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.

Lord Emsworth and Others was originally annotated by Mark Hodson (aka The Efficient Baxter). The notes have been reformatted, edited somewhat, and expanded by Neil Midkiff and others as credited below, but credit goes to Mark for his original efforts, even while we bear the blame for errors of fact or interpretation.



You can spend many happy hours sorting out the bibliography here. Both Lord Emsworth and Others (Herbert Jenkins, UK, March 1937) and The Crime Wave at Blandings (Doubleday, Doran, US, June 1937) were evidently conceived as vehicles for what is generally agreed to be one of Wodehouse’s best and funniest stories, the extended short story “The Crime Wave at Blandings.” However, the remainder of their contents seem to have been cobbled together from whatever Wodehouse material their respective publishers hadn’t used yet. The result, at least in the UK edition, is an unusually broad selection: what other volume brings you Blandings, Mr Mulliner, Freddie Widgeon of the Drones, Ukridge, and the Oldest Member between the same covers? The US edition contains a further extended short story, the shortened US version of Doctor Sally, which of course started life as Good Morning, Bill, an adaptation of a Hungarian play by Ladislaus Fodor.

Lord Emsworth and Others only shares three stories with The Crime Wave at Blandings. The three golf stories in Lord Emsworth and Others had appeared in the US edition of Young Men in Spats (April 1936); the three Ukridge stories would not appear in book form in the US until Eggs, Beans & Crumpets (1940). Conversely, the US version contains one story that had been in the British but not the American version of Young Men in Spats, and two that were to appear in the British, but not the American, version of Eggs, Beans & Crumpets. There may well have been a good reason for all this, but if so it has been lost in the mists of publishing history...

UK version: Lord Emsworth and Others

The Crime Wave at Blandings

  • 1936-10-10 & 1936-10-17 Saturday Evening Post (US)
  • 1937-01 Strand (UK)

Buried Treasure

  • 1936-09 Strand (UK)
  • 1936-09-27 This Week (US) as “Hidden Treasure”

The Letter of the Law

  • 1936-04 Strand (UK)
  • 1936-04 Redbook (US) as “Not Out of Distance”
  • Appeared in US edition of Young Men in Spats (1936)

Farewell to Legs

  • 1935-07-14 This Week (US) [abridged]
  • 1936-05 Strand (UK)
  • Appeared in US edition of Young Men in Spats (1936)

There’s Always Golf

  • 1936-03 Strand (UK) as “There’s Always Golf!”
  • 1936-02 Redbook (US) as “A Triple Threat Man”
  • Appeared in US edition of Young Men in Spats (1936) as “There’s Always Golf!”

The Masked Troubadour

  • 1936-11-28 Saturday Evening Post (US) as “Reggie and the Greasy Bird” (some characters and settings changed)
  • 1936-12 Strand (UK)

Ukridge and the Home from Home

  • 1931-02 Cosmopolitan (US)
  • 1931-06 Strand (UK)
  • Appeared in the US edition of Eggs, Beans & Crumpets (1940)

The Come-Back of Battling Billson

  • 1935-06 Cosmopolitan (US)
  • 1935-07 Strand (UK)
  • Appeared in the US edition of Eggs, Beans & Crumpets (1940)

The Level Business Head

US version: The Crime Wave at Blandings

The Crime Wave at Blandings

  • 1936-10-10 & 1936-10-17 Saturday Evening Post (US)
  • 1937-01 Strand (UK)

The Medicine Girl

  • 1931-07-04 through 1931-08-01 Collier’s (US)
  • (Long version published separately in UK as Doctor Sally, 1932)

Buried Treasure

  • 1936-09 Strand (UK)
  • 1936-09-27 This Week (US) as “Hidden Treasure”

The Masked Troubadour

  • 1936-11-28 Saturday Evening Post (US) as “Reggie and the Greasy Bird” (some characters and settings changed)
  • 1936-12 Strand (UK)

Romance at Droitgate Spa

  • 1937-02-20 Saturday Evening Post (US)
  • 1937-08 Strand (UK)
  • Appeared in UK edition of Eggs, Beans & Crumpets

All’s Well with Bingo

  • 1937-01-30 Saturday Evening Post (US)
  • 1937-04 Strand (UK)
  • Appeared in UK edition of Eggs, Beans & Crumpets

Tried in the Furnace

  • 1935-09 Strand (UK)
  • 1937-03 Cosmopolitan (US)
  • Appeared in UK edition of Young Men in Spats

The Crime Wave at Blandings (pp. 9 to 79)

This story first appeared in two parts in the Saturday Evening Post in October 1936. It appeared in book form a year later in Lord Emsworth and Others (US title: The Crime Wave at Blandings). Page references are to the UK 1st edition, where the story runs from pp. 9 to 79.

well-bred bees ... gentlemanly birds (p. 9)

Before we even get to the end of the first paragraph, Wodehouse has subverted the narrative convention by which bees and birds are used as a marker of idyllic rural life (cf. Tennyson’s Princess: “the murmuring of innumerable bees...”).

chronicler (p. 9)

See Cocktail Time.

Shropshire (p. 9)

The action of this story takes place after Leave It to Psmith (1923/24), Summer Lightning (1929) and Heavy Weather (1933), so Blandings is safely established as being in Shropshire.

crime wave (p. 9)

The OED records a Times headline from 1920 as the first use of this phrase.

Cornflower blue (p. 9)

Typically a rich, blue colour, characteristic of the flower Centaurea Cyanus (blue bottle, bachelors’ button). The term has been used in the fashion world since the early 20th century. In computing, the RGB code #6396FC is called “light cornflower blue”.


The Man With The Missing Toe (p. 10)

Seems to be fictitious. Richard Burgin and J. M. Alonso’s Man with Missing Parts appeared later, in 1973. Beach inherits Freddie Threepwood’s thriller collection later in the saga.

airgun (p. 10)

An airgun (in this case it is probably an air rifle that is referred to) fires a projectile (usually a small metal pellet or dart) by the release of compressed air. Air rifles with muzzle energy less than 12 ft lbs (16 J) can be used without a permit in the UK, provided that they are used on private land and with the landowner’s permission, and that young people under 14 are supervised by adults. In the past there were even fewer restrictions, and air guns were commonly given to children as (expensive) toys.

Jane, his Lordship’s niece (p. 10)

Jane is one of six nieces of Lord Emsworth’s who appear in the canon in similar circumstances. The others are Prudence (who marries Bill Lister), Gertrude (marries the Revd. Beefy Bingham), Veronica Wedge (Tipton Plimsoll), Angela (James Belford) and Millicent (Hugo Carmody). See the Threepwood family tree in Sunset at Blandings.

looking Scotch (p. 10)

This adjective was formerly used interchangeably with Scots and Scottish; in the 20th century its meaning is more usually limited to certain particular senses, especially Scotch whisky. Wodehouse is perhaps being a little provocative when he uses it here.

Hollywood yes-men (p. 10)

Wodehouse had been in Hollywood in 1930–1931. Yes-men appear in some of the Mulliner stories in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere.

correspondence course (p. 11)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

New Deal (p. 11)

The New Deal was a programme of economic and social reforms brought in by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt between 1933 and 1939 to help the United States recover from the depression of the 1930s. Roosevelt’s measures aroused a lot of opposition, in particular from conservative politicians. We are to assume that Lord Emsworth is similarly conservative in his gardening policy.

a bit of snailing (p. 11)

The use of snailing in a gardening context to mean ‘keeping free from snails’ goes back to the 17th century, but is very unusual. This may well be an independent reinvention of the term – it sounds as though Wodehouse wants to give it more of an incongruously sporting sense of ‘snail-hunting’ (cf. ‘a bit of fishing’).

American named Jevons (p. 12)

cf. Leave It to Psmith. Jevons had been Baxter’s employer before he first came to work for Lord Emsworth.

The name Jevons also occurs in “Creatures of Impulse” (1914), which may be considered a precursor to this story.

Garden of Eden ... snake (p. 12)

Cf. Genesis, chapter 3; see Biblia Wodehousiana. The Devil takes the form of a snake to tempt Eve. In the Authorised Version, the word ‘serpent’ rather than ‘snake’ is used.

stuck pig (p. 13)

A stuck pig is one that has been stabbed (by a butcher). The proverbial expression ‘to stare like a stuck pig’ goes back at least to the 18th century, and may come originally from Aesop.

sheet anchor (p. 14)

From the former name for the largest of a ship’s anchors, to be used only in an emergency; figuratively, something upon which one relies in extreme circumstances.

insulating and confining a disease germ (p. 14)

Wodehouse (or Emsworth) seems to have only a rather vague sense of what microbiologists actually do. Preventing a disease by capturing the relevant bacteria and locking them up in a safe place does not sound like a very feasible strategy! Bacteria are usually ‘isolated’ to exclude other influences for the purposes of research, not to protect the public.

Your heir, Bosham (p. 14)

Viscount Bosham appears in person in Leave It to Psmith.

galumphing (p. 15)

The word was invented by Lewis Carroll. It usually means something like ‘charging around noisily.’

He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

Lewis Carroll (C. L. Dodgson): Jabberwocky (1827)

Senior Conservative Club (p. 16)

Murphy identifies this as the Constitutional Club in Northumberland Avenue, London.

N.T.P. Murphy: In Search of Blandings (1986)

thin end of the wedge (p. 16)

This seems to be a mid-Victorian cliché, first appearing in print around 1850 – Emsworth might equally well have heard it from his father, or read it in Trollope (who also uses ‘small end...’ and ‘little end...’).

vultures gnawing at his bosom (p. 16)

This does not seem to be an exact quotation, but is presumably a reference to Prometheus, who in Greek mythology was chained to a rock with a vulture gnawing at his liver as a punishment for stealing fire from the gods.

Why the dooce...? (p. 16)

Dooce or deuce meaning ‘plague’ or ‘mischief’ (later sometimes as a euphemism for the Devil) seems to have come into English in the 17th century from Dutch or Low German. The OED maintains that this is not the same word as ‘deuce’ meaning the two at dice, cards, etc., which came in much earlier from Old French.

Whiffle on The Care Of The Pig (p. 19)

This seems to be the first mention of this book. Lord Emsworth relies on it in Uncle Fred in the Springtime, chapters 2 and 3 (1939); in Pigs Have Wings, ch. 1 (1952); in Service With a Smile, ch. 6.2 (1961); and Galahad at Blandings, ch. 6.2 (1965), in which the author’s name is given as Augustus Whipple, and in which Sam Bagshott visits Blandings Castle pretending to be Whipple.

Leighs in Devonshire (p. 20)

Leigh is a very common British surname.

Devon is a county in the south-west of England ('Devon' and 'Devonshire' are used almost interchangeably), about 200km away from Shropshire.

tweed coat and flannel knickerbockers (p. 21)

Tweed is a hard-wearing woolen material, traditionally woven in Scotland (especially on the island of Harris). The term ‘flannel’ is used for a range of softer, open woolen materials, originally made in Wales. Knickerbockers in this context are knee-breeches. Jane’s young man is wearing what a gentleman of Wodehouse’s generation would wear for a walk in the country (several photos of Wodehouse from the 20s and 30s show him dressed like this).

Blood will tell (p. 21)

Here, meaning that aristocratic lineage gives Lady Constance a degree of self-control; see If I Were You.

land-agent (p. 21)

In this context, an estate manager

Simmons (p. 21)

A pig girl called Monica Simmons appears in the later Blandings stories Pigs Have Wings and Galahad at Blandings, eventually to marry Lord Emsworth’s nephew Wilfred; there is a Constable Simms in The Girl in Blue.

his sister Charlotte (p. 23)

Lord Emsworth is famously overloaded with sisters: there are ten in all (including two who are mentioned for the first time in Sunset at Blandings). This seems to be the only mention of Charlotte in the canon.

Daniel H. Garrison and Neil Midkiff: Who’s Who in Wodehouse (2019)

he’s your brother or cousin or something (p. 25)

George is the son of Jane’s first cousin, Bosham. He is thus a first cousin once removed. There has been no prohibition on cousin marriage in Britain since the Reformation (in contrast to some parts of the US), and marriages between first cousins were not uncommon in the British aristocracy, so Lord Emsworth is being more than usually vague here. He is quite right about George being too young to marry, of course.

George Abercrombie (p. 25)

Abercrombie is the name of a district of Fife, Scotland, near St Monans. The current chiefs of clan Abercrombie are the descendants of Sir Alexander Abercromby of Birkenbog in Banffshire. Names in ‘Aber-’ (beyond) are typically Scots or Welsh. It is thus a slightly surprising name for ‘one of the oldest families in Devonshire’ (p. 26). In A Pelican at Blandings a Sir Abercrombie Fitch is mentioned (as Glossop’s locum), clearly a reference to the famous New York store Abercrombie and Fitch: presumably this is also where George gets his name from.

Conquest (p. 26)

The Norman conquest of 1066. Again, it is odd that someone with a Scottish surname should have come over with William the Conqueror.

Paynim (p. 26)

Archaic term for paganism or pagans – sometimes used in the Middle Ages (as here) to mean followers of non-Christian faiths, particularly Islam.

give him the bird (p. 26)

Not the rude hand gesture recently called by that name, but a dismissal from theatrical jargon; see Leave It to Psmith.

Wimbledon (p. 26)

Southern suburb of London. Jane presumably refers to the tennis club there, which holds an annual tournament.

There’s a song of that name... (p. 27)

The song appeared in 1916. The lyrics to Nat Ayer’s tune are by Clifford Grey (1887–1941) who later worked with Wodehouse and Bolton on Sally. Apart from being a lyricist, Grey (using an assumed name to conceal the fact that he was a British citizen) also won two gold medals as a member of the US Olympic bobsleigh team.

If You Were The Only Girl In The World,
And I were the only boy,

Nothing else would matter in the world today,
We could go on loving in the same old way.
A Garden of Eden just made for two,
With nothing to mar our joy—

I would say such wonderful things to you,
There would be such wonderful things to do,
If You Were The Only Girl In The World
and I were the only boy.

Clifford Grey: If You Were The Only Girl In The World

tap-room (p. 28)

The public bar, i.e. the room in a pub where draught beer is served, which would be patronised mostly by working-class men.

the Emsworth Arms (p. 28)

See Summer Lightning.

smoking concert (p. 28)

A concert where smoking was allowed, thus intended for men only. Normally means an entertainment organised by a men’s group (college, sports club, or simply a group of workmates), where members of the group would take turns to get up and sing.

hornswoggling (p. 30)

See The Code of the Woosters.

silver salver (p. 31)

See Leave It to Psmith.

Aristotle (p. 32)

Greek philosopher, 384–322 BCE. Student of Plato in Athens, later tutor to Alexander the Great in Macedonia. Wrote extensively on many aspects of philosophy and natural science.

Mapleton (p. 34)

In “Jeeves and the Kid Clementina” (1930; in Very Good, Jeeves) there is a headmistress called Miss Mapleton.

stained the escutcheon (p. 34)

See Heavy Weather.

like billy-o (p. 35)

See A Damsel in Distress.

catapults (p. 36)

See A Damsel in Distress.

a bit thick (p. 37)

Edwardian slang, casually understating the difficulty or disagreeableness of a situation.

the sere and yellow of life (p. 37)

A phrase comparing an aging person with autumn leaves, dry and withered. Perhaps not invented by, but popularized by Shakespeare in Macbeth, V, iii:

I have lived long enough: my way of life
Is fall’n into the sear, the yellow leaf;

Wodehouse used it only one more time as far as can be found, for cab horses in Sloane Square:

No horse is ever seen there till it has passed well into the sere and yellow.

Not George Washington, ch. 25 (1907)

the world is their ashtray (p. 39)

How true this still is today, after almost ninety years!

to skip like the high hills (p. 40)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

first crack out of the box (p. 40)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

brass paper-fastener (p. 41)

This handy item of office supplies could in fact substitute quite well for a lost stud in a pinch. Wodehouse himself claimed that he had “never invented anything, unless you count using a brass paper-fastener to take the place of a missing collar-stud” in Louder and Funnier (1932).

“I remember coming down to dinner one night when we had a big dinner party with a brass paper-fastener in my shirt front, because I had unfortunately swallowed my stud, and she kept harping on it for months.”

Lord Emsworth recalling Lady Constance’s reaction in Service With a Smile, ch. 6.2 (1961)

G-men (p. 42)

This term was first used for members of G Division of the Dublin Police (the political branch) during and after the First World War. It later came to refer to agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. It isn’t clear whether the one led to the other.

leather-jackets (p. 43)

Popular name for cranefly larvae, which can cause damage to turf by eating the roots.

flower-pots (p. 44)

See Leave It to Psmith.

One of those chaps who shoot apples off their son’s heads (p. 48)

Wodehouse had retold the story of William Tell for children in one of his earliest books, William Tell Told Again (1904), which can be seen on the Library of Congress website.

Piccadilly Circus (p. 48)

Busy road junction in the West End of London.

old Sure-Shot (p. 48)

A sobriquet also applied to Brewster Gooch in “Back to the Garage” (1929) and (without the hyphen) to Lord Ickenham in Cocktail Time, ch. 2 (1958).

Two-Gun Thomas (p. 49)

Wodehouse had used this name before:

“You have to draw like a flash of lightning, Mr. Samuel. If you’d ever seen a film called ‘Two-Gun-Thomas,’ you’d realise that.”

John Peters in The Girl on the Boat, ch. 8.1 (1922)

Sigsbee Waddington, as he stood on the pavement, was clad in dress clothes and looked like a stage waiter, but at heart he was wearing chaps and a Stetson hat and people spoke of him as Two-Gun Thomas.

The Small Bachelor, ch. 2.3 (1927)

No film by this title has been found, but IMDB gives some possible inspirations, such as William S. Hart’s Two-Gun Hicks, a 1914 short; Two-Gun Gussie, a Harold Lloyd short from 1918 probably parodying Hart; and Two-Gun Mickey from Walt Disney in 1934.

Chicago business man of the modern school (p. 49)

Gangster. Presumably the blameless Mr Jevons is not of the modern school?

aguelike convulsion (p. 50)

An ague (pronounced ay-gyou) is an old name for any disease that causes chills and fever, usually with shivering.

pantaloon (p. 53)

A weak and foolish old man – from the name of the character Pantalone in Italian commedia dell’arte.

asphasia (p. 54)

A misprint in the first edition: should read aphasia, the medical term for a loss of the ability to use spoken language.

high tenor voice (p. 54)

Wodehouse is not usually given to musical imagery, but we have already been told (p. 29) that Lady Constance is a soprano, George a treble, and Baxter a throaty baritone.

A in Alt (p. 54)

See Heavy Weather.

the honeyed word (p. 54)

See Cocktail Time.

got hold of the wrong end of the stick (p. 56)

Nineteenth-century citations for this phrase in the OED seem to refer to the less-favorable side in a bargain; the only exact match to Wodehouse’s meaning of “taking a mistaken view of a situation” is quoted from George Orwell in 1939, later than Wodehouse’s uses of the phrase:

“Perfect drivel. You've got hold of the wrong end of the stick entirely.”

Galahad Threepwood to Ronnie Fish in Heavy Weather, ch. 10 (1933)

If a girl thinks a man is proposing to her, and on that understanding books him up, he can’t explain to her that she has got hold of entirely the wrong end of the stick and that he hadn’t the smallest intention of suggesting anything of the kind.

Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 10 (1934)

shrinking back and counting the cost (p. 57)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

sweetness and light (p. 57)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

His heart was bowed down with weight of woe (p. 58)

See Sam the Sudden.

what a tangled web we weave (p. 58)

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!

Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832): Marmion

Gloire de Dijon (p. 59)

A tea-noisette rose (Jacotot, 1853), popular with English gardeners in the 19th century. Yellow flowers, blooms early in the season.

lost the blue bird (p. 59)

The association of the ‘blue bird’ with elusive happiness comes from Maeterlinck’s play L’Oiseau bleu (translated into English in 1909).

seemed to accept the olive branch (p. 60)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

to blow the gaff (p. 61)

To blow the gaff: (figuratively) to let out a secret; to reveal a plot, or give convicting evidence. (OED)

stretched upon the rack (p. 63)

Wikipedia has an informative article on this ancient torture device.

weighed sixteen stone in the buff (p. 66)

224 lb or 102 kg

Buff can mean military uniform, but more usually, as here, it is a colloquial expression for nudity.

grande dame (p. 66)

French for “great lady,” with implications of snobbishness.

daughter-of-a-hundred-earls (p. 66)

See Heavy Weather.

crust (p. 67)

See under immortal rind in Something Fresh.

deck-chair (p. 67)

A lightweight reclining chair, typically one with a wooden frame that folds for storage; often found on the decks of ocean liners for passengers to enjoy the air and sun.

distrait (p. 69)

French: distracted, troubled

shikari (p. 67)

An Anglo-Indian word derived from Urdu, meaning either a native game-hunter or one who accompanies and guides foreign hunters. The Saturday Evening Post substituted safari here as a word better known to American readers.

...inundating countrysides while thousands flee (p. 70)

Wodehouse never tired of sneaking newspaper headline clichés into normal text.

The fellow’s potty (p. 71)

In the sense of “crazy, mad, eccentric” the OED has citations beginning in 1920.

Let him scram! (p. 73)

The earliest OED citation for scram as slang for leaving quickly comes from American newspaper columnist Walter Winchell, who had to define it for his readers in 1928. It seems a bit surprising that a rural English peer would have adopted it into his vocabulary less than a decade later.

as if she had heard the Last Trump (p. 73)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

dashed (p. 75)

See A Damsel in Distress.

gassing away (p. 75)

Speaking freely, usually with the implication of nonsense. The British use gas in this sense as Americans would say hot air; both are used to inflate balloons.

uncontrollable impulse (p. 76)

An earlier Wodehouse story from 1914, “Creatures of Impulse”, was his first treatment of a very similar theme.

a blend of several emotions (p. 76)

See Leave It to Psmith.

into the breach (p. 77)

The OED gives the spelling breech-loader for the type of gun which is loaded at the back of the bore when the firing mechanism and the barrel are separated by opening a hinge (“breaking” the gun). Indeed, the Saturday Evening Post used breech here.

fluke (p. 78)

A successful shot achieved accidentally, or by luck rather than skill. The term originated in the mid-nineteenth century in the game of billiards.

rose six inches (p. 78)

See Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit.

rose to a crescendo (p. 79)

See Heavy Weather.

the X which marked the spot (p. 79)

See A Damsel in Distress.

Nature had blown the All Clear (p. 79)

All clear seems to have originated as a nautical expression indicating that a particular evolution had been completed properly; in the First World War it was used to describe the signal indicating that danger from an air raid had passed, which would be blown on a bugle or similar means. The OED lists Wodehouse as the first to use it in a metaphorical sense, in The Girl on the Boat.

Buried Treasure (pp. 80 to 107)

This story (original US title: “Hidden Treasure”) appeared in This Week in the US and The Strand in the UK, in September 1936. It appeared in book form in Crime Wave at Blandings (US) and Lord Emsworth and Others (UK). Page references are to the first edition of the latter, where the story runs from pp. 80 to 107.

The situation in Germany (p. 80)

“Buried Treasure” first appeared in September 1936, although the situation in Germany might have been an equally legitimate topic for discussion at any time in the thirties. Hitler had remilitarised the Rheinland on the 7th of March and was putting his armed forces on a war footing; the civil rights of Jews had been taken away a year before, and readers of this story would have seen pictures of the Nürnberg rally in their newspapers the same week.

moustache (p. 80)

This story is often considered the most complete expression of Wodehouse’s lifelong obsession with facial hair.

Brancepeth (p. 81)

Brancepeth is a village in County Durham, with a noted castle (now a golf club). It was the birthplace of Frederick William Sanderson, the famous headmaster of Oundle School, who may well have taught Wodehouse’s elder brother as physics master at Dulwich before 1892.

Lord Bromborough of Rumpling Hall (p. 81)

Bromborough is on the Wirral penninsula, near Liverpool. Rumpling seems to be fictitious.

Potter is a common enough name (Mervyn Potter in Barmy in Wonderland, Constable Potter in Uncle Dynamite, Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright), but Wapleigh also seems to be fictitious without an obvious source.

Wodehouse had extensive family connections in Norfolk, and stayed at Hunstanton Hall a number of times.

Joyeuse (p. 82)

This is also the name of Lord Ickenham’s great bath sponge. The most likely origin for the name is Charlemagne’s famous sword Joyeuse.

Love in Idleness (p. 82)

This is another name for the poppy. Perhaps there is a joke here about the moustache being dyed?

Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell.
It fell upon a little Western flower,
Before, milk-white, now purple with love’s wound;
The maidens call it Love-in-idleness.”

Shakespeare, William (1564–1616) Midsummer Night’s Dream, ii. 2.

bestowing names upon their favourite swords (p. 82)

Brewer gives a comprehensive list of such famous swords (s.v. SWORD-MAKERS). Note that both Joyeuse and Flamberge were said to have been made by Galas, each taking three years. Considering that Siegfried only takes about ten minutes to forge Nothung (Wagner, Siegfried, Act II) this seems quite generous.

(said Mr Mulliner) (p. 82)

The US edition has ‘(since Mrs Mulliner)’ here, pointlessly giving away the ending of the story. Tony Ring and Geoffrey Jaggard (Wodehouse at the Angler’s Rest) suggest that this comes from a misprint in the text of the story as published in The Strand, corrected by Herbert Jenkins in the UK edition.

“What ho, reptile” (p. 83)

Though reptile is usually used when addressing a despised or dislikeable person, here it is used in a tenderly ironic fashion. Compare Lancelot Mulliner to Gladys Bingley, his fiancée, in “The Story of Webster” (1932):

“Hullo, Reptile!” he said lovingly.

septic (p. 83)

See If I Were You.

Liverpool Street (p. 84)

London terminus of the former Great Eastern Railway, serving most of East Anglia. The station’s location in the heart of the City of London led to its complete rebuilding in the 1990s – there is little if anything of the original station left visible today.

Longfellow’s Evangeline (p. 84)

A deservedly forgotten narrative poem, many would argue.

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

Longfellow: Evangeline 1-6

zareba (p. 84)

A fortification or an enclosure for cattle, made out of thorn bushes (from Sudan).

Mr. Walkinshaw (p. 85)

Presumably he of the Supreme Ointment (see Something Fresh and The Inimitable Jeeves); other Walkinshaws are noted at Young Men in Spats.

you old bounder (p. 85)

As with reptile above, this is an ironic use of a deprecatory term (see Bill the Conqueror) as an endearment, at a time when straightforward terms of sentiment were looked on by Bright Young Things as hopelessly old-fashioned.

What the dooce (p. 87)

See p. 16, above.

mangold-wurzels (p. 87)

A type of beet, grown for cattle food.

a boob of the first water (p. 88)

A boob is a fool, a stupid or blundering person (originally US slang from early 1900s). For of the first water see Heavy Weather.

with knobs on (p. 89)

See The Mating Season.

what it’s like owning land nowadays (p. 89)

Here and elsewhere (see Thank You, Jeeves), Wodehouse is realistic about the financial difficulties of formerly wealthy landowners because of declining agricultural prices, increased taxation, and economic depression.

Potter’s Potted Table Delicacies (p. 90)

The term ‘potted’ was used for food products preserved in a glass or ceramic jar: a process now largely replaced by canning. Some processed meat products sold in cans are still marketed as ‘potted meat,’ especially in the USA. The alliteration is reminiscent of the advertisement into which Leopold Bloom reads a sexual joke in Joyce’s Ulysses (published 1922, first US edition 1933) – Wodehouse might have had this in mind, although there’s no evidence that he had read Ulysses.

What is home without
Plumtree’s Potted Meat?
With it an abode of bliss.

James Joyce: Ulysses, ch.5

The implication is that Sir Preston is a wealthy retired manufacturer, perhaps lacking the prestige of an ancient aristocratic family, but having a considerably greater bank account.

Walt Disney (p. 90)

Walter Elias Disney (1901–1966) made his first animated cartoons in Kansas City after serving with the Red Cross in the First World War. He moved to Hollywood in 1923 to set up a production company with his brother Roy O. Disney. The character Mickey Mouse was created in 1928, first appearing in Steamboat Willie. Disney’s first full-length animated film was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1932). More sinister aspects of his personality are evident in the sanitised, controlled version of American society he attempted to create in the hugely successful Disney theme parks and the scary “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT) in Florida.

Velasquez (p. 90)

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599–1660), Spanish painter and courtier. For much of his career he was official painter to the Spanish court in Madrid, and later in life he also held the post of marshal of the royal household, with responsibility for organising court ceremonial. He is known both for his court portraits and his genre pieces. His aristocratic status makes the comparison all the more incongruous.

followed the gleam (p. 90)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

Bertie the Bandicoot (p. 90)

A bandicoot is a large Indian rat (Mus malabaricus), about the size of a cat. Not a very plausible cuddly cartoon character.

a lifetime of incessant toil (p. 91)

Online sources vary, citing average rates of facial hair growth from one-quarter to one-half inch per month. So in “a few years” an impressive adornment can indeed be achieved.

District Council (p. 91)

In British local government terms, a District is a subdivision of a County. Local government has been reorganised many times since then, but in the 1930s, at least in larger counties like Norfolk, District Councils were responsible for most local services (highways, education, refuse collection, etc.). Councils, although elected democratically, often included members of the local gentry and aristocracy, usually elected as Conservatives or Independents.

Phipps the butler (p. 92)

We learn later that his name is George. Another crafty butler, James Phipps, is the safebreaking butler of Phipps to the Rescue (1950) / The Old Reliable (1951).

watered silk (p. 92)

Silk made with a wavy, lustrous pattern by dampening two layers of fabric and steam-pressing them together. The threads of the two layers will not be aligned everywhere, and when dried, the fabric will have a random-appearing pattern (also called moiré) of shiny and duller areas.

restorative (p. 93)

See Sam the Sudden.

fagged (p. 93)

Wearied; worn out. The OED has citations since the eighteenth century.

a couple, quick (p. 93)

Brancepeth is drinking more rapidly than some of Wodehouse’s characters; see The Inimitable Jeeves for a common pattern of “one quick and one rather slower.”

cottage hospital (p. 93)

A small local hospital in a country district, with medical services provided by resident nurses and a rota of local general practitioners. Most had disappeared by the 1970s. Mary Renault’s 1947 novel Return to Night gives a good account of the workings of such an institution.

brother brush (p. 93)

Fellow artist. ‘Brother of the brush’ is a more common way of saying this.

In Something New/Something Fresh (1915) Wodehouse had referred to Shakespeare as his “brother-pen.”

a face like a fish (p. 94)

Other Wodehouse characters so described include Cyril Bassington-Bassington in “Jeeves and the Chump Cyril” (1918); Bertie Wooster himself, in “Jeeves and the Dog McIntosh” (1929); and Gussie Fink-Nottle, in Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 1 (1934) and The Mating Season, ch. 1 (1949). “Fish-faced” is used of T. Paterson Frisby in Big Money, ch. 4.1; of Gussie Fink-Nottle again in The Code of the Woosters, ch. 1 (1938) and other books in the Jeeves and Wooster series.

at the height of its fever (p. 94)

See Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen.

leaving not a wrack (p. 95)

The OED tells us that this phrase results from a misprint in Shakespeare’s Tempest iv. i. 156: “The great Globe it selfe shall dissolue, And Leaue not a racke behinde.” Shakespeare was using the now obsolete sense of rack to mean ‘mist or fog’ (what one might plausibly expect to find if a planet has dissolved), but in some editions the word ‘wrack’ (ruin, remains) was substituted.

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for more on the topic.

Slumberola (p. 95)

Oddly enough, no-one seems to have used this name for a sleeping pill yet.

tangled wildwood (p. 96)

How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood
When fond recollection presents them to view
The orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled wildwood,
And ev’ry loved spot which my infancy knew
The wide spreading pond, and the mill that stood by it,
The bridge and the rock where the cataract fell;
The cot of my father, the dairy house nigh it,
And e’en the rude bucket that hung in the well.
The old oaken bucket, the iron bound bucket,
The moss covered bucket that hung in the well.

The moss covered bucket I hailed as a treasure,
For often at noon, when returned from the field,
I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure,
The purest and sweetest that nature can yield.
How ardent I seized it, with hands that were glowing,
And quick to the white pebbled bottom it fell
Then soon, with the emblem of turth overflowing,
And dripping with coolness, it rose from the well.
The old oaken bucket, the iron bound bucket,
The moss covered bucket that hung in the well.

Samuel Woodworth: (1788–1842) The Old Oaken Bucket

Another possible source is the song “Lazy” written by Irving Berlin in 1924; the lyrics of the refrain include:

I want to peep
Through the deep
 Tangled wildwood
Counting sheep
’Til I sleep
 Like a child would.

elephants laden with gold, and camels bearing precious stones and rare spices (p. 97)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

apes, ivory and peacocks (p. 97)

For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.

Bible: 2 Chronicles 9:21

See also 1 Kings 10:22 at Biblia Wodehousiana.

razing ... to its foundations (p. 98)

This phrase is most often used to describe the destruction of cities, etc., after battles. Wodehouse is, of course, playing on another sense of the verb ‘raze’ (or rase) which survives today only in the noun ‘razor.’

see Lord Bromborough steadily and see him whole (p. 98)

See The Clicking of Cuthbert for the poetic source of this figure of speech.

lighting wicks ... hot dishes (p. 98)

Breakfast in English country houses was normally a ‘self-service’ affair – family and guests would help themselves to hot food kept warm in serving dishes placed over lamps or candles on the sideboard.

with a hey nonny nonny and a hot cha-cha (p. 99)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

like Macbeth interviewing Lady Macbeth (p. 99)

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

flew before him like a banner (p. 100)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

kedgeree (p. 100)

A dish made of rice and fish, often served at breakfast. (A British variant of an Indian dish made with rice, pulses and onions.)

missing … cylinders (p. 100)

See Thank You, Jeeves.

his bed had not been slept in (p. 101)

See Summer Lightning.

deleterious animal magnetism (p. 102)

See Thank You, Jeeves.

Debrett (p. 102)

Debrett’s Peerage of England, Scotland and Ireland, a directory of the peerage, originally compiled by John Debrett (1750–1822), which first appeared in 1803.

shows you a craven (p. 102)

See Leave It to Psmith.

another one along in a minute (p. 104)

See Leave It to Psmith.

Prudence returned to its throne (p. 105)

Along with reason and memory, prudence is personified as a goddess enthroned in the mind. See Hot Water.

cottage loaf (p. 106)

A round loaf of bread shaped by putting two balls of dough one on top of the other, rather than using a rectangular tin as for a standard loaf.

left his butt (p. 106)

Here butt is a somewhat rare term for a concealed “blind” for bird-shooters.

The Letter of the Law (pp. 108 to 136)

This story (original US title: “A Triple Threat Man”) appeared in Redbook in the US in February 1936 and The Strand in the UK, in April 1936. It appeared in book form in Young Men in Spats (US version only) and Lord Emsworth and Others (UK). Page references are to the first edition of the latter, where the story runs from pp. 108 to 136.

the wail of a soul in torment (p. 108)

See Sam the Sudden.

spavined (p. 108)

Lame – horses suffering from spavin have bony growths on the joints of their legs.

Like a wounded oyster (p. 108)

This seems an unusual simile for the eye of the victim, and as far as can be determined, the sole use of “wounded oyster” in Wodehouse’s writing. The probable literary source:

Has he a defect of temper that unfits him to live in society? Thereby he is driven to entertain himself alone and acquire habits of self-help; and thus, like the wounded oyster, he mends his shell with pearl.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Compensation” (1841)

Wilmot Byng (p. 109)

The most famous Byng in the canon is of course Bertie’s friend Stiffy, fiancée of the Rev. ‘Stinker’ Pinker. Wilmot Mulliner is the aspiring Hollywood executive in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere. Neither name has an obvious connection with Wodehouse, although Wilmot was of course the family name of the Earl of Rochester (he of the monkey), while Byng was the admiral who was executed pour encourager les autres.

life’s medal round (p. 109)

In golf, a round is eighteen holes; medal refers to the now-usual method of scoring by the total number of strokes taken for those eighteen holes. See A Glossary of Golf Terminology on this site.

Gwendoline Poskitt (p. 109)

As Richard Usborne has pointed out, girls with polysyllabic first names are usually bad news in Wodehouse, but this particular Gwendoline is harmless enough. Although Gwendoline as a girl’s name is popularly supposed to have come from medieval Wales, in fact it seems to be an English 19th century invention based on a misreading by Geoffrey of Monmouth of the Welsh man’s name Guendoleu (Source: Jodi McMaster).

There is no obvious Wodehouse connection with Poskitt, although it is a reasonably common name in England.

First Grave Digger (p. 110)

A reference to the comic gravedigger in Shakespeare’s Hamlet V,i (sometimes known as “First Clown”). See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

the University (p. 110)

Oxford (see p. 111).

the tree on which the fruit of her life hung (p. 110)

See Engaged in Gilbert & Sullivan References in Wodehouse.

married at the registrar’s (p. 110)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

Old Father Time (p. 111)

The character in popular culture personifying Time is generally depicted as tall, elderly, stooped, bearded, and carrying a scythe and an hourglass.

The Man With The Hoe (p. 111)

Named after a figure in a painting (exhibited 1862) of the same name by Jean-François Millet (French, 1814–1875); now at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The figure’s stance might at first glance be mistaken for that of a golfer.

Consul, the Almost Human (p. 111)

Update: Consul was a performing chimpanzee trained by Frank Bostock, interviewed under the title “The King of Wild Animal Trainers” in The Captain for August 1908, p. 407–09. A 1913 newspaper advertisement of Consul’s upcoming appearance at the Exeter Hippodrome describes him as the “almost human” chimpanzee. [Neil Midkiff, 2014-06-20]

brassie (p. 111)

See A Glossary of Golf Terminology on this site.

got his blue (p. 111)

At Oxford and Cambridge, each having a different shade of blue as the school color, a “blue” is an athletic honor for competing at the highest level representing one’s university, similar to a letter award at an American school.

Ask after his slice (p. 112)

See A Glossary of Golf Terminology on this site for an explanation of this fault in a golfer’s drive.

perfectos (p. 112)

A type of cigar, tapering at both ends.

all-day sucker (p. 113)

A giant lollipop. Note that in golf a ‘sucker’ is a ball stuck in mud.

canaille (p. 113)

Pejorative term for the masses, the great unwashed, etc. (from French: ‘pack of dogs,’ cf. English ‘kennel’). Used ironically here – Wodehouse himself had taken up the game in his forties.

bathchairs (p. 114)

See Heavy Weather.

Wadsworth Hemmingway (p. 114)

Wadsworth is the middle name of Longfellow, a poet Wodehouse is fond of quoting. The confidence tricksters in The Inimitable Jeeves call themselves Aline and Sidney Hemmingway, also with two ‘m’s. Since the next story in the present collection is called “A Farewell to Legs,” it is not unreasonable to suppose that Wodehouse was familiar with the other spelling of Hemingway too.

business in London (p. 114)

In the US magazine appearance in Redbook, this is amended to business in the city, but the US book appearance in Young Men in Spats has London here.

purged the soul with pity and terror (p. 114)

See The Girl on the Boat.

Walpurgis Night (p. 115)

April 30, the night before May Day; according to German folklore, celebrated by witches reveling with the Devil on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz mountains. Celebrated in northern Europe and Scandinavia as a modern holiday with bonfires, noisemakers, fireworks, vigorous dancing, loud music, and costumed revelry.

match play … only have to play the first ten holes (p. 116)

See A Glossary of Golf Terminology on this site for an explanation of this type of competition, scored by number of holes won rather than by total of strokes taken. This is the only kind of golf match that can finish early, when one player is ahead by more holes than are remaining; here Hemmingway is predicting that he will win the first ten holes so that there would be no way for Poskitt to catch up and win.

niblick (p. 116)

An iron-headed club with a sharply angled face. See A Glossary of Golf Terminology.

rubs of the green (p. 116)

A term dating back to the early nineteenth century for any accidental interference with or misfortunate positioning of a golf ball.

the light of pure reason (p. 117)

See Bill the Conqueror.

spoon (p. 118)

See A Glossary of Golf Terminology.

stuffed eelskin (p. 119)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

d’Artagnan (p. 120)

The central character of Alexandre Dumas’s sequence of historical novels starting with The Three Musketeers. D’Artagnan is the bold and penniless young Gascon gentleman who arrives in Paris to seek his fortune and meets the musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis. The main source Dumas used for Les trois Mousquetaires was the historical novel Les mémoires de Mr d’Artagnan by G. Coutilz. The original for d’Artagnan is believed to have been Charles de Batz Castelnau (1618–1673).

The Salt of Golf (p. 121)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

half-crown ... honour (p. 122)

A half-crown was an English coin worth two shillings and sixpence, one-eighth of a pound sterling (12.5p in decimal currency). The first were issued under Henry VIII, and the last in 1967. The denomination was withdrawn at the end of 1969.

The ‘honour’ in golf is the right to take the first stroke on a hole. See A Glossary of Golf Terminology.

the short lake hole (p. 122)

For a description of the Sound View golf course in Long Island, the setting for all the Oldest Member stories, see the essay by Walter S. White included in N.T.P. Murphy’s In Search of Blandings.

a ding-dong struggle (p. 123)

British colloquial term for a contest or fight characterized by alternating blows between evenly matched opponents; a figurative reference to the “ding-dong” sound of a doorbell chime of two alternating musical notes.

bronchial catarrh (p. 124)

Inflammation of the tubes leading to the lungs, characterized by an excess of mucus and a cough.

given him a half (p. 125)

Allowed him to finish the hole in the same number of strokes as his opponent; a hole thus tied is said to be halved, and each player’s score is increased by ½ in match play.

dormy one (p. 126)

In match play, one hole ahead of one’s opponent with one hole remaining to play, so that the round cannot be lost; the best the opponent can do is to tie the game.

if you were on (p. 126)

That is, if your initial drive landed your ball on the green.

film stars are happiest among their books (p. 128)

Wodehouse’s time in Hollywood gave him an inside view of the sort of studio publicity that portrayed movie stars as having the same enjoyments as their audiences had.

“I am happiest among my books.”

Cyril Waddesley-Davenport in “Monkey Business” (1932; in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere, 1935)

“It may seem odd to you, considering that I’m in pix, but I’m really at heart just a simple little home body. I am never happier than among my books and flowers. And I love cooking.”

April June in Laughing Gas, ch. 2 (1936)

macedoine (p. 129)

A confused mixture of various things.

all Nature seemed to pause (p. 130)

Possibly alluding to a poem by the American clergyman and hymnodist Samuel Longfellow (1819–1892), younger brother of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

In the gray sky no gleam of sunlight shone;
 Black rain-clouds just withheld the threatening shower;
 All Nature seemed to pause, and shrink, and cower,
Such sombre stillness over all was thrown.

“Golden-Rod” (1886)

St. Peter’s, Eaton Square (p. 132)

Anglican Church in London’s Belgravia district. Built in 1827 in the classical style, extended in the 1870s. The Victorian interior was replaced by a modern building within the original Georgian exterior walls after a fire in 1987.

at the eleventh hour (p. 132)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

forbid the match in toto (p. 136)

The term in toto is Latin for ‘completely.’

Poskitt’s taking a position in order to induce his wife to take the opposite stance is reminiscent of Sigsbee Waddington’s in The Small Bachelor, ch. 6.5: he insists that his daughter Molly’s wedding be held in New York City in order to assure that Mrs. Waddington will decide to have it at her summer home on Long Island.

Farewell to Legs (pp. 137 to 164)

This story first appeared in This Week (US, July 14, 1935) [without the Oldest Member introduction and somewhat abridged] and in The Strand (UK, May 1936). It appeared in book form in Young Men in Spats (US version only) and in Lord Emsworth and Others (UK). Page references are taken from the first edition of Lord Emsworth and Others, where the story runs from pp. 137 to 164.

The title of the story is, of course, a pun on the title of Ernest Hemingway’s celebrated First World War novel A Farewell to Arms (1929), which in turn is taken from the title of an Elizabethan poem.

His golden locks Time hath to silver turn’d;
 O Time too swift, O swiftness never ceasing!
His youth ’gainst time and age hath ever spurn’d,
 But spurn’d in vain; youth waneth by increasing:
Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen;
Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green.

His helmet now shall make a hive for bees;
 And, lovers’ sonnets turn’d to holy psalms,
A man-at-arms must now serve on his knees,
 And feed on prayers, which are Age his alms:
But though from court to cottage he depart,
His Saint is sure of his unspotted heart.

And when he saddest sits in homely cell,
 He’ll teach his swains this carol for a song,—
‘Blest be the hearts that wish my sovereign well,
 Curst be the souls that think her any wrong.’
Goddess, allow this agèd man his right
To be your beadsman now that was your knight.

George Peele (1558–1597): A Farewell to Arms

Clark Gable (p. 137)

William Clark Gable (1901–1960), American film actor, best known for his portrayal of tough, romantic heroes. One of his most famous films, Mutiny on the Bounty, was released shortly before this story was published; Gone With the Wind was still a couple of years in the future.

laughter is as the crackling of thorns under the pot (p. 138)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Legs Mortimer (p. 138)

Perhaps inspired by the New York gangster John “Legs” Diamond, owner of the Hotsy-Totsy Club?

Angus McTavish (p. 138)

Wodehouse was always fond of sending up the Scots, but it is relatively unusual for him to take a Scot as central character. ‘McTavish’ is an English phonetic rendering of the Gaelic name MacTamhais. Many members of Clan MacTamhais translated their name into the English equivalent, Thom[p]son, in the aftermath of Culloden when it was politic not to have a Highland name. The traditional seat of the clan is at Dunardarie, in Argyll.

Some ten years after this story appeared, the ex-hairdresser Trimmer in Evelyn Waugh’s Officers and Gentlemen takes the name McTavish when he fraudulently turns himself into an officer of a highland regiment.

Evangeline Brackett (p. 138)

Although the name evokes associations with Dr Evadne Hinge (George Logan) and Dame Hilda Brackett (Patrick Fyffe), it seems unlikely that there is a diract connection. The prolific science-fiction writer Leigh Brackett published her first books in 1940. We do know that Wodehouse was familiar with Longfellow’s poem Evangeline (see above, in “Buried Treasure”).

ten stone two (pp. 138–39)

142 pounds.

chip shot (p. 139)

See A Glossary of Golf Terminology on this site.

shanking (p. 139)

Hitting the ball with the neck (“hosel”) of an iron clubhead: the socket into which the shaft of the club fits.

giving a third (p. 139)

An informal form of handicapping, similar to a bisque, allowing one extra stroke for every three holes played.

“Hoots, mon! Scots wha hae! Hoo’s a’ wi’ ye the morn’s morn?” (p. 139)

Legs is making fun of Angus by using stereotyped phrases and bad imitations of Scots dialect. Some websites claim that no Scottish person would say “Hoots, mon!” The next is a clipped phrase, the opening of a Robert Burns patriotic lyric, “Scots Wha Hae Wi’ Wallace Bled” (Scots who have bled with Wallace); the first three words would not be used alone as a greeting. The last question, roughly meaning “How is everything with you this morning?” can only be found online in a nineteenth-century lecture by Gerald Massey, quoting a traditional Scottish story.

the Cloth (p. 142)

Colloquial term for the clergy; first cited in the OED from Jonathan Swift in 1709.

blue birds (p. 142)

See The Code of the Woosters.

a super standing in the wings (p. 142)

Short for “supernumerary”—theatrical term for what in films is called an extra: a player who fills out a crowd scene, but has no individual lines to speak nor a character name. The wings are the spaces on either side of the stage, out of view of the audience.

Braid on Taking Turf (p. 143)

James Braid (1870–1950), professional golfer and course designer, born in Fife. Won his first Open in 1901, and became the first man to win the event five times (see also p. 157 below).

The title Taking Turf has not been found, but Braid did write Advanced Golf (1908; the link takes you to the 1920 tenth edition at Google Books).

smilax (p. 146)

A decorative plant, also known as bridal creeper, a climbing version of asparagus (Myrsiphyllum asparagoides). The name smilax is also used for smilacaeae, from whose roots sarsaparilla comes.

An inhabitant of ancient Babylon would have beamed approvingly on the spectacle (p. 146)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Henry Cotton (p. 147)

Sir Henry Cotton (1907–1987), English professional golfer. Won the Open three times, and used his influence to campaign for better recognition of professional players. Like Wodehouse, he was awarded a knighthood a few days before his death.

the straight and narrow fairway (p. 149)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

qua (p. 149)

In the capacity of. From the feminine ablative singular of the Latin relative pronoun: it isn’t very clear how it gets this meaning in English, but it has been used like this since the 17th century, esp. by lawyers.

gumboil (p. 150)

An infected sore or inflammation on the gums in the mouth.

V-shaped depression (p. 150)

See Summer Moonshine.

a hair of the dog that bit me (p. 151)

Colloquial phrase for an alcoholic drink taken to reduce (or, more probably, delay) the effects of a hangover. The phrase comes from an old superstition that the bite of a mad dog could be cured by applying the hair of the same dog to the wound.

bronzed and fit (p. 152)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

foozler (p. 153)

Wodehouse usually uses the verb form, foozle; see The Clicking of Cuthbert.

two things only that she loved—her mother and… (p. 154)

Probably an allusion to W. S. Gilbert’s Bab Ballad “Etiquette”:

For turtle and his mother were the only things he loved.

Paradise be shattered by a snake (p. 154)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

pustule (p. 154)

See Hot Water.

hockey-knockers (p. 155)

This slangy way of referring to golf clubs appears one more time, in Uncle Fred in the Springtime, ch. 1 (1939), in the voice of Claude Pott:

“The Subject, having lunched at Hotel Picardy with party consisting of two females, three males, proceeded to the golf club, where she took out her hockey-knockers and started playing round with one associate, the junior professional, self following at a cautious distance.”

going out … second nine (p. 155)

The first nine holes of a standard 18-hole course are referred to as the “outward” half of the course, presumably dating back to an early course where the midpoint was farthest from the clubhouse, but the term is now used no matter what the layout of the course is.

torn up her card (p. 156)

Formally withdrawn from a competition by destroying her scorecard, on which the number of strokes taken for each hole is recorded.

to lay approach shots dead (p. 156)

See A Glossary of Golf Terminology on this site.

J. H. Taylor (p. 157)

John Henry Taylor (1871–1963), English professional golfer. Won the Open four times from 1894. One of the founders of the PGA.

like a dome of many-coloured glass... (p. 157)

If James Braid did say this, he must have pinched it from Shelley:

The One remains, the many change and pass;
Heaven’s light forever shines, Earth’s shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-colour’d glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity,
Until Death tramples it to fragments.—Die,
If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek!
Follow where all is fled!—Rome’s azure sky,
Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words are weak
The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.

Percy Bysshe Shelley: Adonaïs , LII (1821)

four bisques to the opposition (p. 158)

A bisque is a type of handicap concession, applicable to matchplay. It isn’t allowed in competitions. The term comes originally from the game of Real Tennis.

To understand the bisque, you have to understand how normal handicaps work in matchplay. On any proper golf course, the holes are graded for difficulty. The most difficult hole is rated 1, the easiest is rated 18.
If a player has a handicap, he receives a stroke on all holes up to and including that rated as high as his handicap. So a player with a handicap of 3 will receive an extra stroke on the 3 most difficult holes. What this means is that if, for example, a hole is a par 4, a player receiving a stroke can treat it as a par 5 — if he holes out in five and his opponent holes out in four, the hole is halved, whereas if neither player is receiving a stroke, the player taking only four strokes will win the hole.
If a player has a handicap in excess of eighteen, he receives a stroke on every hole and two strokes on the more difficult holes; so a player with a handicap of, say, 21, will receive two strokes on each of the three most difficult holes and one stroke at each of the other 15 holes.
If both players have handicaps, normal practice is to take the difference between their handicaps and allot that to the weaker player. So, if a 3-handicapper plays a 12-handicapper, for example, the latter will receive strokes on the nine most difficult holes.
Now we come to bisques. If a player offers you, say, three bisques, he is offering to give you the benefit of a three-stroke handicap difference. But with one crucial difference: instead of being obliged to take your three strokes on the three most difficult holes, you can choose to take them at any three holes. [AGOL]

all things working together for good (p. 159)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

She waggled for an instant. (p. 159)

See A Glossary of Golf Terminology on this site.

Napoleon at St. Helena (p. 159)

The French Emperor Napoleon Buonaparte was exiled to the South Atlantic island of St. Helena after losing the battle of Waterloo and abdicating from government on 22 June 1815. He died there on 6 May 1821.

scenario (p. 160)

An outline of the plot of a play or film.

soda-siphon (p. 161)

A bottle for dispensing carbonated water; pressing a lever or button opens a valve, so that the pressure of the gas forces soda water out of the bottle’s spout into the user’s drinking glass.

Scotch-reeled (p. 162)

Unlikely, as it takes four people to dance a Scottish reel. It is a dance in which two couples move around each other in a figure-of-eight pattern.

There’s Always Golf (pp. 165 to 191)

This story first appeared in a slightly different form in Redbook (as “A Triple Threat Man”) in February 1936, and in The Strand in March 1936 (as “There’s Always Golf!” – the exclamation mark seems to have been lost in the UK book publication). It was published in book form in Young Men in Spats (US version only) and Lord Emsworth and Others (UK). Page references are to the first edition of Lord Emsworth and Others, where the story runs from pp. 165 to 191.

Mrs. Plinlimmon … Clarice Fitch (p. 165)

For Plinlimmon, see p. 168 below.

Apart from Sir Abercrombie Fitch (mentioned in A Pelican at Blandings) there is also Sally Fitch in Bachelors Anonymous. Taking it to extremes, Freddie Fitch-Fitch appears in “Romance at Droitgate Spa” (1937).

fly across oceans and things (p. 166)

Possibly Wodehouse had in mind the most famous woman aviator of the period, Amelia Earhart (1897–1937), the second person to fly solo across the Atlantic (in 1932). She was to disappear over the Pacific Ocean the year after this story was published in magazines, a few months after original book publication, during an attempt to fly around the world. She had married publisher George Putnam in 1931.

Women who have travelled in Africa occur several times in the canon, from the unpleasant Mrs. Adela Cork of Money in the Bank to the more sympathetic Jane Hubbard of The Girl on the Boat.

Cleopatra (p. 166)

Cleopatra VII (69–31 BCE), Macedonian queen of Egypt, the last of the Ptolemies to hold power. As head of the most economically important country in the region, she inevitably became involved in the power struggles for the control of the Roman Empire, marrying Julius Caesar and, after Caesar’s assassination, Mark Anthony (she also had to marry two of her younger brothers and one of her sons at various times to comply with Egyptian dynastic law). When Anthony was defeated by Octavian she committed suicide rather than be humiliated as a Roman captive.

second vice-president of something (p. 166)

A small, slight, pince-nezed man in the middle forties, who looked like the second vice-president of something, had entered.

Desborough Topping in Spring Fever, ch. 4 (1948)

average-adjuster (p. 167)

In marine insurance, average means extra costs other than pure freight costs incurred in the shipping of a cargo, especially as a result of loss or damage. General average refers to costs incurred intentionally, e.g. damage to the cargo in the course of salvage operations. An average-adjuster assesses the liabilities of the different parties and apportions costs between the insurers of the shipowner and the cargo in such cases.

form-fitting suits of plus-fours (p. 168)

Plus-fours are baggy knee breeches formerly often worn by golfers: the name comes from the fact that tailors would cut the leg four inches longer than ordinary knee breeches, producing the characteristic overhang at the knee. Thus “form-fitting” plus-fours are something of a contradiction in terms.

Ernest Faraday Plinlimmon (p. 168)

The name reinforces our idea of him as the serious businessman: Ernest (“Earnest”) has been a guarantee of seriousness since Samuel Butler and Oscar Wilde; no parent with a sense of humour would name a child after a famous scientist; Plynlimon is a mountain in Mid-Wales, some way inland from Aberystwyth, often and unfairly regarded as a part of Britain far removed from all sources of fun.

Portuguese Love Sonnets (p. 168)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s best-known collection of poems, these 44 sonnets were written in the two years before her marriage to Robert Browning, and are often considered to be autobiographical. The suggestion in the title that they are translations is false, of course. The most often anthologised is No. 43:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Sonnets from the Portuguese, XLIII

Stick-o (p. 168)

See Hot Water for some other Wodehouse coinages ending in -o as trade names for drugstore items.

’Mgoopi ’Mgwumpi (p. 169)

Fictitious, of course, but it seems to be a play on the American (originally Algonquian) word “mugwump,” generally used in English as an ironic term for a boss or leader (“bigwig”). In US politics it is used to refer to a pose of aloofness from party politics.

Cf. “The Ordeal of Osbert Mulliner”:
‘Did you ever hear what I did to the King of Mgumbo-Mgumbo?’
‘I didn’t even know there was a King of Mgumbo-Mgumbo.’
‘There isn’t – now.’

See Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen for other similar made-up African names.

Sir Jasper Medallion-Carteret (p. 170)

“Carteret” sounds rather like “Cazalet” – could this be a little poke at Peter Cazalet, who had married Wodehouse’s stepdaughter Leonora in 1932?

butterflies who flit from flower to flower (p. 170)

See The Code of the Woosters.

chartered accountants (p. 170)

Equivalent to certified public accountants in the USA. In “Archibald’s Benefit” (1910), Wodehouse tells us that all rather stout chartered accountants are sentimental.

corpses that had plainly been some little time in the water (p. 171)

A variant on a cliché of journalism; see The Inimitable Jeeves.

woman ... wailing for a demon lover (p. 172)

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
 Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
  The shadow of the dome of pleasure
  Floated midway on the waves;
  Where was heard the mingled measure
  From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

 A damsel with a dulcimer
 In a vision once I saw:
 It was an Abyssinian maid
 And on her dulcimer she played,
 Singing of Mount Abora.
 Could I revive within me
 Her symphony and song,
 To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that done in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834): Kubla Khan

‘Trees’ (p. 172)

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks to God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918): Trees (1913)

The most common musical setting of this poem was a 1922 version by Oscar Rasbach. Sheet music. Recording, sung by Mario Lanza.

spiritually filleted (p. 172)

A remarkable metaphor, technically meaningless since spirits don’t have bones in the first place, but conveying its sense of spinelessness effectively. This seems to be its only appearance, not only in Wodehouse, but in the entire Google Books corpus of texts.

Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun (p. 172)

Attila the Hun (406–453) was king of the Huns from 434 to 453. He fought against the Roman Empire, earning himself the title “Scourge of God”, and ultimately was defeated at the battle of the Catalaunian Plains (Châlons-sur-Marne).

Genghis Khan (1162–1227) was the founder of the Mongol Empire, uniting the central Asian tribesmen to create an empire stretching from the Pacific to the Black Sea. His grandson was Coleridge’s Kublai Khan.

say Bo to a cassowary (p. 173)

The usual expression is “say Bo to a goose,” of course. A cassowary is a large flightless bird, related to the ostrich, and found in mainly in Indonesia and New Guinea – presumably a far more formidable prospect than the domestic goose when it comes to saying “Bo”.

down to scratch (p. 177)

Getting his golf handicap down to zero; see A Glossary of Golf Terminology.

submerged tenth (p. 178)

A term usually used for those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder (see Something Fresh) rather than the worst among golfers.

human boll-weevil (p. 179)

For the insect, see Ice in the Bedroom. Other humans compared to the insect include Joey Cooley (by Miss Brinkwater in Laughing Gas, ch. 14), Lionel P. Green (by Jeff Miller in Money in the Bank, ch. 4), Edwin Craye (by Bertie Wooster in Joy in the Morning, ch. 17), Joe Davenport (by Wilhelmina Shannon in The Old Reliable, ch. 17), Chimp Twist (by Dolly Molloy in Ice in the Bedroom, ch. 5), and Stiffy Byng (by Bertie Wooster in his narration of Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 9). In The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 11, Lottie Blossom calls Reggie Tennyson “you young spawn of a boll-weevil.”

arnica (p. 180)

See Money for Nothing.

mashie-niblick … full mashie … iron (p. 180)

Traditional names for golf clubs; see A Glossary of Golf Terminology for mashie and the others.

dub (p. 181)

See A Glossary of Golf Terminology.

in the bag (p. 181)

See Hot Water.

a walk-over (p. 182)

See Summer Lightning.

pity and terror (p. 184)

See The Girl on the Boat.

slow, sinister stride, like the snow leopard of the Himalayas (p. 186)

The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is a large cat, actually more closely related to the tiger than to the leopard. Wodehouse mentioned it at least twice more:

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried detaching a snow leopard of the Himalayas from its prey—probably not, as most people don’t find themselves out that way much—but if you did, you would feel fairly safe in budgeting for a show of annoyance on the animal’s part.

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

All that was required was that my activities should be conducted in absolute silence. And it was thus that I was conducting them, more like a spectre or wraith than a chartered member of the Drones Club, when the air was rent, as the expression is, by a sharp yowl such as you hear when a cougar or a snow leopard stubs its toe on a rock, and I became aware that I had trodden on the cat Augustus, who had continued to follow me, still, I suppose, under the mistaken impression that I had kippered herrings on my person and might at any moment start loosening up.

Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 15 (1971)

tithe (p. 187)

Here, simply a one-tenth fraction. In recent years this root meaning is rarely used outside the context of religious donations, but no such context is implied here.

edged away from one of their number who had been so unfortunate as to fall out with the prophet Jeremiah (p. 187)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the shin he loved to touch (p. 187)

A takeoff on a long-standing advertising slogan for “the skin you love to touch”; see Meet Mr. Mulliner.

out on his feet (p. 187)

Usually used to refer to a boxer who has received a blow that dazed him to near-unconsciousness, but has left him standing.

somnambulist (p. 188)


The Masked Troubadour (pp. 192 to 224)

This story originally appeared in The Strand for December 1936 and in a version under the title “Reggie and the Greasy Bird” (some changes to characters and settings) in the Saturday Evening Post for 28 November 1936. To avoid cluttering these notes with exceptions of interest only to the most assiduous collectors of magazine versions, a listing of the principal changes for the SEP text is appended below.

The Strand version appeared in book form in The Crime Wave at Blandings (US) and Lord Emsworth and Others (UK). Page references are to the first edition of the latter, where the story runs from pp. 192 to 224.

Troubadours were poets and singers who used the Provençal language and lived in France, Spain and Italy in the 11th to the 13th century.

Drones Club (p. 192)

The Drones is first mentioned in Jill the Reckless (1921). For more on the real background to this, the most celebrated fictional club in the Wodehouse world, see Murphy, Chapter VII.

See also The Code of the Woosters.

N. T. P. Murphy: In Search of Blandings (1986), ch. VII

Christmas numbers (p. 192)

Magazine issues with a Christmas theme. For an example, see “Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit” from the Strand magazine, December 1927.

two Beans … a Crumpet (p. 192)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

stap my vitals (p. 192)

This expression of surprise seems to have been invented by Sir John Vanbrugh – it is said by Lord Foppington in the play The Relapse (1696). Foppington pronounces all his ‘o’s as ‘a’s: he means “Stop my vital [organ]s.”

Freddie Widgeon (p. 192)

See Young Men in Spats.

touched Freddie (p. 193)

That is, asked Freddie for a loan (or, more probably, a gift) of money.

tanner … bob (p. 193)

A tanner was sixpence (2.5p in decimal currency) and a bob one shilling (5p). The OED doesn’t venture on guessing the origin of either.

Based on a simple price index calculation, the equivalent purchasing power of one shilling in 1936 would be roughly £3 in 2022.

noblesse oblige (p. 193)

French: nobility has its obligations.

the code of the Widgeons (p. 193)

For other family codes, see Very Good, Jeeves.

been through the furnace (p. 194)

Proverbial expression, probably comes from the story of the burning fiery furnace in the book of Daniel, ch.3:

19 Then was Nebuchadnez′zar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed′nego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.

20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed′nego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.

21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hose, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed′nego.

23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed′nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then Nebuchadnez′zar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.

25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Bible: Daniel 3:19–25

For another possible Biblical reference, see Biblia Wodehousiana.

handed him the horse’s laugh (p. 194)

Rejected his suit. Wodehouse has almost as many ways of describing this as he has words for drunkenness or for saying goodbye. This is a rather obscure one: a horse-laugh is a loud, coarse laugh. ‘The horse’s laugh’ seems to exist in colloquial American English to mean disdainful rejection of an idea, but the OED doesn’t record it in this sense, and I’ve only seen a couple of examples on the internet, which may even come from Wodehouse. [MH]

Robert L. Chapman’s New Dictionary of American Slang (1986) defines the horselaugh as “a loud, nasty, and dismissive laugh.” The OED has citations for horse-laugh as “a loud coarse laugh” dating back to Richard Steele in 1713.

Wodehouse used the phrase frequently:

The Woosters are not accustomed to getting the horse’s laugh when they lend their presence to fancy-dress dances.

Joy in the Morning, ch. 26 (1946)

With spectral faces watching him and probably giving him the horse’s laugh to boot, he was utterly incapable of reaching out and grabbing the girl he loved.

Full Moon, ch. 6.3 (1947)

He had offered this girl a good man’s—well, not love, perhaps, but at any rate affection, and he could see no reason why a good man’s affection should be given the horse’s laugh.

Spring Fever, ch. 21 (1948)

Well, of course, this had damped the fire a bit, for the last thing one desires is to be supposed to be giving a maiden lady the horse’s laugh on account of her physical infirmities, but it was too late now to take a bow and get off, so I had a go at it.

The Mating Season, ch. 5 (1949)

“Instead of thanking heaven, fasting, for a good man’s love, you reply to his pleadings with the horse’s laugh and slip him the brusheroo.”

The Old Reliable, ch. 11 (1951)

“How would you react if he asked you to marry him? Would you feel he had the right idea, or would you give him the horse’s laugh and say ‘Drop dead, you little squirt’?”

Galahad at Blandings, ch. 6.2 (1965)

“I can’t face a breach of promise action with a crowded court giving me the horse’s laugh and the jury mulcting . . . Is it mulcting?”

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

“So where was I? Oh yes, in the dame’s sleeping quarters, and she was saying, Well, where’s your ruddy burglar and giving me the horse’s laugh, when guess what: the cupboard in the corner of the room, which had hitherto not spoken, suddenly sneezed.”

The Girl in Blue, ch. 11.5 (1970)

The man was without something and pity . . . ruth, would it be? I know it begins with r . . . and would simply have given me the horse’s laugh.

Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 11 (1971)

Lord Blicester (p. 194)

Fictitious, of course. The joke is that the name would most obviously be pronounced to rhyme with Bicester (a town in Oxfordshire), i.e. as ‘blister.’ He seems to share many attributes with Bingo Little’s uncle, Lord Bittlesham.

quarterly allowance (p. 194)

See Bill the Conqueror.

topper (p. 194)

Top hat. Lord Blicester is wearing formal morningwear, as one would expect from an aristocrat in London in the daytime. See spats in Right Ho, Jeeves for details.

blot on the escutcheon (p. 194)

An escutcheon is the shield (or shield-shaped object) on which a coat of arms is painted. Thus a blot on the escutcheon, figuratively speaking, is something which damages a person’s or a family’s reputation. Dryden is cited by the OED as the first to use the phrase.

Lady Pinfold (p. 195)

A pinfold or penfold is an enclosure for stray sheep or cattle (a predecessor of the municipal car pound).

sense enough for two (p. 195)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

Limerick (p. 195)

A short humourous nonsense verseform, it consists of five anapestic lines with the rhyme scheme aabba. The third and fourth lines have two stresses each, and the others three. It has been around in various guises since medieval times, but only achieved serious popularity with the publication of Edward Lear’s first Book of Nonsense in 1864. The association of the name “Limerick” with the form is not very clear – the OED asserts that it comes from an old parlour game where each person had to improvise a verse, which was followed by a chorus of “Will ye come to Limerick”. Although Lear’s Limericks are entirely unobjectionable, the form lends itself very well to bawdy jokes, which is clearly what Lord Blicester is afraid of.

There was a Young Lady whose chin
Resembled the point of a pin:
 So she had it made sharp,
 And purchased a harp,
And played several tunes with her chin.

Edward Lear: A Book of Nonsense (1864)

none like her, none (p. 196)

See Sam the Sudden.

throw in the towel (p. 196)

A metaphor from boxing; a boxer or his seconds throw a towel into the ring to concede the fight.

like billy-o (p. 197)

See A Damsel in Distress.

the going was good (p. 197)

In horse-racing, the quality of the turf and its suitability for racing on a given day is referred to as “the going.”

Notting Hill (p. 197)

District in west London. Formerly mainly working-class, especially in the 1950s and 60s when it was one of the main areas where people from the Caribbean settled in London, but more recently somewhat infested by film-stars, TV personalities and the like, as a result of its proximity to much of the fashionable West End. G. K. Chesterton celebrated the spirit of the area in his novel The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904).

preux chevalier (p. 197)

Brave knight – a piece of pseudo-medievalism taken from modern French and probably popularised by the Ingoldsby Legends (1840). The adjective preu existed in English in Chaucer’s day, but seems to have disappeared in the 16th century.

When the Silver of the Moonlight Meets the Lovelight in Your Eyes (p. 198)

There are many songs with similar titles, but this one doesn’t seem to be listed anywhere. From the way Wodehouse quotes the lyrics later in the story, one suspects that he may have written them himself – with all his experience as a lyricist he would have been more than capable of sending up the genre in this way.

like a Crosby (p. 198)

Presumably a reference to the American singer and actor Bing Crosby (1903–1977). His recording and film career was well-established by the mid-thirties. In 1936 he appeared in the film version of Anything Goes, based on the Cole Porter show for which Wodehouse and Bolton had written the original book, although little of their work was actually used in either the stage or movie versions. Wodehouse later adapted Porter’s lyrics for the British stage version.

that day week (p. 199)

British locution for ‘the same day, next week’.

one pound, three shillings and fourpence (p. 199)

£1.17 in decimal currency.

get into somebody’s ribs (p. 199)

Slang for getting a loan of money or asking someone to take a loss or pay the expenses of a scheme. The OED says that this is “originally and chiefly in P. G. Wodehouse” and cites a 1923 letter to his adopted daughter Leonora, about winning a rubber of bridge, as the first usage.

An earlier use in his published fiction, which I [NM] have just submitted to the OED:

Archie had visited his father-in-law’s suite one morning—not absolutely with the definite purpose of making a touch, but rather with the nebulous notion of getting into his relative’s ribs for a few dollars if the latter seemed to be sufficiently cheery and full of the milk of human kindness…

“Doing Father a Bit of Good” (1920; in Indiscretions of Archie, 1921)

Another example is on p. 284, below.

twenty quid (p. 199)

“Quid” is slang for a pound sterling. As before, monetary amounts from 1936 should be multiplied by a factor of sixty to get a rough equivalent in 2022 purchasing power.

pocket-book (p. 199)

wallet, billfold

you have to go to the man who’s got twenty quid (p. 200)

See The Old Reliable.

by-election … Bottleton (p. 200)

A by-election is an election that takes place in a single constituency (voting district), to fill a seat that becomes vacant between general elections, usually as a result of the death, resignation, or ennoblement of the sitting member.

Bottleton (sometimes “Bottleton East”) is a fictitious working-class district of the East End of London that is mentioned in many of Wodehouse’s stories. The suffix – “East” – makes one suspect that Wodehouse might have had somewhere like Stratford East in mind. See also the description on p. 207 below.

a bob a nob (p. 201)

A shilling (5p) a head. The OED records the first use of this phrase in 1823, predating the Boy-Scout “bob-a-job” idea by many years. In the discussion that follows, it might be helpful to remember that there were twelve [old] pence to the shilling and twenty shillings to the pound.

A Babylonian orgy? (p. 201)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Barmy Phipps’s cousin Egbert from Harrow (p. 202)

The same Egbert (still at Harrow) lends his catapult to Lord Ickenham in a book published twenty-two years later, in the opening chapter of Cocktail Time. In that case it is Beefy Bastable’s hat which suffers.

Harrow is of course a well-known public school on the northern fringes of London.

catapult (p. 202)

The British term for what is called a slingshot in America: a Y-shaped stick with an elastic band connecting the upper tips, used to propel small objects.

buffer (p. 203)

Buffer is British slang for a fellow, especially one regarded as foolish, elderly, or insignificant.

abaft the binnacle (p. 204)

Nonsensical use of nautical jargon; the binnacle is the box near the helm which holds a ship’s compass.

Bessemer (p. 205)

The name Bessemer also appears in “Tangled Hearts” (Nothing Serious), and was the name of Mrs. Spottsworth’s first husband (Ring for Jeeves/The Return of Jeeves). It is of course the name of Sir Henry Bessemer, FRS (1813–1898), the British engineer and inventor of a steel-making process, but there isn’t any obvious Wodehouse link.

Lord Bountiful (p. 205)

More usually Lady Bountiful, from the name of a character in Farquhar’s play The Beaux’ Stratagem (1707). Often used ironically to mean a condescending do-gooder.

plunging (p. 206)

Gambling recklessly or for large amounts. Colloquial term from late-Victorian times.

he groaned in spirit (p. 206)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

bring home the gravy (p. 206)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

Palace of Varieties (p. 206)

A common name for a music hall or variety theatre. The most famous music halls were always in working-class districts, near their audience.

Whipsnade (p. 207)

Europe’s first open zoo, where animals are shown in something approaching natural surroundings, was opened on a former farm at Whipsnade in the Chilterns in 1931 by the Zoological Society of London.

Limehouse (p. 207)

As Wodehouse implies, this area, home to many immigrant communities because of its proximity to London’s docks, had become something of a cliché for writers of crime fiction in the 19th and early 20th century.

down among the wines and spirits (p. 207)

See Right Ho, Jeeves for two possible explanations for this phrase for being depressed.

clicked (p. 207)

Made a success with the audience.

socko (p. 208)

Theatrical slang, originating in the U.S. Variety newspaper in the 1930s, for a success, a big hit.

tinkled the ivories (p. 208)

Played the piano (from the traditional use of ivory on the surface of the “white keys” of the piano). This phrase shows up rarely from about 1920 onward in a Google Books ngram graph of usage; “tickle the ivories” is many times more frequent in usage, and began earlier, about 1900. But Wodehouse apparently preferred “tinkle” as it appears that way in both US and UK magazines and books.

raising the wind (p. 208)

Raising funds. The expression in this figurative sense goes back to the 18th century, and more recently it was the title of one of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of the Folio Club (1836).

Jos. Waterbury (p. 208)

Jas. Waterbury, the theatrical agent in “Freddy, Oofy and the Beef Trust” (in The Best of Wodehouse, 1949) and “Jeeves and the Greasy Bird” (in Plum Pie, 1966/67) is presumably the same man. He has traded on his acquaintance with Freddie to blackmail members of the Drones Club.

There are several other Waterburys in the canon, starting with the Rev. Mr. Waterbury, the headmaster in “The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy” (1926; in Very Good, Jeeves, 1930); he may or may not be the Rev. Orlo Waterbury who wrote My Two Years in Sunny Ceylon, mentioned in “Strychnine in the Soup” (1932; in Mulliner Nights, 1933). The chauffeur at Brinkley Court in Right Ho, Jeeves (1934) is another Waterbury. Later we meet Trixie Waterbury, niece of Jas., in “Jeeves and the Greasy Bird.”

the colour of his insides (p. 209)

See Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit.

half a crown (p. 209)

A former coin worth two shillings and sixpence, therefore just half in advance of the fee of five shillings.

Green Goose (p. 209)

A green goose is a goose not yet fully grown. Although not a very common pub name in Britain, it does appear occasionally. There is a particular local connection with the East End of London, as the annual fair at Bow was known as “Green Goose Fair.” The fair is mentioned by John Taylor, the Water-Poet.

At Bow, the Thursday after Pentecost,
There is a fair of green geese ready rost,
Where, as a goose is ever dog cheap there
The sauce is over somewhat sharp and deare

John Taylor (1580–1654)

“I expect worse things happen at sea” (p. 209)

Traditional English proverb, used with the effect of “things are not as bad as they seem” or “your troubles are lighter than many other people have.”

unsweetened gin (p. 210)

Gin is a spirit made by redistilling grain alcohol over a flavouring mixture including juniper berries. It was first developed in the Netherlands. Until the 18th century, when London-based distillers developed a way to make a palatable dry gin, most gins were sweetened to hide the raw taste of the spirit.

Queen’s Hall (p. 210)

The Queen’s Hall in Langham Place was London’s main large concert hall from its opening in 1893. It was destroyed by bombs in 1941. Pianists playing there in the thirties would have included people like Rubinstein and Horowitz.

aziz (p. 210)

As they are – “as is” (presumably a theatrical shorthand: I haven’t been able to find confirmation of this).

saying “Mi-mi-mi” (p. 210)

“Who says my voice ain’t right?” demanded the first patrolman. “Listen. Mi-mi-mi-mi-mi.”

“The Rise of Minna Nordstrom” (1933; in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere, 1935)

…they say All right, sing a song about whiskers. And he clears his throat and says “Mi-mi-mi” a couple of times in an undertone, and begins:

“To the Critics, These Pearls” in America, I Like You (1956)

cop the gage of victory (p. 211)

This is probably a conflation of two allusions, but I haven’t yet been able to pin down the precise origin. To cop is to take, seize, arrest; a gage is a pledge or reward, so the meaning is evidently ‘to take the prize.’

It is unlikely that this has anything to do with General Thomas Gage, British commander-in-chief in North America during the Revolutionary War.

selling platers (p. 211)

A selling plate (claiming race) is a horserace intended for horses at the lowest level of competition. To discourage owners from entering horses of too high a standard, entry is subject to the condition that every horse competing in the race must be offered for sale at a given (low) price.

“Just Break the News to Mother” (p. 211)

Charles K. Harris (known as “King of the tear-jerker”) was America’s most successful purveyor of sentimental ballads. This was originally a song about a brave fireman, published in 1891. Harris rewrote it in 1897 to cash in on the Spanish-American war. Harris wrote both words and music.

While the shot and shell were screaming on the battlefield,
The boys in blue were fighting their noble flag to shield;
Came a cry from their brave captain, “Look, boys! our flag is down;
Who’ll volunteer to save it from disgrace?”
“I will,” a young voice shouted, “I’ll bring it back or die,”
Then sprang into the thickest of the fray,
Saved the flag but gave his young life; all for his country’s sake.
They brought him back and softly heard him say:

“Just break the news to mother,
She knows how dear I love her,
And tell her not to wait for me,
For I’m not coming home;
Just say there is no other
Can take the place of mother;
Then kiss her dear, sweet lips for me,
And break the news to her.”

From afar a noted general had witnessed the brave deed.
“Who saved our flag? Speak up lads; ’twas noble, brave, indeed!”
“There he lies, sir,” said the captain, “he’s sinking very fast,”
Then slowly turned away to hide a tear.
The general, in a moment, knelt down beside the boy;
Then gave a cry that touch’d all hearts that day.
“It’s my son, my brave young hero; I thought you safe at home.”
“Forgive me Father, for I ran away.”

Charles K. Harris (1867–1930): “Just Break the News to Mother”

the colour of a damson (p. 212)

The damson is a purple variety of plum, smallish, oval in shape, and relatively tart.

wash his hands of the whole unpleasant affair (p. 213)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

sweet-bells-jangled (p. 214)

From Hamlet: see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

twiddly-bits (p. 214)

Musical figurations in the piano accompaniment that are not part of the melody sung by the singer.

The US book version has this as twiddly bits without a hyphen, which is the more usual form of the phrase, but both magazine versions have the hyphen, so apparently this was Wodehouse’s choice. Then again, in both US and UK editions of Quick Service, ch. 10, the phrase is unhyphenated.

“Top Hat, White Tie and Tails” (p. 215)

Song by Irving Berlin written for the 1935 Fred Astaire movie Top Hat.

raspberry (p. 215)

“Raspberry” meaning a rude noise made by blowing between the lips comes from rhyming slang “raspberry tart,” dated to 1875 by Eric Partridge.

the beating of its wings (p. 215)

See Ukridge.

jellied eel industry (p. 216)

Jellied eels have long been associated with the East End of London. Traditionally they are sold in eel, pie and mash shops.

See Ukridge for more information on eel-jellying.

Their psychology is a sealed book to him. (p. 217)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the actual outbreak of Armageddon (p. 218)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

costermongers (p. 218)

Traditional term for those who sell fruit and vegetables from barrows in the street in London (from the old word “costard” – a large apple).

King Harold at the Battle of Hastings (p. 218)

Harold led the Saxon defenders against Duke William of Normandy at the battle of Hastings on the south coast of England in 1066. According to tradition, Harold was struck in the eye by an arrow and killed. This incident is depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry.

twist his head off and stuff it down his throat (p. 219)

See Cocktail Time.

sozzled (p. 219)

See Very Good, Jeeves.

rubbing its feet in the resin (p. 219)

In the days when boxers wore shoes with smooth leather soles, a box of powdered resin (also called rosin) was supplied for the fighters to step into, giving their shoe soles more traction on the canvas floor.

protruding eyes (p. 219)

See Thank You, Jeeves.

on the sawdust (p. 220)

Pubs of the type where a lot of beer is likely to be spilt in the course of the evening generally have sawdust spread on the floor.

count ten (p. 220)

The referee begins counting off seconds when a boxer falls to the floor after a punch; if he does not get up within ten seconds, he is deemed knocked out.

in the slats (p. 220)

ribs – the OED lists this as US slang, giving the first example from 1898.

chucker-out (p. 220)

A bar employee who throws unruly patrons out of the premises; same as “bouncer” in America, as used in the US magazine version of the story.

the work of a moment (p. 221)

One of Wodehouse’s favorite phrases; see A Damsel in Distress.

amuck ... berserk (p. 222)

Malay and Norse terms for fighting madness, respectively.

black cap (p. 222)

English judges used to put on a black cap when pronouncing a sentence of death. Wodehouse continues the metaphor in the following paragraph.

Blicester Regis … Blicester Towers (p. 222)

In “Quest” (the 1931 magazine story that was rewritten as “The Knightly Quest of Mervyn” for Mulliner Nights, 1933), Freddie’s uncle lives at Blicester Castle, Blicester Regis, in Shropshire at least half-a-dozen miles from anywhere, and Freddie had been sent there to keep him out of trouble in that story as well.

on a pinch (p. 223)

An obscure phrase, used only once by Wodehouse as far as has been found. The OED cites the phrase only in the sense of “in a crisis” which does not seem to accord with the enthusiasm mentioned in this sentence. Green’s Dictionary of Slang has citations from Doss Chiderdoss and Arthur Binstead, with whose writings Wodehouse was familiar, using “pinch” in the sense of a certainty, although not cited in this complete phrase. My suggested translation into more modern slang would be “on to a cinch”—having found a sure bet.

The US magazine version of the story substitutes on to something that would be money for jam here: a phrase that Wodehouse used elsewhere; see Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

Major differences between “The Masked Troubadour” and “Reggie and the Greasy Bird”:

The introductory pages of the story are so thoroughly rewritten that a phrase-by-phrase comparison would be tedious. Here are the correspondences of names and places:

Freddie WidgeonReggie Mumford
Drones ClubJunior Rotters
Lord Blicesterthird Earl of Uppingham
Dahlia PrenderbyMavis Jellaby
Lady PinfoldLady Rackstraw
Dora PinfoldConstance Rackstraw
Bottleton EastBingleton
Catsmeat Potter-PirbrightBeano Bagshot
Barmy PhippsAlgy Vining
Jos. WaterburySid Montrose
face the colour of a damsonface the color of a tomato
‘Top Hat, White Tie and Tails’[not mentioned]
Blicester Regis
Blicester Towers
Uppingham Regis
Uppingham Towers

Tony Ring explains in the introduction to “In That Shape, Rotten” (the ninth of the series of booklets titled Plum Stones, from Galahad Books in 1995) that Wodehouse had been involved in a tax dispute with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, in which a lien on his American royalties was threatened. He considered the idea of publishing in America under a pseudonym to circumvent this hold on his income, and though the original “The Masked Troubadour” story had already been sent off to be printed in the Strand, he realized that the familiar character names would identify him as the author to American readers, so prepared the version called “Reggie and the Greasy Bird.” In the event, the tax dispute was settled in time that the Saturday Evening Post could credit Wodehouse with the story, but the revised version was published with the rewritten framing sections and the changed names, even though Wodehouse later described it in a letter to Bill Townend as “in that shape, rotten.”

That letter (or some edited version of it) is dated December 28th, 1936 in Performing Flea; in an editing error, a similar passage appears in Author! Author! in a letter dated June 26, 1930, long before the story was written for its 1936 publication.

Ukridge and the Home from Home (pp. 225 to 255)

This story first appeared in Cosmopolitan in the US, February 1931, and The Strand in the UK, June 1931. In the UK it appeared in book form in Lord Emsworth and Others, in the US in Eggs, Beans and Crumpets. Page references are to the UK first edition of Lord Emsworth and Others, where the story runs from pp. 225 to 255.

The character Ukridge (pronounced “Yoo-kridge”) first appeared in the novel Love Among the Chickens (1906, 1909, 1921), and had a volume of short stories to himself with Ukridge (He Rather Enjoyed It in US) in 1924. Apart from Lord Emsworth and Others there are Ukridge stories in Eggs, Beans and Crumpets (1940) and Nothing Serious (1950). The distribution of stories between these books varies between the UK and US, of course! Usborne has an interesting chapter comparing the Ukridge of the short stories to Love Among the Chickens. Murphy has done some detective work into the real prototypes for Ukridge, and claims to have found Aunt Julia’s house.

Macbeth ... knocking (p. 225)

From Macbeth; see Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

Roman emperor (p. 225)

Several of Wodehouse’s butlers look like Roman emperors; see Something Fishy.

Sloane Square (p. 225)

In west London, where the King’s Road meets Sloane Street, and Belgravia becomes Chelsea. A very fashionable neighbourhood since the 1960s but, when Wodehouse lived in Markham Square and later in Walpole Street around 1901, this part of Chelsea was mainly given over to cheap lodgings.

eight shillings and sixpence (p. 225)

42.5p in decimal currency. In 1909 (the only year I’ve found figures for) the standard cab fare in London was 8d per mile, so you could travel 12 miles for 8/6, including a 6d tip. The distance from Wimbledon Common to Sloane Square is about five miles, so this amount would be right, assuming Ukridge was being charged double fare because of the late hour.

Given the approximate factor of sixty to account for inflation, a rough equivalent in modern times would be about £25 or US$35.

young and callow in baggy trousers (p. 226)

See Over Seventy, Ch. 4, pt 1, for the “baggy trousers” anecdote.

house on Wimbledon Common (p. 226)

Murphy has identified the prototype of this as Gayton Lodge, Parkside, the house (now demolished) of a Mrs. Holland, an aunt of Wodehouse’s cousin, the lawyer Edward Isaac, who lived nearby, also in Wimbledon. In the stories in Ukridge the house is called “Heath House,” here it has become “The Cedars”.

eating the entrée with a fish-knife (p. 226)

In traditional English cooking, the entrée is a dish served between the fish and the joint. Consequently, an efficient butler should have ensured that fish-knives had been removed before the entrée was served. It has also been questioned whether fish-knives are socially acceptable in the first place (see Nancy Mitford, Noblesse Oblige). Nowadays, of course, the structure of meals is less rigid, and the term entrée has come to have different meanings in various parts of the English-speaking world, leading to all sorts of misunderstandings. However, it is difficult to imagine how an entrée might be served before the fish, allowing this particular faux pas to arise.

the father of the Prodigal Son (p. 227)

cf. Luke 15:11–32. Ukridge was certainly at least as fond of wasting his substance with riotous living as the son in the parable. There is a famous painting by Rembrandt of the father welcoming his son, which might be what Wodehouse has in mind here.

22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Bible: Luke 15:22–24

See also Biblia Wodehousiana.

man of wrath (p. 227)

See Love Among the Chickens.

ginger-beer wire (p. 228)

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

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

the studio people are scouring the world for blokes, of either sex, capable of writing dialogue (pp. 229–230)

Wodehouse himself spent a year in Hollywood in 1929–30 and another in 1936–37 writing dialogue and adaptations for the movies. He mined his experiences there for material for several articles and short stories, as well as background for novels like Laughing Gas, The Luck of the Bodkins, and The Old Reliable. For his humorous take on “scouring the world” see especially “The Castaways” (1933; in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere, 1935) and “Slaves of Hollywood” (Saturday Evening Post, December 7, 1929) [adapted as “The Hollywood Scandal” in Louder and Funnier (1932) and as “The Girl in the Pink Bathing Suit” in America, I Like You (1956) and Over Seventy (1957)].

a contract to go to Hollywood for a year (p. 230)

Wodehouse did this in 1930–31. It is quite likely that he wrote this story while in Hollywood, waiting for the studio to find him something useful to do.

Waterloo (p. 230)

Waterloo station is a London railway terminus located just south of the river Thames. It was opened in 1848 to serve the London and Southampton Railway Company’s line to Southampton. This company later became part of the London and South Western Railway, and from 1923 the Southern Railway. The old Waterloo was famously chaotic [see Wodehouse’s description in the 1909 version of Love Among the Chickens], comprising at least four separate stations that had grown together over the years, but the LSWR rebuilt it completely to something like its modern form in 1922. The station serves much of the South-West of England, including the seaside resorts of Hampshire, Dorset and Devon. It was the terminus for boat trains to the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth.

board wages (p. 230)

Servants living in a house where their employer was absent were given reduced wages (enough to pay for their food and similar necessities) since they did not have to be on duty during that time.

Upon my solemn Sam (p. 230)

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

residential hotel (p. 231)

A small hotel, which caters to long-term guests and only serves food and drink to guests staying overnight, hence doesn’t need to be licensed as a public house. In effect an up-market lodging house.

Maison (p. 231)

French: House [of]

dernier cri (p. 231)

French: the last word

the staff (p. 231)

The roles of butler and cook are familiar enough. A parlourmaid assists the butler serving at table, answering the door etc., especially in smaller households without footmen. A housemaid does the dirty work of cleaning and polishing above stairs. A tweeny (“between-stairs maid”) assists both the housemaid (above stairs) and the cook (“below stairs”). This passage is a classic example of Ukridge’s fondness for hyperbole.

cognoscenti (p. 232)

Learned or well-informed people, those “in the know.” Although this looks like an Italian word, it isn’t: the corresponding Italian word is spelled “conoscenti,” and usually means acquaintances, the people one knows. It is only very rarely used in the sense of “people who know something.” The word seems to have entered English in the 18th century during the era of the Grand Tour, the spelling being Latinized at some point by English pedants convinced that modern Italians don’t know how to speak their own language. The word cicerone is another bit of Italian invented by the British (cf. Something Fresh, ch. 5).

throw the handkerchief (p. 232)

Probably an allusion to medieval tournaments, where ladies would throw a handkerchief to the champions they favoured.

B. B. Bagnew (p. 232)

In the US magazine and book versions of this story, his surname is Agnew.

Fourth Loyal Lincolnshires (p. 232)

Seems to be fictitious. The 81st Regiment of Foot (Loyal Lincoln Volunteers) was created in 1793, and in 1882 it merged with the 47th (Lancashire) Regiment of Foot to become 2nd Bn, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. The other infantry regiment with a Lincolnshire connection was the 10th Regiment of Foot, called the Lincolnshire Regiment (after 1946: Royal Lincolnshire Regiment). The Fourth were the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.

one of those birds who get knighted up North (p. 232)

Presumably Lady Bastable’s husband had been a wealthy manufacturer or merchant in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, or a city with similar economic activity. In A Pelican at Blandings, the Duke of Dunstable’s deceased wife is described as “the daughter of one of those chaps up North who make cups and basins and things”—showing that while the older aristocracy may not have accepted the social standing of those who had earned their fortunes “in trade” some of them were not averse to marrying into their wealth.

one grand, sweet song (p. 233)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

feasts of Reason and flows of Soul (p. 233)

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

Alexander Pope: Satires, Epistles, and Odes of Horace, I.ii.127

Blackpool (p. 233)

Seaside resort on the Lancashire coast – a very popular holiday destination with working people from northern industrial towns.

clique-i-ness ... Huddersfield (p. 233)

Most people avoid this spelling difficulty by using “cliquishness.”

Huddersfield is a town in West Yorkshire, formerly known for manufacturing dyes, shoddy and mungo, now more famous for its annual contemporary music festival.

Brighton A’s (p. 233)

Presumably Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, founded in 1901. In the years before the First World War, when Wodehouse was living in the area, they were one of the leading soccer clubs in the South. Wodehouse wasn’t terribly interested in soccer, but he uses it occasionally as a way of placing people socially – cf. Psmith in the City. The implication is that the City types didn’t go to a rugby-playing Public School, but are from a slightly lower social stratum.

the quiet rubber (p. 233)

A game of bridge or whist.

the wireless (p. 233)

Although Ukridge clearly belongs to a pre-war generation, here the setting of the story is modernised by the introduction of new technology. The first regular entertainment broadcasts by Marconi’s 2LO station and the BBC in London were made in 1922.

Angelica Vining (p. 234)

See “Ukridge and the Level Business Head,” a story written ten years before the present one, but which Herbert Jenkins for inscrutable reasons have placed last in the collection in Lord Emsworth and Others. (p. 285 below)

Bond Street (p. 234)

Running between Oxford Street and Piccadilly, Bond Street is home to many of London’s most expensive shops. Perhaps the choice of location was prompted by the association of Miss Vining with jewelry? The name of the street comemorates Sir Thomas Bond, a courtier and property developer who was part of a consortium that acquired the former site of Clarendon House in the late 17th century to build Old Bond St. There is no longer a dog shop in Bond Street.

chloroformed at birth (p. 235)

Chloroform (trichloromethane, CHCl3) was used as an anaesthetic. In the 1920s and 30s some eugenicists suggested that infants with birth defects could be “humanely” disposed of by chloroforming them at birth.

the kindly powers-that-be (p. 235)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

snootering directions (p. 235)

The OED defines snooter: “v. trans. To harass, to bedevil; to snub. (Only in P. G. Wodehouse.)”

“directions” here, listed in parallel with camera-men and supervisors, seems likely to be a misprint for “directors,” although it appears in all editions.

the Colossal-Superfine (p. 235)

This story is the only place where this studio is named, although the Colossal-Exquisite appears in “The Rise of Minna Nordstrom” (1933), The Old Reliable, ch. 7 (1951), and “George and Alfred” (1967).

the Main Boss (p. 235)

In US and UK magazines and the US book version, his name is given here: “Sol Blatters, the Main Boss.”

bologney (p. 236)

It isn’t quite certain that the American slang word baloney/boloney meaning ‘humbug’ or ‘nonsense’ (first recorded 1928) is the same as balony/bolony/boloney meaning ‘Bologna sausage,’ but this spelling, which isn’t in the OED, suggests that at least the editors at the Strand magazine and at Herbert Jenkins thought so. In the US magazine and book, and in the later World of Ukridge (Barrie & Jenkins, 1975), it is spelled ‘boloney.’

swept and garnished and with no signs of alien occupation (p. 236)

An allusion to the Biblical parable of the man who got rid of one unclean spirit, but ended up with seven others; see Biblia Wodehousiana for a passage from Spring Fever more directly referencing this account.

quips and cranks (p. 237)

Probably an allusion to Jack Point in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Yeomen of the Guard:

I’ve jibe and joke
 And quip and crank
For lowly folk
 And men of rank.

a bolt from the blue (p. 237)

A complete surprise, such as a bolt of lighting coming from a blue sky.

Wodehouse had used the phrase as the British title of one of his stories in the series A Man of Means: “The Bolt from the Blue” (1914).

Cities of the Plain (p. 237)

Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed in Genesis, chapter 19, for reasons which theologians have been debating for centuries. Only Lot and his daughters survive. The medieval theory, that the people of the two cities were being published for their sexual irregularities, an idea still popular with some Christian sects, seems to rest on a misreading of the text.

24 Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;
25 and he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

Bible: Genesis 19:24–25

See also Biblia Wodehousiana.

quorum (p. 238)

In this context, it simply means a select group of people. The more usual meaning nowadays is the minimum number of people required to be present for a meeting to make valid decisions, of course.

drains (p. 239)

Not necessarily a groundless fear: the drains at Windsor Castle are believed to have been responsible for Prince Albert’s death from typhoid in 1861.

unfit for human consumption (p. 239)

Ukridge is getting his inspectors mixed; a food inspector would declare an item unfit for human consumption; a drains inspector would declare a house unfit for human occupation.

Putney (p. 239)

District on the south bank of the Thames, on the way into central London from Wimbledon Common.

the nib (p. 239)

Important person; cf. Laughing Gas, ch.8: “You don’t run to an English butler in Hollywood unless you are a pretty prominent nib.” Seems to be early 19th century: it appears in the historical novels of W. H. Ainsworth.

Wapshott (p. 240)

There is a Wapshott Farm near Woking in Surrey. Wapshott is a reasonably common English surname, but there isn’t an obvious Wodehouse link, though he used the name often.

Samuel Wapshott finds the gold bat in The Gold Bat (1904). J. B. Duff is given the temporary pseudonym of P. P. Wapshott by Joss Weatherby in Quick Service (1940). Angelica Wapshott, only daughter of Major-General Sir Cosmo Wapshott, is soon to be wed to Mervyn Potter in “Joy Bells for Barmy” (1947). Orlo Vosper’s income tax chap in Pigs Have Wings (1952) is Wapshott of the firm of Wapshott, Wapshott, Wapshott, and Wapshott.

the Oval (p. 240)

Cricket ground in Kennington, also south of the river, and not too far from Wimbledon Common. It is the home ground of Surrey Cricket Club, and has been in use since the 1840s. The first English Test Match against Australia was played here in 1880.

war-horse ... bugle (p. 240)

A real Wodehouse favourite, this one:

19 Hast thou given the horse strength?
Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?
20 Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper?
The glory of his nostrils is terrible.
21 He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength:
he goeth on to meet the armed men.
22 He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted;
neither turneth he back from the sword.
23 The quiver rattleth against him,
the glittering spear and the shield.
24 He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage:
neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.
25 He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha!
And he smelleth the battle afar off,
the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

Bible: Job 39:19–25

See also Biblia Wodehousiana.

Fedora (p. 240)

A soft felt hat with a curled brim. From the title of a play by Victorien Sardou, written for Sarah Bernhardt in 1882. The play is now remembered mainly because of the opera by Umberto Giordano (1867–1948), first performed in 1898, with its famous bicycling aria (“Se amor ti allena”).

to spy out the land (p. 241)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

got it thoroughly up his nose (p. 242)

The OED cites “get it up one’s nose” as “chiefly in P. G. Wodehouse” though they cite George Ade (one of Wodehouse’s sources for American slang) first, from More Fables (1900):

The quiet School Trustee kind of a Man … is the worst Indian in the World when he does find himself among the Tall Houses and gets it Up his Nose.

The OED definition of the phrase is “to become affected by something, esp. to become angry or infatuated.”. I [NM] might modify that as “to become excessively excited by or involved in a situation.” George Ade’s fable concerns a “Country Customer” who begins to whoop it up when taken to an urban variety and burlesque show for the first time. Wodehouse uses it of Motty, Lord Pershore, in “Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest” when he succumbs to the temptations of a great city for the first time. Bertie Wooster, reporting Gussie’s intoxicated prize-giving speech in chapter 17 of Right Ho, Jeeves, says “So thoroughly had Gussie got it up his nose by now that it seemed to me that had he sighted me he might have become personal.” In “Uncle Fred Flits By” Pongo realizes that Lord Ickenham “had got it thoroughly up his nose and had settled down to one of his big afternoons.” In The Mating Season, ch. 8, Bertie suggests that if Esmond Haddock makes a hit at the village concert, “he will get it up his nose to such an extent that he will be able to look his aunts in the eye and make them wilt.”

like billy-o (p. 242)

See A Damsel in Distress.

mumps (p. 244)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

Bingley-on-Sea (p. 244)

Bingley is one of Wodehouse’s favourite names, for both people and places. Bingley-on-Sea (or the similar Bramley-on-Sea) appears in many stories, most memorably in “Portrait of a Disciplinarian” (1927; in Meet Mr. Mulliner). It is where the Drones have their golf tournament, and it is the setting for the first part of Doctor Sally. There are also villages called Upper and Lower Bingley in “The Great Sermon Handicap” (1922). Horace Davenport’s car in Uncle Fred in the Springtime is “a rakish Bingley” (Ch.15).

There is Bingley Crocker (Piccadilly Jim); Little Johnny Bingley (“The Nodder”), Elsa Bingley (secretary in Ice in the Bedroom), Gladys Bingley (Lancelot Mulliner’s fiancée), Lancelot Bingley (engaged to Gladys Wetherby(!) in “A Good Cigar is a Smoke”, Marcella Bingley (golfer in “The Rough Stuff”), and Bertie’s ex-valet Rupert Bingley (né Brinkley) in Much Obliged, Jeeves. In Cocktail Time, Bingley vs. Bingley, Botts & Frobisher is the name of a divorce case.

There is a tiny Bingley in Denbighshire and a rather larger one in Airedale, West Yorkshire, but neither of them is anywhere near the sea. Murphy guesses that the most likely prototype is the south coast resort Bexhill-on-Sea.

my little flock (p. 244)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Barter (p. 244)

This is one of the famous inconsistencies in the canon: Miss Ukridge’s butler is variously called Oakshott, Barter and Baxter (all three appear in the three stories in Lord Emsworth and Others), and the change of name is never explained. Presumably either Barter or Baxter must be a printers’ error: This seems to be the only Barter in the canon, but Baxter is well-established as the name of Lord Emsworth’s bête noire, the efficient secretary.

a wireless (p. 244)

A radio-telegram; conventional telegrams were also referred to as “wires.” Note that there was only a relatively short period when “wireless” by itself could mean both a radio receiver (cf. p. 233 above) and a radiotelegraph message. In the early days the word Marconigram was sometimes used.

o’goblins (p. 245)

Obsolete slang expression for English pounds sterling – ‘o’goblin’ is a short variant of ‘Jimmy O’Goblin,’ rhyming slang for “sovereign” (also obsolete).

Hotel Crillon (p. 245)

The Hôtel de Crillon on the Place de la Concorde was built in 1758 for Louis XV, and was the family home of the Counts of Crillon until opening as the first luxury hotel in Paris in 1909. It remains one of the city’s most splendid hotels: the price of a double room there today [when these notes were originally researched in 2002] is in the region of EUR 500 a night.

Update: Nightly rates are quoted in the range of US$ 1,900–2,200 in July 2023.

if you don’t speculate you can’t accumulate (p. 246)

See Bill the Conqueror.

chalked up to the credit (p. 247)

See Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit.

Purundapore (p. 247)

Seems to be fictitious – a generic Indian placename. The three closest matches are:

1. Purandarpur Sonbarsa – in the Himlayan foothills

2. Purandarpur – West Bengal and

3. Purandharpur – in what looks like Maharashtra-Karnataka border.

Purandarpore – even if made up, would not have been as way-off as ‘Maharaja of Gopal’ or of Gaipajama, as in Tintin.

-pore (used in British India) and -pur as used currently – is an added suffix that means a village. Purandar could have come from Sri Purandara Dasa – a devotional composer from Karnataka (c.1480-1564). [Rathnasree/Lady C]

a liberal spot (p. 248)

A generous helping of liquor; see Thank You, Jeeves.

Reason rocked on its throne (p. 250)

See Hot Water.

The Paris (p. 250)

The liner SS Paris was launched in 1916 and started to operate between Le Havre and New York in 1921. She was destroyed in a fire at Le Havre in 1939.

The man is unquestionably potty. (p. 252)

In the sense of “crazy, mad, eccentric” the OED has citations for potty beginning in 1920.

leg it (p. 252)

See Leave It to Psmith.

mighty rushing wind (p. 254)

Another Wodehouse biblical favourite; see Biblia Wodehousiana.

one of those mystery plays (p. 254)

The expression mystery play is nowadays most often associated with medieval miracle-plays, i.e. plays illustrating Bible stories in a very down-to-earth way, traditionally performed by the trade guilds of a city. What Wodehouse means here must be simply a modern thriller or “whodunit.”

pat it with your paws (p. 254)

It sounds as though Wodehouse must have been going through a cat phase when he wrote this.

waist-high in the soup (p. 255)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

The Come-Back of Battling Billson (pp. 256 to 284)

This story first appeared in Cosmopolitan (June 1935) and The Strand (July 1935). It was published in book form in Lord Emsworth and Others (UK) and Eggs, Beans and Crumpets (US). Page references are to the UK first edition of Lord Emsworth and Others, where the story runs from pp. 256 to 284.

Ukridge’s boxing protégé Battling Billson previously appeared in “The Début of Battling Billson,” “The Return of...” and “The Exit of...,” all of which appeared in 1923 and were collected in Ukridge (UK, 1924) and He Rather Enjoyed It (US, 1926). Wodehouse was a keen amateur boxer in his school days. Poor eyesight forced him to abandon the sport, but both professional and amateur boxing feature in many of his stories, and he clearly followed it closely. On his first trip to the US in 1904 he went to meet the boxer ‘Kid’ McCoy in his training camp; see the endnotes to one of the Kid Brady stories for more.

adenoid (p. 256)

See Summer Lightning for more on the glands and the vocal distortion that can be caused when they swell; Ukridge is referring to the sometimes less-than-perfect reproduction of voices in early talking pictures.

Talking Films (p. 256)

Various systems for synchronising movies with recorded sound were tried out in the early 1900s, but it was only with the development of electronic amplification after the war that it became possible to reproduce sound of reasonable quality. The film industry wasn’t very enthusiastic about sound at first, although it became reasonably common to include a few musical numbers or speeches recorded on disc with a film, mainly because the cinema boom had led to a shortage of musicians who could accompany the silent films. The surprise success of The Jazz Singer in 1927 forced the other studios to adapt to sound.

motion-picture sale (p. 256)

One suspects that Wodehouse is putting quite a bit of himself, the professional writer, into Corky here. According to the list in Phelps, the first talkie made from a Wodehouse novel (as opposed to plays and musicals) was Summer Lightning in 1933.

a hissing and a byword (p. 256)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

dicta (p. 256)

Latin: statements, sayings.

The Jazz Singer (p. 257)

Film experts spill large quantities of ink over the question of why this Al Jolson vehicle was such a huge success when other silent films with interpolated musical numbers went unnoticed. One theory is that it was the presence of ambient sounds (tinkling glasses in the café scene, etc.) where audiences where used to hearing only voices and music.

Another theory credits a scene in which Jolson improvised a speech to his mother before singing, where his dynamic stage personality comes across better in his own words than when he is reading lines written by the screenplay author.

The Jazz Singer indeed was not all-talking; most of the film was acted “silent” with intertitle cards for dialogue, but with a continuous orchestral score on the Vitaphone recordings that accompanied the film. The contrast between that and the scenes where dialogue and singing as well as natural ambient sounds were recorded made it clear that audiences would enjoy “all-talking” films.

muscles strong as iron bands (p. 257)

Under a spreading chestnut tree
 The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
 With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
 Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
 His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
 He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
 For he owes not any man.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882): The Village Blacksmith, 1–12

jellied eel ... Whitechapel (p. 258)

Whitechapel is a district in the East End of London, traditionally having a large Jewish population. Jellied eels are a noted speciality of the East End. Traditionally they are sold in eel, pie and mash shops.

See Ukridge for more information on eel-jellying.

North Kensington Folk Dance Society (p. 258)

North Kensington is not where you would expect to find it, next to South Kensington; Notting Hill and Holland Park intervene. It is not an especially fashionable neighbourhood, being bounded by the Great Western Railway and Wormwood Scrubs.

The lawyer and musicologist Cecil Sharp (1859–1924) was the main inspiration behind the English folk-dance revival. He started collecting folk dances after a chance meeting with the Headington Quarry Morris Dancers in Oxford, and founded the English Folk Dance Society in 1911 (it merged with the Folk Song Society in 1932). Since 1930, the main hotbed of morris-dancing in London has been not in North Kensington but at Cecil Sharp House, a couple of miles further east in Camden Town.

beano (p. 258)

British slang from late 19th century: a binge; a festive, rowdy party.

hoofers (p. 258)

Dancers: Broadway slang, first recorded in the twenties, nicely incongruous when Wodehouse applies it to morris-dancers.

tie bells to their trousers (p. 258)

Morris-dancing is a curious activity. It seems to have something to do with the Robin Hood legend and the Crusades (morris is a corruption of “Moorish”). Despite the fact that it involves men dressing up in white, drinking large quantities of beer, and waving sticks around, there is no proven link with cricket.

St. Vitus (p. 259)

St. Vitus may have been an early Roman martyr. He is considered the patron of epileptics, those afflicted with St. Vitus’ Dance (chorea, an illness characterised by involuntary muscle spasms), dancers, and actors, and is a protector against storms. His feast day is 15 June. “St. Vitus’s Dance” is often also used figuratively, as here.

Hon. Sec. (p. 259)

Honorary [i.e. unpaid] Secretary. In many clubs and societies it is the Hon. Sec. who organises everything.

sarabands (p. 259)

A slow Spanish dance in triple time (zarabanda). First appeared in England in the 17th century. More the domain of baroque dance enthusiasts than folk dancers.

beefed (p. 259)

Objected, complained. This usage seems to have come from the American Midwest in the late 19th century. Sinclair Lewis used it before Wodehouse picked it up.

jug (p. 260)

Jug for prison was originally American slang (initially as stone-jug), but it was well-established in England by the mid-19th century, both as noun and as here as a verb.

shadow of the cell (p. 260)

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

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

chloroform and forceps (p. 260)

This is about as close as Wodehouse ever comes to referring to childbirth.

half-crowners and two-bobbists (p. 260)

A half-crown was a coin worth two shillings and sixpence (12.5p in decimal currency); “two bob” was slang for two shillings (10p) – the two-shilling coin was also known as a florin, and remained in existence as a 10p coin until the 1990s, when it was miniaturised.

to bite Aunt Julia’s ear (p. 260)

See Leave It to Psmith.

shoppy (p. 261)

An unusual adjective, not found elsewhere in Wodehouse so far. Of three OED definitions, the appropriate one seems to be “concerning one’s own business or profession”; here, Aunt Julia is more concerned with what she could learn about prison life from Ukridge as background for her books than with keeping him out of jail.

Wormwood Scrubs (p. 261)

London prison, conveniently situated for the North Kensington folk-dancers.

Alistair Simms, Convict or They that are without hope (p. 261)

The British character actor Alistair Sim (1900–1976) only made his film debut in 1935, but Wodehouse might have encountered him on the stage. Or the similarity of names might be a coincidence.

The British Library doesn’t have either title, so we can be reassured that Ukridge never paid his debt to society.

registrar’s (p. 262)

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

on velvet (p. 262)

See Bill the Conqueror.

Limehouse (p. 263)

Like Bottleton East, but with more mysterious Chinamen (cf. ‘The Masked Troubadour’).

handed in his portfolio (p. 263)

The word portfolio is often used figuratively to describe the tasks of a government minister (this was originally a French usage). Thus, when a minister resigns she is said to hand in her portfolio. For an odd-job man to do this is delightfully incongruous.

roadwork (p. 264)

Running as part of a physical training programme.

so much goose (p. 265)

Presumably a slang expression for good fortune. Not recorded by the OED, and none of the other meanings of goose seem to fit. [MH]

Wodehouse seems to use it in the sense of an unexpected treat or bonus. [NM]

“Well, if you want my opinion, I think that’s a bit of goose for you, Angela, old girl.”

Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 14 (1934)

“That I should have found you first crack out of the box like this is the one bit of goose I have experienced in the course of a sticky evening.”

Uncle Fred in the Springtime, ch. 16 (1939)

Out of the night that covered him, black as the pit from pole to pole, one solitary bit of goose presented itself—the fact that the head of the family was away at the moment, visiting friends in the country.

“The Editor Regrets” (1939; in Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, 1940)

“That is a substantial bit of goose.”

Joy in the Morning, ch. 5 (1946)

In these days in which we live, when existence has become a thing of infinite complexity and Fate, if it slips us a bit of goose with one hand, is pretty sure to give us the sleeve across the windpipe with the other, it is rarely that we find a human being who is unmixedly happy.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 5 (1948)

“Well, this is a bit of goose. You’ll be able to give me all the salient facts, if salient is the word I want.”

The Mating Season, ch. 1 (1949)

And this singular bit of goose, as I say, had fallen to the lot of Oofy Prosser, a bloke already stinking with the stuff.

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

At the outset he had been all joy and effervescence, feeling that out of a blue sky Fate had handed him the most stupendous bit of goose and that all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds, but as the time went by doubts began to creep in.

Ice in the Bedroom, ch. 2 (1961)

Oakshott (p. 266)

A few pages ago in “Ukridge and the Home from Home” (published five years earlier) the butler was called Barter.

Machiavelli (p. 266)

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

the Eden of The Cedars … contained a serpent (p. 256)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

entourage (p. 267)

A slightly odd choice of word here – Wodehouse might have been thinking of the theatrical term ensemble, meaning the ordinary members of the cast, or the chorus. An entourage is always defined with reference to the particular person (or, in earlier times, place) it is associated with, so ‘his [the butler’s] entourage’ would have been more usual.

and Oakshott was an honourable man (p. 267)

Ukridge is echoing the bitter irony of a repeated line in Antony’s funeral oration for Caesar. See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

gurgle like a leaking cistern (p. 268)

In this sense, a cistern is a water tank in the attic of a building, supplying water to the rooms below by the pressure of gravity. An actual leaking cistern had appeared not long before in Hot Water, chapters 1 and 5–9 (1932) – maybe Wodehouse is speaking from personal experience here?

concrete skull (p. 268)

See Very Good, Jeeves.

dumb brick (p. 268)

See Carry On, Jeeves.

bowler hat (p. 270)

A hat with a stiff, rounded crown; same as “Derby hat.” See Summer Lightning for its social meaning.

mufti (p. 270)

Ordinary civilian clothes, rather than his ecclesiastical garb.

plenipotentiary (p. 270)

An ambassador or diplomat entrusted with full authority to make treaties, contracts, and the like on behalf of a ruler or nation.

Ally Pally (p. 270)

The Alexandra Palace, a sports and entertainment center in North London, opened in 1873. As well as the great hall (which burnt down and was rebuilt shortly after the opening, and again in 1980) there were numerous recreational facilities at various times, including a racecourse. The BBC had a television transmitter in part of the complex from 1935 onwards. Nowadays Alexandra Palace is mainly used as a conference and exhibition centre, though it still has an amusement park.

a distinctly sporting vein (p. 270)

Wodehouse had claimed in the narration of Summer Lightning, ch. 3.5 (1929), that “all butlers are sportmen.” See Summer Lightning for other examples.

Wapping (p. 270)

Yet another part of East London. Wapping lies on the northern bank of the Thames, just east of the Tower of London and south of Whitechapel. It is one of the oldest parts of the Port of London.

Silver Ring bookie (p. 270)

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

science (p. 272)

See Ukridge.

quivering of Hell’s foundations (p. 273)

See The Code of the Woosters.

Hootchy-Kootchers (p. 273)

Hootchy-kootchy (variously spelled) was used as a generic term for erotic or suggestive dancing, from about 1890. Used of morris-dancers it is more than incongruous.

orgy (p. 273)

Following its classic definition as rites celebrating Bacchus, the term for most of its history denoted drunken revelry; only in the latter part of the 20th century did connotations of licentious sexual activity become the most common use of the word.

excluded from Paradise (p. 273)

See Summer Moonshine for the likely literary source of the phrase, cited elsewhere in Wodehouse explicitly, and Biblia Wodehousiana for the Scriptural basis for this.

the good times among the fleshpots (p. 274)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

blow me to a taxi (p. 274)

The OED calls this US slang for treating someone to something, with the first example of “blow me to” cited from 1903.

prox (p. 274)

Short for proximō – Latin, ‘next [month]’ – a common abbreviation in business correspondence of the time.

alderman (p. 274)

One of the chief magistrates of a city, especially the City of London, next in status after the mayor. Since local government was put in the hands of elected councils in the 19th century, it has become a largely honorary title. As aldermen were mostly prosperous middle-aged men, and their chief duty as aldermen was to attend formal dinners, they were rarely lean.

underground cellar of the Secret Nine (p. 275)

See The Code of the Woosters.

Flossie (p. 275)

We first met Billson’s fiancée in “The Début of Battling Billson” (1923).

hot under the collar (p. 275)

Angry, resentful, agitated. The OED calls this originally US colloquial, with citations beginning in 1879.

The earliest usage so far found in Wodehouse is from The White Hope, book II, ch. 1 (1914):

It made me pretty hot under the collar, and it wasn’t me that was stung.

the holy state hot off the griddle (p. 275)

A clever mixing of formal and informal English! The “holy state” reminds us of the Church of England marriage service: “holy Matrimony, which is an honourable estate…”; “hot off the griddle” calls up the image of food served immediately after it is prepared.

Blue Anchor in Knightsbridge (p. 276)

Knightsbridge is one of the main shopping streets in the West End. Currently [2002] there are only two pubs named Blue Anchor listed in the London phone book: one is in Bromley High Street and the other in Chancery Lane, neither of them anywhere near the West End.

The 1915 London postal street directory lists no pubs named Blue Anchor; it appears that Wodehouse intended this fictionally.

vice-president in charge of the beer-engine (p. 276)

This is an old joke, but Wodehouse builds up to it very nicely. Beer-engine is an old way of saying ‘beer-pump,’ the apparatus that gets the beer from the barrels in the cellar to the customer’s glass when the server pulls on a long lever.

peroxide (p. 276)

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) was often used as a bleaching agent to lighten the colour of hair.

up and doing with a heart for any fate (p. 276)

See Leave It to Psmith.

straight and narrow path (p. 275)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Boadicea (p. 277)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

the figures leaping up on the clock (p. 277)

Not the time of day, but a reference to the taxi’s meter, which computes the fare based on time and distance.

French general … taxi-cabs (p. 277)

On 7 and 8 September 1914, a fleet of twelve hundred commandeered taxis was used to transport part of the garrison of Paris to reinforce the French forces at the battle of the Ourcq, part of the first battle of the Marne. The general responsible for the operation was Galieni, commandant of the fortress of Paris. One of these “Marne taxis” has been preserved in the Hotel des Invalides.

Hurst Park (p. 277)

Racecourse near the Thames in Surrey, also the scene of duels and prizefights in the 18th and 19th centuries, and motorcycle races in the early years of the 20th. Now a housing development. The former grandstand was moved to Mansfield Town’s football ground in the 1960s.

Wimbledon Rotunda (p. 278)

A common enough cinema name – there is a modern cinema complex of that name in nearby Kingston-on-Thames, but I don’t know if Wimbledon ever had one.

dished (p. 278)

Completely defeated; slang cited from 1798 onward in the OED.

come in like a leopardess and was now a lambkin (p. 278)

Proverbially, the month of March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

shop-walkers from Harrods and sergeants in the guards (p. 279)

A shop-walker was a supervisor or head of department in a large store; Harrods, on Knightsbridge, is of course the grandest of Britain’s (Egypt’s, nowadays...) department stores. The guards regiments of the British army have their London base at Knightsbridge Barracks. Guards sergeants could also be expected to be fairly haughty. However, note that Wodehouse has his tongue firmly in his cheek – however proud and haughty the sergeants and shop-walkers are, none of Wodehouse’s readers would take them to be gentlemen. They are firmly in the ‘upper servant’ class.

Will you present me? (p. 279)

Poor Billson is making a terrible faux-pas in response to Oakshott’s request for an introduction. Billson should have presented Oakshott to Flossie, not Flossie to Oakshott.

No lady is ever, except to the President of the United States, a cardinal, or a reigning sovereign, presented to a man.

Emily Post: Etiquette (1922) II

Miss Dalrymple (p. 279)

Barmaids seem often to have used professional names in the way that actresses use stage names; Wodehouse gives us the tip in Pigs Have Wings that Maudie Montrose was the nom de guerre of Maudie Beach Stubbs at the Criterion bar. This probably accounts for the multiple surnames of Flossie, who worked as Burns at the Crown in Kennington and as Dalrymple at the Blue Anchor in Knightsbridge; we learn in Something Fishy (1957), after her marriage to Billson, that her real maiden name was Keggs.

Sir Gregory Dalrymple (p. 279)

Dalrymple is a Scottish name, without an obvious Wodehouse connection.

a Shropshire Pobleigh (p. 279)

Pobleigh doesn’t seem to exist either as a personal name or a placename. Still, the hint of Shropshire suggests that it might be worth a closer look. Similar-sounding places (not very similar...) in the vicinity of Stableford incude Folley, Rowley, Bromley and Catstree. There’s also Mike’s and Psmith’s (fictitious) school, Sedleigh, and Powick where one of Wodehouse’s uncles lived.

Lady Slythe and Sayle (p. 279)

There are two types of British peerage titles with two names joined by ‘and’; a multiple peerage title is created when one individual is granted or inherits more than one peerage of the same rank, and a compound peerage is one that has been specifically given two names at the time of creation.

One of the oldest such is Baron Saye and Sele, created in 1440, and the similarity suggests that Wodehouse coined a fictional compound title reminiscent of that one. He used it two other times as well:

And then, like a voice from afar, something seemed to whisper in his ear that this girl’s second cousin, Adelaide, had married Lord Slythe and Sayle and that among the branches of the family were the Sussex Booles and the ffrench-ffarmiloes—not the Kent ffrench-ffarmiloes but the Dorsetshire lot.

“The Story of Cedric” (1929; in Mr. Mulliner Speaking, 1930)

“There was a good deal of comment on my adroitness. Lord Slythe and Sayle, who was present, I remember, said to Lord Knubble of Knopp, who was also present, that he hadn’t seen anything so resourceful since the day when the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster rang in a bad half-crown on the First Gold Stick in Waiting.”

“Feet of Clay” (1950; in Nothing Serious, 1950)

Duke of Walmer (p. 279)

Walmer is a castle on the Kent coast. There doesn’t appear ever to have been a Duke of Walmer.

Devonshire Dalrymples (p. 280)

Wodehouse seems to be intent on peopling Devonshire with Scots – George Abercrombie in “Crime Wave at Blandings” is also a Devonian.

cadet branch (p. 280)

The descendants of a younger son or brother. Wodehouse himself was a member of a cadet branch, being descended from the younger brother of the first Baron Wodehouse.

a broken reed (p. 281)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

a very present help in time of trouble (p. 281)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

like a winkle from its shell (p. 283)

An edible gastropod (marine snail), in full periwinkle; a mollusk of genius Littorina.

without the option (p. 283)

That is, without the choice to pay a fine in lieu of jail time.

without a superfluous ounce on him (p. 283)

Young Bingo is long and thin and hasn’t had a superfluous ounce on him since we first met; but the uncle restored the average and a bit over.

“Jeeves in the Spring-Time” (1921; adapted into ch. 2 of The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

get into your ribs (p. 284)

See p. 199, above.

The Level Business Head (pp. 285 to 312)

First published in The Strand (UK), May 1926, and in a slightly different form in Liberty (US), May 8, 1926. Appeared in book form in Lord Emsworth and Others (UK) and Eggs, Beans and Crumpets (US). Page references are to the UK first edition of Lord Emsworth and Others, where the story runs from pp. 285 to 312.

It is not clear why Herbert Jenkins chose not to put the three Ukridge stories in Lord Emsworth and Others in order of first publication date, especially when “Ukridge and the Home from Home” contains a reference back to the events of this story (see p. 234 above).

beaker ... stoup of port (p. 285)

In this context, both beaker and stoup are deliberately archaic terms for drinking vessels. Port is a strong, dark-red wine from Oporto in Portugal, often served at the end of a meal in upper-class British homes and institutions.

Baxter (p. 285)

This is the third name Aunt Julia’s butler has had in the three Ukridge stories collected in Lord Emsworth and Others! He was Barter in “Ukridge and the Home from Home” and Oakshott in “The Come-Back of Battling Billson.”

“She has never let you invite me here before” (p. 285)

Very possibly. However, Ukridge did once trick his aunt into inviting Corky to Wimbledon herself – see “First Aid for Dora” (1923; in Ukridge, 1924).

less than the dust beneath my chariot wheels (p. 286)

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, Oh, Lord,
Even less than these!

Less than the weed, that grows beside thy door,
Less than the speed, of hours, spent far from thee,
Less than the need thou hast in life of me.
Even less am I.

Since I, Oh, Lord, am nothing unto thee,
See here thy Sword, I make it keen and bright,
Love’s last reward, Death, comes to me to-night,
Farewell, Zahir-u-din.

Kashmiri Song: “Less Than the Dust” from Indian Love Lyrics (1901) by “Laurence Hope” (Adela Florence Nicholson, 1865–1904)

I will tell you the story... (p. 286)

This passage looks as though it must contain a number of allusions, but so far there is no convincing explanation of their source. Just possibly it is simply a clever assembly of clichés to illustrate Ukridge’s grandiose style.

story ... journey: this sounds a little as though it might come from Kipling, but there is no trace of it in his works.
skies never so black: This phrase occurs among other places in the Bible commentaries of the famous Baptist preacher C. H. Spurgeon (1834–1892), suggesting that it might be a pulpit cliché of the period.
tempests may lour: Perhaps Longfellow’s “Excelsior” – “Dark lowers the tempest overhead”? But the louring/lowering of tempests also seems to be something of a poetic cliché.

haggis (p. 286)

Traditional Scottish peasant dish, comprising oatmeal and various internal organs of a sheep cooked in the stomach of the unfortunate animal.

ginger-beer wire (p. 286)

See p. 228, above.

Bedford Street Bodega ... old tawny (p. 287)

Bedford Street, WC2, is a side-street of The Strand, in the Covent Garden district of London. This is still an area with many wine-bars and restaurants. It is not very far from the former site of Romano’s, the restaurant favoured by the members of the Pelican Club.

A bodega is a Spanish grocery or wine-shop. Outside Spain, it normally means a basement wine-bar with bullfight posters and flamenco music.

Tawny port is a blend of port from different years, matured together in the cask.

Waterloo Cup (p. 288)

The Waterloo Cup was the main event in the controversial “sport” of hare coursing, where two greyhounds competed to chase a live hare across a field. The aim was for the dog to force the hare to change direction, but it often happened that the dogs caught and killed the hare. The event had been held at Great Altcar near Ormskirk in Lancashire since 1836, when it was established by William Lynn, landlord of Liverpool’s Waterloo Hotel. The Hunting Act 2004, prohibiting such activities, came into effect after the 2005 Waterloo Cup, which was the last to be held.

Murgatroyd’s in Bond Street (p. 289)

Either fictitious or no longer there. The best-known jewellers in Bond Street are probably Asprey’s, but there are at least twenty others.

[No jeweller of that name was listed in the 1910 London commercial directory.]

bureau (p. 289)

A writing desk, especially the type which has a folding writing flap.

up the spout (p. 290)

To put something up the spout is to pawn it: many pawnbrokers used to have a lift connecting the shop with the store-room which was known as the spout. By extension, pawnshops were often called ‘spouts.’

Barter ... Baxter (p. 290)

The editor really was asleep when this was printed: here Aunt Julia’s butler has two different names in the space of five lines.

Pewmonia (p. 291)

Pneumonia – the ‘p’ is normally silent.

handed in his dinner-pail (p. 292)

See Money for Nothing.

Pen and Ink Club (p. 292)

Ukridge had sabotaged a previous dance of the Pen and Ink Club in “Ukridge Sees Her Through” (1923). In Indiscretions of Archie, ch. 4 (1921), there is a New York artists’ and writers’ club called ‘The Pen-and-Ink.’ We attend a dreadful Pen and Ink Club lunch with Leila Yorke in The Ice in the Bedroom (1961).

There may have been a real writers’ society, at least in the USA, with this name, but presumably Wodehouse intends with this to poke fun at the real-life P.E.N. Club, whose members he regarded as taking themselves far too seriously.

a Dog College (p. 293)

As told in “Ukridge’s Dog College” (1923).

“what does a girl need jewellery for?” (p. 293)

A lovely girl needs, of course, no jewels but her youth and health and charm, but anybody who had wanted to make Veronica understand that would have had to work like a beaver.

Full Moon, ch. 1 (1947)

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned (p. 294)

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

Lewes Races (p. 294)

The racecourse at Lewes in Sussex was last used in 1964.

Sandown (p. 296)

The racecourse at Sandown Park, near Esher, Surrey, on the southern fringes of London, is still in operation. Sandown Park would only be about an hour’s walk from Aunt Julia’s house, but still, it seems unlikely that Ukridge would have saved any money by staying overnight in an hotel at Lewes to wait for Joe’s lift rather than take a thirty-mile rail journey back to Wimbledon.

even at the eleventh hour (p. 296)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

wide (p. 296)

The OED has citations beginning in 1879 for this British slang term for being shrewd or cunning, especially in sharp or shady dealings.

fiend in human shape (p. 298)

See The Mating Season.

cloth-headed (p. 302)

See Money in the Bank.

roopiness (p. 302)

A dialect term for hoarseness; see Love Among the Chickens for the poultry disease that lent its name to this complaint in people.

plough the fields and scatter (p. 302)

Ukridge rather surprisingly quotes from Hymns Ancient and Modern here instead of merely saying “farmer.”

We plough the fields and scatter
The good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered
By God’s almighty hand:
He sends the snow in winter,
The warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine,
And soft, refreshing rain.

From a German hymn by Matthias Claudius (1740–1815), translated by Jane Montgomery Campbell (1817–1878).

See Biblia Wodehousiana for the Scriptural source.

mugs (p. 303)

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

a sudden bright light had flashed upon me (p. 303)

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

all swank (p. 304)

Merely pretence; British slang cited in the OED beginning from the mid-nineteenth century.

legal fare (p. 310)

Aunt Julia is clearly not the sort of person to approve of tipping.

blue-eyed boy (p. 312)

See A Damsel in Distress.