Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wodehouse in Bengal

Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fleming as Bertie and Jeeves

After one of Jeeves's sensational pick-me-ups, I could begin to think clearly.

"Where was I last night, Jeeves?"

"At Mr. Pirbright's residence, sir. Mr. Pirbright had announced a celebration to acknowledge the termination of the Marxist stronghold in the Indian state of West Bengal, sir."

I confess I was at sea.

"West Bengal, Jeeves?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, what about it?"

"Mr. Pirbright, sir, I understand, is significantly anti-communist. He was ecstatic at receiving news of Lady Banerjee's victory."

"A woman, Jeeves?" The set-up seemed rummy. "Does she believe that the stars are God's daisy chain?"

"I would assume not, sir. Lady Banerjee does not express herself in rhyme. She shows a marked disposition towards the reflection of life on canvas."

"A painter, you mean?"

"Precisely, sir."

I right-hoed, and after a few minutes of forking a thoughtful plate of eggs and bacon, I put my gentleman's gentleman another question.

"Surely she is someone's aunt?"

"I beg your pardon, sir?"

"Lady Banerjee,"

"The possibility cannot be ruled out, sir."

"Aunts," I told the fellow solemny, "aren't gentlemen."

"I fear not, sir. Lady Banerjee has been heard referring to herself as a common man."

"You mean like a cartoon?"

"Not quite, sir. She--"

"I get the drift, Jeeves. So there is change brewing in West Bengal?"

"It seems so, sir. The Marxist rule has been reported to have stalled development."

I mused a bit. "What was it the poet said about hope, Jeeves? Something about silver."

"Sweet hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head."

"That's the one, Jeeves. I see your memory is as tickety-boo as ever. Still eating fish, what?"

"Yes, sir."

"From the Bay of Bengal, eh?"

"The finest, sir."


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