Tales from the Junior Lipstick: the F. of the S.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–girls are rummy. Old Pop Kipling never said a truer word than when he made that crack about the f. of the s. being more d. than the m.

P.G. Wodehouse ~ Right Ho, Jeeves

With Ben Schott‘s recent homage to Wodehouse, Jeeves and the King of Clubs, so well received by the critics, the time seems right to tell you about a little homage of my own invention, which I’ve been threatening to share for some time. Unlike most Wodehouse fan-fiction, it does not feature Jeeves or Bertie Wooster. I’ve chosen to set my homage within the inner sanctum of one of Wodehouse’s lesser known fictional clubs — The Junior Lipstick.

As a women’s club, Wodehouse could never comfortably enter this world (in life, or in fiction), but he provides a fleeting glimpse in ‘Came the Dawn’ (Meet Mr Mulliner) when Angela Biddlecombe is fetched ‘from the billiard-room, where she was refereeing the finals of the Debutantes’ Shove-Ha-penny Tournament…. She was smoking a cigarette in a long holder, and as she approached she inserted a monocle inquiringly in her right eye.’  

I thought it might be fun to take a closer look into this world in a series of short stories, while also having a pop at the Wodehouse style (the tricky bit). I won’t thrust the whole bally lot upon my poor blameless readers here, just my introduction to the first story. It’s not perfect, but it was terrific fun to write.

THE F. OF THE S.

Into the atmospheric pea-souper of the Junior Lipstick Club smoking room, Daphne Dinmont made an appearance.

“What beasts men are,” she said, attacking a blameless armchair. “They toy with our hearts, and flit and sip like butterflies on a toot.”

“Does this mean all bets are off on an early union between yourself and Jerry Noble?” asked Trixie Steggles, who liked to keep abreast of the form.

“You bet it does!” said Daphne.

“For three weeks, he gave me the rush of a lifetime. Dinner at the Carlton, dancing at Mario’s, boating on the Serpentine. Then last Tuesday, he cancelled our lunch to visit a dying aunt in Aberdeen and I haven’t heard from him since, but Mavis Stubbs saw him at the Scarlet Centipede, dancing like a gigolo on shore leave. And now I’ve just seen him lunching at the Berkeley with Felicia Koops and that idiotic Pekingese of hers — staring lovingly into her eyes.”

“The peke’s?”

“No, the Koops’.”

“Look on the bright side,” said Lettice Albright, who, unlike the poet Blake, could happily see another’s woe and not be in sorrow too. “Perhaps the Peke will bite him.”

“Do you suppose it’s possible to bribe a Peke?” asked Daphne.

“Too unreliable,” said Trixie. “I remember at school, Veronica Turbington persuaded Miss Whemper’s Basset Hound to eat her Thucydides paper. It gorged itself on the best bits, refused to touch the worst passages, and regurgitated the remains on Miss Whemper’s mauve slippers.”

“Quite right,” said Jane Hubbard, puffing on a congenial pipe. “Nothing beats a snake. Slip one into his bedroom after dinner, let the snake do the rest.”

“Don’t be an ass,” said Trixie. “How does she get the snake into his bedroom?”

“That depends on what floor he sleeps on,” said Jane. “I met a man at Aswan who shimmied up the Old Cataract Hotel with a live cobra stuffed down his trousers.”

“That’s just the sort of low trick I’d expect from a man,” said Daphne. “Men can do whatever they like. They flit and sip, and scale walls with their trousers full of snakes. And what can we women do about it? Nothing!”

The shapely eyebrows of the smoking room rose in unison.

Jane Hubbard snorted. Hilda Gudgeon looked up from the letter she’d been writing to the MCC on proposed changes to the Leg-Before-Wicket rule. Ordinarily content to let girls be girls, she knew when a firm hand was needed.

“What rot!” said Hilda. “That sort of talk will get you struck from the club register.” The girls in the smoking room nodded in approval, eyebrows restored to normal service.

“But, what can I do about Jerry?” said Daphne, looking slightly ashamed.

“Plenty,” said Hilda. “I’d have created a scene at the Berkeley if I were you. If you can break windows, break ’em! You could try and get him back if you really want to, but he sounds like a bit of a worm to me.”

“I… I suppose he is a worm, but I thought he was my worm.”

Daphne’s lower lip trembled like an infant violinist, and Hilda gave her a commiserating wink. As one of the Junior Lipstick’s less junior members, she’d seen this sort of thing before.

“Women are just as capable as men,” said Hilda. “Remember what Kipling says about the female of the species?”

“That’s just poetry.”

“Not just poetry. I can think of at least a dozen real examples without trying.” Hilda paused thoughtfully for a while before continuing.

“Did you ever meet Eustacia Bellows? Stacey to her friends and admirers. She was always popping into the club at one time, before her troubles with Cyril Pomfrey-Waddelow.”

“Is that a person?”

“Certainly. The Shropshire Pomfrey-Waddelows are an old family. Cyril is currently making a name for himself as a poet.”

“Good for him.”

“And if you stop interrupting me, I will tell you about them.”

“Oh, go on then,” said Daphne.  

***

Fancy more f. of the s.?

Read Part II of the story here

***

I’d love to know what you think of it.

HP

 

 

 

34 thoughts on “Tales from the Junior Lipstick: the F. of the S.

  1. So Hilda Gudgeon moves on from The Mating Season to be the (nearly) Oldest Member — a nice idea. From the menagerie of Plum females, I think I’d like to know more about Elizabeth Bottsworth and Diana Punter, the outstanding airheads from The Amazing Hat Mystery. Their potential for wreaking havoc in Mayfair is unlimited, greater even than of Bobbie Wickham. But, Honoria old thing, you need to be careful your Freud doesn’t slip.– snakes in trousers for, I say, sooth!.

    1. Thanks Noel – great suggestions. My ideas for the series (written mainly for my own enjoyment) include a Bobbie Wickham story.
      Re the trouser and snake scenario –it certainly wasn’t my original intention, but I confess that when I realised the possibilities in editing, I didn’t err on the side of good taste. Slightly out of character for me (and definitely not Wodehouse) but I loved my idea for the Jane Hubbard snake story too much to leave it out.

  2. Love it! And now I want to know what happens next.
    I must confess the oo-la-la aspect of the trousered cobra rather escaped me. Having been raised in a country strewn with poisonous snakes, my reaction to snakes sounds the note of Flee For Your Life rather too loudly for double entendres to make themselves heard. More Speckled Band than naughty French comedy, if you catch my drift.

    1. Thanks Deborah. Yes, I definitely started out going for a Speckled Band sort of reference, in a light hearted sort of way. From there to Carry On comedy it was a short step.

  3. LCantoni

    Brilliant! Suggestion: break up the long dialogue with some descriptive text about the characters and/or the atmosphere of the club. But what you’ve bunged down has definitely got me wanting more!

    1. What ho, and thanks for that advice — I really appreciate it (very much in keeping with what others have said). I def. got carried away with the dialogue. I might post another installment here again in due course.

  4. Top hole indeed. Wonderful stuff. A laugh-out-loud moment with the idea of gazing into the eyes of the Peke.

    If you really want suggestions, I might perhaps enjoy a little more action in the Junior Lipstick to break up the discussion. Is there a proprietress who rules with an iron-clad rules? A drinks waiter who ensures the ladies are always fully provided with appropriate cocktails? Might a little description of the inside of the club or its mores be dripped or dropped in? Happy to discuss further if you are interested (I think we are in contact already, or else via my robertpimm.com blog), or to stay schtumm if that is already too much 😉

    1. Thanks Robert. It is great to get your advice. This section of the story is just the introduction. I was aiming for a Mr Mulliner style set up to the real story, which is the one Hilda Gudgeon is about to tell. Mr Mulliner would definitely have made it snappier than I have done. I got carried away 🙂

  5. George P. Smith

    The Women. 1939. George Cukor. This is what immediately your sparkling novel brought to my mind. Being one of my preferred movies of all times, needles to say I enjoyed it very, very, and very much!

  6. A superlative effort which leaves one a wee bit speechless! Being only an occasional (and a shy and diffident one, perhaps) observer of fashionistas amongst the f of the s, I am not really competent to make objective comments about the juicy proceedings here. Suffice it to say that the flow is excellent, and so is the unmistakable stamp of Plum. Keep dishing these out!

    1. What Ho! What Ho! Ashok, old bean. I thought it was worth seeing what the populace thought of this bally thing before inflicting more upon it. Seems to have gone done well. Everyone has been very polite about it so far.

      1. One of the delicious dilemmas authors face is that of the absence of constructive criticism on the dazzling fare they happen to unleash on an unsuspecting audience! Once in a while, they do need an odd reader or two who would subject the contents to a pitiless analysis so the author may have the chance of hastening their spiritual growth!!

  7. Pingback: Tales from the Junior Lipstick: the F. of the S. — Part II – Plumtopia

  8. Pingback: Tales from the Junior Lipstick: the F. of the S. — Part III – Plumtopia

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