Bertie’s exchange of telegrams from Right Ho, Jeeves
AbeBooks recently asked its British customers about the funniest books they have ever read and the funniest single passage in a book. I’m going through the submissions at the moment and creating a feature but I came across this submission and it’s too long for me to use so I’ll share it with you.
Deborah from Glastonbury writes….
“Right Ho, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse is my all-time favourite book and I must have read it at least 10 times, and each time is funnier than the last. Whenever I feel a little down or need cheering up, there is one part in this fabulous book that I always turn to as it is guaranteed to raise a smile… Near the begining of the story there is an exchange of telegrams between Bertie and his Aunt Dahlia and Gussie Fink-Nottle. The first telegram simply reads: ‘Lay off the sausages. Avoid the ham. Bertie’. This is for Gussie and is part of Bertie’s ‘ingenious’ plan to enable Gussie to win back the love of the insipid Madelaine Basset. I shan’t tell you any more as you may not have read it!
“The telegrams from Aunt Dahlia are truly wonderful and it is these short, succinct missives that never fail to make me giggle. (I must take the liberty of reproducing them here just to share them!) Dahila writes: ‘Am taking legal advice to ascertain whether strangling an idiot nephew counts as murder. If it doesn’t look out for yourself. Consider your conduct frozen limit. What do you mean by planting your loathsome friends on me like this? Do you think Brinkley Court is a leper colony or what is it? Who is this Spink-Bottle? Love. Travers.’
“Ignoring the threat of death from his aunt, Bertie simply replies: ‘Not Bottle. Nottle. Regards. Bertie.’ The next ‘gram from Aunt D explains that Gussie isn’t so bad, albeit a bit of a ‘pop-eyed bleater’ and that she is considering arranging a series of lectures for him to do on newts (his passion). It ends with a request for Berite to come to Brinkley instanter…’Bring spats..’
“One can imagine Bertie squirming at this and all he reposted was: ‘On consulting engagement book find it impossible come to Brinkley Court. Deeply regret. Toodle-oo. Bertie.’ The phrase which follows this in the book is the wonderful: ‘Oh, so it’s like that, is it?’ and ends with the sublime: ‘Deeply regret Brinkley Court hundred miles from London as unable hit you with a brick. Love. Travers.’
“Bertie’s reply to this descends into a desperate attempt to wriggle out of the situation begining: ‘ No, but dash it, listen. Honestly, you don’t want me…’
“Here is Dahlia’s biting reply: ‘Well, all right. Something in what you say, I suppose. Consider you treacherous worm and contemptible, spineless cowardy custard, but have booked Spink-Bottle. Stay where you are, then, and I hope you get run over by an omnibus. Love. Travers’.
“Needless to say, Bertie does go to Brinkley and fabulous adventures and situations insue. I can’t possible explain why this book is so amusing in such a short space and all I can say is, if you haven’t read it, read it! I always have a few spare copies of this book in stock at home which I give to friends and other people I meet who have never read it. I know from doing this that I have initiated a few more people into the gloriously wonderful world of Wodehouse…and they have continued to read more of Bertie’s excapades. As I mentioned earlier, if I ever need a tickle in the ribs to cheer me up, it is this book that does the job. For a quicker fix, the telegram exchange is always the first place I stop and even though I have read it many times, it never fails to make me laugh out loud.”