What Ho again, Plum lovers.
It has been an especially glorious summer, right out of the pages of Blandings, and I’ve taken the opportunity to whiz about the countryside, capturing the atmosphere of Wodehouse’s England. I’ve visited Plum’s Emsworth in Hampshire and explored Bertie Wooster’s London (in one of the last tours given by Wodehouse expert, Norman Murphy). I also visited towns where Wodehouse’s parents lived, Cheltenham and Bexhill-on-Sea. The latter is affectionately remembered by Goons Show fans as the home of The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler.
I’ll have more to share over the coming winter as I knuckle down to writing about these adventures, but I could not let this particular week flit by without mentioning two important milestones. First, Monday the 15th of October marked the 132nd anniversary of Plum’s birth. It was lovely to see the tributes flow in via the various Wodehouse fan pages and societies.
Happy Birthday, Plum!
Fittingly, Plum’s birthday week will close with a special event on the Wodehouse-lovers’ calendar: The U.S. Wodehouse Society’s Chicago convention. I am disappointed to be missing this event and the opportunity to meet some of the friends I’ve made through Wodehouse online. I understand the Chicago gang have gone to great effort and I’m sure the event will be a terrific success. Indeed, they are no doubt browsing and sluicing as I write.
The Wodehouse novel I most associate with Chicago is Piccadilly Jim (1917), in which the former actor Bingley Crocker reprises his role of Chicago Ed:
Jimmy did not speak for a moment.
“Did you ever play a kidnapper, Dad?” he asked at length.
“Sure. I was Chicago Ed in a crook play called ‘This Way out’. Why, surely you saw me in that? I got some good notices.”
“Of course. I knew I’d seen you play that sort of part some time. You came on during the dark scene and –”
“Switched on the lights and –”
“Covered the bunch with your gun while they were still blinking! You were great in that part, Dad.”
“It was a good part,” said Mr Crocker modestly. “It had fat. I’d liked to have got a chance to play a kidnapper again. There’s a lot of pep to kidnappers.”
Piccadilly Jim (1917)
Bingley Crocker’s wish comes true. Here’s hoping yours do too.