Wodehouse Quotations


Those captious critics who are always on the alert to catch the historian napping and expose in his relation of events some damaging flaw will no doubt have seized avidly on what appears to be a blunder in the incident just recorded. Where, they will ask, did Willoughby Braddock get the revolver, without which a man may say 'Hands up!' till he is hoarse and achieve no result? For of all the indispensable articles of costume which the well-dressed man must wear if he wishes to go about saying 'Hands up!' to burglars, a revolver is the one which can least easily be omitted.

Whether this simple device would have been effective with a person of ferocious and hard-boiled temperament, one cannot say; but fortunately Chimp was not of this description. His strength was rather of the head than of the heart. He was a man who shrank timidly from even the appearance of violence; and though he may have had doubts as to the genuineness of Mr Braddock's pistol, he had none concerning the latter's physique.


'And how is the world using you, Mr Braddock?'


'Of course,' he said. when the first paroxysm of enthusiasm had passed, 'there's just this one point to be taken into consideration. I've lost my job, and I don't know how I'm to get l another.''Of course you'll get another!''Why, so I will!' said Sam, astounded by the clearness of her reasoning. The idea that the female intelligence was inferior to the male seemed to him a gross fallacy. How few men could have thought a thing all out in a flash like that.'It may not be a big job, but that will be all the more fun.'

'So it will.'

'We shall love to hear that,' said Kay brightly. Her eyes, wandering aside, met Sam's. Sam, who had opened his mouth, closed it again.


'If everybody was like you, sir,' said the constable at length, in a deep, throaty voice, 'the world would be a better place.'

The world couldn't be a better place,' said Sam. 'Good night.'

/Eggs, Beans and Crumpets/

The trouble with old Bingo is that he will allow his cooler judgment to be warped by dreams and omens. Nobody had known better than he that by the ruling of the form-book Bounding Beauty hadn't a chance: but on the eve of the race he had a nightmare in which he saw his Uncle Wilberforce dancing the rumba in the nude on the steps of the National Liberal Club and, like a silly ass, accepted this as a bit of stable information. And bang, as I say, had gone every penny he had in the world.

Yes, he had made the great decision. That money which he had been earmarking for tips must be diverted to another end. It might lead to his having to sneak out of the hotel at the conclusion of his visit with his face scarlet and his ears hanging down, but the risk had to be taken. Nothing venture, nothing have.


So when you ask me to wait for my money, I say of course I'll wait for my money. Suppose we say till next Friday?'Bingo blenched a bit. The period he had had in mind had been something more along the lines of a year or eighteen months.

'Well,' he said, 'I'll try to brass up then ... but you know how it is ... you mustn't be disappointed if ... this world-wide money shortage ... circumstances over which I have no control ...'


'Oofy, old man,' he said, 'it is within your power to save a human life.'

Wow! :-)

'Well, I'm jolly well not going to,' said Oofy, who had now got one of his dyspeptic headaches. 'The more human lives o that aren't saved, the better I shall like it. I loathe the human race. Any time it wants to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, it will be all right with me.'


No doubt Mrs Bingo had gone to some pains in her telephone call to make it thoroughly clear that she was remaining in London, but it was no good trying to drive things into a head like Dora Spurgeon's by means of the spoken word.


He unquestionably had a moral claim on the brooch - bought with his hard-earned money -the thing, you might say, was really his to do what he liked with - nevertheless, something told him that friction would


:-) :-)

-----'You look ...'A wifely suspicion shot through Mrs Bingo. She eyed him narrowly. 'You haven't been gambling?''No, no,' said Bingo. He is a fellow who is rather exact in his speech, and the word 'gambling', to his mind, implied that a chap had a chance of winning. All that he had done, he felt. had been to take his little bit of money and give it to the Administration. You couldn't describe that as gambling. More-like making a donation to a charity.'No, no,' he said. 'Rather not.'


Bingo's hundred francs had been on Black, so Zero had put it in prison. And then, presumably, Black must have turned up, getting it out again. And, as he hadn't taken it off, it had, of course, stayed on Black. And then, while he was immersed in conversation with Mrs Bingo about brooches, the wheel, from being a sort of mechanical Oofy Prosser, had suddenly turned into a Santa Claus.


'What dreadful faces these people have,' she said. Bingo did not reply. His own face at this moment was no thing to write home about, resembling more than anything else that of an anxious fiend in Hell.

'That was his story,' assented the Bean. 'It doesn't hold water for an instant. It was not my birthday. And if it had been, he should have been well enough acquainted with my psychology to know that I wouldn't want a blasted, man-eating Peke with teeth like needles and a disposition that led it to take offence at the merest trifle. Scarcely had 1 started to deflect the animal to the door, when it turned like a flash and nipped me in the calf. And if I hadn't had the presence of mind to leap on to a table, the outcome might have been even more serious. Look!' said the Bean. 'A nasty flesh wound.'

So on the morning on which this story begins it was in rather sombre mood that he seated himself at the breakfast-table and speared a couple of eggs and a rasher of ham. Mrs Bingo's six Pekes frolicked about his chair, but he ignored their civilities. He was thinking how bitter it was that he should have an absolute snip for the two o'clock at Hurst Park that afternoon and no means of cashing in on it. For his bookie, a man who , seemed never to have heard of the words 'Service and Co-operation', had informed him some time back that he was no longer prepared to accept mere charm of manner as a substitute for money down in advance.

'You are silly!' she said indulgently, and Bingo knew that hope, never robust, must now be considered dead.

It gave Bingo just the time he needed. He was out of the bush in a jiffy, like a leopard bounding from its lair. There was one anxious moment when the Peke drew back with raised eyebrows and a good deal of that To-what-am-I-indebted-for-this-visit stuff, but fortunately the scent of the cheese floated to its nostrils before it could utter more than a soito voce whoofle, and from then on everything went with a swing.

He left Bingo, as you may well suppose, chafing quite a goodish deal. Thanks to Mrs Bingo's lack of a sense of what was fitting having led her to conduct these operations through an underling instead of approaching him. Bingo, in her absence the head of the house, he had imperilled his social standing by becoming a dogstealer. And all for nothing.


Well, when I tell you that during breakfast he was convinced that it was Winterbottom and that by lunch-time he had switched to Benjafield, you will see how far the evil had spread.


Stripping the thing starkly down to its bare bones, he saw that the scenario was as follows. Mrs Bingo was a woman with six Pekes. When she returned from Bognor Regis, she would be a woman with seven Pekes. And his knowledge of human nature told him that the first thing a six-Peke woman does, on discovering that she has suddenly become a seven-Peke woman, is to ask questions.

;-) cq

It was a painful shock to the intelligentsia, accordingly, when they discovered that their old friend was not going to prove the geyser of easy money they had anticipated.

'That's right,' said Bingo. 'Busy. Busy, busy, busy. Much too busy to talk to females. I told her to write, stating her business ' legibly on one side of the paper only.'

Wow! tt

I don't know if any of you happened to see that picture, 'The Hurricane', that was on not long ago. Briefly, the plot of it was that there was a bevy of unfortunate blighters on a South Sea island and the dickens of a howling tempest came along and blew them cross-eyed. I bring this up because Bingo tells me that very much the same sort of thing happened now. For some moments, he says, all he was conscious of was a vast atmospheric disturbance, with him swaying in the middle of it, and then gradually, Purkiss's remarks becoming clearer, he gathered that he had made something of a floater, and that this bird Jobson was a bird who should have been conciliated, sucked up to, given the old oil and generally made to feel that she was among friends and admirers.

'Well, I'm sorry,' he said, feeling that something in the nature of an apology was indicated. 'J deeply regret the whole unfortunate occurrence. I was the victim of a misunderstanding. It never crossed my mind that the above was a sweet ginger specializing in chipmunks. The impression I received was of somebody trying to sell richly illustrated sets of Dumas on the easy payment plan.'

:-) !

'Cheer up,' he said. 'You still have me.'

'No, I haven't,' said Purkiss. 'You're fired.'

And in words whose meaning there was no mistaking he informed Bingo that the end of the month would see his finish as Ye Ed., and that it was his, Purkiss's, dearest hope that when j he. Bingo, finally left the premises, he would trip over the doormat and break his neck.


The salary, though small, had come under the head of manna from heaven, and the holding of the post had filled him with a spiritual pride such as he had not experienced '- since he won the Woolly-Mat-Tatting Prize at his first kindergarten.


Any male turtle dove will tell you that, if conditions are right, the female turtle dove can spit on her hands and throw her weight about like Donald Duck. And it needed no diagram to show Bingo that conditions here were just right. Mrs Bingo had taken a lot of trouble to get him his job, and when she found that through sheer fatheadedness he had chucked it away she would, something told him, have a lot of comment to make.

Too often, he would tell her, female visitors pat editors on the knee or even straighten their tie, and his pure soul had shrunk from ihe thought of anything like that happening to a sober married man like himself. It might get by, or it might not get by. It was a straight, sporting venture.


And then, after he had been sitting for a goodish time with his head in his hands, exercising every cell in his brain to its utmost capacity, he received an inspiration and saw what Napoleon would have done. A moment later, he was on the telephone with Mrs Bingo's silvery voice are-you-there-ing at the other end.


If Mrs Bingo supposed that Bingo, having hung up the receiver, immediately returned to the task of assembling wholesome literature for the kiddies, she was gravely in error.


I don't know if you have ever called at an hotel with a view to pinching a signed photograph from one of the suites. If not, I may tell you that technical difficulties present themselves at the very outset - notably the problem of how the hell to get in. Bingo, inquiring at the desk, learned that Miss Jobson was not at home, and was for a moment encouraged by the information. It was only after he had sneaked up the stairs and was standing outside the locked door that he realized that this was not an end but a beginning.


You know how it is. Bores come up and tell you their troubles. Cadgers come up and try to touch you. I shall be happier in Miss Jobson's suite.


It seemed to Bingo that if he was going to put up any kind of a story, now was the time to put it up.


She drove off, and he stood there, his eyes closed and his lips moving silently. Only once in his life before had he been conscious of this awed sense of being the favourite son of a " benevolent providence. That was at his private school, when the Rev. Aubrey Upjohn, his headmaster, in the very act of raising the cane to land him a juicy one on the old spot, had ricked his shoulder and had to postpone the ceremony indefinitely.


And he had had the first one and was waiting for the second, when he felt something pawing at his sleeve. He glanced round, and there was Purkiss with a pleading look in his eyes, like a spaniel trying to ingratiate itself with someone whom it knows to be allergic to dogs.


Well, I don't know what you would have replied to that, if you had been in Bingo's position - addressed in this fashion, I mean, by a man who had not only given you the push but in doing so called you at least six offensive names. Personally, I would have said 'Oh?' or possibly 'Ho!' and that may have been what Bingo was intending to say. But before he could get going, Purkiss proceeded.


'Mr Little, I am faced by a disaster so hideous that the mind reels, contemplating it, and only you can save me.'

He could make nothing of all this, but is a pretty intelligent chap, and he was beginning to see that circumstances had arisen which might culminate in him doing a bit of good for himself.


'There,' said Oofy, 'you have put your finger on the insuperable objection to the scheme. I see no percentage in your being alive. I wish you were a corpse, preferably a mangled one. I should like to dance on your remains.'


I suppose if a fairly sinewy mule had suddenly kicked Bingo ' in the face, he might have felt a bit worse, but not much.


However, he dismissed the idea - not because it was not good, but because something told him that it was not good enough. Mrs Bingo was a woman who wrote novels about girls who wanted to be loved for themselves alone, but she was not lacking in astuteness.


----'No, sir. But a moment ago I heard him utter a cry.''A cry?''Yes, sir. A piercing cry, indicative of considerable distress of mind. It was in many respects similar to his ejaculation on the morning of January the first of the present year, on the occasion when he supposed - mistakenly - that he had seen a pink elephant.'



Oofy shuddered strongly.'Don't say such things, even in fun,' he begged.He reached the floor, and stood staring at Algernon Aubrey from a safe distance.'And to think,' he murmured, 'that I thought of getting married!"'Marriage is all right,' argued Bingo.

'True,' Oofy conceded, 'up to a certain point. But the risk! The fearful risk! You relax your vigilance for a second, you turn your head for a single instant, and bing! something like that happens.'

His hopes were shattered. He felt like a man who, chasing rainbows, has had one of them suddenly turn and bite him in the leg.

Examining the point now, it seemed to him that Myrtle, with her woman's intuition, had rather gone to the root of the matter and touched the spot.


'I understand now,' he said, 'why it is that curates are not permitted to preach on Sunday evenings during the summer months. It is not safe. It is like exploding a bomb in a public place. It upsets existing conditions too violently.

Again, for the second time in two days, Anselm found himself looking a little askance at his loved one.

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Quotes - By books

Index from book Wodehouse on Wodehouse. | Article "About Stories" | Dedications1 | Dedications 2 | Prefaces1 | Prefaces2 | Prefaces3 | Prefaces4 | "Facts from Usborn" (forewords from Vintage Wodehouse)