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.

Ice in the Bedroom was originally annotated by Ian Michaud (aka The Mixer) and Lynn Vesley-Gross (aka The Dog Emily). The notes have been re-cast in Madame Eulalie’s webpage style by the editors, and all errors are solely the editors’ fault. Notes newly revised by later editors are flagged with °; newly added notes are flagged with *. See the end of this page for credits and update dates.

Ice in the Bedroom was first published November 11, 1960, condensed in a single issue of the Star Weekly, the weekend magazine supplement of the Toronto Star newspaper, nationally distributed throughout Canada. It first appeared in book form under the title The Ice in the Bedroom February 2, 1961, published by Simon and Schuster in New York. Its first British publication, with the original title, Ice in the Bedroom, appeared on Wodehouse’s 80th birthday, October 15, 1961, published by Herbert Jenkins.

These notes are keyed to the pagination of the Herbert Jenkins edition, but for those using other editions, here is a cross-reference table (link opens in a new browser tab or window) to the pagination of some other available editions.

Ice (title) °

A slang term, usually meaning diamonds, but it could also refer to any variety of jewels. In Wodehouse’s school story days an “ice” meant an ice cream. But Wodehouse used ice with this connotation as a marker for North American criminal speech at least as early as Leave It to Psmith (1923), and that is one of the first citations in the OED of this sense in a specifically criminal context; see also the annotations to Leave It to Psmith.

Chapter 1 (pp. 7–15 in the Herbert Jenkins edition)

The Nook (p. 7) *

The term in architecture variously refers to a corner or recess where walls or buildings meet, either outdoors or indoors; figuratively, it means a place of shelter, a haven of seclusion and safety. Wodehouse brilliantly characterizes its owner’s retiring disposition just by the name he has chosen for his dwelling.

Mr. Cornelius (p. 7)

The venerable house agent made his first appearance in the first Valley Fields novel, Sam the Sudden, in 1925 and has been busily writing his History of Valley Fields ever since.

Valley Fields (p. 7) °

A fictional south London suburb based on Wodehouse’s beloved West Dulwich. Numerous novels and short stories were set, at least in part, in Valley Fields, beginning with 1925’s Sam the Sudden (US title: Sam in the Suburbs). See the annotations to Sam the Sudden for a list of the residents and residences in Valley Fields in Wodehouse’s fiction.

Druid priest (p. 7)

The Celtic lands and Gaul were the home of the Druids and, while very little is known of their society, ancient Greek and Roman historians say human sacrifices were an important part of their rituals. Like Mr. Cornelius, Druid priests were traditionally thought to be bearded to the eyebrows. But, as one of the photographs in this picture gallery of operatic basses cast in the role of the Druid High Priest Oroveso in Bellini’s opera Norma will show, the traditional image of a bearded Druid priest is NOT compulsory.

Adonis (p. 7)

A handsome young man in Greek mythology who was loved by Aphrodite but had the misfortune to lose an argument with a wild boar.

summer suitings for the discriminating man (p. 7)

A snazzy summer suit which probably would have won the approval of Jeeves. “Discriminating man” sounds like a slogan from an advertising campaign, still very much in use today, judging by the 97,700 matches a Google search produces.

Drones Club tie (p. 7)

The tie worn by members of the Drones Club in Dover Street probably would not have been sanctioned by Jeeves as even Bertie Wooster, that most patriotic of Drones, has admitted it is “a little on the loud side and should not be sprung suddenly on nervous people and invalids.” The Wodehouse Society in the U.S. created its own official Drones Club tie at its 2001 National Convention in Philadelphia, choosing a pattern based on the “Old Alleynian” or Dulwich school tie but with colours of black and gold (to represent the Drones) and plum to represent Wodehouse.

Freddie Widgeon (p. 7) °

Freddie made his first appearance in the April 1931 edition of Cosmopolitan magazine as the lead character in a short story titled “Quest,” which was re-written as a Mr. Mulliner story, “The Knightly Quest of Mervyn,” when published in book form. For Freddie’s next magazine appearance one month later in the short story “Fate” he was allowed to remain Freddie Widgeon when the story appeared in the book Young Men in Spats. Including “Quest,” Freddie starred in nine short stories, most of them dealing with either his ill-fated love affairs or his attempts to raise some cash, or both. This book is Freddie’s first and only appearance as the leading man in a novel. His last appearance is a brief role in “Big Business” (1965). He is frequently mentioned by Bertie Wooster but is never onstage in one of Bertie’s stories.

A widgeon is a species of water-fowl and a member of the duck family. The OED also provides an archaic and once rare definition of widgeon: a fool; it seems to be making a minor comeback in recent fiction. And in the world of Wodehouse, Bertie Wooster, Bobbie Wickham and Gwladys Pendlebury are among the owners of a make of automobile known as the “Widgeon Seven.”

Lord Blicester (p. 7)

Pronounced Blister. Freddie’s uncle also made his first appearance in the April 1931 magazine version of “Quest” but while Freddie became ‘Mervyn Mulliner’ when the story was re-written as “The Knightly Quest of Mervyn,” Lord Blicester’s name was changed to ‘Lord Blotsam’ in the new version.

Mr. Shoesmith, the solicitor (p. 7)

Mr. Shoesmith and his daughter Myrtle made their first appearances in supporting roles in 1942’s Money in the Bank (published in 1946 in the UK) while Mr. Shoesmith’s nephew Gerald would take a starring role in the 1964 novel Frozen Assets (US title: Biffen’s Millions).

Oofy Prosser of the Drones (p. 7)

Alexander Charles “Oofy” Prosser, the Drones Club millionaire, made his first appearance in 1931’s “The Knightly Quest of Mervyn,” originally titled “Quest” in its British and American magazine publications. Oof is slang for money, so an oofy person is someone well fixed financially. A tightwad was one of several definitions for the Victorian slang word ‘prosser.’

outer crust (p. 7)

Sometimes Wodehouse used this to describe a person’s clothes as, for example, in The Girl in Blue—“She had always been critical about his outer crust, for Jerry in the matter of clothes went in, as so many artists do, for the comfortable rather than the glamorous.” Sometimes it could refer to a person’s physical appearance as, for example, this description of Madeline Bassett in The Mating Season: “As far as the outer crust is concerned, there is little, I fully realize, to cavil at in this pre-eminent bit of bad news. The eyes are large and lustrous, the features delicately moulded, the hair, nose, teeth and ears well up to, if not above, the average standard.”

Just like mother makes (p. 7) °

A term of approval, used without satire by Wodehouse at least as early as A Damsel in Distress (1919), and noted in a poem satirizing advertisements soon after his first American trip in 1904. Another advertising slogan, used by American flour, milk, and mincemeat merchants to sell their products. (“Make/bake cakes/pies/bread just like Mother makes!”)

caged eagle (p. 8) *

The metaphor goes back at least as far as the early nineteenth century, prominently in Bulwer-Lytton’s Rienzi (1835), and becoming a more common figure of speech by the end of the century, peaking sharply around 1900, according to Google’s Ngram Viewer. Wodehouse gave Billy Windsor the “general demeanour of a caged eagle” in Psmith, Journalist (1909/15).

lushing up the dumb chums (p. 8) °

While lushing up in the US means to get drunk, the British term means to make someone feel good. When a rich uncle visits, you “lush him up.” In this case Freddie was satirically noting that Mr. Cornelius’s rabbits seemed to be satisfied with a diet of lettuce.

For dumb chums see The Code of the Woosters.

rich in vitamins and puts hair on the chest (p. 8)

As John Dawson (the alter ego of “Sir Jasper Addleton” of the Blandings e-mail group) points out, “As it’s mostly understood today, ‘puts hair on one’s chest’ implies that the consumption of a product (health nostrums and elixirs and such in the 19th century) would make one more manly, strong, and attractive. The phrase evolved to mean that if one undergoes an unpleasant but necessary ordeal, that it will ‘put hair on his chest,’ i.e. teach him fortitude and perseverance and make him ‘more of a man.’ ”

In the 1933 novel Heavy Weather Monty Bodkin was fired by the owner of Tiny Tots magazine in part because he advised his young readers to eat their spinach even though “the stuff tastes like a motorman’s glove, but they say there’s iron in it, and that’s what puts hair on the chest."

Loose Chippings (p. 9)

A fictional town in Sussex, also the home of Mr. and Mrs. Steptoe in Quick Service. As we will learn in Chapter 3, Leila Yorke is living at Claines Hall, which was also the home of the Steptoes. As Wodehouse scholar N. T. P. (Norman) Murphy, henceforth to be cited here as “Murphy,” points out in his A Wodehouse Handbook, the name itself is a joke. When British roads are re-surfaced, wet tar is put down, followed by a layer of gravel chippings. Since some of the chippings usually lay loose on the top layer, warning signs are erected to alert motorists to the presence of loose chippings.

Leila Yorke, the novelist (p. 9) °

Although the reader won’t actually be introduced to Leila Yorke until Chapter Four, she is one of several cheerful and active middle-aged heroines to appear in Wodehouse’s post-war novels. They're usually single or unattached at the beginning of the book and happily and romantically paired off by the final chapter. Wilhelmina Shannon of The Old Reliable is perhaps the best example of this genre.

Mark Hodson, the “Efficient Baxter” of the Blandings e-mail group and himself a frequent Wodehouse annotator, points out that in Rose Macaulay’s 1920 novel Potterism, the mother of Johnny and Jane Potter wrote novels as “Leila Yorke” with “Mrs. Potter” in brackets.

spine-freezer (p. 9)

A thriller, probably a detective novel with no shortage of corpses. It could also be called a “goose-flesher.” Bertie Wooster used both terms to describe Ma Cream’s literary output in Jeeves in the Offing (US title: How Right You Are, Jeeves).

unequal struggle (p. 9)

The battle between Freddie’s literary taste and Leila Yorke’s literary output was no contest.

lays bare the heart of woman as with a scalpel (p. 9) *

See the note at p. 177, below.

the stuff (p. 10) *

See Something Fishy for the monetary sense of this phrase. “Stuff” is also used frequently in this novel for literary output, as on the previous page, and (in ch. 11) for alcoholic liquor.

“I want to wear bank-notes next my skin winter and summer, ten-pound ones in the chilly months, changing to fivers as the weather gets warmer.” (p. 10) *

“Take J. B. Duff. There’s a case. Wears bank notes next the skin winter and summer…”

Quick Service, ch. 20 (1940)

“I was not privileged to see his underclothing, but I should imagine it consisted of thousand-dollar bills. Fellows like Tipton always wear them next the skin.”

Galahad at Blandings/The Brinkmanship of Galahad Threepwood, ch. 9.2 (1965)

blithe as a bird (p. 11) *

A possible allusion to Shelley’s “To a Skylark”:

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

specious, if that’s the word (p. 11) *

Freddie is right here if what he means is “seeming plausible at first hearing but unsound or illogical on further examination.” Sometimes Wodehouse’s characters use it in a way that somewhat hides the “good only on the surface” meaning, reserving their second thoughts for later: Bertie Wooster in Joy in the Morning (1946) states “His reasoning was specious, and did much to reassure me”; this might confuse a reader unfamiliar with the deeper meaning of the word unless he notices that Bertie mentions his reservations about Boko’s argument later in the paragraph.

affluence stares me in the eyeball (p. 11) *

Ukridge makes the same claim in “The Long Arm of Looney Coote.”

Frederick Fotheringay Widgeon (p. 11) °

Fotheringay should be pronounced Fungy, with a hard “g” to rhyme with the Bay of Fundy. But in the story “The Fat of the Land” the name on Freddie’s ticket in the Drones Club’s Fat Uncles Sweepstakes was Frederick Fortescue Widgeon—at least that’s the way Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright says it; he may have been mistaken.

sitting on top of the world with a rainbow round his shoulder (p. 11–12) *

References to two songs made famous by Al Jolson:

“I’m Sitting on Top of the World,” (Lewis/Young/Henderson, 1925): “I’m sitting on top of the world, just rollin’ along, singin’ my song.” Jolson’s recording at YouTube.

“There’s a Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder” (Jolson/Rose/Dreyer, 1928) Film clip from The Singing Fool at YouTube.

Moab is my washpot and over whatever-it-was I will cast my shoe (p. 12) °

Psalm 108:9 “Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe.” Oddly enough, it was also part of the title of Stephen Fry’s 1997 autobiography. See also Biblia Wodehousiana.

Molloy (p. 12)

Dolly and Soapy Molloy, the husband-and-wife team of incompetent American crooks, made their first appearance in Sam the Sudden. It is probably not a coincidence that author John Mortimer, a keen fan of Wodehouse, named a London criminal family the Molloys in his Rumpole series.

Keggs (p. 12)

The former butler Augustus Keggs was living in retirement in Valley Fields in the 1957 novel Something Fishy (U.S title: The Butler Did It).

snake pit (p. 13) *

Wodehouse apparently uses this epithet only here and in Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves (1960), there referring to Brinkley Court when full of unwanted guests. The suggestion that this comes from the title of the 1948 film The Snake Pit, starring Olivia de Havilland as an inmate of a terrifying mental hospital, is strengthened by Wodehouse’s mention of the film in a letter dated March 30, 1949, in Performing Flea.

back to Chapter One (p. 13) *

Freddie uses a publishing metaphor for “the beginning of my story”; this seems to be the only such usage in Wodehouse. An opposite figure of speech about the future is “peeping into Volume Two” as in If I Were You; also used in Leave It to Psmith.

great open spaces (p. 13) *

See Leave It to Psmith.

reeled and might have fallen, had I not been sitting down at the time (p. 14) *

A hypothetical calamity which Wodehouse apparently enjoyed describing many times in similar terms:

Bob positively reeled, and would have fallen had he not clutched a chair. I didn’t know people ever did it out of novels.

“Petticoat Influence” (1906)

Wilfred staggered, and would have fallen had he not clutched at his forehead.

“A Slice of Life” (1926; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927/28)

It caused him to lose his balance, and if he had not adroitly clutched Mr. Waddington by the left ear, it is probable that he would have fallen.

The Small Bachelor, ch. 2.4 (1927)

It is not too much to say, Corky, that I reeled. Yes, laddie, your old friend tottered and would have fallen had he not clutched at a chair.

“Ukridge and the Old Stepper” (1928; in Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, 1940)

Yet Archibald, sighting her, reeled as if the cocktail he had just consumed had been his tenth, instead of his first. … To save himself from falling, he had clutched at a passing fellow-member; and now, examining his catch, he saw that it was young Algy Wymondham-Wymondham.

“The Reverent Wooing of Archibald” (1928; in Mr. Mulliner Speaking, 1929/30)

Ignatius staggered and would have fallen had he not placed a foot on the brass rail.

“The Man Who Gave Up Smoking” (1929; in Mr. Mulliner Speaking, 1929/30)

Hugo had often read stories in which people reeled and would have fallen, had they not clutched at whatever it was that they clutched at. He had never expected to undergo that experience himself. But it is undoubtedly the fact that, if he had not at this moment gripped the back of a chair, he would have been hard put to it to remain perpendicular.

Summer Lightning, ch. 13.3 (1929)

You can’t reel when you’re sitting on a bed. Otherwise, I would have done so…

Thank You, Jeeves, ch. 12 (1934)

And so musical was it that he edged a bit closer and shot a glance through the window. And, as he did so, he reeled and came within a toucher of falling.

“Trouble Down at Tudsleigh” (1935; in UK edition of Young Men in Spats, 1936, and US edition of Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, 1940)

The vision conjured up by these words was so ghastly that I staggered and would have fallen, had I not clutched at a tree.

Joy in the Morning, ch. 16 (1946)

I tottered and would have fallen, had I not clutched at a passing chest of drawers.

The Mating Season, ch. 14 (1949)

Tottering, he might have fallen, had he not clutched at something solid, which proved to be Lord Uffenham’s arm.

Something Fishy, ch. 13 (1957)

It is not surprising that on receipt of this news he reeled and would have fallen, had he not clutched at a passing Watson.

Reginald Mulliner, in “Big Business” (in A Few Quick Ones, 1959)

I reeled, and might have fallen, had I not clutched at a photograph on a near-by table of Uncle Tom in the uniform of the East Worcestershire Volunteers.

Bertie Wooster, narrating Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves, ch. 21 (1960)

I reeled, and might have fallen, had I not been sitting at the time.

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

He reeled and might have fallen, had he not clutched at the Boxer Towser.

Frozen Assets/Biffen’s Millions, ch. 9.2 (1964)

He tottered and might have fallen had he not clutched at Gally, who said ‘Ouch!’ and disengaged himself.

Galahad at Blandings/The Brinkmanship of Galahad Threepwood, ch. 11.3 (1965)

Jerry did not reel, but he certainly would have done so if he had not been sitting at the moment in a deep arm chair.

The Girl in Blue, ch. 10 (1970)

It was a shock, I don’t mind telling you, and if I hadn’t been seated I would probably have reeled.

Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 3 (1971)

It is enough to say that Monty had them all and, had he not been seated in one of Barribault’s deep arm-chairs, would have reeled and perhaps fallen.

Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin, ch. 2.2 (1972)

It was a severe shock to Joe, and had he not been sitting he would probably have reeled.

Bachelors Anonymous, ch. 7 (1973)

He tottered and might have fallen had he not clutched at the umbrella stand.

Bachelors Anonymous, ch. 12.2 (1973)

Kristin Thompson, in Wooster Proposes, Jeeves Disposes, traces the source to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, ch. 16 (1897):

The hammer fell from Arthur’s hand. He reeled and would have fallen had we not caught him.

sweetening the kitty (p. 14)

Adding funds to a pool of money.

washout (p. 14) *

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

fanfare of angel trumpets (p. 14)

If Freddie had spent more time studying for his school’s Bible knowledge prize, he might have known that the fanfare of angels’ trumpets produced cataclysmic results.

Silver River it’s called (p. 14) *

First referred to in Money for Nothing (1928).

Double pneumonia (p. 15)

The late husbands of Cora McGuffy Spottsworth (“Feet of Clay”) and Maudie Stubbs (Pigs Have Wings) also succumbed to double pneumonia.

If Youth but knew (p. 15)

The 16th century French philosopher Henri Estienne wrote, “If youth but knew; if age but could.”

Chapter 2 (pp. 16–22)

season-ticket holders (p. 16) *

North American readers may be more likely to associate “season tickets” with admission to sporting events or to a series of theatrical or musical performances, but from the context it is clear that this is equivalent to a commuter’s monthly, quarterly, or annual pass for a transit system, as on a train (as here) or bus.

on the flat (p. 16) *

Racing terminology for a level course: in horse-racing, without hedges and ditches; in track and field, without hurdles.

melancholy marked him for its own (p. 16) *

See the note at p. 125, below.

the biggest thing since sliced bread (p. 17) *

Wonder Bread, the first commercial pre-sliced loaf, was introduced in 1933. The earliest citation so far found for a similar phrase is from 1952, from comedian Red Skelton calling television “the greatest thing since sliced bread.” Google Books doesn’t find a print source earlier than 1965, so Wodehouse is using the phrase in a very early part of its popularity; see the Ngram Viewer for a graph over time.

dumb brick of a Bunting girl (p. 17) °

Possibly a younger relation of Cyril Bunting, a dyspeptic lawyer we will be introduced to in the 1964 novel Frozen Assets (UK)/Biffen’s Millions (US), and who reappears in “Life with Freddie” in Plum Pie.

Alternatively, she could conceivably be Miss Marilyn Bunting of Penge, honourably mentioned in a seaside beauty contest at Folkestone judged by Jeeves, as described in Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves, ch. 11 (1960).

For the epithet “dumb brick”—apparently a Wodehouse coinage—see Carry On, Jeeves.

Take back your mink, take back your pearls (p. 17) *

Song lyric from Guys and Dolls by Frank Loesser; Vivian Blaine’s performance from the 1955 film can be seen at YouTube.

bottle of Arpage (p. 17) °

Arpege is a brand of perfume launched by the French high fashion design house of Lanvin in 1927. Arpage is probably a Jenkins misprint, although Freddie might have purchased a cheap knockoff from a street vendor who was probably also selling Rolax watches. To add verisimilitude to the theory that this was a misprint, the word is spelled Arpege in the US book and in at least one later paperback edition of the book.

Advertisements and authentic bottles spell it with a grave accent: Arpège.

his nibs (p. 17) *

See A Damsel in Distress.

lily of the field (p. 18)

Matthew 6:28: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.”

popinjay (p. 19)

A person given to vain, pretentious displays and empty chatter. Lord Tilbury thought Monty Bodkin was a popinjay in Heavy Weather.

his master’s voice (p. 20)

An allusion to a trademark and advertising slogan in the recording industry based on an 1898 painting of the dog Nipper sitting with his head cocked to one side, intently listening to the sound of “his master’s voice” coming out of the horn of a gramophone.

the best in this best of all possible worlds (p. 21)

Originally coined by German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz in 1710 but best remembered today because Voltaire pinched it for his 1759 novella Candide.

Time the great healer (p. 21)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

floater of a life-time (p. 21)

A colossal bungle or error of judgement.

gas and gaiters (p. 21)

An expression of contentment from Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby.

Black Hole of Calcutta (p. 22)

A small prison designed to hold two or three men into which 146 British prisoners of war were stuffed in 1756.

snorted like the warhorse which used to say “ha, ha!” among the trumpets (p. 22)

The plucky behaviour of the war-horse was noted in Job 39:25 “He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.”

Chapter 3 (pp. 23–29)

penny-in-the-slot machine (p. 23)

A vending machine. Apparently in 1961 when this book was published a penny could still buy something.

righteous wrath (p. 24)

In his Biblia Wodehousiana web-page Fr. Rob Bovendeaard explains, “The ‘wrath' or ‘anger’ of God is, in the biblical language, an aspect of his holiness, his righteous displeasure with sin and man’s unfaithfulness to his covenant.”

the leopard couldn’t change its spots (p. 25)

Jeremiah 13:23 “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”

statue of Anthony Briggs, J.P. (p. 25)

This statue is evidently one of the principal landmarks in Loose Chippings. It was also remarked upon in Quick Service. One wonders if the J.P. was related to Wrykyn Mayor Sir Eustace Briggs, who also had a statue erected in his honour only to see it defaced by a tar-and-feather vandal in The Gold Bat.

Tudor mansion (p. 26)

Probably one of the lovely mansions built in the reign of Elizabeth I when people accepted they need no longer fortify their place in the country. The Tudor dynasty ruled England from 1485 to 1603 but a “Tudor mansion” doesn’t necessarily date from that period. As Wikipedia helpfully points out, “In the 19th century a free mix of these late Gothic elements and Elizabethan were combined for hotels and railway stations, as well as modern residential styles in what is usually referred to as Tudor or sometimes Mock Tudor styles.”

my foul Uncle Rodney (p. 27) °

In the original magazine story “Quest” (see Widgeon and Blicester notes for Page 7) Lord Blicester had been Freddie’s Uncle Joseph but he started to answer to “Uncle Rodney” in the 1958 short story “The Fat of the Land.”

[A possible explanation might be that Rodney was Joseph’s younger brother and succeeded to the title of Lord Blicester upon Joseph’s death.]

Lincoln’s Inn Fields (p. 27)

This is the largest public square in London and many up-market lawyers, attracted by the location’s proximity to the Inns of Court, have their chambers in the buildings facing the square.

placed me in the hands of his solicitor (p. 27)

Freddie is making a joke. If you have a legal grievance with someone, you warn him that you will “place the matter in the hands of my solicitor.”

chap in Old Man River...lift that trunk, shift that bale (p. 27)

Actually the stevedore Joe was the chap in the 1927 Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein musical Show Boat who sang the hit song “Ol’ Man River.” One of the show’s other major song hits was “Bill,” with lyrics by P. G. Wodehouse, sung by Julie in Act II.

She’s the top (p. 28)

An allusion to “You're the Top,” one of the hit songs in the 1934 Cole Porter-Wodehouse-Bolton-Lindsay-Crouse Broadway musical Anything Goes. Although Porter wrote the lyrics as well as the music for the Broadway production, Wodehouse re-wrote or “anglicized” the lyrics of this song for the London production.

Chapter 4 (pp. 30–37)

Heather o’ the Hills (p. 30)

Leila J. Pinckney of “Honeysuckle Cottage” fame also wrote a novel with this title.

Catherine of Russia (built on the lines of) (p. 30)

Catherine the Great (born 1729) was the Empress of Russia from 1762 to her death in 1796. Judging by her portraits, which may have been painted to flatter her, she wasn’t an enormously large woman. Cartoonists for British newspapers weren’t as kind when drawing caricatures of her.

Fat Uncles contest at the Drones last summer (p. 31)

As described in the short story “The Fat of the Land” collected in the book A Few Quick Ones.

sold me down the river (p. 32)

Slaves in pre-Civil War America were terrified of “being sold down the river” to a far crueller master. Here Freddie is making it clear that life as a wage slave in a solicitor’s office is not to his liking.

Frankenstein’s monster (p. 32)

A monster created and brought to life by Dr. Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus.

Helen of Troy (p. 33)

In Greek mythology Helen was the wife of the Spartan King Menelaus and was said to be the most beautiful woman in the world. When she left her husband to elope with Paris, the son of the Trojan King Priam, it caused a good deal of unpleasantness. Except, of course, in the hands of Jacques Offenbach where the Greek kings respond with general rejoicing to Helen’s departure in the Act III finale of La Belle Hélène.

sprig of mistletoe (p. 33)

The earliest documented case of kissing under a sprig of mistletoe dates from 16th century England, when the custom was very popular. Mistletoe was also considered sacred by the ancient Druids and figures in Bellini’s opera Norma (see notes for page 7). Wodehouse’s idol W. S. Gilbert parodied Norma with his burlesque The Pretty Druidess; or, The Mother, the Maid, and the Mistletoe Bough in 1869, two years before his first collaboration with Arthur Sullivan.

Curaçao (p. 33)

A liqueur flavoured with the dried peel of the laraha citrus fruit grown on the Caribbean island of Curaçao.

Proust and Kafka (p. 33)

French author Marcel Proust (1871–1922) and the Czech-born, German-language author Franz Kafka (1883–1924) were probably NOT represented on Freddie’s book shelves.

squiggle eyed (p. 34)

Lowering the eyebrows to indicate annoyance or displeasure. Squiggle is probably a blending of squirm and wriggle, and means a short, irregular curve or twist.

Tutankhamen’s tomb (p. 34)

The tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen (1341BC–1323BC) was discovered and opened in 1922 to reveal an enormous array of wealth and artifacts.

sentiments deeper and warmer than those of ordinary friendship (p. 35)

A long-winded way of saying, “She’s potty about the chap.” The expression was frequently used in Victorian etiquette books and newspaper Advice to the Lovelorn columns in the 19th century. Wodehouse used it at least as early as “The Truth About George” (1926) when George Mulliner admitted to holding sentiments for Susan Blake that were “warmer and deeper (instead of deeper and warmer) than those of ordinary friendship.”

The worm has turned (p. 35)

A traditional expression indicating a reversal in fortune or a downtrodden individual getting revenge. Shakespeare used it in Henry VI Part Three:

To whom do lions cast their gentle looks?
Not to the beast who would usurp their den.
The smallest worm will turn being trodden on,
And doves will peck in safeguard of their brood.

(Love) Makes the world go round, they say (p. 35)

An old English proverb borrowed from the French and frequently used in 19th century British books, plays, etc. — Our Mutual Friend (Charles Dickens), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll) and Iolanthe (Gilbert and Sullivan) being just three of many sources.

Thomas Hardy stuff (p. 35)

English author Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) considered himself a poet who wrote novels such as Far From the Madding Crowd and Tess of the d’Urbervilles for financial gain. Another author likely to be c. by his a. on the Widgeon book shelf.

football pools (p. 36)

Although today’s state-run lotteries provide stiff competition, entering the football pools is still a popular method of trying to achieve instant wealth. The punters attempt to correctly predict the results of that weekend’s football (soccer) matches to scoop in the takings.

Castlewood, Mulberry Grove, Valley Fields (p. 36)

Castlewood, Mulberry Grove, Valley Fields — As Murphy pointed out in his book In Search of Blandings, Castlewood, Peacehaven, and the Nook of Mulberry Grove in Wodehouse’s Valley Fields bear a remarkable resemblance to the first three houses on the right as you enter Acacia Grove in Dulwich, a street Wodehouse knew well from his school days.

bed-sitting-room in Bottleton East (p. 36)

A fictional London neighbourhood down Limehouse way. Freddie’s earlier misadventures in Bottleton East can be read in the short story “The Masked Troubadour.” In his A Wodehouse Handbook Murphy proposes the tough London neighbourhood of Aldgate East as the real-life model of Bottleton East.

martyred proletariat (p. 37)

For more information about the martyred proletariat of Bottleton East, see the Mulliner story “Archibald and the Masses.”

outpost of eternity (p. 37)

This was the title of one of the dozens of novels written by Cosmo Hamilton (1870–1942). Hamilton also wrote plays and musicals, one of them being 1906’s Beauty of Bath for which Wodehouse supplied two lyrics in his first collaboration with composer Jerome Kern. In another PGW connection, Hamilton’s second wife was Julia Bolton, one of the many ex-wives of Wodehouse’s friend and colleague Guy Bolton.

George Gissing (p. 37)

An English novelist, Gissing (1857–1903) churned out 23 novels and scores of short stories, most of them dealing with issues like poverty, the struggle of the working classes, the struggle of emancipated women in a male-dominated society, etc.

Chapter 5 - (pp. 38–42)

Barribault’s hotel, Clarges Street (p. 38)

When it made its first appearance in 1947’s Full Moon this haunt of Texas oil millionaires and visiting maharajas was located in Brook Street. In Spring Fever Barribault’s had moved to Duke Street, and here it is in Clarges Street. Murphy reasons that the real-life model for Barribault’s was almost certainly Claridge’s Hotel, which can be found on Brook Street, the first address Wodehouse gave for Barribault’s. Working against Col. Murphy’s theory is that passage in Cocktail Time where Cosmo Wisdom, contemplating where to go for a good meal after being released from prison, considers “the claims of Barribault’s, Mario’s, Claridge’s and the Savoy before settling on Simpson’s in the Strand” which seems to indicate that Claridge’s and Barribault’s are two separate establishments. It’s all very complex.

Holloway gaol (p. 38)

A prison located in the Islington borough of North London, Holloway opened in 1852 as a mixed prison — Oscar Wilde was an inmate — before becoming a female-only institution in 1903. Today’s inmate population is about 500.

Bond Street jeweller’s (p. 38)

One of London’s most famous high fashion shopping streets, Bond Street is awash with jewellers. Bond Street’s web-page lists no fewer than 34 shops in the “fine jewellery and watches” category. The “Fashion & Accessories” category is even better represented.

seashore resort like Skegness (p. 39)

Skegness is a North Sea coastal resort in Lincolnshire, made famous by a 1908 railroad promotional poster with the slogan “Skegness Is So Bracing” accompanied by an illustration of a jolly fisherman galloping across the beach.

step-ins (p. 39)

This was a polite term used for a species of ladies undergarment that might otherwise be called “knickers.”

Wolf-whistling (p. 39)

A two-note whistle used by men to express approval of a woman’s appearance. Commonly heard beginning in about 1945; much less commonly heard today, considering the probable reaction to a wolf-whistle from most modern women.

cracked rocks in Sing Sing (p. 39)

Sing Sing, now known as Ossining, is the site of a maximum security prison about 50 kilometres north of New York City. Cracking rocks for cement mix was one form of hard labour used to occupy the prisoners’ time.

coop (p. 39)

An enclosure, cage or pen, usually used to confine chickens or other small animals. Here Dolly, who was recently confined in a cell, is using coop as a slang term for jail.

up the river (p. 39)

Ossining (Sing Sing) is about 50 kilometres up the Hudson River from New York City.

over on this side (p. 39)

Although well acquainted with the prison facilities in the United States, this was the first experience in a British prison for a member of the Molloy family.

potato bug (p. 40)

The Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarso decemlineata) is one of several varieties of insects that fall into the general classification of potato bug. Although the potato bug is a serious pest, known to not only damage potato crops, but also to wreak havoc on tomatoes and eggplant, anyone who has met Chimp Twist would agree Leptinotarso decemlineata has grounds to launch a slander action against Dolly for making this comparison.

boll weevil (p. 41)

This beetle (Anthonomus grandis) enjoys feasting on cotton buds and flowers. The destruction of cotton crops led many farmers to diversify their business, turning to such crops as peanuts instead. The citizens of Enterprise, Alabama erected the world’s only monument to an agricultural pest in 1919 with their Boll Weevil Monument, which hails the beetle as a “herald of prosperity.” Once again, a slander action against Dolly would appear to be more than justified.

Let’s go to the Ivy (p. 42)

The Ivy, established in 1917 and still going strong, is a fashionable London restaurant in the Covent Garden area popular with celebrities and theatre-goers.

Chapter 6 (pp. 43–49)

one-armed paper-hanger with the hives (p. 43)

A paper-hanger is a person who hangs wallpaper, a tricky enough occupation for a person with two arms. In 1908 O. Henry, in his story ‘The Gentle Grafter,’ wrote “and then I got as busy as a one-armed man with the nettle-rash pasting on wall-paper.”

sell the Brooklyn Bridge (p. 44)

The Brooklyn Bridge, a suspension bridge over the East River connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan, was completed in 1883. While selling the Brooklyn Bridge is a modern cliché indicating extreme persuasiveness on the part of the seller and extreme gullibility on the part of the purchaser, in the 1890s con-men actually made a good living by selling the bridge to gullible marks, many of them new immigrants just off the boat.

vacation South of France (p. 44)

As Jeeves pointed out in ‘Aunt Agatha Takes the Count,’ “these fashionable French watering-places are notoriously infested by dishonest characters” so Dolly and Soapy would probably be right at home there.

Le Touquet (p. 44)

Officially Le Touquet Paris Plage, but commonly known as Le Touquet, it’s a resort town on the French north coast, directly across the English Channel from Britain. With a permanent year-round population of about 5,000 persons and fully equipped with casinos, a golf course and a horse-race track, Le Touquet was one of Wodehouse’s homes in the 1930s.

a levin flash (p. 46)

An archaic word for lightning.

jools (p. 46)

Soapy must have been excited to learn of Dolly’s coup. It takes a lot to make an experienced con-man, who earns his living by being suave and urbane, drop into the argot and pronounce jewels as if it had only one syllable.

they're not hay (p. 46)

Hay is a slang term for a small amount of money. A 1943 Abbott and Costello movie It Ain’t Hay was based on a Damon Runyon short story “Princess O'Hara” but it’s questionable if Wodehouse, who was detained elsewhere in 1943, would have been aware of the film.

dancing a skirt dance (p. 47)

Skirt dances were a popular form of entertainment in burlesque and music-hall theatres in the 1890s in which women dancers would manipulate long, layered skirts with their arms to create an image of flowing fabric. It doesn’t sound like the sort of thing Soapy would do.

Selfridge’s (p. 47)

A high-end department store on London’s Oxford Street, an ideal destination for a talented shop-lifter.

make a spiel (p. 48)

To give a glib, plausible speech to sell something. A line of patter frequently used by used-car salesmen, con-men, telephone solicitors, politicians and the like.

Chapter 7 (pp. 50–55)

American hurricanes, Cape Hatteras (p. 50)

Cape Hatteras is located on the coast of North Carolina at the spot where the southerly-flowing cold water from the Labrador Current meets the northern-flowing warm water of the Florida Current or Gulf Stream, creating the potential for violent weather.

bearded pard (p. 50)

A pard is a panther or leopard. Jaques, in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, spoke of “a soldier, full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard.” In Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen (U.S title: The Catnappers) Bertie Wooster, annoyed at an outbreak of pink spots on his chest, grumbled about being “freckled like a pard” but he was alluding to a John Keats poem, “Lamia.” But Bertie not only didn’t know he was alluding to Keats, he thought a pard was “one of those dogs beginning with d” — presumably not a dachshund or a Doberman.

obiter dicta (p. 51)

A Latin term meaning a statement made in passing. In legal terms, it is a remark, such as an illustration, analogy, or argument, made in a court’s judgement that is not essential to the disposition of the case.

zareba of hair (p. 52)

A zareba is defined as an improvised stockade, especially one made of thorny bushes — not a flattering description of Mr. Cornelius’s beard. Earlier, in ‘The Clicking of Cuthbert,’ Vladimir Brusiloff had “permitted his face to become almost entirely concealed behind a dense zareba of hair” while Ginger Kemp’s Uncle Donald in The Adventures of Sally employed his moustache during meals “as a sort of zareba or earthwork against the assaults of soup.”

may his rabbits get myx-whatever-it-is (p. 52)

Myxomatosis, a disease striking rabbits that is caused by the Myxoma virus, is almost always fatal for wild European rabbits, although a vaccine is available to immunize pet rabbits. This vaccine, however, would not have been available to Mr. Cornelius’s rabbits in 1961.

summerhouse (p. 52)

A small structure or pavilion on the grounds of a country house, ideal for relaxation purposes in the summer. Blandings Castle, Brinkley Court and Windles are among the other Wodehousean country homes that come equipped with summer houses. On one notable occasion Ukridge’s Australian uncle stole a summer house for his nephew’s use.

aspidistra (p. 53)

An evergreen perennial with large, handsome basal leaves, grown primarily as a foliage houseplant.

reproduction of Millais’ Huguenot (p. 53)

Sir John Everett Millais (1829–1896) was an English painter and founder of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which was an object of W. S. Gilbert’s satire in Patience. His first popular success was 1852’s ‘A Huguenot,’ which depicted a young couple about to be separated by religious conflicts.

Bognor Regis (p. 53)

A seaside resort in West Sussex about 40 kilometres west of Brighton. Jeeves and the Brinkley Court butler Seppings have both been known to go there for their holidays.

Pekinese (p. 53)

A small breed of dog that the Wodehouses were particularly fond of. Rosie M. Banks and Julia Ukridge both kept no fewer than six Pekes for companionship. Leila Yorke claims to have six dogs back home at Claines Hall but doesn’t specify their breeds.

Machiavellian depths (p. 53)

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469–1527) was an Italian writer, historian, diplomat and political philosopher, best known as the author of Il Principe (The Prince). The title character had to be willing to act immorally and use brute force, deceit, etc. to gain and maintain power. This philosophy, summed up as “the ends justify the means,” ensured that the author would be remembered as an adjective — Machiavellian. Jeeves probably took his correspondence course.

love has wound its silken fetters (p. 54)

Silken Fetters was the title of an 1863 play at London’s Haymarket Theatre which British author Leicester Buckingham adapted from Eugene Scribe’s French play Une Chaine (A Chain). Fetters are manacles, shackles or bonds. PGW’s Laughing Love God apparently prefers to use silken fetters when shackling its victims.

chartered accountant (p. 54)

A most respectable profession. Chartered accountants can be found in most Commonwealth countries. The American equivalent is the Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

rising trout (p. 55)

A trout, loafing in the water and thinking of this and that, spots a tasty-looking insect on or slightly over the surface of the water, and suddenly springs into action, shooting up to breach the surface and catch its evening meal.

Chapter 8 (pp. 56–62)

flannels and an Eton Ramblers blazer (p. 56)

Flannels could be any article of men’s or women’s clothing made with a soft, slightly napped wool or wool-based fibre. Here the word clearly refers to Freddie’s trousers. The Eton Ramblers is a cricket club founded in 1862 and still going strong with the purpose of providing Old Etonians like Freddie with some cricket-playing opportunities.

Foreign Legion (p. 56)

The French Foreign Legion was founded in 1831 to get around a restriction prohibiting foreigners from serving in the French military. The unit was based in Algeria and primarily used to protect and expand France’s colonial empire. Popular novels and films such as Beau Geste have helped to give the Foreign Legion a romantic image of being a place where a wronged man can leave behind his old life and start anew.

Mirage (p. 56)

An optical illusion, frequently experienced in the desert or at sea.

gall of an army mule (p. 57) °

Did Wodehouse invent this expression? The earliest usage unearthed by Google was in 1922’s The Girl on the Boat (US title: Three Men and a Maid) in a description of Sam Marlowe. Stiffy Byng also shares this character flaw (The Code of the Woosters, ch. 8), as does Galahad Threepwood (Full Moon, ch. 8.2). Aunt Dahlia pretends that Jeeves has it in “Jeeves and the Greasy Bird” (in Plum Pie), and the “ordinary tough-skinned young fellow” alluded to in The Small Bachelor, ch. 2.4, has it.

[A later Google search finds the phrase in an 1881 magazine called Wit and Wisdom, quoted from an American newspaper, but this seems hardly likely to have come to Wodehouse’s attention. —NM]

Mormon elder, Brigham Young (p. 58)

An elder is a member of the Melchizedek or Upper Priesthood of the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). The practice of polygamy in the church started in 1831 with leader Joseph Smith and continued in 1844 when Brigham Young (1801–1877) led his followers to Utah. After years of controversy and legal repercussions, in an 1890 Manifesto the Church announced it was no longer performing new plural marriages. This caused some fundamentalist splinter groups to break away from the main church, and polygamy still exists in some Mormon communities today.

Drusilla Wix, Dahlia Prenderby, Mavis Peasemarch, Vanessa Vokes, Helen Christopher, Dora Pinfold and Hildgarde Watt-Watson (p. 58)

While Drusilla, Vanessa, Helen and Hildegarde don’t appear elsewhere in the canon, Freddie’s blighted romances with Dahlia Prenderby, Mavis Peasemarch and Dora Pinfold are described, respectively, in the short stories “Good-Bye To All Cats,” “Fate” and “The Masked Troubadour.”

Ouled nails stomach dance (p. 59)

A type of belly dance originated by a native tribe living in the Ouled Naïl Mountains of Algeria.

Love conquers all (p. 60)

A translation of the Latin tag “Omnia vincit amor” from the pen of Virgil (70BC–19BC).

sub judice (p. 61)

Latin for under judgement. In legal terms, it means a case is being considered by a judge or court. In most countries publicly commenting on a case — especially a criminal case tried by a jury — while it is sub judice is considered inappropriate as it could interfere with due process and lead to a contempt of court prosecution.

billy-o (p. 61)

Some people insist this expression originated with Joseph Billio, a zealous Puritan preacher in Essex 300 years ago, and a plaque in his home town of Maldon proclaims this to be true. The earliest known printed use of the phrase can be found in a March, 1882 edition of the Fort Wayne Daily Gazette: “He lay on his side for about two hours, roaring like billy-hoo with the pain, as weak as a mouse.”

Till the sands of the desert grow cold (p. 61)

This song, with music by Ernest R. Ball and lyrics by George Graff, held down the number-one slot on the hit parade for ten weeks in 1912 in this recording sung by Alan Turner —

Chapter 9 (pp. 63–71)

good news from Ghent to Aix (p. 63)

An 1838 poem by Robert Browning describes this epic journey. The Aix of the poem is the German city more commonly known as Aachen. Although the news travelled in the right direction in the Herbert Jenkins (UK) edition of Ice in the Bedroom, in at least one printing of the US edition of the book (with a preliminary The in the title) the news flowed the wrong way — from Aix to Ghent. In fact, Wodehouse frequently misquoted this poem by getting the direction muddled. This may have been due to PGW’s faulty memory or it may have been a deliberate tip of the hat to the humorist team of W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman who parodied the Browning poem with “How I Brought the Good News From Aix to Ghent (or Vice Versa).” Or, since PGW had already started sending the news the wrong way before the 1933 publication of the Sellar-Yeatman parody, it might even have been one of the private or inside jokes Wodehouse was fond of, perhaps a case of a successful Dulwich Old Boy giving the raspberry to a not-very-fondly remembered schoolmaster, possibly in retaliation for being made to write the thing out multiple times as punishment.

He was in the grip of that “grief void dark and drear, which finds no natural outlet, no relief, in word or sigh or tear” which in the early 1800s depressed Coleridge. (p. 63)

This is a slightly edited version of the first and third lines of the second stanza of “Dejection: An Ode” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) who (you won’t be surprised to learn if you've read this poem) suffered from anxiety and depression.

Harrod’s (p. 63)

A major London department store in the Brompton Road in Knightsbridge. Harrods is an arch-rival of Selfridge’s (see Page 47), so it’s good to see that Dolly gives both stores the business on her shop-lifting expeditions. The Harrods logo today does NOT include the possessive apostrophe before the ‘s.'

voice that could have come from a tomb (p. 63)

Possibly an allusion to an Act II duet with Ernest (who is legally dead) and Julia in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Grand Duke:

You cannot neglect, O remember,
A voice from the tomb!
That stern supernatural diction
Should act as a solemn restriction,
Although by a mere legal fiction
A voice from the tomb!

corn before his sickle (p. 64)

From William Wordsworth’s 1814 poem ‘The Excursion’:

The plough he guided, and the scythe he swayed;
And the ripe corn before his sickle fell.

Soup Slattery (p. 64)

The eminent safe-blower appears in the 1932 novel Hot Water.

all according to Hoyle (p. 64)

Edmond Hoyle (1672–1769) was a writer and authority on the rules of card games. The expression “according to Hoyle” is no longer restricted to card games and means according to the rules and regulations of the activity in question.

sandbag (p. 66)

A bag filled with sand and used to build a temporary dike to repel flood-waters or, in this usage, as a weapon.

Bruce and the spider (p. 69)

According to legend, the Scottish King Robert the Bruce failed in his attempt to liberate Scotland from English rule and, after being thrashed in battle in 1307, went into hiding in a convenient cave. There he watched a plucky spider repeatedly try to repair its web and, after numerous failures, finally succeed. Inspired by the spider’s “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” attitude, the king emerged from his cave, rallied his men and drove the English from Scotland.

held it truth with him who sings to one clear harp in divers tones that men can rise on stepping stones of their dead selves to higher things (p. 69)

From Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’ (1849).

hors d'oeuvres (p. 70)

Food items served before the main course of a meal.

silver lining (p. 70)

From the old proverb “Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining,” which probably dates back to a 1634 poem by John Milton. ‘Look For the Silver Lining’ was one of the hit songs in the 1920 Broadway musical Sally, but, although Wodehouse provided several lyrics for the show, this one was by Buddy de Sylva.

bluebird ... asleep at the switch ... not gone out of business (p. 70)

Wodehouse made frequent use of The Bluebird of Happiness, which surprisingly was an invention of that notorious Gloomy Gus, Maurice Maeterlinck, in his 1909 play The Blue Bird. Tenor Jan Peerce’s hugely popular 1945 record ‘The Bluebird of Happiness’ served to keep the expression in the public mind.

pêche Melba (p. 70)

At a less expensive restaurant than Barribault’s this dessert would, no doubt, have appeared on the menu as “Peach Melba.” The concoction combines peaches, raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream and was created in 1892 by the chef of London’s Savoy Hotel to honour the celebrated Australian opera diva Nellie Melba. It’s interesting that Dolly treated herself to a pêche Melba while her husband contented himself with a serving of strawberry ice cream.

it fell to earth he knew not where (p. 70)

We're back to Wordsworth again. From “The Arrow and the Song”:

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth I knew not where.

balloon will go up (p. 70)

This expression originated in the trenches of the First World War. One side would launch a balloon with the intention of learning the enemy’s positions and strength. As a result, the hoisting of a balloon served as a warning to the infantry that a major attack was imminent.

play hooky (p. 70)

American slang coined about 1840 and meaning to take unauthorized time off from school or work. Wodehouse spelled the word in both his US and UK publications 'hooky’ after World War Two, but ‘hookey’ prior to that. Playing hooky is not to be confused with playing Blind Hooky, a card game rather like Persian Monarchs and an important part of the plot of the Mulliner story “The Smile That Wins.”

Chapter 10 - (pp. 72–81)

the Pen and Ink Club (p. 72)

The Pen and Ink Club (Julia Ukridge, President) made its first appearance in “Ukridge Sees Her Through” when the story’s narrator, Corky Corcoran, made it clear he didn’t think much of the pretentious pomposity of the club’s members. Murphy suggests PEN (John Galsworthy, President) might have been the Pen and Ink Club’s real-life model.

suddenly it’s Spring (p. 72)

This was the title of a 1947 Hollywood film starring Fred MacMurray and Paulette Goddard. In 1961 Sally may also have been thinking of Jack Popplewell’s 1959 three-act comedy And Suddenly It’s Spring which played at London’s Duke of York’s Theatre starring Frank Lawton and Margaret Lockwood.

fêtes that are worse than death (p. 72)

A fate worse than death was a cliché frequently heard in Victorian melodramas. Lord Emsworth would certainly have described the Blandings Parva School Treat as a fête worse than death had he been clever enough to think of the pun.

pince-nez (p. 72)

From French, literally meaning “pinches the nose.” Eyeglasses without the usual frame hooking over the ears, but held in place by a spring gripping the nose, and usually attached by a cord to a button on a gentleman’s waistcoat. Pince-nez wearers in Wodehouse were usually pretentious artistic types or pompous magistrates or schoolmasters — Sir Watkyn Bassett springs to mind as an example. Lord Emsworth is a notable exception to this generalization.

female of the species is far deadlier than the male (p. 72)

Rudyard Kipling pointed out (and repeated it three times just to make sure he got the point across) “For the female of the species is more deadly than the male” in his 1911 poem ‘The Female of the Species.'

Saxby, literary agent (p. 73)

Leila Yorke is represented by the same literary agent employed by “Richard Blunt,” the author of Cocktail Time.

holiday-at-Blackpool (p. 73)

A seaside resort town on Lancashire’s Irish Sea coast.

into each life some rain must fall (p. 73)

In his poem “The Rainy Day,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) philosophically noted:

Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

It’s possible that Leila was thinking of a popular 1944 song by Ella Fitzgerald and Bill Kenny that appropriated the line in question as its title.

Popgood and Grooly (p. 74)

This publishing house made its first appearance in 1919’s A Damsel in Distress (where it was named Popgood, Crooly & Co. in the UK edition) and remained a fixture for the next fifty years. Based on the fictional firm of Popgood and Groolly in F. C. Burnand’s More Happy Thoughts (1871).

[Actually, Wodehouse first used “Popgood and Grooly” in 1905 in “The Autograph Hunter”. See the notes to A Damsel in Distress for more on Burnand’s stories. —NM]

sport with Amaryllis in the shade (p. 74)

Amaryllis is a variety of small flowering bulb although a group of tropical flowering plants called Hippeastrum by scientists is also frequently called Amaryllis. This quotation is from Milton’s “Lycidas” -

Were it not better done, as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade.

hunkadory (p. 74)

Usually spelled as two words — hunky dory. Slang, it’s the approximate American equivalent of spiffing or oojah-cum-spiff. The word origin may date back to 19th century American sailors in Japan while on shore leave making a bee-line for the local main street ('Honcho-dori’ in Japanese) for an evening’s entertainment.

skip like the high hills (p. 74)

Probably a combination of or a misquoting of two Psalms, the first for skipping and the second for the high hills: 114:4 / “The Mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like rams” and 68:16 / “Why leap ye, ye high hills?”

shining with a glad light (p. 74)

Possibly from an English translation of Goethe’s Iphigenie en Tauris. In Act III Pylades asks the siblings, “Dost thou not recognize this holy grove, and the glad light, that shines not for the dead, and us, thy friend and sister, as our arms are closely twined around thee?” Or we might be able to place the blame on Chaucer for writing The Floure and the Leafe. After noting the “branchis brode, laden with levis new” the poet specified the colour scheme of the new leaves — “Some very rede; and some a glad light grene.” (Spelling wasn’t one of Chaucer’s strong points.)

a checkered life (p. 75)

A life marked by dubious episodes, suspect in character or quality.

coppers, peelers, rozzers, flatfeet, fuzz, bulls (p. 75)

Anyone who, on the spur of the moment, can produce no fewer than six derogatory slang words for a police officer is probably not a good prospect for a sales pitch to purchase tickets for the annual concert in aid of the Policeman’s Orphanage.

take the well-known biscuit (p. 76)

A British translation of the expression “takes the cake,” meaning to surpass every other possible contingency. The expression may date back to ancient Greece when a small prize of a sweetened cake was presented to the most vigilant sentry at the end of the night watch. Or it might date to Aristotle’s remark in The Knights — “If you surpass him in impudence, then we take the cake.”

See also “takes the biscuit” in “A Corner in Lines”; “gets away with the biscuit” in Psmith, Journalist; “sneak the biscuit” in Psmith in the City; “took the biscuit” in “Jeeves and the Spot of Art”; “cop the biscuit” in If I Were You; “took the well-known biscuit” in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves.

constabulary (p. 76)

A police force, police station, or group of constables in countries like Britain and Canada where “constable” is a police officer’s entry rank.

Asleep in the Deep (p. 76)

an 1897 song with lyrics by Arthur J. Lamb and music by Henry W. Petrie. Presumably Sergeant Banks is a bass.

Loudly the bell in the old tower rings,
Bidding us list to the warning it brings.
Sailor take care! Sailor take care!
Danger is near thee. Beware! Beware! Beware! Beware!
Many brave hearts are asleep in the deep, So beware! Beware!
Many brave hearts are asleep in the deep, So beware! Beware!

five bob (p. 77)

a five shilling ticket.

wooden nickels (p. 77) °

These were tokens used in vending machines at American fairs and sideshows in the 19th century. Con-men would frequently try to pass them off as real money when dealing with rubes in the country.

Used in “The Golden Flaw” (1920); by Sam Bulpitt in Summer Moonshine, ch. 14 (1938); by Freddie Threepwood in Full Moon, ch. 8.1 (1947); by Mervyn Potter in Barmy in Wonderland, ch. 13 (1952); and by Lord Ickenham in Cocktail Time, ch. 8 (1958). Each of these uses is by an American or by an Englishman who has spent time in America.

Walter Scott’s The Lay Of The Last Minstrel (p. 78)

A 48-page poem by Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) so Dolly should be grateful that Mr. Cornelius only recited a few lines.

ninctobinkus (p. 79)

a slang word, roughly equivalent to a thingummy.

Number three omnibus (p. 81)

The Number Three bus still commutes between Dulwich (Valley Fields) and central London, just as it did when Wodehouse was a schoolboy in the 1890s.

Chapter 11 (pp. 82–91)

gentleman in Oklahoma...everything was coming his way...Oh, What a Beautiful Morning! (p. 82)

A reference to one of the many hit songs from the 1943 Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! in which Curly sings “Oh, what a beautiful morning, Oh, what a beautiful day, I got a beautiful feeling everything’s going my way.”

suffered from corns (p. 82)

Mr. Jervis was in good company, as the Blandings butler Beach also suffered from corns, an ingrowing callus on the foot.

joy reigned supreme (p. 82)

Another cliché Wodehouse would have been familiar with from his boyhood reading of schoolboy fiction. It appeared in print at least as early as 1837 under Edgar Allan Poe’s by-line. And in 1906 as PGW eked out a living as a free-lance journalist, author and writer of light verse, the life-long cricket enthusiast certainly would have seen and enjoyed Albert Craig’s poetic rhapsody celebrating the batting prowess of Jack Hobbs of Surrey (162 not out) in a match against Worcestershire at the Oval.

Joy reigns supreme amongst the Surrey throng,
Patrons break out in one triumphant song;
Young Hobbs we loved as hero of today,
Gaily he steers along his conquering way.

Emily Post shake her head at (p. 83)

American author Emily Post (1873–1960) wrote a 1922 book on etiquette and a syndicated newspaper column on good manners.

Bollinger Bar, Bond Street (p. 83)

A Bollinger Bar is an expensive champagne bar, Bollinger being an upmarket champagne label. Today there is a Bollinger Bar in London’s Marriott Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, but Murphy reports there has never been a Bollinger Bar in Bond Street. Bertie Wooster dropped into this same fictional Bond Street Bollinger Bar for a snifter at the beginning of Joy in the Morning so he may have been the member of the cognoscenti to recommend the place to Freddie. In 2000 Bollinger teamed up with the Everyman publishing house to start the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, the UK’s only literary award for comic literature.


Italian for persons with superior knowledge and understanding of a particular field, in this case, the quality of London’s watering holes.

fortissimo (p. 85)

Another Italian word, this time a musical term meaning very loud.

fifty-seven pangs (p. 85)

This was an allusion to an advertising campaign by an American soup merchant who boasted of having fifty-seven varieties. But, there’s no doubt about it — Wodehouse thought fifty-seven was a funny number. Other examples include: “the lunches of fifty-seven years had caused his chest to slip down to the mezzanine floor” / “she showed about fifty-seven front teeth” / “a fat man with about fifty-seven chins” / “I've just had fifty-seven cables from home” / and “they clubbed fifty-seven varieties of Hades out of your old grand-pop.”

cuts to the quick (p. 85)

To injure someone emotionally. The quick is the tender, sensitive flesh of the body, especially under the nails, so being literally cut to the quick would be dashed painful.

a soprano voice (p. 86)

The highest adult female voice. Nellie Melba of pêche Melba fame was a soprano. So was Tuppy Glossop’s old flame Cora Bellinger.

Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake (p. 87)

An 1810 poem converted by Rossini into his 1819 opera La Donna del Lago.

turned to ashes in his mouth (p. 90)

From The King’s Own, an 1830 novel by Frederick Marryat (1792–1848). “The fruit is turned to ashes in his mouth at the fancied moment of enjoyment.”

hot dogs at Coney Island (p. 90)

Coney Island is a Brooklyn peninsula and beach that was home to an amusement park that was extremely popular in the first half of the twentieth century. A Coney hot dog is topped with an all-meat beanless chili and diced or chopped white onions, with one or two strips of yellow mustard.

Chapter 12 (pp. 92–98)

shepherd’s pie and apple dumpling (p. 92)

Shepherd’s pie, a meat pie with a mashed potato crust, is a traditional British pub meal. The meat in the pie should be lamb or mutton to provide the tie-in with a shepherd. An apple dumpling is a popular dessert consisting of a baked pastry filled with apple, cinnamon, and an assortment of dates, sultanas, and/or raisins.

fifty-to-one outsider (p. 92)

A one pound bet on this long-shot would produce a 51 pound payoff, with the return of your stake plus a 50 pound dividend.

shorten the odds (p. 92)

But if a lot of people started betting on that 50-to-1 outsider, those odds would very soon start to drop dramatically, thus reducing the eventual payoff.

Rocky Mountains to shoot grizzly bears (p. 95)

A favourite pastime of Wodehouse characters unlucky in love. It was also cited by Charlotte Mulliner when she wrote,

“When cares attack and life seems black,
How sweet it is to pot a yak,
Or puncture hares and grizzly bears,
And others I could mention.”

However today Charlotte and Joe would have difficulty shooting grizzlies in the Rockies with anything but a camera. While grizzly hunting is still permitted in British Columbia, it is extremely limited and a lottery system is used to distribute the grizzly hunting licences. Even if Joe should win the lottery and obtain a licence, he would be limited to one grizzly bear instead of the plural bears imagined by Sally.

vaudeville (p. 95)

A theatrical variety show popular in North America from the 1880s to about 1930. A typical evening at the vaudeville theatre might feature a few comedians, a magician, an animal act, a juggler or two, some singers (our old friend Nellie Melba of pêche Melba fame made an extremely lucrative tour of North American vaudeville houses in the 1890s) and a specialty dance act or two.

say “Bo!” to a goose (p. 95)

Freely translated, this means Joe was a coward, unable to say “Bo!” to a fool. Legend has it that when Ben Jonson was introduced to a nobleman the peer was decidedly unimpressed and tactlessly exclaimed, “What! Are you Ben Jonson? Why, you look like you couldn’t say Bo to a goose!” At which point Jonson looked the peer in the eye, said “Bo!”, bowed and walked away.

“resting” (p. 95) *

A term from the world of theatre: a jobless actor without an engagement somewhere on the horizon will say that he is “resting.” [OvL]

sob sister on the evening paper (p. 96)

In the days when female journalists were rarely assigned to cover or write “hard news” stories they usually found themselves writing about fashion, society gossip and the like. Those who were allowed to cover news stories, generally got the “sob sister” or sentimental story assignments. Following a gruesome murder a “sob sister” might be assigned to interview the victim’s wife. Then, following an arrest, the sob sister might be asked to do a follow-up interview with the accused’s wife while one of her male colleagues covered the “hard news” side of the story.

West End (p. 96)

The area around Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square is the London theatre world’s equivalent of New York’s Broadway.

gone over big at the Royal, Wigan (p. 96)

Professionally speaking, about a million miles from the theatres in the West End. Bertie Wooster’s one-time fiancée Trixie Waterbury also went over big in Wigan, a town in the Manchester metropolitan area.

Chapter 13 (pp. 99–106)

his eye was not dimmed (p. 99)

Deuteronomy 34:7 / “And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.”

nymphery (p. 99) *

The mythological term nymph for a maiden-spirit of nature has often been transferred to human damsels, but Wodehouse uses this longer form of the word (not found in the OED) only twice: here, meaning the quality of being like a nymph, and in The Mating Season, referring to the female establishment of aunts at Deverill Hall as “a pretty stiffish nymphery.” See The Mating Season for a possible literary source. [OvL/NM]

Grade A pippin (p. 100)

Here pippin is a slang word for a highly admired person or thing. When not used as slang, a pippin is a variety of apple, so the “Grade A” here is a joke.

Oddfellows Hall, Ogilvy Street (p. 101)

The Grand United Order of Oddfellows Friendly Society is a philanthropic society originally established more than 200 years ago to protect and care for its members and communities before the arrival on the scene of trade unions, and the Welfare State.

canaille (p. 102)

French for the mob or rabble. In the Act I finale of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe a Gentlemen’s Chorus of Peers tried to intimidate a Ladies Chorus of Fairies by hurling French (canaille), Latin (plebs) and Greek (hoi polloi) insults at them meaning the same thing.

all flesh is as grass (p. 104)

From Isaiah 40:6 / “The Voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as of the flower of the field.” Or, alternatively from 1. Peter 1:24 / “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away.”

shamuses (p. 104) *

detective, esp. private operative; from Seamus, the common Irish name of many policemen [OvL, citing Jonathon Green]

Green cites Wodehouse in Jeeves in the Offing (1960) and I’ve found the word in “Leave It to Algy” (A Few Quick Ones, 1959). —NM]

Prince of Wales’s Mansions, Battersea (p. 105)

In the 1952 novel Pigs Have Wings Jerry Vail’s address was #23, Prince of Wales Mansions, Battersea Park Road. In “real life” for a while in 1913 Wodehouse lived at 94 Prince of Wales Mansions, Battersea.

Chapter 14 (page 107–115)

Demosthenes Club (p. 107)

Demosthenes was a Greek orator who practised speaking with pebbles in his mouth to cure a stammer. We learn in Cocktail Time that London’s Demosthenes Club is located across the street from the Drones, for Beefy Bastable was on the doorstep of the Demosthenes when his top hat was struck by a catapult-propelled Brazil nut launched from a Drones Club window across the street.

mélange (p. 107)

A French word meaning a mixture or jumble.

Henry James (p. 107)

An Anglo-American writer (1843–1916), author of such works as The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers (the subjects of popular 20th century operas by Benjamin Britten and Dominick Argento, respectively), Washington Square, The American, Portrait of a Lady, etc.

Providence going out of the way to persecute, like Job (p. 107)

Surely the little difficulties encountered by Mr. Shoesmith pale in comparison with the Biblical trials of Job who lost his wealth, health and children to the machinations of Satan.

V-shaped depressions (p. 108)

When a low-pressure trough brings wet, soggy weather, the isobars on the weather map appearing in the daily newspaper usually form a pronounced V-shape.

male cheek to be more damask (p. 110)

Although the colour of the damask rose can range anywhere from light pink to bright purple, in this case a damask coloured cheek would be more of a light pink rather than Oofy’s customary bright red hue brought about by an overindulgence in champagne. In Act II of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night Viola, who loved the Duke but was disguised as a man, told the Duke that her father had a daughter who “ never told her love, But let concealment, like a worm i’ the bud, Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought,And with a green and yellow melancholy She sat like patience on a monument, Smiling at grief.”

Federated Malay States (p. 111)

The Federated Malay States was a British protectorate of four states in the Malay peninsula created in 1895 which survived until 1946 and is now part of the modern state of Malaysia.

Finnegan’s Wake (p. 111)

Finnegans Wake, without the possessive apostrophe Wodehouse gave it, was a 1939 book by James Joyce much admired by the literary cognoscenti, but largely avoided by the reading public. “Finnegan’s Wake,” with the possessive apostrophe, is a traditional Irish folk ballad dating from the 1850s.

Dickens ... law is a hass (p. 111)

In Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Mr. Bumble, on being informed that a husband is considered to be guilty of his wife’s misdeeds because the law supposes that a man’s wife acts under his direction, angrily denounced the law, saying “If the law supposes that, the law is a ass — a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience.” When Mr. Shoesmith placed a preliminary 'h’ before the ‘ass’ he was misquoting both Mr. Bumble and Dickens although possibly reflecting the way the line was delivered on the stage or silver screen.

Surbiton (p. 112)

A London suburb located about 18 kilometres by train from Waterloo Station.

raged, liked the heathen (p. 112)

Psalm 2: “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?”

onward and upward (p. 113)

A cliché dating back at least as far as the 1850s. Google unearthed several possible candidates for the originator of the expression, including Abraham Lincoln in an 1859 speech.

Easy-Pickings McGee (p. 113)

Presumably no relation of John McGee, the intrepid house detective at the Hotel Delahay in “Mr. McGee’s Big Day.”

Cicero outside Chicago ... Cook County (p. 113)

Cicero, a town of about 80,000 near Chicago, was for many years the home of Al Capone, who built his crime empire in Chicago and then moved to Cicero so he would be beyond the reach of the Chicago Police Department. Cook County, which includes Cicero and Chicago, is the second highest populated county in the US, (behind Los Angeles) with just over five million residents.

Horatio Alger (p. 113) °

Alger (1832–1899) was an American novelist noted for plots showing boys rising from humble beginnings to achieve success through hard work, determination and honesty. One can see why a professional shop-lifter like Dolly wouldn’t have Alger on her library list. The careers of Mrs. Spottsworth (Ring For/The Return of Jeeves) and Judson Phipps (“Life With Freddie”) have also been compared to characters in a Horatio Alger novel, as was Lord Ickenham’s rise from a mere Hon. to an Earl in Uncle Dynamite, ch. 4 (1948).

You're doin’ all right for a mountain girl (song) (p. 113)

Misled by the title provided for this song, your annotators were previously unable to unearth any lyrics or recordings, but found a news clipping from the front page of the Aug. 7, 1960 Delta Democrat Times which reported that a contestant in a beauty pageant sang ‘I’m Doing All Right For a Mountain Girl’ while standing on a tree stump.

It turns out that the song’s actual title is ‘Mountain Girl’ and it was a 1947 hit novelty record by Dorothy Shay, A.K.A. “The Park Avenue Hillbilly.” Wodehouse gave the song its correct title in the 1964 novel Frozen Assets (US title: Biffen’s Millions) where it was a particular favourite of the eccentric Edmund Pyke, who was known to entertain his luncheon guests by playing it sixteen times in a row which, at 3 minutes a go and fifteen to twenty seconds to bring the needle back to the beginning each time, works out to almost an hour of wear and tear on the Pyke gramophone needle, not to mention the wear and tear on his guests’ eardrums. A fair, representative sample of the lyric follows:

My cousin Sue is awful pretty
So I asked her to come to the city.
She wrote right back, “Save your pity.
I don’t need no money to pay my bills
‘Cause I’m doin’ all right for a mountain girl.
Yes, I’m doin’ all right, right here in these hills.
All the travellin’ men from far and near
Bring me presents when they come through here.”

(The spelling and punctuation are mere guesswork as, without access to sheet-music or some other “official” source, we transcribed the lyrics by listening to a recording.)

This realm, this England (p. 114)

In Act II of Shakespeare’s Richard II John of Gaunt delivers a lengthy speech praising “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”

returned after wandering on some foreign strand (p. 114)

Although she didn’t seem to be even remotely interested in Sir Walter Scott when Mr. Cornelius was reciting to her back on Page 78, Dolly was apparently familiar with Scott’s “My Native Land” (1805).

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd
From wandering on a foreign strand!

I'll bet (he) kicked himself squarely in the derrière (p. 114)

Unless the fellow was a contortionist or an extraordinarily nimble chappie, I fear Dolly will lose her bet as the number of people capable of successfully performing this act must be extremely limited.

Chapter 15 (pp. 116–124)

Scalpo, the lotion that lends a lustre (p. 116)

Although here Scalpo appears to be a hair lotion, in Money in the Bank the same product had been recommended to Soapy Molloy to apply to his bald spot as a hair restoring product marketed with the slogan “It fertilizes the follicles.”

shone with the light that never was on land or sea (p. 116)

From William Wordsworth’s “Elegiac Stanzas Suggested by a Picture of Peele Castle in a Storm” (1807).

the milk of human kindness still surging within him (p. 116) *

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse. [OvL]

catnip on cats (p. 116)

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a plant native to much of Europe and Asia, best known for the behavioural effect it has on cats, who have been known to roll on the ground with it, paw it, lick it and chew it. Eating too much catnip can cause aggression in a cat.

moth and the candle (p. 116)

A traditional Sufi fable: A group of moths saw a candle flame in the distance and wanted to understand it. The first moth went to look at the flame and told his friends, “You do not understand. You have not seen the flame.” The second moth went to touch the flame and told his friends, “You do not understand. You have not touched the flame.” The third moth danced and twirled joyfully with the flame and was consumed by it. “He understands,” said the other moths, “because he has become one with the flame.”

Harley Street physician (p. 116)

Harley Street, in the City of Westminster, seems to attract doctors in much the same way that catnip acts of cats and candle flames on moths. Records show that Harley Street had 20 doctors in 1860, 80 by 1900, 200 doctors by 1914, and 1,500 when Britain’s National Health Service was established in 1948. E. Jimpson Murgatroyd and Sir Roderick Glossop are among the Wodehousean medicine men who maintain practices there.

a bunch of the other boys (p. 117)

Could George be planning to recite Robert Service’s ‘The Shooting of Dan McGrew' at the forthcoming police concert? This sounds like an echo of the poem’s opening line — “A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute Saloon.”

Liberty Hall (p. 118)

From Act 2 of Oliver Goldsmith’s (1730–1774) She Stoops to Conquer when Hardcastle welcomed his guests by saying, “Pray be under no constraint in this house. This is Liberty-hall, gentlemen. You may do just as you please here.”

awful majesty of the Law (p. 118)

A frequently used cliché, its first appearance in print may have been when John Milton (1608–1674) wrote “the sad and awful Majesty of that Law was not to be jested with.”

gyves to wrists (p. 118)

Like fetters (page 54), gyves are shackles, manacles or bonds. In short, they are handcuffs, an important part of any police officer’s equipment. This is an allusion to one of Bertie Wooster’s favourite poems, Thomas Hood’s “The Dream of Eugene Aram” in which the title character, with gyves upon his wrists, was escorted to the gallows by two stern-faced men.

See A Damsel in Distress.

gendarmerie (p. 118)

French for constabulary. The full name of the national police force of bilingual Canada is “Royal Canadian Mounted Police — Gendarmerie Royale du Canada,” abbreviated as RCMP-GRC.

bien être (p. 119)

French for a feeling of well being. Freddie was in the pink.

pleasant baritone, highish soprano (p. 120)

According to Jeeves in “Jeeves and the Song of Songs,” Bertie Wooster also possesses a “pleasant light baritone.” An amateur soprano like Dolly probably has a vocal range from middle C to the D above top C. Well trained professionals can reach stratospheric vocal heights.

ghost of Banquo ... Macbeth (p. 120)

In Act III of the Shakespeare play and Act II of the Verdi opera the ghost of the slain Banquo made an unexpected appearance at a state banquet, startling Macbeth out of what few wits he possessed.

tribal medicine man (p. 122)

A member of the medical profession who probably does not rent office space in Harley Street.

lockjaw (p. 122)

A condition caused by the contraction of skeletal muscle fibres, with spasms in the jaw. It usually occurs through tetanus bacteria contaminating a puncture wound, such as the one to Dolly’s knee.

iodine (p. 122)

This would be a tincture of iodine (iodine mixed with ethanol and water) used to disinfect a wound. The chemical iodine is a solid.

faded away ... Cheshire cat (p. 123)

From Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

J. Sheringham Adair (p. 123)

The professional name used by Alexander “Chimp” Twist, a long-time associate and rival of Soapy and Dolly Molloy. Like the Molloys, Chimp made the first of his many canonical appearances in 1925’s Sam the Sudden.

Halsey court, Mayfair (p. 123)

A well known Wodehouse address, Halsey Court has been the home or work-place of Jeff Miller, Gerald Shoesmith, Sam Bagshott, Johnny Halliday, Chimp Twist, and Ma Balsalm, among others. In his A Wodehouse Handbook, Murphy proposes Hays Mews, off Berkeley Square, as the original source for Halsey Court.

Chapter 16 (pp. 125–132)

melancholy marked him for its own (p. 125)

From The Epitaph to Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751).

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.

Socrates drinking the hemlock (p. 125)

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates (469BC–399BC) offended the political establishment and was sentenced to death. After declining an opportunity to escape for various ethical and philosophical reasons, he drained his beaker of hemlock.

twin brother of Mortimer Snerd (p. 125)

Mortimer was a particularly dim-witted dummy in American ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s act, but is mentioned only in the American edition (The Ice in the Bedroom) of this book. In the British book (Ice in the Bedroom) instead of classifying Soapy as “practically the twin brother of Mortimer Snerd” Dolly conceded that her husband was “practically solid concrete from the neck up.”

brains only unsettle a husband (p. 125)

Gladys Winch had a similar philosophy in The Adventures of Sally (1922) when she opined that “All the unhappy marriages come from the husband having brains. What good are brains to a man? They only unsettle him.”

when pain and anguish wring ... ministering angel (p. 126)

Another quotation from Walter Scott, this time from ‘Marmion’ (1808)

When pain and anguish rack the brow,
A ministering angel Thou!

winged monster soars above the clouds (p. 128)

Possibly a reference to Geryon of Greek myth or even to the very far from mythical pterodactyl.

out of the mouths of babes and sucklings (p. 130)

Psalm 8:2 / Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings has thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

occipital bone (p. 130)

The saucer-shaped membrane bone at the back and lower part of the cranium. One of the principal targets for someone wielding a sandbag (see Page 66) with intent to injure.

little grey cells (p. 130)

Beginning in 1920 with The Mysterious Affair at Styles, his little grey cells supplied Hercule Poirot’s brain-power for five decades of Agatha Christie mysteries. They appeared in a Wodehouse book as early as 1934’s Thank You, Jeeves.

lallapaloosa (p. 130)

One of the many American slang words Wodehouse added to his vocabulary after his first trips to America, this one means something outstandingly good of its kind, such as a golf shot (“The Heart of a Goof”), a song title (Indiscretions of Archie) or, in this case, the predicament Soapy’s boneheadedness had landed the Molloys in.

Champs Elysées (p. 130)

One of the most famous and fashionable streets in the world, Paris’s Avenue des Champs-Élysées runs 1.9 kilometres from the Place de la Concorde to l'Arc de Triomphe in Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly known as Place de l'Étoile.

Taj Mahal (p. 130)

A white marble mausoleum in Agra, India built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, with construction beginning in 1632 and completed in 1653. Since 1983 the Taj Mahal has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

South London Argus (p. 132)

This is the name of the leading Valley Fields newspaper. In the 1931 novel Big Money Major Flood-Smith, who hung his hats (including the one Lord Hoddesdon stole) at Castlewood which Leila and Sally now call home, composed a bitter letter to the Argus’s editor, but it didn’t appear in print because his parlour maid bungled the assignment of mailing it.

Chapter 17 (pp. 133–141)

Whitechapel or Shoreditch (p. 133)

Two working class neighbourhoods in the east end of London although Shoreditch has come up in the world in recent years. Whitechapel has the misfortune to be associated with the activities of Jack the Ripper and to have been described in print by Sam Weller as “not a wery nice neighbourhood” in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. Shoreditch has in the last few decades become quite popular, fashionable and prosperous and is the headquarters for a number of thriving “dotcom” companies. Historically Shoreditch was the site of Burbage’s first theatre and saw the premiere of several Shakespeare plays before Burbage built his new Globe Theatre in Southwark. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Shoreditch’s music halls were an irresistible attraction for the members of the Pelican Club and other fun-loving Londoners.

Maharajah’s Ruby (p. 134)

Another staple from Wodehouse’s boyhood reading of schoolboy fiction, as adventure yarns about Europeans stealing some fabulous jewel from an Asian temple and being pursued by sinister natives seeking its return were extremely popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. An early PGW adventure, The Luck Stone, used this same formula as did film producer Blake Edwards when he set Inspector Clouseau the task of recovering a stolen gem known as “The Pink Panther” in 1963, two years after the publication of Wodehouse’s (The) Ice in the Bedroom.

Wilbraham, Jones, Evans, Meredith, Schwed (p. 134)

By an odd coincidence, two of the names Chimp invented for his fictional assistants were close friends and associates of Wodehouse. Scott Meredith was Wodehouse’s post-war American agent, while Peter Schwed was his American editor at the same time.

octopus stretching its tentacles (p. 134)

A cliché used over the years to describe everything from the power of Britain’s Rothschild banking family, to the rise of new political movements such as Communism and Fascism, to the cultural imperialism of Hollywood and the influence of the U.S. State Department around the world. It also sounds a little like Chimp imagined himself to be a Professor Moriarty-like Napoleon of Crime, except that Sherlock Holmes described the Professor as sitting motionless, like a spider in the centre of its web with a thousand radiations and he knew well every quiver in each of them.

casting your bread upon the waters (p. 136)

A Hebrew idiom meaning if you do something good for someone you will one day be rewarded for it.

orchestra stalls (p. 136)

The expensive seats down front where the nibs sit.

ague-like quiver (p. 136)

Ague is a fever, usually associated with malaria, and frequently accompanied by successive cold, hot, and sweating fits and shaking chills.

The hour has produced just the man I wanted (p. 140)

In his A Wodehouse Handbook Murphy admits to being unable to locate a definitive source for “the hour has produced the man,” suggesting “The hour is come, but not the man” from Scott’s 1818 novel The Heart of Midlothian as one possibility and “The hour was on us./Then where the man” from the poem “Lincoln” by the American poet John Vance Cheney (1848–1922) as another candidate. Your annotating team has uncovered the exact phrase “The hour has produced the man and the man will advance the tendencies of the hour” in an article about German Catholic Church reformer Johannes Ronge in the November, 1845 edition of the magazine The Christian Reformer but it would seem unlikely that the uncredited author of the article coined the expression.

Chapter 18 (pp. 142–150)

join me in a toast, and no heel-taps (p. 142) °

Heel-tap is a colloquial term (in use since the mid-eighteenth century) for the amount of drink left in the bottom of a glass, derived from the nautical term heel meaning to turn a ship over to one side. In the sense of drinking a toast, her order to avoid heel-taps means Leila expects Freddie to empty his drinking vessel or to drain his glass in one go, leaving not a drop behind.

“To the fellow who first invented life, for he started a darned good thing.” (p. 142) *

Maria Jette notes that Wodehouse is quoting here from his own song lyrics, the second verse of “The Sun Shines Brighter” in Leave It to Jane (1917):

I’m so happy! I’ve simply got to sing!
I’ll break records when I run to buy the ring.
I don’t know who the fellow was who first invented life,
But he started a darned good thing.

caravanserai (p. 142)

A Persian word for a roadside inn where travellers could rest from the day’s journey. Mabel speaks of a “pirate caravanserai” in Act I of The Pirates of Penzance.

glad, glad, glad, like Polyanna (p. 142)

Pollyanna (spelled with a double-l instead of the single-l Wodehouse gave her) was a best-selling 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter that spawned several sequels and, eventually, a 1960 Walt Disney film starring Hayley Mills that would have been very much in the public eye while Wodehouse was writing Ice in the Bedroom. The title character, Pollyanna Whittier, was a young orphan girl with a perpetually optimistic attitude.

seen the light (p. 142)

To suddenly understand something clearly after being confused about it for a long time, frequently used when someone starts to believe in a religion or is converted to a new set of religious beliefs.

in toto (p. 142)

From Latin, meaning totally or completely.

soliloquized (p. 143)

Another Latin term, it means to talk to oneself. Many of Shakespeare’s characters utter soliloquies, such as Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” speech. In Act I of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado Ko-Ko is exasperated when he is constantly interrupted while trying to soliloquize.

lost soul in an inferno (p. 143)

A reference to The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), the first part of which describes Dante’s journey through the Inferno (Hell).

affidavit (p. 143)

Yet another legal word from the Latin, it means a written declaration upon oath made before an authorized official.

wages in lieu of notice (p. 144)

Mr. Shoesmith was so eager to shoot Freddie out the door, he paid him to go away.

down among the wines and spirits (p. 144)

Music hall stage bills in the UK listed the acts in order of importance, with the headliners at the top of the bill in large print, and the unknowns down at the bottom along with the advertisements for wines and spirits available at the theatre bar.

parted brass rags (p. 145)

Murphy’s invaluable A Wodehouse Handbook explains that this is an expression from the Royal Navy where sailors assigned the task of polishing the brass worked in pairs, one putting the polish on and the other applying the shine. They would have their own supply of rags for the job so if they had a row and decided to work with someone else they would be said to have “parted brass rags.” See Very Good, Jeeves.

fellow in the poem whose name led all the rest (p. 145)

From the poem “Abou Ben Adhem and the Angel” by Leigh Hunt (1784–1859) in which the title character met an angel who was taking note of the names of men who loved the Lord.

The angel wrote and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

do right by our Nell (p. 148)

Probably a catch-phrase from Victorian melodrama where the hero would attempt to rescue “Nell” from the clutches of a moustache-twirling villain. In an American television cartoon series parody of the melodrama genre debuting in 1959 the heroine was named Nell and the hero attempting the rescue was called Dudley Do-Right. Another possible source of the expression was King Charles II’s (1630–85) deathbed request that his brother look after his mistress, the actress Nell Gwynne.

flit from flower to flower and sip (p. 148)

Butterflies are known for flitting from flower to flower to sip the nectar of the flowers. Boko Fittleworth, Pongo Twistleton, Mycroft Cardinal, Joe Davenport, and Frederick Mulliner are among the other Wodehouse characters to be accused of flitting and sipping. See The Code of the Woosters.

Cleopatra (p. 149)

Cleopatra (69BC-30BC) was the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. She solidified her grip on the throne with a liaison with Julius Caesar which produced a son. After Caesar’s assassination she allied herself with Marc Antony, producing two more sons and a daughter. She committed suicide when Antony was defeated in battle. In addition to numerous operas and plays, she was the subject of a Wodehouse lyric in the 1917 Broadway musical Leave it to Jane.

At dancing Cleopatterer,
Was always on the spot.
She gave these poor Egyptian ginks,
Something else to watch besides the spinx*.

Marc Antony admitted,
That what first made him skid,
Was the wibbly, woggly, wiggly dance
That Cleopatterer did.

*Reluctant though your annotating team is to annotate an annotation, it should perhaps be noted that Wodehouse spelled sphinx ‘spinx' here to (a) provide the rhyme for ‘ginks’ and (b) to reflect the level of sophistication of the character singing the song.

Queen of Sheba (p. 149)

An Ethiopian queen from the tenth century BC, she is mentioned in the Bible and the Qur'an and is the subject of operas by Charles Gounod and Karl Goldmark, among others.

Chapter 19 (pp. 151–161)

tête-à-tête (p. 151)

From French, literally translated as “head to head,” it means a private or intimate conversation between two persons. Leila Yorke’s presence at the luncheon table scuppered Lord Blicester’s plans to speak frankly to Freddie.

weariest river winds somewhere safe to sea (p. 151)

From Algernon Charles Swinburne’s “The Garden of Prosperine” (1866).

From too much love of living,
    From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
    Whatever gods may be
That no man lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
    Winds somewhere safe to sea.

Shakespeare...stuff'd bosom of its pent-up contents (p. 152)

From Act V of Macbeth. Upon being informed by the doctor that his wife was tormented by a lack of sleep, the title character asked the quack, who was obviously a few parasangs below Sir Roderick Glossop in calibre,

“Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?”

minor prophet of Old Testament days (p. 152)

The twelve “minor prophets” constitute the last twelve books of the Old Testament and are known as “minor” only because of the length of their books, especially when compared with the books of the three “major” prophets, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah. Few of the prophets, minor or otherwise, were known for spreading sweetness and light (see Page 155).

philippic (p. 153)

A speech of bitter denunciation, dating back to Demosthenes’ rants in the fourth century B.C. against Philip II of Macedon; so a philippic literally becomes a speech denouncing Philip.

See also Bill the Conqueror.

San Francisco earthquake of 1906 (p. 153)

A major earthquake, registering an estimated 7.9 on the Richter scale, shook the city at 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906. The earthquake and the resulting fires caused by ruptured gas lines left at least three thousand people dead and up to 75 percent of the city’s population — at that time about 400,000 — homeless.

less than the dust beneath his chariot wheels (p. 153)

From one of four poems by Laurence Hope (1865–1904; real name — Adela Florence Nicolson) which were set to music as “The Indian Love Lyrics” by Amy Woodforde-Finden in 1902.

Less than the dust, beneath thy Chariot wheel
Less than the rust, that never stained thy Sword
Less than the trust thou hast in me, O Lord,
    Even less than these!

truite bleu

Usually truite au bleu, a French dish of trout cooked with vinegar, which turns the fish’s skin a metallic blue in colour.

Hogg, Hogg, Simpson, Bevan, Murgatroyd, and Merryweather (p. 155)

Possibly a coincidence, but Tory M.P. Quintin Hogg, a future Lord Chancellor, was among Wodehouse’s most outspoken critics during the Berlin broadcast uproar. The only other Hogg in the canon would appear to be Bertie Wooster’s former nurse, who lived in Basingstoke and suffered from the hiccups, and was mentioned in, but did not appear in the post-war novel The Mating Season, which was the same book in which another of PGW’s wartime persecutors, Alfred Duff Cooper, was sentenced to fourteen days without the option for wading, fully clothed, in the Trafalgar Square fountain at 5 a.m.

sweetness and light (p. 155)

Originally from Jonathan Swift’s Battle of the Book (1697), Matthew Arnold (1822–1888) popularized “sweetness and light” when he pinched it for his own use in 1869’s “Culture and Anarchy.”

All’s quiet along the Potomac (p. 157)

Originally from the U.S. Civil War and an official telegram sent to the Secretary of War from Major-General George B. McClellan following the July 21, 1861 First Battle of Bull Run. Ethel Lynn Beers turned it into a poem published in Harper’s Weekly Nov. 30, 1861 before John Hill Hewitt set it to music in 1863.

basilisk (p. 158)

A legendary reptile said to have the power to cause death with a single glance.

hornswoggling hound (p. 158)

Hornswoggle was a 19th century American slang word meaning swindle; heard frequently in the Old West and frequently found in fiction about the American West. In the story “The Crime Wave at Blandings” Lord Emsworth’s niece Jane, who had good reason to be annoyed with her uncle, was apparently making idle conversation when she asked for an explanation of some dialogue she had read in a western novel.

 “This cowboy—the first cowboy—said to the other cowboy—the second cowboy—‘Gol dern ye, Hank Spivis, for a sneaking, ornery, low-down, double-crossing, hornswoggling skunk.’ Can you tell me what a sneaking, ornery, low-down, double-crossing skunk is, Uncle Clarence?”
 “I’m afraid I can’t, my dear.”
 “I thought you might know.”

Hungarian goulash (p. 160)

a thick stew or soup of meat (usually beef, veal, pork or lamb), noodles and vegetables (especially potatoes), seasoned with paprika and other spices. In Something Fresh (US title: Something New) the agony of the dyspeptic J. Preston Peters was soothed by reading about Hungarian goulash, but in Frozen Assets (US title: Biffen’s Millions) just watching someone else enjoying the dish was enough to start the equally dyspeptic Cyril Bunting off on a long monologue on the effect Hungarian goulash would have on his bile ducts.

Sketch or Tatler (p. 160)

The Sketch was a British illustrated weekly newspaper concentrating on high society gossip and the aristocracy. It was published from 1893 to 1959, so in 1961 it would have been at least two years since the last time Lord Blicester waddled across the floor of his club’s smoking-room to pick up a current issue. The Tatler, a publication with similar content, celebrated its 300th anniversary in October, 2009.

Chapter 20 (pp. 162–168)

as black and dreary as a wet Sunday in a northern manufacturing town (p. 162)

Actually, if the local factories shut down on the day of rest, a wet Sunday in a northern manufacturing town would be less black than the other six days of the week, because the factory smokestacks wouldn’t be vomiting their pollution into the atmosphere.

Sir Galahad (p. 162)

a knight of King Arthur’s round table who, according to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, boasted, “My strength is as the strength of ten, Because my heart is pure.”

a thing of joy and sunshine (p. 162)

John Keats wrote in his ‘Endymion’ that “a thing of beauty is a joy for ever.” In his 1883 book Without Scrip or Purse William Thompson Price quoted the Kentucky evangelist George O. Barnes sermonizing “I want the people to know that religion is a thing of joy and sunshine.”

Brixton (p. 163)

A district in the south London borough of Lambeth. By the 1920s Brixton had become south London’s largest shopping district with several department stores, a thriving market, cinemas, theatres and pubs, so it would be an obvious destination for Sally’s shopping expedition to find something special to prepare for dinner. In his nineties Wodehouse wrote a lyric for the musical Betting on Bertie in which Jeeves longed to return to his birthplace of Brixton.

young men accustomed to a cup of coffee and a sandwich at mid-day (p. 164)

Late in life as he looked back on his brief career as a City bank clerk, Wodehouse recalled the shock of realizing, “that from now on all I would be able to afford in the way of lunch would be a roll and butter and a cup of coffee which, after the lavish meals of school, shook me to my foundations.”

disturbance of the gastric mucosa (p. 164)

Lord Yaxley and Mrs. Wilberforce had a similar problem in the story “Indian Summer of an Uncle” but their complaint (“trouble with the lining of my stomach”) didn’t require an annotation or footnote.

less rollicking of the Hamlets he had seen (p. 165)

Not for nothing was the title character in the Shakespeare tragedy known as “the melancholy Dane.”

hound of the first water (p. 165)

One often hears of a “publicity hound/glory hound/chow hound, etc. of the first water” but rarely of an unmodified hound of the first water. Given the nobility, intelligence and loyalty of hounds as a class, this sounds like a compliment to me, although that certainly wasn’t the way Freddie meant it to come across. It turns out that an alternate dictionary definition of hound is “a mean, despicable person or someone who is morally reprehensible.”

fiend in human shape (p. 165)

This expression, sometimes given as a “fiend in human form,” goes back at least as far as Chaucer, although he probably found a different way to spell it.

seeking whom he may devour (p. 165)

From the Bible — 1 Peter 5.8. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

drove me out into the snow (p. 165)

a cliché from melodramas in which a stern father drives his erring daughter out into the snow or, alternatively, a wicked landlord does ditto to a widow and her children for falling a trifle behind with their rent.

Ritz (p. 166)

Swiss hotelier César Ritz, known as “the king of hoteliers and the hotelier to kings,” opened his Mayfair hotel at 150 Piccadilly in 1906. The Ritz recently underwent what its web-page describes as a “complete and total restoration (...) costing over 50 million pounds” which, it claims, has restored the Hotel to “beyond its former glory.”

unclean Gold (p. 167)

This could refer to gold mined and extracted through lawless or hazardous means, as sometimes happens in underdeveloped countries. It could also refer to impure or unclean gold, causing problems for jewellers. Or possibly just to valuables obtained illegally or immorally (“dirty money”, etc.)

the shot’s not on the board (p. 167)

In American horse-racing lingo, the biggest outsider in the field would be “the longest shot on the (tote) board.” (See Page 92 note.) So a shot that is not on the board would be a horse that has been scratched from the race and therefore not to be considered as a possibility.

See The Code of the Woosters for an alternative explanation from the game of darts.

wickerwork basket (p. 168)

Wicker is a hard, woven fibre, formed into a rigid material, for use in the weaving of baskets and furniture. Wicker furniture has been documented as far back as ancient Egypt. One wonders if Cleopatra (page 149) kept her asps in a wicker basket.

Chapter 21 (pp. 169–176)

Clapham Common (p. 169)

This is an 89 hectare (220 acre) south London park straddling the boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth. To experience the excitement of a Sunday afternoon at Clapham Common, refer to Chapter 15 of Psmith in the City.

Herne Hill (p. 169)

As you continue your journey from Clapham Common to Dulwich (Valley Fields), you pass through Herne Hill, a community of about 12,000 people straddling the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, and located between the better known communities of Brixton, Dulwich, and Camberwell.

bring the bluebird back (p. 169)

See Note for Page 70.

rift within the lute (p. 169)

From “Merlin and Vivien” by Tennyson:

It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.

The little rift within the lover’s lute
Or little pitted speck in garnered fruit,
That rotting inward slowly moulders all.

dyspeptic fieldmouse (p. 170)

Fortunately, should you ever meet a dyspeptic fieldmouse, the condition can be successfully treated with an injection of ghrelin, a hunger-stimulating peptide and hormone that laboratory rodents have found effective.

of a nature to beat the band (p. 171)

To beat the band is to outdo all competition. The origin of the expression remains unclear. Theory One: At outdoor concerts the brass band would be the event’s loudest and most conspicuous entertainment and anyone succeeding in beating the band in terms of noise produced and entertainment provided has accomplished something remarkable. Theory Two: Someone planning to attend a parade would have to “beat the band” (that is, arrive before the marching band that traditionally opens most parades) in order to see and hear everything. Theory Three: The Irish town of Banagher in the mid-eighteenth century was a notorious ‘pocket borough' of Parliament — a riding in which almost everyone worked for the local lord, who was able to control enough votes to have the borough in his pocket. When news of another equally corrupt pocket borough would come to the attention of parliamentarians they would joke, “That beats Banagher!” Theory Four: An Irish minstrel named Bannagher was a sort of musical Mr. Mulliner, famous for telling amazing stories. When someone else spun a tall tale, his delighted audience would praise the chronicler by saying, “That beats Bannagher!”

lazar house (p. 174)

A leper colony (a place to quarantine leprous people) administered by a Roman Catholic order was often called a lazar house after Lazarus, the patron saint of lepers. Windles (The Girl on the Boat), Totleigh Towers (The Code of the Woosters) and Chuffnell Hall’s Dower House (Thank You, Jeeves) are among the Wodehousean stately homes to have this label attached to them.

London County Council (p. 175)

This was the principal local government body for the County of London through its existence (1889–1965). It was replaced by the Greater London Council, which was itself done away with in 1986 with its powers devolving back to the boroughs and other entities.

one more grave among the hills (p. 175) °

This sounds like it should come from early cowboy fiction, but the earliest usage I've found was from 1920 and Stephen Leacock’s The Split in the Cabinet; or, The Fate of England (also collected in Winsome Winnie and Other New Nonsense Novels, 1921).

Powers paused a moment. “To Wazuchistan,” he said, “yes. But it must not be known. I shall return in a month—or never. If I fail” he spoke with an assumed lightness, “it is only one more grave among the hills. If I succeed, the Cabinet is saved, and with it the destiny of England.”

[Another plausible source is Harry Leon Wilson’s “Money, Money, Money” from the Saturday Evening Post, February 10, 1923. This being one of his “Red Gap” stories, and the principal character Ma Pettingill being a cattle rancher, this accords with Ian’s above comment about cowboy fiction. —NM]

She added that another year like this would end it all. But no matter! It would mean only one more grave among the hills.

The first time Wodehouse used the expression “one more grave among the hills” would appear to be in Hot Water, ch. 2.4 (1932). Other examples are found in “Christmas and Divorce” in Over Seventy (1957) and in Do Butlers Burgle Banks?, ch. 13 (1968).

A “grave among the hills” without the “one more grave” of Wodehouse and Leacock appeared in British author John Oxenham’s (real name: William Arthur Dunkerley) The Long Road in 1907 and in The Tracy Diamonds (1899) by US author Mary Jane Holmes.

You can’t give me anything but love, baby (p. 175) *

An obvious reference to the song “I can’t give you anything but love, baby.” Many details on Wikipedia. [OvL]

absent-minded trunk murderer (p. 176)

Possibly a reference to the notorious Brighton Trunk Murders of 1934, two unrelated murders in which the bodies of the victims were placed in trunks.

green one with spots (p. 176)

It’s difficult to determine Mabel’s species without more data. A common anaconda (Eunectes murinus) is green with spots but much too large to accommodate in the average wickerwork basket and it is difficult to imagine that even Joe would be able to forget the presence of an anaconda when collecting his menagerie. The spotted bush snake (Philothamnus semivariegatus) has the right colour scheme but is almost impossible to keep in captivity.

Chapter 22 (pp. 177–185)

a genius who lay bare the heart of woman as with a scalpel (p. 177)

In “Best Seller” Miss Postlethwaite, the sensitive barmaid of the Anglers' Rest, used this same tribute to praise Evangeline Pembury, the author of Rue For Remembrance. And in a column on photographers, Wodehouse wrote about the hazards authors face when they have their photographs taken. “People read a review of an author’s book and are told that it throbs with a passion so intense as almost to be painful (...) when their eyes fall on the man’s photograph (...) and they find that he has a face like a rabbit and wears spectacles and a low collar. And this man is the man who is said to have laid bare the soul of a woman as with a scalpel. Naturally their faith is shaken. They feel that a man like that cannot possibly know anything about Woman or any other subject except where to go for a vegetarian lunch.”

Wormwood Scrubs (p. 178)

Wormwood Scrubs is a large open area of about 80 hectares in the west London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. This reference is to Her Majesty’s Prison Wormwood Scrubs, which was built at the south-western edge of the Scrubs by convict labourers in the 1880s and has a current prisoner population of about 1,300.

schism in his flock (p. 179)

A division in a clergyman’s flock, such as the schism that split the Mormon Church on the polygamy issue (see note to Page 58).

Ah, nerts! (p. 179)

Although he certainly didn’t originate or create the expression, this is probably a reference to American Brigadier-General Anthony McAuliffe’s famous one-word reply (“Nuts!”)to a German demand that he surrender after the Nazis had surrounded the Belgian town of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec. 21, 1944.

Dumb Isaacs (p. 181)

A rustic Americanism for a not-very-bright person and one that would certainly attract the attention of the Politically Correct Police in the 21st century. One on-line definition for a dumb Isaac is “a bozo who thinks a wench is something used to tighten nuts.”

blackjack (p. 182)

Not the card game. This blackjack, sometimes known as a “cosh,” is a short, leather-covered club, consisting of a heavy head and a flexible handle, to be used as a weapon.

mot juste (p. 183)

French for exactly the right word or expression, literally the just word. The 't’ in ‘mot’ is silent, rather like the ‘P’ in ‘Psmith.'

Chapter 23 (pp. 186–193)

entrechat (p. 186)

This is a vertical jump during which a ballet dancer repeatedly crosses the feet and beats them together. There are several references in the canon. Bingo Little experiences his surroundings to perform one on an occasion when he observes a surprising photograph: “the offices of Wee Tots did one of those entrechats which Nijinsky used to do in the Russian ballet.” Lord Emsworth executes one, and in The Luck of the Bodkins we find that “Ivor Llewellyn, prone in his bunk and holding on to the woodwork, was able to count no fewer than five occasions when the vessel lowered Nijinsky’s record for leaping in the air and twiddling the feet before descending.”

one of those gas explosions in a London street that slay six (p. 186)

Wodehouse often used phrases like this, slaying four or six. According to Murphy’s A Wodehouse Handbook: “In the 1920s, as new suburbs sprang up round London and other cities, there were several of these incidents. Many occurred through the gas companies not indicating clearly where their pipes were laid and their subsequent dramatic discovery by water, electricity and sewage workmen wielding pickaxes.”

illusion of being in Sing Sing, being electrocuted (p. 187)

The electric chair replaced hanging as New York State’s chosen method of execution in 1890. The electric chair was used for the last time at Sing Sing in 1963, two years after the publication of Ice in the Bedroom.

some lake or mere (p. 188)

First appeared in print in Sir Uvedale Price’s 1794 Essay on the Picturesque, As Compared With The Sublime and The Beautiful, a tome dealing with landscaping theories.

chasing rainbows (p. 189)

As you can never “catch” a rainbow, someone chasing a rainbow is going after something he or she can never achieve. “I’m always chasing rainbows” with lyrics by Joseph McCarthy and music pinched by Harry Carroll from Chopin was one of the hit songs of the 1918 Broadway musical “Oh, Look!” Chasing Rainbows was also the title of a 1930 Hollywood film dealing with the adventures of a Broadway musical comedy company on a road tour and starring Jack Benny.

Bois de Boulong (p. 189) °

The Bois de Boulogne is a large park (two-and-a-half times larger than New York’s Central Park) located along the western edge of Paris’s 16th arrondissement. In Paris following WWII, Wodehouse exercised both himself and the Peke there as he and Ethel lived just a short distance away. [For the reason for this phonetic spelling, see the next entry. —OvL]

the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo (p. 189) °

This was the title of a popular British music hall song, written in 1892 by Fred Gilbert and inspired by the exploits of Charles Wells, who used the profits from previous frauds to win over a million francs at the Monte Carlo casino the previous year. The song then led to a 1935 Hollywood film with the same title, starring Ronald Colman. “Breaking the bank at Monte Carlo” doesn’t imply wiping out the casino’s reserves – it just meant winning more chips than were available at a table (the table bank) at which point a black shroud would be placed over the table while replacement chips were sent for. Sadly, Charles Wells, the man who broke the bank, died penniless in 1922 after serving several prison sentences for various frauds and cons.

Ole van Luyn points out that the “awful” Anglicized pronunciation of Boulogne as spelled above comes from the definitive performer of the song, British music-hall entertainer Charles Coborn [1852–1945]; his recording is on YouTube. NM notes that it is even spelled Bois Boolong in the sheet music. Some English-speaking students who were unfamiliar with or unable to produce the French nasalized vowels were instructed to approximate the following silent ‘n’ with ‘ng’; this explains “laddishiong” for L’addition in Heavy Weather, ch. 5; “Aytong” for Eton with a supposed French accent in Hot Water, ch. 9; and “Garsong” for Garçon in French Leave, ch. 8.

hydrophobic skunk (p. 190)

A rabid skunk. During the latter stages of rabies the sufferer has difficulty swallowing, displays panic when presented with liquids to drink, and cannot quench its thirst.

took to himself the wings of a dove (p. 192)

From Psalm 55:6 “And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then I could fly away and be at rest.” In an incident rather similar to this one in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves Bertie Wooster reported that Pop Bassett “took to himself the wings of a dove and floated down beside me on the chest” in order to escape the attentions of the dog Bartholomew.

a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune (p. 193)

In Act IV of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Brutus was doing a spot of plotting with Cassius when he spoke this line.

scratch sheets (p. 193)

Cheaply produced sheets available for sale at race tracks providing the latest information on scratches, jockey changes, etc., along with predictions on the results of that day’s races. Rival touts would print their scratch sheets on different coloured paper, giving the punter a clear choice. (“Gimme the pink sheet, please.”)

Chapter 24 (pp. 194–201)

Assyrians who came down like a wolf on the fold (p. 194)

From the 1815 Lord Byron poem ‘‪The Destruction of Sennacherib.’ “The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold: And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold.”

wedding guest regarded the ancient mariner (p. 194)

In Coleridge’s ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ the ancient mariner accosted a wedding guest and, holding him with a glittering eye, told him a very long story about how he had been punished for shooting an albatross. As he chatted with George, Chimp knew exactly how the wedding guest felt.

pestilential peeler (p. 196)

A ‘Peeler,’ one of the six derogatory slang words for a police officer that flitted through Dolly’s mind back on Page 75, probably should be spelled with an upper-case 'P’ as it is an allusion to Sir Robert Peel, the founder of Scotland Yard.

those loved ones far away of whom the hymnal speaks (p. 196)

A hymn by E. H. Bickersteth (Could he be related to Bertie Wooster’s pal Bicky Bickersteth, the nephew of the Duke of Chiswick in “Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg”?) The fourth verse begins, “Peace, perfect peace with loved ones far away.”

breeze sighing in the trees (p. 197)

Like George, in Act II of The Pirates of Penzance Major-General Stanley thought he heard a noise (not surprising, since a double chorus of pirates and policemen was prowling through his grounds) but managed to convince himself that it was merely the sighing of the breeze in the poplar trees.

my cup runneth over (p. 197)

From Psalms 23:5 “Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

tie him in a reef knot (p. 198)

a reef knot is the same as a square knot. Wodehouse’s young boy scout types might have earned badges for tying them. Probably George was that sort of young lad.

neither a borrower nor a lender be (p. 199)

As was pointed out about Mustard Pott in Uncle Fred in the Springtime, a surprising number of people whom you would not have suspected of familiarity with the writings of Shakespeare seem to be able to quote from Polonius’s speech to Laertes in Act 1 of Hamlet.

a girl’s best friend (p. 200)

Miss Lorelei Lee would dispute Dolly’s opinion that a blackjack is a girl’s best friend. The central character in the 1949 Broadway musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was of the opinion that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and said as much to music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Leo Robin. Carol Channing introduced the song on Broadway in 1949 followed by Marilyn Monroe on the silver screen in 1953.

Chapter 25 (pp. 202–213)

keep watch and ward (p. 207)

It seems ‘watch' used to mean guard through the night, while ‘ward’ meant continuing protection through the daylight hours. Bertie mentions Jeeves is keeping “watch and ward” over the old two-seater in Jeeves in the Offing. This is probably an allusion to Dame Carruthers’ aria from Act I of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Yeomen of the Guard when she, speaking in the voice of the Tower of London, sings:

The screw may twist and the rack may turn,
And men may bleed and men may burn,
O'er London town and its golden hoard
I keep my silent watch and ward!

About their bed and about their board, spying out all their ways (p. 207)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

lord love a duck (p. 212) °

Seems to be a British expression dating from the early 20th century. The Oxford English Dictionary cites its use in Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce, “Paddy Leonard eyed his alemates. Lord love a duck, he said. Look at what I’m standing drinks to!” It appears in The Coming of Bill (1920), “ ‘Well, Lord love a duck!’ replied the butler, who in his moments of relaxation was addicted to homely expletives of the lower London type.” Subsequently it is used frequently in the Wodehouse canon, not exclusively by the lower classes.

Monty Bodkin says it in Heavy Weather, ch. 7, and in The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 6. The charabanc driver known as the Weasel says it in Summer Moonshine, ch. 19. It is a favorite expression of Lord Uffenham throughout Money in the Bank. Bertie’s Aunt Dahlia employs it (Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 10), and Bertie himself in Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen/The Cat-Nappers, ch. 7 (1974). Other users of the exclamation include Stiffy Byng (Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 21), Jas Waterbury (“Jeeves and the Greasy Bird”), Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps (three times in Barmy in Wonderland), Sir Gregory Parsloe (Pigs Have Wings, ch. 7.2), Lord Rowcester (Ring for Jeeves, ch. 9), Galahad Threepwood (Galahad at Blandings, ch. 12.1), and this is by no means a complete list.

blow me tight (p. 212)

Various sources agree this goes back to the late eighteenth century and seems to have maritime origins. “Blow me down” and “Blow me pink” are variations. Wodehouse seems to have favoured “Blow me tight.” Bertie Wooster uses it on numerous occasions. Jerome K. Jerome used it in 1888, in Three men in a boat (to say nothing of the dog): “Wallingford lock!” they answered. “Lor’ love you, sir, that’s been done away with for over a year. There ain’t no Wallingford lock now, sir. You're close to Cleeve now. Blow me tight if ’ere ain’t a gentleman been looking for Wallingford lock, Bill!”

macedoine (p. 212)

Webster’s defines a macedoine as (1) a confused mixture and (2) a mixture of fruits or vegetables served as a salad or cocktail or in a jellied dessert or used in a sauce or as a garnish. In Wodehouse, the scene after bicycle accidents and such mishaps often is described as a “macédoine of arms and legs.” He also used the word to mean a mixture of circumstances, not just physical mix-ups, as in Pigs Have Wings, “In this macedoine of tragic happenings in and around Blandings Castle, designed to purge the souls of a discriminating public with pity and terror...”

Prosser bijouterie (p. 212)

a collection of jewellery. From the French “bijou.”

Chapter 26 (pp. 214–223)

Hymns Ancient and Modern (p. 214)

Hymns Ancient and Modern is a hymnal that was long in common use within the Church of England.

joy bells (as good as) ringing (p. 214)

An allusion to a well known hymn “The Joy Bells are Ringing.” In the 1923 musical comedy The Beauty Prize the number “Joy Bells” in Act 1 has lyrics by P.G. Wodehouse.

rainbow round his shoulder (p. 215)

Murphy’s A Wodehouse Handbook informs us that the song “There’s a Rainbow Round my Shoulder” was heard in the 1928 film The Singing Fool.

Bosher Street police court (p. 216)

Such Wodehouse characters as Bertie Wooster, Roberta “Bobbie” Wickham and the Blandings nephew Ronnie Fish have all made appearances before the magistrate at Bosher Street police court. Murphy has located a real-life counterpart for it at Bow Street in Covent Garden. For a full listing, see Summer Lightning.

reason tottering on its throne (p. 219)

Modification of a phrase in George Farquhar’s 1706 play The Recruiting Officer, “Reason still keeps its throne, but it nods a little, that’s all.” Wodehouse used several variations, Bertie Wooster often speaks of reason returning to the throne.

shimmy (p. 220)

A popular dance in the 1920s, considered daring and provocative. In Act 2 of the London musical The Cabaret Girl a London show-girl demonstrates the dance for the rustics in Woollam Chersey by singing “Shimmy with Me,” to lyrics and music by Wodehouse and Jerome Kern.

pennies from heaven (p. 221)

A popular American song by Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston, sung in the 1936 film Pennies from Heaven starring Bing Crosby.

Miss Bulstrode (p. 222)

There are several Bulstrodes in the canon, notably a magnetic butler in Barmy in Wonderland and a chemist in the village of Market Blandings.

take the rough with the smooth (p. 223) °

Accept both fortune and misfortune with equanimity.

From The Tale of Beryn (1400) “Take your part as it comyth, of roughe and eke of smooth.”