Romance of a Bulb-Squeezer”, 1927).


seven hundred at five bob apiece (p. 139)

The face value of the tickets is 700 times 5 shillings = 175 pounds.

After subtracting the 10% discount for cash, this leaves 157 pounds, 10 shillings, so even with the quantity reduction and the cost of printing the tickets, it is not unreasonable to imagine that Ukridge could have cleared fifty pounds for himself over and above the hundred for Dora.


fight it out on these lines if it took all the summer *

I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.

Dispatch from General Ulysses S. Grant to President Abraham Lincoln, May 11, 1864


beano *

Originally a short version of bean-feast, a celebratory dinner given by an employer to workers; generalized to any festive entertainment, especially a rowdy one.


o’goblins *

See Carry On, Jeeves.


No Wedding Bells for Him (pp. 141 to 168)

This story runs from pp. 141 to 168 in the 2000 Penguin edition of Ukridge. It was first published in Cosmopolitan in the US in October 1923 and in the Strand in the UK in November 1923; in book form it appeared in Ukridge (Herbert Jenkins, UK, June 1924) and He Rather Enjoyed It (Doran, US, March 1926).


all things in this world of ours work together for good *

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

[Bible: Romans 8:28]


Haymarket (p. 141)

The Haymarket runs north towards Piccadilly Circus from the Trafalgar Square end of Pall Mall.

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=529653&Y=180652&A=Y&Z=1


Pall Mall Restaurant (p. 141)

Oddly enough not in Pall Mall but round the corner in Regent Street (parallel to the Haymarket). It was one of London’s first proper restaurants. Nowadays it seems to be chiefly famous as the place where the rules of Rugby football were first standardised, at a dinner in January, 1871.

http://www.victorianlondon.org/food/dickens-suppers.htm


Addington (p. 142) °

The Addington Golf Club, near the village of that name, a few km east of Croydon in Surrey, seems to be one of London’s best-known private clubs (there are at least three other clubs around Addington). The course was designed by John Abercromby, ca. 1910.

It would take about an hour to cover the 15 km from central London by car today, if you were lucky. East Croydon (in Croydon town centre) would be the nearest station.

Nowadays the new Croydon Tramlink passes close to Addington on its way to the New Addington housing development.

[It was a course Wodehouse knew well. He signed off his preface to The Heart of a Goof “from the Sixth Bunker, Addington.” —IM]


trod on the self-starter (p. 142)

Most cars of the period were still hand-cranked to start the engine: some luxury cars had an electric starter motor, usually operated by a foot switch.


pavement *

See Leave It to Psmith.


tonneau (p. 142)

The open part of a touring car’s body, where the seats are.


unsuitably clad (p. 142) °

A frock coat (a long man’s jacket extending to knee length for daytime wear, as worn by office workers ca. 1890) would normally be worn with a top hat; a bowler hat should only be worn with a short jacket (it was originally invented as riding costume).


if ’twere done, ... (p. 143)

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 (1564–1616): Macbeth I,vii,1–7]


number three omnibus (p. 143)

London’s transport has been reorganised many times since the early 1920s, but bus route 3 still runs down the Haymarket and round Trafalgar Square on its way to Lambeth Bridge.


Clapham Common (p. 143) °

The normal way to get from Trafalgar Square to Croydon by car would be to cross Vauxhall Bridge and follow what is now the A23 through Brixton and Streatham Hill – Clapham Common would be some way to the west of this direct route. It would, however, be a plausible way to go if they were starting from Ebury Street.

The Cosmopolitan version of the story has a fuller description of their actual route as envisioned by Wodehouse, but cut by the Strand editor and omitted from books:

…we passed through Sloane Square, crossed Chelsea Bridge and ran up the long hill that ends in Clapham Old Town.


Balbriggan, Peabody Road (p. 145)

Balbriggan is an Irish town, just north of Dublin, which has given its name to a type of knitted cotton fabric used for making underwear. It is considered very lower-middle-class to have a house with a name if you live in a suburban street.

There is currently no real Peabody Road in the London area. Anything in London called Peabody is likely to be named after the American-born merchant banker and philanthropist George Peabody (1795–1869), who established a trust to build model housing schemes for London’s poor. The implication is that we are in an area of cheapish late-19th century suburban semi-detatched housing. Probably nearby streets are named for Shaftesbury, Wilberforce, etc.


Daimler (p. 145) °

Confusingly, Daimler cars were not built by the German Daimler-Benz company (who used the trade name “Mercedes”), but by a British company based in Coventry, established in 1896 by a friend of Gottfried Daimler’s who had acquired the right to use his patents in the UK. Daimler always specialised in large, luxurious cars, such as Lord Peter Wimsey’s “Mrs. Merdle” in the novels by Dorothy L. Sayers. (Since the 1930s, the Daimler name has belonged to the company that makes Jaguar cars.) The Cosmopolitan editor left out the brand name, apparently due to editorial policy, as in substituting “flivver” for “Ford” in “The Long Arm of Looney Coote.”


Price (p. 145)

Price appears several times in the canon as the name of lower-class characters, most notably of course in Not George Washington and If I Were You.


cup of tea ... free meal *

The rituals involving tea and its accompaniments are a good indicator of social class. Dainty cucumber sandwiches go with the upper class; a workingman’s solid evening meal may be called “tea” but better described as a hearty “meat tea”; the Price family tea, somewhere in between, would probably resemble that described in “Comrade Bingo”:

“By the way, I may have misled you by using the word ‘tea.’ None of your wafer slices of bread and butter. We're good trenchermen, we of the Revolution. What we shall require will be something on the order of scrambled eggs, muffins, jam, ham, cake, and sardines. Expect us at five sharp.”


sow the good seed *

Another parable put he [Jesus] forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field.

[Bible: Matthew 13:24]


cold beef ... blanc-mange (p. 147)

Surely it can’t be coincidence that Mr Waller’s house, where Mike and Psmith go to a very similar supper in chapter 17 of Psmith in the City (serialized as “The New Fold”), is also on the fringes of Clapham Common.


Divine Service (p. 147)

This is another class marker – the term “Divine Service” was used by Chapel or Low Church people – middle-class Anglicans would say “after Evensong” or simply “after church”.


British Museum (p. 147)

As well as containing archaeological treasures looted from all over the world, until recently the British Museum in Bloomsbury also housed the British Library.


brightly informative articles *

The Cosmopolitan version goes into further depth at this point and mentions the name Interesting Bits as a paper for which Corky writes. Here Corky is even better established as an alter ego of the young Wodehouse; see the Globe turnovers for examples of the brightly informative newspaper articles of Wodehouse’s early journalistic career; similar-sounding titles of other periodicals for whom he worked include Answers, Ideas, Scraps, and Tit-Bits.


browsing *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


that business of the dance *

See “Ukridge Sees Her Through” earlier in this volume.


Battersea Park (p. 150)

A large public park on the south bank of the Thames.


that ghastly female in pink … the night I gave you two dinner *

See “The Début of Battling Billson” earlier in this volume.


Seymour’s house (p. 151)

Mr Seymour is named as a Wrykyn housemaster in a number of the early school stories.


Ernie Finch (p. 152)

There are quite a number of Finches and Fitches in the canon – the most prominent is probably George Finch, tenant of the Small Bachelor apartment.


Lord Warden Hotel at Dover (p. 154) °

Dover’s grandest hotel, built by the South Eastern Railway next to their Dover station, and opened in 1853. It was taken over by the Navy during World War II, and is now an office building used by HM Customs and Excise.

The implication is that it would be the first overnight stop of a couple taking a honeymoon on the Continent.

More on the Lord Warden Hotel


breach of promise (p. 154)

Under English law, an engagement to marry was regarded as a binding contract and the party who repudiated the engagement was liable to be sued for ‘breach of promise.’ As a consequence of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970, actions for breach of promise were abolished as from 1 January 1971.

In an action for breach of promise, which was a civil law matter, the plaintiff (man or woman) could sue for restitution of any pecuniary loss arising from outlay in anticipation of marriage. In some circumstances, a woman could also hope to be awarded substantial damages (‘heart-balm’).


snatched up to heaven *

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

[Bible: 2 Kings 2:11]


Mr. Smallweed (p. 154)

Ukridge has taken his alias from Dickens’s Bleak House, of course – the Smallweeds are the opposite of Ukridge: they spend all their time saving, never get into debt, and live in considerable poverty and discomfort as a result.


areas disgorged landladies *

See area earlier in this volume.


Pyramus and Thisbe (p. 154)

Two young lovers in ancient Babylon, who are supposed to have conversed through a crack in the wall. They came to a sticky end after a misunderstanding involving a lion. Shakespeare has the Rude Mechanicals act the story in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


softly and silently vanished away *

See Love Among the Chickens.


Lord Claude Tremaine ... Angela Bracebridge (p. 160) °

Lord Claude must be the younger son of a duke, from his style – this seems to be a very common rank for heros in Wodehouse’s parodies of novelettes. Tremaine is a Cornish surname (‘place near a monolith’).

Bracebridge is the name of a village in Lincolnshire.

Neither name is ever used as spelled here for a Wodehouse character, although there is a Clarence Tremayne in the recently rediscovered “Rule Sixty-Three”, and a character named Lionel Tremayne appears in The Boys of Dormitory Two, a book read by Marjory Jackson in Mike.


Primrose Novelette (p. 161)

A novelette is a short novel written for the popular market (as opposed to a novella, which is the same thing but with literary pretensions...). Primrose is a shade of yellow, a colour long associated with popular fiction throughout the world. Publishers of popular fiction (like Mills & Boon, for whom Wodehouse wrote The Prince and Betty) often colour-code their books to make it easier for readers to identify them.

Webster, the valet in The Girl on the Boat, reads Nosegay Novelettes.


no sense in missing supper (p. 162)

Wodehouse’s young men so often wait until after they have been fed before communicating disagreeable information that one feels sure that Wodehouse must have caught himself doing this!


be as a little child washed clean of sin (p. 163)

This sounds like a generic Moody and Sankey hymn, but doesn’t seem to match any specific one.


I had been picked on to sing a solo at the annual concert at school *

Another connection with the young Wodehouse himself; Dr. Jan Piggott’s Wodehouse’s School Days tells us that he sang solos at three concerts in the Great Hall at Dulwich, including one on 31 July 1899 in which he sang “Hybrias the Cretan”—a song also sung by Sir Aylmer Bostock in Uncle Dynamite (1948).


Fillimore (p. 166)

Seems to be an occasional variant on Fillmore.


fixed Ukridge with a glittering eye *

See Love Among the Chickens.


The Long Arm of Looney Coote (pp. 169 to 195)

This story runs from pp. 169 to 195 in the 2000 Penguin edition of Ukridge. It was first published in a very slightly different version in Cosmopolitan in the US in November 1923 and in the Strand in the UK in December 1923; in book form it appeared in Ukridge (Herbert Jenkins, UK, June 1924) and He Rather Enjoyed It (Doran, US, March 1926). °


J. G. Coote (p. 169) °

The only Coote in the canon, although there are also Ada and Myrtle Cootes (Do Butlers Burgle Banks and “Freddie, Oofy and the Beef Trust”, respectively) – both short, stocky women with an affinity for the kitchen – Lana Cootes, a twelve-year-old girl mentioned in Cocktail Time; and Eddie Cootes, the petty criminal who tries to impersonate Ralston McTodd in Leave It To Psmith.

J. G. Coote reappears in “Success Story” (1947).

Coots (that is, the aquatic birds) are proverbially mad and/or bald. The name may also be a play on Coutts, the name of the wealthy banking family.


Looney (p. 169) °

Schoolboy slang for mad or eccentric – from “lunatic”. (Indeed, the earliest spelling was “luny” as in Psmith’s reference to Sedleigh as a “luny-bin” in “The Lost Lambs”, or chapter 46 of Mike; changed to “loony bin” in Mike and Psmith.) Cf. the Monster Raving Looney Party, which regularly contests elections in Britain, but has yet to win a seat in Parliament.


quiet smoke (p. 169)

All Wodehouse’s young men seem to have been illicit smokers as children. Perhaps this goes some way towards explaining their lack of intelligence?


seen a magpie (p. 169)

There are many superstitions to do with magpies: most are contradictory, but there does seem to be a consensus that seeing one magpie by itself is a bad omen.


five happy years (p. 169) °

Upper middle-class boys would spend around five years at their public schools, generally from leaving preparatory school at 13 until going to university at 18.

Wodehouse himself spent six years at Dulwich College, and told David Jasen: “To me, the years between 1894 and 1900 were like heaven.”

P. G. Wodehouse: A Portrait of a Master (1981)


Sandown (p. 169)

The racecourse at Sandown Park, near Esher, Surrey, on the southern fringes of London, is still in operation.


Spencer (p. 170) °

There are quite a few minor characters called Spencer, Spenser, or Spence, including Aunt Agatha’s butler, Spenser.


My Valet ... Crazy Jane (p. 170)

Bingo Little also frequently gets into trouble by backing horses on the basis of this sort of system.


quid (p. 170) °

Slang: pounds. See the previous inflation discussion.


Old Wrykinian (p. 171) °

This seems to be the first definite evidence that Ukridge, Corky, George Tupper and Looney Coote went to the same school as Mike Jackson and friends in the first part of Mike, although we have had a number of hints to that effect. Note that Ukridge and Jeremy Garnet, the narrator of Love Among the Chickens, were not classmates, but had been teachers at the same prep school.


half a sovereign ... ten shiilings (p. 171) °

A sovereign was a coin worth one pound (i.e. twenty shillings), so “half a sovereign” was another way of saying “ten shillings” (50p in decimal money).

It seems a little surprising that hiring a suit for one night should cost the same amount as one could realise by pawning the suit.


preliminary bracer (p. 171) °

An alcoholic drink; see The Inimitable Jeeves.


a sleeping-partner in a bookie’s business *

Mentioned in the previous story, “No Wedding Bells for Him.”


Monte Cristo-like opulence (p. 172)

Dantes, central character of Dumas’s Count of Monte Cristo (1844), is fabulously wealthy when he returns to society to take his revenge on those responsible for imprisoning him in the Chateau d’If.


Isaac O’Brien (p. 172) °

Wodehouse certainly meant readers to read an ethnic joke into this name: in the British consciousness of the time, the Irish were every bit as strongly associated with horseracing as the Scots with golf, but Old Testament names are rare in Catholic countries, so the implication is that O’Brien is a Jew who has given himself an Irish surname for commercial reasons (cf. Ivor “Ikey” Llewellyn, who is clearly from central Europe on his first appearance, but is made Welsh when he reappears after World War II, when jokes about Jewish stereotypes were no longer considered acceptable).


Blue Street, St James’s (p. 172) °

There is no Blue Street listed in London, but there is a Blue Ball Yard off St. James’s Street, close to the current premises of the Carlton Club (which was still in Pall Mall when this story was written). Nowadays most of the buildings belong to the Stafford Hotel, but it would have been a convenient spot for a discreet betting shop.

The 1915 Kelly’s Directory also lists a Blue Anchor Lane intersecting St. James’s Road in Bermondsey, London S.E.


telegraphic address ‘Ikobee’ (p. 172)

Businesses could pay the Post Office for the use of an abbreviated address, which would save their customers money when sending telegrams.


recorded elsewhere … left school under something of a cloud *

See “Ukridge’s Dog College” above.


pure-minded membership of the Old Boys’ Society *

In hindsight this seems ironic, as after the controversy over Wodehouse’s 1941 broadcasts over the German radio following his internment, his membership in the Old Alleynians (Dulwich College alumni) was revoked and there was much opposition to his reinstatement.


Mutt-Spivis Gold Medal (p. 173) °

Medals of this sort are more often given by learned societies (the Geological Society in this case) than by universities, although Oxford does of course have a distinguished tradition of geological research.

Wodehouse probably created the name from that of Joe Spivis, a recurring character in the Mutt and Jeff newspaper comic strip created by Bud Fisher in 1907 and soon thereafter syndicated nationally for decades.


sub-junior deanery ... Westchester cathedral (p. 173)

There is no such appointment, of course. In a cathedral, the Dean is the clergyman with overall responsibility for the cathedral building and the services that take place in it. Deanery can refer either to the office of Dean, or to the house in which the Dean lives.

The title Junior Dean only exists in Oxford and Cambridge colleges, where the Dean is the Fellow responsible for student discipline, and most larger colleges have a Junior Dean to act as deputy and assistant to the Dean.

Sub-junior is an age category used in sports competitions (usually seems to mean under 15).

Westchester is presumably a conflation of the two cathedral cities, Westminster and Winchester, rather than the real Westchester near New York.


Streslau ... Ruritania (p. 173) °

In Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda (1894), the capital of the fictitious central European country of Ruritania is called Strelsau, and in both magazine versions of the present story and the US book, the spelling here is Strelsau, following Hope. The Herbert Jenkins editor or typesetter mistook it as “Streslau” for the UK book, presumably because this sounds much more plausible as a German spelling of a Slavic name. (Cf. Breslau, German name of Bratislava.)


Redbridge (p. 174)

Obviously intended to be fictitious – the London Borough of Redbridge is a modern amalgamation of Ilford, Wanstead and Woodford and didn’t exist in the 1920s. Most of the area that is now known as Redbridge was then represented in parliament by Winston Churchill, so Lawlor would have had a hard time.

Many British placenames start with “Red...” – examples close to London include Redhill in Surrey and Reading in Berkshire. The latter seems a strong candidate – see p.182 below for reasons.

Dr Somerville Hastings (1878–1967), a noted socialist and physician, was elected as MP for Reading in 1923. If we are to assume that the story is set before the First World War, then the MP for Reading would have been the barrister Rufus Isaacs, Attorney General in Asquith’s Liberal government and later Lord Chief Justice.


Boko *

From the explanation given, the sobriquet of Boko must derive from “beak” for nose. Other Bokos in the canon include Boko Bagshott, old friend of Galahad Threepwood fondly remembered by him in Heavy Weather, Full Moon, and Galahad at Blandings; Boko Bickerton, Bishop of Stortford in “Mulliner’s Buck-U-Uppo” and “The Bishop’s Move”; Boko Fittleworth, school chum of Bertie in Joy in the Morning and Much Obliged, Jeeves; and the minor mentions of Boko Jervis in “Noblesse Oblige” and Boko Beamish in the Playboy condensation of Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves.


miss-in-baulk *

See above.


rhyme ‘Lawlor’ with ‘before us’ (p. 176)

In Uncle Fred in the Springtime, another lyricist (mistakenly identified by Uncle Fred as Burns) is criticised for attempting to rhyme ‘Lomond’ with ‘afore ye,’ something that obviously irritated Wodehouse’s professional ear.


Winchester-Murphy (p. 177)

Yet another fictitious car manufacturer. Perhaps there is an association with the real Lanchester here, together with the feeling that really luxurious cars need double-barreled names (Rolls-Royce, Hispano-Suiza, etc.): it is also interesting to note that Murphy is an Irish name – cf. the Dex-Mayo which appears in Money for Nothing.

Wodehouse had spent 450 pounds – practically his entire savings – on a Darracq car in 1909.


guineas (p. 178)

The guinea had ceased to exist as a coin long before, but the term remained in use until the introduction of decimal coinage, to describe a sum of 21 shillings (one pound and five pence, in decimal terms). Many luxury goods were priced in guineas, and professional fees were also usually quoted in guineas, as though, if you were forced to deal with money, it was somehow less sordid to use a unit that existed only conceptually.


Peebles Hippodrome (p. 179)

Peebles is a market town in the Scottish borders. Wodehouse uses it in a few other places to stand for somewhere small and obscure, cf. for instance Cocktail Time, Ch.3.

Hippodrome, from the Greek word for a chariot-racing arena, was a name originally used in Britain by theatres with a stage large enough to put on equestrian acts (cf. the London Coliseum, a former variety theatre now the home of English National Opera), but later spread to other sorts of theatres and music halls.


Whips (p. 179)

MPs in each party who are responsible for seeing that their fellow-members turn up in Parliament at the right time to vote as the party requires, whether or not they know what it is about...


manyheaded *

A collective term for a crowd of people; Wodehouse often spells it “many-headed” as in the Cosmopolitan version, but the book versions follow Strand in closing it up as a single compound word.


Fitch and Weyman’s biscuit factory (p. 182)

The English town most strongly associated with biscuit manufacturing is Reading, in Berkshire, home of Huntley & Palmer’s. In the early 20th century their Reading plant – a famous landmark for railway travellers to the West Country – was the world’s biggest biscuit factory.

http://www.huntleyandpalmers.org.uk/


wobbly *

Although Wobbly as a term for a member of the Industrial Workers of the World was already in use when this was written, it seems doubtful that Wodehouse was using the lower-case term in that way; it seems here merely to be a simple adjective meaning wavering in their political preferences.


Associated Mechanics’ Hall (p. 185)

Many British towns have a Mechanics’ Institute, typically built in the mid-19th century to house a library, lecture hall and classrooms, as charitable schemes to help give factory workers access to further education. John Ruskin was one of the most influential people in this movement, and taught evening classes in Mechanics’ Institutes. Similar movements existed in the US and Australia.

The term Associated Mechanics, however, makes it sound more as though this hall could belong to a trade union – something that would be rather unlikely, though not impossible, in Britain.


a mixed scent of dust, clothes, orange-peel, chalk, wood, plaster, pomade, and Associated Mechanics

Compare The Inimitable Jeeves.


the Right Hon. the Marquess of Cricklewood (p. 185)

Corky has misheard, or is making a faux pas: Marquesses are styled “the Most Honourable”, not “the Right Honourable” (a style used for mere Earls and Privy Councillors).

There has never been a Marquess of Cricklewood, as far as I know, but perhaps Wodehouse is alluding to the Marquesses Camden (another North London suburb). The 4th Marquess, John Charles Pratt (1872–1944) would not have been quite as old as Cricklewood is said to be.


constabulary duty ... to be done (p. 188)

SERGEANT: When a felon’s not engaged in his employment
POLICE: His employment
SERGEANT: Or maturing his felonious little plans,
POLICE: Little plans,
SERGEANT: His capacity for innocent enjoyment
POLICE: ’Cent enjoyment
SERGEANT: Is just as great as any honest man’s.
POLICE: Honest man’s.
SERGEANT: Our feelings we with difficulty smother
POLICE: ’Culty smother
SERGEANT: When constabulary duty’s to be done.
POLICE: To be done.
SERGEANT: Ah, take one consideration with another,
POLICE: With another,
SERGEANT: A policeman’s lot is not a happy one.
ALL: Ah, when constabulary duty’s to be done, to be done,
A policeman’s lot is not a happy one, happy one.

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


that slight inconsistency which marks great minds *

A take-off on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay Self-Reliance:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.


whose name it is’s car’s been stolen *

Contracted version of “whose name it is whose car has been stolen.”


a group of serious thinkers *

Compare “Comrade Bingo”:

…in front of me there stood a little group of serious thinkers with a banner labelled “Heralds Of The Red Dawn”…


unbar the prison cell (p. 192)

Seems to be a literary and pulpit cliché, not directly biblical. The word unbar does not occur in the King James Version.

“Unbar the prison door” or “Unbar the prison-house” are more common variants.


alarm and despondency *

The phrase has its background in military law; it appears in a court-martial record of 1843 and in the Charges and Penalties with Respect to the Mutiny Act and the Articles of War (1852), setting out the penalties for officers and soldiers “who shall in action, or previously to going into action, use words tending to create alarm or despondency” in the troops.


I am certain that letter was posted… *

Compare Love Among the Chickens:

“Now, look here, Beale,” said Ukridge, “I am certain that that letter was posted. I remember placing it in my pocket for that purpose. It is not there now. See. These are all the contents of my—well, I’m hanged!”


moke (p. 195)

Moke is a colloquial term for a donkey or an inferior horse. It is also Monica’s nickname in Ring for Jeeves.


sent him absolutely broke (p. 195) °

Wodehouse developed this plot idea further many years later in Ring for Jeeves/The Return of Jeeves, where the betting business of Jeeves and Lord Rowcester/Towcester is put into financial difficulties by the success of a similar outsider bet.


The Exit of Battling Billson (pp. 196 to 218)

This story runs from pp. 196 to 218 in the 2000 Penguin edition of Ukridge. It was first published in Cosmopolitan in the US in December 1923 and in the Strand in the UK in January 1924; in book form it appeared in Ukridge (Herbert Jenkins, UK, June 1924) and He Rather Enjoyed It (Doran, US, March 1926).

It is the third Battling Billson story.


Theatre Royal, Llunindnno (p. 196)

The name resembles more than anything the popular North Wales seaside resort Llandudno. Llan is the Welsh word for a church or a village. The town takes its name from the ancient church of St Tudno (believed to have been a 6th century hermit) on the Great Orme headland.

The main theatres in Llandudno at the time were the Arcadia, the Grand, and the Pier Pavilion; there was also a Prince of Wales’s Theatre down the road in Colwyn Bay.

Llun is Welsh for a picture (but Dydd Llun is Monday). There aren’t any Welsh placenames that start with “Llun-”.

The suffix -indnno doesn’t make any sense in Welsh – the nearest real word seems to be dinod, meaning obscure, insignificant, so Llundinod might mean “unclear picture”. Another possibility is Trindod (Trinity), which appears in placenames like Llandrindod Wells.

It’s perhaps worth mentioning that Llandudno is pronounced as something like “hhlan-dyd-no” (the Welsh “ll” sound can’t really be rendered into English).


dark, dingy, dishevelled (p. 196)

This might have been a good description of the North Wales coast at its nadir in the 1970s, but in the early 20th century resorts like Llandudno were flourishing. Probably, Wodehouse is just using the name as something generically Welsh, but is thinking of something more like the mining towns of the South Wales valleys.


on my face *

From the context it seems that this means that his admission was complimentary; the current slang definition as found in the Urban Dictionary online (meaning sober, responsible) is clearly not applicable.


fiend in human shape *

See The Mating Season.


Evan Jones (p. 198) °

Most Welsh surnames come from patronymics, and Jones (ap Sion) is proverbially the most common. In the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, Wales, long-neglected by the Anglican church, was fertile ground for many varieties of Evangelical and dissenting preacher, especially those who were able to speak to the people in their own language. (For a biassed but engaging view of Welsh religion in the mid-19th century, see George Borrow’s account in Wild Wales, 1862.)

Evan Jones here may be an echo of the real-life Evan Roberts (1878–1951), leading evangelist of the Welsh Revival of 1904–1905. Wodehouse mentioned Roberts in a 1905 set of parody New Year resolutions of prominent persons.


Bon Ton Millinery Emporium *

From the French bon ton, meaning of good style or breeding, high class, the height of fashion. Given the setting and the poster, clearly meant to be taken as boasting above the actual level of the shop.


Oddfellows' Hall (p. 198)

The name ‘Odd Fellows’ appears to have been originally assumed by local social clubs during the 18th century. The ‘Independent Order of Oddfellows, Manchester Unity’, formed about 1813, has local branches or ‘lodges’ throughout Great Britain and the Commonwealth, as well as in the United States and some foreign countries.


Isaac O’Brien ... Izzy Previn (p. 199)

See “The Long Arm of Looney Coote” (p.172 above). Previn is a common Jewish surname, of course.


beyond the dreams of a Monte Cristo *

See p.172 above.


Caerleon Street (p. 199)

Caerleon is a market town in Monmouthshire (South Wales).


Cap and Feathers (p. 199)

Cap and Feathers is a rather unusual pub name – there is a celebrated example at Tillingham in Essex, but there don’t seem to be many others.

Very common for Welsh pubs is the name Three Feathers, referring to the badge of the Prince of Wales.


revival meeting (p. 200)

There’s no evidence that Wodehouse ever attended a revival meeting in Wales, but he does refer a couple of times to Billy Sunday (‘Jimmy Mundy’ in “The Aunt and the Sluggard”), so it’s not unlikely that he had attended one of Sunday’s meetings in New York in 1917, probably for similar reasons to Corky.


beer ... ain’t right (p. 202)

Wales has always been a strong bulwark of the Temperance Movement, and the home of many celebrated drinkers.

Feelings about alcohol ran very high on both sides in the early years of the century, not least because of the 1908 Licensing Bill of the Campbell-Bannerman government, which would have allowed a great reduction in the number of pubs and limitations on their opening hours. It was strongly supported by the large Temperance lobby (Liberal and Labour voters), and of course opposed by brewers, publicans and drinkers, as well as those who had bought shares in the recent Guinness flotation (Unionist, i.e. Conservative, voters). There was great public agitation for and against the Bill.

After being passed by the Commons, the Bill was defeated in the House of Lords, one of the last important measures to suffer this fate before the 1911 budget crisis took away the Lords’ power to block legislation.


stingeth like a serpent and biteth like a ruddy adder *

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Bible: Proverbs 23:31–32


feel your angry passions rising *

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


Vell ... how’th the boy (p. 207)

The confusion of “V” and “W” sounds in English is traditionally associated with Cockney – remember Dickens’s Sam Weller? – although it’s rarely actually heard nowadays.

It also happens to many native speakers of German and Yiddish (which don’t have a ‘W’ sound) when they speak English – coming (implicitly) from the East End Jewish community, Previn could qualify on both counts.

The lisp is not a specifically Cockney or Jewish marker – Wodehouse is just using it to mark Previn’s speech as ‘different’.


fell from him like a garment (p. 207)

Wodehouse often uses this expression, e.g. A Damsel in Distress (Ch. 4 and 18), Money in the Bank, and Uneasy Money (Ch.8). It isn’t clear where it comes from – definitely not the King James Bible or Shakespeare, at least – but it does appear occasionally in other authors.


mufti *

Ordinary civilian clothes, as opposed to a military uniform (the original context, from the British army in the Middle East, from the supposed resemblance of an off-duty officer in smoking jacket, cap, and slippers to the garb of the Muslim clerics of that title) or as opposed to an athletic uniform, as here.


the claims of friendship are paramount *

Recalls Lord Mountararat in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe: “The sacred ties of Friendship are paramount.”


Ukridge Rounds a Nasty Corner (pp. 219 to 242)

This story runs from pp. 219 to 242 in the 2000 Penguin edition of Ukridge. It was first published in Cosmopolitan in the US in January 1924 and in the Strand in the UK in February 1924; in book form it appeared in Ukridge (Herbert Jenkins, UK, June 1924) and He Rather Enjoyed It (Doran, US, March 1926).


Sir Rupert Lakenheath K.C.M.G., C.B., M.V.O. (p. 219)

The village of Lakenheath in Suffolk is best known today as the site of a big US Air Force base.

Sir Rupert’s orders:

(i) K.C.M.G. — Knight-Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George. This is an order reserved for diplomats and others who have held important non-military appointments in foreign countries (it was originally created in 1818 to mark the British acquisition of the Ionian islands). There are 375 Knights- and Dames-Commander in the order; it is a typical honour for an ambassador or colonial governor.

(ii) C.B. — Companion of the Order of the Bath. This is a military order, which dates back to the Middle Ages. Presumably Sir Rupert had served as an army officer before entering the Colonial Service. C.B. is the lowest rank in the order, held by 1455 people.

(iii) M.V.O. — Member of the Royal Victorian Order. This order was relatively new at the time, having been founded by Queen Victoria in 1896. Unlike the others, it does not “go with the job,” but is awarded at the sovereign’s personal discretion for services to the Royal Family. Sir Rupert might have received it for a period as a royal aide de camp, or more likely for entertaining members of the Royal Family in some remote spot in his capacity as governor.


Thurloe Square (p. 219)

In South Kensington, across from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=527068&Y=178886&A=Y&Z=1


Annie Laurie (p. 220)

Annie Laurie (1682–1764) was the daughter of Sir Robert Laurie of Maxwelton House, in Dumfriesshire (SW Scotland). It’s not recorded whether Douglas did lay him doon and dee when Annie married someone else. According to Brewer, her son, Alexander Ferguson, was in turn the hero of a Robert Burns song, “The Whistler.”

Max Welton’s braes are bonnie
Where early falls the dew
And ’twas there that Annie Laurie
Gave me her promise true.
Gave me her promise true
That ne’er forgot shall be
And for Bonnie Annie Laurie
I’d lay me doon and dee.

Her brow is like the snowdrift
Her nape is like the swan
And her face it is the fairest
That ’ere the sun shone on.
That ’ere the sun shone on
And dark blue is her e’e
And for Bonnie Annie Laurie
I’d lay me doon and dee.

Like the dew on the Gowan Lion
Is the fall of her fairy feet
And like winds in the summer sighing
Her voice is low and sweet.
Her voice is low and sweet
And she’s all the world to me
And for Bonnie Annie Laurie
I’d lay me doon and dee.

[William Douglas: Annie Laurie ]


“For Gord’s sake!” *

Bowles is surprised out of his usual high-class diction here, betraying the accents of his origin; the Cosmopolitan editor altered this to “For ’Eaven’s sake!”


mementoes of the late Sir Rupert’s gubernatorial career *

The Cosmopolitan text goes into detail here which is omitted in other versions of the story:

A native war mask of pronounced hideousness glared at me from above the bookcase; crossed spears hung dangerously over the door; and almost the whole of one side of the room was occupied by a cabinet of shells, grasses, arrows, pots and other relics. In addition to these things the room contained . . .


Millie ... Aunt Elizabeth (p. 221) °

In Love Among the Chickens, back in 1906, Ukridge was married to a girl called Millie, and they have a hen called Aunt Elizabeth. Apparently, history was not destined to repeat itself in this case: when we meet Ukridge again in “Buttercup Day” (1925) he is still single.

[A better explanation is that all the short stories recount incidents from Ukridge’s bachelor days, no matter what the order of their publication, and that this is the last episode in story time before Ukridge’s marriage and the chicken-farming incidents in the 1906 novel. —NM]


entangling alliances *

A phrase from USA diplomatic history, sometimes attributed to George Washington (whose Farewell Address cautioned instead against any “permanent alliance” with other nations), actually a quotation from Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address of 1801, who recommended “entangling alliances with none.”


between Sloane Square and South Kensington (p. 225) °

Adjacent stops on the Metropolitan District Railway, no more than three or four minutes apart. This section (now part of the District and Circle Lines) was opened in 1868 and electrified in 1905.

South Kensington Station is about two minutes’ walk from Thurloe Square.

[Both stations are mentioned in the Nightmare Song (“When you’re lying awake”) from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe. —NM]


if that schoolgirl complexion is to be preserved *

“Keep that schoolgirl complexion” was a long-running slogan of Palmolive soap from 1917 on, praised by advertising experts early on and referred to as “that schoolgirl complexion look” in ads into the middle 1950s.

[In A Pelican at Blandings (1969) it was noted of the Empress of Blandings, a dedicated believer in the maxim of early to bed and early to rise, “that only by getting its regular eight hours can a pig keep up to the mark and preserve that schoolgirl complexion.” —IM]


maddest, merriest day of all the glad New Year *

See A Damsel in Distress.


Wassick (p. 229)

Seems to be a reasonably common family name in the USA, but nowhere else, oddly enough.


Savage smoker (p. 229)

The Savage Club, of which Wodehouse was a member at one time, had premises in Adelphi Terrace (it is now in Whitehall Place). It is a gentlemen’s club whose members have included many great writers and actors.

A smoker, or smoking concert, was a private entertainment put on by the members of a club (men only, hence smoking was allowed). Usually, the performers would be the members of the club itself. See Not George Washington for an account of the Barrel Club smoker.


ground-floor study *

Once again the Cosmopolitan text goes into greater detail here:

…in the ground floor study, which had been the particular property of the late Sir Rupert, and was spreading before me on the desk for purposes of reference a batch of diaries dealing with the celebrated ’Mgomo-’Mgomo rising of the late ’eighties, when the girl Millie came in, carrying papers.


he loathes … carrying parcels *

We have seen him loathing the task before, outside Selfridge’s while his aunt Julia was shopping, in “Ukridge’s Dog College” in the beginning of this book.


Harrods (p. 232) °

A large London department store, at the Knightsbridge end of Brompton Road, not far from Thurloe Square.

Original editions, both magazine and book, use the apostrophe in Harrod’s, even though the store had dropped it by mid-1900; see The Inimitable Jeeves.


Pen and Ink Club (p. 232)

cf. “First Aid for Dora” (p. 71 above).

http://www.pen.org/


Market Deeping, Sussex (p. 234)

Market Deeping is in Lincolnshire, a lot nearer to Lakenheath than it is to Sussex.


A black devil of apprehension sat on my shoulder all the way *

At this point the Cosmopolitan version is slightly abridged, omitting references to the imp, following a semicolon instead of a comma:

and as I rang the front door bell, suddenly I understood.

Like a flash I perceived where the fatal flaw in this enterprise lay. It was like Ukridge, poor, impetuous idiot, not to have spotted it . . .

At the end of this paragraph, after “then?”, Cosmopolitan omits “Prosecution? Jail? Social ruin?”


fully as grim and austere as his predecessor *

Here Cosmopolitan continues the paragraph with a passage not present in Strand or books:

I was conscious of a passing wonder at Miss Julia Ukridge’s taste in butlers. This fellow was just like the dark, silent servant you are supposed not to suspect in act one of the mystery play, who turns out in the end to have stabbed Hector Bastable, the financier, with the library paper-knife as the outcome of a ten-year-old grudge. But that wave of relief was still pouring over me, inducing a courageous exhilaration.


“Hallo, you Pekes!” I said. *

This sentence is omitted in Cosmopolitan.


Julia Ukridge was a civilised woman, and this handicapped her in the contest. *

This sentence is omitted in Cosmopolitan, as is the phrase “there is no denying that it has one outstanding merit.” The magazine links the sentences thus: “scorn; but whatever its defects…” In the next long paragraph, Cosmopolitan omits “outside of scattered monosyllables”.


Fortunately I had set my cup down by this time. *

This sentence is omitted in Cosmopolitan.


Thought it might brace him up. *

This sentence is omitted in Cosmopolitan.


perfectly pie-eyed *

Reminiscent of the parrot belonging to Lord Brancaster, a former employer of Jeeves, as recalled in Right Ho, Jeeves:

…his lordship, with the kindly intention of restoring it to its customary animation, offered it a portion of seed cake steeped in the ’84 port. The bird accepted the morsel gratefully and consumed it with every indication of satisfaction. Almost immediately afterwards, however, its manner became markedly feverish. Having bitten his lordship in the thumb and sung part of a sea-chanty, it fell to the bottom of the cage and remained there for a considerable period of time with its legs in the air, unable to move.