One of my all-time favourite authors (going back to my teenage years) is P G Wodehouse. It isn’t just the humour or the mad-cap plotlines, or the inevitability that Jeeves will get Bertie out of the soup at the last minute, rescue his chum and in doing so, win the reward of ousting from Bertie’s wardrobe a rather too loud jacket/hat/pair of plus-fours. Yes, of course, the story threads come together in a beautiful way and the scrapes Bertie, Lord Emsworth and Co. get into are hilariously inventive, even seventy plus years after they were first put down on the page. But what never fails to charm me is the wit in Wodehouse’s way of throwing words together.
Here are a few examples:
- He groaned slightly and winced, like Prometheus watching his vulture drop in for lunch.
- It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.
- ‘Oh, Bertie,’ she said in a voice like beer trickling out of a jug…
- The fishy glitter in his eye became intensified. He looked like a halibut which had just been asked by another halibut to lend it a quid till next Wednesday.
- The Duke’s moustache was rising and falling like seaweed on an ebb-tide.
- “I’m not speaking to you. I wouldn’t speak to you if your shirt were on fire.”
- He was a vintage butler of obviously a very good year.
- “You’re a pig, Bertie!” “A pig maybe – but a shrewd, level-headed pig.”
- Aunt Agatha, who eats broken glass and wears barbed wire next to the skin.
- A conscience as tender as a sunburned neck.
- Hash looked like one who drained the four-ale of life and found a dead mouse at the bottom of the pewter.