This is part of an ongoing effort by the members of the Blandings Yahoo! Group to document references, allusions, quotations, etc., in the works of P. G. Wodehouse.

Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen has been annotated by Neil Midkiff, with contributions from others as noted below.

Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen was first published in October 1974, by Barrie & Jenkins, London, and on 14 April 1975, by Simon & Schuster, New York, under the title of The Cat-Nappers.




These annotations and their page numbers relate to the UK Barrie & Jenkins edition, in which the text covers pp. 5–176.


Chapter 1

spots on my chest (p. 5)

As Bertie will soon recall, Tipton Plimsoll had had a similar experience in Full Moon (1947).

the Toreador song from the opera Carmen (p. 5)

Bertie is singing an operatic selection, rather higher on the cultural scale than most of his numbers. It is one of the most widely known arias from any opera; this seems to be the only explicit mention of it in Wodehouse. In Bring On the Girls Guy Bolton’s then-girlfriend Marguerite Namara (later Guy’s second wife) is going to sing Carmen in a bull ring in Mexico City; this is the nearest cross-reference so far found.

first faint flush of dawn (p. 5)

The earliest usage of a similar phrase so far found is from Beyond These Voices by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1800), in which a character is “waking in the first faint flush of a summer dawn, after a night of troubled sleep and feverish dreams.” Similar phrases appear sporadically through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Wodehouse had used it earlier, in Hot Water, ch. 8, §5 (1931):

Pinkness, like the first faint flush of a summer dawn, had come upon Jane Opal.

freckled like a pard (p. 5)

Pard is an archaic or literary term for a leopard. Bertie’s phrase comes from Lamia (1819) by John Keats. Wodehouse referred to a bearded pard in Ice in the Bedroom, ch. 7 (1961). [Thanks to IM/LVG]

dogs beginning with d. (p. 5)

Presumably Bertie was thinking of a Dalmatian.

the poet Ogden Nash (p. 5-6)

American writer (1902–1971) of light verse. He wrote the Foreword to Nothing But Wodehouse, a 1932 anthology published by Doubleday, Doran, in New York; edited I Couldn’t Help Laughing, a 1957 anthology including Wodehouse’s “Uncle Fred Flits By”; and reviewed Joy in the Morning in comic verse for the New York Herald Tribune, 22 May 1946.

Barbara Frietchie (p. 6)

Also spelled Fritchie; heroine of an 1863 poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, celebrating an elderly woman during the Civil War who according to legend defied a Confederate general occupying her town. Whittier rendered her plea as “Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, but spare your country’s flag.”

my American pal, Tipton Plimsoll (p. 6)

Another of the rare links between Wodehouse’s Blanding Castle saga and the Jeeves and Wooster stories and novels. Tipton Plimsoll, Veronica Wedge, and her parents Colonel Egbert and Lady Hermione Wedge appear in Full Moon (1947).

last night (p. 6)

Further evidence that we cannot rely on publication dates to ascertain the progress of time in the world of Wodehouse’s characters. The present novel, published in 1974, must have taken place soon after the events of Full Moon but before “Birth of a Salesman” (1950; in Nothing Serious) in which Tipton and Veronica get married.

waking him at daybreak (p. 6)

We know Bertie well as a late riser, so it seems that Tipton is also a late-to-bed, late-to-rise man if Bertie’s call seems to be daybreak to him.

off his chest and … to mine (p. 6)

A nifty parallelism of a figurative phrase with a literal one. The OED first cites a 1902 Daily Chronicle article calling “get it off your chest” as a “horrid, vulgar” term for making a statement, expressing one’s personal view. Bertie’s chest refers to his actual spotted torso.

E[dward]. Jimpson Murgatroyd (p. 6)

Harley Street physician, first encountered in Full Moon, ch. 3, “a gloomy man with side whiskers” who advises Tipton Plimsoll to give up alcoholic drinks and retire to the country for pure air, a calm life, and restful sleep, in order to avoid a “final breakdown” where he would start seeing things that weren’t there.

two Irishmen named Pat and Mike (p. 6)

Stock characters of ethnic jokes (e.g. the sort mentioned by Bertie in Thank You, Jeeves, ch. 11, 1934) and vaudeville cross-talk routines, such as the one done by Pongo Twistleton and Barmy Phipps at the Drones Club smoker, referred to by Bertie in The Mating Season, ch. 2 (1949).

two Scotsmen named Mac and Sandy (p. 6)

Presumably the characters of similar tales of national stereotypes; this seems to be the only time these names are mentioned together in Wodehouse.

drive down to Brighton (p. 7)

Even on today’s roads, the shortest drive from Mayfair to Brighton is some 55 miles and takes from one hour 40 minutes to three hours 30 minutes (depending on traffic), according to Google Maps.

the poet Herrick (p. 7)

Quoted from the Hesperides of Robert Herrick (1591–1674).

five quid (p. 7)

If we accept the dating of this novel to the late 1940s (see above) the Bank of England inflation calculator would give an equivalent of roughly £135 in 2021 values, or roughly $175 in US dollars. If, as many argue, the span of the Wooster saga is over several years in the 1910 decade, inflation since then would give a rough modern equivalent of over £450 or over US$600.

failing to abate a smoky chimney (p. 7)

See Summer Lightning.

sports model (p. 7)

See two-seater in the notes for Right Ho, Jeeves.

Chapter 2

bimbos (p. 9)

See Money for Nothing.

saying it with bottles and brickbats (p. 9)

As opposed to saying it with flowers; see Hot Water.

another shake of a duck’s tail (p. 9)

See The Code of the Woosters.

hell’s foundations would be starting to quiver (p. 9)

See The Code of the Woosters.

Vanessa Cook (p. 9)

Bertie fills us in on how he met Vanessa Cook here, telling the story for the first time. In other words she (and her father) appear only in the present book.

viz. (p. 10)

Conventional abbreviation for Latin videlicet: ‘namely, that is.’

Appears variously with period, with comma, and with both; also appears in italics and in roman type. At this point UK book has viz. and US book has viz., on p. 14. In ch. 3, UK book has viz. on p. 20 and US book has viz., on p. 27. In ch. 4, UK book has viz. on p. 33 and US book has viz., on p. 39. In ch. 15, UK book has viz. on p. 127 and US book has viz, on p. 137. In ch. 17, UK book has viz. on p. 144 and US book has viz., on p. 155. In ch. 19, UK book has viz. on p. 159 and US book has viz., on p. 173.

guardian angel (p. 10)

See The Girl in Blue.

another old acquaintance, O. J. (Orlo) Porter to wit (p. 10)

Once again, despite his history with Bertie, this is Porter’s first mention in Bertie’s stories and novels. The slightly archaic phrase to wit means “that is” or “namely.”

on the same staircase (p. 10)

Residential colleges at Oxford and Cambridge universities are typically built around courtyards with a number of doors, each opening to a staircase which leads up to rooms or offices opening directly onto the stair landings. In other words, the long hallways often found in American university dormitories are not always present.

a prominent figure at the Union (p. 10)

The Oxford Union Society is an exclusive debating club, notoriously a breeding-ground for political talent. [MH]

daily b. (p. 11)

That is, daily bread, meaning the food one eats to survive, and, by extension, the income which allows one to purchase necessities. An allusion to the phrase “Give us this day our daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:11).

mot juste (p. 11)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

corn before his sickle (p. 11)

See Ice in the Bedroom.

the height of its fever (p. 11)

Originally medical jargon for the point at which a patient’s temperature is at a maximum during the course of an illness. Wodehouse often used it metaphorically for something bubbling in a pot or for a peak of excitement, as here.

Algy moved on, and Archibald, his soul bubbling within him like a welsh rabbit at the height of its fever, sank into a chair and stared sightlessly at the ceiling.

“The Reverent Wooing of Archibald” (1928; in Mr. Mulliner Speaking, 1929)

To leave a public dinner at the height of its fever is not easy, and it is to be doubted whether mere senile gloom, however profound, would have been enough to nerve Berry to the task.

Big Money, ch. 7.1 (1931)

Brancepeth was trembling like a saucepan of boiling milk at the height of its fever.

“Buried Treasure” (1936; in Lord Emsworth and Others, 1937)

Her fury had given way to a strange calm, like that of a boiling kettle which has come to the height of its fever.

Money in the Bank, ch. 21 (1942)

The two-seater was a car which could do seventy-five at the height of its fever, and he reached the castle gates in record time.

Full Moon, ch. 5 (1947)

For some moments after the line had gone dead, he sat motionless, his soul seething within him like a welsh rabbit at the height of its fever.

“Tangled Hearts” (in Nothing Serious, 1950)

“—and heaving gently, sir, like a welsh rabbit about to come to the height of its fever. Thank you, sir.”

The Old Reliable, ch. 18 (1951)

A proud man is never left unruffled when worsted in a verbal duel with a cook, especially a cook aged fifteen with pigtails, and in the chief constable’s manner as he turned on his butler there was more than a suggestion of a rogue elephant at the height of its fever.

Ring for Jeeves, ch. 16 (1953)

He eyed me speculatively, heaving gently like a saucepan of porridge about to reach the height of its fever.

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 10 (1954)

Lord Emsworth interrupted the reunion before it could reach the height of its fever.

Service With a Smile, ch. 10.2 (1961)

Just as the gamboge mess was approaching the height of its fever the door opened and Jane entered, a small fair-haired girl who looked like a well-dressed wood nymph.

Company for Henry, ch. 1 (1967)

For the first time Gally became aware of something unusual in his godson’s manner, a sort of fizzing and bubbling like that of a coffee percolator about to come to the height of its fever.

A Pelican at Blandings, ch. 2 (1969)

He had changed his mind about lying down, reflection telling him that if he did lie down he would merely toss and turn and heave and twitch, and there was nothing to be gained by behaving like a Welsh rarebit at the height of its fever.

The Girl in Blue, ch. 14.1 (1970)

the hart that pants for cooling streams when heated in the chase (p. 11)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Drones Club scarf (p. 11)

We have heard the Drones Club tie mentioned in Barmy in Wonderland and Ice in the Bedroom, but this is the first mention of the club scarf. One supposes that like the tie, the scarf is “a little on the loud side” (as Bertie tells us in chapter 4 of the present book), which would add to its effectiveness as a “rude disguise.”

For the Drones Club itself, see The Code of the Woosters.

rozzers (p. 11)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

gnashed a tooth or two (p. 12)

Part of the characteristic language of the “knut” or “dude” — the idle young men of London like Bertie — is a seeming reluctance to commit to a complete or definite statement. (Compare “and what not” in the notes to A Damsel in Distress.) Where you or I might say that Orlo “gnashed his teeth,” Bertie words it in a more tentative manner here, even possibly calling it ineffectual, as the sound of one tooth gnashing must resemble the sound of one hand clapping.

a red-headed chap (p. 12)

See Piccadilly Jim.

what she did to Mary Queen of Scots (p. 12)

For allegedly plotting to supplant or assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, her cousin once removed, Mary was beheaded in 1587.

drained the bitter cup (p. 12)

See Terry Mordue’s note on this phrase in his annotations to The Code of the Woosters.

pinched by the police (p. 12)

For instance, see Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 5 (1954), in which Bertie trips up a policeman who is attempting to arrest Bertie’s ex-fiancée Lady Florence Craye during a raid on the Mottled Oyster nightclub.

called him a Cossack (p. 13)

The Cossacks were a repressive military/police force of Russia, recruited from a warlike tribe of Turkish ethnicity in southern Russia. Wodehouse makes an uncharacteristically realistic reference in “The Castaways” (1933; in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere, 1935) to “Cossacks looking in at the office to start a pogrom.” Lady Florence Craye calls Stilton Cheesewright “a mere uncouth Cossack” in Joy in the Morning, ch. 18 (1946).

the old salve (p. 13)

Bertie is comparing soothing words to the calming effect of a medicinal ointment.

regretting that I had pitched it so strong (p. 13)

Bertie didn’t learn his lesson from the time that he referred to his ex-fiancée Lady Florence Craye as a girl of taste in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 2, talking to her current fiancé Stilton Cheesewright:

 “So Florence will be with us ere long, will she? Splendid, splendid, splendid.”
 I spoke with quite a bit of warmth and animation, trying to infuse a cheery note into the proceedings, and immediately wished I hadn’t, because he quivered like a palsy patient and gave me a keen glance, and I saw that we had got on to dangerous ground.

bull-dog which has attempted to swallow (p. 13)

Wodehouse owned several bulldogs over the course of his life, and his characterizations of the breed may be taken as sound observations. See also Very Good, Jeeves.

Biffy made a sort of curious gulping noise not unlike a bulldog trying to swallow half a cutlet in a hurry so as to be ready for the other half.

“The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy” (1924; in Carry On, Jeeves!, 1925)

chump chop (p. 13)

A lamb chop cut from the rump of the lamb.

the green-eyed monster that doth mock the meat it feeds on (p. 13)

An allusion to Othello; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

to feel the rush of life beneath its keel (p. 14)

A slight misquotation from Longfellow:

And see! she stirs!
She starts,—she moves,—she seems to feel
The thrill of life along her keel,
And, spurning with her foot the ground,
With one exulting, joyous bound,
She leaps into the ocean’s arms!

Longfellow: The Building of the Ship (1869)

trustee (p. 14)

In a similar situation, George Trotter, Lord Holbeton in Quick Service (1940), has his inheritance controlled by his trustee J. B. Duff, business partner of his late father.

grinding the faces of the widow and orphan (p. 15)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

go-getter (p. 16)

The OED calls this an originally American colloquialism for an ambitious or energetic person, one determined to succeed or likely to do so. The earliest citation is from an African-American newspaper in 1901; the first literary citation is from Babbitt (1922) by Sinclair Lewis. Wodehouse used it in the 1931 novel If I Were You and as a story title in 1931 (included in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere).

Chapter 3

medicine man (p. 17)

Originally a term for a healer among native tribes, the phrase has been used in a humorous colloquial sense for a physician since the nineteenth century. Wodehouse adopted the term as early as 1902:

He then turned his attention to the men on his back, and when the dust had cleared away it was noticed by the observant that the Snakes were playing two short, and “there were loud cries for the medicine-man.”

“Some Football Facts” (1902)

The medicine-man put his foot down firmly.

Psmith, Journalist, ch. 1 (1909/15)

…there was old Uncle George, for instance. The medicine man, having given him the once-over, had ordered him to abstain from all alcoholic liquids and, in addition, to tool down the hill to the Royal Pump Room each morning at 8:30 and imbibe twelve ounces of warm crescent saline and magnesia.

“Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves!)

“I thought it might be as well to have the medicine man cock an eye at them. I never had measles as a child.”

Tipton Plimsoll in Full Moon, ch. 2 (1947)

“…she is what the doctor got. She is the wife of our local medicine man, Ambrose Gussett.”

“Up from the Depths” (in Nothing Serious, 1950)

Uncle Tom … likes to be among the shrubs and flowers early and late, particularly late, for he suffers a bit from insomnia and the tribal medicine man told him that a breath of fresh air before hitting the hay would bring relief.

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 11 (1954)

“Homer Cream. Big American tycoon, who is visiting these shores. He suffers from ulcers, and his medicine man has ordered him to take the waters at Harrogate.”

Aunt Dahlia, in Jeeves in the Offing, ch. 1 (1960)

“You ought to see the tribal medicine man about it. Nasty flesh wound, might cause lockjaw.”

Freddie Widgeon, in Ice in the Bedroom, ch. 15 (1961)

It was plain that she was about to say something of significance, but before she could speak the door opened and the medicine man appeared, and thinking they were best alone I pushed off and got the books and legged it for the great open spaces.

“Ukridge Starts a Bank Account” (in Plum Pie, 1967)

…further discussion was prevented by the arrival of the medicine man, who had his home in the village of Blandings Parva almost in the shadow of the castle walls and so had been able to give prompt service.

A Pelican at Blandings, ch. 9.3 (1969)

empire-building (p. 17)

Characteristic of those who exported British laws, government, and culture to other parts of the globe. See Very Good, Jeeves for some of the other Wodehouse characters so described.

conceived my emotion (p. 17)

A misprint in the UK edition of this book; the US version The Cat-Nappers has “conceive my emotion” here which is clearly correct, as Bertie and other narrating characters use this phrase to ask the reader to imagine how they were feeling in several other books.

Major Plank … whom I had last seen (p. 17)

This encounter is described in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963).

as pure as the driven snow, if not purer (p. 17)

See The Code of the Woosters for the basic phrase. The intensified form “if not purer” also appears in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 14 (1963), and Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin/The Plot that Thickened, ch. 10.1 (1973).

Allen or Allenby or Alexander or something (p. 17)

As a ruse to get Bertie away from Major Plank in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, Jeeves pretends to be a Scotland Yard inspector and “arrests” Bertie, giving him the criminal sobriquet of Alpine Joe.

’Mgombis (p. 18)

In “Ukridge Rounds a Nasty Corner” (1924), Lady Lakenheath and her late husband had been colonial governors during the ’Mgomo-’Mgomo uprising. J. Bashford Braddock recalls eliminating the last king of Mgumbo-Mgumbo in “The Ordeal of Osbert Mulliner” (1928). ’Mgoopi ’Mgwumpi, chief of the Lesser ’Mgowpi, is recalled in “There’s Always Golf!” (1936). Clarissa Cork, in Money in the Bank (1942), had had the African nickname of Mgobo-Mgumbi.

bubonic plague (p. 18)

Pink spots on the chest are not mentioned among the symptoms of bubonic plague; far more worrisome are painful, swollen lymph nodes in the groin, armpit, or neck, which can be as large as eggs.

sprue (p. 18)

One meaning of sprue is celiac disease, the digestive upset due to gluten sensitivity, but most likely Major Plank is referring to tropical sprue, a disease characterized by diarrhea, weight loss, and the inability of the intestine to absorb nutrients. Pink spots on the chest are not mentioned among the symptoms.

histosomiasis (p. 18)

This word does not appear in medical dictionaries, and is likely an error for schistosomiasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms found in contaminated water. This disease can cause a skin rash, but it is not described as “pink spots on the chest” in any resource so far found.

in something of a twitter (p. 18)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

old buster (p. 19)

The OED calls buster or old buster a term for a man, “variously expressing affection, familiarity, disrespect, or hostility”; the oldest citation is from 1838, and Wodehouse’s use in My Man Jeeves in 1919 is cited (it appeared in “Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg” in magazines in 1917).

Gawd-help-us (p. 19)

The OED’s only citations for this spelling are from Wodehouse, in 1931 and 1961; it is defined as equivalent to Gawdelpus, “a helpless or exasperating person.”

tied that rubber thing round my biceps (p. 19)

That is, took his blood pressure. Modern pressure cuffs use Velcro as a closure, but before the introduction of that fastener, apparently the cuff had to be tied onto the arm.

like ginger beer from a bottle (p. 19)


I saw that he was about to confide in me. And presently out it all came, like beer from a bottle.

“The Hazards of Horace Bewstridge” (1948; as “Excelsior” in Nothing Serious, 1950)

Barmy (p. 19)

As an adjective, barmy is a variant of balmy, colloquial for weak-minded, goofy, idiotic. The same meaning applies to it as a nickname, of course. Wodehouse characters with this sobriquet include Lord George “Barmy” Barminster in “Ways to Get a Gal” (1957); Lord Ickenham (as a school nickname, in Uncle Dynamite, 1948); Cyril Fotheringay-Phipps (in many Bertie Wooster and Drones Club stories); Eustace Fotheringay-Phipps (in “Joy Bells for Barmy,” 1947); as well as Major Plank in E. Jimpson Murgatroyd’s recollection here.

joie de vivre (p. 19)

See A Damsel in Distress.

a minor prophet about to rebuke the sins of the people (p. 19)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

love’s young dream (p. 20)

A reference to Thomas Moore’s poem of that title; “But there’s nothing half so sweet in life / As love’s young dream.”

polluted (p. 20)

See A Damsel in Distress.

Bertram Wooster is like that. He thinks on his feet. (p. 21)

Unlike the usual “well said of Bertram Wooster” formula (see The Code of the Woosters) in which Bertie tells us that others praise him, here Bertie is referring to himself in the third person while directly claiming to have one of his good qualities.

Barbara Frietchie … the poet Nash (p. 21)

See the notes for pp. 5–6 above.

Worcestershire … Market Snodsbury (p. 21)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

Aunt Dahlia (p. 21)

Introduced in “Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves!).

Aunt Agatha (p. 21)

Introduced in the first of Bertie’s stories, “Extricating Young Gussie” (1915).

the Quorn or Pytchley (p. 21)

Fox-hunting clubs; see The Code of the Woosters.

a French cook (p. 21)

The inimitable Anatole, whom we first met in “Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves!).

given up all idea of driving to Brighton for lunch (p. 22)

Having seen Dr. Murgatroyd at eleven, and with at least a couple of hours’ drive to Brighton at midday, it would have been a late lunch indeed.

operators (p. 22)

Despite the publication date of this book and the references to protest marches, we must assume that we are in an earlier era before long-distance telephoning was made convenient and rapid with direct dialing.

Jukes family (p. 22)

See Cocktail Time.

sucks to you (p. 22)

A slang interjection expressing contempt, chiefly used by children, according to the OED.
Reggie Tennyson uses it to his cousin Gertrude Butterwick in The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 21 (1935); Oofy Prosser uses it to a police desk sergeant in “Leave It to Algy” (in A Few Quick Ones, 1959).

sconces and foliations and gadroon borders (p. 23)

See The Code of the Woosters.

as fit as ten fiddles (p. 23)

See Thank You, Jeeves.

leprosy (p. 25)

The modern preferred name is Hansen’s disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control website, if there are affected patches on the skin, they may look faded (lighter than the skin around), so Aunt Dahlia’s diagnosis seems dubious.

“With honeysuckle climbing over the door and old Mister Moon peeping in through the window?” (p. 23)

Alluding to the sentimentality of popular songs about similar cottages.

“Mac, you talk like a Tin Pan Alley song hit, except that you’ve left out the scent of honeysuckle and old Mister Moon climbing up over the trees.”

A Damsel in Distress, ch. 2 (1919)

“A little cottage. With honeysuckle over the door and Old Mister Moon climbing up above the trees.”

Leave It to Psmith, ch. 9 (1923)

Maiden Eggesford … Bridmouth-on-Sea (p. 23)

Both locations were first encountered in “Tried in the Furnace” (1935; in British editions of Young Men in Spats, 1936). Other members of the Briscoe family appear in that story as well.

In A Wodehouse Handbook, Norman Murphy identifies Maiden Eggesford, Somerset, with Eggesford Barton in Devon, and Bridmouth with Sidmouth on the Devon coast of the English Channel.

instruct, elevate and amuse (p. 24)

Compare the phrase interest, elevate, and amuse in Leave It to Psmith.

the Wooster G.H.Q. (p. 24)

See Heavy Weather.

One of his eyebrows had risen about an eighth of an inch (p. 24)

This is perhaps the most explicit description of an exception to the usual slight expressions on Jeeves’s typically impassive face. See also p. 174, below.

I told him in a few simple words, and his left eyebrow rose perhaps an eighth of an inch, showing how deeply he was stirred.

“Jeeves Makes an Omelet” in A Few Quick Ones (1959)

That is to say, he allowed one eyebrow to rise perhaps an eighth of an inch, which is as far as he ever goes in the way of expressing emotion.

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 4 (1963)

Well, I hadn’t expected him to roll his eyes and leap about, because he never does no matter how sensational the news item, but I could see by the way one of his eyebrows twitched and rose perhaps an eighth of an inch that I had interested him.

Much Obliged, Jeeves/Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, ch. 4 (1971)

qua (p. 24)

See The Code of the Woosters.

pass by me like the idle wind which I respect not (p. 25)

Quoting Brutus in Julius Caesar; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

the easy nonchalance of a Red Indian at the stake (p. 25)

The perfect hostess makes a point of never displaying discomposure. In moments of trial she aims at the easy repose of manner of a Red Indian at the stake.

The Small Bachelor, ch. 3.1 (1926/27)

There is nothing of the Red Indian at the stake about a puppy in circumstances like this.

“Goodbye to All Cats” (1934; in Young Men in Spats, 1936)

My manner throughout was calm and dignified, like that of a Red Indian at the stake.

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 8 (1938)

…a conviction that things are getting too hot. Stags at bay have this feeling. So have red Indians at the stake.

Full Moon, ch. 10.2 (1947)

He was a young man who, when things went awry, always endeavoured, after the fashion of the modern young man, to preserve the easy repose of manner of a Red Indian at the stake, but it was plain that whatever had occurred to upset him now was of a magnitude which rendered impossible such an exhibition of stoicism.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 6.3 (1948)

Butlers … hide their emotions. Whatever the turmoil in their souls, outwardly they aim at the easy insouciance of the Red Indian at the stake, and it is consequently not often that anyone is privileged to see one of them look aghast.

The Old Reliable, ch. 5 (1951)

It was unmistakeably a groan, the sort of groan that might have been wrung from the reluctant lips of a red Indian at the stake.

Pigs Have Wings, ch. 2 (1952)

The sound that had proceeded from his twisted lips had been merely a soft moan like that of an emotional red Indian at the stake.

Ring for Jeeves, ch. 5 (1953)

Think of the Red Indians, Bassett, I would have said to him, had we been on better terms, pointing out that they were never in livelier spirits than when being cooked on both sides at the stake.

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 5 (1963)

The Pelican Club trains its sons well, teaching them, no matter what their troubles and anxieties, always to preserve outwardly the poker-faced nonchalance of a red Indian at the stake.

A Pelican at Blandings, ch. 13.1 (1969)

hotsy-totsy (p. 25)

See Hot Water.

Chapter 4

the old two-seater (p. 27)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

leaving not a wrack behind (p. 27)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

The US version The Cat-Nappers has “not a trace” here.

back to its normal alabaster (p. 27)

Alabaster is a fine-grained, nearly white, translucent variety of gypsum often used for carved statuettes, vessels, and so forth. The OED notes that when used as an adjective to describe skin it denotes whiteness and smoothness. Though Bertie sometimes refers to himself as “paling beneath my tan” (“Without the Option” [1925; in Carry On, Jeeves] and Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves [1963]), we must assume that refers to his face, and that aside from excursions to Cannes and other foreign climes, his torso would not normally be suntanned.

Jubilee watering-trough (p. 27)

See Money for Nothing.

phantasm or wraith (p. 28)

Bertie may have learned to link these synonyms for “ghost” from Aunt Agatha, who uses them together in “The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace” (1922; in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923).

the Goose and Grasshopper (p. 28)

The Goose and Grasshopper at Maiden Eggesford also appears in “Tried in the Furnace” (1935, in The Crime Wave at Blandings and the UK edition of Young Men in Spats). There is a Goose and Grasshopper at Rising Mattock in “Anselm Gets His Chance” (1937; in Eggs, Beans and Crumpets).

See Young Men in Spats for references to other similar pub names.

in something of a twitter (p. 28)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

blue about the edges (p. 28)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

modern cons (p. 28)

modern conveniences; an abbreviation typically found in real-estate advertisements

bijou (p. 28)

From the French for ‘jewel’; something small and attractive.

cheese straw (p. 29)

See The Code of the Woosters.

like a two-year-old (p. 30)

See Carry On, Jeeves.

eggs and b. (p. 30)

See Very Good, Jeeves.

piebald (p. 30)

Having a skin or pelt of patchy colors.

with my hair in a braid (p. 31)

See an extensive note on this phrase at The Mating Season.

live for pleasure alone (p. 31)

See The Code of the Woosters.

by jove (p. 31)

More often printed as “by Jove”—a substitute oath using one of the names of Jupiter, greatest god of the Roman pantheon, instead of swearing “by God” which would have been a profanity to a believing Christian or Jew.

I love little pussy; her coat is so warm (p. 32)

The earliest appearance in print so far found is in The Violet, a collection of poetry (third edition, 1855); it is credited to the Infant-School Magazine which has not yet been found. It is not in any Shakespeare collection available to an Internet search. Bertie’s misattribution to Shakespeare is among many such, noted in Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

cat-wise (p. 32)

The suffix -wise appended to a noun, with the meaning “as regards; in respect of” is a colloquial construction, originally American, first cited in the OED from the 1940s. (The adverbial sense, “in the manner of” as in clockwise, is of course much older.)

the welkin was split (p. 33)

See Money in the Bank.

not the heat but the humidity (p. 33)

See Sam the Sudden.

chased for a mile across difficult country by an uncle armed with [a hunting crop] (p. 33)

In “Jeeves Takes Charge” (1923; in Carry On, Jeeves, 1925) and Joy in the Morning, ch. 1 (1946), Bertie tells this story about Lord Worplesdon, and we might wonder about the designation “uncle” here unless we realize that Worplesdon had become Bertie’s uncle by marriage when he became Aunt Agatha’s second husband.

In frosty weather I can still feel the old wounds (p. 33)

An allusion to “The Story of Prince Agib” by W. S. Gilbert; see The Bab Ballads at the G&S Archive.

in status quo, as the expression is (p. 34)

Bertie is using the anglicized form of a Latin expression for “in the existing state or condition.” When the preposition in is italicized as part of the Latin phrase, it is proper to use the ablative case statu, as Jeeves does in the first two quotations below and as Bertie sometimes does later. With “the” it is correct to use the nominative case status, with or without italics. Note the three 1954 quotations in which Bertie makes the proper distinction. But the 1949 and 1971 quotations and the present one are examples of the less-exact form.

“I also summoned a medical man, who gave it as his opinion that the patient should remain for the time being in statu quo.”

“Jeeves and the Spot of Art” (1929; in Very Good, Jeeves, 1930)

“To-night, I am afraid, sir, you must be content to remain in statu quo.

Thank You, Jeeves, ch. 16 (1934)

“You can’t plead with an uncle by marriage unless you’re in statu quo.”

Bertie in Joy in the Morning, ch. 8 (1946)

The solid girl calmed her fears, though leaving mine in status quo.

The Mating Season, ch. 16 (1949)

”Come what may, however, I shall maintain the status quo.”

Bertie speaking in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 1 (1954)

These coppers are bad enough when they leave their lips in statu quo.

Bertie’s narration in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 2 (1954)

I found her in statu quo, as foreseen…

Bertie’s narration in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 18 (1954)

…my first emotion on giving it the once-over was one of relief, all the junk appearing to be in statu quo.

Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves, ch. 6 (1960)

So I wasn’t getting struck by lightning or even wet, which enabled me to remain in status quo.

Much Obliged, Jeeves/Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, ch. 5 (1971)

the scales fell from my eyes (p. 35)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

knob-kerrie (p. 37)

A short, heavy wooden walking-stick with a large knob at the upper end, which can also be used as a club or throwing weapon, made by various indigenous peoples of Africa; the name is derived in English from South African Dutch roots. See also p. 92, below.

the Slade (p. 37)

The Slade School of Fine Art, founded in 1871, is part of University College London.

heavy father (p. 37)

See Money for Nothing.

blots her copybook (p. 37)

A colloquial phrase for making a mistake which ruins one’s reputation. Literally, a copybook was a written or printed sourcebook with texts for students to copy into their own notebooks, both to practice handwriting and to absorb wisdom from the given texts; a student who spilled inkblots onto the copybook would be ruining its further use for other students. Sometimes the term is applied to the student’s own workbook as well, in which blots would be evidence of sloppy penmanship. The figurative use of the phrase is cited in the OED first from Dorothy L. Sayers in Gaudy Night (1935). Wodehouse had used it as well:

…my whole future depended on Augustus Fink-Nottle sticking to the straight and narrow path and not blotting his copybook…

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 13 (1963)

Johnny unfortunately blotted his copybook and fell back badly in the betting.

A Pelican at Blandings, ch. 9.3 (1969)

Chapter 5

let him eat cake (p. 39)

In the apocryphal story about Marie Antoinette (see The Girl in Blue) the phrase suggests an incomplete understanding of the hardships of others, and of the choices available to them. Here, it has a harsher sense of “I don’t care at all what he thinks or does.”

…if Daddy didn’t like it, he could eat cake.

Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin, ch. 5.1 (1972)

a month of Sundays (p. 39)

Literally, thirty or thirty-one weeks; figuratively, an indefinitely long time, perhaps never. The OED has citations dating back to 1759.

pure apple sauce (p. 39)

See Bill the Conqueror.

as near to smiling as he ever does (p. 40)

For the first time in our long connection I observed Jeeves almost smile. The corner of his mouth curved quite a quarter of an inch…

“The Aunt and the Sluggard” (1916; in Carry On, Jeeves, 1925)

like Doctor Watson hearing Sherlock Holmes (p. 40)

Many commentators on Wodehouse have noted that our appreciation of Jeeves’s genius is heightened by having the narration in the voice of Bertie Wooster, who admires his superior intelligence in just the way that Doctor Watson describes the brilliance of Holmes in his accounts.

the one hundred and forty-seven varieties of tobacco ash (p. 40)

“I have, as you know, devoted some attention to this, and written a little monograph on the ashes of 140 different varieties of pipe, cigar, and cigarette tobacco.”

“The Boscombe Valley Mystery” (Strand, October 1891)

the time it takes parsley to settle in the butter dish (p. 40)

“You will remember, Watson, how the dreadful business of the Abernetty family was first brought to my notice by the depth which the parsley had sunk into the butter upon a hot day.

“The Adventure of the Six Napoleons” (Strand, May 1904)

Elementary, sir. (p. 40)

It is perhaps amusing at this point to note that although Holmes said “Elementary” several times to Watson, the usual quotation of “Elementary, my dear Watson” never appears in the Conan Doyle canon, and seems first to have been uttered by Psmith in Wodehouse’s Psmith, Journalist (serial 1909–10; book 1915).

the boys in the back room (p. 40)

See Heavy Weather. That note was written for a book published before 1939; for the present book, the allusion might be to the 1939 song or to the older popular phrase.

what a tick your neighbor is (p. 41)

The figurative use of “tick” as a contemptuous or insulting reference to a person has one citation from 1631 in the OED, and the next one is from Wodehouse in Mike (1909) [on this site as the magazine serial “The Lost Lambs”, chapter 9, from 1908]. In the US Vanity Fair magazine, Wodehouse gave examples of the “knut” language of the idle young men of London:

A friend is a “stout fellow”: an enemy a “tick.”

“The Knuts o’ London” (1914)

moving pigs without a permit (p. 41)

It was the look which Constable Potter’s face wore when he was waiting beneath a tree to apprehend a small boy who was up in its branches stealing apples, the merciless expression that turned it to flint when he called at a house to serve a summons on somebody for moving pigs without a permit.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 7.3 (1948)

“You seem to me to have a stern, official air, as if you had seen somebody moving pigs without a permit or failing to abate a smoky chimney.”

Cocktail Time (1958), ch. 21

As it was, the eye he was now directing at him was as cold and bleak as if an old crony had been standing before him in the dock, charged with having moved pigs without a permit or failed to abate a smoky chimney.

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963), ch. 19

In his long career as a member of the Wallingford force he had never had to deal with anything more heinous than an occasional case of failing to abate a smoky chimney or moving pigs without a permit, except of course when the races were on with their quota of drunks and disorderlies.

Do Butlers Burgle Banks? (1968), ch. 12.2

Simla (p. 41)

Former English name of the capital city of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh; since 1972 its official name is spelled Shimla. Because of its location in the Himalayan foothills and consequent cooler climate, it was once the summer capital of the British colonial rule of India.

Marlene Cooper (p. 42)

Although this sounds like a recapitulation of “The Purity of the Turf”, this incident is not recounted in any of Bertie’s other stories. Miss Cooper is among the young women whose parents were apparently fans of actress Marlene Dietrich, who as a girl combined her given names of Maria Magdalene into the one she made famous. Other such characters include Marlene Hibbs in The Girl in Blue (1970), Marlene Higgins of Brixton in How Right You Are, Jeeves/Jeeves in the Offing (1960), Marlene Rackstraw in US editions of Cocktail Time (1958), Marlene Wellbeloved in Galahad at Blandings (1965), and (without surnames) Marlene the usherette in Something Fishy (1957), Marlene the secretary in Cocktail Time (1958), Marlene the stenographer in Frozen Assets (1964), and Marlene the scullery maid in the present book, chapter 11.

…if he had been a big shot in the Foreign Office and I a heavily veiled woman diffusing a strange exotic scent whom he had caught getting away with the Naval Treaty. (p. 42)

One thinks immediately of “The Naval Treaty” in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, but there is no veiled woman nor exotic scent in that story. Whatever the source, Wodehouse alludes to the trope many times:

You ought to have seen old Bassett’s eye just now on learning of blood relationship of self and Uncle Tom. Like ambassador finding veiled woman snooping round safe containing secret treaty.

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 3 (1938)

 “There’s a lady to see you, Mr Duff.”
 “Heavily veiled and diffusing a strange, exotic scent,” said Joss. “I suppose they’re in and out of here all the time.”

Quick Service, ch. 2 (1940)

[Formerly] the synopsis of a S.E.P. serial would be something like this: “Major Dwight van Rensselaer, a young American officer in the F.G.I., has fallen in love with a mysterious veiled woman diffusing an exotic scent who turns out to be Irma Kraus, assistant Gauleiter of the Gestapo, who is in New York disguised as a Flight Lieutenant of the R.A.F. in order to secure the plans of the F.B.O.”

Letter to William Townend, June 30, 1945, in Performing Flea (1953)

…he became aware of a wave of some exotic scent that seemed to proceed from behind him, the sort of scent affected by those mysterious veiled women who are always stealing naval treaties from Government officials in Whitehall.

Cocktail Time, ch. 19 (1958)

“Try to imagine you’re someone in the Secret Service on the track of the naval treaty which was stolen by a mysterious veiled woman diffusing a strange exotic scent.”

Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves, ch. 7 (1960)

He did not actually glare at Jerry, but his manner could not have been more distant if the latter had been a heavily veiled woman, diffusing a strange exotic scent, whom he had found helping herself to top secret documents out of the Embassy safe.

Frozen Assets/Biffen’s Millions, ch. 2.3 (1964)

Sometimes when you approach Tuppy for a small loan you find him all agitated because mysterious veiled women have been pinching his secret treaties, and on such occasions it is difficult to bend him to your will.

“Ukridge Starts a Bank Account” (in Plum Pie, 1966)

six of the best (p. 44)

Six strokes on the seat of the trousers, as Bertie recalls receiving from his school headmaster in “The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy” (1926; in Very Good, Jeeves, 1930).

Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner. (p. 44)

French: “To know all is to forgive all.”

If you ask about me in circles which I frequent (p. 44)

A variation of Bertie’s modest way of putting forward his good qualities; see The Code of the Woosters.

give me the pip (p. 44)

See The Code of the Woosters.

Angelica Briscoe (p. 44)

First met in “Tried in the Furnace” (1935; in UK editions of Young Men in Spats), in which Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps and Pongo Twistleton-Twistleton attempt to win her favor. In that story her father’s name is given as the Rev. P. P. Briscoe instead of Ambrose as here, and her uncle Colonel Jimmy Briscoe is not mentioned.

spots as widely separated as Bude, Cornwall, and Sedbergh, Yorks. (p. 44)

Approximately 260 miles (420 km) as the crow flies; on modern motorways Google Maps shows 362 miles (582 km) and a six-hour drive.

festive b. (p. 45)

festive board; i.e. the luncheon table

Trappist monk (p. 45)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

best friend and severest critic (p. 45)

The original use of this phrase has not yet been found, but it begins to appear in literature of the 1920s, often in quotation marks as if it were already a stock phrase.

Wodehouse used it in Quick Service, ch. 2 (1940); Uncle Dynamite, ch. 7 (1948); Barmy in Wonderland, ch. 12 (1952); and Company for Henry, ch. 5 (1967). In “Jeeves and the Greasy Bird” (in Plum Pie, 1966), Aunt Dahlia is also described as Bertie’s best friend and severest critic.

impresario of performing fleas (p. 45)

See Wodehouse’s own comments about performing fleas, in the notes to Right Ho, Jeeves.

feast of reason and flow of soul (p. 45)

See A Damsel in Distress.

“Ten Nights in a Bar Room” (p. 46)

Originally a novel by Timothy Shay Arthur, published in 1854, written as a caution against the dangers of alcoholic beverages, and important as a force in the growing temperance movement. It was adapted into a Broadway play in 1858 and into silent and sound films between 1910 and 1931.

Chapter 6

the condition a python gets into after its mid-day meal (p. 49)

A dangerous meal, lunch. I have known men bowl like angels before it, and roll on to the field like gorged pythons afterwards.

“On Fast Bowling” (1907)

sleep poured over me in a healing wave (p. 50)

See Sam the Sudden.

Clarkson’s warbler (p. 50)

A Google search finds “Clarkson’s warbler” only in this book.

peace perfect peace with loved ones far away, as the hymnbook says (p. 50)

See The Girl on the Boat.

fortissimo (p. 51)

A musical term for playing or singing very loudly, from Italian; usually marked ff in printed music.

spying out all my ways (p. 52)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

if I refused to eat my spinach I would hear about it on Judgment Day (p. 52)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

“I will tell you why … It was in the hope of seeing Vanessa.” (p. 52)

Orlo Porter is jumping to jealous conclusions in much the same way that Stilton Cheesewright accuses Bertie of growing a moustache to steal Lady Florence Craye away from him in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, chapter 4, although there Stilton’s threat is to break Bertie’s foul neck.

Chapter 7

a pain in the gizzard (p. 55)

The gizzard is the second stomach of certain kinds of birds.

“It gives me,” said Wilson Hymack, “a pain in the gizzard.”

“Mother’s Knee” (1920; in Indiscretions of Archie, 1921)

“If there’s one thing that gives me a pain squarely in the centre of the gizzard,” he burst out, breaking a silence that had lasted for some minutes, “it’s a golf-lawyer. They oughtn’t to be allowed on the links.”

“The Long Hole” (1921; in The Clicking of Cuthbert, 1922)

Miss Hobson said that Mr. Cracknell gave her a pain in the gizzard.

The Adventures of Sally, ch. 6.3 (1922)

“Everything in this world, I like to think, is placed there for some useful end: but why the authorities unleashed Miss Peavey on us is beyond me. It is not too much to say that she gives me a pain in the gizzard.”

Leave It to Psmith, ch. 12 (1923)

Highbrow music, he said, gave him a pain in the gizzard…

French Leave, ch. 7.2 (1956)

“You mean that in spite of the fact that she gives you a pain in the gizzard, you can’t help being intrigued by her outer crust.”

“Life with Freddie” (in Plum Pie, 1966)

run a mile in tight shoes (p. 55)

Oofy, despite his colossal wealth, had always been a man who would walk ten miles in tight shoes to pick up even the meanest sum that was lying around loose.

“The Shadow Passes” (in Nothing Serious, 1950)

It had frequently been said of Roscoe Bunyan by those who knew him that, though loaded down above the Plimsoll line with money, he would at no time refrain from walking ten miles in tight shoes to pick up a penny someone had dropped.

Something Fishy, ch. 4 (1957)

And while I personally, though fond of the young gumboil, would run a mile in tight shoes to avoid marrying Stiffy, I knew him to be strongly in favour of signing her up.

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 3 (1963)

Nor did I grudge the hours spent in the society of a girl whom in normal circs I would willingly have run a mile in tight shoes to avoid.

“Jeeves and the Greasy Bird” (in Plum Pie, 1966)

“If the opportunity presents itself of running a mile in tight shoes to chisel someone out of twopence, he springs to the task.”

Galahad Threepwood speaking of the Duke of Dunstable in A Pelican at Blandings, ch. 2 (1969)

Spode might talk airily—or is it glibly?— (p. 55)

 “It’s all very well for old Stoker to talk—er—”
 “Glibly, sir?”
 “Airily or glibly, sir, whichever you prefer.”

Thank You, Jeeves, ch. 12 (1934)

 “Let me explain,” he said. “You talk airily—”
 “Or glibly,” said Mervyn Potter.
 “Or, of course, glibly,” assented Barmy, always open to suggestions. “You talk airily or glibly of buying the show…”

Barmy in Wonderland, ch. 21 (1952)

 “Pull yourself together, Jeeves. You speak … is it airily?”
 “Airily or glibly, sir.”
 “Thank you, Jeeves. You speak airily or glibly of inducing L. G. Trotter to throw off the yoke…”

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 19 (1954)

Cosmo, rehearsing this scene in the privacy of his bedroom, had decided to be nonchalant. It was nonchalantly—Roget would have added airily and glibly—that he now replied…

Cocktail Time, ch. 13 (US edition only, 1958)

 “It’s all very well for her to say…glibly?”
  “Or airily, sir. The words are synonymous.”
 “It’s all very well for her to say glibly or airily ‘Take this blasted eyesore to Plank’, but how do I find him?”

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 10 (1963)

Debrett’s Peerage tut-tuts (p. 56)

See Lord Emsworth and Others. This guide to the nobility is often mentioned in Wodehouse, but this seems to be the only instance in which it is personified as expressing concern over the behavior of those whom it lists.

Burke’s Landed Gentry (p. 56)

John Burke (1786–1848), an Irish genealogist, published a Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the United Kingdom beginning in 1826, a competitor to Debrett’s, with an alphabetical organization rather than the family-table method of the earlier work. Burke followed up with a companion work on the “Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland” beginning in 1833, listing those who owned land or held important posts, but who did not hold hereditary titles. Editions beginning in 1843 used Landed Gentry rather than Commoners in the title.

Though Wodehouse mentions “landed gentry” in a few stories, the only other explicit reference to the volume is in Company for Henry, ch. 4 (1967); other reference to Burke are to his work on the Peerage.

cut by the County (p. 56)

See two adjacent notes to Laughing Gas.

palsy-walsy (p. 56)

The OED dates this colloquialism for “friendly, chummy” as originating in North America in the 1930s; it gives both this sentence and Wodehouse’s one earlier use, in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 13 (1963), among its cited examples.

with the right stuff in him (p. 56)

Here, “the right stuff” is used in the sense of “character, courage, fortitude” as in Tom Wolfe’s book on the astronauts. See The Inimitable Jeeves for other ways Wodehouse uses the phrase.

circumstances … concatenation (p. 56)

Bertie seems to be recalling a discussion with Jeeves in “Jeeves and the Greasy Bird” (in Plum Pie, 1966/67):

 “…what’s that something of circumstances you hear people talking about? Cats enter into it, if I remember rightly.”
 “Would concatenation be the word for which you are groping?”
 “That’s it. Owing to a concatenation of circumstances, B has got it into her nut that A’s in love with her. But he isn’t.”

But he seems to have forgotten that he used it earlier without prompting from Jeeves:

 “Nobby,” I said, “there has been a bit of a mix-up. What’s that word that begins with ‘con’?”
 “I’ve heard Jeeves use it. There’s a cat in it somewhere.”
 “What on earth are you drivelling about?”
 “Concatenation,” I said, getting it. “Owing to an unfortunate concatenation of circumstances, Stilton is viewing me with concern. He has got the idea rooted in his bean that I’ve come down here to try to steal Florence from him.”

Joy in the Morning, ch. 12 (1946)

young Lochinvar (p. 57)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

the muscles of his brawny arms are strong as iron bands (p. 57)

See Ukridge.

if I take the high road and she takes the low road (p. 57)

See Leave It to Psmith.

the telephone rang in the hall (p. 57)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

‘Lord-love-a-duck’ (p. 58)

See Ice in the Bedroom.

rannygazoo (p. 59)

See The Code of the Woosters.

“if I had married you, I could have made something of you” (p. 60)

Vanessa Cook joins Lady Florence Craye, Honoria Glossop, and Heloise Pringle in the roster of Bertie’s potential brides who show an alarming tendency to try to mould him to their specifications.

from hair-do to shoe-sole (p. 60)

Stiffy took it big. She shook from wind-swept-hair-do to shoe-sole, and if she hadn’t clutched at Stinker’s arm might have taken a toss.

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 19 (1963)

A thrill passed through Monty from butter-coloured hair to shoe sole.

Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin, ch. 10.3 (1969)

the bum’s rush (p. 60)

Literally, the act of being forcibly ejected from a place, as a bouncer does at a bar. Figuratively, being dismissed or rejected. In the latter sense, the OED cites Wodehouse:

He thinks Florence will give him the bum’s rush if he loses.

Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 9 (1971)

but Wodehouse had used it as early as Heavy Weather (1933):

Yes, he felt, as he stood smoking there, if he had any power of reading faces, any skill whatever in interpreting the language of the human eye, his latest employer was on the eve of administering the bum’s rush.

and Wodehouse had used it well over a dozen times in the intervening books.

jack up my soul (p. 60)

At the time when I was engaged to Florence Craye and she was trying to jack up my soul, one of the methods she employed to this end was to take me on Sunday nights to see Russian plays…

The Mating Season, ch. 22 (1949)

one grand sweet song (p. 60)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

Scripture Knowledge prize (p. 61)

Apparently first mentioned in Right Ho, Jeeves (1934), beginning in chapter 16 and prominently featuring in the following chapters in connection with the prize won by G. G. Simmons of Market Snodsbury Grammar School.

at my private school (p. 61)

See Thank You, Jeeves.

What The Well-dressed Man Is Wearing (p. 61)

Recounted in “Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves, 1925).

snapping turtle (p. 61)

Others described as or compared to snapping turtles include Bertie’s Aunt Agatha (“Jeeves and the Kid Clementina” in Very Good, Jeeves, 1930); J. B. Duff, trustee to Lord Holbeton in Quick Service, ch. 1 (1940); Lord Worplesdon in Joy in the Morning, ch. 22 (1946); Theodore, Lord Binghampton, in Barmy in Wonderland, ch. 2 (1952); Pierre Alexandre Boissonade in French Leave, ch. 6 (1956); Mortimer Bayliss in Something Fishy, ch. 5 (1957); and Sir Raymond Bastable towards his sister Phoebe in Cocktail Time, ch. 9 (1958).

froze my young blood and made my two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres (p. 62)

Alluding to the ghost of Hamlet’s father; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

Here? In Maiden Eggesford.’
‘Right plumb spang in Maiden Eggesford.’ (p. 62)

The UK first edition ends Vanessa’s line with a period as shown above; the US book has a second question mark after “Eggesford”, which is obviously correct. For plumb spang see Sam the Sudden.

regulation golf balls (p. 62)

Since 1990, British and American joint regulations specify a minimum diameter of 1.68 inches (42.67 mm) for a golf ball. Before that time, British regulations allowed smaller balls; in 1925 the British specification was a minimum of 1.62 inches (41.15 mm).

map (p. 62)

face; see The Clicking of Cuthbert.

a touch of what-d’you-call-it in my voice (p. 63)

Bertie probably means “asperity” here; in addition to four other usages of “touch of asperity” in other Wodehouse stories, Bertie has used the phrase twice before:

“What earthly good would that do?” I asked, not without a touch of asperity.

“Jeeves and the Love That Purifies” (1929; in Very Good, Jeeves, 1930)

“Yes, here we are,” replied the relative with a touch of asperity.

“Jeeves Makes an Omelette” (1959; in A Few Quick Ones)

preux chevalier (p. 64)

See The Code of the Woosters and Laughing Gas.

iron heel (p. 64)

See The Girl in Blue.

low-down (p. 64)

See Leave It to Psmith.

Chapter 8

gin and ginger ale (p. 65)

A frequent mix in Wodehouse, from the “gin and gingerbeer” bought by Professor Derrick for Jeremy Garnet in the earliest (1906) version of Love Among the Chickens to this last novel told by Bertie. Psmith recommends it to Mike Jackson in ch. 29 of Psmith in the City (1910). Others who enjoy some variety of gin and ginger include the stuttering man in the introduction to “The Truth About George” (1926; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927); Pongo Twistleton in “Tried in the Furnace” (1935; in the British Young Men in Spats, 1936); and J. B. Duff in Quick Service, ch. 10 (1940). The narrator of the Anglers’ Rest introduction to “The Story of Cedric” (in Mr. Mulliner Speaking, 1929) mentions it as one of the drinks ordered by the group.

Sundered Heart A … Sundered Heart B (p. 65)

In addition to Bertie’s habit of making an A and B case of a situation, this also references the cliché of romantic fiction when describing a separation of two loving hearts. In fact, an early golf story was titled “Sundered Hearts” in 1920. A film titled “Sundered Hearts” is mentioned in “The Rise of Minna Nordstrom” (1933; in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere, 1935). An initial search has found dozens of uses of the word by Wodehouse, apparently always in connection with hearts or the lives of lovers.

Spode … eight feet tall and six across (p. 65)

Though Bertie acknowledges twice in this book that Spode has been elevated to the peerage as Lord Sidcup, he most often uses the man’s original name that comes first to his mind (and to the minds of most readers), Roderick Spode. Bertie variously gives his estimate or impression of Spode’s height as from seven feet to nine feet seven inches.

V-shaped depression (p. 66)

See Summer Moonshine.

Wednesday matinée audience (p. 66)

See The Mating Season.

a dead fish on a fishmonger’s slab (p. 66)

Wodehouse elaborated this phrase over the years from simpler beginnings:

“The gentleman who came to the flat wore horn-rimmed spectacles, sir.”
“And looked like something on a slab?”

Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 1 (1934)

There was a long line of semi-conscious figures in chairs, swathed in rugs and looking like fish laid out on a slab…

The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 15 (1935)

Stiffy, though one of those girls who enjoy in equal quantities the gall of an army mule and the calm insouciance of a fish on a slab of ice, had unquestionably gone up in the air a bit when I had seemed about to explain to Stinker my motives for being in the room.

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 8 (1938)

“Then why do you continue to look like a dead fish on a slab?”

Lord Ickenham to Horace Pendlebury-Davenport in Uncle Fred in the Springtime, ch. 5 (1939)

As he stared at Lord Ickenham, his resemblance to a fish on a slab was more striking than ever.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 6.2 (1948)

“They’re like fish on a slab or a Wednesday matinee audience.”

“How’s That, Umpire?” (in Nothing Serious, 1950)

I would put the thing with crystal clarity, and he would just sit back, looking glassy-eyed, like a fish on a slab…

The Old Reliable, ch. 6 (1951)

He was a long, thin old gentleman in his middle seventies with a faraway unseeing look in his eye, not unlike that which a dead halibut on a fishmonger’s slab gives the pedestrian as he passes.

Howard Saxby in Cocktail Time, ch. 12 (1958)

[Gussie] was looking so like a halibut that if he hadn’t been wearing horn-rimmed spectacles, a thing halibuts seldom do, I might have supposed myself to be gazing on something a.w.o.l. from a fishmonger’s slab.

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 3 (1963)

The man’s as cold a fish as I ever encountered off a fishmonger’s slab, and how you can contemplate marrying him is a mystery to me.

Jerry Shoesmith speaking of Henry Blake-Somerset in Frozen Assets/Biffen’s Millions, ch. 7 (1964)

[During a Customs inspection, Mr. Pinkney’s] face was untroubled and his whole demeanor, as Freddie had said, was as nonchalant as that of a fish on a fishmonger’s slab.

“Life with Freddie” (in Plum Pie, 1966)

It had been well said of Galahad Threepwood from the old Pelican days onward that blows beneath which lesser men reeled and collapsed left him as cool and unconcerned as a halibut on a fishmonger’s slab…

A Pelican at Blandings, ch. 4.3 (1969)

bring home the bacon (p. 66)

See Laughing Gas.

as closely as the paper on the wall (p. 67)

See The Luck of the Bodkins.

copper-bottomed (p. 67)

Originally, from 1761, describing a ship’s hull sheathed with copper as a protection against wood-boring marine worms and the accumulation of barnacles; in figurative use meaning trustworthy or genuine.

pourparlers (p. 68)

French: informal discussions preliminary to actual negotiations.

three pip emma (p. 68)

Three p.m.; from the syllables used in Royal Air Force communications when spelling out initials or abbreviations.

tetigisti-ed the rem acu (p. 68)

Jeeves has taught Bertie the Latin phrase rem acu tetigisti.

 “Literally, it means ‘You have touched the matter with a needle,’ but a more idiomatic rendering would be——”
 “Put my finger on the nub?”
 “Exactly, sir.”

Joy in the Morning, ch. 4 (1946)

Chapter 9

girded my loins (p. 69)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

to iris out (p. 69)

From the motion-picture effect of fading a scene to darkness by gradually closing the camera’s iris diaphragm. Depending on where the iris is located in the arrangement of lenses, this can be a simple fade to black, or if the iris is more nearly in focus, it can be a gradually diminishing circular window on the scene. Figuratively, it has been used since the 1950s to refer to a person leaving a location; Wodehouse is cited in the OED twice in this sense, from “George and Alfred” (in Plum Pie, 1966) and Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin, ch. 7.1 (1972):

…when a bunch of flatfeet burst in with their uncouth cry of “Everybody keep their seats, please,” the thing to do is to iris out unobtrusively through the kitchen.

the Boer War (p. 69)

Usually referring to the Second Boer War of 1899–1902, fought between the British Empire and two nations in southern Africa settled by Dutch-speaking colonists, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.

By Order Of The Czar (p. 70)

An 1890 novel by Joseph Hatton (British, 1837–1907); online at Google Books.

The Mystery Of A Hansom Cab (p. 70)

An 1886 mystery novel by Fergus Hume (Australian, 1859–1932); see Wikipedia for a description and links to the author biography and online sources.

Nihilist (p. 70)

At the period of the book named here, the term was used most frequently for a revolutionary movement in Russia that denied the validity of existing social organizations and values, and was often considered to be linked with political terrorism.

The Uncanny Seven (p. 70)

Bertie’s apparently made-up name, intended to be that of a secret society. Compare “the Secret Nine”: see The Code of the Woosters.

played the organ (p. 70)

I don’t pretend to be a Sherlock Holmes or anything of that order, but the moment I looked at her I said to myself, ‘The girl plays the organ in a village church!’

Bertie speaking of Aline Hemmingway in The Inimitable Jeeves, ch. 3 (1923; originally in a magazine story of 1922).

that girl, to my certain knowledge, plays the organ in the local church…

A Bean speaking of Mavis Peasemarch, in “Fate” (1931; in Young Men in Spats, 1936)

called my shots (p. 71)

This seems to be Bertie’s only use of the phrase; it may refer to various games of billiards, in some of which the player must announce his intent to put a certain ball in a specified pocket before making his shot.

this way and that dividing the swift mind (p. 71)

A quotation from Tennyson’s Morte d’Arthur from Idylls of the King.

Spinoza (p. 72)

Dutch philosopher (1632–1677) Jeeves’ favourite philosopher, considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy and, by virtue of his magnum opus the posthumous Ethics, one of Western philosophy’s definitive ethicists. [JD]

beyond the dreams of avarice (p. 73)

There are two possible eighteenth-century sources for what has become a stock phrase; see for citations from Edward Moore and Samuel Johnson.

“I read the book.” “I saw the movie” (p. 73)

The 1932 novel Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, based on a real-life mutiny, was filmed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1935 starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable.

hunting crop (p. 74)

A short whip, lacking the flexible leather lash that most longer whips have; traditionally used by horse riders to tap the shoulder of a horse, but also used (as in the Sherlock Holmes stories) as an easily portable weapon.

Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey had their dispute at Chicago (p. 74)

One of the most famous boxing matches ever held, a rematch between Tunney, the world heavyweight champion, and the former champion Jack Dempsey, on September 22, 1927 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Known to history as the “Long Count Fight”; see Wikipedia for a summary of the fight.

The female of the species is more deadly than the male. (p. 74)

A quotation from Kipling; see The Code of the Woosters. Bertie’s misattribution to Shakespeare is among many such, noted in Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

rem acu tetégisti (p. 75)

An apparent misprint in the British edition; the USA version The Cat-Nappers has the usual spelling of tetigisti here.

like Balaam’s ass (p. 75)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

dramatis personae (p. 75)

characters in the play (usually now seen as a heading in a theatre program); figuratively, persons in the action.

lily-livered poltroon (p. 75)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

say ‘Go’ to and he goeth, as the fellow said (p. 75)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Stiffy Byng (p. 76)

Her encounters with Bertie Wooster are recounted in The Code of the Woosters (1938) and Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963).

the Pytchley (p. 76)

See above.

“I will be your wife.” (p. 77)

Bertie by now must be tired of hearing this declaration from women of his acquaintance.

“I can never forget Augustus, but my love for him is dead. I will be your wife.”

Madeline Bassett in Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 21 (1934)

She appeared to be held up for a moment by a slight return of the old tonsil trouble, but after another brace of gulps she got it out. “I will be your wife, Bertie.”

Madeline Bassett in The Code of the Woosters, ch. 10 (1938)

“I am thankful that I should have seen the meaning of your shy overtures in time, and that I should have had the real D’Arcy Cheesewright revealed to me before it was too late. I will be your wife, Bertie.”

Lady Florence Craye in Joy in the Morning, ch. 18 (1946)

Chapter 10

sotto voce… (p. 79)

An Italian phrase meaning “under the voice”; used as a stage or musical direction for speaking or singing softly, so as not to be overheard by others.

…and the silent tomb (p. 79)

The two phrases together are an allusion to the flowery diction of F. Anstey’s character Baboo Jabberjee, B. A. (1897). Bertie had used the pair together in The Mating Season, ch. 17 (1949) and Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 11 (1971).

with a wild surmise, silent upon a peak in Darien (p. 79)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

Public Enemy Number One (p. 80)

See The Code of the Woosters.

to free my tongue from the uvula (p. 80)

See Uncle Dynamite.

She uttered a sound rather like an elephant taking its foot out of a mud hole in a Burmese teak forest. (p. 80)

See Money for Nothing.

Tolstoy … twirling the fingers (p. 81)

Count Leo Tolstoy (Russian, 1828–1910), in “Why People Become Intoxicated” (1890).

off his onion (p. 81)

See Sam the Sudden.

Lord Chesterfield (p. 81)

See The Pothunters.

read other people’s letters (p. 81)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

like an eel into mud (p. 81)

the excellent common-sense tactics of the lesser sand-eel, which as you doubtless know buries itself tail upwards in the mud

Piccadilly Jim, ch. 5 (1917)

moved in a mysterious way her wonders to perform (p. 81)

Alluding to a hymn by William Cowper; see Carry On, Jeeves.

Chapter 11

ruddy (p. 83)

Besides being an accurate description of Aunt Dahlia’s complexion, this is also a euphemistic substitute for the impolite oath bloody (taboo because it refers to swearing “by God’s blood”).

reft, as they say, of speech (p. 83)

An adjective derived from the rare verb reave (to rob, plunder, pillage, or deprive someone of something). More commonly encountered in the form bereft.

anything went (p. 83)

Wodehouse and Guy Bolton wrote the original libretto for the musical comedy Anything Goes (1934) with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, but the book was substantially rewritten by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse before production.

75 m.p.h. (p. 84)

Miles per hour. See The Girl on the Boat.

snip (p. 84)

See Summer Lightning.

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings! (p. 84)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Red Indians … Fenimore Cooper’s books … never let a twig snap (p. 85)

See Summer Lightning.

sylph-like (p. 85)

Resembling or moving like an airborne spirit; girlishly graceful and slender of figure.

Billy Graham (p. 86)

In real life, the name of a prominent American evangelistic minister (1918–2018).

Marlene (p. 86)

See Marlene, p. 42 above.

nobbling (p. 87)

See Heavy Weather.

blush of shame (p. 87)

See Leave It to Psmith.

the purity of the turf (p. 87)

The proverbial fairness of horse racing and its associated activities; probably celebrated more as an ideal than accomplished in practice. Wodehouse used the phrase as the title of one of his most beloved stories: “The Purity of the Turf” (1922; in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

moving pigs without a permit (p. 87)

Like “failing to abate a smoking chimney” this is often mentioned as a violation of trivial local ordinances; see examples of each in the notes to Summer Lightning.

Scarlet Pimpernel (p. 87)

The hero of The Scarlet Pimpernel (1903) by Baroness Emmuska Orczy; an English nobleman who during the French Revolution uses disguise and deception to smuggle French aristocrats out of the danger of the guillotine. “They seek him here, they seek him there, Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven?—Is he in hell? That demmed, elusive Pimpernel?”

Every Nice Girl Loves A Sailor (p. 88)

Probably a reference to “Ship Ahoy! (All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor)” by A. J. Mills and Bennett Scott (1908), popularized in music-hall performances by Hetty King, a male impersonator. Wikipedia article.

Bohemian type and probably prefers whisky (p. 88)

Compare the cat Webster in “The Story of Webster” (1932; in Mulliner Nights, 1933).

exited left centre (p. 88)

Another instance of Bertie’s familiarity with stage jargon. This would be at stage left (to the right of the audience’s view of the stage) and intermediate between upstage (at the back of the stage) and downstage (nearest the audience) exits on that side.

full of beans (p. 88)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

lacklustre to the last drop (p. 88)

An altered echo of the Maxwell House coffee slogan “Good to the last drop”—part of their advertising since 1915.

showed a proper feeling (p. 88)

Jeeves is as full of class prejudices as any aristocrat; he would have found it rude for the poacher to have come to the front door of even a humble cottage.

down to the res (p. 88)

Legal Latin for the point at issue.

dirty work at the crossroads (p. 88)

See The Luck of the Bodkins.

sit here supinely (p. 89)

Jeeves’s suggestion of the adverb is surprising, since the word’s exact meaning is lying on one’s back. See Uncle Fred in the Springtime for another inaccurate phrase using it.

jugged (p. 89)

Imprisoned; American slang from the nineteenth century.

a hissing and a byword (p. 89)

See Right Ho, Jeeves, being sure to follow the link to Biblia Wodehousiana.

nolle prosequi (p. 89)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

Chapter 12

vis-à-vis (p. 91)

French: face to face.

the Maharajah’s ruby (p. 91)

In short, it is not “Pifield Rice, Investigator. No. I.—The Adventure of the Maharajah’s Ruby” that I submit to your notice, but the unsensational doings of a quite commonplace young man…

“Bill the Bloodhound” (1915)

…poring tensely over the papers connected with the singular affair of the theft of the maharajah’s ruby.

Sam the Sudden, ch. 13 (1925)

It is not like a Maharajah’s ruby or a secret treaty, which might get shoved away under a camisole and escape the eye.

The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 19 (1935)

Private Investigator Adair’s private investigations had apparently taken him elsewhere for the moment, to a consultation at Scotland Yard, perhaps, or possibly to Joe the Lascar’s opium den in Limehouse in connection with the affair of the Maharajah’s ruby.

Money in the Bank, ch. 5 (1942)

It was the sort of sniff Sherlock Holmes would have sniffed when about to clap the darbies on the chap who had swiped the Maharajah’s ruby.

Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves, ch. 20 (1960)

“Hope I’m not interrupting you when you’re busy on the mysterious affair of the Maharajah’s Ruby,” she said, “but I’d like a conference.”

Ice in the Bedroom, ch. 17 (1961)

in the soup (p. 91)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

Macbeth … Banquo (p. 91)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

let the dead past bury its dead (p. 92)

See Sam the Sudden.

Zulu knob-kerrie (p. 92)

See p. 37, above.

conducted throughout in an atmosphere of the utmost cordiality (p. 92)

A stock journalistic and diplomatic phrase about negotiations, which occasionally gives the impression that it is more optimistic than the situation really had warranted. Wodehouse alludes to it often:

From the first forkful of smoked salmon it went with all the swing of a Babylonian orgy or of one of those conferences between statesmen which are conducted throughout in a spirit of the utmost cordiality.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 10.3 (1948)

This seems to have been one of those routine business transactions, conducted—like conferences between statesmen—in a spirit of the utmost cordiality

A hold-up at Ethel’s dressmaker’s shop, described in a letter in Performing Flea dated May 11, 1952

“An atmosphere of the utmost cordiality where the dog Benjy is concerned, and the daily gift of flowers.”

Cocktail Time, ch. 9 (1958)

“So we left it that I would go off somewhere and diet, and if some day I came to her with thirty pounds or so removed from my holdings, our talks would be resumed in what politicians call an atmosphere of the utmost cordiality.”

“The Fat of the Land” in A Few Quick Ones (1959)

I mean the sort of banana oil that passes between statesmen at conferences conducted in an atmosphere of the utmost cordiality before they tear their whiskers off and get down to cases.

Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves, ch. 9 (1960)

So Lord Emsworth beamed, and when he spoke did so with what, when statesmen meet for conferences, is known as the utmost cordiality.

Service With a Smile, ch. 1 (1961)

“Good heavens, no. Our talk was conducted throughout in an atmosphere of the utmost cordiality.”

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 6 (1963)

Both host and guest had lunched well and were in excellent fettle, and this caused the proceedings to be conducted from the start in that atmosphere of the utmost cordiality in which statesmen are always basking at round-table conferences.

Frozen Assets/Biffen’s Millions, ch. 6.3 (1964)

A glance at him was enough to tell Gally that his recent telephone conversation with Veronica Wedge must have taken place in what reporters of conferences between foreign ministers describe as an atmosphere of the utmost cordiality, for his grin was the grin of a young man without a care in the world and he alighted from the car with a lissom leap that told its own story.

Galahad at Blandings/The Brinkmanship of Galahad Threepwood, ch. 11.2 (1965)

At long last he stifled a yawn and said he thought he would be turning in, and they parted in an atmosphere of the utmost cordiality.

“A Good Cigar Is a Smoke” in Plum Pie (1966)

She was fond of cats. At Ashby Hall there were three of them, and her talks with them had always been conducted in an atmosphere of the utmost cordiality.

Company for Henry/The Purloined Paperweight, ch. 1.3 (1967)

I mean, this man had just had a conference with the old ancestor which, unlike those between ministers of state, had not been conducted in an atmosphere of the utmost cordiality, and he might be thinking it odd that so soon after its conclusion she should be wanting him to take photographs of her.

Much Obliged, Jeeves/Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, ch. 15 (1971)

“I mean in an atmosphere of the utmost cordiality, the way statesmen do at places like Geneva.”

Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin/The Plot that Thickened, ch. 2.2 (1972)

Stinker Pinker (p. 92)

Bertie’s college friend Harold Pinker, whom we meet in The Code of the Woosters (1938) as a curate in love with Stiffy Byng. In Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963) Sir Watkyn Bassett, Stiffy’s uncle and guardian, refuses to give Stinker a vicarage, but Major Plank does so in order to secure Stinker’s services on the village Rugby football team, and the increase in his income allows Stinker to marry Stiffy, as mentioned in Much Obliged, Jeeves (1971).

the natives seemed friendly, so he decided to stay the night (p. 93)

“Well, the natives seemed fairly friendly, so I decided to stay the night.”

“A Mixed Threesome” (1920; in The Clicking of Cuthbert, 1922)

“The villagers seemed friendly, so we decided to stay the night.”

Summer Moonshine, ch. 4 (1937)

The natives seemed friendly, so he decided to stay the night, and in the morning he sent in his card to a high Terra del Fuegan official.

Over Seventy, ch. 9 (1957)

not having a clue to what he was talking about (p. 94)

Bertie, like many of us, is unfamiliar with the details and jargon of Rugby football.

What with one thing and another—having been at a school where they didn’t play it and so forth—Rugby football is a game I can’t claim absolutely to understand in all its niceties, if you know what I mean.

“The Ordeal of Young Tuppy”/“Tuppy Changes His Mind” (in Very Good, Jeeves, 1930)

your name was something that began with Al (p. 94)

See p. 17, above.

“Never shake thy gory locks at me” (p. 95)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

Cats will be cats. (p. 95)

Wodehouse seems first to have used this maxim in “Crime by Proxy” (1903); it was used in the magazine story “The Bishop’s Folly” (1932), better known by the title “Cats Will Be Cats” when collected in Mulliner Nights (1933). For more on the ancient phrase “boys will be boys” from which it is adapted, see A Damsel in Distress.

chez me (p. 95)

At my home.

a slight wiggling of the nose (p. 96)

Definitely a signal that Jeeves is affected by the situation; other slight facial expressions are rare, including raising an eyebrow an eighth of an inch or letting a corner of his mouth curve a quarter of an inch (“The Aunt and the Sluggard”, 1916).

‘Gorblimey!’ (p. 96)

A Cockney contraction of “God blind me” to express surprise, anger, etc. [IM/LVG]

obiter dicta (p. 96)

See Money in the Bank.

stopping to pick daisies (p. 96)

John Dawson found a possible alternate sense of this phrase in Slang and Its Analogues (vol. 2, 1891) by J. S. Farmer and W. E. Henley:

  To pick a daisy, verbal phr. (common).—To evacuate in the open air; also, to retire to make water.

The reader will have to decide whether Plum intended this sense, or had a more literal sense of frittering time away, in his other uses of similar phrases:

He simply frightens everyone who keeps in a certain room to death. And he does not stop to pick daisies, either. The audience is dead within the space of half a second.

“Living Among Ghosts” (1908)

Jack, who during this conversation had been concentrating himself on his subject’s left leg, now announced that he guessed that would about do, and having advised the Kid not to stop and pick daisies, but to get into his clothes at once before he caught a chill, bade the company good-night and retired.

Psmith, Journalist, ch. 15 (1909/1915; also present in the US edition of The Prince and Betty, ch. 18, 1912)

I turned to Aunt Agatha, whose demeanour was now rather like that of one who, picking daisies on the railway, has just caught the down-express in the small of the back.

“Aunt Agatha Takes the Count” (1922; in The Inimitable Jeeves, ch. 4, 1923)

“I’ve got you in good and solid in this house, and now it’s up to you. You don’t want to hang around here picking daisies. A nice quick clean-up, that’s what we want from you, young man.”

Bill the Conqueror, ch. 6 (1924)

“We’ve got to make our getaway to-day. So don’t you go off wandering about the fields picking daisies after I’ve gone.”

Money for Nothing, ch. 9.3 (1928)

When Bingo receives his envelope from Wee Tots on the first of the month, it is too often his practice, in defiance of Mrs. Bingo’s expressed wishes, to place its contents on the nose of some horse of whose speed and resolution he has heard good reports, and such horses have a nasty habit of pausing half-way down the stretch to pick daisies.

“The Shadow Passes” (in Nothing Serious, 1950)

It has been well said of Bertram Wooster that when he sets his hand to the plough he does not stop to pick daisies and let the grass grow under his feet.

Much Obliged, Jeeves/Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, ch. 8 (1971)

to status quo (p. 96)

See above.

Sam Weller … Mr. Pickwick (p. 96)

References to the main characters of The Pickwick Papers (1836) by Charles Dickens; Sam Weller is valet to Mr. Pickwick.

form-fitting tweeds (p. 97)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

those ‘miserable sinner’ bits in the Litany (p. 97)

The Litany is a congregational prayer, or “general supplication” in the words of the traditional Church of England Book of Common Prayer (1662), which begins “O God the Father of heaven: have mercy upon us miserable sinners”; the appeal is repeated to God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.

Many church composers have provided musical settings for the Litany; it is not clear which of these has a striking tenor part for the ‘miserable sinner’ bits.

about the height and tonnage of Fred Astaire (p. 97)

Astaire was 5′9″ tall (1.75 m) and kept his weight to 134 pounds (61 kg) in later life, according to his New York Times obituary (June 23, 1987).

the scales had fallen from my eyes (p. 98)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Oofy Prosser (p. 99)

See Ice in the Bedroom.

hue and cry (p. 99)

A legal term dating back to the Anglo-Norman French vocabulary of the thirteenth century, for a call for help in pursuing a criminal or in finding stolen goods. Originally referring to a verbal call, it later became used for printed appeals such as an early equivalent of a “Wanted” poster, a column in an official police gazette, etc.

on the qui vive (p. 99)

On the alert or lookout. From the French qui vive? (literally “who should live?” meaning “long live whom?”), a sentinel’s challenge to an intruder, expecting the answer vive le roi: “Long live the king!” from a loyal subject.

Chapter 13

“What do you know of the deaf adder?” … charm he never so wisely (p. 101)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

One wonders if Wodehouse made an intentional pun on “adder” in the sense that Graham was adding to his initial price during the process of haggling.

thirty-five quid (p. 101)

Quid is British slang for pounds sterling. The present value of Graham’s final price depends on when we assume the story to have taken place. Some commentators argue that Bertie’s stories all occurred in the decade of the 1910s, and in that case inflation from 1915 to 2021 would require a multiplier of about 72, giving some £2,500 in modern terms. If Wodehouse intended his readers in 1974 to think of then-current values, a multiplier of 7.7 would account for inflation since then, yielding roughly £270.

‘What news on the Rialto?’ (p. 102)

Aunt Dahlia is quoting from Shylock in The Merchant of Venice; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

‘Angels and ministers of grace defend us!’ (p. 103)

Aunt Dahlia has switched to Hamlet; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

‘Bringing my grey hairs in sorrow to the grave!’ (p. 103)

She now becomes biblical; see Biblia Wodehousiana.

a babe and suckling (p. 103)

See above.

rubber comforter (p. 103)

In North America this is more commonly called a baby’s pacifier.

tiddlywinks (p. 103)

A table game in which coin-sized discs lying flat are flipped into the air by pressing on their edges with a similar disc, with the intent that they will land in a cup on the table and thus score points. Originally trademarked in 1889 as Tiddledy-Winks, but simplified in popular usage.

driven that poor defenceless cat out into the snow (p. 103)

See Heavy Weather.

a bob or two (p. 104)

One or two shillings; one-twentieth to one-tenth of a pound sterling.

stained the escutcheon (p. 104)

An escutcheon, in heraldry, is the emblem (most often in the shape of a shield) upon which the elements of one’s family coat of arms are displayed. To stain it is, figuratively, to tarnish one’s family reputation.

‘Who was it out in Africa somewhere who met the other fellow and presumed he was Doctor something?’ (p. 104)

See The Luck of the Bodkins for the quotation, and Summer Moonshine for more about the parties involved.

having one for the tonsils (p. 105)

Usually this refers to taking an alcoholic drink, though one doubts that the cat would have been refreshed in that way.

“Try a Gustave Special,” was Mr. Slattery’s advice. “Swell for the tonsils.”

Hot Water, ch. 4 (1932)

so many of these modern young suction pumps, always dropping in at bars and lowering a couple for the tonsils

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 2 (1948)

Reason told him that he would never need one for the tonsils more than in the present pass to which he had been reduced.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 9.2 (1948)

I was at the bar next morning, having one for the tonsils, when Oofy blew in…

“Oofy, Freddie and the Beef Trust” in A Few Quick Ones (1959)

“Well, let’s go and have a couple for the tonsils and a pleasant chat.”

Service With a Smile, ch. 2.2 (1961)

Here he left me while he went off to fetch drinks, his first question having been Would I care for one for the tonsils, to which I had replied with considerable enthusiasm that I would.

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 10 (1963)

Arriving at Barribault’s, I found him in the lobby where you have the pre-luncheon gargle before proceeding to the grill-room, and after the initial What-ho-ing and What-a-time-since-we-met-ing inevitable when two vanished hands who haven’t seen each other for ages re-establish contact, he asked me if I would like one for the tonsils.

Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 3 (1971)

like a wolf on the fold, his cohorts all gleaming with purple and gold (p. 105)

See The Code of the Woosters.

barristers (p. 105)

Members of the British legal profession who specialize in arguing cases in court.

Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner (p. 105)

French: “To know all is to forgive all.”

preux chevalier (p. 106)

See The Code of the Woosters and Laughing Gas.

The girls you’ve been engaged to … would reach … from Piccadilly to Hyde Park Corner (p. 106)

Piccadilly runs in a straight line from Piccadilly Circus, in the heart of the West End theatre district, to Hyde Park Corner, where it turns into Knightsbridge. The distance is 1600 meters, or approximately a mile; enough for a thousand girls at 1.6 meters (5′3″) each.

“I suppose if all the girls Freddie Widgeon has been in love with were placed end to end—not that one could do it, of course—they would reach from Piccadilly Circus to Hyde Park Corner. Further than that, probably, because some of them were pretty tall.”

Ice in the Bedroom, ch. 3 (1961)

Anatole, God’s gift to the gastric juices (p. 107)

See “Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925) for the story of how Anatole came to cook for the Travers household.

Balm in Gilead (p. 107)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

manna in the wilderness (p. 108)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Chapter 14

he betrayed no emotion, continuing to look as if he had been stuffed by a good taxidermist (p. 109)

See Summer Lightning.

a toad at Harrow … educated at Eton (p. 110)

Eton and Harrow are two of the best-known British public schools (see Thank You, Jeeves for a definition); Bertie mingles their names with a classic quotation made famous by Kipling: see The Girl in Blue.

sitting pretty (p. 110)

See Sam the Sudden.

Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis (p. 111)

See Thank You, Jeeves.

This was indeed the most unkindest cut of all, sir. (p. 111)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

He died some years ago. (p. 111)

In 1910, to be precise.

the iron-bandlike muscles of his brawny arms (p. 112)

An allusion to Longfellow’s Village Blacksmith: see Ukridge.

the pink slip (p. 112)

Though many official documents may be printed on a slip of pink paper, over the twentieth century (especially in the USA and Canada) this has come most often to refer to a notice of dismissal from a job, although figuratively it can mean other kinds of rejection, as here. The OED cites Wodehouse in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 9 (1963):

“You mean that if Madeline hands Gussie the pink slip, she’ll marry you?”

although he had used it in earlier stories as well:

I heard she had handed him the pink slip.

“Unpleasantness at Kozy Kot” (in the USA edition of A Few Quick Ones, 1959)

she had told him … that she had handed you the pink slip.

Service With a Smile, ch. 9.3 (1961)

Many a girl, he told himself, who in the heat of the moment had handed her loved one the pink slip, finds after thinking it over in the privacy of her chamber in the course of sleepless nights that what she had supposed to be a sound, rational move was in reality the floater of a life-time.

Ice in the Bedroom, ch. 2 (1961)

won’t be worth a moment’s purchase (p. 112)

This somewhat rare phrase is a figurative use of an older sense of purchase to mean the annual rent or income from leased land, as in buying a property for “twenty years’ purchase”: at twenty times the annual return from renting it. In the sense Bertie uses it, the OED cites “I don’t think your life’s worth a quarter of an hour’s purchase” from J. Vanbrugh in 1697.

cosh—or blackjack—which he had taken away from … Bonzo some months previously (p. 112)

As far as I can tell, Bonzo’s cosh is not mentioned earlier in Bertie’s memoirs. A parallel incident involving young Thos, Aunt Agatha’s son, is recounted in The Mating Season (1949), in which Jeeves impounds the cosh that Thos intended to use on his schoolmate Stinker, and ends up using it on Constable Dobbs; that cosh reappears in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (1954) when Bertie gets it from Jeeves as protection against Stilton Cheesewright’s jealous threats.

melancholy had marked him for her own (p. 113)

See A Damsel in Distress.

to pull off your head and make you swallow it (p. 114)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (p. 114)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

taken out an accident policy with him (p. 115)

In a somewhat parallel situation, Stilton Cheesewright is deterred from jealous revenge on Bertie in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (1954) because he has drawn Bertie’s name in the sweepstake on the Drones Club darts tournament, which Bertie is expected to win, and injuring Bertie would result in losing the prize money.

parted brass rags (p. 116)

See Carry On, Jeeves.

yours, even unto half my kingdom (p. 117)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Balmoral, Mafeking Road (p. 117)

A house name characteristic of the aspirations of the lower middle classes. Balmoral is the Scottish castle and estate belonging to the British royal family. Other modest homes also named Balmoral include one belonging to a Mr. Walkinshaw in Acacia Road, Valley Fields (Sam the Sudden, ch. 28), also mentioned in Something Fishy/The Butler Did It, ch. 7; one in Basingstoke where Bertie’s retired Nurse Hogg lives (The Mating Season, ch. 2); and a presumably grander one on Wimbledon Common in “The Right Approach” (in A Few Quick Ones).

For Mafeking see Cocktail Time; Mafeking in South Africa was the site of a 217-day siege battle in 1899–1900 during the Second Boer War, eventually resulting in a British victory.

memory returned to its throne (p. 117)

Here memory is personified as being enthroned in the mind; in a similar phrase, reason is often said to return to its throne: see Hot Water.

the hour, which was getting on for six o’clock, produced the man (p. 118)

Bertie takes a stock phrase (see Cocktail Time) in which “hour” usually means simply “the current situation” and humorously alters it to refer to the present clock time.

back at the old stand (p. 118)

See Bill the Conqueror.

one of the mugs (p. 119)

A mug is a gullible simpleton, a person easily persuaded or taken advantage of (British slang, mid-nineteenth century).

twister (p. 119)

See Something Fishy.

had me in a cleft stick (p. 119)

See The Code of the Woosters.

Chapter 15

Turganieff (p. 121)

Spelled thus in the UK first edition; the US version The Cat-Nappers has the more common transliteration Turgenev. Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev (1818–1883) wrote novels, plays, poems, and short stories, and worked as a translator and popularizer of Russian literature in other parts of Europe.

limp purple leather (p. 121)

“I let him have a large allowance, and what did he do with it? Published a book he had written on the Prose of Walter Pater! At his own expense, in limp purple leather!”

Sir George Pyke, speaking of his son Roderick in Bill the Conqueror, ch. 1.2 (1924)

“It must be published, of course, bound in limp leather, preferably of a violet shade, in a limited edition, confined to one hundred and five copies.”

“Came the Dawn” (1927; in Meet Mr. Mulliner)

But this was stuff from one of those books they bind in limp purple leather and sell at Christmas.

Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves, ch. 4 (1960)


Psmith moved to the other end of the seat, and, taking his bag down from the rack, extracted a slim volume bound in squashy mauve.

Ralston McTodd’s poetry in Leave It to Psmith, ch. 7.1 (1923)

Cast him into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (p. 122)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

signed the charge sheet in the vestry (p. 123)

A charge sheet is a record made in a police station of criminal charges made against an accused person. The vestry is the robing room and business office of a church. Bertie alludes to entering his name on the marriage certificate as if it were a criminal proceeding.

last of the Woosters (p. 123)

See Heavy Weather.

Pure … as the driven s. (p. 124)

As the driven snow; a cliché in English at least since the eighteenth century; the variant “as white” dates back to the fourteenth century. Presumably snow that is still being carried along by the wind, before it has settled on the ground or has been piled into drifts, has not had a chance to become tainted with dirt.

Casabianca … burning deck (p. 124)

See Leave It to Psmith.

Casanova (p. 124)

See The Luck of the Bodkins.

blotting her copybook (p. 124)

See p. 37, above.

Wee Nooke (p. 124)

Also the name of the cottage at Steeple Bumpleigh, owned by Lord Worplesdon, where Bertie stays in Joy in the Morning (1946) until young Edwin Craye burns it down.

G.H.Q. (p. 124)

General Headquarters: a military term for the site of the command of armed forces. First cited from an 1856 letter of Florence Nightingale, during the Crimean War.

Printed GHQ without periods in the US version The Cat-Nappers.

Alpine Joe … statuette … Sir Watkyn Bassett (p. 125)

This episode is told in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963).

Inspector Witherspoon of Scotland Yard (p. 125)

A pseudonym adopted by Jeeves to get Bertie out of the misunderstanding in the tale referenced in the preceding note.

omitted to take off stage with her (p. 126)

Bertie’s speech is laden with theatrical jargon; here he speaks of the sitting room as if it were a stage set, with his readers acting as a theatre audience, having watched Vanessa exit through the kitchen door into the wings of the stage.

In the US version The Cat-Nappers the adverb offstage is printed as a single word.

full swing … chip shots (p. 127)

Golf terminology this time. A chip shot is made when the ball is near the green but not yet on it, and a short swing with a sharply angled club is typically used.

leap like a lamb in springtime (p. 127)

“Weighs a hundred and eighty pounds and as skittish as a young lamb in springtime!”

Jill the Reckless/The Little Warrior, ch. 12.1 (book versions only, 1920)

Mr. Frisby buzzed the buzzer, and his private secretary came gamboling into the room like a lamb in springtime.

Big Money, ch. 8 (1931)

To avoid being hit on the shins, he leaped like a young lamb in springtime and, descending, found himself with one leg between the rungs.

If I Were You, ch. 24 (1931)

Every syllable the O.B.E. had spoken had caused his heart to leap within him like a young lamb in springtime, and his mouth curved in a smile.

“The Smile That Wins” (1931; in Mulliner Nights, 1933)

He leaped like a lamb in springtime.

Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 20 (1934)

His eye was wild; his mouth hung ajar; and his Adam’s apple was gambolling like a lamb in springtime.

Quick Service, ch. 1 (1940)

The voice of Sebastian Beach had spoken at his elbow, causing him to leap like a lamb in springtime.

Pigs Have Wings, ch. 5.2 (1952)

When the hat he loved had suddenly parted from its moorings and gone gambolling over the pavement like a lamb in springtime, Sir Raymond Bastable’s initial impression that it had been struck by a flying saucer had not lasted long.

Cocktail Time, ch. 2 (1958)

“Here,” said Mr. Schoonmaker, and thrusting a piece of paper into the butler’s hand he curvetted off like, thought Beach, an unusually extrovert lamb in springtime.

Service With a Smile, ch. 12 (1961)

So now, cupping his lips with both hands in order to increase the volume, he observed: “Pig-Hoo-Ey!!!” and Sam, who had not been expecting it, leaped like a lamb in springtime.

Galahad at Blandings, ch. 8.2 (1965)

“Sit in with me in a plan or scheme which I have in mind, and he’ll go pirouetting about his clinic like a lamb in springtime.”

“Jeeves and the Greasy Bird” (in Plum Pie, 1966/67)

He had reached the steps that led to it and was thinking that twenty years ago he would have slept out in the open on a night like this, when a voice from the darkness uttered the word ‘Hi!’ causing him to leap like a lamb in Springtime and lose the thread of his thoughts.

Company for Henry/The Purloined Paperweight, ch. 6 (1967)

He was standing at the top of the basement stairs, which he had climbed in his customary silent fashion, and Mike leaped like a lamb in springtime.

Do Butlers Burgle Banks?, ch. 12.1 (1968)

gawd-help-us (p. 127)

See p. 19, above. Both US and UK book editions capitalize Gawd in chapter 3 and have it in lower case here; the reason is unknown.

in an individual plate with watercress round it (p. 127)

See Leave It to Psmith.

would never see fifty-five again (p. 127)

In the previous paragraph, Pop Cook is described as “elderly”; 55 seems somewhat young here as a marker of that stage of life. Perhaps Gertrude in “Company for Gertrude” (1928) would have had that opinion, complaining that all her family live to sixty, but the present book was written when Wodehouse was in his nineties.

come a purler (p. 128)

Take a headfirst fall or trip; British colloquial from mid-19th century.

Gussie Fink-Nottle and the portrait at Aunt Dahlia’s (p. 128)

See chapter 7 of The Code of the Woosters (1938). Coincidentally that portrait was also of a chap in a three-cornered hat.

Chapter 16

bumps-a-daisy (p. 129)

See The Mating Season.

squiggle-eyed (p. 129)

See Very Good, Jeeves.

like a fastidious luncher observing a caterpillar in his salad (p. 129)

See Money for Nothing.

skipping like the high hills (p. 130)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Cyrano de Bergerac (p. 130)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

He heaved a sigh, as if he had found a dead mouse at the bottom of his tankard. (p. 131)

He had the air of one into whose cup of joy an unfriendly hand has dropped a dead mouse.

Bill the Conqueror, ch. 1.1 (1924)

But why Hash should look like one who has drained the four ale of life and found a dead mouse at the bottom of the pewter, Claire did not know…

Sam the Sudden, ch. 21.1 (1925)

Percy continued to stare before him like a man who has drained the wine-cup of life to its lees, only to discover a dead mouse at the bottom.

“The Amazing Hat Mystery” (1933; in Young Men in Spats, 1936)

“And did you notice,” I inquired in my turn, “how he looked when you said ‘Bertie Wooster’? Like someone finding a dead mouse in his pint of beer.”

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 9 (1954)

a sleekit timorous cowering beastie (p. 131)

From “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns (1785):

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!

UK first edition has the misprint “the sleekist timorous cowering beastie” here, but spells ‘sleekit’ correctly in Chapter 17.

Be bloody, bold and resolute (p. 132)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

You have made my path straight (p. 132)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

that God was in his heaven and all right with the world (p. 132–133)

See Leave It to Psmith.

I counted my blessings one by one (p. 133)

This could allude to one of several popular hymns and spiritual songs using this phrase.

All was quiet on the Porter front (p. 133)

A glancing reference to All Quiet on the Western Front, a 1928 novel by Erich Maria Remarque told from the point of view of German soldiers in the First World War.

in something of a doodah (p. 133)

See The Code of the Woosters.

some strong swimmer in his agony (p. 133)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

taking the rap (p. 134)

Accepting responsibility for and the consequences of an error or crime. The OED’s first citation from the Chicago Tribune in 1919 has the phrase ‘take the rap’ in quotation marks, presumably as a recently coined phrase.

shot a fox (p. 134)

In British fox-hunting circles, this is about as unsportsmanlike an action as there is.

Your words are like the crackling of thorns under the pot, as the fellow said. (p. 135)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

touched Jimmy (p. 135)

That is, asked him for a loan or contribution.

bite his ear (p. 135)

See Leave It to Psmith.

hell to pay … what the devil to do (p. 135)

One assumes that Aunt Dahlia is giving a free rendering of the vicar’s words in her own vocabulary, rather than quoting him accurately.

put his shirt on (p. 135)

wager all the money that he can raise

a cert. (p. 136)

A certainty, a sure thing.

Daffodil Days (p. 136)

Presumably a magazine belonging to the previous occupant of the cottage, but this is its only mention. Perhaps an earlier reference to it was omitted during editing.

There seems to be no relation to the fund-raising campaigns of the Canadian and American Cancer Societies using that theme.

something chronic (p. 137)

A colloquialism describing an activity that is ongoing, disagreeable, severe, objectionable. The phrase is first cited in the OED from H. G. Wells in his 1910 novel The History of Mr. Polly.

won the Battle of Joppa (p. 139)

Joppa is a latinized version, appearing in many English translations of the Bible, of the Greek name of the city now called Jaffa in Israel, at the southern end of the modern city of Tel Aviv. Most historians now name it as the Battle of Jaffa in 1192, during the Third Crusade, fought between Sultan Saladin and the Crusader army led by King Richard I of England (Richard the Lionhearted).

This seems to be the only reference to a Wooster at this battle. Other Wodehouse characters having heroic forebears in this battle include Lord Emsworth’s ancestor Sir Pharamond (A Pelican at Blandings, ch. 10.1, 1969), Monty Bodkin’s ancestor Sieur Pharamond de Bodkyn (The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 12, 1935), and Bill Belfry’s ancestor Sir Caradoc the Crusader (Ring for Jeeves, ch. 19, 1953).

On the other hand, Sir Gervase Twistleton declined to fight in the battle of Joppa (Uncle Dynamite, ch. 9.3, 1948).

the Peninsular War (p. 139)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

She was switching from the iron hand to the hand in the velvet glove, or rather the other way round (p. 140)

See Carry On, Jeeves.

merely one more grave among the hills (p. 140)

See Ice in the Bedroom.

“My Hero” (p. 140)

See The Mating Season.

Chapter 17

more to be pitied than censured (p. 141)

See Leave It to Psmith.

‘Between the acting of a dreadful thing and the first motion…’ (p. 141)

From Julius Caesar: see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

as jumpy as the above cat would have been if on hot bricks (p. 142)

See The Girl in Blue.

made the welkin ring (p. 143)

Made a very loud sound; the welkin is an archaic literary word for the skies or the heavens.

Chanel Number Five (p. 143)

Perhaps the most famous of classic perfumes, created by Ernest Beaux in 1921 for fashion designer Coco Chanel.

deaf adders (p. 143)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the fellow who had written a book and his dog Diamond chewed up the manuscript (p. 143)

See The Code of the Woosters.

I can’t do the dialect (p. 143)

See The Code of the Woosters.

a whacking great shot-gun (p. 144)

See If I Were You.

struck in the mazzard (p. 144)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

‘Wanteher.’ (p. 144)

Though spelled thus in both UK and US books, I assume that this must be a typographical error for ‘Wantcher.’—that is, a dialect rendering of “I want you,” which spelling had been used before by Wodehouse in The Adventures of Sally, ch. 13.2 (1922) and Uncle Dynamite, ch. 5.1 (1948).

niff (p. 145)

See The Code of the Woosters.

that old song “It ain’t all violets” … No, lavender. (p. 145)

“It ain’t all lavender” was a music hall song of 1894, written and composed by Joseph Tabrar, “sung with unbounded success” by Harry Randall. Sheet music cover; voice and banjo sheet music in PDF format (p.12 as printed; p.14 of PDF file); piano-vocal performance at YouTube.

shiver my timbers (p. 146)

The OED calls this “a mock oath attributed in comic fiction to sailors,” with an 1834 citation from F. Marryat; modern readers are more likely to have seen it in Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 Treasure Island. The literal meaning is “shatter my bones to smithereens.”

a frank round table conference conducted in an atmosphere of the utmost cordiality (p. 146)

Stock journalistic jargon about diplomatic negotiations; see p. 92, above.

durance whatever-it’s-called (p. 147)

For durance vile see The Code of the Woosters.

that occasion at the Drones (p. 147)

First recounted in “Jeeves and the Yuletide Spirit” (1927; in Very Good, Jeeves).

child of unmarried parents (p. 149)

Wodehouse had used this euphemism for “bastard” as early as 1953 in Bring On the Girls!, ch. 3, in which actor Donald Brian is quoted as using the term for producer Colonel Henry W. Savage. In Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 16 (1971), Aunt Dahlia uses the term for L. P. Runkle.

Gaspard the Miser (p. 149)

The villain in the French operetta Les Cloches de Corneville, which was a hit in Paris in 1877. It had one season in London in 1878 under the title The Chimes of Normandy. [NTPM]

full to the back teeth (p. 150)

Sated with a combination of food and drink. In chapter 1 of The Code of the Woosters, Bertie recalls Gussie’s drunken address at the prize-giving at the Market Snodsbury Grammar School (told in Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 17) and describes Gussie as having been “full to the back teeth with the right stuff.”

Bongo on the Congo (p. 150)

A fictional African location, praised for its lack of conventional mores in a comic trio of the same title from the 1924 Bolton-Wodehouse-Kern musical Sitting Pretty, and mentioned as the African address of J. Bashford Braddock in “The Ordeal of Osbert Mulliner” (1928; in Mr. Mulliner Speaking, 1929).

His life is gentle, and the elements mixed in him just right (p. 152)

From Julius Caesar: see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

Chapter 18

adagio dancer (p. 153)

In vaudeville and music halls, adagio dancers performed in a style combining ballroom dance with controlled slow lifts, spins, and poses deriving from ballet and from acrobatics.

‘the fell clutch of circumstance’ (p. 153)

A quotation from “Invictus” by W. E. Henley.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
 I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
 My head is bloody, but unbowed.

ruin, desolation, and despair (p. 153)

See The Mating Season.

contented hens (p. 155)

See Heavy Weather.

feeling his oats (p. 155)

This colloquial phrase, originally American, first applied to a lively, well-fed horse (citation from 1831 in OED) then to a person who feels powerful or self-satisfied (citations beginning 1869).

the tree on which the fruit of his life hung (p. 155)

See Engaged in Gilbert & Sullivan References in Wodehouse.

oviform chocolate pot (p. 155)

Egg-shaped silver pitcher for serving hot cocoa.

contributes to the New Statesman (p. 158)

A weekly magazine founded in 1913 by members of the Fabian Society, a socialist group including Sidney and Beatrice Webb and George Bernard Shaw; it covers both politics and literature from a liberal and progressive point of view. Orlo Porter’s boast of being a contributor is a little overblown; he admits that he only writes letters to the editor and enters its competitions, rather than being on its paid staff.

Milady Boudoir (p. 158)

A printer’s error in the UK first edition; the USA version The Cat-Nappers has the correct title Milady’s Boudoir here.

a nymph surprised while bathing (p. 158)

See The Mating Season.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego … burning fiery furnace (p. 159)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the Demon King in a pantomime (p. 159)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

Chapter 19

come within a mile of do so (p. 161)

A printer’s error in the UK first edition; no doubt “doing so” was intended. The US version The Cat-Nappers has “come within a mile of achieving this” here.

flick a speck of dust from the irreproachable mechlin lace at their wrists (p. 161)

The US edition capitalizes “Mechlin” here. See two adjacent annotations at Right Ho, Jeeves.

taking up space in my cottage which I require for other purposes (p. 162)

See The Code of the Woosters.

labouring under a what-d’you-call-it (p. 162)

The word Bertie is striving for is probably “delusion” or possibly “error”; both are used in similar phrases elsewhere in Wodehouse. Another possibility is “misconception.”

driven off together to the registrar’s (p. 163)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

chokey (p. 163)

Slang for prison, derived from Hindi chauki, a police-station or lock-up. [MH]

a Drone Club tie, which is a rich purple (p. 163)

The US edition gives the club name correctly as “Drones Club” here.

Nero Wolfe (p. 163)

Corpulent and home-bound detective in stories and novels by Rex Stout, avidly read and praised by Wodehouse.

like a sheet of carbon paper (p. 164)

See The Old Reliable.

temper justice with m. (p. 164)

Here m. stands for mercy.

He had worshipped Mrs. Cork in a silent, shrimplike way, as men of his kind are so apt to worship her type of woman, for many years, and he had felt until this moment that the thought of this devotion might lead her to temper justice with mercy.

Money in the Bank, ch. 3 (1942)

“Having got Bertram out on a limb, he does not, as one would have expected, proceed to saw it off, but tempers justice with mercy, declining to press the charge.”

Sir Watkyn Bassett in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 24 (1963)

It was consequently with a surge of relief that nearly caused him to swoon that on facing the magistrate at Bosher Street Police Court he found him to be one of those likable magistrates who know how to temper justice with mercy.

“Bingo Bans the Bomb” (1965; in Plum Pie)

grinding … beneath the iron heel (p. 164)

See The Code of the Woosters.

bimbos (p. 165)

See Money for Nothing.

both hands pressed to the top of my head to prevent it (p. 165)

See Spring Fever.

the wings of a dove (p. 165)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Dartmoor (p. 165)

See The Code of the Woosters.

Pentonville (p. 165)

See Ukridge.

into each life some rain must fall (p. 166)

See Ice in the Bedroom.

a barrel of gunpowder with a lighted candle on top of it (p. 166)

“I don’t know if you have ever been tied hand and foot to a chair in front of a barrel of gunpowder with an inch of lighted candle on top of it?”

The Mating Season, ch. 20 (1949)

Similarly, if you want to kill the hero, I told them, just shoot him or hit him with a blunt instrument. Don’t tie him in a chair in front of a barrel of gunpowder with a lighted candle on it and then leave him with a fiendish laugh, because somebody always comes along and blows out the candle, and there you are, back where you started.

“How Do You Mean, Relax?” (in Punch, March 3, 1954)

‘Bodkin, have you ever been tied to a barrel of gunpowder with a lighted candle on top of it?’

Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin, ch. 9 (1972)

“I shall a tale unfold … fretful porpentine” (p. 167)

From Hamlet: see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

one of those peculiar fauna from the Book of Revelations (p. 167)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

you Scotland Yard fellows always get your man (p. 167)

A reputation more commonly ascribed to the Northwest Mounted Police of Canada; see Summer Moonshine.

He could not pale beneath his tan (p. 168)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

tieing people to sofas (p. 169)

Thus in the UK first edition; the USA edition has the generally accepted spelling “tying” here.

assault and battery (p. 169)

See A Damsel in Distress.

assegais (p. 169)

The spears which are traditionally carried by Zulu warriors. [MH]

services and co-operation (p. 169)

See Laughing Gas.

lend-lease (p. 170)

The provision of goods such as wartime supplies to an ally, with the expectation that the items will be returned or paid for later. Most commonly referring to the policy of the United States to assist Great Britain and other Allied nations beginning in 1941, even before America entered into the Second World War.

bearding Pop Cook (p. 170)

Confronting him openly or boldly; defying him to his face.

Chapter 20

rejoicing in my youth (p. 171)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the mills of the gods (p. 174)

See the Wikipedia article on this phrase and its origins and variants. This seems to be the only reference to this exact phrase in Wodehouse’s fiction; the monotheistic variant is used once as well:

As I recall Jeeves putting it once, the mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small, or words to that effect.

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 15 (1963)

One of his eyebrows rose at least a sixteenth of an inch (p. 174)

Compare p. 24, above.

fourteen days without the option (p. 174)

A jail term which must be served out, rather than having the possibility of paying a fine in lieu of the imprisonment.

buzzing along on all twelve cylinders (p. 175)

Most of the cars mentioned by Wodehouse would have had engines with four, six, or eight cylinders; see Bill the Conqueror. Twelve-cylinder engines were used in airplanes, speedboats, and racing cars to achieve a combination of power and smoothness; only a few high-end automobiles, beginning with Packard in 1915, used twelve-cylinder engines. See this article from Hemmings Motor News for more history.

See Uncle Dynamite for an earlier figurative reference to “operating on all twelve cylinders.” Another, “working on all twelve cylinders,” is in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, chapter 14 (1963).

according to Hoyle (p. 175)

See Ice in the Bedroom.

Emily Post (p. 175)

See Summer Moonshine.

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