Two men were sitting in the bar-parlour of the Anglers’ Rest as I entered it; and one of them, I gathered from his low, excited voice and wide gestures, was telling the other a story. I could hear nothing but an occasional ‘Biggest I ever saw in my life!’ and ‘Fully as large as that!’ but in such a place it was not difficult to imagine the rest; and when the second man, catching my eye, winked at me with a sort of humorous misery, I smiled sympathetically back at him.
The action had the effect of establishing a bond between us; and when the story-teller finished his tale and left, he came over to my table as if answering a formal invitation.
The Truth About George (1927)
This simple introduction from Meet Mr Mulliner has been on my mind lately, because it captures a little piece of Wodehouse’s England that I’m pleased to find alive and well in 2013.
Since last writing, I have moved to the south of England. One of the delights of this experience has been getting the know the locals in our pleasant town on the banks of the Thames. And what better way to meet true locals of great character and charm than to frequent the local public houses? There are a great many pubs here, several of which are delightfully reminiscent of Mr Mulliner‘s Anglers’ Rest.
For the newcomer, entering a village pub is much like the narrator’s experience above. There is a certain well-mannered English reserve that holds most people back from being too intrusive or inquisitive of strangers. But this is easily overcome with a genial disposish, an encouraging smile, and a remark about the weather. Consequently, I’ve enjoyed some delightful conversations with a host of marvellously eccentric people – many of whom would be quite at home in the pages of Wodehouse.