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. These notes are by Neil Midkiff, with contributions from others as noted below.


Very Good, Jeeves was first published in the US by Doubleday, Doran & Co. on 20 June 1930, and appeared in the UK published by Herbert Jenkins Ltd. on 4 July 1930, with a preface by Wodehouse. The UK version only has a dedication to E. Phillips Oppenheim. The eleven stories had appeared in magazines from 1926 through 1930, sometimes in slightly different versions; somewhat unusually, the US book in many cases reprints the US magazine versions of the stories, while the UK book versions are nearly always substantially similar to the Strand magazine versions, as is the usual case. Further details about the magazine appearances can be found at Neil Midkiff’s web page of the Wodehouse short stories.

The texts of these stories show plentiful evidence of editorial intervention, apparently at each periodical and publisher, as there are frequent tiny changes to punctuation, hyphenation, capitalization, and the like, and more substantial cuts and changes in word order from time to time. As yet, no consistent pattern can be discerned, so one must assume that editors and typesetters at the Strand, Liberty, Cosmopolitan, Doubleday, Doran & Co., and Herbert Jenkins all felt free to conform the text to each publisher’s house style and make other “improvements,” although these are not always done in a uniform manner. For instance, even in the British first edition, nominally derived from the Strand appearances, there are internal inconsistencies (e.g. vocal cords vs. vocal chords) which seem to have been introduced at Jenkins.

When in 2026 the stories fall into US public domain, it will probably be worthwhile to do a parallel-column comparison of the details of each version. Until that time only the most significant of the variants will be annotated here for most of the stories. The cuts in the US versions of “Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit” and the word substitutions in “Jeeves and the Song of Songs” are more fully documented here as an example of these changes.

Preface (UK edition only)

The page numbers in the Preface are for the original Herbert Jenkins printings of the 1930s.

some fourteen summers since I started to write Jeeves stories (p. vii)

The first story in which Jeeves is mentioned is “Extricating Young Gussie” (Saturday Evening Post, September 18, 1915); the first in which he plays a prominent role is “Leave It to Jeeves” (SEP, February 5, 1916), later adapted into “The Artistic Career of Corky” in Carry On, Jeeves! (1925).

the third volume of a series (p. vii)

Wodehouse omits to mention the early story collection My Man Jeeves (George Newnes Ltd., 1919) which contained four Bertie and Jeeves stories and four Reggie Pepper stories; the two predecessor collections mentioned in this paragraph were both published by Herbert Jenkins.

half-a-crown apiece (p. viii)

Two shillings and sixpence, or one-eighth of a pound sterling. (The Bank of England inflation calculator gives a multiplier of approximately 62 from 1930 to 2019.) The two earlier volumes had been priced at 3/6 when first published then reissued after a year or so at 2/6.

in a plain van (p. viii)

This seems to be a stock phrase from advertisements, equivalent to the “plain brown wrapper” in which potentially embarrassing items would be mailed. A 1919 hardware trade magazine describes a cut-price paint and varnish store delivering in a plain van so that the customers’ neighbors would not know with whom the recipients were dealing. A London furniture store that initiated sales on credit used a plain van so as not to let neighbors know that the delivered goods had not yet been paid for.

Bertie promises that his gift of Spinoza’s books to Jeeves in Joy in the Morning will be “delivered at your door in a plain van without delay.” In The Mating Season, ch. 13, Jeeves sends a telegram to Bertie telling him that the plan to get young Thos to run away from school is in progress: “The goods, it said, were in transit and would be delivered in a plain van in the course of the evening.”

Jules St. Xavier Popinot (p. viii)

Possibly a glancing reference to Jean-Jules Popinot, a character in Balzac’s Le Comédie humaine, an honest and competent judge.


“At the book-corner”; the dialogue following contains many common phrases from elementary textbooks for students of French. A very rough translation by a very poor student of French:

Good morning, Mister Bookseller.
Good morning, sir. What beautiful weather today, is it not?
Absolutely. Do you have The Inimitable Jeeves and Carry On, Jeeves! of the master Wodehouse?
But certainly, sir.
Give me the two, if you please.
Yes, for example, (expression of surprise). And also the pen, the ink, and the aunt of the gardener?
I don’t care about those. I want only the Wodehouse.
No shirts, ties, or hair tonic?
Only the Wodehouse, I assure you.
Perfect, sir. Two-and-six for each item (“trinket”)—exactly five bob. [Note the bilingual pun here; “bob” is English slang for “shilling[s]” but “roberts” for “shillings” is pure invention by Wodehouse.]
Good morning, sir.
Good morning, sir.

Note that McIlvaine’s monumental Wodehouse bibliography does not include the French titles mentioned in the dialogue above; the earliest listed French version of Carry On, Jeeves! is a 1934 work titled Monsieur et servi, and L’Inimitable Jeeves did not appear until about 1983. So Popinot is presumably asking to buy the English editions (he is in London, after all) but using French equivalents of the titles to refer to them.

See also the notes to Monty Bodkin’s French in The Luck of the Bodkins, especially the bracketed note at the end with a quotation from Jerome K. Jerome on French vocabulary exercises.

See that the name “Wodehouse” is on every label (p. ix)

Another stock phrase from advertisements of proprietary foods and patent medicines, warning against imitations. “The large and increasing demand [for Worcestershire Sauce] has caused unprincipled traders to manufacture a spurious article, but the ‘genuine’ all bear Lea and Perrins’ name on the bottle, label, and stopper.” (Advertisement in London Observer, July 8, 1860, p. 8) “See the names of Lea and Perrins on every label, bottle, and stopper.” (Advertisement in London Times, August 4, 1860, p. 13)

Jeeves and the Impending Doom

First published in the Strand magazine, December 1926, and in a slightly abridged version in Liberty, January 8, 1927.

Aunt Agatha’s place at Woollam Chersey in the county of Herts

The first of Bertie’s formidable array of relatives to be mentioned (in “Extricating Young Gussie”, 1915) she is the sister of his late father, and is married to Mr. Spenser Gregson. This story is the first to mention her newly acquired country home in Hertfordshire, a county not far north of London (the center of the county is less than thirty miles from central London). Norman Murphy notes (In Search of Blandings) that some features of her home, including the lake and the Octagon, are modeled on Hunstanton Hall in Norfolk, the home of Wodehouse’s friend and frequent host Charles Le Strange, so this is another example of Wodehouse modeling a fictional setting on a place he knew well, but resetting it in a geographic locale more convenient to his plot.

fragrant eggs and b.

The common abbreviation b.-and-s. for brandy and soda had appeared as early as “Leave It to Jeeves” (1916), but the use of initial-letter abbreviations for some of the words of stock phrases is a habit of Bertie’s that first seems to have appeared in “The Great Sermon Handicap” (1922), in which he is “quaffing deeply of the flowing b.” (for “bowl”). The present instance, with b. for bacon, seems to be the second appearance of the habit, which will occur more frequently in later stories and novels. Note the inverted usage “e. and bacon” later in this scene.

moody forkful

Another instance of the transferred epithet (see Right Ho, Jeeves); a more straightforward way of saying this would be “I pronged a forkful moodily.” For the verb, see below.


Slang, originally from British universities, for a social mistake or faux pas.

a worm and an outcast

Only the UK book ends the sentence at this point; both magazine versions and US book continue “and would gladly drop something on me from a high window.”


Wording more suggestive of a dangerous animal’s den than the boudoir or sitting room of an English lady.

offensive letters, with nasty postscripts

In the early story “The Guardian” (1908), Wodehouse’s narration notes:

As somebody wisely observed, a woman’s P.S. is always the most important part of her letter.

See the end notes to that story for some history of that proverbial statement.

Another allusion to the concept, in “Playing the Game” (1906):

It was in the postscript that, like most feminine letter-writers, she had embodied her most important words.


A black smudge, possibly soot from a coal-burning railroad engine.

the stage-door

Aunt Agatha recognizes, as we do frequently in these notes, how familiar Bertie is with theatrical jargon.

beetled out

The OED cites a 1925 [Royal] Air Force slang dictionary: to beetle off: to fly straight, to go off direct, as a beetle flies.

Bingo Little

Introduced in “Jeeves in the Springtime” (1921); see annotation to The Inimitable Jeeves for more on him.

Rosie M. Banks

See “Bingo and the Little Woman” for the story of their marriage.


Used without other qualification, this must mean the Royal Ascot races held each June at the Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England.

gave tongue like a bloodhound

Cried out as a hunting dog does when its quarry is scented or sighted.

I must have forgotten to post it

This bit of absent-mindedness is borrowed from Ukridge, who similarly fails in Love Among the Chickens.

made the old lemon swim a bit

Only the UK book changes “lemon” to “head”; this does make the phrase clearer for those who are not familiar with Bertie’s slang. See The Inimitable Jeeves for an earlier use; see below for a case in which all four versions read “lemon.”

get it right through the concrete

Archie Moffam ought to have “more brains and less concrete above the neck-band” in Indiscretions of Archie. Gussie Fink-Nottle is “all right up to the neck, but from there on pure concrete” in The Code of the Woosters. Stilton Cheesewright is also solid concrete above the neck in Joy in the Morning. Mortimer Bayliss claims that J. J. Bunyan’s explanation did not penetrate the concrete of his guests’ heads in Something Fishy.

The hideous truth, working its way slowly through the concrete, had at last penetrated to his brain.

“A Room at the Hermitage” (1920; in Indiscetions of Archie, 1921)

“I’m all right as far up as the string of near-pearls, but above that I’m reinforced concrete.”

Nelly Bryant in Jill the Reckless/The Little Warrior, ch. 6 (1920/21)

“Let me endeavour to get it into your concrete skull that you aren’t the only person letting rooms in this village.”

“Mulliner’s Buck-U-Uppo” (1926; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927/28)

Not a muscle stirring while the words gradually got themselves assembled under that concrete skull.

“The Come-Back of Battling Billson” (1935; in Lord Emsworth and Others, 1937)

It seemed absurd to suppose that [Mr. Steptoe] had had an idea, yet something was unmistakably stirring behind that concrete brow.

Quick Service, ch. 10 (1940)

“To attempt to drive information into your, head, Biddle, is no easy task, for Providence, mysterious in its workings, has given you instead of the more customary human brain a skull full of concrete.”

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

[Dolly Molloy] knew that she had taken for better or worse one who was practically solid concrete from the neck up, and she liked it. It was her view that brains only unsettle a husband…

Ice in the Bedroom, ch. 16 (UK edition, 1961)

Your foul cousin

Thus only in UK book; in US book and both magazine versions Bingo calls young Thomas “your blighted cousin” here.

fiend in human shape

See The Mating Season.

life-giving cocktail

Other instances of Bertie treating alcoholic beverages as healthful are noted as “restoratives” in The Mating Season.


See Right Ho, Jeeves.

in the soup … knee-deep in the bisque

See The Inimitable Jeeves.


Historically, a hospital for patients with infectious diseases such as plague or cholera; figuratively, any place perceived as the locus of wickedness or iniquity.


Wodehouse had used this American term for an assailant’s tool for concussing an opponent in the American-set Psmith, Journalist as well as once in “Leave It to Jeeves” but more frequently employed the stuffed eel-skin in his fiction.

couple of hundred quid

The Bank of England inflation calculator gives a multiplying factor of about 62 from 1926 to 2019, so this would be well over £12,000 in modern terms. “Moderate affluence” indeed!

lumbago and the botts

Lumbago is pain of the lower back; though modern veterinary sources do not seem to use the term, it can be found in a 1911 veterinary textbook in reference to horses. “The botts” is not referenced in that same textbook; it is a colloquial term for an infection of the horse’s stomach by the maggots of the horse bot fly. Wodehouse more frequently refers to the equivalent disease in sheep, as in “The Salvation of George Mackintosh.”

got mixed up with the next race

Reminiscent of Ocean Breeze in “Comrade Bingo,” who “was so far behind that he nearly came in first in the next race.”

Kingsbridge, Kent

At present there is a new housing development named Kingsbridge at Headcorn in Kent, but the only Kingsbridge I can find which existed when this story was written is a market town in the South Hams of Devon.


See Right Ho, Jeeves.

like a bull-dog that has been refused cake

Norman Murphy tells us (In Search of Blandings, p. 61) that Wodehouse was given a bulldog in 1917 which he named Sammy after the bull-terrier painted red in Mike (1909), and who was the inspiration for The Mixer, Percy in “A Room at the Hermitage” (Indiscretions of Archie, ch. 12–13), and other bulldogs especially including Smith in The Girl on the Boat/Three Men and a Maid:

…closely followed by Smith, who, now convinced that interesting events were in progress which might possibly culminate in cake, had abandoned the idea of sleep and meant to see the thing through.

and George in Something Fishy/The Butler Did It:

He had that defect, so common in bull-dogs, of liking everyone, from the highest to the lowest.
George had coughed to attract the attention of the occupants of the room in case any of them had cake to dispose of.

The conclusion is inescapable that Wodehouse’s Sammy too was a gregarious cake-hound.

Wodehouse also used this association of ideas in a simile when describing a moody Tuppy Glossop in Right Ho, Jeeves, chapter 8:

In build and appearance, Tuppy somewhat resembles a bulldog, and his aspect now was that of one of these fine animals who has just been refused a slice of cake.


U.S. slang, chiefly derogatory; having a round, flat face or a blank expression; stupid. The OED cites George Ade in 1896 in Artie.

wrapping himself round

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

salmon mayonnaise

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

I now came down to earth with a bang

The phrase “down to earth” is now such a common expression alluding to everyday, mundane matters rather than flights of fantasy that it seems surprising that this story is the earliest citation in the OED for the phrase.

Aunt Agatha’s spaniel, Robert

For unknown reasons, Robert is replaced by Aunt Agatha’s terrier, McIntosh, in the US book edition of Very Good, Jeeves. Both US and UK magazine versions refer to the spaniel Robert.

food trough … nosebag

Bertie is joshing the traditions of an English tea by referring to ways to feed cows and pigs (food trough) and horses (nosebag).


A dwelling house with outbuildings and land assigned to its use [OED].

tout ensemble

French for “everything together”: the general effect of all the parts taken as a whole.


See Plum Lines, vol. 33, no. 3, Autumn 2012, page 3 for a photo of the real Octagon at Hunstanton Hall, showing the “grooves at regular intervals” mentioned later in the story.

And in the middle of the Octagon…

This paragraph is different in UK and US versions. The UK book follows the Strand text, with the sentence cited above immediately following the first mention of the Octagon.

In Liberty this sentence also follows, but the sentence ends with “Filmer, shouting.” A paragraph break follows, and a few sentences are skipped. The next paragraph is simply the one sentence “It seemed to me … to shelter under.”

The US book has most of the same words as the UK book, but the first mention of the Octagon is followed by “As we drew nearer … located the Right Hon. He was in the middle of the Octagon.…” So it appears that the Doubleday editor revised the order of the paragraph when inserting the sentences omitted in Liberty.

strained a vocal cord

This is now the preferred spelling for one of the folds of mucous membrane in the larynx whose vibration in a stream of exhaled air produces the pitched sounds of the speaking and singing voice. The older spelling “vocal chord” is not entirely defunct; the OED associates it with the meaning of “chord” as “the string of a musical instrument, such as a harp.” It is apparently unrelated to “chord” as a combination of musical notes or as a line in geometry joining the ends of an arc of a circle.

In the present sentence, only the Liberty version uses the spelling “chord”; the other three versions have “cord.” But this pattern is not consistent throughout the story collections; see below.

eight and elevenpence

Eight shillings and elevenpence in full, or the equivalent of a bit less than £0.45 in decimal terms. Inflated to 2019 values, roughly £27 in modern terms.

Sure-Grip tennis shoes

Wodehouse seems prescient here, as there is currently a line of shoes using the Suregrip name, now part of the Shoes for Crews family. I suspect, though, that he was influenced by 1920s ads for Keds saying that their soles “give a sure grip of any playing surface.”

waste of waters

See Hot Water and Blandings Castle and Elsewhere.

in my puff

From the association of puff with breath: slang for “in all my life.”

rocketing pheasant

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


See Sam the Sudden.

within an ace

See Leave It to Psmith.


See Hot Water.

forgotten to say “When!”

The OED has citations dating from 1889 for “say when” and from 1911 for this usage of “when” as a signal for someone to stop pouring out a drink.

ray of sunshine

The OED has citations dating from 1885 for this phrase, often preceded by “little,” for someone who lives happily and brings happiness to others. Wodehouse used it dozens of times, too many to list here. The earliest and latest so far found:

“Then go in and win, Comrade Brady. We shall miss you. It will be as if a ray of sunshine had been removed from the office.”

Psmith, Journalist, ch. 23 (1910/15)

“So we shall be bringing a ray of sunshine into their drab lives?”

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

Home Counties

Loosely defined as the counties of England that surround London; various lists of them range in number from four to twelve. Hertfordshire is included in nearly every such list.

infinite resource and sagacity

A description of the Mariner in Kipling’s “How the Whale Got His Throat” in Just So Stories (1902).

He virtually lives on fish

A complicated issue! Bertie usually associates eating fish with supplying nutritive support to the brain; Jeeves sometimes assents and sometimes denies that his sagacity is dependent upon his intake of fish. See Chris Dueker’s 2005 TWS convention talk “Remembrance of Fish Past” in Plum Lines 27.2, Summer 2006, p. 4. Note that later in the present book, in the variously-titled story of the Dog McIntosh, Jeeves declines to eat sardines to help him think in a crisis because he does not like them.

caught a crab

Made a bad stroke in rowing, so that either the oar blade gets too far beneath the water to be easily lifted out (thus driving the handle against the rower’s body, in the more traditional definition), or so that the blade skips across the water surface, causing splashing but not efficient propulsion of the boat.


For many years I failed to notice this particular term here, reading it as “saved” although most editions agree on “salved” here. [Only the US book among original editions has “saved” here, as does the Jeeves Omnibus/World of Jeeves text, and I did not own a copy of those until recent years.] Salved is a nautical term referring to a ship or its cargo rescued from destruction or loss at sea; a back-formation from salvage. One wonders if Wodehouse’s early education at a naval preparatory school was responsible for his use of this uncommon term here. The use of “from stem to stern” later in the sentence instead of “from head to toe” seems to support this idea. It is possible that Wodehouse intended a dual meaning here too, in the sense of salve as a soothing ointment: Bertie thinks that his rescue may have had the effect of buttering Filmer up, giving him the old oil, so to speak.

a remark of Mr. Filmer’s

Ian Michaud notes that Jeeves must have been confident that Bertie wouldn’t connect this comment with Filmer’s “one who is practically an imbecile” crack.

Purvis, the butler

When this story was collected in the Jeeves Omnibus and its later expansion as The World of Jeeves, Purvis was renamed Benson for unknown reasons.

The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy

Originally appeared in the Strand magazine, April 1926, and in a slightly abridged form in Liberty, April 17, 1926.

beetled off

See beetled out above.

Ne sutor ultra whatever-it-is

Ne sutor ultra crepidam: literally, “Not above the sandal, cobbler” (see World Wide Words for the phrase’s history); the same idea is expressed in the familiar phrase “the cobbler should stick to his last”—the meaning is that one should refrain from criticism outside one’s area of expertise, as Bertie implies in the rest of the paragraph.


Irritable, depressed, low-spirited; derived from hyp, a clipped form of hypochondria.


Poured out; from the verb for carefully pouring the contents of a bottle of alcoholic beverage into a serving container (decanter), as to separate a wine from the sediment that forms in the bottle.


Informal or pejorative term for a newspaper; the original edition of the OED describes “rag” as a contemptuous term for such items as “a flag, handkerchief, theatre-curtain, newspaper, paper money, etc.” Robert L. Chapman’s American Slang (1987) gives one definition as simply “a newspaper or magazine, esp. one that the speaker does not like.” See “How Kid Brady Joined the Press” and Piccadilly Jim for other examples in Wodehouse.


Hot stuff; see Carry On, Jeeves!

vapid and irreflective

See the notes to episode 5 of The Head of Kay’s for the literary background of this term.

Hawkshaw the detective

Originally a character in Tom Taylor’s 1863 play The Ticket of Leave Man; popularly produced as a Victorian melodrama. A newspaper cartoon by Gus Magor (1913–22 and 1931–52) revived the character name.

Love’s Young Dream

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

the Metropolis


copped it

Usually slang for getting caught, being punished, or even dying, so Bertie is giving us his opinion of romance in stark terms here.

a year ago … thirty days without the option

See “Without the Option” (1925), collected in Carry On, Jeeves!. Sippy, in other words, could not choose to pay a fine in lieu of the jail term.

Boat-Race night

See The Code of the Woosters.


This is the earliest (published 1926 in magazines) use of the term to mean “intoxicated” cited in the OED, although since their citation is dated 1930 (from the date of the book collection) they list it after another Wodehouse usage, in “The Story of William” (1927 in both magazine and book appearances) in Meet Mr. Mulliner:

Intoxicated? The word did not express it by a mile. He was oiled, boiled, fried, plastered, whiffled, sozzled, and blotto.

In any event, Wodehouse seems to have been the first to use it in print, whether recording real-life slang or as a coinage of his own.


Though the OED has one Victorian usage of sosselled from a 1903 slang dictionary, I suspect that Wodehouse learned this synonym for “intoxicated” from George Ade, as in “The Fable of Successful Tobias and Some of His Happy New-Years” in True Bills (1904); we know from many other quotations that Wodehouse found Ade to be a reliable source of American slang. This and the above quotation under “whiffled” seem to be his first uses; the term also shows up in Money for Nothing (1928), “Jeeves and the Kid Clementina” later in this book, and Thank You, Jeeves (1934).

“What was that?”

In US book only, “What was it?”

off his onion

Out of his mind; see Sam the Sudden.

“He’s dead.”

Bertie seems to be either misinformed or indulging in wishful thinking here; the Rev. Aubrey Upjohn is alive and well in How Right You Are, Jeeves/Jeeves in the Offing (1960) in which Bertie meets him for the first time as an adult, as well as “Bramley Is So Bracing” (1939) where Freddie Widgeon leaves Bingo Little’s baby in Upjohn’s study. Possibly it is Wodehouse himself feeling the relief as he wrote this story in 1926, as his own headmaster had died in 1911. See the note to the following item for more.

six of the juiciest on the old spot with a cane

Six strokes of the cane on the seat of the trousers. See The Mating Season annotations for further details; also compare Sam the Sudden and magazine versions of Leave It to Psmith.

bit like an adder

Conflating a pair of phrases from Proverbs: see Biblia Wodehousiana.


Position, in the 1920s slang style of shortening words for informal effect. Both Wodehouse and lyricist Ira Gershwin were noted for this style.


In the slang sense of “nonsense” the OED has citations dating from 1919, originally from the U.S. As an epithet for a fool or dull person, the earliest citation is from 1932.

inferiority complex

A fairly new term in popular culture at the time, based on the psychoanalytic theories of Freud and Adler; outside of professional texts the earliest OED citations in print are from the mid-1920s.

‘Don’t go down the coal-mine, daddy’

A song written by an itinerant song-sheet seller after the pit disaster in Whitehaven, Cumbria, Wales in 1910. Lawrence Wright bought the copyright for £5 and sold a million copies in three weeks. [N.T.P. Murphy, A Wodehouse Handbook]

mount the deadly breach

The oldest appearance of this phrase so far found is in The Missionary Gazetteer (1828, reprinted numerous times).

“What is it Shakespeare calls sleep, Jeeves?”

Lots of things, of course; but “Tired Nature’s sweet restorer” isn’t one of them. See The Mating Season annotations. This is a rare lapse in Jeeves’s citations.


Marshal Ferdinand Foch (1851–1929), French general who rose from infantryman during the Franco-Prussian War to supreme Allied commander during World War One.


Yesterday evening. A deliberate archaism; the most recent OED citation for this spelling is from 1863, and in the more common spelling yestreen from 1894. US serial and book have ‘yestere’en.’

the scales will fall from his eyes

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Aunt Agatha accused the maid at that French hotel … still in her drawer

Recounted in the Strand magazine version (also in The World of Jeeves) of “Aunt Agatha Takes the Count” (1922). The US magazine version and its adaptation for The Inimitable Jeeves end somewhat differently.

(even of an inferior school to your own)

US book has (even of a school inferior to your own) here. US serial in Liberty omits the entire paragraph.

Greenwich mean time

Standard time for the British Isles, based on mean (average) solar transits at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, but reckoned from midnight instead of noon.

spuds and cabbages

Potatoes and cabbages; Covent Garden was then the site of London’s produce markets.

sucked the handle of my stick

A reversion to behavior that Bertie had deprecated in another; compare Motty, Lord Pershore, in “Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest”.

And so the long day wore on.

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

as much as will cover a sixpence

The proprietary laxative “Kruschen salts” advertised that the daily dose of “as much as will lie on a sixpence” would result in “good health and youthful spirits”; see Money for Nothing.

“If you get an article accepted…”

It has been well observed that when a writer has a story rejected he should send that story to another editor, but that when he has one accepted he should send another story to that editor.

“Out of School” (1910)

“I shall watch your future progress with considerable interest.”

See A Damsel in Distress.

like an exuberant snipe

See Sam the Sudden.


See A Damsel in Distress.

St. Peter’s, Eaton Square

See Bill the Conqueror.

Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit

Originally appeared in the Strand magazine, December 1927, and somewhat abridged (by over 13% in word count) in Liberty, December 24, 1927, with the spelling “Yuletide” in the title. For purposes of example, these notes will go into more detail about the cuts in the US version of this story (both the Liberty appearance and the US book edition) than will be attempted for other chapters/stories.

As Shakespeare says, if you’re going to do a thing…

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

life is stern and life is earnest

An echo of Longfellow’s line “Life is real! Life is earnest!”; see Right Ho, Jeeves for the full poem.

festive s.

The above reading is from Strand, an abbreviation for “festive season”; it seems the most likely original reading. The UK book has “festives” which is unidiomatic, and is probably a misreading of the above. US magazine and book have “festivities” which at least makes sense, and is a word Wodehouse uses often elsewhere. But the Strand reading above is not an obvious typo for “festivities” so reading it as an abbreviation (in the style of eggs and b. above) is at least plausible.

See Wodehouse’s letter to Arnold Bennett, Aug. 16, 1930, in Sophie Ratcliffe’s P. G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters, in which he confirms that he intended “festive s.” but that the UK printer got it wrong.

“Plans changed.”

UK texts follow this line with Jeeves responding “Very good, sir.”; US texts omit the response.

the work of a moment

See A Damsel in Distress.

I was in no mood for this sort of thing…

US texts omit this paragraph.

“You nearly deafened me.”

US texts omit this sentence.

Stop me if I’ve told you this before…

US texts omit most of this sentence, beginning the next one with “This Glossop was…”

stern and rock-bound coast

Norman Murphy found this in Felicia Hemans’s 1825 poem “Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers”:

The breaking waves dashed high
On a stern and rock-bound coast…

The fixture was scratched

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

off my napper

The OED gives citations for “napper” meaning “head” as far back as 1724, and “off his napper” from 1899.

Loonies I have Lunched With

The story is told in “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch” (1922; adapted into chs. 7–8 of The Inimitable Jeeves).

It seemed to me that even at Christmas time…

US texts omit this paragraph.

peace on earth and goodwill towards men

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Cold and haughty. No symp.

US texts spell out “sympathy” (as does Strand) and shorten the next two paragraphs into one; Bertie’s response ends at “proudly.” The next paragraph omits the first two sentences and begins “Going down to Skeldings.…”

wear the mask

See Laughing Gas.

I was feeling considerably in the pink…

US texts omit the first two sentences of this paragraph.

the lion lying down with the lamb

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

all to the mustard

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

“Touching on this business…”

US texts omit this sentence and Jeeves’s response.

the world’s good old Plague Spot

See Bill the Conqueror.

the iron has entered into your soul

See Sam the Sudden.

“Oh, yes, it has.”

US texts condense the three paragraphs beginning here into one, omitting the references to the Yuletide spirit.

“His nephew.…”

US texts omit “I have it in for that man of wrath.” (See Love Among the Chickens.) UK book omits “The Wooster honour is involved.” US texts omit the “Listen” sentence and the phrase “both at the Drones Club and elsewhere.”

a hideous vengeance

A possible echo of W. S. Gilbert’s libretto for Iolanthe:

A hideous vengeance will pursue
All noblemen who venture to
 Oppose his views,
 Or boldly choose
To offer him offence.

“He told me that he had often…”

US texts omit the first half of this sentence, and begin with “And what I maintain…”

There was still something in his manner…

US texts omit this entire paragraph.

“Dwell on the fact…”

US texts omit this sentence.

“I wish you wouldn’t … I hardly like…”

US texts omit these two speeches.

“Jeeves,” I said coldly…

US texts omit the rest of this sentence, Jeeves's response, and the first part of Bertie’s next speech, continuing here with “what is your kick...?” Also omitted is the pair of speeches “Well, sir—”/“Jeeves!”; then shortly afterward a chunk of several missing lines skipping “asseverate … canvass … briefly” so that Jeeves says “I was about to observe, sir, that though Miss Wickham is a charming young lady—” in the shorter US version. Jeeves also omits “in my opinion” about red hair.

an imperial quart

The British Weights and Measures Act 1824 first defined the imperial system of units, with slight modifications in further acts through 1985. For comparison, one imperial quart equals 1.13652 liters, or very slightly more than 1.2 US quarts.


See Carry On, Jeeves!.

mashed potatoes

See Money for Nothing.

bringing young Tuppy’s grey hairs in sorrow to the grave

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


US texts omit “girls’ ”, “of the community”, “privily” and have “helpmate” instead of “helpmeet.”

For slip it across see Money in the Bank.

For helpmeet see Biblia Wodehousiana.

Stick, one, and needle, darning, good, sharp, one,

A style of describing inventory items by category in increasing order of specificity, common in both business and military jargon of the time.

The more I thought about this enterprise…

US texts omit the first two sentences of the paragraph. In the next paragraph, US texts omit the choir, dance, and chatting, so that the narration joins together “what not; so that it wasn’t till past one…”

and off along the corridor

US book only inserts “was” before “off” here.

I suppose a burglar…

US texts omit the entire paragraph. The following paragraph is divided into three in US versions, and shortened by concluding with “jabbing at random.”

I beetled in

See beetled out above.

after one had sown the seed, so to speak

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

But I wasn’t giving much thought…

US versions omit the last half of the sentence, ending with “explosion.” The last sentence of the paragraph is also omitted.

something in between the last trump and a tiger calling for breakfast

See Biblia Wodehousiana. US texts and Strand have “last trump” in lowercase as above; UK book has “last Trump” which is unique and probably a typo, although many times reprinted. In other books Wodehouse generally capitalizes “Last Trump.”

One moment, I was all dash…

US texts omit this initial clause, beginning the sentence with “An irresistible force…” and also omitting “the” before “leash.” In the first sentence of the next paragraph, “continuing” is omitted.

pipped me at the eleventh hour

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

The next thing that happened…

US texts omit this sentence.

those advertisements you see in the magazines … Correspondence School

See Hot Water for a similar advertisement.

The way he pushed out that ‘You!’

US texts conclude this sentence at “angry cobra.”

By rights, I suppose…

US texts conclude this paragraph at “bleating sound.” The last long sentence is omitted.

It seemed to me…

US texts omit “the thing along.”

nervous about fire

See “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch” for some of Sir Roderick’s other phobias and dislikes. In Uncle Fred in the Springtime, while visiting Blandings Castle, the Duke of Dunstable requests a ground-floor bedroom because he says he is nervous of fire.

The injustice of the whole thing…

US texts omit the first part of this sentence, beginning it at “I lost that sense…”

a toad under the harrow

See The Girl in Blue.

up the spout

In Wodehouse, usually referring to something that has been pawned; see Lord Emsworth and Others. But Wodehouse had earlier used it in the sense of thwarted plans, in “The Episode of the Exiled Monarch” in A Man of Means: “Royalist revolution up the spout.”

I reeled.

US texts omit this and the following sentence, beginning the paragraph with the shortened sentence “This extraordinary statement staggered me.”

smoking a thoughtful cigarette

Another instance of the transferred epithet (see Right Ho, Jeeves).

He did some deep-breathing exercises

US texts omit “through the nose.”

a sort of night’s rest

US texts have “any night’s rest” here, and substitute “doze” for doss (a principally British slang verb meaning to sleep, especially in a makeshift way or at a cheap lodging house).

succeeded in dropping off

US texts end the sentence at this point, omitting the clause about “colder and colder”.

the dome felt like lead

The head; see Leave It to Psmith.


Chinese black tea.

It was like one of those stories…

The Liberty editor apparently didn’t like the effect of breathless narrative intended by Wodehouse, and broke up this sentence with no fewer than seven commas and a sentence break after “Rover?’ Six of the commas and the break were preserved in the US book edition.

It’s perfectly amazing how a fellow…

US texts omit this opening sentence.

received back into the fold

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Young Blood

A phrase used in several ways by Wodehouse: as here, meaning the animal spirits of youth (compare The Head of Kay’s, in which it is coupled with “Boys would be boys.”). It can also mean fresh talent, as on the newspaper staff in Psmith, Journalist, or even literal blood, as in “The Lost Lambs”/Mike and Psmith where it is shed in a fight, or in the often-quoted Shakespearean “freeze thy young blood”. (The sentence containing this phrase is omitted in US versions of this story.)

“You can’t say that’s not rummy.”

US texts shorten this sentence and the next to say “You can’t say that’s not a miracle.” The adjective “rummy” is mainly British slang for “odd; peculiar”.

“…he received the suggestion from the young lady.”

US texts have simply “from her” here, which does not sound at all like Jeeves’s usual diction; I blame the Liberty editor.

she went away and tipped Tuppy off

US texts have “she went off and tipped Tuppy off” which also seems a bad editorial choice, because of the repetition of “off”.

the heart and hand

US texts as well as Strand have “the Wooster heart and hand” here, so this seems a Jenkins typo.

“I thought you had.”

US texts omit this sentence and Jeeves’s reply. A “Very good, sir” on the previous page is also omitted.

Jeeves and the Song of Songs

Originally appeared in the Strand magazine, September 1929, and as “The Song of Songs” in Cosmopolitan in the same month. The UK edition of the book generally follows the Strand text and the US book follows the Cosmopolitan text, in this case about 1% longer than the UK version. Each has a few sentences or phrases not present in the other; there is also more substitution or replacement of words and short phrases than is usual.

As an experiment, I will attempt a tabular comparison of the variants between the book versions, since there are more substitutions than cuts in this story.

US bookUK book
when Jeeves’s voice filtered through the woodworkwhen there was a soft step without and Jeeves’s voice came filtering through the woodwork
“Yes, sir,” Jeeves answered in his monosyllabic way.
“You say that he is in the sitting room?”
“Yes, sir.”
“In the sitting room?”
Owing to a certain episode that had occurred one night at the Drones’ Club, there had sprung up recently a coolness, as you might describe it, between this Glossop and myself. The news, therefore, that he was visiting me at my flat, especially at an hourThe news that Tuppy was visiting me at my flat, at an hour
towels about the torsotowels about the limbs and torso
not without hauteurnot without a certain hauteur
upon the fenderinto the fender
dreams of a hideous vengeancedreams of getting a bit of my own back
“Well, I have my own methods, Bertie, old man.”
“I bet they’re rotten, Tuppy.”
“I have my methods.”
“I bet they’re rotten.”
in the East End next Tuesday before an audiencein the East End next Tuesday.”
“Indeed, sir?”
“Before an audience
impeded and generally snookeredimpeded and generally snootered
do a good turndo a good turn than yourself
“I say he’s—breaking—Angela’s—heart!“Yes . . . Breaking . . . Angela’s HEART!”
begged me to suspendbegged me in rather a feverish way to suspend
is a pot of poisonis a congenital idiot
swimming poolswimming-bath
going stronggoing as strong as dammit
a thing like that!a thing like that?
Put the thing squarely up to Jeeves and let Nature take its course.Put the thing squarely up to Jeeves and tell him to let his mind play round the topic.
Get him working on it right away,Get him working on it,
I am fond of Aunt Dahlia, and I am fond of Angela.I am fond of my Aunt Dahlia and I am fond of my cousin Angela.
“He means the psychology,” I said.
“Oh, ah,” said Aunt Dahlia.
“And by psychology, Jeeves,” I went on, to help the thing along, “you imply——?”
“He means the psychology,” I said. “And by psychology, Jeeves, you imply——?”
talk like this when you’re alonetalk like this to you when you’re alone
a somewhat imperious naturea somewhat hard and intolerant nature
“Let me get this straight,” said Aunt Dahlia. “You think if he goes on trying to light her cigarettes with his automatic lighter long enough, she will eventually get fed up and hand him the mitten?”“Let me get this straight,” said Aunt Dahlia, looking a bit fogged. “You think that, if he goes on trying to light her cigarettes with his automatic lighter long enough, she will eventually get fed up and hand him the mitten? Is that the idea?”
A vicious specimenA woman of blood and iron
You see for yourself that we must do more than simply trust to must see for yourself that we can’t simply trust to luck.
volunteer your services at his forthcoming entertainmentvolunteer your services as a performer at his forthcoming entertainment
arranged to have you singarranged that you sang
after you had sungafter you, too, had sung
or may an aunt’s curseand sing it like a lark at sunrise, or may an aunt’s curse
operatic soprano.
How these things happen, I couldn’t say. The chivalry of the Woosters, I suppose.
operatic soprano.
I shall be gladI shall be obliged
men do desperate deeds with proud, set facesmen do desperate deeds with careless smiles
a grim look which I didn’t like at all.a grim look which I didn’t like at all. The mere sight of them gave me the sort of feeling Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego must have had when preparing to enter the burning, fiery furnace.
As I scanned the multitudeScanning the multitude,
Do you suppose for a moment that when Mr. Glossop hears me singing that dashed song he’ll come calmly on a minute after me and sing it, too?Do you suppose for a moment that, if when Mr. Glossop hears me singing that dashed song, he’ll come calmly on a minute after me and sing it too?
He had studied the psychology of the individual, if you see what I mean, and it had not led him astray.He had studied the psychology of the individual, and it had not led him astray.
And shortly afterwardAnd shortly afterwards
Well, it was a close thing. If ever my grandchildren cluster about my knee and want to know what I did in the Great War, I shall say, “Never mind about the Great War. Ask me about the time I sang ‘Sonny Boy’ at the Oddfellows’ Hall at Bermondsey East.”Well, it was a close thing.
lost their taste for that particular melody. I should have informed youlost their taste for that particular melody.”
“I should have informed you
the sort of noise which you hear at one of those East End boxing placesthe sort of noise which you hear, they tell me, at one of those East End boxing places
the vegetable motifthe vegetable motive
At this point old Beefy Bingham came out upon the platform.
I supposed that he was about to rebuke his flock for the recent expression of feeling. But such was not the case. No doubt he was accustomed by now to the wholesome give-and-take of these clean, bright entertainments and had ceased to think it worth while to make any comment when there was a certain liveliness.
At this point old Beefy Bingham came out on to the platform.
Mr. Enoch Simpson will recite ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade.’Mr. Enoch Simpson will recite ‘Dangerous Dan McGrew’.
“I’ve just been singing at Beefy Bingham’s entertainment,” he said after a pause. “You weren’t there, by any chance?”
“Oh, no,” I said. “How did you go?”
“I’ve just been singing at Beefy Bingham’s entertainment,” he said after a pause.
“Oh?” I said. “How did you go?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Why makes you think that?”
“You don’t?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Why don’t you?”
called up Angela.
“She says come right round,” I said.
called up Aunt Dahlia’s.
“She says come right along,” I said.

the Song of Songs

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

“Sonny Boy”

Sentimental theme song of The Singing Fool, a 1928 part-talkie film from Warner Brothers, written by Ray Henderson, Buddy De Sylva, and Lew Brown, and sung in the film by Al Jolson, who contrived to have his name added to the writing credits so as to get a share of the royalties. Jolson’s performance is on YouTube. The sheet music is online at the Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection.

the man’s story had interested me strangely

See Money in the Bank.

a certain episode

See the preceding chapter in this volume (“Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit”) for the story of Bertie swinging across the swimming-bath by the ropes and rings. As noted in the comparison table above, the UK text omits this reference.

playing “Sonny Boy” with one finger

Other monodigital pianists include the young Paderewski in “Bald Facts” (1904); Freddie Meadowes in “Helping Freddie” (1911) [also published as “Lines and Business” (1912), then adapted for Freddie Bullivant and Jeeves and Wooster as “Fixing It for Freddie” in Carry On, Jeeves! (1925), later adapted for Joe Peabody in “Unpleasantness at Kozy Kot” in the US edition of A Few Quick Ones (1959)]; and Bertie Wooster himself in The Code of the Woosters, ch. 10 (1938).

He had moved to the mantelpiece, and now he broke a vase…

Objets d’art on the mantelpiece are notoriously in peril when Wodehouse characters are fiddling with them or using them to vent their emotions.

“Oh, I say, Bertie!” [Bingo] said suddenly, dropping a vase which he had picked off the mantelpiece and was fiddling with.

“Bingo and the Little Woman” (1922; in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

Silently, like a panther, [James Rodman] made one quick step to the mantelpiece, removed from it a china mug bearing the legend A Present From Clacton-on-Sea, and crept to the window.…A moment later that canine moron, having received the present from Clacton in the short ribs, was scuttling round the corner of the house…

“Honeysuckle Cottage” (1925; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927)

[Sidney McMurdo], striding to the mantelpiece, broke off a corner of it and crumbled it in his fingers.

“Those in Peril on the Tee” (1927; in Mr. Mulliner Speaking, 1929/30) [He does this again in “Tangled Hearts” (1950, in Nothing Serious)]

[Tuppy] came in and hovered about the mantelpiece, as if he were looking for things to fiddle with and break.

“Jeeves and the Song of Songs” (1929, also later in this book)

…the bellboy … had not had such an enjoyable time since the day, six months ago, when the couple in suite ten had settled a lovers’ tiff in his presence with chairs, the leg of a table, and a series of small china ornaments from the mantelpiece.

Doctor Sally/“The Medicine Girl”, ch. 3 (1931)

[Gussie] moved to the mantelpiece, and began fiddling with a statuette of a shepherdess of sorts.

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 5 (1938)

[Aunt Dahlia] rose, and moved restlessly to the mantelpiece. I could see that she was looking for something to break as a relief to her surging emotions—what Jeeves would have called a palliative—and courteously drew her attention to a terra cotta figure of the Infant Samuel at Prayer. She thanked me briefly, and hurled it against the opposite wall.

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 5 (1938)

I can see that where I went wrong was in pausing to hit the bulge which, from the remarks that were coming through at that spot, I took to be Spode’s head, with a china vase that stood on the mantelpiece not far from where the Infant Samuel had been.

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 7 (1938)

I called him to order with a sharp rap of a china vase on the mantelpiece.
  “I get the idea,” I said, brushing the fragments into the fireplace…

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 11 (1938)

At Totleigh Towers, during one of our more agitated conferences, [Aunt Dahlia] had cleared the mantelpiece in my bedroom of its entire contents, including a terra-cotta elephant and a porcelain statuette of the Infant Samuel in Prayer.

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

We Woosters have our code.

As the late Terry Mordue noted in his character analysis of Bertie Wooster, the code “has two fundamental tenets: never refuse help to a pal in need; and never contradict or offend a female.” Most famously, Wodehouse used The Code of the Woosters as the title of a 1938 novel, and the phrase pops up in later Jeeves novels as well. In The Mating Season, ch. 13 (1949), the code of the Woosters temporarily prevents Bertie from opening a telegram addressed to another, though he eventually gives in to curiosity. In Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 21 (1954), the code of the Woosters includes telling the truth to clear innocent persons, even when it implicates family members. In Jeeves in the Offing, ch. 16 (1970), Bertie mentions the “never let a pal down” aspect of his code.

The code of the Carlisles is cited in Hot Water, ch. 10 (1931), with respect to modesty; Archibald Mulliner is constrained by “The Code of the Mulliners” (1935) not to break off an engagement; a Crumpet cites the code of the Widgeons in “The Masked Troubadour” (1936) as being responsible for supporting one whose life one has saved; the Stanwood Cobbolds have their code in Spring Fever, ch. 18 (1948) in taking responsibility when one’s actions have compromised a lady; and the code of the Maufringneuses is mentioned in French Leave, ch. 11 (1956), as not letting an innocent person take the blame for a crime.

a hideous vengeance

See above.


At the time of writing, this weight class included boxers weighing over 160 pounds but not more than 175 pounds. The weight classes have been more finely divided in recent years.

opera … surplus poundage

From personal experience of singing in opera choruses, this is often still true. I speculate that this is due at least in part to the habit of eating lightly before an evening rehearsal or performance, then having a substantial supper afterward, just before bedtime.

intone the response

Bertie uses the terminology of a church liturgy, with the congregation giving set responses to a series of statements by the priest or minister.

her pipes

Figurative language for her vocal apparatus, by analogy to a wind instrument or organ. OED has citations back to the sixteenth century for this usage.

slight snorts

The OED says that “snort” is originally U.S. slang for an alcoholic drink, first recorded in an 1889 dictionary of Americanisms as “a dram, a nip, a small quantity.”

Bertie Wooster and Bicky Bickersteth take “a quiet snort in a corner” in “Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg” (1917), the first Wodehouse usage so far found. The OED’s first citation from a British author is that story, quoted from the 1925 collection Carry On, Jeeves.

Oddfellows’ Hall

See A Damsel in Distress.

“Contents noted, Jeeves”

Bertie is using the language of business correspondence, as in this longer example:

“Dear Sir. Your favor of the tenth inst. duly received and contents noted. In reply we beg to state . . .”

“The Alarming Spread of Poetry” (1916)

Essentially it is commercial jargon for “I have read your last letter.” Since Bertie has never worked in an office, it seems a surprising way of telling Jeeves “I heard what you said.”


See The Clicking of Cuthbert.

whelk-stall owners

Street-booth or storefront vendors of ready-to-eat cooked seafood snacks such as whelks (a type of sea snail) along with such items as mussels, prawns, and jellied eels. In British political rhetoric, saying that your opponent couldn’t even run a whelk stall is a traditional way of calling him impractical, unbusinesslike; the slur dates back to 1894, but it seems that Wodehouse was merely referring to another stereotypical East-End-of-London occupation without any attempt at denigration.

the bird

Hissing from an audience; see Leave It to Psmith.

impeded and generally snootered/snookered

According to the OED, snootered is “only in P. G. Wodehouse”; they define the verb snooter as “to harass, to bedevil, to snub.” The US magazine editor seems to have changed it to snookered, and the US book follows that reading; that term comes from the billiard-table game called snooker, in which a player whose ball is in an unplayable position is said to be snookered.


This is the first mention of Bertie’s cousin Angela. We never learn her surname; we are not told whether she is the daughter of Uncle Tom Travers or of Dahlia’s first husband, whose name is never mentioned. She is mentioned offstage in “Tuppy Changes His Mind,” the last story in this book, and her on-and-off engagement to Tuppy is a significant plot element in Right Ho, Jeeves (1934) and Much Obliged, Jeeves (1971).

off her oats … feed for life out of the same crib

As an avid fox-hunter, Aunt Dahlia is accustomed to using the terminology of the horse stables. The first phrase would normally be used of a horse that has lost its appetite, though probably not because of a romance.

Albert Hall

See Money for Nothing. In Thank You, Jeeves, ch. 8 (1934), Bertie describes Sergeant Voules as “built rather on the lines of the Albert Hall, round in the middle and not much above.”

calling the cattle home across the sands of Dee

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

Patience on a monument

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

we must cluster round

Dictionary definitions only get as far as “assemble, gather closely about a place or person.” Wodehouse uses the phrase frequently to mean doing someone else a bit of good, offering support to a friend or colleague, often done by oneself rather than in a group.

“Remain. Stay. Cluster round. I shall need you.”

Bingo to Jeeves, first of three uses of the phrase in “Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves!)

“Cluster round him. Hang on his every word.”

“Company for Gertrude” (1928; in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere, 1935)

[Dentist I. J. Zizzbaum] motioned to his A.D.C. to cluster round with the gas-bag.

Laughing Gas, ch. 6 (1936)

“Why, cluster round him. Smooth his pillow. Bring him cooling drinks.”

“Romance at Droitgate Spa” (1937)

As for Jeeves, one could see that the faithful fellow was tickled pink at having been able to cluster round and save the young master in his hour of peril.

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 12 (1938)

“You felt that if Catsmeat stood in peril of receiving an exemplary sentence, Gertrude Winkworth would forget all that had passed and would cluster round him, her gentle heart melted by his distress.”

The Mating Season, ch. 27 (1949)

“Why don’t you get someone to cluster round you? What you want is a bodyguard…”

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

”Cluster round him like a porous plaster. Dance before him. Ask him riddles. Tell him bedtime stories. Sing him lullabies. Amuse him with simple card tricks.”

A Pelican at Blandings, ch. 9.5 (1969)

A few times Wodehouse uses the phrase in its literal sense:

“Perhaps,” said Jimmy, “my grandchildren will cluster round my knee some day…”

Piccadilly Jim, ch. 8 (1917)

“It doesn’t so much matter where he goes, you see, so long as he gets away from New York and all these people who cluster round him and lead him astray.”

Bill the Conqueror, ch. 2.2 (1924)

…if only five of them [Pekes] had clustered round when there was coffee-sugar going, there could be only five on the strength. The sixth must be A.W.O.L.

“Bingo and the Peke Crisis” (1937; in Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, 1940)

People began to cluster round, asking questions.

Uncle Fred in the Springtime, ch. 5 (1939)

“I could not so easily see her pitying and sympathizing with failure.”

In this aspect, Cora Bellinger resembles Lady Florence Craye, who broke off her engagement to Percy Gorringe because she “considered him responsible for the failure of the play” which he adapted from her novel, and of whom Ginger Winship says “she has no use for a loser. To keep her esteem you have to be a winner.” (Much Obliged, Jeeves, ch. 3, 1971)

The trait is also shared with Bertie’s Aunt Agatha:

This relative is a woman who, like Napoleon, if it was Napoleon, listens to no excuses for failure, however sound.

Joy in the Morning, ch. 9 (1946)

hand him the mitten

See The Code of the Woosters.

a pleasant, light baritone

The male singing voice having a middle range of pitch, higher than bass but lower than tenor. For some reason the Cosmopolitan editor chose the rather archaic spelling barytone, and the US first edition followed that; it is the French spelling, but according to the OED has not been common in English since the 1700s and 1800s.

the third prox.

The third day of next month; abbreviation of Latin proximō, next. Now it is Aunt Dahlia who is speaking the jargon of business correspondence.

prepaid wire

A telegram whose fee includes paying in advance for a return message.

Bermondsey East

Bermondsey is a district of the East End of London on the south side of the Thames, between Southwark on its west and Rotherhithe on its east. Bermondsey lies to the south and east of Tower Bridge. So far my searches have not found a specific area or district within Bermondsey called “Bermondsey East.”

somebody who looked as if he might be the local undertaker

Bertie had a similar comparison when recalling the substitute servant who waited at the dinner table at the Littles” in “Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves!). Actually, that was the local greengrocer.

“Gunga Din”

Rudyard Kipling’s 1892 poem, from Barrack-Room Ballads, was a frequent choice for reciters at concerts like this, in real life as well as in Wodehouse stories.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego [UK book only]

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


See Money for Nothing. The US and UK magazine versions and the US book omit the hyphen.

the work of a moment

See A Damsel in Distress.


When referring to a liquid, this means concentrated sulfuric acid (in full, oil of vitriol).

the many-headed

See A Damsel in Distress.

I could hear the beating of its wings

See Ukridge.


See Bill the Conqueror.

the tumult and the shouting died

See Leave It to Psmith.

the surgeon’s knife

An allusion to accepting temporary pain in order to effect a longer-lasting improvement.

‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’

In US texts and UK magazine, Enoch Simpson’s selection is this Tennyson poem; see The Mating Season. For unknown reasons, in the UK book Simpson recites “Dangerous Dan McGrew,” more properly titled “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” by Robert W. Service (1907).


See Sam the Sudden.

things to fiddle with and break

See above.

taught to tell the truth

Bertie seems unaware that he has also lied to Tuppy when he denied being at the entertainment.

the Berkeley

Deluxe hotel at the corner of Piccadilly and Berkeley Street, London; opened 1867; bought 1900 and managed by Richard D’Oyly Carte and his family. Mentioned, along with maitre d’hotel Ferraro, in Big Money (1931). The hotel moved its operations to the present building on Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, in 1972.

Reason was beginning to do a bit of tottering on its throne

See Hot Water and below.

Jeeves and the Dog McIntosh

Originally appeared as “Jeeves and the Dog McIntosh” in the Strand magazine, October 1929, and as “The Borrowed Dog” in Cosmopolitan, October 1929. The UK book generally follows the Strand text, and in it the chapter title is “Episode of the Dog McIntosh”; the slightly longer US text is titled “Jeeves and the Dog McIntosh” in the US book. As with other stories in this series, each version has slight cuts and word substitutions. The story is a sequel of sorts to both “Jeeves and the Yuletide Spirit” earlier in this book and to “Jeeves and the Chump Cyril” (1918; adapted as “A Letter of Introduction”/“Startling Dressiness of a Lift Attendant” in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923).


An appropriately Scottish name for an Aberdeen terrier. This is his first appearance; in a previous story, “Jeeves and the Impending Doom” (1926; collected in this book) Aunt Agatha had a spaniel, Robert (see note above).

The only other McIntosh in Wodehouse is Freddie Widgeon’s bookie who makes a brief appearance in “Noblesse Oblige” (1934).


A French spa town in the Savoie region of southeastern France, known for its thermal baths and for water sports on a large natural lake of glacial origin. This is the only reference to it so far found in Wodehouse. Not to be confused with Aix in the Browning poem “How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix,” which refers to Aix-la-Chapelle, the old French name for Aachen, Germany. Wodehouse’s characters frequently reverse Browning’s order of the two cities; see Right Ho, Jeeves and Ice in the Bedroom.


Displaying, acting out an emotion. Typically in Wodehouse this has the older meaning (see Right Ho, Jeeves) of doing so by gesture, stance, or facial expression rather than by an exclamation as here.

in loco parentis

Latin: In the parent’s place.

A legal expression, indicating that someone (e.g. a guardian, a schoolteacher) has a responsibility for looking after a young person in a given situation.


A symptom (walking unsteadily) of a number of diseases of domestic animals; a search has turned up references to horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs, but none so far for dogs.

a time when the Wooster heart was … ensnared by this Roberta Wickham

See “Jeeves and the Yuletide Spirit” earlier in this book.

parrot complex

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

chilled steel

See The Code of the Woosters.

roly-poly pudding

A dessert made by spreading jam or fruit on a rectangle of pastry dough, rolling it up into a cylinder, and steaming or baking it.

rather like my Aunt Agatha in appearance

We run to height a bit in our family, and there’s about five-foot-nine of Aunt Agatha, topped off with a beaky nose, an eagle eye, and a lot of grey hair, and the general effect is pretty formidable.

Bertie Wooster’s narration in “Aunt Agatha Takes the Count” (1922)

Clara Bow

Bubbly, adorable red-haired American movie actress (1905–1965) of the late silent and early talkie era, dubbed the “It” Girl, and one of the biggest box-office attractions at the peak of her career in the late Twenties. Often taken as a personification of the ideal flapper of the Roaring Twenties; 5′3½″ tall.


See Summer Lightning.

the matter of my smashing up the car

Recounted in “The Awful Gladness of the Mater” (1925).

“old Blumenfeld——”
“Name sounds familiar.”

We (and Bertie) met him in “Jeeves and the Chump Cyril”; in the Saturday Evening Post version of that story, his name was also spelled Blumenfeld, as it is in all versions of this story and in one reference in Thank You, Jeeves (1934). We must take this, then, as Wodehouse’s preferred spelling.

The Strand appearance of “Jeeves and the Chump Cyril” and its collection in The Inimitable Jeeves had the alternate spelling “Blumenfield,” possibly to avoid seeming to be a reference to producer Florenz Ziegfeld.

“Perhaps the young gentleman will not notice that you have a face like a fish, sir.”

The above is the reading in Strand and Jenkins UK first edition. Cosmopolitan and Doubleday, Doran US first edition amend this to “will not say that you have…”

My opinion is that the British text is Wodehouse’s original wording. It is easier to imagine the Cosmopolitan editor softening it to avoid the effect of Jeeves making what might seem to be a rude comment, rather than to think that the Strand editor punched up the gag to make it snappier. [NM]

upper maxillary bone

The upper jawbone.

“I don’t suppose there are any proper places.”

Bertie wittily encapsulates his opinion of Lady Wickham’s writing: not only lacking in humor but so sloppily romantic as to be improper. Dudley Finch called her books “the most frightful bilge” in “The Awful Gladness of the Mater”.

lunched at the Drones

The Cosmopolitan editor seems to have thought of the name of Bertie’s club in the plural possessive form, as in the US magazine stories and the US first edition book the spelling is Drones’ and Drones’ Club throughout. Except in the novel If I Were You, the club has no apostrophe in its name elsewhere in Wodehouse. See The Code of the Woosters for more.

Reason returns to her throne

See Hot Water and above.

lifted up your finger and said ‘Tweet, tweet!…’

See Thank You, Jeeves.

the old onion

Late Victorian British slang for the head.

“They say fish are good for the brain.”

See above.

sprinkle your trousers with aniseed

It sounds as if Jeeves is recommending a liquid, so what Bertie would buy at the chemist would probably be “oil of aniseed,” the aromatic oil extracted from the seeds of the anise plant Pimpinella anisum, native to the areas around the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The seeds would not stick well to trousers, of course. The oil is probably best known as the flavoring for liqueurs such as anisette, ouzo, and sambuca; its flavor notes are similar to licorice and fennel. Star anise, native to China, produces some of the same flavor compounds but is botanically unrelated.

I haven’t found modern references to anise and dog-stealing, but many sites such as this Gizmodo page suggest that anise seed is as attractive to dogs as catnip is to cats, and that hunting dogs will follow a scent trail made by a bag of anise seed dragged over the ground for hours.

his views on shirts for evening wear are hidebound

As described in the story “Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves!).

Napoleon could have taken his correspondence course.

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

a fiver

A five-pound note. The Bank of England inflation calculator suggests the equivalent purchasing power in 2020 would be about £325, or roughly US$400 (depending on when the pound-to-dollar conversion was made).

a sound like a mighty, rushing wind

See Love Among the Chickens.

See also Biblia Wodehousiana.

on velvet

See Bill the Conqueror.

I shot the cuffs.

That is, he pulled the cuffs of his shirt sleeves down so they would show a small distance below the cuffs of his suit coat or jacket, as dictated by fashion.

Jeeves and the Spot of Art

Originally appeared in the Strand magazine, December 1929, and Cosmopolitan, December 1929, with only tiny differences between versions. US book reprints the text of the US magazine version; UK book titles the chapter merely “The Spot of Art” and follows the Strand text.


Introduced in “Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves!); that story and this are his only short-story appearances, though he is mentioned in “Jeeves and the Love That Purifies”. He returns in Right Ho, Jeeves; The Code of the Woosters; Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit; How Right You Are, Jeeves; Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves; Much Obliged, Jeeves; and Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen.

I’m bound to say that the food was more or less turning to ashes in my mouth

See The Code of the Woosters.

côtelette suprême aux chouxfleurs

A dish of chicken breast cutlets with cauliflower. British texts have hyphens between the words; UK book omits the circumflex accents.

the distressing info

American texts have the simple shortened version as above; British book has it as info’ with apostrophe of elision; Strand has erroneous infro’. OED cites this clipped form of information unadorned from 1907 in the US, and with the apostrophe from Wodehouse’s Sam the Sudden (1925), but see the annotations to Sam the Sudden for more.

the Metropolis



The Welsh form of the name usually spelled Gladys in English, akin to Latin Gladusa, a variant of Claudia. The name honors Saint Gwladys (late fifth to early sixth century A.D.) who was the daughter of King Brychan of Brycheinlog, and later married the saint-king Gwynllyw Milwr, becoming the mother of Cadoc the Wise.

Widgeon Seven

See Summer Moonshine.

the way Segrave would if he was pressed for time

Sir Henry O’Neal de Hane Segrave (1896–1930), British racer of cars and boats; holder of three land speed records and one water speed record. He was killed in a boating crash on 13 June 1930, after the magazine appearances of the story, but while the first editions of this book were being printed (compare publication dates at the top of this page). Both magazines and US book have “was”; UK book editor changed it to the subjunctive “were”.

They forget the absent face.

Though some of Wodehouse’s characters subscribe to the maxim that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, Bertie here joins Lady Caroline Byng in A Damsel in Distress in rejecting that point of view.

less than the dust beneath his chariot wheels

See Summer Moonshine.


From the Italian, with roots meaning “clear, dark”; an artistic term for painting technique that gives the effect of light and shade on the subject.

parfait gentle knight

See If I Were You. Of the four original sources, only the US book italicizes parfait as a foreign word (from French).

getting the short end

See Hot Water.

Scorn in its timbre

Timbre is a musical term for the quality or tone color of an instrument or voice. Generally pronounced as if spelled “tambre,” an approximation of its original French pronunciation. Sometimes italicized to emphasize its foreign origin; in this case the UK magazine and book versions have it in italics, while the US magazine and book do not. (Compare parfait two notes above.)

that Jeeves will give his sanction to the match

Sanction is a contronym: a word with two opposite meanings in general use. Wodehouse clarifies it by always using the verb and the singular noun in the sense of “approve, approval”; in the sense of punitive restrictions he always uses the plural noun, as when Aunt Dahlia places sanctions on Bertie, barring him from enjoying Anatole’s cuisine.

“he stopped you wearing a moustache”

Recounted in “Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg” (1917). In both magazine versions and the US book, Aunt Dahlia says this phrase as a statement. In the UK book, it is a question: “Well, he stopped you wearing a moustache, didn’t he?”

purple socks

See “Jeeves and the Chump Cyril” (1918).

soft-fronted shirts with dress clothes

See “Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925).


See above.


As far as I can tell, this is the only time Wodehouse uses the word, which is so unusual that it is not defined in the OED. [Recent fantasy fiction uses it for a class of dwarves, but that is irrelevant to the time of writing this story.] One use has been found in Thomas Hardy’s 1873 novel A Pair of Blue Eyes in speech: “To save your life you couldn’t help laughing, sir, at a poor wambler reading your thoughts so plain.”

There may be a connection with wamble: as a noun, a feeling of nausea or uneasiness in the stomach, or an unsteady or staggering gait; parallel verb forms also exist. Galahad Threepwood calls Ronnie Fish a “wambling, spineless, invertebrate jellyfish” in Heavy Weather, ch. 10. Wodehouse may also have conflated it with another word he uses more often: wabbler, one who hesitates, wavers, wobbles. See A Damsel in Distress.

the ganglions had ceased to vibrate

See Sam the Sudden.


Songs characteristic of sailors at work. OED gives principal spelling of shanty, with chantey and chanty found in 1800s–1900s usage. In this story, the US magazine and book have chanteys, the UK magazine has chanties, and the UK book capitalizes it as Chanties.

heave the main-brace

To pull on the rope which raises and lowers the main yard: the horizontal rod from which the mainsail hangs. US texts have main brace as two words without hyphen; US book has the misprint “leave the main brace.”

splice the binnacle

This is nonsense; the binnacle is the box near the helm which holds the ship’s compass.

Bertie may have heard and misapplied the nautical jargon to splice the mainbrace, meaning to serve out an extra ration of rum, or more generally to drink freely.

a certain what-shall-I-say?

Bertie is probably trying to remember the French phrase je ne sais quoi (I don’t know what) here. Both magazines and US book punctuate it as shown above; UK book has “a certain—what shall I say——

responses were all right

See above.

the kind of supercilious look which you see in the eye of a dead fish

Since the roots of supercilious refer to raised eyebrows, this is a nifty bit of mangled expression, since fish don’t have eyebrows.

sentiments deeper and warmer than those of ordinary friendship

See Laughing Gas.

the look…is wistful and denotes Soul

The Strand editor chose the lower-case form soul in the UK magazine appearance.

Naturally it’s a hard world for a girl, Jeeves…

Appears thus in both magazines and in US book. In UK book, “Naturally” is a one-word sentence, and the next sentence begins with “It’s”. The phrase is reminiscent of a Wodehouse lyric for Oh, Lady! Lady!! (1918): “It’s a Hard, Hard World for a Man.”

in statu quo

Latin, for “in the existing condition” i.e. “where he is.”


A little bit strong, that! Pim isn’t dead or even dying.

morning costume and spats

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


See The Inimitable Jeeves.

the stuff to give the troops

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

She married a bird named Slingsby

See Bill the Conqueror.

Slingsby’s Superb Soups

Another commercial soup-slinger, G. G. Waddington of Waddington’s Ninety-Seven Soups, appears in If I Were You (1931) as the father of Violet Waddington.

In the Americanized version of the Craye family story, “Disentangling Old Duggie” (1912), Mr. Craye made his fortune in the Soup Trust.

“Who takes me for a fool?”
“Don’t people?”

Even Bertie says “I’m a fearful chump—ask anybody” (“Jeeves Takes Charge”, 1915). And of course Jeeves has expressed his opinion that Bertie is “mentally negligible“ (“Bertie Changes His Mind”, 1922 and other stories).

“It is impossible not to be thrilled by Edgar Wallace.”

This statement by Lucius Pim, immediately following “I must be at her side”, appears only in the UK edition of this collection; it is not in the magazine appearances of the story or the US edition of this collection. Brian Joyce noted on Facebook that this was the tag-line under which Wallace’s publishers marketed his books, even blazoning it on dust jackets as seen at right.

Mr. Pim appears to be a fixture

More often Wodehouse uses “fixture” in its sporting sense of an arranged match between two teams, or figuratively as another type of scheduled event. Here, it refers to a person confined to or established in a place or position, by analogy to an object permanently attached to a house such as a faucet or ceiling lamp; this personal sense is dated back to 1788 in the OED.

“You must have it set to music sometime and sing it.”

A little more satirical than Bertie’s usual comments on Jeeves’s digressions into unwanted detail, but a choice bit of wit all the same.

sponge-bag trousers

See The Code of the Woosters.

Look on this picture and on that

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

the poet Scott … “O Woman!”

See the complete stanza at Sam the Sudden.

poisoning Mr. Pim’s soup

An unintended parallel with the later story “Strychnine in the Soup” (1931; in Mulliner Nights, 1933), about a mystery novel of the same title whose author is Horatio Slingsby.


See Carry On, Jeeves!.


See The Girl on the Boat.

as sweet as a nut

At this point, when everything was going as sweet as a nut and I was feeling on top of my form, Mrs. Pringle suddenly soaked me on the base of the skull with a sandbag.

“Without the Option” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves!, 1925/27)


See Leave It to Psmith.

siphon and decanter

Containers for soda-water and liquor (probably whisky), respectively.


Beatrice probably used this curious word in its sense of “careless; irresponsible.” Derived from a Scottish and northern regional dialect word feck, a variation of effect with the meaning “energy, efficiency,” and its derivative feckful.

Two minds with but a single thought

See Right Ho, Jeeves.


The clear sense here is “put out of commission”; Wodehouse probably first encountered it as boxing jargon for “knocked out” or in cricket slang for a batsman having been dismissed. The modern sense of making someone’s private life or sexual orientation public dates back only to 1990 in OED citations.

a bit pickled at the time

That is, drunk. Probably Wodehouse picked up this American slang from George Ade; see its use along with “polluted” at A Damsel in Distress.

Number 3, Hill Street

One block southwest of Berkeley Square in fashionable Mayfair, at the corner of Hay’s Mews (and thus two short blocks from The Footman, original of the Junior Ganymede Club, and from 47 Charles Street, home of Ian Hay and fictional town residence of Aunt Dahlia Travers). Number 3 Hill Street is a Grade II listed (historically significant) neoclassical Georgian townhouse dating from the original development of the area in the 1740s.

[In the Strand appearance, the Slingsby address is Number Fifty, Hill Street.]

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may

See The Luck of the Bodkins.

“Play your cards properly, and you and Beatrice will be laughing merrily and having a game of Round and Round the Mulberry Bush together in about five minutes.”

Appears thus in UK magazine and book; US magazine and book have a shortened sentence omitting the game, ending will be laughing merrily together in about five minutes.

See Wikipedia for more about the nursery rhyme and singing game.

See Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit for more Wodehouse references to the game.

Better not let Slingsby’s Soups catch you

The practice of referring to a corporate tycoon by his company name is not unprecedented in Wodehouse. Two dinner guests of the Waddingtons in The Small Bachelor, ch. 2.3 (1927), are referred to simply as Consolidated Pop-corn and United Beef.


Another way of referring to alcoholic drinks as healthful (compare Sam the Sudden).

leave the hay

As a jocular substitute for “bed” the OED cites first George Ade from 1903 (“crawled into the Hay”) and then this sentence from Wodehouse. [I have often heard of mattresses stuffed with straw but not with hay. —NM]

seemed to have affected the vocal cords

Both US and UK magazines and US book spell them as above, as given in US and UK dictionaries in my library and in the OED. UK first edition has vocal chords. See above for a discussion.

a Roman-emperor-looking sort of bird

See Something Fishy.

to slip it across me

See Money in the Bank.

the lemon began to swim

See above.


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


A style of sofa.

took the biscuit

See Ice in the Bedroom.

a monocle about six inches in circumference

No doubt Wodehouse really meant diameter here; he was no mathematician. A monocle six inches in circumference would have a diameter of about 1.9 inches or 48mm, scarcely larger than a real-life monocle (typically 36–40mm), so not as exaggerated as the passage would seem to be implying.

a different and a dreadful world

Wodehouse was not the first to use a similar phrase (Google Books finds “another and a dreadful world” in an 1868 magazine) but he seems to have made it quotable in our time.

…as for Charlotte, she seemed to take me straight into another and a dreadful world.

“Comrade Bingo” (1922; in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923)

Sam’s appearance smote him like a blow. It seemed to take him straight into a different and a dreadful world.

Three Men and a Maid/The Girl on the Boat, ch. 5 (1922)

The sight of it seemed to take me into a different and a dreadful world.

Bertie’s reaction to the cow-creamer in The Code of the Woosters, ch. 1 (1938)

Sir Aylmer Bostock’s collection of African curios was probably the most hideous, futile and valueless that even an ex-Governor had ever brought home with him, and many of its items seemed to take Pongo into a different and a dreadful world.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 3.1 (1948)

“Bertie … that moustache of yours is the most obscene thing I ever saw outside a nightmare. It seems to take one straight into another and a dreadful world.”

Aunt Dahlia in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 12 (1954)

A really vintage Vandyke beard, as this one appears to have been, seems to take one into a different and a dreadful world and to destroy one’s view of Man as Nature’s last word.

“America Day by Day” in Punch, May 2, 1956

the work of a moment

See A Damsel in Distress.

Anatole, who contracted influenza

See above for his appearances in other stories.

Jeeves and the Kid Clementina

Originally appeared in the Strand magazine in the UK and Cosmopolitan in the US, both in January 1930. In general the UK book follows the Strand version and the US book follows the Cosmopolitan text.

It has been well said of Bertram Wooster

See The Code of the Woosters.


See The Girl on the Boat.


A shorter form of Bertie’s usual phrase “all of a twitter”; see The Inimitable Jeeves.

every prospect pleases … spicy breezes blow fair

See Nothing Serious.

’Twas on a summer’s evening … overcame the Nervii

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

US magazine and book have “summer evening” here.

come Lammas Eve

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

steel-rimmed spectacles

Several of Wodehouse’s characters choose this style: Ukridge wears steel-rimmed pince-nez in “Ukridge’s Dog College” (1923); Rupert Baxter wears steel-rimmed spectacles in Summer Lightning (1929) and Uncle Fred in the Springtime (1939), although in his first appearance in 1915 he had worn rimless ones. Myrtle Cootes wears them in “Freddie, Oofy, and the Beef Trust” (1949). Reference is made in Doctor Sally (1931) to the masculine stereotype that a woman doctor must wear steel-rimmed spectacles and have a wash-leather complexion.

This is one of the rare cases where the UK book text differs from the Strand magazine version; the Jenkins first UK edition and subsequent reprints including Penguin omit the last three sentences of Bertie’s speech as it appears in both magazines and US book, skipping from “undergo again” to “Indeed, sir?” Here is the omitted material:

“…The Mapleton struck me then, and I have had no reason to alter my opinion since, as one of those women best seen through a telescope.
 “She wears steel-rimmed spectacles, and the effect she has on the sensitive male, when faced at close quarters, is to make him feel as if he were being disembowelled. I can’t imagine anything I should enjoy less than calling on her.”

what happened the last time I got into a girls’ school

Recounted by Jeeves in “Bertie Changes His Mind” (1922; in Carry On, Jeeves!, 1925).

Secrecy and silence

The phrase is a common one, and no single literary source has been found, although it pops up regularly in Masonic works of the nineteenth century. Since Wodehouse was a Mason, joining in 1929 and resigning in 1934, it is conceivable that the use of this phrase as an exhortation may come from this association; the only appearance of these words together so far found in early works is in “High Stakes“ (1925), and there it appears in narration as part of a much longer sentence.

Beginning with Summer Lightning (1929) the phrase appears often as a short spoken sentence, frequently in imperative mood. Hugo Carmody says it to Sue Brown as an affirmation in ch. 4.2 of Summer Lightning. Bertie says it to Sir Roderick Glossop in Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves (1960) and to Stiffy Byng in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, ch. 24 (1963). Lord Biskerton enjoins Berry Conway to “Secrecy and silence” in Big Money, ch. 5 (1931); Ann Bannister says it with an exclamation mark to “Joey Cooley” in Laughing Gas, ch. 16 (1936); Bill, Lord Rowcester says it to Jeeves in Ring for Jeeves, ch. 4 (1953); Gally recommends it to Vanessa Polk in A Pelican at Blandings, ch. 11.3 (1969).

In reported speech, Mr. Briscoe says it as part of a longer sentence in “Tried in the Furnace” (1935); Adrian Peake plans to call up Tubby Vanringham to enjoin secrecy and silence upon him in Summer Moonshine, ch. 13 (1938); Bill Shannon had hoped that secrecy and silence might have been preserved in The Old Reliable, ch. 4 (1951); Gally’s glance to Beach silently says “Secrecy and silence!” in Pigs Have Wings, ch. (1952). Augustus Keggs explains to Roscoe Bunyan that secrecy and silence were of the essence in the tontine of Something Fishy/The Butler Did It, ch. 4 (1957). Pongo explains to Uncle Fred that Cuthbert “Bill” Bailey had to be married with secrecy and silence in Service with a Smile, ch. 2 (1961). It appears in narration as part of a longer sentence in Cocktail Time, ch. 11 (1958).

See also “silence and secretiveness” in Full Moon, ch. 9.2 (1947).


The OED has citations for this colloquial clipped form of incognito (unknown, having one’s identity concealed) dating back to a 1699 dictionary of slang and to Defoe in 1705. Wodehouse used it as early as “The Ways We Have: Dulwich” in January 1901.

“tell her I went to Harrogate for the cure”

An unlikely story; in “The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace” (1922; in The Inimitable Jeeves, 1923), Aunt Agatha commands Bertie to accompany his Uncle George there, and Bertie’s narration tells us that “The idea of several weeks with Uncle George at Harrogate seemed to make everything go black.”

See also Carry On, Jeeves for more on the cure.

“Are you proposing to appear in those garments in public?”

Recalls Jeeves’s reaction to the scarlet cummerbund in “Aunt Agatha Takes the Count”:

“I beg your pardon, sir,” he said, in a sort of hushed voice. “You are surely not proposing to appear in public in that thing?”


See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

“these plus-fours give me confidence”

As another pair did for Wallace Chesney in “The Magic Plus Fours” (1922/23).

like a devouring flame

See The Girl in Blue.


The OED describes this compound as “Only in P. G. Wodehouse” and derives it from the second noun sense of squiggle, a wavy or twisting curved line. Their first citation is from “The Story of William” (1927; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927/28), but at least one earlier use is in The Small Bachelor, ch. 3 (1926 in magazines; 1927 in book form).

plunge into the soup

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

Episode of the Dog McIntosh

See above.

Sinister Affair of the Punctured Hot-Water Bottle

See “Jeeves and the Yuletide Spirit” above.

conk in the first chukker

As a colloquial intransitive verb, the OED defines conk as to break down, give out, fail, die, collapse, or the figurative equivalent. A chukker is one of the periods of a polo match. Wodehouse uses the word rarely; two mentions in humorous essays have been found, and one in Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 10 (1934), is the only other use so far found in his fiction:

He [Gussie] was so manifestly a bird who, having failed to score in the first chukker, would turn the thing up and spend the rest of his life brooding over his newts and growing long grey whiskers…

ozone sniffing on the pier

See The Girl on the Boat.

quite noticeably sozzled

See above.

registering alarm and despondency

For “registering” see Right Ho, Jeeves; for “alarm and despondency” see Ukridge.


See The Inimitable Jeeves.

pronging of a spot of dinner

Wodehouse gave his source for this verb in an early newspaper item:

Mr. George Ade, in one of his fables, speaks of a mild man at a luncheon counter “pronging about forty cents’ worth of lunch.” Examined closely, there is nothing screamingly funny in saying “pronging” instead of “eating with a fork”; and yet, given out suddenly, as it were, as everything humorous should be, it undoubtedly is funny. It seems to make the picture more vivid.

“English and American Humour” in the Globe (London), January 24, 1908

The last time I was lured into a girls’ school

Recounted by Jeeves in “Bertie Changes His Mind” (1922; in Carry On, Jeeves!, 1925).

stymied me on the tenth

See A Glossary of Golf Terminology on this site.

treading on the self-starter

See Bill the Conqueror.

right plumb spang in the middle of her birthday

See Sam the Sudden.

putting sherbet in the ink to make it fizz

Not the frozen dessert now commonly called by that name, but a powdered drink mix made with fruit flavors, sugar, and a combination of tartaric acid and bicarbonate of soda to make a fizzy drink when the powder is added to water.


writing desk

make such heavy weather

British colloquialism for allowing one’s emotions to be stormy; making a fuss about something. The earliest OED citation is from Wodehouse’s theatrical collaborator Ian Hay in 1915.






absent without leave

eight-course table-d’hote dinner at seven and six

A complete dinner with a set menu at a fixed price; in this case seven shillings and sixpence, which is three-eighths of a pound sterling (and coincidentally the price of the UK first edition of Very Good, Jeeves in 1930). The Bank of England inflation calculator gives a factor of about 67 from 1930 to 2020, so the present-day equivalent would be roughly £25 or US$34.

on the silver screen

Referring to the look of motion pictures, especially when projected from black-and-white film of the day, which used silver to make the images.


See Right Ho, Jeeves.

starting off on a binge

Not the usual slang sense of a drinking bout or spree; see The Code of the Woosters.

The world may be divided broadly into two classes

Wodehouse made use of this type of categorization throughout his career; here is a sample:

I have made a special study of last-wicket men; they are divided into two classes, the deplorably nervous, or the outrageously confident.

“Now, Talking About Cricket—” (Public School Magazine, July 1901)

As far as women are concerned, fellers are divided into two classes. There’s the masterful, capable Johnnies and the—er—the other sort.

The Intrusions of Jimmy, ch. 27 (1910)

twenty-four-handicap golfers may be stated broadly to fall into two classes—the dashing and the cautious…

“High Stakes” (1925; in The Heart of a Goof, 1926)

Mankind may be divided roughly into two classes—those who, becoming aware of cracksmen in their wardrobe, fling open the door and confront them, and those who do not.

Money in the Bank, ch. 18 (1941)

The world may be roughly divided into two classes—men who, when you tell them a story difficult to credit, will not believe you, and men who will.

Pigs Have Wings, ch. 10 (1952)

Women are divided broadly into two classes—those who, when jilted, merely drop a silent tear and those who take a niblick from their bag and chase the faithless swain across country with it.

“Scratch Man” (in US edition of A Few Quick Ones, 1959)

bearing ’mid snow and ice the banner with the strange device “Excelsior!”

See Sam the Sudden.

sitting on top of the world

See The Mating Season.

the Pest of Pont Street

A fashionable address in Kensington/Chelsea, London, with late-Victorian tall gabled houses of red brick, running through Knightsbridge and Belgravia. Almost a synonym for old-fashioned respectability; in The Code of the Woosters Sir Watkyn’s fiancée Mrs. Wintergreen (Roderick Spode’s aunt) lives there.

The US first edition has the misprint “Point Street” here.

the pure in heart

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

a bright light shone upon me

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the time I broke into Bingo Little’s house to pinch the dictaphone record

Recounted in “Clustering Round Young Bingo” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves, 1925/27).

my old pal Oliver Randolph Sipperley had endeavoured to steal a policeman’s helmet

Recounted in “Without the Option” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves, 1925/27).

shot his bolt

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

gentleman’s personal gentleman

That is, a manservant who serves as valet, cook, butler, housekeeper, and occasionally chauffeur to a single employer like Bertie. Most people think of Jeeves as a butler (even the designer of the dust jacket of the US Doubleday, Doran first edition; see the image above at the left of the opening paragraph) and he has been trained as a butler by his uncle Charlie Silversmith and “can buttle with the best of them” when needed. Butlers, however, are found only in larger establishments with many servants, where they can specialize on the service of food and drink (their most fundamental task) and general administrative duties, as well as supervising (possibly alongside a female housekeeper) the activities of the lower servants such as footmen and maids.

See also The Girl on the Boat.

the doom had come upon me, so to speak

Probably a misremembered allusion, substituting doom for curse in Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott. See Summer Moonshine.

heart … bowed down with weight of woe

See Sam the Sudden.


See The Code of the Woosters.

in statu pupillari

Latin: literally, in a state of wardship, but more usually denoting the condition of being a schoolboy.

the third button of the tunic

See Thank You, Jeeves.

that new Grand Central building

The Grand Central Terminal in New York was under construction from 1903 to 1913.

the Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington, London, a large concert auditorium seating 5,272 patrons, completed in 1871, in an elliptical building with axes of 272 by 236 feet. Wikipedia article.

the Crystal Palace

An innovative iron-and-glass structure built for the Great Exhibition of 1851, designed by Joseph Paxton; essentially a giant greenhouse, with walls and ceilings of sheet glass. Moved in 1854 to Sydenham in South London, where it stood until destroyed by a fire in 1936. Wikipedia article.

at the eleventh hour

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

A murrain on her

A wish for a misfortune (originally a pestilence or plague) to happen to someone.

not knowing her collect

A prayer which is part of the assigned liturgy for a particular day in the church calendar.

Jeeves and the Love That Purifies

Originally appeared in the Strand magazine in the UK and Cosmopolitan in the US, both in November 1929. In general the UK book follows the Strand version and the US book follows the Cosmopolitan text, but as noted below there are some changes unique to the UK book.


Although the OED has one 1898 citation for this colloquial term for a person who shirks work or avoids doing something, it notes that it became widespread in military jargon during the First World War.

Miss Moon

The poetess Gwendolen Moon has an offstage role in “The Inferiority Complex of Young Sippy” (1926; earlier in this volume).

Mrs. Moon

Aside from this reference and the one in the next paragraph, she is not mentioned in the story.

“You remember little Sebastian?”

Rather a sneaky way for Wodehouse to introduce a new member of the family. He is not mentioned in “The Inferiority Complex of Young Sippy.”

goggle eyes

Most likely meaning “pop-eyed” here; both Charles Crombie in the Strand and James Montgomery Flagg in Cosmopolitan depict him as wide-eyed and without glasses. Compare Uncle Fred in the Springtime for the spectacled sense of the term.

chez Sippy

The French preposition is generally used in English to mean “at the home of”; sometimes it is used to refer to a person’s business establishment, such as the Paris bar Chez Jimmy, mentioned in Hot Water.

stands without

Here used in the jargon of theatrical stage directions, meaning “outside” the scene, from the audience’s point of view, and “offstage” from the actors’ perspective.

as if on a cue

Bertie once again spplies stage jargon in real life. To an actor, a cue means a few remembered words at the end of another actor’s lines, a signal that it is time for his own next speech or for an action triggered by the other lines.

company’s own water

See The Girl in Blue.


Obviously this is a nickname; we never learn Master Travers’s given name, as far as I know. A Colonel Bonzo is a character in Max Pemberton’s Kronstadt (1898), and we know Wodehouse read and enjoyed other books by Pemberton.

the grim regiment of my aunts

Could this be an echo of John Knox’s phrase “the monstrous regiment of women”? See Money in the Bank.

a real good sort

US magazine and book have “a real sort” here, which seems like an editing mistake.

lured Mrs. Bingo Little’s French cook, Anatole

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


Smiled “radiantly, broadly, or good-naturedly” [OED]; surprisingly, this sense of a common word goes back no farther than 1893.

met him, racing

Bertie means “while attending horse races” rather than implying that either of them was a participant in any race.


Thanks to Lajos Bako for suggesting that this refers to the resort town known in full as Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, popular among wealthy tourists for its mineral-water spa and its casino. “The place used to be frequented by a great many British (German, Russian, etc.) aristocrats; this was where Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) came across the hat model he made so popular at home: the homburg.”

fiend in human shape

See The Mating Season.

form book

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

five pounds

See fiver, above.

large white wings sprouting out of his shoulders

The conventional depiction of an angel in art.

wheels within wheels

See Heavy Weather.

A great light shone upon me.

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

in the bag

See Hot Water.

nose out

Horse-racing jargon for “winning by a nose.”

money for jam

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

selling plater

See Laughing Gas.

Lillian Gish

American actress (1883–1983), on stage from childhood; in films beginning 1912, working often for director D. W. Griffith and becoming well-known for an apparently frail beauty which concealed great inner strength, both in her screen roles and in real life. See image in the Heavy Weather notes.

UK book misspells her name as Lilian.

an old film of hers

Not necessarily one of the first of her films; at this stage of the movie business even a film released two or three years earlier might be considered “old.”

at the Bijou Dream in the village

The French word bijou means a jewel, or something small and pretty. In 1929, when this story first appeared, a village cinema would not yet have been converted to show talking pictures. (In Agatha Christie’s 1930 Murder at the Vicarage, the cinema in St. Mary Mead does not yet show talkies.)

nobbling of starters

More horse-racing jargon, referring to underhanded interference with the horses before the race. Compare “The Purity of the Turf”, where this is a major plot point regarding the contestants in village sports.

a hash-slinger

The OED cites an 1868 Nevada newspaper for this colloquial term for a waiter or cook in a cheap short-order restaurant or hash house. Clearly Bertie is using it ironically, as elsewhere he pays tribute to Anatole as “God’s gift to the gastric juices.”

as rare as original Holbeins

The Wikipedia article on Hans Holbein the Younger (c.1497–1543), the portraitist who created the now-iconic images of such figures as Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More, Erasmus, and so forth, notes that “the number of copies and derivative works attributed to him” complicates the study of his portraiture, though examining the quality of the technique can assist in distinguishing original Holbeins from imitations.

I drew myself up a trifle—in fact, to my full height.

The UK book text reads as above, but both magazine versions and the US book have “in fact, if I recollect rightly, to my full height.”

In our recent interview

US book and magazine omit “recent” here.

from caviare to nuts

As with from soup to nuts, this refers to the beginning and ending courses of a formal dinner, thus a figurative equivalent to “from A to Z.” US versions have the spelling “caviar” here.

let the sun go down on their wrath

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

a hideous vengeance

See above.

marooned a cabinet minister on an island in the lake

See “Jeeves and the Impending Doom”—the first story in this collection.

something about boys being boys

See A Damsel in Distress.

the American market … this strong bear movement

The magazine appearances of this story were in the November 1929 issues of Strand and Cosmopolitan, which were available for sale in late October; newspaper reviews of the Strand issue mentioning the Wodehouse story appeared on October 25, for instance. Considering the time involved in editing, typesetting, printing, and distribution, Wodehouse must have written this well before the month of October began. The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked at 381.17 on September 3 and declined gradually through most of the month, which must be what Mr. Anstruther was worried about. But after Black Thursday, Black Monday, and Black Tuesday (October 24, 28, and 29), the average stood at 230.07, and so just as the magazines were appearing the Crash was in the headlines, making Wodehouse appear to be a true prognosticator.

moral turpitude

Shamefulness of character, wickedness, depravity. Common in discussions of the public behavior of Hollywood film actors and actresses after the scandals of the early 1920s, when in order to protect the reputation of the industry, studios added a “morality clause” to their contracts with performers. (See “The Nodder” [1933] for Johnny Bingley mentioning such a clause in his contract, and The Old Reliable, ch. 10 [1951] in which Phipps is constrained by a morality clause in his contract.)

to infest the country for a matter of thirteen years

Both magazines and the US book read as above; the UK book has “fourteen” here.

bulging tum

See the second line of the quoted poem at the note for “old tum” in The Inimitable Jeeves.


See The Inimitable Jeeves.


Plumpness of body; appearance of being well nourished.


A slang phrase among London’s Edwardian youth, onomatopoetic for the sound of a rubber-bulb auto horn, used upon departing.

the Sporting Times

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

ten shillings

Half a pound sterling; in today’s money values, roughly £32 or US$40.

I am baffled.

Thus in the UK book, but Bertie refers to himself in the third person as “Bertram is baffled” in both magazine appearances and the US book.

looking bronzed and fit

US versions omit “bronzed and” here.

getting his hooks on

See The Code of the Woosters.

five of the best

Five pounds, in this case.


See The Mating Season.


Slang for “head.”

apple sauce

Slang for “nonsense.”

Little Lord Fauntleroy

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.


The Native American character in James Fenimore Cooper’s books is spelled Chingachgook. The UK versions misspell it as above; the US texts get it wrong, too, as Chingachcook.

quiet evenfall

See Carry On, Jeeves.

Greta Garbo

See Blandings Castle and Elsewhere.

drain the bitter cup

See The Code of the Woosters.


See Heavy Weather. US texts have the alternate spelling “tumbrel.”

registering gloom

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

in all her puff

From the association of puff with breath: slang for “in all her life.”

The sands running out, so to speak.

Time growing short, as in an old-fashioned hourglass. US texts omit this sentence.

the second post

Even a country house outside a small market town received multiple mail deliveries each day in that era. See Money for Nothing.

In one second, without any previous training or upbringing, he had become the wettest man in Worcestershire.

A curse on the Cosmopolitan editor who removed the middle of this sentence! US texts read simply “In one second he had become the wettest man in Worcestershire.”

like a two-year-old

See Carry On, Jeeves.

round the side of the house

US texts simply have “round the house” here.

The tumult and the shouting died

See Leave It to Psmith.

Can the leopard change his spots…?

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

expel Nature with a pitchfork

In the original Latin, as Norman Murphy tells us in A Wodehouse Handbook, it is Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret. (Horace, Epistles 1.10.24)

Clara Bow

See above.

Marie Lloyd

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

spread sweetness and light

A specialty of Lord Ickenham, Pongo’s Uncle Fred, in several books and stories. See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

Jeeves and the Old School Chum

Originally appeared in the Strand magazine in the UK and Cosmopolitan in the US, both in February 1930. In general the UK book follows the Strand version and the US book follows the Cosmopolitan text, but there are some changes as noted below which are unique to the UK book.

the year in which Yorkshire Pudding won

Compare Carry On, Jeeves for a similar indirect dating.

fortunes … seemed to have reached their—what’s the word I want?

One might guess “zenith” but that does not seem to be a word that Wodehouse ever used, nor does there seem to be a parallel passage in which “reached their” refers to a high level rather than to a destination.

on plush

See on velvet at Bill the Conqueror.

handed in his dinner pail

See Money for Nothing.

about thirty miles from Norwich. Buzzing down there…

Any place near Norwich will be roughly northeast from London, so “down” is not to be taken in the map-reading sense of below or southerly. Rather, in British terminology one goes “up” to London or “down” when leaving London, no matter the compass direction of travel. See also Right Ho, Jeeves.

sitting on top of the world

See The Mating Season.


See above.


Not in the usual sense of accompanying a young unmarried lady at social events for the sake of propriety, of course, but in the transferred sense of an escort or guide. Both magazine version and the US book have the spelling “chaperon” only the UK book adds a final e as above. The OED etymology note says that “English writers often erroneously spell it chaperone, apparently under the supposition that it requires a feminine termination.”

Uncle George

See Carry On, Jeeves, with an extensive note discussing the confusion between Bertie’s two uncles named George. This one is a courtesy uncle, the brother of Bertie’s Uncle Tom Travers, first encountered in “Clustering Round Young Bingo”. The one in “Indian Summer of an Uncle” later in this book is Bertie’s father’s brother, George Wooster, Lord Yaxley.


See Money for Nothing.

giving him the elbow

The OED has a draft definition of the phrase as dismissing or rejecting a person, breaking off a relationship, abandoning something. They cite Wodehouse’s use in chapter 8 of The Code of the Woosters (1938): “being given the elbow by Aberdeen terriers.” I have submitted to the OED three earlier uses with two different senses of the phrase; this one and one from “Clustering” meaning to jostle or disrupt one’s digestion, and one from Heavy Weather meaning to thrust someone aside.

Well, Uncle Thomas, when his gastric juices have been giving him the elbow, can make Schopenhauer look like Pollyanna.

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

And while prosperity and the diminishing necessity of giving trade rivals the elbow had tended to atrophy this quality, it had not died altogether.

Heavy Weather, ch. 7 (1933)

The present sentence is, in my opinion, the funniest, bringing to mind an image of the liver having an elbow of its own to jostle the adjacent organs.

play a return date

Bertie speaks of himself as if he were a touring actor or theatrical company. He had used it in a performing context earlier:

But he had sung at her village concert once before and had got the bird in no uncertain manner, so he wasn’t playing any return dates.

Sippy, in “Without the Option” (1925; in Carry On, Jeeves)

And the earliest “off-stage” use of it so far found, though with added words to emphasize the theatricality of the phrase:

“Delightful,” said Miss Forrester, looking a little surprised at finding the troupe playing a return date without having booked it in advance.

“A Woman Is Only a Woman” (1919; in The Clicking of Cuthbert, 1922)

Lakenham races

Lakenham is a district in Norwich, south of the city center. No reference to races there has yet been found. There is a racecourse at Fakenham, also in Norfolk about 23 miles northwest of Norwich.

a second cargo of sausages and bacon

Thus in the UK book; “a second dollop of sausages and bacon” in both magazines and the US book.

“Oh, sweetie-lambkin!”

“Sweetie” is a frequent term of endearment in Wodehouse, and “lambkin” pops up in several books, as in the examples below, but this is the only usage so far found of the hyphenated combination. The 1960 example does come close.

“It would make him see what a pet lambkin you really are!”

Indiscretions of Archie, ch. 16 (1921)

“He’s a lambkin,” emended Molly warmly.

Molly Waddington speaking of George Finch in The Small Bachelor, ch. 4.3 (1926/27)

“Ronnie, you precious angel lambkin!”

Sue Brown in Summer Lightning, ch. 2.2 (1929)

“Good-bye, lambkin.”

Rosie to Bingo Little in “Sonny Boy” (1939; in Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, 1940)

I was not sure if ‘woolly lambkin’ was quite the phrase I would have used myself to describe Esmond Haddock, but I let it go, it being no affair of mine. If she elected to regard a fellow with a forty-six-inch chest and muscles like writhing snakes as a woolly lambkin, that was up to her.

Bertie speaking of Corky Pirbright in The Mating Season, ch. 12 (1949)

…she said, “Oh, Reggie Herring? He’s a sweetie-pie, isn’t he?” and I agreed that Kipper was one of the sweetie-pies and not the worst of them, and she said, “Yes, he’s a lambkin.”

Phyllis Mills and Bertie in Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves, ch. 3 (1960)

“You poor precious lambkin,” said Emerald, addressing Gussie, not me.

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

the other half of the sketch

More theatrical jargon! Here, a sketch refers to a playlet, a short comic or dramatic piece with a small cast as one item in a revue or vaudeville show.

writing heart-throb fiction for the masses

Thus in the UK book; simply “writing for the masses” in US magazine and book; but “writing muck for the masses” in UK magazine. This must have been Wodehouse’s original choice, as it is impossible to imagine the Strand editor putting that in, but easy to imagine the Jenkins editor replacing it and the Cosmopolitan editor omitting it. And muck pairs well with bilge two sentences later (same in all versions).

“Exactly, sir.”

This interjection by Jeeves is omitted in both US texts.

Two minds with but a single thought

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

slipping the lead into the boxing glove

The only reference so far found in Wodehouse to this method of cheating, adding weight to the glove in order to give a punch more momentum. Figuratively, Fate is making its upcoming blow more severe.

a longish drive

On today’s motorways, Harrogate to Norwich is about 180 miles. Since we don’t know where Bingo’s country home is located with respect to Norwich, no closer estimate is possible. At the time, much more of the travel would be on smaller local roadways, too.

dress for dinner … soup-and-fish

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

several days in the water

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

missing on one tonsil

Wodehouse used the expression “missing on one cylinder” to describe the heavy breathing of a Lady Bishopess in “Gala Night” (1930; in Mulliner Nights, 1933), but this is the only time so far found where the above expression occurs. Other humorous references to the tonsils are noted in Uncle Fred in the Springtime.


US readers will think first of a training college for clergy, but historically, and especially in Britain, often part of the title of a school or college for young women.

Three little maids who, all unwary,
Come from a ladies’ seminary,
Freed from its genius tutelary—
 Three little maids from school!

W. S. Gilbert: The Mikado (1885)

Garden of Eden … Serpent

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

parsnips and similar muck

One would guess that parsnips were not a favorite of Wodehouse himself, since so many of his characters dislike them.

She disliked parsnips. I loathed them.

“The Final Test” (1902)

The only thing Billy really loathed in the world was a parsnip.

“The Dinner of Herbs” (1913)

She is twenty-three, has a dog named Joseph, dances well, and dislikes parsnips.

“Chester Forgets Himself” (1924)

the old tum

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

turned to ashes in the mouth

See The Code of the Woosters.

the iron had entered into Bingo’s soul

See Sam the Sudden.

the brand to be saved from the burning

An older sense of the word brand as a piece of wood that is burning in a fireplace or campfire, or a torch alight at one end.

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

fat-soluble vitamins

Now identified as Vitamins A, D, E, and K.

the late Mr. Gladstone … food chewers

I have made it a rule to give every tooth of mine a chance, and when I eat, to chew every bite thirty-two times. To this rule I owe much of my success in life.

Attributed to William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898), four-time prime minister of Great Britain 1868–74, 1880–85, 1886, 1892–94.

short end of the stick

See Hot Water.

all is gas and gaiters

From Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby, originally a nonsense phrase, but used there (and echoed in literature since) to mean a state of contentment. Sometimes also used for empty talk. See for an extended discussion and examples, including another from Wodehouse; this one appears to be Wodehouse’s first usage.

three chins

Quite a few characters or character types in Wodehouse are so described: an unnamed theatrical manager in The Little Warrior (1920); butler Blizzard in “High Stakes” (1925); Sir Jasper ffinch-ffarrowmere in “A Slice of Life” (1926); Ivor Llewellyn in The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 1.2 (1935); a stereotype of a literary agent described by Bill Shannon in The Old Reliable, ch. 18 (1951); butlers at the turn of the century in Ring for Jeeves, ch. 16 (1953), in America, I Like You (1956), and in Over Seventy (1957); Russell Clutterbuck in French Leave, ch. 10 (1956); and Colonel Pashley-Drake in “A Good Cigar Is a Smoke” (in Plum Pie, 1966/67).

this lax post-war era

See Terry Mordue’s comment on a similar phrase used eight years later in The Code of the Woosters.

“The ink gets into their heads.”

In Hot Water, ch. 8.5 (1931), Packy Franklyn is commenting on Blair Eggleston:

“Tricky devils, these novelists. The ink gets into their heads.”


The British Empire, of course, not the Empire State Building in New York, which was about to begin construction when this story first appeared.

Other empire-builders in Wodehouse include Lord Hemel of Hempstead in “The Bishop’s Move” (1927; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927/28); Desmond Franklyn in “The Story of William” (1927; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927/28); the Old Stepper in “Ukridge and the Old Stepper” (1928; in Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, 1940); and Major Plank in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1963) and Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, ch. 3 (1974).

grab it off the bat

Given Bertie’s background, this is more likely to be cricket jargon than baseball; in either case it means to grasp something immediately.

[Mrs. Steptoe] had not yet quite got the hang of English humour. Sometimes she could grab it off the bat, but sometimes—as now—it got past her.

Quick Service, ch. 7 (1940)

P.M.G. Pyke

Norman Murphy suggested in A Wodehouse Handbook that Provost Marshal General was the term which seemed best to fit this case.

the psychology of the individual

First used in an earlier story in this book, “Jeeves and the Song of Songs”:

 “In affairs of this description, madam, the first essential is to study the psychology of the individual.”
 “The what of the individual?”
 “The psychology, madam.”
 “He means the psychology,” I said.
 “Oh, ah,” said Aunt Dahlia.
 “And by psychology, Jeeves,” I went on, to help the thing along, “you imply——?”
 “The natures and dispositions of the principals in the matter, sir.”
 “You mean, what they’re like?”
 “Precisely, sir.”

The catchphrase will continue to appear in the Jeeves series through Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen (1974).

cluster round the dinner table

See above.

God’s air

And with a radiant smile Lord Emsworth made buoyantly for the door, en route for God’s air and the society of McAllister.

Leave It to Psmith, ch. 1.1 (1923)

It was the sort of day when any ordinary man would have been out in God’s air; but Mr. Paradene, being a book collector, was spending the afternoon in his library.

Bill the Conqueror, ch. 6.1 (1924)

A moment later I was out in God’s air, fumbling with a fevered foot at the self-starter of the old car.

Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 17 (1934)

It was too dashed absurd, he considered, to stand here trying to suck up to a bally steward who declined to expand and be matey, when he might be out in God’s air, taking Gertrude for a spin round the deck.

The Luck of the Bodkins, ch. 8 (1935)

It was a lovely afternoon, replete with blue sky, beaming sun, buzzing insects and what not, an afternoon that seemed to call to one to be out in the open with God’s air playing on one’s face and something cool in a glass at one’s side, and here was I, just to oblige Bobbie Wickham, tooling along a corridor indoors on my way to search a comparative stranger’s bedroom, this involving crawling on floors and routing under beds and probably getting covered with dust and fluff.

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

God was in His heaven and all was right with the world

See Hot Water.


See The Code of the Woosters.


See A Damsel in Distress.


See Sam the Sudden.


See Money for Nothing.

“The bunch! The lasket!”

Spoonerisms like this (accidental transposition of opening consonants) are rare in Wodehouse. Percy Pilbeam refers to “Bonty Modkin” under the influence of champagne in Heavy Weather, ch. 12.

when my aunt Dahlia had stolen her French cook, Anatole

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

without bite or sup

Google Books cannot find a citation earlier than Charles Reade’s Foul Play (1800) for this phrase, but there are hundreds of echoes of it through the nineteenth century and very early twentieth. This is the only case so far found where Wodehouse uses it.


Raisins made from muscat grapes.

we restored the tissues

Typically in Wodehouse this means getting either restful sleep or alcoholic refreshment; see Sam the Sudden. This and one in Full Moon are the only instances yet noted where it refers to solid food.

I should rather think Cæsar spoke in the same sort of voice on finding Brutus puncturing him with the sharp instrument.

US magazine and book have “a sharp instrument” here.

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

many a time and oft

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.


See A Damsel in Distress.

Hell … has no fury like a woman who wants her tea and can’t get it.

We expect Bertie to continue the quotation from Congreve, so this, like a similar passage in Bill the Conqueror, is a clever comic device.

“Tea” can vary quite a bit, from a light snack to a large meal, depending on social class and family habits. See Ukridge for more.

a washout

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

Well, the long day wore on, so to speak.

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

spavined local horses

See Lord Emsworth and Others.

as if foxes were gnawing my vitals

A classical allusion to a boy of Sparta; see A Damsel in Distress.

the shades of evening were beginning to fall

See the opening line of “Excelsior”; Bertie uses “evening” again this way in chapter 4 of The Code of the Woosters.


This seems like it ought to be recent slang for “leaving, going somewhere else” but the OED traces this sense back to the sixteenth century, usually with a reflexive pronoun (e.g., shifted themselves away).

bowling off

Once again, not so new as one might have thought; OED has citations for carriages “bowling about” or “along” from the eighteenth century, defined as to move on wheels.

hot Scotch and water with a spot of lemon in it

Reminiscent of another major Wodehouse character’s preference:

From this, combined with the sober black of his costume and the rather devout voice in which he ordered hot Scotch and lemon, I deduced that he had been attending Evensong.

speaking of Mr. Mulliner in “The Bishop’s Move” (1927; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927/28)


In the era before artificial chemical fertilizers were widely available, guano, the dried droppings of birds, was harvested especially from sea coasts and islands where it collects plentifully, and transported to add nitrogen and other nutrients to farmland.


See Young Men in Spats.

A. A. scout

An employee of the Automobile Association who traveled the roads looking for club members who were having car trouble.

timbre and brio

Musical terminology, for tone color and animation/vivacity respectively.

One of the first lessons life teaches us

More first lessons:

“My dear fellow, one of the first lessons you have to learn, if you intend to preserve your sanity in Blandings Castle, is to pay no attention whatsoever to anything my brother Clarence says.”

Galahad Threepwood in Full Moon, ch. 4 (1947)

However, one of the first lessons life teaches us is that aunts will be aunts

Jeeves in the Offing/How Right You Are, Jeeves (1960), ch. 1

“…one of the first lessons we learn in life is that there is no such thing as an American corporation lawyer who does not wear hundred-dollar bills next his skin summer and winter.”

Dame Flora Faye in The Girl in Blue, ch. 5.2 (1970)

into the offing

Offing was originally a nautical term for the part of the sea visible from shore but beyond rocks or other hazards of the shallow water near shore. Extended to mean figuratively “nearby but not very close.”


Thin black fabric used for mourning clothes and funeral draping.

not a drop of petrol in the tank. No gas.

US texts simply omit “of petrol” here. Later references to petrol are replaced with gasoline.

borrow a tin of petrol

Thus in UK texts; “a tin of gasoline” in US magazine; “a can of gasoline” in US book. The same substitutions apply to the remainder of the story.

the presence of a ratepayer

US texts have “a taxpayer” here. At this period “rate” was the British term for what Americans call “property tax”: assessed by local governments and based on a percentage of the assessed value of real property.


Another term from the performing arts, for a repetition of a part of the performance demanded by audience acclamation.

A bloke with a secret sorrow

See The Mating Season.

See also Laughing Gas.

may the Lord have mercy on your soul

A traditional closing to a British judge’s passing of a death sentence, before the abolition of capital punishment.

thick ear

Literally, an ear that is swollen as the result of a blow to the side of the head.

brushing flies off a sleeping Venus

See Cocktail Time.

parting of brass rags

A quarrel, deriving from nautical slang. The explanatory citation in the OED is from W. P. Drury, Tadpole of Archangel, 1898:

When ‘Pincher’ Martin, Ordinary, and ‘Nobby’ Clarke, A.B., desire to prove the brotherly love..with which each inspires the other, it is their..custom to keep their brasswork cleaning rags in a joint ragbag. But, should relations..become strained between them, the bag owner casts forth upon the deck..his sometime brother’s rags; and with the parting of the brassrags hostilities begin.

cast into outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

hockey team

Field hockey, of course.

taking a list of the Kings of Judah into the examination room

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


In US texts, printed as two words without a hyphen. See Hot Water.

milk train

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

wifely love thrilling in every syllable

US texts read “trilling” here.

the sprockets aren’t running true with the differential gear

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

Sometimes my belief in him has wobbled.

US magazine and book read “wabbled” here, a form of the word often used by Wodehouse and often changed by editors. See A Damsel in Distress.

turn and rend one another

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Indian Summer of an Uncle

Originally appeared in the Strand magazine in the UK and Cosmopolitan in the US, both in March 1930. The UK book version is two speeches longer than the other three versions, and there are minor word substitutions and edits, many of which are noted below. The title in the US book is “The Indian Summer of an Uncle.”

Ask anyone … Bertram Wooster is a fellow whom it is dashed difficult to deceive.

See The Code of the Woosters.


See A Damsel in Distress.

day by day in every way has been getting fatter

See Leave It to Psmith.

when I first went to school

The UK book reads as above; the other three versions have “when I first went to Eton” here, which must have been Wodehouse’s original. It makes a difference, as “school” could easily imply an age of six or seven, whereas boys would typically enter Eton at age 13.

a prominent London clubman

Bertie expands on this image later:

 “I don’t want to look like Uncle George.”
 I was alluding to the present Lord Yaxley, a prominent London clubman who gets more prominent yearly, especially seen sideways.

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

St. James’s Street

A street in central London, running from Pall Mall at the gatehouse of St. James’s Palace uphill and northwesterly 345 meters (a bit over two-tenths of a mile) to Piccadilly. Well-known gentlemen’s clubs such as Boodle’s, the Carlton Club, Brooks’s, and White’s are located in St. James’s street, as well as high-class shops and offices.

puffing a bit as they make the grade

The street rises 11 meters over its length of 345 meters, so the grade is small at 0.032, less than 2 degrees of inclination; Google Maps walking directions call it “mostly flat.”

slip a ferret … start

Hunting terminology: ferrets are members of the weasel family which have been domesticated since ancient times and used to chase rabbits, moles, etc. out of their underground burrows.


A fictitious club whose name would suggest that the members are elderly.

sucking down spots

Having a series of small drinks.


See Money for Nothing.

Harrogate … to get planed down

See above.

divine pash

Slang shortening of passion; the phrase is a literary way of saying “love.”

Burlington Arcade

See Bill the Conqueror.

Smut on your nose?

See above.


Bertie’s Aunt Agatha is Uncle George’s sister, so referring to her by first name alone is natural to him. Both are siblings of Bertie’s late father.

exited on the big line

Further theatrical jargon from Bertie.

Wistaria Lodge, Kitchener Road, East Dulwich

Compare Chatsworth, Mafeking Road in Cocktail Time; this also connotes a modest dwelling in an area developed just after the Boer Wars, with delusions of grandeur. The house name is probably an echo of the Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge” (1908; in His Last Bow, 1917). Wodehouse uses East Dulwich as a “lower middle class” address, as with Chippendale’s Aunt Myrtle recalled in The Girl in Blue, ch. 13; Ernest William Pilbeam of Mon Abri, Kitchener Road, East Dulwich, mentioned in ch. 12 of Heavy Weather; and Mervyn Spink’s mother, mentioned in Spring Fever, ch. 11.

It also is a common locus for fictitious names and addresses such as Matilda Bott of 365 Churchill Avenue, East Dulwich (recommended by Bertie for Florence Craye in Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, ch. 5) and George Robinson and Edwin Smith of Nasturtium Road, East Dulwich (Uncle Fred and Pongo at the dog races, recalled in Uncle Dynamite, ch. 4).

Indian summer

The origins of this term are called “uncertain” in the OED, but it arose in North America to describe a summerlike period of dry, warm weather occurring in late autumn. Extended figuratively, as Jeeves explains here, it applies to a period in late life of happiness or achievement.


Lord Tilbury … was, moreover, at what is sometimes called the dangerous age, the age of those Pittsburgh millionaires who are so prone to marry into musical comedy choruses.

Frozen Assets/Biffen’s Millions, ch. 4.1 (1964)

…the aunt who had left [Monty Bodkin] her money had accumulated that money by marrying a Pittsburgh millionaire on one of his visits to London, she being at that time in the chorus of a musical entertainment at the Adelphi Theatre.

Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin, ch. 11.1 (1972)


See Bill the Conqueror.

rank is but the penny stamp

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

North British

I have no idea why Jeeves would avoid saying ‘Scots’ or ‘Scottish’ here.

Herself. Not a picture.

See Blandings Castle and Elsewhere.

the Family Curse

Lady Underhill was a born ruler, dominating most of the people with whom life brought her in contact. Distant cousins quaked at her name, while among the male portion of her nearer relatives she was generally alluded to as The Family Curse.

The Little Warrior, ch. 1.2 (1920)

Years before, when a boy, and romantic as most boys are, his lordship had sometimes regretted that the Emsworths, though an ancient clan, did not possess a Family Curse. How little he had suspected that he was shortly about to become the father of it.

“Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best” (1926; in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere, 1935)


See Leave It to Psmith.


See Lord Emsworth and Others.


See above.


See Ukridge.

Greta Garbo

See Blandings Castle and Elsewhere.


See above.

a hundred smackers

Here meaning pounds; see Bill the Conqueror for other meanings. With inflation the relative value today would be between £6,000 and £7,000, or on the order of US$10,000.

joie de vivre

French: joy of living.


Scots dialect for hoarsely.

seven veils

Traditionally associated with Salome, even though not mentioned in the Bible story of the execution of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:6–7). Here a jocular allusion, referring to multiple layers of skirt and petticoats.

scales had fallen from our eyes

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the shot simply isn’t on the board

See Ice in the Bedroom.


Here a generic name for a lover. See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse for more allusions like this.


See The Inimitable Jeeves.


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

first crack out of the box

See The Inimitable Jeeves.

will have none of your excellent alternative schemes

Only UK text has plural “schemes”; US texts and UK magazine have “scheme” here. One suspects the Jenkins editor of misinterpreting “none of” as denoting “not any one of” rather than “nothing to do with” as was clearly Wodehouse’s intent. The OED defines the phrase “to have none of it” as “to refuse or reject something outright” and gives citations from 1849 onward, including a sentence from earlier in this story:

Her name was Maudie and he loved her dearly, but the family would have none of it.

These little acts of unremembered kindness

It is rare for Jeeves to alter a quotation, but it seems that he must have been thinking of this one:

    —feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love.

William Wordsworth: Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey (1798)

impending doom

Wodehouse had, of course, used this phrase in the title of the first story of this collection, originally published in magazines some three years earlier than this story.

a consummation devoutly to be wished

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

“Rather well put…” “…The Swan of Avon, sir.”

These two speeches occur only in the UK book.

the fourth whisky-and-potash

Thus in UK book; in both magazines and US book, it is “the second liqueur” here. One can scarcely believe this to be an editorial intervention, so this is at least an indication that Wodehouse may have made some alterations for the UK book.

In this sense, potash is carbonated water containing potassium bicarbonate, referred to as a drink mixer in OED citations from 1876 to 1900.

deep calling to deep

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

Perkins’ Digestine

One of a number of fictitious patent medicines in Wodehouse; see The Mating Season.


A style of sofa.


See buzzer in Money in the Bank.

followed the dictates of her heart

See Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

Kind hearts are more than coronets

See Thank You, Jeeves.

where men are men

See Leave It to Psmith.

scattered light and sweetness

Scattering sweetness and light is more often associated with Pongo’s Uncle Fred, Lord Ickenham; see Uncle Fred in the Springtime.

Exit hurriedly, pursued by a bear.

See Shakespeare Quotations and Allusions in Wodehouse.

I remember drawing a picture of it one one side of the page, when I was at school.

A trait that Bertie inherited from his creator:

Wodehouse had had a schoolboy habit of decorating, or as masters would say, defacing his form textbooks with tiny matchstick human figures, page after page.

Richard Usborne: Wodehouse at Work to the End (1976; p. 57 of 1978 Penguin edition)

Tuppy Changes His Mind (The Ordeal of Young Tuppy)

Originally appeared in the Strand magazine in the UK and Cosmopolitan in the US, both in April 1930, as “Tuppy Changes His Mind” (also the title in the US book). Appears in UK editions as “The Ordeal of Young Tuppy.”

“Pack, Jeeves, pack with care. Pack in the presence of the passenjare.”

PGW’s gloss on “Punch, boys, punch with care. Punch in the presence of the passenjare.” The lines by Isaac Hill Bromley, published 27 Sept 1875, were inspired by the notice to conductors he had seen in New York street-cars. They became famous when Mark Twain wrote an article (Atlantic Monthly February 1876) saying how infuriating the rhyme was since he found it impossible to get out of his head. [Note by Norman Murphy, from A Wodehouse Handbook.]

Bromley’s poem, reproduced above, was in the New York Tribune, September 27, 1875, p. 5. Twain’s article “A Literary Nightmare” is online at HathiTrust.

where the blow will fall

Bertie’s self-awareness that he is not the ideal guest is charmingly set out in these lines. Compare the following, when Bertie gets a telegraphic summons from Aunt Dahlia in Right Ho, Jeeves, ch. 3:

 “…Dash it all, she’s just had nearly two months of me.”
 “Yes, sir.”
 “And many people consider the medium dose for an adult two days.”

stately homes

See Leave It to Psmith.

the short straw

Figuratively, the unlucky choice; derived from choosing a single straw from a bundle of straws held so as to conceal one end of the bundle. The OED cites Wodehouse from Uncle Fred in the Springtime, ch. 1, as an example of this phrase.


Baronet; see Summer Moonshine.

browsing and sluicing

Eating and drinking; see Right Ho, Jeeves.


Christmas carolers (singers and musicians) who go from house to house.

“When Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night.”

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the fellow, if you remember, who … bet me

Recounted in “Jeeves and the Yuletide Spirit” (earlier in this volume).

in the night watches

See the first quotation at The Clicking of Cuthbert.

Morning Post-ed

Having the engagement formally announced in the “right” newspaper; see Right Ho, Jeeves.

fiend in human shape

See The Mating Season.

flappers in thick boots and tailor-made tweeds

A rather different image from the popular stereotype of the urban flapper with her short skirts and silk stockings!

when he ran after that singing woman

“Jeeves and the Song of Songs” earlier in this volume.

Voice of Conscience

See Bill the Conqueror.


Wodehouse made frequent use of this verb, sometimes in its regular sense of freeing someone or something from ordinary complications or difficulties; none of the citations in the OED, however, use it in Wodehouse’s common sense of getting free of an unwanted romantic relationship or engagement, as here.

See especially “Rule Sixty-Three” (1915), a rare story rediscovered by a member of our team and available only on this site, which tells of the Systematic Disentangling Agency, a consulting firm which specializes in breaking up engaged couples who really ought not to get married. Two versions of another early story are “Disentangling Old Duggie” and “Disentangling Old Percy” (both 1912), featuring Reggie Pepper.

It was clear to me by now that Aunt Agatha had picked the wrong man for this job of disentangling Gussie from the clutches of the American vaudeville profession.

“Extricating Young Gussie” (1915)

There had been a bit of unpleasantness a year before, when she had sent me over to New York to disentangle my Cousin Gussie from the clutches of a girl on the vaudeville stage.

Bertie, speaking of Aunt Agatha and the events of “Extricating Young Gussie” in “Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest” (1916).

 “It’s obviously your job to disentangle the poor idiot.”
 “But how do you know he wants to be disentangled?”

George Tupper and Corky Corcoran discussing Ukridge’s engagement to Mabel Price in “No Wedding Bells for Him” (1923)

 “I see the whole of the action taking place on a transatlantic liner.”
 “Giving the hero six days to disentangle the girl.”

Attributed to Plum and Guy Bolton planning Anything Goes in Bring On the Girls, ch. 17.3 (1953)

Every day one reads in the gossip columns another of those heart-warming announcements to the effect that Lotta Svelte and George Marsupial are holding hands and plan to merge as soon as the former can disentangle herself from Marcus Manleigh and the latter from Belinda Button…

“Christmas and Divorce” in Over Seventy, ch. 19.2 (1957)

one of those largish, corn-fed girls

The OED cites J. S. Farmer’s 1889 Americanisms:

A woman is popularly said to be corn-fed when stout and plump—an allusion to the nourishing qualities of this kind of food.

looking like a stuffed frog

See Bill the Conqueror.

lay their hooks on

See The Code of the Woosters.

Old Austinians

That is, alumni of Wodehouse’s fictional St. Austin’s College, which commentators such as Norman Murphy regard as Wodehouse’s own Dulwich College fictionally transplanted from suburban London to Shropshire.

entering right centre

More theatrical jargon, as in stage directions of a printed play.


As with trickle, this is another of Bertie’s “dude” slang terms giving an ironic air of detachment; see The Inimitable Jeeves.

“Faugh!” said Tuppy—the only time I’ve ever heard the word.

It does have an archaic sound; this “exclamation of abhorrence or disgust” has citations in the OED from 1542 to 1863.

This does seem to be Wodehouse’s first use of the word, but by no means the last. Bertie adopts it himself later, as do other characters.

 “I said ‘Faugh!’ Ski-ing, indeed!”

“Farewell to Legs” (1935; in US edition of Young Men in Spats, 1936, and in Lord Emsworth and Others, 1937)

 “…But it was left for this aunt to present to the world a Wooster who goes to the houses of retired magistrates and, while eating their bread and salt, swipes their cow-creamers. Faugh!” I said, for I was a good deal overwrought.

The Code of the Woosters, ch. 2 (1938)

 “ ‘And you,’ he said, looking at Father as if he were some sort of insect, ‘call yourself a justice of the peace. Faugh!’ ”
 “Fore? Like at golf?”
 “Oh, ah.”

Florence Craye and Bertie discussing Stilton Cheesewright in Joy in the Morning, ch. 18 (1946)

Few people have ever come nearer to saying “Faugh!” than did Pongo as Lord Ickenham’s phrase shot through his wincing mind like some loathsome serpent.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 3 (1948)

So this is what Woman’s constancy amounts to, is it, I remember saying to myself, and I’m not at all sure I didn’t add the word “Faugh!”

The Mating Season, ch. 21 (1949)

“Dinner!” said Mervyn Potter, and adding the word ‘Faugh!’, closed his eyes and fell once more into a refreshing sleep.

Barmy in Wonderland, ch. 5 (1952)

Butlers? These chinless children? Faugh, if you will permit me the expression.

“To the Critics, These Pearls” section 3, in America, I Like You (1956)

The thought was a bitter one, and I don’t suppose I have ever come closer to saying “Faugh!”

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

vermilion to the gills

Blushing completely; for “gills” see Carry On, Jeeves.

like a devouring flame

See The Girl in Blue.

Farmer Giles

See The Mating Season.

did you down

cheated or swindled you

second Sunday before Septuagesima

In the Christian church calendar, Septuagesima was the third Sunday before Lent, hence the ninth Sunday before Easter. Since 1969, it is no longer named in the Roman Catholic calendar, and is also absent from some modern Anglican litugies. Its name is derived from the Latin for seventy, but as the OED notes, “even using inclusive counting” the nine weeks to Easter would comprise 64 days.

One suspects that Wodehouse used the phrase for its alliterative humor rather than for any specific religious ritual timing.

“I have had it in for that dog since the second Sunday before Septuagesima, when he pinned me by the ankle as I paced beside the river composing a sermon on Certain Alarming Manifestations of the So-called Modern Spirit.”

Rev. Stanley Brandon in “Mulliner’s Buck-U-Uppo” (1926; in Meet Mr. Mulliner, 1927)

…at this moment there came from the direction of the house the sound of a manly voice trolling the Psalm for the Second Sunday after Septuagesima.

“Gala Night” (1930; in Mulliner Nights, 1933)

the season of peace and good will

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the Village Blacksmith’s big brother. The muscles of their brawny arms were obviously strong as iron bands

See A Damsel in Distress.

put a bit of a jerk in it

Green’s Dictionary of Slang cites Brophy and Partridge’s 1930 Songs and Slang of the British Soldier: 1914–1918, defining “put a jerk into it” as Be quick, hurry!

extend the olive branch

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

the real Tabasco

In other words, “hot stuff’; see Carry On, Jeeves.

mot juste

See Right Ho, Jeeves.

having been at a school where they didn’t play … Rugby

Here Bertie is unlike his creator; Wodehouse was on the rugby football first fifteen in his last year at Dulwich College, 1899–1900.

without the option

In other words, the judge would not accept payment of a fine in lieu of jail time.

a sealed book

See Biblia Wodehousiana.


In addition to the jest about sons of toil and tons of soil, Wodehouse uses the above phrase for farmers and other rural residents.

It was not, however, to this fungus-covered son of the soil that the colonel alluded.

Full Moon, ch. 6 (1947)

It was a train whose patrons, sturdy sons of the soil…, had for the most part purchased third-class tickets.

Uncle Dynamite, ch. 1 (1948)

“These rugged sons of the soil don’t always watch their language. They tend at times to get a bit Shakespearian.”

Service With a Smile, ch. 11.3 (1961)

A possible source of the phrase is the title of an English translation by K. P. Wormeley of Les Paysans from Balzac’s La Comédie humaine.

a boot like a violin case

See Laughing Gas.

“Good God!”

Thus in UK versions; US book and magazine have “Good Lord!” instead.

fighting became general all along the Front

Reminiscent of war news from the First World War.

a bit of rest

Thus in UK book; “a spot of rest” in the other three original versions.

folding of the hands

See Biblia Wodehousiana.

US book uses quotation marks around this phrase.

stepping stones of his dead self … to higher things

See Something Fresh.

the shades of night

See Sam the Sudden.

the tumult and the shouting had died

See Leave It to Psmith.

wearing an ulster

A long, loose belted overcoat of rough cloth for country wear.

bowed down with weight of woe

See Sam the Sudden.


See The Inimitable Jeeves.

When pain and anguish wring the brow, a ministering angel thou

See Sam the Sudden.

a rag and a bone and a hank of hair

See The Mating Season.


See A Damsel in Distress.


The word has a complex history; as an exclamation of jubilation the OED has only one citation, from 1852. As a friendly “goodbye” it dates from World War One and is still in use; as a toast before drinking the citations range from 1919 to 2008 in the OED. Wodehouse is cited for its use as an adjective; see The Inimitable Jeeves.

Wodehouse’s writings are copyright © Trustees of the Wodehouse Estate in most countries;
material published prior to 1929 is in USA public domain, used here with permission of the Estate.
Our editorial commentary and other added material are copyright © 2012–2024