I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience of having a perfectly topping morning yanked out from under you so hard it makes your teeth rattle? Only the other day I awoke to find the sun beaming down on God’s creation, the birds outside the window giving it their best and Jeeves appearing by my bedside with a tray of eggs, bacon, buttered toast, morning paper and a rather promising looking pot of coffee. In a word, everything that would make a chappie think that this day was going to be a good ‘un, possibly a great ‘un.
But then, just as I had opened negotiations with the bacon I caught a glance of something in the newspaper which caused me to inhale so sharply that before I knew where I was the bacon was bouncing around my left lung, no doubt in a state of some anxiety. Jeeves, ever with the keen eye, noticed the young master’s distress and applied a couple of hearty, congratulatory smacks to the upper posterior which dislodged the misplaced breakfast and after a few minutes of fluent coughing I was in a decent enough state to tell him that it was too bally much.
“Jeeves!” I said “It’s too bally much!”
“Sir?” he said, concerned and, I fancy, deeply moved by the depth of my passion.
“They’ve only done it again!” I wailed “Compared me to another one of these dashed brexiteers!”
I showed him the offending article, which made the case that one of these coves (Reese-Mogg, Jonson, Farage, Smithering-Finnickhan, I forget which) was practically your humble narrator’s identical twin and implying that there was no worse insult that could be levied and still printed in a respectable newspaper. Well, I mean to say, what?
Jeeves seemed furious. Practically incandescent with rage. By which I mean, I fancied I saw him raise his eyebrow a sixteenth of an inch.
“Most disturbing, sir.”
“There’s nothing for it, I’ll have to sue!”
“I would advise against that, sir. Cases relating to libel rarely result in favourable outcomes.”
“But dash it, I have to do something!”
Those who know me will tell you that Bertram is not thin-skinned. Far from it. In fact I rather think that, when it comes to skin, I yield to no animal except perhaps a particularly resilient rhinoceros. It could scarcely be otherwise with the family that Providence has seen fit to afflict me with. Well do I remember the time my Aunt Dahlia recounted how she had once saved me from choking as a small child and how she now considered that, not a crowning moment of heroism, but one of the great blunders of a long life. And she, I remind you, being the Aunt who actually likes me.
But I mean to say, what’s a lad to do when one’s very name has become an epithet and short-hand for the nation’s premier blisters? Hath not a Bertram eyes? If you tickle a Wooster, does he not tell you to pack it in and stop acting like an ass? I say my name has been dragged through the mud quite enough, and if no one shall speak in Bertram’s defence, then Bertram must. So here it is.
So, as I see it, the reason why these journalist Johnnies keep comparing B. Wooster to the likes of Jonson, Reese-Mogg, Farage and rest of the leper colony is for efficiency. It’s three insults wrapped up in one, you see. Fix a fellow with a steely glint, raise an accusatory finger and tell the victim that he’s “Bertie Wooster-esque” and you’ve hit him three times before he’s even had a chance to part his lips. In essence you have accused him of being:
- Decidedly unconcerned with the fate of his fellow man.
- One of history’s great chumps.
To which I can only say “Oh come now”. As to the first charge, well, alright, fair cop and all that. I have never been short of ready cash but dash it, it’s not as if I acquired it through nefarious means. I simply inherited it when my Uncle Willoughby handed in his dinner pail and departed for the great hereafter. Most of these Brexiting bounders conversly, near as I can tell, made their piles by taking the good old British economy out for a spin in a wheelchair and callously dumping it down the stairs. Is it fair that I am included in such company?
Second, the charge that I am unconcerned with the fate of my fellow man. Which I mean to say, really? Why, often it seems that my fellow man can’t go a day without relying on Bertram to get him out of some sticky situation. I am by no means perfect, or even within the neighbourhood, but I flatter myself that I have frequently gone above and beyond the call of duty to help my friends. Would Boris Jonson forgo breakfast and agree to be arrested in place of a respected nerve specialist who’d gotten himself pinched by the rural constabulary in order to prevent the collapse of a friend’s impending nuptials? Would your Reese Mogg or your Farage or the like agree to burgle a friend’s home, risking reputation and limb to steal a wax cylinder recording of an an article written by said friend’s wife which had the potential to severely embaress said friend? Like hell. Who was it who cycled across dangerous country in the dead of night to secure a door-key after the entire household had been locked outside during a false fire alarm? Not Jonson. Not Reese-Mog. Not Farage. Wooster.
“Well that’s as may be” I hear the critics sneer. “He’ll exert himself for the rich toffs he went to school with. But what about the common man? Doesn’t give tuppence for him, does he? Probably quaffs the tears of peniless orphans and widows.” To which I can only say that, on the contrary, I care deeply about those less fortunate than myself and as for beverages I limit myself to a good old whiskey and soda. I submit in evidence, the following passage, written during a time when I was seperated from Jeeves and had to muddle through life’s grim procession unaided:
“As I stood in my lonely bedroom at the hotel, trying to tie my white tie myself, it struck me for the first time that there must be whole squads of chappies in the world who had to get along without a man to look after them. I’d always thought of Jeeves as a kind of natural phenomenon; but, by Jove! of course, when you come to think of it, there must be quite a lot of fellows who have to press their own clothes themselves and haven’t got anybody to bring them tea in the morning, and so on. It was rather a solemn thought, don’t you know. I mean to say, ever since then I’ve been able to appreciate the frightful privations the poor have to stick.”
Well, need I say more? Far from being cold or oblivious to the lot of my fellow man, I would say I display a keen and refined sense of social justice. Oh yes! What is the term the striplings use? That’s right, Bertram is woke.
Which brings me to the final charge levied against my good name. That I am a chump. A fool. Mentally negligible. Well, perhaps. Mind you, I sometimes feel that I’ve fallen into the same trap as poor old Doctor Watson. Perfectly intelligent chap, after all, they don’t unleash just anybody on the sick and dying you do have to pass a test and all that. But purely because he spends all his time orbiting around a cove with a truly massive brain the world writes him as a complete dud on the basis of comparison alone. I feel it is the same with me. I spend all my time with Jeeves, who is a genius of the first order, and can’t help but look a little shabby by contrast. But dash it, I will not be compared to these bally Brexiteers. No, Bertram is drawing a line. For there is one very clear difference between me and that whole tribe: when I know a chap knows more than me about something, I don’t quarrel. I take his advice. I trust that the chap knows what he’s talking about, and don’t assume that just because Uncle Willoughby said “fine, if that’s they way you feel about it” to a liver complaint and died bequeathing me a good portion of the exchequer, that I must know better.
In short, I listen to the experts.
Which is why I have taken Jeeves’ advice and will not be taking any of these libellous bounders to court. Instead, Jeeves has promised to resolve the whole matter. I can’t go into specifics, but as schemes go it’s one of his fruitiest, and involves a wealthy American uncle, several chorus girls, my Aunt Agatha and a Pekinese named Wee Mike.