If you ever feel jaded, scrubbed out or just slightly weary of the world and all its complexities, there is no better cure than a PG Wodehouse book. Both Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry attest to Mr Wodehouse’s absolute brilliance with prose.
The extract below is from ‘Right Ho, Jeeves’. Bertie Wooster, the privileged protagonist of these novels, has a history of getting accidentally engaged to young girls. In this scene he is trying to set up a romantic setting for his school chum, Gussie Fink-Nottle, so Gussie can overcome his nerves and propose to Madeline Bassett, aka ‘The Bassett’.
How different it all would have been, I could not but reflect, if this girl had been the sort of girl one chirrups cheerily to over the telephone and takes for spins in the old two-seater. In that case, I would simply have said, “Listen,” and she would have said, “What?” and I would have said, “You know Gussie Fink-Nottle,” and she would have said, “Yes,” and I would have said, “He loves you,” and she would have said either, “What, that mutt? Well, thank heaven for one good laugh today,” or else, in more passionate vein, “Hot dog! Tell me more.”
I mean to say, in either event the whole thing over and done with in under a minute.
But with the Bassett something less snappy and a good deal more glutinous was obviously indicated. What with all this daylight-saving stuff, we had hit the great open spaces at a moment when twilight had not yet begun to cheese it in favour of the shades of night. There was a fag-end of sunset still functioning. Stars were beginning to peep out, bats were fooling round, the garden was full of the aroma of those niffy white flowers which only start to put in their heavy work at the end of the day–in short, the glimmering landscape was fading on the sight and all the air held a solemn stillness, and it was plain that this was having the worst effect on her. Her eyes were enlarged, and her whole map a good deal too suggestive of the soul’s awakening for comfort.
Her aspect was that of a girl who was expecting something fairly fruity from Bertram.