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Highballs for breakfast, lunch and dinner: the prizegiving

This is one prize giving ceremony that cannot be undertaken on orange juice alone.

The Cheapest White on the List sat alone at a corner table, solemnly pawing an Anglers’ Rest bar menu.

‘What’s the matter with him? asked The Dubonnet Queen of Ealing Common.

‘The price of Pinot Grigio has gone up’ said a Totally Roasted, discreetly. ‘He’s had to switch to a Chardonnay from South Eastern Australia.”

‘But Australian wine is supposed to be quite good,’ replied The Dubonnet Queen.

‘Not this one,’ said The Cheapest White on the List.

‘I’ve got a nephew in Australia,’ said a Whiskey Mac. ‘Moved to Perth last year. Loves it apparently.’

‘Who hasn’t got a nephew in Australia? That’s what I’d like to know,’ said an Oatmeal Stout.

The Cheapest White on the List nodded. ‘That’s right! Why, if I threw this drink out of the window, I’m practically guaranteed to hit at least three people with nephews in Australia– probably more.’

‘I wish you would,’ said a Diet Shasta Orange and 150 Proof Grain Alcohol, who happened to work in personal injury claims.

‘I’ll bet Mr. Mulliner has nephews all over Australia,’ said the said the Whiskey Mac.

‘And nieces,’ said a Sparkling Water.

The assembled drinkers looked expectantly at Mr Mulliner. He beamed at them in reply.

‘Well, as it happens….’

highballs-jacketAfter a gruelling process of tasting and deliberation, it is my pleasure to announce the winners of the Highballs for Breakfast competition.

The coveted First Place prize is awarded to The Cheapest White On The List. The drink itself is both affordable and palatable, and an appropriate choice for the humble bar parlour of the Anglers’ Rest. His original name is also suggestive of a genuine Character who, either by inclination or impecuniousness, could do with a bit of cheering up. A copy of Highballs for Breakfast should do the trick.

Second Place has been awarded to another great character, the Dubonnet Queen of Ealing Common. This is a name that announces itself! It suggests a woman who has acquired her stature through charm of manner, and a cast-iron liver – surely a winning combination. I feel Wodehouse would have made something of her. The excellent people of Penguin Random House have made a second copy of Highballs for Breakfast available, so the Dubonnet Queen will also receive a copy.

A third copy of Highballs for Breakfast courtesy of Penguin Random House, and a book voucher worth £10 courtesy of self and cat, have also been awarded to Stefan Nilsson for his winning entry (The Code of the Woosters) in the 2016 Reading Challenge .

Prize winners please refer to the Postscript note to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and apologies if you missed out on a prize. I’d be pleased to console you over a pint, and slap you heartily on the back, if you’re ever passing through Somerset.

Finally, and with a heavy heart, it is my sad duty to inform you that my regular partner in judging –the cat, Monty Bodkin — passed away during the running of this competition (rest assured that he had not indulged in any of the tasting). So before my post-judging liver-cleansing commences, I’d like to raise a glass once more.

To Monty!

HP

5 1stday with Monty

Monty

PRIZE WINNERS: I will attempt to contact you via your linked contact details to arrange delivery of your prize. Alternatively, you can email me directly at mrsplum@hotmail.com with your postal address. Cheers!

2016 Reading Challenge: Money in the Bank (a book guaranteed to bring you joy)

I do hope you enjoy this review of Money in the Bank (1942).

You might read this book under the 2016 Reading Challenge category of ‘a book guaranteed to bring you joy’.

2016 MINI READING CHALLENGE
There are many different reading challenges you can try, the idea being to read a book in each category listed. Popular examples include:

My mini Wodehouse challenge is to fit a book by P.G. Wodehouse into one of these challenge categories. There is even a modest prize up for grabs, if you care to post a comment to the original challenge page below, telling us which book you read and the reading challenge category.

You don’t have to be actively participating in any other challenge to enter.  For details and to enter, visit: The 2016 Mini Reading Challenge: include a book by P.G. Wodehouse .

Happy reading!

HP

The Aroma of Books

Oh Wodehouse, how I love thee!

md8481236382 //published 1942//

Even when I think I’m not in the mood for a Wodehouse, it turns out that I’m in the mood for a Wodehouse.  Money in the Bank was next in the TBR stack, so even though I wasn’t 100% feeling it, I decided to pick it up anyway, and I was hooked by the bottom of page one, when I read –

You would have said [Mr. Shoesmith] was not in sympathy with Jeff, and you would have been right.  Jeff had his little circle of admirers, but Mr. Shoesmith was not a member of it.  About the nastiest jolt of the well-known solicitor’s experience had been the one he had received on the occasion, some weeks previously, when his only daughter had brought this young man home and laid him on the mat, announcing in her authoritative way that they…

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2016 Reading Challenge: French Leave (A book set in Europe)

9200000009531256Here we are, young, ardent idealistic, yearning for life and love and laughter, and what do we get? Eggs.’

French Leave (1956)

Earlier this year, you may recall, I proposed a mini reading challenge . The challenge is to include a book by P.G. Wodehouse in your reading, under one of the categories listed in any other 2016 Reading Challenge.

Stefan Nilsson suggested The Code of the Woosters  for the ’20th Century Classic’ category. I read Laughing Gas  in the ‘book from the library’ category.

French Leave is another possible inclusion as ‘a book set in Europe’. My review and reflections on ‘French Leave’ is reblogged below.

How to take part in the 2016 Wodehouse reading challenge

  • Look at one of the 2016 Reading Challenge lists (try the popular POPSUGAR challenge ).
  • Choose a Wodehouse book to fit one of the categories.
  • Read it if you haven’t already.
  • Reply to the challenge page explaining which book you selected, under which Reading Challenge category.

You don’t have to be actively participating in any other reading challenge to enter.

Happy reading!

HP

Plumtopia

WP_20140828_18_25_26_Pro

I recently took a well-thumbed copy of Wodehouse’s French Leave on holiday to Paris, a city famed for its literary connections. P.G. Wodehouse was briefly a resident, and opens the second chapter of French Leave (1956) there:

As the clocks of Paris were striking eleven on a morning three weeks after the Bensonburg expeditionary force had set out for Europe, a tall, willowy, elegant figure dressed in the extreme of fashion, turned the corner of the Rue Belleau and entered the Rue Vanaye. It was Nicholas Jules St Xavier Auguste, Marquis de Maufringneuse et Valerie-Moberanne, affectionately known to his friends, of whom he had many in all walks of life, as Old Nick.

ThisBensonburg expeditionary force’ are three Trent sisters, chicken-farmers from Long Island USA. Having received a modest lump sum, they decide to take a well-earned jaunt to the French resort towns of St. Rocque and Roville. Our…

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2016 Reading Challenge: Laughing Gas (for troubled times)

‘Haven’t you ever heard of Sister Lora Luella Stott?’

‘No. Who is she?’

‘She is the woman who is leading California out of the swamp of alcohol.’

‘Good God!’ I could tell by Eggy’s voice that he was interested. ‘Is there a swamp of alcohol in these parts? What an amazing country America is. Talk about every modern convenience. Do you mean you can simply go there and lap?’

Laughing Gas (1936)

We live in troubled times. That Evelyn Waugh chappie knew a thing or two when he said of Wodehouse: He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own.’ I would be failing in my duties as a modern commentator if I didn’t observe that the captivity is looking every bit as irksome as Waugh predicted, and getting irksomer all the time. Or as the aforementioned Eggy says, on page 90 of the Everyman edition:

‘I never needed a snifter more in my life.’

self and lg

Your humble correspondent laps at both the S of A and the healing waters of Plumtopia

Lapping at the swamp of alcohol is one solution. Reading Wodehouse is another. This week I opted for a dose of Laughing Gas, courtesy of my excellent local library. If you cast your mind back to January, you may recall my 2016 Wodehouse Reading Challenge . A book from the library’ is one of the categories in the POPSUGAR Reading challenge.

Set in Hollywood, where the Wodehouses lived in 1930-31 and 1936-37, Laughing Gas follows the adventures of Reggie Swithin, who has unexpectedly become the third Earl of Havershot after the supply of eligible uncles and cousins has given out. As newly appointed head of the family, Reggie is shoved off to Hollywood to rescue Cousin ‘Eggy’ Egremont from drink fuelled debauchery and an inadvisable engagement.

Laughing Gas is a rare Wodehouse dalliance with the science-fiction genre (‘The Amazing Hat Mystery’ from Young Men in Spats also touches upon the Fourth Dimension). Poor Reggie awakes from an emergency dental procedure dressed in knickerbockers and golden ringlets. He has switched bodies with a precocious child film star called Joey Cooley, also under the influence of laughing gas in room the next door.

A bit breath-taking, the whole affair, you will agree. Of course, I had read stories where much the same sort of thing had happened, but I had never supposed that a chap had got to budget for such an eventuality as a possible feature of the programme in real life. I know they say you ought to be prepared for anything, but, I mean, dash it!

I am in complete sympathy with poor Reggie. Added to the indignity that a grown man quite rightly feels on finding himself transformed against his will back to an age which he has long outgrown, Reggie must adjust to a meagre diet of Perfecto prunes and take naps in the afternoon, tucked in by his former fiancé Ann Bannister. He also suffers the consequences of wrongs committed previously by Joey Cooley, who is now happily running amok in Reggie’s body. Out of cash, and out of favour with his authoritarian hostess Miss Brinkmeyer, and the neighbourhood lads, Reggie’s prospects for the future look grim.

Happily, Wodehouse always contrives a way out of the mire for his characters, and he doesn’t let Reggie Havershot down in his hour of need. Reggie’s ordeal as Joey Cooley is eventually undone, to the satisfaction of all parties. Restored to his mature self, Reggie is rewarded with an opportunity to renew his addresses to Ann Bannister. At first he hesitates, on account of his gorilla-like appearance, but cousin Eggy and young Joey (who has evidently spent too long in movie circles) rally around with advice and encouragement.

‘What does a fellow’s face matter anyway?’ said Joey Cooley.

‘Exactly.’

‘Looks don’t mean a thing. Didn’t Frankenstein get married?’

‘Did he?’ said Eggy. ‘I don’t know. I never met him. Harrow man, I expect.’

‘It’s the strong passionate stuff that counts,’ said the Cooley child. ‘All you got to do is get tough. Walk straight up to her and grab her by the wrist and glare into her eyes and make your chest heave.’

‘Exactly.’

‘And snarl.’

‘And, of course, snarl,’ said Eggy. ‘Though when you say “snarl” you mean, I take it, not just make a noise like a Pekingese surprised while eating cake….’

While real-world events may not be so easily undone as Reggie’s troubles, we still have Wodehouse.

Happy lapping!

Take part in the 2016 Wodehouse Reading Challenge

Read a book by P.G. Wodehouse in 2016 and reply to the original challenge page  explaining which reading challenge and category you it could be included under. You don’t have to be actively participating in any other reading challenge to enter.

The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse: a 20th Century Classic

CodeOfTheWoosters

The Code of the Woosters was one of Stefan Nilsson’s suggestions for including a book by P.G. Wodehouse in your 2016 Reading Challenge – as a 20th Century Classic. A classic it most certainly is, not just in the eyes of Wodehouse readers. The Code of the Woosters frequently pops up in literary lists of ‘books you must read’.

Its plot and characters are arguably Wodehouse’s best known. The story opens with Bertie sipping one of Jeeves’ famous hangover cures, the morning after a binge honouring Gussie Fink-Nottle. Bertie’s respite is curtailed by a visit to his Aunt Dahlia.

Little knowing, as I crossed that threshold, that in about two shakes of a duck’s tail I was to become involved in an imbroglio that would test the Wooster soul as it had seldom been tested before. I allude to the sinister affair of Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeline Bassett, old Pop Bassett, Stiffy Byng, the Rev. H. P. (‘Stinker’) Pinker, the eighteenth-century cow creamer, and the small brown leather-covered notebook.

Bertie is propelled to Totleigh Towers, lair of Sir Watkyn Bassett and his soupy daughter Madeline, where he must wade knee-deep in a stew of Aunts, amateur dictators, policemen’s helmets and silver cow-creamers –to say nothing of the dog Bartholomew.

Among Wodehouse enthusiasts, devotion to The Code of the Woosters borders on the cultish. Perfectly sensible people who previously had no earthly use for cow creamers, find themselves squealing with delight when they meet one. In serious cases, fans have been known to collect them, to display proudly on the mantelpiece abaft their statue of the Infant Samuel at Prayer. Once the enthusiast reaches this stage, it is advisable to join one of the excellent P.G. Wodehouse societies where similarly afflicted subjects gather in gangs and kid ourselves that such behaviour is normal. One devotee, Mr Ashok Bhatia, has gone a step further in trying to de-codify the Code of the Woosters .

The Code of the Woosters has been adapted multiple times for television and radio. Since 2013, it has been going about on the stage under a false name – as Perfect Nonsense – with great success. The continued popularity of this story almost 80 years after its original publication, and its inclusion by literary list-makers as exemplifying Wodehouse at his best, assures this novel’s place as a 20th Century Classic.

The Code of the Woosters is also where you’ll find some of Wodehouse’s most quoted lines:

He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice, and I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.

Quoting Wodehouse is all very well in moderation, but nothing compares to reading his words in situ. If you are looking for a book by P.G. Wodehouse to include in your 2016 Reading Challenge, it’s a great place to start.

Happy reading.

HP

How to enter my 2016 Mini Reading Challenge 
Just read a book by P.G. Wodehouse in 2016 and post a comment to the original challenge page (link below), telling us:
• which P.G. Wodehouse book you read in 2016; and
• which reading challenge and category you included it under.
You don’t have to be actively participating in any other reading challenge to enter.

For details and to enter, visit:
The 2016 Mini Reading Challenge: include a book by P.G. Wodehouse.

2016 Mini Reading Challenge: include a book by P.G. Wodehouse

wodehouse with relish2

Wodehouse with relish

At around this time each year, we bookworms launch ourselves with relish into a new year of reading challenges. If you’re participating, you may have a few books notched up already. This year, I’m throwing a little side challenge — to include a book by PG Wodehouse in your 2016 reading. If the challenge isn’t enough to tempt you, I’m also offering a book prize. Read on for details.

 

For those uninitiated in the concept, an annual reading challenge is usually a list of categories – your challenge being to read a book in each one. The underlying idea is to expand your literary diet beyond your favourite genre. There are multiple book challenges you can attempt, as a quick Internet search will reveal. Popular examples include:

WordPress book blogger rakioddbooks has helpfully combined the first two challenges into a long list.

You’re unlikely to find Wodehouse specified on any reading challenge list. The popular examples listed here don’t specifically include comedy, romance, short story collections or school stories either. As a Wodehouse blogger with a terrible memory, I have a professional responsibility to read and re-read as much Wodehouse as possible (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). So throughout 2016, I’ll be looking for cunning ways to include as much Wodehouse in my 2016 challenge reading as possible.

Why not join me, and include a dash of Wodehouse in your 2016 reading too?
Following last year’s Fatty O’Leary competition, I’ve developed a taste for prize-giving. This year I’m offering a £10 book voucher to whoever comes up with the most creative way to include a book by P.G. Wodehouse in their 2016 reading challenge.

How to enter
Simply post a comment to this piece, telling us:

  • which P.G. Wodehouse book you read in 2016; and
  • which reading challenge and category you included it under.

If you’ve written a review, please share that with us too.

You don’t have to be actively participating in a reading challenge to enter, as long as you have read (or re-read) the book in 2016, and can tell us which reading challenge and category you would categorise the book under.

The winner will be chosen by the usual committee (self and cat) and announced in December. First prize is a book voucher worth £10. I also have a mystery Wodehouse book prize, which I’ll be giving away during the year.

For more discussion about books
Join our Facebook book club, The Wood Hills Literary Society. As the name suggests, the group was started by Wodehouse fans, wanting to read, share and discuss books beyond Wodehouse (our name comes from Mrs Smethurst’s literary society in The Clicking of Cuthbert). We’ve incorporated some reading challenge categories in our monthly reading themes. New members are always welcome.

Happy reading!

HP

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