If I say that for me today J is for Jasper and ask who is my favourite author, some amongst you would correctly guess it has to be Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, who I consider the finest writer of the English language. Ok, I may be biased but I maintain that no one could create magic with his words like “Plum” Wodehouse. His characters, and indeed their names, remain etched in your memory, hence J for Jasper reminds me of that baronet, Sir Jasper ffinch-ffarowmere, But before we meet Sir Jasper, in case you haven’t read Wodehouse before, please spare me a few minutes of your valuable time to read only a few lines which I share to explain why I believe his writing is matchless. Here’s an extract from “Meet Mr. Mulliner”. This story is called, “The Truth About George.” In the following extract you will see, described in Wodehouse’s inimitable way, how George Mulliner was cured of his stammer.
“Something obviously had to be done, and George went to London to see a specialist.
“Yes ? ” said the specialist.
” I-I-I-I-I-I-I ” said George.
” You were saying ? ”
” Woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo ”
” Sing it,” said the specialist.
” S-s-s-s-s-s-s-s ? ” said George, puzzled.
The specialist explained. He was a kindly man with moth-eaten whiskers and an eye like a meditative cod-fish.
” Many people,” he said, ” who are unable to articulate clearly in ordinary speech find themselves lucid and bell-like when they
burst into song.”
It seemed a good idea to George. He thought for a moment ; then threw his head back, shut his eyes, and let it go in a musical
” I love a lassie, a bonny, bonny lassie,” sang George. ” She’s as pure as the lily in the dell.”
” No doubt,” said the specialist, wincing a little.
“She’s as sweet as the heather, the bonny purple heather — Susan, my Worcestershire bluebell.”
” Ah ! ” said the specialist. ” Sounds a nice girl. Is this she ? ” he asked, adjusting his glasses and peering at the photograph
which George had extracted from the interior of the left side of his under- vest.
George nodded, and drew in breath.
” Yes, sir,” he carolled, ” that’s my baby. No, sir, don’t mean maybe. Yes, sir, that’s my baby now. And, by the way, by the
way, when I meet that preacher I shall say — ” Yes, sir. that’s my ‘ ”
” Quite,” said the specialist, hurriedly. He had a sensitive ear. ” Quite, quite.”
Now coming back to Sir Jasper. He was introduced in a short story called, “A Slice of Life,” in which the scientist Wilfred Mulliner ( one of the very many Mulliners that appear in these short stories) falls in love with Angela Purdue but to win her heart, he first has to deal with her stout uncle Sir Jasper.
Wodehouse describes their first time, thus:
Sir Jasper Finch-Farrowmere?” said Wilfred.
“ffinch-ffarowmere,” corrected the visitor, his sensitive ear detecting the capital letters.
“Ah yes. You spell it with two small f’s.”
“Four small f’s.”
I could go on and on about Sir Jasper and the many characters Wodehouse created in his long career as a writer. But perhaps, some other time.