At our March meeting, the members of the Secret Nine acknowledged that French Leave was something different from the P.G. Wodehouse formula we had all come to expect and love. Those assembled would not say that it was a sub-par effort by the Master, but there was general agreement the plot was just not quite right.
Of course the seven members present cannot speak for the whole group and even among the seven, there was some variation. Original member Mike thought it so funny he was in danger of … well, no need to go into specifics. Newest member Mike and member Shawn agreed with this correspondent that the plot didn’t seem like a real Wodehouse plot. Of course we’d done our homework and knew the plot was one borrowed from Wodehouse’s good friend Guy Bolton, but speaking for myself, I uncovered that information after reading the story, while preparing to sound knowledgeable when we discussed it.
Still, there was a lot to like in the story and we praised many of the characters. As usual, there was talk of who could be cast in a movie adaptation (ignoring the fact Bolton’s basic plot has been filmed several times).
We also welcomed back member Larry, whose holiday abroad was recently marred by a mysterious illness, no doubt the work of our arch enemies. The date of our next conclave was also set, May 10, unfortunately Mothers’ Day, although anyone should feel free to bring their mother to any of our meetings. The next novel to be discussed is Something Fresh (aka Something New in the States).
We also talked about attending another cricket game. Original Mike is our liaison to the Colorado Cricket League and we’ll try to get a schedule—never an easy task. It was agreed that we will provide our own refreshments this time, with a sign-up sheet so that we’ll have more to eat than just cucumber sandwiches.
Again, the idea of a Wodehouse miniature golf tournament was floated and there seemed to be general agreement. This might be the alternative if the cricket game does not coalesce.
Wodehouse Trope-ical Bingo
Here’s how it might work as a game. Before a meeting, a browser-based program will generate bingo cards filled with both general tropes and tropes specific to the type of Wodehouse book we’re discussing (Blandings, Jeeves and Wooster, Mulliner, etc.). Each member gets a card (probably more than one) and within a set amount of time, the squares must be marked if that trope is mentioned in the story (there will be an accompanying sheet explaining the tropes in full). The first person to fill a row, column or diagonal wins.
Of course the danger to this style of play is that no one wins. Alternately, the game can be played by calling off a list of tropes (from a computer-generated list). You can only mark a square if that trope exists on your card AND is used in the novel. This second method can also be used with the first method if there is no winner with the first method, or as a tie breaker. We could also impose penalties if a trope is marked when not present in the story.
I’ll make this a publicly accessible computer program so anyone can use this. What I need from the members of the Secret Nine (or any Wodehousean) is suggestions for tropes. Suggestions should come in this form:
PAYBACK: Any instance where a reference in a story is Wodehouse getting back at a detractor. General usage
MUM: Any instance where a character’s name is pronounced differently than spelled. General usage
GANYMEDE: Any reference to the Junior Ganymede club. Jeeves and Wooster
Being a trope, it must occur more than once. So PICTURE RUFF or wearing a picture as a ruff would not be appropriate, but CAR TROUBLE would be.
Oh, tropes should not be more than two (preferably) words long to fit in the squares and I would prefer any suggestions be left here as comments.