I have a prescription. Read P.G.Wodehouse.


People now say they are stressed where long ago, before Cosmopolitan magazine in the 1970s, they used to say they were unhappy. Cosmopolitan  back then said a girl must get around and have it all, work, good times and love affairs, but she must not be unhappy. It was not easily done. They had to invent stress.

Some I know are suffering from stress. What can be done?

I have a prescription. Read P.G.Wodehouse. I open a page of one novel. There I see: “You’re all dolled up like a gangster’s corpse.” This from a fat man who was wearing a tweed suit “which might have been built by Omar the Tent Maker.”

The above is not from vintage Wodehouse. That is, not from Jeeves and Wooster or Life at Blandings. It is from an “also ran”. From Laughing Gas (1936).

When he was not writing lyrics for Broadway musicals, like “Just My Bill” with Jerome Kern for Showboat, and early musicals of George Gershwin, Wodehouse pumped out 90 novels and many short stories. All of them humorous. Nothing serious. He had a kink that apparently made it impossible to take things seriously.

This was the reason why he made broadcasts on German radio in the early years of the War. He had been captured by the Germans when they invaded France, where he was living. He did not flee to England because he would have to leave his dogs behind. The Germans put him into a prison camp.

An old friend from Hollywood days, a German, suggested Wodehouse speak to his American readers. The talks were never heard in England, but this did not stop people, like Winston Churchill and A.A.Milne, calling him a traitor.

Wodehouse had already shared his feelings about dictators. In Code of the Woosters in 1938 he made fun of Roderick Spode, would-be dictator, leader of the Black Shorts.

In one broadcast he told of how annoying it was as a camp prisoner to be counted every day. He said after the War he was going to buy a German, keep him in a back garden shed, and count him every day.

Now it is quite obvious if Germans were for sale after the war then Germany would lose the war. That is not Nazi propaganda.

Nevertheless Wodehouse was advised not to return to England after the war. He went to America and never set foot in England  again.

The Queen Mother was a great reader of Wodehouse and she let it be known that she couldn’t see why the morons were picking on the great man. She also saw to it that he was knighted in the 1975 New Year’s Honours. He died in February 1975 at the age of 93, working on a novel called Sunset at Blandings.

One thing that is pleasant about Wodehouse was that he didn’t take himself seriously.  He said:

“I believe there are two ways of writing novels. One is mine, making a sort of musical comedy without the music and ignoring real life altogether; the other is going  right deep down into life and not caring a damn…”

Evelyn Waugh said Wodehouse had created an Eden which we could all escape to from an increasingly  horrible world.

Waugh is not quoted on the covers of the latest editions of Wodehouse. He is, apparently, no longer fashionable. Each generation produces its own celebrities who come up with praise for the master. Sebastian Faulks in the Independent on Sunday: “Wodehouse wrote the best comic novels of the century.”  And Douglas Adams in the Guardian: ‘I have devoured his work respectfully……not merely because he is a great comic writer, but because I think he is arguably the greatest magician of the English language.”

There is a difficulty in ordering up a dose of Wodehouse for stressed (unhappy) women. I am told the ladies don’t like Wodehouse all that much; the Queen Mother wasn’t that typical.

Why this is I do not know. I beg the gals out there now falling upon my every word to have a go.

There is one other novel I know of that has had a genuine good effect on one stressed lady. She is a once great beauty and famous journalist who was taken ill and rushed unconscious to hospital. When she came to, she asked for a book she had already read but would like to read again because it made her feel good.

What was this book?  I blush with modesty. It was my own Murder In A Cold Climate.


1 Comment

Filed under Books, Crime Novelists, Crime Novels, writing

One response to “I have a prescription. Read P.G.Wodehouse.

  1. Thanks for sharing the details of Plum’s life and times. Right prescription – what ho!

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