Young Men in Spats
P G Wodehouse
Literary and Cultural References
This is part of an on-going effort by the members of the Blandings Yahoo! Group to document references, allusions, quotations, etc in the works of P G Wodehouse.
Young Men in Spats was originally annotated by Mark Hodson (aka The Efficient Baxter). They have been reformatted somewhat, but credit goes to Mark for his original efforts, even while we bear the blame for errors of fact or interpretation.
Page numbers refer to the Herbert Jenkins edition
The collection Young Men in Spats was published by Herbert Jenkins in the UK on 3 April 1936 and by Doubleday Doran in the USA on 24 July 1936. As usual, the selection of stories in the two editions differs slightly.
UK edition contents
US edition contents
Fate (pp 9 to 37)
Freddie Widgeon (Fate; page 9)
This is his first appearance - he appears in no fewer than nine short stories, three Jeeves novels, and (The) Ice in the Bedroom.
A widgeon is a kind of wild, freshwater duck. In Europe the term refers to the species Mareca penelope, and in North America to the similar M. americana. The OED records the use of widgeon for fool or simpleton (cf. goose) as obsolete, chiefly 17th and 18th century, but this is surely what Wodehouse was trying to suggest with the name.
Elsewhere in the canon, the Widgeon Seven is a small car. (The Grumman Widgeon aircraft first appeared in 1940.)
[Garrison, Daniel H., Whos Who in Wodehouse (1991)]
loved and lost (Fate; page 10)
Strange to think that this expression, now so well established as a proverb, only dates back to the mid-19th century.
T is better to
have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
[Tennyson, Alfred Lord (1809-1892) In Memoriam A.H.H xxvii, 4]
quid ... fiver (Fate; page 10)
Quid is slang for a pound, and fiver for a five-pound note, or more generally for five pounds. Both are still current in Britain, although five pounds was a lot of money in the 1930s...
toys ... in the hands of Fate (Fate; page 10)
The Crumpets theory sounds very like the non-mathematical butterflys wing explanations of chaos theory that were fashionable in the 1990s. Of course, philosophers have been debating such questions of free will and determinism since Ancient Greek days.
Mavis Peasemarch (Fate; page 11)
Pease- is a common placename element in Britain, presumably for places where leguminous plants (peas, beans, etc.) were grown. Peasemarch does appear as the name of a house in Norfolk, but this may be subsequent to its appearance here. Wodehouse tells us that he got the name from the engineer of the Dorinda, Col. Savages yacht. (see BOTG Ch.8)
Albert Peasemarch, the celebrated ships steward, first appeared in The Luck of the Bodkins (1935, i.e. between the serial and book publication of the present story).
Mavis and her father reappear in Bramley is so Bracing (1939).
Earl of Bodsham (Fate; page 11)
Bodsham is a village a few miles east of Ashford in Kent. However, compare the courtesy title of Lord Emsworths heir, which comes from the village of Bosham in West Sussex, near Wodehouses house at Emsworth. Compare also the Lords Belpher, Biddlecombe, Blicester, Blotsam, Brangbolton and Bittlesham - Wodehouse obviously liked titles starting with B for fools and heavies.
shanghaied (Fate; page 11)
This was originally 19th century US nautical slang, from the practice of crewing ships for unpopular destinations by drugging sailors and abducting them (also called crimping). It isnt entirely clear whether the practice was particularly associated with ships sailing from the US to Chinese ports, or whether it happened to sailors ashore in Chinese ports.
Pan-Anglican Congress (Fate; page 12)
The Anglican and Episcopal churches that were established in many parts of the world as a result of British and American colonialism and missionary work grew up with a rather chaotic structure, with no overall hierarchy and in many cases glaring differences in doctrine. In 1867, a crisis of authority resulting from the controversial writings of Bishop Colenso of Natal led to the calling of the first conference of all Anglican bishops in Lambeth. These Lambeth Conferences have taken place at intervals of roughly ten years ever since.
The Conference of 1930, shortly before the publication of this story, would have been in the headlines because it passed a resolution giving limited approval to the use of artificial methods of birth control. It also marked important developments in the mutual recognition of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox churches.
shoved his nose past the judges box (Fate; page 13)
A horse-racing metaphor - the winner of the race is the first horse to get any part of its body past the finishing line. The race judge, of course, is placed in a box overlooking the line. A photograph is often necessary to determine the actual winner if a race is close.
Seventy-Second Street (Fate; page 16)
The West Side is the area between Central Park and the western shore of Manhattan Island. West 72nd Street is roughly in the middle of this district, about halfway from the Natural History Museum to the Lincoln Center. West 69th St is about a quarter of a mile further south.
brown stone (Fate; page 16)
Local name for a type of dark-brown sandstone formerly much used for building in New York. Since it is seen mostly in older buildings, nowadays it tends to be associated with wealth, but that doesnt seem to be the case here.
Waterbury, Connecticut (Fate; page 17)
Waterbury is an old-established industrial centre, famous for the manufacture of clocks and scientific instruments.
There are several Waterburys in the canon, starting with the Rev Mr Waterbury, the headmaster in The inferiority complex of old Sippy (Very Good, Jeeves).
Jas. Waterbury, the theatrical agent in Freddy, Oofy and the Beef Trust and Jeeves and the Greasy Bird is presumably the same man as the pianist Jos. Waterbury in The Masked Troubadour. There is also the Brinkley Court chauffeur (Right Ho, Jeeves).
Ronald Colman (Fate; page 17)
British Hollywood star. Colman (1891-1958) had recently appeared in the Sinclair Lewis adaptation, Arrowsmith.
During Wodehouses time in Hollywood, he and Colman were both among the vice-presidents of the Hollywood Cricket Club.
[Phelps, Barry, P.G. Wodehouse: Man and Myth (1992) 165]
William Powell (Fate; page 17)
American film star (1892-1984). Started out playing villains in silent films, but by the early 30s was competing with Colman for romantic leads. Married Carole Lombard in 1931.
bowler hats (Fate; page 19)
A bowler hat has a hard, rounded crown. Although originally designed as a more convenient alternative to the top hat for upper-class people to wear on horseback, by the early 20th century they were firmly associated with clerks and minor officials. They continued to be worn in this way in Britain until after the second world war (even today, there are some professions, like Oxford and Cambridge college porters, which wear them as a badge of office). However, it seems likely that New York detectives would have been wearing soft hats by 1931.
Alert Detective Agency (Fate; page 19)
Wodehouse detectives, like modern taxi firms, take pains to be first in the phone book listing. Cf. Percy Pilbeams Argus Enquiry Agency.
Ritz-Carlton (Fate; page 20)
This is obviously neither of the modern Ritz-Carlton hotels in Manhattan (Central Park South and Battery Park): it may be intended to be fictitious, or refer to a hotel that has since changed its name. There are still a number of hotels on 46th St.
Limerick (Fate; page 21)
A short humourous nonsense verseform, it consists of five anapestic lines with the rhyme scheme aabba. The third and fourth lines have two stresses each, and the others three. It has been around in various guises since medieval times, but only achieved serious popularity with the publication of Edward Lear's first Book of Nonsense in 1864. The association of the name "Limerick" with the form is not very clear - the OED asserts that it comes from an old parlour game where each person had to improvise a verse, which was followed by a chorus of "Will ye come to Limerick". Although Lear's Limericks are entirely unobjectionable, the form lends itself very well to bawdy jokes.
There was a Young Lady whose chin
Resembled the point of a pin:
So she had it made sharp,
And purchased a harp,
And played several tunes with her chin.
[Lear, Edward There was a young lady whose chin ]
Van Sprunt (Fate; page 21)
This seems to be an invented name, although obviously playing on the pride that wealthy New York families take in their Dutch ancestry. Although it exists as an American surname without the Van, Sprunt is not a word or placename in Dutch (the nearest is the village of Sprundel in Noord Brabant: van Sprundel exists as a name). The uppercase V in Van might suggest Flemish rather than Dutch origins; however, this name doesnt seem to exist in Belgium either.
In English, sprunt is a dialect word for a convulsive or sudden movement.
Socialist attacks on the House of Lords (Fate; page 22)
Like Jeevess celebrated reference to Some slight friction threatening in the Balkans, this could have been a current topic at any time in the 20th century. However, the most significant limitations of the power of the House of Lords took place under Lloyd George in 1911 and under Blair in 2000 - neither of them noted socialists.
côtelettes and mashed (Fate; page 22)
Côtelettes (cutlets) are thin slices of meat, typically veal, fried in breadcrumbs. Mashed is the usual British term for creamed potatoes.
haul up her slacks (Fate; page 22)
The meaning of the phrase is clearly "speak," but how Wodehouse arrives at it is a little obscure. Possibly it is by extension to the idea that some men (teachers?) prepare themselves physically for speaking by inflating their lungs and hitching up their trousers? It certainly doesn't imply that Mavis was actually wearing trousers: more likely it is Wodehouse giving her more authority by using a masculine image. This term is elsewhere often used of Aunt Agatha. This is another strong hint that Mavis is not a suitable fiancée for Freddie.
Soul of America (Fate; page 22)
This term seems to come from Walt Whitman, or possibly his later imitators.
I sat alone, by blue Ontarios shore,
As I mused of these mighty days, and of peace returnd, and the dead that return no more,
A Phantom, gigantic, superb, with stern visage, accosted me;
Chant me the poem, it said, that comes from the soul of Americachant me the carol of victory;
And strike up the marches of Libertadmarches more powerful yet;
And sing me before you go, the song of the throes of Democracy.
(Democracythe destind conqueroryet treacherous lip-smiles everywhere,
And Death and infidelity at every step.)
[Whitman, Walt Leaves of Grass (1900) 152]
catching the Speakers eye (Fate; page 22)
The Speaker is the MP who chairs the sessions of the British House of Commons. Members wishing to speak have to catch the Speakers eye (in practice, they have usually given prior notice of their intention).
conte (Fate; page 22)
French - story
In English this word is normally used to refer to the short story as a written literary form (esp. in French literature or in medieval texts), but conteur and raconteur are both used to describe oral storytellers, so it is not really inconsistent to use it for an anecdote like Freddies.
Esquimaux (Fate; page 23)
By this time the Danish spelling Eskimo was more common in English than this French spelling, possibly because we are uncomfortable with a singular noun ending in -aux. In Psmith Journalist, Ch.1 (1916), Wodehouse uses Esquimau as if it were the singular of Esquimaux; here the x has returned to the singular.
Eskimo and Esquimaux are renderings of an Algonquian Indian word meaning eaters of raw meat. The Arctic people themselves use the term Inuit.
gargoyle (Fate; page 23)
A grotesque figure or face carved on the edge of the roof of a stone building, usually doubling as a waterspout. Supposedly, the hideous faces were to keep evil spirits away.
blushful Hippocrene (Fate; page 24)
Notice that this story was written and first appeared before Prohibition ended in 1933.
The Hippocrene spring on Mount Helicon in Greece was sacred to the Muses, and was said to have been created by a hoofprint of the flying horse Pegasus.
There is a certain amount of confusion here about what is actually in the flask. Literally, the Hippocrene would be water, of course. However, Keats is using it metaphorically, to link poetic inspiration (the Muses) to wine. Freddie would be unlikely to have wine in his small but servicable flask - the purple-stainèd mouth would be a dead giveaway - so spirits of some sort seems more likely.
for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Coold a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
Oh for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stainèd mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
[Keats, John Ode to a Nightingale ll.11-20]
Knickerbocker Ice Company (Fate; page 24)
This company operated ice houses in many places in New York and Pennsylvania in the late 19th and early 20th century. Ice cut from frozen lakes (such as Lake Simcoe in Canada and Bear Creek in Pennsylvania) during the winter was stored in insulated warehouses for sale during the summer months. Natural ice continued to be harvested commercially until the mid-1930s, when it became cheaper to use mechanical refrigeration.
The name Knickerbocker (said to come from a Dutch 17th-century settler called Knikkerbakker) became associated with New York in popular culture thanks to the stories of Washington Irving.
Utica (Fate; page 30)
There are a number of towns in the USA named after the ancient city in North Africa which sided with the Romans against its neighbour, Carthage.
The largest, and most likely in this context, is a small manufacturing town on the Mohawk River in New York state.
palooka (Fate; page 30)
US boxing slang: an inferior or average prizefighter
boloney (Fate; page 30)
It isn't quite certain that the American slang word baloney/boloney meaning humbug or nonsense (first recorded 1928) is the same as balony/bolony/boloney meaning Bologna sausage. The context here, and the spelling bologney, which appears in Ukridge and the Home from Home (also 1931) suggests that Wodehouse at least linked the two.
Slice (it) where you like was presumably an advertising slogan of the time.
Fotheringay (Fate; page 36)
This is the name of a castle in Northamptonshire, famous as the place where Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed in 1587. In personal names, it is often pronounced Fungy.
Of the several Fotheringays in the canon, only the butler in Came the Dawn pre-dates this story. Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps first appears in 1935 (see the next story in this collection).
wait for the full returns (Fate; page 36)
This seems to be a reference to elections, where - especially in the days before rapid communications - a party would often announce victory or defeat before all the results from outlying voting districts are in.
Tried in the Furnace (pp 38 to 66)
Tried in the Furnace (Tried in the Furnace; page 38)
Runs from pp 38 to 66 in the Herbert Jenkins edition
In the Bible, tried in the furnace means purified, refined. Wodehouse is using it (with mock-heroic exaggeration) to refer to an experience which tests Pongo and Barmy to the limits, but leaves them purer and better.
The words of the LORD are pure words:
as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD,
thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
8 The wicked walk on every side,
when the vilest men are exalted.
[Bible Psalms 12:6-8]
[Jasen, David A., P.G. Wodehouse, A Portrait of a Master (1981) ]
smoking-concert (Tried in the Furnace; page 38)
A concert where smoking was allowed, thus intended for men only. Normally means an entertainment organised by a mens group (college, sports club, or simply a group of workmates), where members of the group would take turns to get up and sing. There is an entertaining description of a smoking-concert at the Barrel Club in Not George Washington.
Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps (Tried in the Furnace; page 38)
Barm is the froth that collects on top of fermenting beer, etc. Barmy as a nickname for someone of weak intellect dates back to the 1890s. Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps is of course the hero of Barmy in Wonderland (US: Angel Cake - 1952). This seems to be his first appearance. The cross-talk act also features in The Mating Season.
Pongo Twistleton-Twistleton (Tried in the Furnace; page 38)
Pongo first appeared in The Luck of the Stiffhams (1933), but his celebrated Uncle Fred is only introduced in Uncle Fred Flits By (1935 - also in this collection). Pong is schoolboy slang for a smell.
Thingummy and whats-his-name (Tried in the Furnace; page 39)
David and Jonathan, perhaps, or Damon and Pythias?
Angelica Briscoe (Tried in the Furnace; page 39)
These Briscoes are the only ones in the canon. They reappear, en masse, in Aunts Arent Gentlemen/The Cat-nappers (1974).
The placename Briscoe appears in various places in northern England, e.g. as a hamlet near Egremont in Cumbria.
Maiden Eggesford ... Bridmouth-on-Sea (Tried in the Furnace; page 39)
The prefix Maiden is quite common in all parts of England. Wodehouse may be thinking of Maiden Newton in Dorset - this would explain Bridmouth, which must surely be the Dorset town of Bridport (or perhaps Bridport+Weymouth), a plausible place for someone from Maiden Newton to go shopping. In this case we would have to assume that Wodehouse has simply replaced Dorset with the neighbouring county of Somerset to avoid any suggestion that he is describing real places.
The only Eggesford in Britain is Eggesford Barton, a village in north Devon.
Thorpe and Widgery (Tried in the Furnace; page 39)
Both of these are fairly common English surnames, although Thorpe, being of Danish origins, would be less common in the South-West. Had Wodehouse written this forty years later, it might have been taken as a joke on the surnames of the Lord Chief Justice and the leader of the Liberal Party.
a splash of golf (Tried in the Furnace; page 40)
Cf. Whisky with a splash of soda
a segment of certified butter (Tried in the Furnace; page 40)
Certified butter seems to be an American term. Presumably it means butter that has been officially tested and found to comply with hygiene regulations.
bracedness (Tried in the Furnace; page 40)
This seems to be a Wodehouse invention. To be braced is to be strengthened, reinforced, to feel better (cf. Bramley is so Bracing), so bracedness is the quality of feeling better.
lay-off (Tried in the Furnace; page 41)
Normally an industrial term - a lay-off is what happens when a factory is temporarily shut down or running at reduced output, and workers are sent home (laid-off). In the early 1930s, applying this to a break in rehearsals for amateur theatricals might have been considered rather insensitive use of language: many of Wodehouses readers would have been affected by lay-offs.
Goose and Grasshopper (Tried in the Furnace; page 41)
There is another Goose and Grashopper at Rising Mattock (in Anselm Gets His Chance), and any number of Wodehouse pubs called Green Goose, Goose and Gander or Goose and Gherkin. There is a Cow and Grasshopper in Market Blandings.
(see the Browsing and Sluicing Guide)
much bucked (Tried in the Furnace; page 41)
Another bit of Drones slang: normally bucked up.
skin off your nose (Tried in the Furnace; page 42)
An obscure toast, possibly related to the proverbial expression Its no skin off my nose, which seems to come originally from boxing. Normally used as a meaningless phrase, but we are left wondering whether Pongo would like to remove some skin from Barmys nose.
fluff in your latchkey (Tried in the Furnace; page 42)
Presumably another obscure toast of the time, but I cant find any trace of this one.
Mutt and Jeff (Tried in the Furnace; page 42)
This was the first successful daily newspaper cartoon strip, drawn by Bud Fisher from 1907, originally in the San Francisco Chronicle, later in the Hearst papers. The strip survived until 1982, and was well-known in Britain too.
plus fours (Tried in the Furnace; page 43)
Knee-length golf trousers (so-called because they were traditionally cut four inches too long to give extra freedom of movement at the knee).
old school tie (Tried in the Furnace; page 43)
Wodehouse may be telling us something of his own feelings about school ties here: we know he was very proud of and interested in his old school, but he also had a (possibly self-promoted) reputation for his skill in avoiding unwanted social encounters. Of course, if everyone thought like this, there would be little point in wearing school (or college, or regimental) ties in the first place.
Jubilee watering trough (Tried in the Furnace; page 49)
In rural districts, a frequent way to commemorate Queen Victorias jubilee in 1897 was to erect a watering trough for the benefit of local horses, thus offering them some refreshment while their owners were in the pub.
The perils of being stranded in a small English village on a Sunday seem to be a frequent theme in Wodehouse.
evening church in the summertime (Tried in the Furnace; page 49)
...a theme developed further in Anselm Gets his Chance (1937).
Abimelech ... Jazzbo ... Zachariah (Tried in the Furnace; page 49)
Wodehouse is apparently not referring to a real chapter.
There are at least three Abimelechs in the Bible - two kings of Gerar, one of whom took Abrahams wife into his harem and returned her (Genesis 20), and another who did the same thing to Isaac, and a king of Israel, one of the sons of Gideon, who slew his seventy brothers (Judges 9). There is also Ahimelech, who was killed by Saul, and is called Abimelech in some references.
Jazzbo is not a biblical name, but a common African-American nickname, as in Gershwins Jazzbo Brown Blues.
Zachariah was a king of Israel, son of Jereboam II. There are also several Zecharias in the Bible, of course.
heliotrope (Tried in the Furnace; page 50)
Name given to flowers that turn to follow the sun, especially heliotropium, and hence also to the rich purple colour of these flowers.
Eton jacket (Tried in the Furnace; page 50)
A style of boys suit derived from the Eton College uniform, and worn (at least on formal occasions) by boys of all social classes whose parents could afford it, throughout the Victorian and Edwardian period. It consisted of long trousers, a short jacket, and a very large, stiff white collar. Pongo and Barmy, who would have been born after 1910, would have been a bit too late for this fashion.
cold-suppered (Tried in the Furnace; page 50)
Sunday supper was often a cold meal, so that servants could attend church.
Trappist monk (Tried in the Furnace; page 51)
The Cistercian order of monks was refounded at La Trappe in France in 1664, under an austere rule including a vow of silence. Trappists are also famous for the beer and cheese they produce.
Rabelais (Tried in the Furnace; page 54)
This is one of a number of references in Wodehouse to the great French comic writer François Rabelais (ca.1490-1553), suggesting that Wodehouse may have read and enjoyed his works (possibly in translation).
For an analysis of the similarities in their comic styles, see the essay by Prof. Barbara C. Bowen in LEsprit Créateur, Vol. XVI, No.4 (Winter 1976), pp.63-77.
Homburg (Tried in the Furnace; page 54)
A soft felt hat with a curled brim and a dented crown, named after the spa near Wiesbaden. Made popular by Edward VII as Prince of Wales in the 1890s.
Bottsford Mortimer (Tried in the Furnace; page 56)
There is no obvious source for Bottsford, but Mortimer must come from Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire, very much in Wodehouse territory.
There are many ruined abbeys in Dorset. Possibly Wodehouse is thinking of Abbotsbury.
Bridmouth pier (Tried in the Furnace; page 56)
Bridport has no pier, but Wodehouse might be thinking of nearby Weymouth.
Bacchantes (Tried in the Furnace; page 56)
Maenads or Bacchantes were female worshipers of Bacchus/Dionysus, who were famous for the violence of their religious ecstacies, in the course of which they would kill with their bare hands anything that came across their path.
the quiet evenfall (Tried in the Furnace; page 58)
Alas for her that met me,
That heard me softly call,
Came glimmering through the laurels
At the quiet evenfall,
In the garden by the turrets
Of the old manorial hall.
[Tennyson, Alfred Lord (1809-1892) Maud II 215-220]
eleventh prox. (Tried in the Furnace; page 66)
proximo (Latin) - next (month)
Standard abbreviation used in business correspondence.
Trouble Down at Tudsleigh (pp 67 to 96)
Tennyson (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 67)
This is Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892). His fictional namesakes Reggie and Ambrose would appear a few months later in The Luck of the Bodkins.
Freddie Widgeon (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 67)
First appeared in Fate in the present collection (see p.9 above).
April Carroway (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 68)
The Carroways in this story are the only ones in the canon, although we should not forget the poet-policeman Officer Garroway in The Small Bachelor.
Wodehouse perhaps got the name from Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby, although it does seem to be a real surname that occurs occasionally in the USA, presumably as a variant of Galloway/Garroway.
Tudsleigh (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 68)
Fictitious, but there are a number of villages along the River Severn in Worcestershire with names in -ley.
Lord Blicester (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 68)
Freddies guardian had appeared in person in Noblesse Oblige (1934), which is printed later in the present collection (see below).
day by day in every way (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 68)
Day by day in every way Im getting better and better was the mantra that Emile Coué sold to gullible Americans under the name autosuggestion, a fad which swept the USA in 1923. Coué seems to have faded away back to France, presumably somewhat richer than when he arrived, but the mantra has remained part of the language.
...might quite easily have been Shelley or even Browning (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 69)
Although Wodehouse frequently mocks the excessive veneration of poetry - never more than in this story - he clearly had a good deal of respect for Tennyson as a writer. He is certainly the most widely quoted author in Wodehouse after the Bible and Shakespeare. Wodehouse rarely seems to quote Shelley(*) - too highbrow, probably - while Browning was clearly never forgiven for writing Pippa Passes, or for getting Aix and Ghent the wrong way round...
(*) Anne-Marie Chanet adds:
Yes, he did quote Shelley. See for instance :
- "The desire of the moth for the star" : at least 3 times (The Mating Season, "The Rough Stuff")
- "A sensitive plant in a garden grew" : at least twice (The Code of the Woosters (Shelley named), Joy in the Morning)
- "Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!" : at least twice (Barmy in Wonderland, Bachelors Anonymous)
- "At length upon the long Chorasmian shore | He paused" : at least once (Bill the Conqueror)
Prudence (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 70)
Any Wodehouse character with such a name can be sure not to live up to it.
Captain Bradbury (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 70)
He seems to be the only Bradbury in the canon. The surname Bradbury is thought to come mainly from the villages of Bradbury in Co. Durham and Bredbury in Cheshire. Early 20th century Bank of England notes were sometimes referred to as Bradburys from the name of the chief cashier who signed them.
Indian Army (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 70)
India was still under British rule, of course: the Indian Army recruited its Other Ranks locally, but officers mainly came from Britain.
a world fit for heroes (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 70)
This seems to be a reference to Lloyd Georges famous exhortation to the returning troops at the end of the first world war.
What is our task? To make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in. David Lloyd George (Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor) 1863-1945. Speech at Wolverhampton, Nov. 23, 1918, quoted in The Times, Nov. 25, 1918.
[The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations" by Tony Augarde.]
Pathan (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 71)
The Pathans are a group of seminomadic peoples living in Afghanistan and what is now North-West Pakistan, and speaking the Pushtu (Afghan) language. During the period of British rule in India, relations between the British and the Pathans varied from uneasy truce to outright hostility. British eccentrics were fond of disguising themselves as Pathans for nefarious purposes.
Break, break, break ... (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 74)
On thy cold grey stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.
O well for the fishermans boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!
And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.
[Tennyson Break, Break, Break ]
I hold it truth... (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 74)
I held it truth, with him who sings
To one clear harp in divers tones,
That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things.
[Tennyson, Alfred Lord (1809-1892) In memoriam A.H.H. I:1-4]
Bulldog Whacker (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 78)
Apparently fictitious - presumably Freddie has invented a generic boxer name on the spur of the moment. Wodehouse was an amateur boxer in his youth, of course.
Paynim (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 79)
Archaic term for paganism or pagans - sometimes used in the Middle Ages (as here) to mean followers of non-Christian faiths, particularly Islam.
row-boat (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 79)
This may be an Americanism - rowing-boat is more common in Britain.
steering apparatus (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 81)
In traditional rowing boats of the type often found on British rivers, the rudder is operated by two ropes which the passenger in the stern thwart can operate while facing forward. This avoids the need for a tiller, which would get in the way. You pull on the starboard rope to turn to starboard, and the port rope to turn to port, of course.
Miss Maitland (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 81)
She seems to be the only one of this name in the canon. Phelps and Murphy both suggest that she, like other Wodehouse headmistresses, was inspired by Leonoras headmistress, Miss Starbuck.
William Tell (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 81)
Legendary Swiss patriot, who was ordered by the Austrian Gessler to shoot an apple from his son's head as a punishment for refusing to make obeisance to Gessler's hat. This legend forms the subject of a drama by Schiller and an opera by Rossini. Wodehouse had written a children's version of the story, William Tell Told Again (A & C Black, November 1904) - perhaps the very text that inspired Prudences experiments in archery.
Sherlock Holmes (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 87)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyles famous detective first appeared in 1887; the last story was published in 1927.
Lord Peter Wimsey (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 87)
Dorothy L. Sayerss stories about the forensically-inclined younger son of the Duke of Denver appeared between 1920 and 1940.
chamois of the Alps (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 88)
The chamois seems to have been a literary cliché long before Wodehouse got his hands on it. Possibly Schillers William Tell may have been the first to popularise it. Cf. Summer Moonshine ...leaping from blonde to blonde like the chamois of the Alps... (Ch.2)
Bombay ... Darjheeling (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 88)
From Bombay (Mumbai) on the west coast of India to Darjeeling in the mountains of Sikkim is about a thousand miles.
fakir (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 88)
Fakir is the Arabic equivalent of the Persian word Dervish, used to describe an initiate in a Sufi order. The itinerant magicians in India reputed to perform feats of this kind are usually not Sufis but Hindus.
stymie (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 90)
Golfing expression: a situation where a putt is blocked by an opponents ball. The stymie has been obsolete since 1952 -- a player was laid a stymie if, on the green, the opponents ball fell in the line of his path to the hole (providing the balls were not within 6 inches of one another). The player was not allowed to strike the opponent's ball when putting his own ball.
Lady Godiva (Trouble Down at Tudsleigh; page 90)
Lady Godiva, according to the chronicle of Roger of Wendover, asked her husband, Leofric, Earl of Mercia, to relieve his tenants of an oppressive tax, somewhere around the year 1040. He agreed, but only if she would ride naked through the streets of Coventry on a white horse. She did so, and the citizens of Coventry stayed indoors and didnt look. A later legend adds that one person, known as Peeping Tom, did look. Tennysons poem about her, written in 1842, must be among the earliest literary works created as a result of delays on the railway.
I waited for the train at Coventry;
I hung with grooms and porters on the bridge,
To watch the three tall spires; and there I shaped
The citys ancient legend into this:-
Not only we, the latest seed of Time,
New men, that in the flying of a wheel
Cry down the past, not only we, that prate
Of rights and wrongs, have loved the people well,
And loathed to see them overtaxd; but she
Did more, and underwent, and overcame,
The woman of a thousand summers back,
Godiva, wife to that grim Earl, who ruled
In Coventry: for when he laid a tax
Upon his town, and all the mothers brought
Their children, clamouring, If we pay, we starve!
She sought her lord, and found him, where he strode
About the hall, among his dogs, alone,
His beard a foot before him and his hair
A yard behind. She told him of their tears,
And pray'd him, If they pay this tax, they starve.
Whereat he stared, replying, half-amazed,
You would not let your little finger ache
For such as these? - But I would die, said she.
He laughd, and swore by Peter and by Paul;
Then fillipd at the diamond in her ear;
Oh ay, ay, ay, you talk! -Alas! she said,
But prove me what I would not do.
And from a heart as rough as Esaus hand,
He answerd, Ride you naked thro the town,
And I repeal it; and nodding, as in scorn,
He parted, with great strides among his dogs.
So left alone, the passions of her mind,
As winds from all the compass shift and blow,
Made war upon each other for an hour,
Till pity won. She sent a herald forth,
And bade him cry, with sound of trumpet, all
The hard condition; but that she would loose
The people: therefore, as they loved her well,
From then till noon no foot should pace the street,
No eye look down, she passing; but that all
Should keep within, door shut, and window barrd.
Then fled she to her inmost bower, and there
Unclaspd the wedded eagles of her belt,
The grim Earls gift; but ever at a breath
She lingerd, looking like a summer moon
Half-dipt in cloud: anon she shook her head,
And showerd the rippled ringlets to her knee;
Unclad herself in haste; adown the stair
Stole on; and, like a creeping sunbeam, slid
From piller unto pillar, until she reachd
The Gateway, there she found her palfrey trapt
In purple blazond with armorial gold.
Then she rode forth, clothed on with chastity:
The deep air listend round her as she rode,
And all the low wind hardly breathed for fear.
The little wide-mouthd heads upon the spout
Had cunning eyes to see: the barking cur
Made her cheek flame; her palfreys foot-fall shot
Light horrors thro her pulses; the blind walls
Were full of chinks and holes; and overhead
Fantastic gables, crowding, stared: but she
Not less thro all bore up, till, last, she saw
The white-flower'd elder-thicket from the field,
Gleam thro the Gothic archway in the wall.
Then she rode back, clothed on with chasity;
And one low churl, compact of thankless earth,
The fatal byword of all years to come,
Boring a little auger-hole in fear,
Peepd - but his eyes, before they had their will,
Were shrivell'd into darkness in his head,
And dropt before him. So the Powers, who wait
On noble deeds, cancelld a sense misused;
And she, that knew not, passd: and all at once,
With twelve great shocks of sound, the shameless noon
Was clash'd and hammerd from a hundred towers,
One after one: but even then she gaind
Her bower; whence reissuing, robed and crownd,
To meet her lord, she took the tax away
And built herself an everlasting name.
[Tennyson, Alfred Lord Godiva ]
The Amazing Hat Mystery (pp 97 to 124)
Poppenheim (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 97)
Poppenheim is a place in Germany, and seems to be a reasonably common name in the USA. There doesnt seem to be any particular reason to connect it to motor cars.
Marble Arch (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 97)
A large, ornamental archway, designed by John Nash, which stands at one end of Oxford Street, although it was originally part of Buckingham Palace. Anyone attempting to drive through it would run into some very solid iron gates. Nowadays it would be difficult to get near it in a car, but in the thirties the Beans mistake would have been possible, if not very likely.
halma (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 97)
A board game, similar to Chinese Checkers, but played on the two diagonals of a rectangular grid rather than the star-shaped grid of the more modern game.
The Fourth Dimension (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 98)
This idea probably entered the popular consciousness through the books written by Einstein to explain the concepts of special and general relativity to the non-scientific reader. Wodehouse is of course just using it to represent something mysterious. The reader is left free to supply a more prosaic explanation.
Percy Wimbolt (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 98)
This is his only appearance, although there is a Percy Wimbush in The Fat of the Land (1958) and a Percy (P.V.) Wilson in A Prefects Uncle (1903). Percy is often a name given to fat young men in Wodehouse.
Wimbolt occurs as an English surname, and there is at least one Wimbolt Street in London (in Bethnal Green).
[Garrison, Daniel H., Whos Who in Wodehouse (1991) ]
Nelson Cork (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 98)
He reappears in The Fat of the Land (1958). Other Corks in the canon are those two masterful ladies, Clarissa Cork (Money in the Bank) and Adela Shannon Cork (The Old Reliable).
Cork as a surname presumably comes from the Irish city of that name, but Wodehouse is obviously using it here to reflect Nelsons size.
Elizabeth Bottsworth (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 98)
This is her only appearance, and she is the only Bottsworth in the canon, although there are many characters called Bott or Botts. There are also later appearances of a very similar name: Cora McGuffy Spottsworth (Feet of Clay) and Mrs Spottsworth of Ring for Jeeves/The Return of Jeeves.
Diana Punter (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 98)
Her only appearance, and the only occurrence of this name (although there are Bunts and Buntings, there seem to be no Bunters in the canon, either).
Wodehouse is playing on two meanings of the word punter - Diana is tall and thin like a punt-pole; and members of her family are clearly punters in the sense of people who place bets.
Punter as a surname is usually of Dutch origin, and doesnt seem to occur much in Britain.
Bodmins (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 98)
The hat trade is not what it was, of course, and some people who call themselves hatters today are really milliners. Well-known London hatters I have been able to trace include Christys (formerly in Gracechurch St), Locks (still in St Jamess St.) and Herbert Johnson (also in St Jamess St.).
Bodmin is a town in Cornwall. The town of Stockport (near Manchester) used to be an important centre of the hat-making industry.
infallibility ... Doubt, Schism and Chaos (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 99)
This seems to be an allusion to the style of sermons and Times editorials, rather than a specific quotation. It might even be a little dig at the doctrine of Papal Infallibility.
eternal verities (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 99)
The notion that there are fundamental truths, independent of time and place, seems to be associated particularly with the philosophy of Plato, although of course it has entered many other fields of thought.
a sound young potato (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 100)
Then a sentimental passion of a vegetable fashion
your languid spleen,
An attachment a la Plato for a bashful young potato, or a not-
too-French French bean!
Though the Philistines may jostle, you will rank as an apostle in
the high aesthetic band,
If you walk down Piccadilly with a poppy or a lily in your
[Gilbert, W. S. & Sullivan, A. Patience ]
Ascot (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 101)
Royal Ascot - the most fashionable race meeting at the Ascot racecourse in Berkshire - has been held in the third week of June since 1711.
Freedom of the City (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 104)
In medieval London, "the freedom of the city" referred to the right of the free members of the guilds (later livery companies) to engage in commercial activities within the city. Only freemen who had completed an apprenticeship and attained the age of 21 years could become citizens of London. Nowadays, an honorary "freedom of the city" is conferred by many cities on distinguished individuals. The "freedom of the city" is also often bestowed on a military unit that has enjoyed a close relationship with a city and confers the right for the unit to march through the city with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed.
Guildhall (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 104)
The Guildhall is the seat of the guilds who traditionally ran the City of London, and thus the centre, at least for ceremonial purposes, of the Citys local government.
Mace (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 104)
The Lord Mayors ornamental staff of office.
polishing it with stout (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 105)
Stout is a dark beer, such as Guiness. Presumably it was used to increase the glossiness of the top hat.
juggins (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 105)
Why the name Juggins became a slang word for a simpleton is unclear (the OED suggests that possibly there is a link to mug, or to the character Juggins in Disraelis Sybil), but it was certainly in use by the 1880s, and it remained popular with the generation born around 1900.
toppers ... in a taxi (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 105)
One popular explanation for the upright design of the famous London taxicab has always been that they are designed to allow gentlemen to keep their top hats on.
Vigo Street (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 106)
The short side-street linking Regent Street to the southern end of Saville Row, at the back of Burlington House.
Chas. Chaplin (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 106)
Charles Chaplin (1889-1977), British actor who spent some of his professional career in Hollywood.
Berkeley Square ... Bond Street (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 108)
Berkeley Square is in the centre of the wealthy residential district of Mayfair. Bond Street is an exclusive shopping area marking the eastern edge of Mayfair.
extinguisher (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 109)
In this sense, it means a bell-shaped candle-snuffer.
the King (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 110)
When this story first appeared in 1933, the ailing George V (born 1863, succeeded in 1910) was still on the throne, but probably more interested in his stamp collection than in ankling round to Vigo Street.
The UK edition of Young Men in Spats appeared in April 1936, three months after George V died. Edward VIII was certainly a more likely devotee of fashion than his father, but of course he was King for less than a year, abdicating in December 1936 to be succeeded by his brother George VI.
Bruton Street (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 110)
Leads from Berkeley Square to Bond Street.
the Drones is only just round the corner (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 110)
This seems to confirm the view that the Drones is in Dover Street, which is indeed just around the corner from Bruton Street.
Robinson (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 116)
Although this is a very common name in Britain, Wodehouse doesnt use it much - apart from the Drones Club cloakroom attendant and the Pink Chap (Uncle Fred Flits By), Garrison lists only the station taxi driver at Market Blandings and a couple of characters in the early school stories.
motif (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 118)
Carnera (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 118)
Primo Carnera (1906-1967), Italian heavyweight boxer, noted for his giant physique (sometimes, unflatteringly, described by journalists as the tower of gorgonzola). Toured the USA in 1930, and briefly became world heavyweight champion in 1933, but his reputation was marred by his association with the fascists, who used him as propaganda for the supremacy of the Italian race.
deerstalker (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 119)
The deerstalker has extended brims at front and rear to keep off rain. It fits close to the head, thus not revealing the stalkers position to the deer. Conan Doyle never mentions it in the text of the Sherlock Holmes stories: it comes from the illustrations of Sidney Paget. The OED records the first use of the word for a hat as 1881.
infusoria (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 121)
A class of protozoa, usually unicellular and free-swimming. So-called because they were originally observed in infusions of decaying organic matter.
bacillus (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 122)
In microbiology, the Bacilli are a genus of rod-shaped bacteria. The term is often used loosely to refer to any disease-causing bacterium.
Hay Hill (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 122)
Street in Mayfair: runs from Dover Street to the south-eastern corner of Berkeley Square.
Blue Danube (The Amazing Hat Mystery; page 123)
An der schönen blauen Donau - celebrated waltz (1867) by Johann Strauss the younger (1825-1899).
Good-Bye to All Cats (pp 125 to 151)
The title is of course a pun on that of Robert Gravess celebrated memoir Goodbye to All That, describing his youth and experiences of the first world war, which was published in 1929.
Matcham Scratchings (Goodbye to all Cats; page 125)
There is a Matchams House in Dorset, near Bournemouth, but that seems to be the only occurrence of the name Matcham in Britain. There are a number of placenames with Matching, of course (e.g. Matching Tye in Essex). Cf. also Much Matchingham, home of Sir Gregory in the Blandings stories.
For Scratchings, see the explanation in the text (p127).
Dahlia Prenderby (Goodbye to all Cats; page 126)
The Prenderbys in this story seem to be the only ones in the canon.
Prenderby is probably a Wodehouse invention, perhaps a conflation of the surnames Enderby (name of a village in Leicestershire) and Prendergast (seems to be an Irish name).
...halfway down Piccadilly (Goodbye to all Cats; page 126)
This is also said (inter alia) of Bingo Little, and of the happy couples Uncle Fred has reunited.
Piccadilly is about a mile (1600m) long, so it would require at least 400 girls to stretch halfway down it.
What every young bridegroom ought to know (Goodbye to all Cats; page 126)
This particular title may well be invented, but there was no shortage of little books and religious tracts giving good advice to those about to be married.
raining cats (Goodbye to all Cats; page 129)
In Britain, one says its raining cats and dogs to describe a very heavy shower of rain.
Welcome to Meadowsweet Hall (Goodbye to all Cats; page 129)
This phrase appears frequently as a cliché of rural hospitality in Wodehouse. Cf. for example Sir Roderick comes to lunch (The Inimitable Jeeves), and Jeeves in the Offing, Ch.8.
bouillon (Goodbye to all Cats; page 130)
A clear, thin, soup, usually made from meat or chicken. Comes from the French verb to boil, not from the name of the town in the Belgian Ardennes.
Typically, soup of some description would have been the first course of an English upper-middle-class dinner at this time.
...beside his hostess (Goodbye to all Cats; page 130)
Freddie has been given the place of honour as a new guest. Most English country houses had a long dinner table: we should imagine Sir Mortimer at one end, Lady Prenderby at the other, and the intervening distance filled with other guests and family members.
Queen Elizabeth (Goodbye to all Cats; page 131)
This is, of course, Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), who acceded to the throne in 1558. She is often depicted, especially in later life, as rather cold and haughty.
The future Queen Elizabeth II was only eight years old when this story first appeared.
slab of damnation (Goodbye to all Cats; page 132)
This expression seems to be a Wodehouse invention, although it has since become established in the vocabulary of certain Indian journalists.
Monday ... Friday (Goodbye to all Cats; page 132)
As A.G. McDonnell confirms in England, their England, the English country-house weekend in the inter-war period usually lasted from Friday afternoon until Monday morning.
tête-à-tête (Goodbye to all Cats; page 133)
French: head to head, i.e. a private conversation between two people.
port (Goodbye to all Cats; page 133)
It was the custom for the ladies to withdraw at the end of the meal to the drawing room, leaving the gentlemen to drink port wine, smoke cigars, and converse about matters unsuitable for ladies ears.
rapprochement (Goodbye to all Cats; page 134)
King Herod (Goodbye to all Cats; page 136)
This is Herod the Great (73-4 BCE). If the massacre of the innocents described in the Gospel took place, then it must have been at the very end of his reign. Theologians and historians have argued for centuries over the number of children killed, with estimates varying from 144,000 to six (Bethlehem was not a very large town in those days, so the latter seems more plausible). Herod is also known to have killed two of his own sons, but they were both adults.
13 ¶ And when they were departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and
take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there
until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
15 and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
16 ¶ Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.
[Bible Matthew 2:13-16]
Israelite Mothers Social Saturday Afternoon (Goodbye to all Cats; page 136)
Social Saturday Afternoons seem to have disappeared in Britain, although American churches still have them. In Britain they were associated especially with the Band of Hope, a Christian temperance organisation.
Israelite mothers during Herods lifetime would of course have been Jewish, and might have considered Saturday afternoon an inappropriate time for fun and games.
Augustus (Goodbye to all Cats; page 137)
Could there have been an association of ideas here that led Wodehouse from Herod to his patron Augustus?
Another cat named Augustus is the lethargic denizen of Brinkley Court in Jeeves in the Offing (1960) and Much Obliged, Jeeves (1971).
Breton folk songs (Goodbye to all Cats; page 138)
The celtic language and culture of Brittany, in north-west France, enjoyed a major revival in the late nineteenth century, and a number of popular collections of Breton songs appeared. However, they would certainly be obscure enough to make Freddie feel left out.
Llandudno (Goodbye to all Cats; page 138)
A popular seaside resort on the north coast of Wales. At the time it would still have been one or two steps on the social ladder above Rhyll and Colwyn Bay, and a plausible place for Dahlias relatives to spend their holidays.
blew the whistle (Goodbye to all Cats; page 138)
Not literally, presumably! The referee blows a long blast on the whistle to indicate the end of a match in Rugby and similar games. It would have been impolite for Freddie to retire for the night before his hostess had given the hint that it was bedtime.
Alsatian dog (Goodbye to all Cats; page 139)
A large and rather aggressive breed of dog, commonly kept as a guard dog. The breed is also, more commonly, known as German Shepherd. The alternative name seems to have become popular in Britain for much the same reasons that the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family decided to call themselves House of Windsor.
sotto-voce (Goodbye to all Cats; page 139)
Italian: in an undertone, whispering. Originally entered English as a musical term, commonly used as a stage direction.
Wilhelm (Goodbye to all Cats; page 140)
Presumably after Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany (1859-1941).
If Alsatian is a euphemism, his name at least does not conceal the origins of the breed. The Prenderbys clearly believe in calling animals after emperors.
No Mans Land (Goodbye to all Cats; page 142)
First world war term describing the territory between the two opposing lines of trenches.
...smoking one of the latters cigars (Goodbye to all Cats; page 142)
This particular formative experience crops up so often that one cant help thinking that something of the sort must have happened to the young Wodehouse.
pen-wiper (Goodbye to all Cats; page 142)
A small cloth item used for cleaning excess ink from the nib of a pen. Used to be a popular subject for handicraft enthusiasts - the sort of people who nowadays perpetrate crocheted toilet roll covers and the like.
pekingese puppy (Goodbye to all Cats; page 143)
Wodehouse owned many pekes over the years: his interest in this breed of dogs seems to have started with his marriage in 1914. Their propensity to produce deafening volumes of sound and aggressiveness towards things many times their size are a running joke throughout the canon.
All Clear (Goodbye to all Cats; page 143)
All clear seems to have originated as a nautical expression indicating that a particular evolution had been completed properly; in the First World War it was used to describe the signal indicating that danger from an air raid had passed, which would be blown on a bugle or similar means. The OED lists Wodehouse as the first to use it in a metaphorical sense, in The Girl on the Boat.
Master of Revels (Goodbye to all Cats; page 144)
Originally the title of a court official, now used loosely for anyone organising an entertainment.
In Elizabethan times, the Master of Revels, deputy to the Lord Chamberlain, headed the Revels Office, the department of the royal household responsible for the coordination of theatrical entertainment at court.
Baronet, stabbed with a paper-knife (Goodbye to all Cats; page 145)
A baronetcy is effectively a hereditary knighthood. There were 856 in existence in 1880. They were mostly created in the first quarter of the 17th century by the Stuarts as a way of raising money for their wars - untitled gentry families were put under heavy pressure to buy baronetcies, in some cases even imprisoned for refusing. The resentment this aroused was one of the factors that led to the Civil War.
Possibly these dubious origins, and the fact that many baronets had their estates in the remote wilds of Ireland, led to the cliché of the bad baronet and hence their ubiquity in crime fiction.
Biggleswade (Goodbye to all Cats; page 145)
The name of a town in Bedfordshire. He seems to be only person of his name in the canon.
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Goodbye to all Cats; page 145)
The SPCA was founded in 1824, after the passing of the first animal protection legislation in Britain. Lady Prenderby must be rather older than we would think, as the Society was given permission by Queen Victoria in 1840 to add the word Royal to its title. The RSPCA maintains a network of inspectors who collect evidence of mistreatment of animals in order to bring offenders to court.
Vivisectionist (Goodbye to all Cats; page 148)
Vivisection is the dissection of living animals for scientific purposes. Among animal rights enthusiasts, the term has long been used to describe all scientific research involving animals, with a built-in implication of deliberate cruelty.
super-catted (Goodbye to all Cats; page 148)
A Wodehouse invention, of course. By analogy with chemical terms like super-fatted, it has to mean provided with cats in excess of the stoichiometric amount.
G.H.Q. (Goodbye to all Cats; page 148)
General Headquarters (military term from the first world war).
half-arm shots (Goodbye to all Cats; page 149)
Cricketing term: a swing of the bat made using a movement of the lower arms, while the upper arms remain more or less static.
hammock (Goodbye to all Cats; page 150)
Many of Wodehouses elderly gentlemen are fond of hammocks. For the hazards of using them at night, see also Buried Treasure.
Lower Smattering on the Wissel (Goodbye to all Cats; page 150)
This village is also the home of the incendiary Sprockett-Sprocketts of The Fiery Wooing of Mordred (also 1934).
There is no river Wissel in Britain, although there is a river Wissey in Norfolk that Wodehouse might have remembered. (Wissel is a Dutch word meaning exchange or switch.) Smattering might possibly come from Mattingley (Hampshire) or Mattishall (Norfolk).
This is a parody of English village names in the same tradition as Kenneth Horne and Richard Murdochs 1944 radio comedy Much Binding in the Marsh.
up milk-train (Goodbye to all Cats; page 150)
In railway terminology, up is towards London, and down away from it. In those days before refrigeration was readily available, the first train of the day would be timed to get milk from Worcestershire farms to the London (or Birmingham) dairies early enough for them to distribute it to their customers in time for breakfast. Many of Wodehouses young men find themselves travelling home on the milk train.
The Luck of the Stiffhams (pp 152 to 175)
Pongo Twistleton (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 152)
(See also Tried in the Furnace, p.38 above)
This is Pongos first appearance, measured by date of first serial publication, but of course it is the second time he appears in Young Men in Spats. Notice that he doesnt seem to have acquired the second Twistleton yet, although it does appear on the final page of this story.
Earl of Wivelscombe (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 152)
Wivelscombe is a village near Saltash, in Cornwall.
Oofy Prosser (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 152)
Oofy Prosser, the wealthiest man in the Drones Club, first appeared in The Knightly Quest of Mervyn (1931).
Oofy is slang for wealthy - from Yiddish auf Tische. According to Norman Murphy, a prosser, in 1890s slang, was someone who lived by borrowing money. I havent been able to find any independent confirmation of this.
Otherwise, Prosser is a Welsh surname (like Prothero, it is an anglicisation of the patronymic Ap Rydderch, i.e. son of Roderick), and the name of a town in Washington state.
Adolphus Stiffham (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 153)
This is his only appearance; he seems to be the only Stiffham in the canon. The name is probably a Wodehouse invention, perhaps based on Swaffham, a town in Norfolk.
The name Adolphus in English is relatively unusual. It is often associated with the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf (1594-1631), who is usually known by the latinised form of his name, Gustavus Adolphus, and is of course regarded as a great Protestant hero for his efforts (largely financed by their co-religionist Richelieu) against the German Catholics in the thirty years war.
Stiffy is early-twentieth-century US slang for a beggar or a naïve or foolish person, either of which could apply in the present case.
Geraldine Spettisbury (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 153)
This is her only appearance; she seems to be the only Spettisbury in the canon.
Spetisbury (the village has only one t, but the nearby Spettisbury Rings have two) is near Blandford Forum in Dorset.
Le Touquet (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 154)
Le Touquet-Paris Plage is a seaside resort in northern France, about 15km south of Boulogne. Still very fashionable in the twenties, although it declined in popularity with the upper classes when they started going to the Riviera in summer as well as winter. It would take about three or four hours to get there by boat from England.
Wodehouse moved to Le Touquet in June 1934, about six months after this story first appeared. He lived there until interned by the Germans in July 1940.
sheet after sheet (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 158)
Since this was before the days of regular transatlantic airmail, Stiffy didnt have to worry too much about going over the weight limit for his five cent stamp.
list of sailings (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 160)
In many places, the post office published a list of departure dates of ships carrying mail in the newspapers, for the convenience of people wishing to know when their letters to distant parts of the world had to be posted (here in Holland, the practice continued until quite recently).
Senator J. Freylinghusen Botts (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 160)
Presumably a reference to the Freylinghuysen family, who have represented New Jersey in the Senate and Congress since 1778. (So much for shaking off the iniquities of hereditary rule!)
Botts is a favourite Wodehouse name, of course.
lurk in the shrubbery (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 161)
This letter-purloining idea is re-used in The Mating Season (1949), of course, and echoes Berties attempt to steal the dictaphone cylinder in Clustering Round Young Bingo.
Gascoigne (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 161)
He is apparentely the only Gascoigne in the canon, apart from Ronald Bracy-Gascoigne in Gala Night (1930).
Possibly the name comes from George Gascoigne (ca.1539-1577), a writer now remembered mostly because he pioneered a surprising number of literary genres in the English language.
Liverpool (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 161)
Most transatlantic liners docked either at Liverpool, in the North of England, or Southampton, on the south coast. It would have taken around four hours to travel from Liverpool Riverside to London Euston in the thirties. (Nowadays passengers travelling on the West Coast Main Line are pleasantly surprised if they ever reach Euston.)
Upton Snodsbury (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 161)
For once, this is actually a real place - a village in Worcestershire, about 10km east of Worcester. However, it has never had a station: the nearest would have been Stoulton, on the GWR between Worcester and Pershore, about 5km south of Upton Snodsbury.
Probably Wodehouse has got confused and used the name of the real village by accident; cf. Market Snodsbury, the town near Aunt Dahlias house, Brinkley Court (Right Ho, Jeeves (1934), etc.).
The time it takes Stiffy to get from Worcester to Upton Snodsbury sounds about right, though, so perhaps Wodehouse did have the real village in mind.
slinging gravel ... tricky business (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 163)
Obviously, Wodehouse cant use his stock joke of the lover gazing adoringly at the wrong window - it would be very odd for Stiffy, having been the Earls secretary, not to know which is Geraldines window - so he has to resort to Stiffys poor aim to get him to do an inadvertent re-enactment of Baxters celebrated flowerpot scene from Leave it to Psmith.
Ferdinand James Delamere (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 163)
It isnt clear from this whether Delamere is Lord Wivelscombes family name, or one of his given names. In the former case, Geraldine must be a stepdaughter - this may explain why she is referred to as Geraldine and not Lady Geraldine.
Delamere is the title of the barony still held by the Cholmondely family, who used to own much of Cheshire, but moved to Kenya around 1900.
Loyal Sons of Worcestershire (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 163)
Possibly fictitious? Nowadays Loyal Sons of... usually denotes either an Orange lodge in Northern Ireland or the alumni group of an American university. Perhaps it might have been a war veterans group. Obviously the only thing that is relevant to the story is that they had a dinner where Wivelscombe overindulged.
All Quiet on the Western Front (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 163)
The film version of Erich Maria Remarques anti-war novel Im Westen nichts neues (1929) appeared in 1930, and is still regarded as one of the most influential films of the early years of sound. Implausibly enough, the whole thing was shot in California. Interesting - since Wivelscombe is probably young enough to have served in the war, and cinemas in those pre-Dolby-surround-sound days could hardly match the sound of a real bombardment - is that Wodehouse chooses this image, rather than saying something like ...to make a man think hes back at Ypres.
Ballindalloch of Portknockie (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 165)
Ballindalloch is a castle on the Spey in Banffshire, and Portknockie is a fishing village on the Moray Firth, also in Scotland.
Ouija board (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 166)
This is one of the best known types of talking board used by spiritualists. It comprises a board marked with letters, numbers, the words yes and no, etc. and a small moving platform or planchette, which is held by the participants. If messages from the spirit world appear, they are indicated by movement of the planchette to the appropriate letters on the board. The name - apparently it was or is a trademark - comes from the fact that a board marked in French and German would have the words oui and ja (yes) at the top left. The name seems to have been around since the mid-19th century.
...a time not to speak of eggs (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 167)
A sudden dislike for eggs, of course, was what caused the departure of Wivelscombes fellow-peer, Lord Worplesdon, for Paris (Jeeves Takes Charge).
The phrasing may be an echo of the to everything there is a season passage from Ecclesiastes.
every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
[Bible Ecclesiastes 3:1-8]
Doctor Spelvin (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 168)
Cf. Rodney Spelvin, the poet who appears in several golfing stories starting with Rodney Fails to Qualify (1924).
George Spelvin is a stage-name traditionally used in the American theatre when an actor for some reason does not wish his name to appear in the programme (e.g. when playing two parts in the same production).
...sitting on Geraldines bed (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 169)
Such is the world of Wodehouse, that there seems nothing remotely improper in Stiffy being unchaperoned in a young ladys bedroom. Of course, they are engaged.
St. Georges, Hanover Square (The Luck of the Stiffhams; page 175)
The parish church for the Mayfair district, and consequently the site of many - if not most - fashionable upper-class marriages. Also famous because of its connections with Handel.
Noblesse Oblige (pp 176 to 202)
In re (Noblesse Oblige; page 176)
Legal Latin: in the matter of
Freddie Widgeon (Noblesse Oblige; page 176)
See p.9 above
Lizards Breath (Noblesse Oblige; page 176)
I havent been able to trace a cocktail of this name, although there seems to be at least one modern brewery making a beer called Lizards Breath. The term seems to be used in the SW of the USA to describe something hot and dry, and it also seems to be used as a play on the name Elizabeth.
seminary (Noblesse Oblige; page 176)
In British usage, a seminary is normally a theological training college. The Bean is using it facetiously here to describe his public school, of course.
racquets courts (Noblesse Oblige; page 176)
Racquets is a game similar to squash, but played in a larger court, and with a hard, very fast, ball. It is played mostly by people who have been to English public schools or the US equivalent.
Foreign Legion ... (Noblesse Oblige; page 176)
The French Foreign Legion was established in 1831, as a volunteer (i.e. not conscripted) force, mainly recruited outside France, to defend French colonial territories, especially in North Africa. Because of its policy of not enquiring too closely into the antecedents of its recruits, it has gained the reputation of somewhere men go to forget.
P.C. Wrens classic Foreign Legion adventure story Beau Geste appeared in 1924, and was first filmed in 1926. The expression cohort of the damned seems to come from Kiplings poem Gentlemen Rankers, published some thirty years earlier. Of course, in the Roman army, there were ten cohorts in a legion.
Anne-Marie Chanet adds:
As well as the "Noblesse oblige" passage, there is the almost identical one in Barmy in Wonderland (ch. 13) : ... Im going to have another drink or two and then go off and join the Foreign Legion, that cohort of the damned where broken men toil and die and, dying, forget. ...
Of course, PGW may have been quoting himself, as he often did. However, I can't help feeling that the broken men (may) toil and die and, dying, forget part must be another quotation, even though I have been unable to identify any plausible source.
A Google search reveals that quite a number of books about the Foreign Legion - novels of the Beau Geste type or more-or-less non-fiction memoirs - were published in the 1920's or circa 1930. For instance :
Bennett J. DOTY, The Legion of the Damned. NY: Century Co. 1928
E. DUPLESIS (or DUPLESSIS?), The Cohort of the Damned (circa 1930)
James M. ARMSTRONG, Legion of Hell (circa 1930).
legion of the lost ones, to the cohort of the damned,
To my brethren in their sorrow overseas,
Sings a gentleman of England cleanly bred, machinely crammed,
And a trooper of the Empress, if you please.
Yea, a trooper of the forces who has run his own six horses,
And faith he went the pace and went it blind,
And the world was more than kin while he held the ready tin,
But to-day the Sergeant's something less than kind.
[Kipling, Rudyard Gentlemen Rankers 1-8]
Lord Blicester (Noblesse Oblige; page 177)
This seems to have been his first appearance. (Garrison erroneously lists him as appearing in Fate.)
The title is fictitious, of course. The joke is that it would most obviously be pronounced to rhyme with Bicester (a town in Oxfordshire), i.e. as "blister." He seems to share many attributes with Bingo Little's uncle, Lord Bittlesham.
Cannes (Noblesse Oblige; page 177)
Cannes is, of course, a celebrated resort of the wealthy on the French Riviera - the Mediterranean coast. Before the war fashionable people went there only to escape the northern winter, preferring Normandy or the Atlantic coast in summer, but by the thirties it had become the fashion to go to the Riviera in the summer months and to the mountains in winter.
In the early 1930s, Wodehouse was living near Auribeau, a little way north of Cannes. He moved to a house near Le Touquet in the north of France in 1934.
Drusilla (Noblesse Oblige; page 178)
Drusilla is a Roman name: its most famous bearers were Livia Drusilla, wife of Augustus and mother of Tiberius (and well-known to anyone who has read Robert Gravess Claudius novels), and Drusilla, daughter of Herod Agrippa, who appears briefly in the Acts of the Apostles as the wife of the Roman procurator, Felix.
Tallulah Bankhead (Noblesse Oblige; page 178)
American actress (1903-1968). Nowadays mostly remembered for her outspoken wit and her outrageous private life, but was a great success on the London stage in the twenties, amongst other things playing the lead in Wodehouses Her Cardboard Lover (1928).
Croisette (Noblesse Oblige; page 178)
The Boulevard de la Croisette runs along the seafront at Cannes. A croisette is a small cross or crucifix.
Peasant Mothers Baby Competition (Noblesse Oblige; page 179)
This sounds so unlikely that one suspects Wodehouse must have translated the title from a real event. Baby competitions and the politics surrounding them feature in various other stories, notably in Uncle Dynamite and Sonny Boy.
Carlton (Noblesse Oblige; page 180)
There is still a Carlton Intercontinental Hotel on the Croisette: presumably the same one.
reach-me-downs (Noblesse Oblige; page 180)
Clothes that have been passed on from someone else; generally old and shabby clothes.
a mille (Noblesse Oblige; page 183)
mille, the French word for a thousand, is pronounced very like the English word meal. Freddie thinks the stranger is asking for a thousand-franc note. (These were old francs, of course; the French knocked two zeros off their currency in 1958.)
thirty bob (Noblesse Oblige; page 184)
Thirty shillings, i.e. one pound fifty in decimal currency.
Ally Pally (Noblesse Oblige; page 185)
The Alexandra Palace in North London opened in 1873. As well as the great hall (which burnt down and was rebuilt shortly after the opening, and again in 1980) there were numerous recreational facilities at various times, including a racecourse. The BBC had a television transmitter in part of the complex from 1935 onwards. Nowadays Alexandra Palace is mainly used as a conference and exhibition centre, though it still has an amusement park.
knitting ... guillotine (Noblesse Oblige; page 188)
The tricoteuses are part of the mythology of the French revolution.
The women who drove the carts usually spent their day on the Place de la Greve, beneath the platform of the guillotine, knitting and gossiping while they watched the rows of tumbrils arriving with the victims the Reign of Terror claimed every day. It was great fun to see the aristos arriving for the reception of Madame la Guillotine, and the places close by the platform were very much sought after. Bibot, during the day, had been on duty on the Place. He recognized most of the old hags- tricoteuses, as they were called- who sat there and knitted while head after head fell beneath the knife and they themselves got quite bespattered with the blood of those cursed aristos.
[Orczy, Baroness The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905) Ch.1]
espèce de (Noblesse Oblige; page 190)
French: type of...
Many French insults begin with this formula.
patois (Noblesse Oblige; page 190)
Dialect. If they really are peasants (more likely near Wodehouses home at Auribeau than in the middle of Cannes), then this would presumably be the local version of Occitan.
Palm Beach (Noblesse Oblige; page 190)
The Palm Beach Casino in Cannes still exists.
three-louis (Noblesse Oblige; page 192)
A louis was originally a gold coin bearing the image of one of the kings of France. After the revolution it came to be used by analogy for the gold twenty-franc pieces with the image of Napoléon, and later simply for a sum of twenty francs. Thus the three-louis table has a minimum stake of sixty francs, or about twelve shillings.
chemmy (Noblesse Oblige; page 192)
Chemin-de-fer: a version of baccarat. Cards are dealt from a shoe containing six packs of 52 cards each. The player who holds the bank (the dealer) plays against the remaining players at the table, acting together. Any of these players can challenge the current dealer and attempt to take over the bank, by matching the dealers stake and saying banco.
Un mille ... Cinquante louis à la banque. Un banco de mille. (Noblesse Oblige; page 193)
A thousand ... Fifty louis in the bank. A banco of a thousand.
Guillotine (Noblesse Oblige; page 194)
The last execution by guillotine in France was on 10 September 1977; executions were public until 1939.
Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin proposed the use of a decapitation machine, similar to devices already in use since the middle ages in other countries including Scotland, to the National Assembly in December 1789, with the aim of removing the inequalities between common criminals and the nobility in the existing arrangements for executions. His idea was rejected and he abandoned it.
When the Legislative Assembly again proposed in 1791 that all executions should be by decapitation, it was Dr Louis of the Academy of Surgeons who designed a workable protoype, differing in several important respects from Guillotin's drawings, and the German piano builder Tobias Schmidt who constructed it. It was thus generally known as a louison or louisette - it was only later that it became associated in the public mind with the name of Guillotin. (Simon Schama, Citizens, 1989, Ch.15; Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 1977)
Contrary to common belief, Dr Guillotin was not executed during the Reign of Terror, but died in 1814.
Devils Island (Noblesse Oblige; page 194)
One of three islands off the coast of French Guiana collectively known as the Iles du Salut (the Salvation Islands). Between 1852 and 1951, they were used by France as a penal colony. The largest, Ile Royale, housed the administrative centre and less dangerous criminals; dangerous criminals were held on Ile St Joseph; Ile du Diable, the smallest (less than 2 sq km in area) and most isolated, was used to house political criminals, the most famous being Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was confined on Devil's Island in terrible conditions from 1895 to 1899. Devil's Island achieved greater notoriety following the 1973 film Papillon, in which Steve McQueen portrayed Henri Charriere, said to be the only prisoner to escape successfully from the island.
trouser-buttons (Noblesse Oblige; page 195)
Before the invention of the zip-fastener, mens modesty was protected by a row of buttons.
The ceremonial snipping off of uniform buttons used to be part of the ritual of dishonourable dismissal from the army. Wodehouse frequently uses this image in ludicrous contexts.
a nine (Noblesse Oblige; page 195)
The maximum score in chemin-de-fer is nine points.
Postlethwaite (Noblesse Oblige; page 201)
There is a boy called Postlethwaite in one of the Tales of Wrykyn, The Politeness of Princes (1905). Miss Postlethwaite is of course the courteous and efficient barmaid of the Anglers Rest in all the Mulliner stories. Postlethwaite is typically a Lancashire surname.
Bingleton (Noblesse Oblige; page 201)
Fictitious as a placename, although it does occur occasionally as a surname. Could perhaps come from Bingley and Ingleton in Yorkshire - if you drew a line from one to the other then Giggleswick School (for example) would be roughly halfway.
Uncle Fred Flits By (pp 203 to 231)
Greek tragedy ... the Fates (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 176)
The collective name for three goddesses who controlled human lives; also called the Moerae or Moirai. Clotho spun the web of life; Lachesis measured its length; and Atropos cut it. Their Roman counterparts were the ParcaeNona, Decuma, and Mortawhile in Norse mythology the Norns had a similar role.
Greek tragedy (generalising hugely) normally involves a chain of inevitable events unleashed by one mistake, often in the form of hubris, or getting above oneself, made by an otherwise essentially good character. The Fates enforced this pattern, although it was mostly their colleagues the Furies who did the actual pursuing.
Pongo Twistleton ... Lord Ickenham (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 204)
Pongo and his uncle, Lord Ickenham, appear together for the first time in this story. Pongo previously appeared solo in The Luck of the Stiffhams and Tried in the Furnace, both in the present collection. They return in Uncle Fred in the Springtime (1939), Uncle Dynamite (1948), Cocktail Time (1958) and Service with a Smile (1962). See Murphy for a biographical sketch of Lord Ickenham.
[Murphy, N. T. P., Reminiscences of the Hon. Galahad Threepwood (1993)]
Ickenham Hall (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 204)
Ickenham is near Uxbridge in Middlesex, on the western fringes of London. It thus has the unusual distinction among Wodehouse names of appearing on the famous London Underground diagram. Wodehouse has moved it to Hampshire (conventionally abbreviated Hants.), on the south coast.
The Albany (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 204)
Built as Melbourne House in 1770 for Lord Melbourne, then sold to the Duke of York, this large house on Piccadilly was extended and turned into chambers (i.e. expensive bachelor flats) in 1803, and has had many famous residents, real and fictional.
excesses ... invariably commits (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 205)
The Crumpets description of Lord Ickenham appears with slight variations in all the subsequent Uncle Fred stories.
step high, wide and plentiful (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 205)
This expression previously appeared in Hot Water (1932), although it is later always associated with Lord Ickenham. It seems to originate with the cowboy phrase high, wide and handsome, which both J. Wellington Gedge (in Glendale) and Ickenham (in his cow-punching days) might well have encountered.
dog races (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 206)
Like the story of Sir Gregory and the prawns, what happened at the dog races is a story Wodehouse never revealed. In Uncle Dynamite we meet the policeman who arrested them on that occasion.
Mitching Hill (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 206)
Fictitious - sounds as though it might have been inspired by Mitcham, a district in South London. Another (real) suburb nearby that is sometimes mentioned in Wodehouse is Tulse Hill, near Wodehouses old school at Dulwich.
Lammas Eve (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 208)
Lammas (originally 1st August, now 12th August) is the ancient festival of first fruits, as well as Juliets birthday.
Lady Capulet (...)
Thou knowst my daughters of a pretty age.
Nurse. Faith, I can tell her age unto an hour.
Lady Cap. Shes not fourteen.
Nurse. Ill lay fourteen of my teeth
And yet to my teen be it spoken I have but four
She is not fourteen. How long is it now
Lady Cap. A fortnight and odd days.
Nurse. Even or odd, of all days in the year,
Come Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen.
[Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet I:v]
general servant (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 209)
Early in the 20th century, lower-middle-class homes that could only afford to employ one servant would have a cook-general who acted as housemaid/parlourmaid as well as running the kitchen. By the thirties, it was becoming less common for this sort of household to have any servants at all, as women found better-paid and less arduous work in offices, shops and factories.
Walkinshaw (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 209)
This seems to be another name that keeps coming back in Wodehouse: there is a Walkinshaw at St Austins, a Captain J.G. Walkinshaw is horsewhipped in The Ordeal of Osbert Mulliner (1928), and Walkinshaws Supreme Ointment is mentioned in Something Fresh and Without the Option
[Garrison, Daniel H., Whos Who in Wodehouse (1991) ]
lit the gas-fire (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 210)
Gas would probably still have been a more expensive fuel than coal for heating, but a gas-fire might well have been a necessary concession in a suburban household that wanted to keep a servant, or even a status symbol.
The Law of Great Britain (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 211)
Wodehouse is using this term loosely: strictly-speaking there is no such thing. There are separate legal systems covering England and Wales on the one hand and Scotland on the other.
reading for the Bar (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 211)
Training to become a barrister. In modern British terminology, lawyers are divided into two groups: solicitors and barristers. Only the latter are allowed to appear as advocates at the Bar, before the higher courts.
The usual way to qualify for the Bar is to take an academic law degree at University, followed by a period of practical training in an Inn of Court.
tort (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 211)
A civil wrong. The owner of the house could probably sue them for the tort of trespass, but he would only be able to claim damages for any material loss caused by their actions. So far, that would be limited to the cost of the gas Uncle Fred has used. The owner of the pet shop might have a better case, as he could sue them for misrepresentation, arguing that they are prejudicing his business by impersonating him.
misdemeanour (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 211)
No longer has a technical meaning in English law, but before 1967 referred to criminal offences of types considered less serious than felonies. Since they have been admitted by the servant, they probably cant be prosecuted for being in the house; they might be committing an offence in obtaining entry by deception, but presumably only if they can be proved to have done so with the intention of committing a crime.
barratry (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 211)
A name for various arcane offences, in particular: (i) fraud, theft or malicious damage to a ship or its cargo by the captain or crew without the owners consent; (ii) travelling abroad to purchase ecclesiastical offices (simony) from the Bishop of Rome; and (iii) persistently indulging in vexatious litigation. In Scotland it can also mean attempting to bribe a judge.
It would be difficult for Pongo or Uncle Fred to do most of these things.
soccage in fief (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 211)
Socage is an obsolete term for the feudal tenure of land other than by knight-service; land held in fief was held by service to a feudal overlord, so socage in fief is almost a contradiction in terms.
pianola (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 211)
The Pianola was invented by Edwin S. Votey in 1895, and marketed by the Aeolian company. It uses suction, produced by a pedal-driven pump, to operate piano keys, to play a sequence of notes stored on a punched tape. The operator can control the volume of the sound by altering the rate of pedalling.
The origins of the phrase try that on your pianola seem to be obscure, but it crops up quite often in various forms, normally as here in the ironic sense of see how you like that.
ratepayer (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 211)
Local property taxes in Britain used to be called rates (before Mrs Thatchers Poll Tax fiasco) so a ratepayer is a householder.
Roddis (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 211)
The only occurrence of this name in the canon (still, he is invoked in practically all the Uncle Fred stories, so he gets his moneys worth). Seems to be a surname associated with the East Midlands.
Robinson (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 212)
Although this is a very common name in Britain, Wodehouse doesnt use it much - apart from the Drones Club cloakroom attendant (The Amazing Hat Mystery) and the Pink Chap, Garrison lists only the station taxi driver at Market Blandings and a couple of characters in the early school stories. It was also, we learn in later books, the name Uncle Fred supplied to the constabulary on that infamous day at the dog races. (George Robinson of 14 Nasturtium Road, East Dulwich, to be exact.)
got it thoroughly up his nose (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 213)
This is presumably some arcane horse-racing image, rather than a reference to cocaine.
Julia Parker (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 213)
Garrison lists at least a dozen Parkers apart from those who appear in this story, mostly minor characters. In at least one story, Julia Ukridges butler changes his name from Barker to Parker.
Me and her father (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 214)
The Pink Chap is establishing his perceived social inferiority to the Roddises by committing this minor linguistic solecism. The lower-middle-classes in England were always famously nervous about making this sort of mistake, as a result of which people like the Roddises probably spoke more correct English than those like Uncle Fred who were firmly established in their social position.
adagio (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 214)
An Italian musical term describing a slow, leisurely, tempo. Wodehouse is evidently referring to adagio dancers, a common music hall act in his youth, who would perform movements derived from classical dance, including leaps such as that of the Pink Chap.
try to smell of iodoform (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 215)
Iodoform is the old name for triiodomethane (CHI3). It is a yellow solid with a strong, unpleasant odour. It was formerly used as an antiseptic (not an anaesthetic).
pippin ... most exact sense (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 216)
A joke - the word pippin has many senses, but the only one in modern English that could be called exact is when it refers to certain varieties of apples grown from seed. The sense in which Pongo uses the word - to describe someone or something outstanding - dates back to the 1890s, and seems to have come from the USA.
Lauras sister Connie (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 216)
As the story goes on, Connies resemblance to Lord Emsworths lorgnette-wielding sister becomes more and more pronounced.
boys of the old brigade (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 217)
An Irish song commemorating the Easter Rising of 1916. There seem to be a number of different versions of the text around; possibly it might be an Irish adaptation of an older army song with the same title.
Where are the lads who stood with me When history was made?
Oh, gra mo chroi I long to see The Boys of the Old Brigrade
"Oh father, why are you so sad, on this bright Easter morn?
When Irishmen are proud and glad Of this land where they were born."
"Oh, son, I see sad mem'ries view Of far-off distant days,
When, being just a boy like you, I joined the old brigade.
In hills and farms the call to arms Was heard by one and all,
And from the glens came brave young men To answer Ireland's call.
'Twas long ago we faced the foe, The old brigade and me,
But by my side they fought and died That Ireland might be free.
And now, my boy, I've told you why On Easter morn I sigh
For I recall my comrades all From dark old days gone by,
I think of men who fought in glens With rifles and grenade
May heaven keep the men who sleep From the ranks of the old brigade.
[Paddy McGuigan (??? sometimes said to be traditional) Boys of the Old Brigade ]
he jellies eels (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 218)
Jellied eels are a famous speciality of the East End of London. Wodehouse frequently uses them to stand for working-class East End culture. Uncle Freds fellow Pelican, Gally, is often said to have associated with bookies, jellied-eel sellers and three-card-trick men in his younger days.
Fresh eels are skinned and boned, then stewed until tender and served cold in a jelly. There seem to be two, much-copied, recipes around on the internet, one of which uses added gelatine and one of which claims that the eels form their own jelly.
Ramsay MacDonald (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 219)
James Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937), a founder member of the Labour Party, and Britains first Labour Prime Minister (Jan-Oct 1924). Formed another minority Labour government in 1929, and continued as Prime Minister of the coalition government from 1931-1935. Although he came from a working-class background, he was a Scotsman, so he might well have lacked experience of eel-jellying.
Winston Churchill (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 219)
Churchill (1874-1965) had been Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) in Baldwins Conservative government of 1925-1929, but was out of office at the time this story was published. Although his hobbies ranged from bricklaying to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, there doesnt seem to be any record of him jellying eels. Of course, Churchill was the grandson of a duke, and - at least in Wodehouse - it was not unknown for near relatives of dukes to sell onion soup, so perhaps we shouldnt rule it out completely...
Wilberforce (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 219)
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. The boxer Battling Billson in the Ukridge stories is also called Wilberforce.
This doesnt 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.
Charlie Parker (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 219)
The celebrated jazz musician Charlie Parker (1920-1955) had only just started to play the saxophone when this story appeared, so the coincidence of names is certainly not intentional.
the ivy on the old garden wall (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 220)
watch the ivy on that old garden wall
Clinging so tightly what eer may befall;
As you grow older Ill be constant and true,
And just like the ivy Ill cling to you.
[A. J. Mills & Harry Castling Just Like the Ivy ]http://ingeb.org/songs/justlike.html
...cousin Alf Robbins and all that (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 221)
Seems to be an echo of the popular 18th century ballad, Widdicombe Fair.
TOM PEARSE, Tom Pearse, lend me your grey mare,
All along, down along, out along, lee.
For I want for to go to Widdicombe Fair,
Wi Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney, Peter Davy,
Danl Whiddon, Harry Hawk,
Old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all.
[Anonymous Widdicombe Fair ll.1-6]
Bull terrier ... Airedale ...Kerry Blue (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 221)
Three popular breeds of terriers. They were originally bred for hunting, and tend to be rather belligerent dogs. Airedales come from Yorkshire, and Kerry Blues from Ireland, obviously.
Pommery Seven ... gurgles and explosions (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 222)
Cars in Wodehouse are often called (something) Seven after the famous Austin Seven, the first really successful small car in Britain, made in many different versions from 1922 until the war. Pommery is a well-known champagne producer, of course, so the gurgles and explosions seem to have come by association of ideas.
milk walk (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 225)
Until quite recently, most town-dwellers in Britain had milk delivered every morning. In the thirties, milkmen mostly used a handcart or a horse-drawn milk-float to take their milk to the customer (after the war, many went over to electric vehicles). A milkman would guard his delivery route and customers jealously, and hope to sell them on to a successor when he retired.
a tithe (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 225)
A tenth. Tithes were originally a tax of 10% on agricultural produce used to pay the local priest.
cerise (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 225)
Not so much pink as deep, purplish red (cherry colour).
Napoleon at Moscow (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 227)
Napoleons attempt to invade Russia in 1812 was defeated as much by the winter weather as by the Russian army. He lost the greater part of the 400 000 men he set out with in the course of the retreat from Moscow.
Liberty Hall (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 227)
A place where one may do as one pleases. From Oliver Goldsmiths play, She Stoops to Conquer. (1773)
mazzard (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 227)
The head: by analogy to mazer - a drinking bowl.
Knockt about the Mazard with a Sextons Spade.
[Shakespeare, William (1564-1616) Hamlet v. i. 97]
demi-mondaine (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 227)
French: a woman who owes her position in upper-class society solely to the fact that she has a wealthy lover.
Leicester Grill (Uncle Fred Flits By; page 230)
If it was a real place, it doesnt seem to exist any more. Murphy doesnt mention it.
Archibald and the Masses (pp 232 to 260)
mangel-wurzel (Archibald and the Masses; page 232)
(more commonly mangold-wurzel) A type of beet, grown for cattle food. Often used in Wodehouse as shorthand for obscure country matters.
Caesars wife (Archibald and the Masses; page 232)
Normally the saying is Caesars wife must be above suspicion - according to Suetonius, Julius Caesar divorced his wife Pompeia in 61 BC, not because she was guilty, but because she was suspected of an affair.
Still, given what we know of the domestic life of the Caesars, their wives would have needed to be ready for anything.
Small Bass (Archibald and the Masses; page 232)
It would be nice to think that the Anglers Rest welcomed fish in the bar, but Bass is the name of an English brewery, one of the earliest to produce beer in bottles. The red triangle on the Bass bottle is famous as the first trademark to be registered in Britain, and occurs in Manets painting A Bar at the Follies Bergère (as reproduced in all books on intellectual property law).
Archibald (Archibald and the Masses; page 233)
Archibald Mulliner previously appeared in The Reverent Wooing of Archibald (1928) and The Code of the Mulliners (also 1935). Mentioned in The Knightly Quest of Mervyn (1931).
Aurelia Cammarleigh (Archibald and the Masses; page 233)
Appeared with Archibald in The Reverent Wooing of Archibald (1928) and The Code of the Mulliners (also 1935). Her name may perhaps come from Roy Hornimans novel Lord Cammarleigh's Secret: A Fairy Story of To-Day (1907).
Meadowes (Archibald and the Masses; page 235)
There are at least three valets called Meadowes in the canon: the sock-sneaker Bertie has just sacked when Jeeves Takes Charge; Gussies valet in The Mating Season; and Archibalds man.
Theres also Meadows, butler to the ugly mayor in Romance of a Bulb-Squeezer. Reggie Pepper has a friend called Freddie Meadowes who appears in two stories.
[Garrison, Daniel H., Whos Who in Wodehouse (1991) ]
Bottleton East (Archibald and the Masses; page 235)
Bottleton (sometimes, as here, "Bottleton East") is a fictitious working-class district of the East End of London that is mentioned in many of Wodehouse's stories. The suffix - "East" - makes one suspect that Wodehouse might have had somewhere like Stratford East in mind.
League for the dawn of freedom (Archibald and the Masses; page 235)
Cf. the Heralds of the Red Dawn in Comrade Bingo (1922).
the basic fundamentals of the principles governing distribution (Archibald and the Masses; page 237)
I didnt find this exact phrase, although at least the latter part of it appears in many texts about economics.
Basic fundamentals is intended as a joke, of course, but has now become so common that we no longer even stop to ask ourselves what other sorts of fundamentals there might be when we see it.
Economics is broadly defined as the study of principles governing the allocation of scarce productive resources among alternative uses and the principles governing distribution of the resulting product.
[Onondaga Community College, Syracuse NY Prospectus for course ECO204]http://www.sunyocc.edu/~panagakj/eco204.htm
Park ... Marble Arch Gate (Archibald and the Masses; page 237)
Hyde Park was bought as a deer park by Henry VIII. It was opened to the public in 1662, although part of the park continued to be a royal hunting preserve for the next hundred years. The right to free speech and assembly in the park was established after the unrest surrounding the passing of the Reform Bill of 1866, and survives in the institution of Speakers Corner, at the Marble Arch (north-east) corner of the park, where Park Lane meets Oxford Street.
The Marble Arch is a large, ornamental archway, designed by John Nash, which now forms one of the entrances to Hyde Park, although it was originally part of Buckingham Palace.
Brotherhood of Man (Archibald and the Masses; page 237)
This idea goes back at least to the Stoics and early Christians of the Hellenistic period, of course, if not all the way back to Plato. It became the slogan of revolutions in the 18th century, was identified with Socialist ideas in the 19th, and won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1976. As many people have observed, those who talk about the brotherhood of man generally do so at the expense of the sisterhood of woman.
Mottled Earwig (Archibald and the Masses; page 237)
The chain by which Wodehouse formed his nightclub names is hard to follow, but this one is obviously linked in one direction to the Scarlet Centipede (Came the Dawn) and in the other to the Mottled Oyster and the Startled Shrimp (Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit), and hence to the Happy Prawn (Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin).
(see the Browsing and Sluicing Guide)
one over the eight (Archibald and the Masses; page 237)
Drunk. British military slang, apparently deriving from the old idea that eight pints of beer was the maximum a soldier could safely drink without impairing his efficiency.
Stalin (Archibald and the Masses; page 238)
Joseph Vissiaronovich Dzhugashvili (1879-1953), known as Stalin, became a member of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik party in 1912, and General Secretary in 1922. He became head of state on Lenins death in 1924. During the thirties he instituted an increasingly paranoid series of political purges, to eliminate all possible political opposition to his rule. At the time when this story appeared, he was still trying to build an alliance with Britain and France against Hitler.
Maxton (Archibald and the Masses; page 238)
James Maxton (1885-1946) Scottish teacher, trade unionist and socialist politician (his activities in Glasgow during the first world war may have been the model for some of the incidents in John Buchans novels). Became an MP for the Independent Labour Party in 1922, becoming leader of the ILP in 1926. He was a firm critic of Ramsay MacDonald, and was responsible for the ILP breaking away from the Labour Party after they entered a coalition with Baldwin in 1931. Famous for the persuasiveness of his oratory.
Sidney, Lord Passfield (Archibald and the Masses; page 238)
Sidney Webb (1859-1947) and his wife Beatrice were friends of George Bernard Shaw and leading members of the Fabian Society in the 1880s and 90s. He was a civil service clerk and college lecturer, she the daughter of a wealthy industrialist.
As well as producing a huge amount of social and political research, they were heavily involved in reorganising London University, founding the LSE and the New Statesman, establishing the London County Council, etc.
Sidney was elected to parliament in 1922, and served as a minister under Ramsay MacDonald. In 1929, he was made Baron Passfield (Passfield was the village in Hampshire where the Webbs had their country retreat). At the time this story appeared they were rather less creditably engaged in writing a book eulogising Soviet Communism.
spat (Archibald and the Masses; page 238)
A piece of cloth or leather covering the ankle and part of the shoe and buttoned on the side. Spatterdashes were long gaiters or leggings worn when riding to protect the breeches and stockings from mud (mainly 18th century). Spats were literally short spatterdashes - a 19th century adaptation to keep mud off your shoes and socks in city streets. With paved streets and the decreasing use of horses in city traffic they became purely decorative by the early 20th century. They fell out of favour when fashionable young men started wearing shoes instead of ankle boots, largely due to the fashion influence of the Prince of Wales.
Béarnaise Sauce (Archibald and the Masses; page 238)
A sauce made from butter, vinegar and egg yolks, and flavoured with tarragon and shallots. It is often served with meat dishes.
proletariat (Archibald and the Masses; page 238)
In ancient Rome, the proletariat was the lowest level of society. Marx used the term to describe exploited workers who depend on the sale of their labour to survive.
dekko (Archibald and the Masses; page 239)
A look - British army slang, from dekho, imperative of the Hindi verb to look.
Sir Stafford Cripps (Archibald and the Masses; page 239)
British lawyer and politician (1889-1952). He had held office as solicitor-general in 1930-31, and was to hold important ministerial posts during and after the second world war, but in the mid-30s he was best known as a left-wing dissident in the Labour party, annoying Labour moderates by making speeches advocating closer links with the Communist party, denouncing the League of Nations as a capitalist conspiracy, and urging military action against fascism. Also mentioned in The Luck of the Bodkins, Ch.20.
36A Park Street (Archibald and the Masses; page 239)
Park Street in Mayfair is parallel to and just east of Norfolk Street (now called Dunraven Street), where Wodehouse lived at various times in the 20s and 30s.
Third Internationalist (Archibald and the Masses; page 240)
The Third International, or Comintern, was established in 1919 under the presidency of Zinoviev. Its aim was to ensure that Communists, rather than Socialists, would be the dominant force in left-wing politics worldwide. It was dissolved by Stalin during the second world war.
If Meadowes really was a Socialist, he should take offence at being described as a Third Internationalist.
hop-scotch (Archibald and the Masses; page 241)
A childrens game, involving hopping or jumping so that your feet land in various numbered squares, chalked on the pavement, in a particular sequence. The rules vary extensively from place to place.
National Liberal Club (Archibald and the Masses; page 241)
One of the leading Liberal political clubs, founded at Whitehall Place in 1882. It seems unlikely that hopscotch would be played there, even on Guest Night.
quartern loaf (Archibald and the Masses; page 242)
A four-pound (two-kilo) loaf of bread. Rather a large dose for the average small child!
all-day sucker (Archibald and the Masses; page 242)
A giant lollipop.
jujube (Archibald and the Masses; page 242)
A fruit lozenge (originally so-called because they were flavoured with the fruit of the zizyphus tree). Sold as cough remedies or as sweets.
Goose and Gherkin (Archibald and the Masses; page 244)
Cf. note to p 41 (Tried in the Furnace) above - there are at least nine pubs in the canon with Goose in the name. Here in Bottleton East there is also the Green Goose, which Freddie Widgeon visited in The Masked Troubadour.
Clarence Greaseley (Archibald and the Masses; page 244)
Doesnt seem to appear elsewhere. There are places called Greasley in Cheshire and Nottinghamshire.
Madame Récamier (Archibald and the Masses; page 245)
Juliette Récamier (1777-1849), celebrated for her beauty (see the portrait by Jacques-Louis David in the Louvre) and as one of the most important Paris hostesses of the Napoleonic period. She had a famous liaison with Chateaubriand.
apostolic claims of the church of Abyssinia (Archibald and the Masses; page 246)
The Abyssinian (Ethiopian) church was founded by St Frumentius in 326. Frumentius was ordained by Athanasius, who as Primate of Alexandria could claim Apostolic succession from St Mark.
Ferraro at the Berkeley (Archibald and the Masses; page 250)
The Berkeley Hotel on the corner of Piccadilly and Berkeley Street started life as the Gloucester Coffee House in 1736. It became the Berkeley Hotel in 1897, and was acquired and much extended by DOyly Carte in 1901. The hotel closed in 1969 and moved to a new building in Wilton Place.
Ferraro was presumably the head-waiter.
as the hart pants ... (Archibald and the Masses; page 250)
As pants the hart for cooling streams
When heated in the chase,
So longs my soul, O God, for Thee
And Thy refreshing grace.
[Tate, Nahum and Brady, Nicholas (hymn, based on Psalm 42) 1696]
Cork Street (Archibald and the Masses; page 253)
In Mayfair, just off Bond Street, and practically within Brazil nut range of the Drones Club in Dover Street.
Constable C-44 (Archibald and the Masses; page 258)
C Division of the Metropolitan Police had responsibility for the Mayfair and Soho areas.
without the op. (Archibald and the Masses; page 259)
Without the option of a fine.
The Code of the Mulliners (pp 261 to 286)
East Balham Bootles (The Code of the Mulliners; page 261)
Balham is a district of South London (Goon show fans will remember Peter Sellerss famous Balham, Gateway to the South). There doesnt seem to be a distinct area called East Balham - if you go east from Balham you end up in Streatham Hill.
Bootle is on the Mersey, just north of Liverpool.
breach-of-promise case (The Code of the Mulliners; page 261)
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. An action for breach of contract was a civil law matter.
In an action for breach of promise, 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).
Nova Scotia ... wasnt British (The Code of the Mulliners; page 261)
As Wodehouse was living mostly in France at the time, he might have been aware of the French expression filer à langlaise, to take French leave.
The Half of Stout is correct in another sense, of course: Nova Scotia had been part of the self-governing Dominion of Canada since 1867. There doesnt seem to be any special reason for the choice of Nova Scotia here - probably it just came to mind because many boats from Britain to Canada had Halifax as their destination.
Kew (The Code of the Mulliners; page 264)
Leafy suburb on the Thames, west of London, famous as the site of the Botanic Gardens.
Lady (Wilhelmina) Mulliner (The Code of the Mulliners; page 264)
As the widow of a knight, she has the courtesy title Lady Mulliner; putting her name in parentheses makes it clear that she isnt the daughter of a peer (in which case she would be called Lady Wilhelmina).
Sir Sholto Mulliner, M.V.O. (The Code of the Mulliners; page 264)
Sholto appears occasionally as a given name in Scotland. Wodehouse may have got it from Major Sholto in Conan Doyles The Sign of Four.
M.V.O. indicates that Sir Sholto was a Member of the Royal Victorian Order. This is a distinction usually awarded for personal service to the royal household.
Somerset Maugham (The Code of the Mulliners; page 266)
William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965). He was an amazingly prolific and financially successful writer, making a fortune especially from the plays he wrote in the early part of his career. However, for Wodehouse to mock him for this sounds rather like the pot calling the kettle black!
Pommery Seven (The Code of the Mulliners; page 267)
Pongo Twistleton-Twistleton also drives one of these - see Uncle Fred Flits By, p.222.
Jane Todmarsh (The Code of the Mulliners; page 267)
Doesnt seem to appear anywhere else. Her name is perhaps reminiscent of Hash Todhunter in Sam the Sudden.
Hitchin (The Code of the Mulliners; page 267)
A town in Hertfordshire, about 50km north of London.
Milly Salt (The Code of the Mulliners; page 267)
There is a Peter Salt in the Kid Brady stories, and Gloria Salt in Pigs Have Wings.
Hypatia Sloggett (The Code of the Mulliners; page 267)
Sloggett is a moderately common name, possibly originally associated with Devon? It doesnt seem to appear elsewhere in Wodehouse. Hypatia was a 5th century Alexandrian philosopher and mathematician, famous for her beauty and learning.
Dora Trevis (The Code of the Mulliners; page 268)
Roland Trevis is the long-haired amateur composer of The Rose of America in Jill the Reckless.
Rochester-Wapshott (The Code of the Mulliners; page 268)
Rochester is in Kent. For obvious reasons, Wodehouse would not have wanted to say on the eve of becoming Mrs Rochester.
The name Wapshott also occurs in Feet of Clay and Ukridge and the Home From Home. It is the name of a farm near Woking.
Sir Rackstraw Cammarleigh (The Code of the Mulliners; page 268)
For Cammarleigh, see Archibald and the Masses above.
Rackstraw, surprisingly enough, is a real surname, not least as the name of an old-established firm of Worcestershire cabinet-makers. However, Wodehouse must surely have been thinking of Ralph Rackstraw in H.M.S. Pinafore.
ex-proconsul (The Code of the Mulliners; page 268)
Proconsul was the Roman term for a provincial governor. Since Wodehouse senior was a colonial magistrate, there must have been many men of this type in their circle of friends after his retirement. Cf. also characters like Sir Aylmer Bostock (Uncle Dynamite).
Bagshot, the butler (The Code of the Mulliners; page 269)
Cf. Bingo and Rosie Littles butler Bagshaw, Gallys late friend Boko Bagshott (Heavy Weather, etc.), etc. Butler names in B make up about a quarter of the list in Garrisons Appendix II.
[Garrison, Daniel H., Whos Who in Wodehouse (1991) ]
George Bates and the rhinoceros (The Code of the Mulliners; page 270)
Bates is another favourite Wodehouse name. This incident seems to be a version of the anecdote about W.S. Gilbert and his long-suffering butler that Wodehouse tells in Over Seventy.
...chews tenpenny nails and swallows broken bottles (The Code of the Mulliners; page 273)
A tenpenny nail is three inches long - in medieval times they cost ten (old) pence a hundred.
Cf. Aunt Agatha, who chews broken bottles and wears barbed wire next to the skin.
Isadore McCallum (The Code of the Mulliners; page 273)
Seems to be the only McCallum in the canon. Cf. Isadore Abrahams, manager of the dance-club in The Adventures of Sally, Isadore Baermann, the MC in At Geisenheimers, and the movie tycoon Isadore Zinzinheimer (Came the Dawn). Presumably Wodehouse wants to suggest that the theatrical agent is both Jewish and a Scotsman.
Cf. Jeeves and the Greasy Bird for another version of this technique for escaping from an engagement.
Number Two towns (The Code of the Mulliners; page 275)
If a show had two touring companies, then the first one would visit the most important and lucrative towns, and the second, less expensive, company would play the smaller places.
Leicester Argus (The Code of the Mulliners; page 275)
Probably fictitious: Nowadays, the local paper in Leicester is the Mercury.
Twisted Lives (The Code of the Mulliners; page 276)
Again, probably fictitious, but it certainly sounds as though it should be the title of a melodrama. There is at least one recent crime novel with this title, as well as a book by D.L. Loddon, published in 1936, shortly after this story.
Bodega (The Code of the Mulliners; page 276)
In The Level Business Head we were told that the Bodega is in Bedford Street, WC2, which is a side-street of The Strand, in the Covent Garden district of London, handy for theatrical agents. This is still an area with many wine-bars and restaurants. It is not very far from the former site of Romano's, the restaurant favoured by the members of the Pelican Club.
A bodega is a Spanish grocery or wine-shop. Outside Spain, it normally means a basement wine-bar with bullfight posters and flamenco music.
Huddersfield (The Code of the Mulliners; page 276)
Huddersfield is a town in West Yorkshire, formerly known for manufacturing dyes, shoddy and mungo, now more famous for its annual contemporary music festival. The joke is that one would be unlikely to find many bad baronets in the teashops of Huddersfield, of course. Cf. Ukridge and the Home from Home.
Yvonne Maltravers (The Code of the Mulliners; page 277)
There are no other entries in Garrison for Maltravers. It is an English surname with vaguely aristocratic associations, much used by writers from Bulwer Lytton to Gordon Gribbin...
Presumably we are supposed to assume that it is a stage name.
Bexhill Gazette (The Code of the Mulliners; page 277)
Bexhill is a seaside town in Sussex. There is a Bexhill News and a Bexhill-on-Sea Observer.
The Hand of Doom (The Code of the Mulliners; page 277)
Another good melodrama title. The British Library lists only one book of this title, by James Morgan Walsh, published in 1927.
Its the duty of all of us... (The Code of the Mulliners; page 278)
Wodehouse enjoys a good mixed metaphor - this is a nice three-layer example.
Middlesbrough (The Code of the Mulliners; page 278)
Another manufacturing town in the North of England. Aurelia might be excused for wondering why Archibald would have been there in the first place.
Bertram Lushington (The Code of the Mulliners; page 278)
Lushington is a real English surname (Vernon Lushington was a friend of the painter William Holman Hunt).
However, it is mostly used as a generic name for a drunk, probably from the name of an 18th century London actors drinking club, the City of Lushington.
His Forgotten Bride (The Code of the Mulliners; page 278)
This play is also mentioned in Laughing Gas, Ch.17. The British Library doesnt list anything with this exact title, although there are a number of more recent books called The Forgotten Bride (the oldest being from 1944). (The same applies to the Library of Congress.)
One of the legends in the Mahabarata, the story of Dushyanta and Shakuntala, is sometimes called The Forgotten Bride.
Marquis of Hampshire ... Daily Tribune (The Code of the Mulliners; page 281)
The peers and papers named are fictitious, but a number of penniless aristocrats did write gossip columns in the twenties and thirties. The most celebrated were the Marquess of Donegall (who appears as the Marquess of Vanburgh in Evelyn Waughs Vile Bodies), and Lord Castlerosse (Londoners Log in the Sunday Express).
[David Cannadine, The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy (1992), p.405]
downstage O.P. entrance (The Code of the Mulliners; page 284)
In a theatre, downstage is the part of the stage nearest the audience. The prompter usually sits to the actor's left. Thus Prompt Side is left and Off Prompt (OP) right as seen by the performers.
Shepherds Bush (The Code of the Mulliners; page 284)
In West London, between Hammersmith and North Kensington. Now well-known as the site of the BBCs television centre.
puma of the African hinterlands (The Code of the Mulliners; page 284)
Pumas, of course, are only found in the Americas. Cf. Money in the Bank for more displaced wildlife.
The Fiery Wooing of Mordred (pp 287 to 312)
Mordred (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 288)
A curious choice of name, as Mordred is normally represented as one of the villains of the Arthurian legend: Arthurs son and/or nephew, who plots against him, and seizes the kingdom in Arthurs absence, and is eventually killed by him in battle.
Annabelle Sprockett-Sprockett (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 288)
Surely one of Wodehouses best and most memorable names? It had first suggested itself in the form of Ebenezer Sprockett in Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend (1928), and reappeared in slightly attenuated form with Lulabelle Sprockett in Feet of Clay (1950).
Sprockett seems to be a real surname.
Sir Murgatroyd and Lady Sprockett-Sprockett (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 288)
Murgatroyd was a name Wodehouse often used for characters mentioned in passing - it is one of those names that seems to fit equally well to aristocrats or to butlers and stablemen. The only important character with the surname Murgatroyd is the red-haired Mabel.
Murgatroyd is originally a West Yorkshire name. The place formerly known as Moorgateroyd lies near Luddendenfoot in Calderdale (a royd was a clearing in a wood).
Baronets called Murgatroyd famously appear in Gilbert & Sullivans Ruddigore, or the Witchs Curse (1887).
Smattering Hall (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 288)
See the note on Lower Smattering on the Wissel above (Goodbye to All Cats, p.150).
Tattler (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 289)
The Tatler is a gossipy periodical founded by Steele and Addison in 1709, and still in existence (it now belongs to Condé Nast).
Punch (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 289)
The great Victorian comic journal was founded in London in 1841, and included many of the greatest writers and illustrators of the 19th century among its contributors. Later on, Wodehouse often wrote for Punch.
The magazine closed down in 1992. It was revived by Mohammed Al-Fayed in 1996, but folded again in May 2002, although the website and archive continue to exist.
...afternoon post the next day (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 291)
Nowadays he would be even more astonished to receive a letter the day after it was posted.
wheels ... were singing Sprockett-Sprockett (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 293)
This suggests that the train Mordred was travelling on was a quite unusually old-fashioned one, with two-axle coaches. Bogie coaches running over jointed track produce quite a different rhythm, more like clickety-clack, i.e. with the stress on the first and last beats. It is just about conceivable that there were still remote branch lines where two-axle coaches could be found in the early thirties. Three-axle coaches might have managed Annabelle, but these were never common in Britain.
Smattering-cum-Blimpstead-in-the-Vale (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 293)
Cum in a placename usually indicates that two or more ecclesiastical parishes have been joined.
From Goodbye to All Cats we know that Lower Smattering on the Wissel has a station with trains to London. Presumably this means that Smattering Hall, although its postal address is Lower Smattering on the Wissel, is actually nearer to the station of Smattering-cum-Blimpstead-in-the-Vale. This is not so surprising: rural stations tend to be some way away from the villages they claim to serve.
Captain Biffing (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 294)
There are several Biffens in the canon, but this seems to be the only Biffing.
Jack Guffington (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 294)
Seems to be the only example of this name in the canon. Guffington seems to occur very occasionally in real life as a variant of Buffington.
Grand National (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 294)
The Grand National is a steeplechase which has been held at Aintree, near Liverpool, since 1839. It is probably the most famous event in the British horse-racing calendar. The notoriously difficult jumps have claimed the lives of many horses and riders. It was originally organised by the famous Liverpool sporting promoter, William Lynn, of the Waterloo Hotel (he of the Waterloo Cup hare-coursing event).
Formerly, it was quite common for gentlemen, especially army officers, to ride as amateur jockeys.
Ted Prosser (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 294)
Ted is a conventional abbreviated form of Edward.
Oofy Prosser, the wealthiest man in the Drones Club, first appeared in The Knightly Quest of Mervyn (1931), and is in The Luck of the Stiffhams in the present collection. There is also an Angela Prosser, one of the hockey players in The Luck of the Bodkins.
According to Norman Murphy, a prosser, in 1890s slang, was someone who lived by borrowing money. I havent been able to find any independent confirmation of this.
Otherwise, Prosser is a Welsh surname (like Prothero, it is an anglicisation of the patronymic Ap Rydderch, i.e. son of Roderick), and the name of a town in Washington state.
Freddie Boot (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 294)
He is the only Boot in the canon, but there is a Clarissa Boote in Unpleasantness at Kozy Kot (1958). For more Boots, see Evelyn Waughs Scoop (1937). The most famous Boot in Britain was certainly Jesse Boot (b.1850) the Nottingham herbalist who built up a chain of pharmacies covering the whole of the UK, and achieved a near-monopoly of the retail phamaceutical trade.
Tommy Mainprice (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 294)
Seems to be the only Mainprice, though there are a number of Mainwarings in the canon.
Algy Fripp (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 294)
Again, seems to be the only Fripp in the canon.
Clark Gable (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 295)
William Clark Gable (1901-1960), American film actor, best known for his portrayal of tough, romantic heroes. One of his most famous films, Mutiny on the Bounty, was released shortly before this story was published; Gone with the Wind was still a couple of years in the future.
Loyal Sons of Worcestershire (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 308)
Cf. p.163 above: Lord Wivelscombe (The Luck of the Stiffhams) is also a member of this organisation.
paraffin (The Fiery Wooing of Mordred ; page 310)
The liquid fuel mostly used for things like lamps and heaters, usually called kerosene in the US.