We’ll be meeting at 12:30 pm Sunday, Nov. 10, to discuss P.G. Wodehouse’s Quick Service at Pints Pub in downtown Denver. To facilitate our discussion, member Ed has submitted these notes:
Notes on “Quick Service”
“Quick Service” is one of the first Wodehouse books I ever read. I was in junior high school, and came across an odd edition: held one way, right side up, there was the complete novel “Quick Service;” flipped over, there was the complete novel “The Code of the Woosters.”
Joss Weatherby is a first-rate Wodehouse “buzzer.” I can’t do any better than this reviewer:
“Quick Service” is arguably the best of Wodehouse’s stand-alone novels…
The hero, Joss Weatherby, may be one of Wodehouse’s finest creations, but alas, I do not believe that he appears in any other story or novel. Indeed, none of the characters in this book appear in any other Wodehouse book, although they are all 100% in the style and manner of your Wodehouse favorites. The funny thing is that each character is a particularly fine example of the Wodehouse style. Weatherby is particularly bright, clever and charming. Love interest Sally is perfectly Sally-ish. Imperious Mrs. Cavendish is terrifying; J.B. Duff is every inch the “ham king” businessman. If you could hand an unbeliever or a newbie one Wodehouse book to get him hooked, this would be it.
That is especially so because the book, for all of its complexities and sub-plots and twists and turns, screams along without any wasted motion. While this may be sacrilege, I believe even the most ardent admirers would admit that sometimes a Wodehouse novel, as opposed to short story, can bog down a bit here and there. Sometimes a scene or a bit of business seems like it’s been done before. But not in this book. There is no waste and no filler, and every line is precise and necessary. This gives the whole enterprise a light and zippy feel as we scream toward multiple deserved happy endings for all.
- Reviewer “Ancient Mariner,” on Amazon.co.uk. This reviewer lives in Colorado.
“Buzzer” – a brash but decent young man on the make in the world, with a distinctive, flippant way of talking, and without the private income or subsidies from aunt or guardian which provide so much of the fun in alpha Wodehouse.
- “Enthusiasms,” by Mark Girouard, Frances Lincoln Ltd., London, 2011
“Buzzers,” the conscious maestros of racy conversation, invective and persiflage: Galahad and Uncle Fred, and all those chirpy young heroes of whom testy tycoons say in opening chapters that they are ‘a darn sight too fresh’. These are clever men who talk that way because it amuses them…. This is the essence of the ‘buzzer’ in Wodehouse. He buzzes in the hope that his talk will ‘start something’. Buzzing cheers him up and makes him feel better himself. But there is always the possibility that it may also cause someone else to do something exciting that will relieve the monotony.
- From “The Penguin Wodehouse Companion” by Richard Usborne, Penguin, 1988, London
Wodehouse was famous for helping to create the distinctive slang of entre-deux-guerres Britain. He had used popular expressions in his early period, like “C-3” and “oojah-cum-spiff,” but in 1923 he begins something new, as when Psmith says to Mike Jackson, “let us trickle into yonder tea-shop and drink success to a cup of the steaming.” According to Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang, this is the first use of the world trickle meaning “to go,” and steaming, initially a military term for pudding, here means “tea.” Other slang words that made their way into the English language through Wodehouse were turpy, teuf-teuf, snappers, and buzzer. Terms that were already there, like “steaming,” had their meaning changed, such as “zippy” and “pip-pip.” But the last of these slang inventions was “oompus-boompus” in Money in the Bank. I have found no case of an invented slang word anywhere in the Late Period.
- “St. Mike’s, Wodehouse and Me: The Great Thesis Handicap,” by Elliott Milstein, in the quarterly journal of The Wodehouse Society, Volume 25 Number 3 Autumn 2004