‘He returned with the tissue-restorer. I loosed it down the hatch, and after undergoing the passing discomfort, unavoidable when you drink Jeeves’ patent revivers, of having the top of the skull fly up to the ceiling and the eyes shoot out of their sockets and rebound from the opposite wall like racquet balls, felt better. It would have been overstating it to say that even now Bertram was back again in mid-season form, but I had at least slid into the convalescent class and was equal to a spot of conversation.’
(P.G.Wodehouse ‘The Code of the Woosters’ page 8)
We always had P.G. Wodehouse books in the house when I was a child. These included several hard back copies, with red covers and my father’s name ‘J.C.Browning’ written neatly at the front. These dated from his days at his prep school, Temple Grove, back in the thirties and very early forties.
I first read ‘The Code of the Woosters’ when I was eleven or twelve – and can still recall my first experience of the passage I have quoted above. I laughed so much that I actually cried – and it still, forty-seven years on, has the power to crease me up with adolescent mirth.
But it also reminds me forcibly of my dad, now dead, and my childhood home in Headington, Oxford, and a time, in the late sixties/early seventies, when laughter of this kind was easy and natural, fun and spontaneous.
I love to think of that little boy writing his name so painstakingly in his books, and reading them and howling with laughter.
Now my son reads the Jeeves books and short stories with equal pleasure – so I have a lovely sense of family continuity – of a tradition which transcends all generational differences. My dad, had he survived to see my son reach eighteen, would have been delighted.