Taking French Leave; Something Fresh May 10

something-fresh-overlookAt 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.

may-10thStill, 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

wodehouse-bingoFinally, I mentioned an idea I have had lingering in my brain for a while. I want to create Wodehouse trope-ical bingo cards that we can use either as discussion aids or as an occasional game.

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.


6 thoughts on “Taking French Leave; Something Fresh May 10

  1. Mike Franden

    The Code: Something that a young man must adhere to
    Infant Samuel: Statues thrown
    Burglary: a practical solution
    Children: what are meant to be pushed off a bridge or kicked
    Fancy Dress: a party and an idea
    The Fete: Church or Village esp. where medals are presented
    Wooly Lamb: The object of a young lady’s affection
    The Drones: any story
    Scales: What fall from the eyes when the truth is revealed or known
    A Writer: A personification of Plum?
    American Millionaire: New Money
    Copper/ Constable : A rotund, slow plodding member of the rural police
    Shakespeare: What Bertram can never remember the correct quote from
    Spinoza: Always sound
    Nietzsche: Very unsound
    Jeeves’ Head: It bulges at the back from all the fish
    The Touch: The loan of a Fiver or other denomination
    Aunts: Soon or later out pops the cloven hoof
    Soup n’ Fish: What is worn to dinner (I know it’s slightly more than two words)

  2. Jennifer Post author

    MUM: A character with a name pronounced differently than spelled, such as Mapledurham
    SOUL’S AWAKENING: “The Soul’s Awakening expression on his face became intensified. Before my revolted eyes Augustus Fink-Nottle definitely smirked.”
    IMPOSTOR: Someone claiming to be other than he/she is
    DOUBLE IMPOSTORS: Any reference to more than one impostor or a character pretending to be two people
    ALL’S RIGHT: Any part of Robert Browning’s Pippa Passes
    The lark’s on the wing;
    The snail ‘s on the thorn;
    God’s in His heaven—
    All’s right with the world!
    STOUT CORTEZ: Any part of John Keats’ On first looking into Chapman’s Homer
    Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken;
    Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
    He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
    Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
    Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
    INFANT SAMUEL: Any mention of Sir Joshua Reynolds’ Infant Samuel at Prayer in any medium
    GRUNTLED: Any word coined by Wodehouse; prepare to defend this
    DRONES: Any mention of the Drones Club
    PALE PARABOLA: Any of the newer sort of poet
    BROODING DANE: Any reference to Shakespeare
    TOM BROWN: Any reference to schooling pre-University
    MCGUFFIN: Any object desired by a number of people
    SELF IMPROVE: Any reference to any course of study meant for self-improvement
    SECRET SOCIETY: Such as the Den of the Secret Nine
    ELEMENTARY: Any reference to Sherlock Holmes
    EGGS: Any reference to eggs
    HAIRCUTS: Any reference to haircuts, shaves, barbers
    GET RICH QUICK: Any reference to schemes to get rich
    PAYBACK: Wodehouse gets at dig at his detractors by inserting them into the story
    DEADEYE DICK: Any example of someone biffing someone with an egg, arrow, stone, slingshop or airgun
    HORSE’S NECK: Any unusual drink, libation, cocktail
    GREAT WHITE HUNTER: Any explorer or hunter
    UNWANTED ENGAGEMENT: Any unwanted engagement
    ROSIE M BANKS: That sort of female novelist
    SHOW GIRLS: Any reference to females who were once showgirls
    DUMB CHUM: Any reference to a cat or dog physically present
    AUNT DAHLIA: Any goodish sort of aunt
    AUNT AGATHA: The sort of aunt who eats broken glass and howls at the moon
    PAYBACK: Any instance of Wodehouse getting at someone in the real world
    RED STAR: Any character described as having Communist sympathies
    TWO SEATER: Any mention of such a car
    NEVER LET: Any mention of a character doing something counter to his interests for a friend
    SPINOZA: Any mention of a sound philosopher
    NIETSCHE: Any mention of an unsound philosopher
    SMALL CHILD: Any mention of a child pivotal to a plot
    BURGLARY: Any mention of any activity involving illegal entry (with intent)
    BUNGLE: Any illegal enterprise gone horribly wrong
    NOBBLE: Any intent to thwart/hamper/fix any contest
    FLOW OF SOUL: Any mention of Alexander Pope’s Imitations of Homer
    The feast of reason and the flow of soul.
    VARDON GRIP: Any mention of golf
    PORCELAIN: Any delicate object, probably made of porcelain, broken
    CAR TROUBLE: Any malfunction of a motor vehicle
    MEMOIRS: Any mention of any memoir that is pivotal to a plot
    WRITER: Any mention of any (at least initially) unsuccessful author
    PLOD: Any mention of the constabulary pivotal to the plot

    Bertie and Jeeves specific
    GANYMEDE: Any mention of the Junior Ganymede club
    EULALIE: Any mention of any secret obtained via the Junior Ganymede club book
    PICK-ME-UP: Jeeve’s hangover cure
    SCRIPTURE PRIZE: Any mention of Bertie winning a Scripture Knowledge Prize
    BOAT RACE NIGHT: Any mention of the Oxbridge rivalry
    AT THE BAR: Any mention of a character being tried
    ANATOLE: Any meniont of Aunt Dahlia’s chef
    MILADY’S BOUDOIR: Any mention of Aunt Dahlia’s publication
    DAISY CHAIN: Madeleine Basset’s favourite observation
    THE CODE: Any invocation of the Code of the Woosters
    NEWTS: Any mention of news or Gussie Fink-Nottle
    ONE OF JEEVES’: Any time Bertie mistakes a famous quote for one of Jeeves’

    Blandings specific
    GARDENER: Any mention of a gardener pivotal to a plot
    EMPRESS: Any mention of the the Empress of Blandings
    PARSLOE: Any mention of Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe
    PIG MAN: Any mention of any of Lord Emsworth’s pig men pivotal to a plot
    PIG BOOK: Any mention of Whiffle on the care and feeding of pigs
    PRAWNS: Any mention of Galahad’s reminisences


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