Monday, December 31, 2018

Discretion the better part of valor

"Are you aware, miss, that the reptile is navigating at the rate of knots along the corridor and may at any moment begin scaring the daylights out of nervous people and invalids?"

Lottie Blossom uttered a bereaved cry. "Didn't you fasten the lid of its basket?"

"No, miss. In answer to your question, I did not fasten the lid of its basket. When a lady instructs me to open a wickerwork basket and I find inside a young alligator which if it had aimed half an inch more to the left would have took the top of my thumb off, I don't hang around fastening lids."

(from The Luck of the Bodkins, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, December 30, 2018

She had an impact

But principally, as we say, it was her hair that caused the eye of the beholder to swivel in its socket and his breath to come in irregular pants. Seeming on the screen to have merely a decent pallor, it revealed itself when she made personal appearance a vivid and soul-shattering red. She looked as if she had been dipping her head in a sunset: and this, taken in conjunction with her large, shining eyes and the impression she gave, like so many of her sisters of the motion picture art, of being supremely confident of herself, usually hit the stranger pretty hard. Monty, for one, felt as if he had just been run down by a motorcar with dazzling headlights.

(from The Luck of the Bodkins, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 29, 2018

That steely-eyed look

William Boyd played Hopalong Cassidy in a ton of movies, but he hardly would be considered a notable actor because of that. He just was not that good. However, he was a master of that steely-eyed look that struck ice into the souls of bad guys (at least according to Louis L'Amour, who wrote four Hopalong Cassidy novels under a pseudonym).

Friday, December 28, 2018

Just leave her strictly alone

"George won't steal Grayce's necklace."

"Why not?"

"He knows Grace."

Mr. Llewellyn was compelled to recognize the force of her argument. His wife in her professional days had been one of the best-known panther-women on the silent screen. Nobody who had seen her in her famous role of Mimi, the female Apache in When Paris Sleeps, or who in private life had watched her dismissing a cook could pretend for an instant that she was a good person to steal pearl necklaces from.

"Grace would skin him."

(from The Luck of the Bodkins, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, December 27, 2018

But she can cook!

Myrtle Cootes proves to be very much the sort of niece you would have expected a man like Jas Waterbury to have. In features and expression she resembled a dead codfish on a slab. She wore steel-rimmed spectacles, topping them off with ginger hair and adenoids. But Oofy wasn't looking for a Venus de Milo or a Helen of Troy: what he wanted was a Grade A skilled wielder, and a private word with the cook assured him that the culinary arrangements of the training camp could safely be placed in this gargoyle's hands.

(from "Oofy, Freddie and the Beef Trust," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

It challenges even cast-iron stomaches

No doubt wrestlers can eat almost anything. Nevertheless, there is a point beyond which the human stomach, be it even that of a wrestler, cannot be pushed, and that point has been reached - nay, passed - in this establishment. The meal of which we have just partaken was the sort of meal an inexperienced young female buzzard might have prepared for her newly married buzzard husband. When I was a boy, I had a goat that ate brass doorknobs. That goat would have passed up tonight's steak with a dainty shudder of distaste. Who does the cooking in this joint? Lucrezia Borgia?

(from "Oofy, Freddie and the Beef Trust," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Frances Drake married well

Add to the list of Hollywood actresses who married British bluebloods that of Frances Drake. Actually, she did not marry among the peers, since her husband was one of those infamous "second sons" - specifically Lt. the Hon. Cecil John Arthur Howard. However, his father was Henry Howard, 19th Earl of Suffolk.

Drake gave up her Hollywood career after her marriage, since Howard did not approve of it. She was well prepared for her role among the nobility, as she was born to a wealthy New York City family. Her voice was rich, sultry, and patrician-sounding.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Irritating authoress

Mrs. Lavender Botts had a distressing habit of writing books and talking a good deal about them. Her works were not novels. I am a broadminded man and can tolerate female novelists, but Mrs. Botts gave English literature a ad name by turning out those unpleasant whimsical things to which women of her type are so addicted. My Chums The Pixies was one of her titles, How To Talk To The Flowers another, and Many Of My Best Friends Are Field Mice a third. The rumour had got about that she was contemplating a fourth volume on the subject of elves.

(from "Joy Bells For Walter," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Add Desmond to the list

As we accumulate our list of private detectives from fiction, we can add to the list "Dauntless Desmond, the crooks' despair." He is found in "Leave It To Algy," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Babies are no feast for the eyes

          "Ugh!" said Purkiss, shuddering strongly.
          "I beg your pardon?" said Bingo. He spoke coldly. He had no illusions about his first-born's appearance, being well aware that though Time, the great healer, would eventually turn Algernon Aubrey into a suave boulevardier like his father, he presented to the eye as of even date, like so many infants of tender years, the aspect of a mass murderer suffering from an ingrowing toenail. Nevertheless he resented this exhibition of naked horror. Purkiss, himself far from being an oil-painting, was, he felt, in no position to criticize.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Jimmy Stewart encouraged a kid

Brendon Boone was one of the stars of the Garrison's Gorillas television show, which ran for one season in the 1960s. One interesting fact about his life is that he was the Mississippi state Soap Box Derby champion in 1952. He came in second in the World Soap Box Derby championship held in Ohio, and was very discouraged because of it. However, he was encouraged by no less a figure than famous actor Jimmy Stewart to return home to Mississippi with his head held high because he was still a champion in his home state.

Brendon Boone

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Dumb as a brick

Apart from his ability to sing Old Man River, probably instinctive, he was not a very gifted young man. Amanda Biffen, the girl he loved, though she admired his looks - for, like all the Mulliners, he was extraordinarily handsome - had never wavered in her opinion that if men were dominoes, he would have been the double blank.

(from "Big Business," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Those Wodehousean towns

In the story, "Big Business," we meet the quaint village of Lower-Smattering-on-the-Wissel. Now, how is that for a monicker for a town? It would take a double-sized sign on the main road coming into town in order to get the whole name shown.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

In short, he was too fat

It was at the conclusion of one of these promenades that he had asked her to be his wife, and she had replied that the only obstacle standing in the way of the suggested merger was his adipose deposit. She refused, she said, to walk up the aisle with a human hippopotamus.

Horace Prosser chuckled again. "The whimsical way she put it was that a woman who married a man my size ran a serious risk o being arrested for bigamy. She confessed that she had often yearned for someone like me, but was opposed to the idea of getting twice as much as she had yearned for. Very bright, amusing woman. She comes from Pittsburgh."

(from "The Fat of the Land," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Thea Gregory had six children

Actress Thea Gregory married actor John Gregson in 1947. They remained married until his death in 1975. And, they had six children. All that is an unusual combination for Hollywood.

Friday, December 14, 2018


"I recked little whether anybody saw me." This is a line from a Wodehouse novel. The verb to reck means "to pay heed to something." I think it is safe to say it is virtually never used today.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Drexdale Yeats

Here is another in our growing list of intrepid private investigators of fiction. We meet him in Sir Pelham Wodehouse's novel, Thank You, Jeeves. Supposedly he is a character in the fictitious novel, The Masked Seven, which falls into the genre know as a "goose flesher," at least according to Bertie Wooster.

Image result for private eye

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A tasty invitation

"I shall be frightfully bucked if you will come and mangle a spot of garbage on the boat tonight."

Now, how is that for a dinner invitation? It is borrowed from Thank You, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse. I doubt that the chef would have been overly complimented to hear his employer speaking thusly about his renderings.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Garrison's Gorillas

This is an interesting twist in the group of post-World War II television series from the 1960s. The "gorillas" were all cons, chosen for some particular specialty. It ran in the 1967-68 season. The result was fairly pleasing. It had the realism of Combat!, with aspects of humor from Hogan's Heroes (although not going quite so far with it). Well worth watching if you are a fan of that genre. By the way, if the music of this show sounds a lot like the score for Combat! it is because they had the same composer.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Did he get the point across?

"You have friends, have you?"

"Lots of them."

"So have I, mostly in the Collectors Club. That's a club in New York, called the Collectors Club because its members are collectors. You have to be a collector to become a member, and by collector I imply a man who collects things."

(from The Purloined Paperweight, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Life among the health food nuts

"Sorry I couldn't offer you a cocktail, my boy. We don't have them here. But they serve an excellent glass of parsnip juice, if you would care for it. No? Then suppose we order. Will you have stewed lettuce, or would you prefer an orange? Ah, but wait, I see we are in luck. This is grated carrot day. How about starting with potassium broth, going on to grated carrots and winging up with a refreshing cup of dandelion cofree?"

(from "The Fat of the Land," by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, December 08, 2018

The Old Story of Bertie and the Pea

As two-seaters go, I had always found mine fairly comfortable, but then I had never before tried to get the eight hours in it, and you would be surprised at the number of knobs and protuberances which seem suddenly to sprout out of a car's upholstery when you seek to convert it into a bed.

(from Thank You, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, December 07, 2018

Did Bogie have many namesakes?

It has been a fairly common custom in this country to name children, especially boys, after famous individuals. The initials A. J. (Andrew Jackson) and G. W. (George Washington) are frequently found. One can surmise, however, that famous actor Humphrey Bogart did not have many babies named after him.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

He was a LARGE constable

This Voules was a bird built rather on the lines of Albert Hall, round in the middle and not much above. He always looked to me as if Nature had really intended to make two police sergeants and had forgotten to split them up.

(from Thank You, Jeeves, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, December 05, 2018


Girls may mean to keep things to themselves, but too often, even for the best of them, the strain becomes too much and top secrets are poured out in the strictest confidence to an intimate female friend. And one knows what intimate female friends are like. Tell them anything in the strictest confidence, and you might just as well arrange with the BBC to have it broadcast on their Light Program.

(from The Purloined Paperweight, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Avoiding asininity

          It isn't pleasant for a man who has a cast-iron scheme on the fire and needs only a friend's sympathy and cooperation to steer it to success to be fobbed off with a flippant instruction not to be an ass. How do you suppose John D. Rockefeller, when he was trying to raise capital to start Standard Oil, would have felt if people had told him not to be an ass?
          Bill pointed out that all this embarrassment could have been avoided if Algy had refrained from being an ass, but added, for he was a fair-minded man, that this was perhaps too much to expect.

(from The Purloined Paperweight, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, December 03, 2018

Not a good crook

It may be that the collecting of French eighteenth-century paperweights does something to a man's nervous system, unfitting him for a life of crime by robbing him of the coolness and calm with the criminal classes find so essential in the exercise of their profession, but whether this is so or not, it is an undoubted fact that Wendell was completely lacking in the qualities that go to make a good crook. Where Henry had seemed unmoved by the dark deed they were undertaking and Kelly as plainly as nonchalant as a fish on ice, he had felt from the very inception of the scheme as if spiders to the number of several dozens were parading up and down his spinal cord.

(from The Purloined Paperweight, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Bachelor Pimpernel

In the movie, The Scarlet Pimpernel, as well as in the novel behind it, one of the main themes is the forlorn love that his wife has for him, but which seems to have waned when he assumed the role of his fatuous alter ego in order to hide the identity of the Pimpernel. (They live happily ever after, happily.) However, in the TV version of the Pimpernel, there is no wife, thus making room for bits of romance as he rescues various lovely ladies in distress.

Image result for scarlet pimpernel goring

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Stay with me, now

"I was telling Algy, I'm going to settle down in the country somewhere."

"What will you do there? Raise chickens?"


'Oh? Well, I suppose you know your own business best," said Jane dubiously. I don't think I'd like to run a poultry farm myself." Bill saw that the intricacies of the English language had misled her.

"When I said write, I didn't mean right, I meant write," he said helpfully.

"Oh, write?"


"I'm glad we've got that straight. It was worrying me."

(from The Purloined Paperweight, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)