Halfway through "The Inimitable Jeeves" which I had picked up to re-read during my posting in the Covid ward, it struck me that this is, in many ways, about the right time to read Wodehouse. Perhaps you say that any time is right to read Wodehouse, but now especially, when one is, at every moment, struggling each moment to keeps one's head above the deluge of bad news from all sides, it seems all the more appropriate.
We seem to live in the age of news, global, national and regional, real and fake, and it is always the worst parts that trickle down so that almost all of it that reaches us seems to be sordid and depressing. It affects everyone, inducing either feelings of depair and helplessness or anger and frustration. But there is little one can do about such large issues, with the result that most of this anger and frustration is vented on different "social" media, serving only to inflame them further, inducing a sense of helpless impotence.
In the world of Wodehouse we are reminded of the simple pleasures of living local. Disasters are always in the form of an impending visit from an angry aunt (“It isn’t often that Aunt Dahlia lets her angry passions rise, but when she does, strong men climb trees and pull them up after them.” 1) or an undesirable alliance. Bertie Wooster takes on these with an equanimity and fortitude that is inspiring. And while one may superficially consider him a dumb, useless, rich man spending his days in idle indulgence ("Good Lord, Jeeves! You don't mean to say the day starts earlier than this?" on being told at around ten in the morning that a gentleman had called in to see him earlier in the day. 2) and doing nothing worthwhile, as one gets to know him, one realizes that he is indeed a role model expostulating the concepts that "being something" doesnt have to mean being popular or notorious but just a good, simple person who is kind and generous and "doing something" doesnt always have to be creating something new or revolutionary but helping out friends and people around. A friend, whom he may not even like that much, has just to ask for the loan of a tenner and he never hesitates. The friend has to send a telegram asking him to pop over to some castle or other to help him out of some personal troubles and off he leaves immediately, with Jeeves in tow, of course. Where are friends like that today? Or rather, would we indeed do that for a friend today?
1) Right Ho, Jeeves
2) The Inimitable Jeeves