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)

Norman Murphy reports from the latest meeting, on Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Society Meeting at The Savoy Tup

It is rapidly becoming another of those British Summers: beaten by Iceland at football, political turmoil both between and inside our political parties, and far too much rain. Despite this, or probably because of this, 25 of us sought relief at a splendid evening at the Savoy Tup, just off the Strand. And your correspondent noted that, with our invariable common sense, nobody mentioned recent political events.

Since Hilary Bruce was away, Christine Hewitt chaired the meeting and, after ensuring we all had had a chance to get ourselves a drink, opened the proceedings by welcoming us and bringing us up to date on Society matters. She began with the sad news that our Gold Bats team had lost against the Dulwich Dusters, although we scored a splendid 145 runs. These things happen, but no doubt the weather contributed to our defeat. Christine also told us that the match against the Sherlock Holmes Society would not be taking place this year, for reasons too vague to get into.

She drew our attention to the Percy Jeeves memorial event at Cheltenham next month, told us some places were still available, and showed us a picture of the Blue Plaque recently unveiled at his childhood home in Goole. It is the town’s first Blue Plaque.

Tickets for the dinner at Gray’s Inn in October had already sold out, but Christine reminded us that someone always dropped out and those on the waiting list might hear something to their advantage. She then brought us up to date on the matters now being discussed by our hardworking committee. There is the question of a new president, a new tie, and making more use of social media to be decided, and next year is our 20th anniversary as a society. This clearly needs a celebration of some sort, and the committee is working on this.

Christine also reported that Elin Murphy, the editor of Wooster Sauce, had caught up on the backlog of contributions and now needed more. She urged us to tell her of the first time we had read Wodehouse, or why we enjoyed reading Wodehouse and indeed of any aspects of Wodehouse that we felt others would like to hear.

Christine then reminded us we had 10 minutes to re-fill our glasses before coping with Paul Kent’s quiz, so we did as she advised.

Your correspondent had noticed Paul was in good spirits that evening, and justifiably so. I, your correspondent that is, have seen, heard, set, or taken part in many Wodehouse quizzes, in print, on Mastermind, and at US Wodehouse Society conventions over many years, and I had heard all Paul’s previous quizzes. But this was the best I have ever experienced.

Just about every question had the five syndicates in the room heatedly whispering ideas and answers, writing, re-writing, crossing out, and arguing. For example, the question of which was Wodehouse first adult novel seemed easy (Love Among the Chickens), but the second part – when was it first published – was a very different matter. And how many of us can name offhand the first Mr Mulliner story or the first Ukridge short story and give the date of publication?

It was the next-to-last two questions that got everybody to fever pitch. The penultimate question was: “There are twelve titles with a man’s first name in them. Not a nickname but a man’s name What are they?” As it turned out, there are thirteen, not twelve, but that didn’t really matter – the fun was in thinking of them all. But it was the question before that that I enjoyed most. Paul asked the teams to name the four books with a woman’s first name in the title. That led to many happy faces as the syndicates scribbled down the answers (The Adventures of Sally, Doctor Sally, Jill the Reckless – the three easy ones – and The Prince and Betty, not so easy). But Christine Hewitt demonstrated why she was chairman for the evening by reminding Paul that Joy in the Morning clearly qualified!

The final question – name both of Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe’s pigs – was undoubtedly thrown in by Paul to give all contestants a sense of false security.

The deserving winners by a small margin were The Wrykyn Crew, and since they included Kris Fowler and Patricia O’Sullivan, as well as Christine, I was not a bit surprised. They were duly awarded with prizes, and Paul himself was presented with a delightful mug as a reward for his top-notch quiz.

A splendid evening and a welcome relief for the trouble, turmoil and rain of the outside world.

These two gents bravely formed a team of their own

Paul with his prize for being such an excellent quizmaster

The winning team in an early stage of consultation