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)
For those who do not know it, the Savoy Tup is the pub on the left as you walk down Savoy Street from The Strand. It is a very different locale from its famous neighbour, the Savoy Hotel, where so many Wodehouse characters enjoyed a meal, but the Wodehousean spirit was well in evidence on Wednesday evening.
One significant feature of our meetings is that our chairman, Hilary Bruce, is an excellent judge of when to open the formal proceedings. On this occasion, there were many members attending for the first time, there were new members to welcome, and there were people who had come a long way to attend – in this case an Australian member departing for home the next day. The result was that what with making new members feel at home and renewing heated discussions/arguments with people we hadn’t met since last time, everybody was enjoying themselves and shouting to make themselves heard when Hilary at last called us to order.
She reported on the lack of success of our two cricket matches against the Dulwich Masters and the Sherlock Holmes Society, but cheered us up with the news that Jan Piggott’s new book, Wodehouse’s School Days, was now available to purchase. Tony Ring then told us that two books of important new Wodehouse material would soon be on sale, comprising verses and pieces written for the Globe’s By the Way column back in the early 1900s.
Hilary then announced the sad news of the death of Susan Walker, a regular attendee at Society meetings whom many of us knew, and we drank a toast to her memory. On a happier note, Hilary reminded us that the American Wodehouse Society Convention would be in Seattle this October and that it was still possible to book for this splendid event. She concluded by asking Christine Hewitt to conduct our Lucky Draw.
This was something really special; not your mundane box of chocolates or a fruit cake but, thanks to the remarkable generosity of Tony Ring, a century-
Hilary then handed over to Paul Kent, our fiendish quizmaster, who proceeded, with some difficulty, to persuade us to form ourselves into teams before launching into a series of questions that had his audience either groaning or chuckling for nearly an hour. Despite frequent interruptions, queries and rude remarks from his listeners (we had a plethora of lawyers that evening), Paul gallantly persevered with some of the most ingenious questions I had ever heard.
Just knowing one’s Wodehouse was not enough. One also had to know one’s London and current London news as well. Thus, the section on transport concluded with: ‘Which Wodehouse character is two letters away from being one of the termini of two underground lines?’ The answer is: Ukridge (Uxbridge).
Similarly, only people who had read their last Wooster Sauce properly had the answer to the question of how many PGW quotations are there in the full edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. (Answer: 1795). In the same way, only a few attempted to answer the question as to the price being now being asked for Wodehouse’s house at 17 Dunraven Street. (Answer: £4.75 million)
My personal two favourites were: (1) ‘Beach excels in the impersonation of which animal?’; and (2) ‘What connects Cary Grant and Lord Emsworth?’ (For answers, see below.)
At the end Paul was exhausted, and little wonder, so we took a break and the bar downstairs did a roaring trade before the scores were added up. In ascending order, the teams were placed as follows:
Lords and Ladies
The Little Group Around the Corner, equal third with:
The Three Red Wines
The Press Gang (second place)
The Strand Strollers: the victors managed 29 out of a possible 36 points.
And the prizes? Well, our member from Australia – one of the Strand Strollers – left London the following day with an unusual memento of his visit. Since most of us were now looking forward to our summer holidays, Hilary had acquired prizes appropriate to the time of year. Along with the other Strand Strollers, he went home with a shrimping net so they could emulate Jeeves on his annual vacations shrimping at Herne Bay. And Paul was presented with a well-
– Norman Murphy
Answers to the two quiz questions above: (1) a hippopotamus (see ‘Pig-
The winning team, the Strand Strollers, with their prizes
Two teams conferring among themselves during the quiz
Quizmeister Paul Kent
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