Sunday 22 September 2019

At Last

Delighted to hear that P.G. Wodehouse, our greatest comic writer of the 20th century, finally has a memorial stone in the South Quire Aisle of Westminster Abbey, where the dead poets and other creative types congregate. As with Philip Larkin, it's been a long wait – in Larkin's case because of a silly fuss about the attitudes revealed in his biography and letters, in Wodehouse's case because of an equally silly, but very damaging, fuss about some broadcasts the author foolishly made for the Nazi occupiers of France in 1941. It took many years before the absurdity and injustice of claiming that Wodehouse was in any way a Nazi sympathiser became fully apparent, though many tried to keep the slur alive long after the war.
 At the unveiling ceremony in Westminster Abbey on Friday, Alexander Armstrong (who also gave the address – he's President of the P.G. Wodehouse Society) read from The Code of the Woosters, the novel that features the appalling Roderick Spode and his paramilitary Black Shorts. There were also readings from The Mating Season (one of the very best) and a Blandings story, and performances of a couple of Wodehouse songs. One of the most enjoyable unveilings, by the sound of it – and a nice, jolly plaque.


  1. Dear Sir Nessness, I believe even your communist writer Mr George Orwell wrote a long defense of Mr Woddhouse, so no contest - the sap was innocent! Also I learned Mr Orwell was actually a Mr. BlaiR. Why did he want to hide the family connection? There’s a question for you!

  2. I have just been reading in You've Had Your Time by Anthony Burgess. I mention this for two reasons. First, he writes of the American actor William Conrad dissuading him from reserving a plot at Forest Lawn (Waugh's Whispering Glades, of which Burgess writes, "The Loved One exaggerated nothing." Conrad's argument was that Burgess would get into Westminster Abbey for free. Second, his protagonist in Earthly Powers is snapped up by the Germans in 1939 somewhere in the greater Reich, and ends up making broadcasts--on internal evidence anti-German, but still putting him in bad odor with the authorities.

  3. Ben Schott's homage to Plum, Jeeves and the King of Clubs, is a worthy memorial too.

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