As the winter gloom cast by the pandemic lifts up gradually, the air is redolent with hope and sunshine once again. Valentine’s Day resonated with whispers of sweet nothings and slings of Cupid piercing young hearts. Realising the need for the world to do with some extra cheer, St Peter decided to unlock the gates of heaven and send back PG Wodehouse, popularly called ‘Plum’, to his writing desk to continue penning rib-tickling masterpieces of humour.
Wodehouse, who died on February 14, 1975, on Valentine’s Day at the age of 91, had never, in fact, left the hearts of millions of his readers. He lived on with his timeless humour and satires of the Edwardian world.
A sneak preview of the manuscript of his bestseller in the making — a sequel to one of the many Bertie Wooster and Jeeves escapades reads: ‘As Bertie emerged from the bath humming his favourite morning ditty — aunt Agatha never quite approved of it as befitting a scion of the Woosters and a worthy member of the Drones Club to yodel — he headed for the dressing room, where Jeeves, the inimitable gentleman, was waiting patiently to dress up his Lordship for the afternoon lunch.
As Bertie made a reconnaissance of the array of clothes, kerchiefs, neckties and cuff links, he espied a strange accoutrement — generally worn by robbers or practitioners of the sleight of hand arts, relieving gentlemen of their wallets at the annual Derby.
‘I say Jeeves, what’s this darn face-covering device doing here among my clothes?’ Lowering his voice, he said, ‘Perhaps his Lordship is not quite familiar with the new code of dressing up for all Londoners venturing out from their homes — as part of the new Covid protocols in place.’
‘Oh! Dash it! Do you expect that tender little daisy, my sweet Honoria Glossop, my companion for the afternoon lunch at Mayfair, appreciating this masquerade?’ ‘No?’ ‘Then drop the lunch date and head for the country instead to take in lungfuls of pure oxygen that pervades the Blandings Castle. Lord Emsworth, the Earl of Blandings, mostly kept to himself leaving aside letting out a welcoming grunt to his visiting nephew and nieces.
He was mostly absorbed in reading the second volume of the masterful treatise ‘Whistler on the Pig’ in preparation for the upcoming Shropshire Pig Fair, where his pet sow, Empress of Blandings, always walked away with the trophy in the Fat Pigs category.
‘Let’s tootle on to Blandings, Jeeves without much further ado, to be in time for the mouth-watering cuisine laid out by French chef Antoinette Jean Baptiste. Have you topped up my silver hip flask for the journey to keep the Wooster spirits warmed up in the nippy country air?
‘No my Lordship, Covid protocols require everyone to carry sufficient supplies of sanitiser bottles on their person as the liquid of choice, instead.’
The novel is yet to hit the market. One way to ensure that your Valentine never breaks your heart is to gift a Wodehouse book.
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