Sunday, December 22, 2013

Oh, hurt me no more, PG

In the interest of gossip,
I know, I really shouldn't
confide that the addressee
of this plea is not that
the page's endless fledge-
lingness. It would be so
much more amusing, very
possibly, if this weren't
so; but in fact I suffer
mortally from humour's aw-
ful torments, much as my
poor parents did, who
might read aloud during
cocktails, from mid-cen-
tury English malefactors
of the pen. So, you know,
whom I mean: the fellow
with whom Duff Cooper and
his boy were trapped in a
lift at the Bristol, soon
after a sad unpleasantness
he'd stirred. But, just
yesterday, foraging for a
lighter text, to charm my
English Cocker on a first
birthday, I ran into an
exchange which must live
in the extremest echelons
of humour's infamy in print.
Dear reader, avert thy gaze;
discard thy shirt, risk not
the hurt of bursting collar

    You mean Barmy's cousin Egbert from Harrow?
    That's right. The one who shoots Brazil nuts.

    Lord Ickenham was intrigued ..
    Shoots Brazil nuts, does he? You stir me strangely.
    In my time I have shot many things - grouse, pheasants,
    partridges, tigers, gnus and once, when a boy, an aunt
    by marriage in the seat of her sensible tweed dress
    with an airgun - but I have never shot a Brazil nut...
    Not sitting Brazil nuts, I trust?

    It was apparent to the Egg that the old gentleman
    had missed the gist.
    He shoots things with Brazil nuts, he explained.

My very nice little dog, not heretofore known for undue biting of the ankle or hurt-ling into a hearth to chill out against eruptively ex-purgative convulsions from the diaphragm on up, col-lapses from synapses to the toey-tip that tapses, took umbrage also at this waste of scavengeable snackery, for yet another sordid re-port of idle clubmen firing with slingshots at top hats from their windows on the Mall. A truce ceded to him the right to rule on the admissibility of any wit in our relations, in exchange for my not having to share from my libations. I fear condemning laughter to a spontaneous estate, ever an imponderable bliss.


P.G. Wodehouse
Cocktail Time
Simon & Schuster, 1958©

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