Quotations from P G Wodehouse are copyright of, and reprinted by permission of, the Trustees of the Wodehouse Estate © 2019 The P G Wodehouse Society (UK)

The P G Wodehouse Society (UK)

reports Mike Swaddling

Wodehouse Society AGM a Success – No-one is Murdered

Back in my village hall amateur dramatic days, our AGM was the highlight of the year – I mean, they should have sold tickets for it. It was better than any of our productions by a mile. Everyone in the group turned up to vent their spleens about all the parts they hadn’t been given during the year, and it had everything – suspense, tension, humour, mystery, the lot. All it lacked was a murder, and we came close to that a couple of times.

Most AGMs are not like that. In fact, they’re pretty much the polar opposite. I’ve known one group who didn’t tell their members until they turned up on the night, in order to avoid the (a)pathetic turnout.

Your P G Wodehouse Society (UK) is not as dishonest as that. We’ve found what we think is the best compromise – we do tell our members, but we promise them that (a) our Chairman will risk rupturing her vocal chords by racing through the formalities as quick as she can, and (b) we will provide some top-notch entertainment. Both of these happened at The George on the evening of October 29th.

On the dot of 18.45 Chairman Hilary Bruce stepped up to the microphone, only to find that even on tiptoe - it was set too high. (Paul Kent, as ‘mike-adjuster’, was the busiest man all night as people of varying stature did their bit.) Hilary strained to live up to the aforementioned promise (a), although she sadly failed to beat the all-time record of nine minutes. Nevertheless, with the sad exception of the death of Richard Briers, all was good news.

She told us that membership had remained steady throughout the year, with the total at the year end of 1,072. New members had been joining at a rate of about 10 a month, which is healthy. There had however been “a sustained period of very demanding administration” following the subscription increase, and over 150 members would soon be chivvied to sort out their subs.

Elin Murphy had indicated that she wished to stand down of Editor of Wooster Sauce in a couple of years’ time, and Hilary asked that anyone with literary aspirations should contact her. She went on to thank the Society’s Officers, and then all other committee members plus Society stalwarts Chris Reece (Webmaster) and David Lindsay (Membership Administrator), and then, her vocal chords mercifully intact, handed over to Jeremy Neville for the Treasurer’s report.

The Hon. Treas. was able to report that we had virtually broken even for the year, the subscription increase going a long way to offsetting the punitive rise in postage costs that principally affected the mailing of Wooster Sauce. There being nothing more of financial import to report, and no questions for either speaker, a testament to their thoroughness, the election of officers duly proceeded with all Officers and Members being re-elected. And at 19.01, sixteen minutes after she had stood up, Hilary declared the AGM concluded to rapturous applause (although that might have had something to do with the fact that a break was to follow during which glasses could be re-charged).

The customary ‘Parish Notices’ then followed, with Hilary once more at the helm, during which she reminded all present of the two big public events about to happen – the opening of the Jeeves & Wooster stage play Perfect Nonsense in the West End the following night, and the imminent launch of Sebastian Faulks’ “tribute” to PGW, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells.

The final person requiring a mike adjustment was our entertainment, Society Patron and cricket aficionado Murray Hedgcock (he of the silent ‘ck’) who reprised his talk from the July Centenary Brunch at Cheltenham on Plum’s encounter with Percy Jeeves (more info here). Murray’s mix of dry humour with rigorously researched facts (plus a couple of forgivable references to Australian victories over the old enemy) proved to be the perfect climax to the “AGM Show”.

So none of my amateur dramatic suspense and drama, and no murders either (The George always check for bodies after we’ve gone) – just another spiffingly good evening despite being the AGM. Who knows? – I might even have persuaded you that it will be worth coming along next year.