Friday, December 24, 2010

'You won't understand'

'A genius ...Elusive, delicate but lasting. He created such a credible world that, sadly, I suppose, never really existed but what a delight it always is to enter it and the temptation to linger there is sometimes almost overwhelming'- Alan Ayckbourn about P.G.Wodehouse

Once during physiotherapy, I suddenly started laughing. The physiotherapist thought that it was about something to do with the exercises so she asked me what it was about. I wondered what to say. This was because at the time I had been reading 'The Code of the Woosters' and had suddenly remembered a funny scene in it. Bertie Wooster had gone to Stiffy Byng's room to pinch an incriminating notebook but was set upon by her dog which made him jump quickly onto a chest of drawers. Sitting on this uncomfortable perch and gazing down sourly at the dog who was sitting on the floor and glaring at him, Bertie muses:
I remember Freddie Widgeon, who was once chased onto the top of a wardrobe by an Alsatian during a country house visit, telling me that what he had disliked most about the thing was the indignity of it all - the blow to the proud spirit, if you know what I mean - the feeling, in fine, that he, the Heir of the Ages, as you might say, was camping out on a wardrobe at the whim of a bally dog.

It was the same with me. One doesn't want to make a song and dance about one's ancient lineage, of course, but after all the Woosters did come over with the Conqueror and were extremely pally with him: and a fat lot of good it is coming over with Conquerors, if you're simply going to wind up by being given the elbow by Aberdeen terriers.
Trying to to explain this to someone who is not already familiar with the story and the writing style of Wodehouse would have been an impossible task. Wodehouse fans know that nothing much happens in his novels and the fun lies in the way he plays with words in order to describe the absurd situations that his characters find themselves in. If I had tried explaining it, it would have taken an hour and the effort would have fallen flat. So I chose the easy option and dictated to Jaya,'You won't understand'.

Since then whenever I laughed for no discernible reason, the physiotherapist will look at Jaya, smile knowingly and say,'You won't understand'.


  1. Kesu, I read somewhere that PGW has more fans in India than anywhere else in the world. I have also read that Sashi Tharoor used to head a Wodehouse society (the only one in the world at least at that time) in his college days. Funnily, many people from around the world are not even familiar with the name.

  2. Kailash,
    I think even in CBE PGW is not widely read which was a surprise because I had thought everyone reads PGW.