This will not break code of the Woosters
Prolific writer and commentator John Walsh contributes columns to the paper as well as writing features, interviews and restaurant reviews. He has been editor of The Independent Magazine, literary editor of the Sunday Times and features editor of the London Evening Standard.
Friday 17 September 1999
But the broadcasts refuse to go away, and with them the suggestion that this astute creator of a fantasy England was secretly in the pay of the Third Reich; a scenario as likely as Corky Pirbright (heroine of The Mating Season) moonlighting as Mata Hari. Only three years ago, files released from the Public Record Office accused him of being "a man without political sense who lives in a world of his own and is only interested in creating humorous characters and incidents to please himself and his book-buying public".
Wodehouse will, of course, survive this new assault on his bona fides. He is beyond such things. His world of braying aristocrats, florid peers, saurian aunts, drooping flappers and imperturbable butlers may not leave every reader swooning with bliss, but is extremely hard to dislike; and criticism is generally taken as a sure sign that the critic is mad, insensitive, humourless or foreign. When a revisionist biography by Barry Phelps tried to detect undercurrents of angst and heartbreak behind the adventures at Blandings Castle, the critic Philip Norman remarked: "It is like watching someone get the Comic Muse down on asphalt and twist its arm behind its back."
Plum apologists can also point to his depiction, in The Code of the Woosters, of a Mosley-ish fascist called "Roderick Spode", leader of the shadowy "Black Shorts" movement. How, the logic runs, could such a trenchant satirist of dictatorship ever be attracted to totalitarianism?
The man known as "Plum" is the ultimate safe bet in a world where one has learned to express enthusiasm with caution. And that is why, one assumes, Tony Blair not only became an honourary member of the P G Wodehouse Society in 1995, but lent his support to a promotion of the great man's works in May this year.
So did a score of other commentators, some predictable (John Mortimer, Stephen Fry, Keith Waterhouse) some less so (Peter O'Toole, Christopher Hitchens, Cardinal Basil Hume).
Together they sealed Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse's reputation as the best comic novelist of the century - and the author who uncovered the British public's secret love for chap-and-butler stories. Wodehouse didn't set out to be subversive, nor was he temperamentally capable of political radicalism; the indications are that he did most things because he thought they might be rather jolly.
Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax
- 1 Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
- 2 Shia LaBeouf claims he was raped during #IAMSORRY art installation performance
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Michael Buerk wishes he killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler after death of Phil Hughes
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
Kim Jong-un 'in dire need of allies' within his own government as younger sister appointed to senior role
Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Michael Buerk wishes he killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Plebgate: Andrew Mitchell’s reputation in tatters as judge rules he used the word ‘pleb’
£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...
£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...
£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...
£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...