October 15, 2012

Happy birthday P. G. Wodehouse

Filed under: Uncategorized — theresaurus @ 1:29 pm

From his time as a prisoner of war, from P. G. Wodehouse by Joseph Connolly:

“Our buckets contained a sort of sweet hot water with prunes floating in it. I have seldom tasted anything so loathsome, but it was really rather a tour de force on the part of our cook, for it is not easy to brew soup for 800 men on a foundation of 28lbs of macaroni. In adding prunes I think he overstressed the bizarre note, but I suppose he had to add something. A less conscientious man might have put in a couple of small Belgians.

“Horrible shock today. The bread ration failed and we each got thirty biscuits instead, about the size of those which restaurants used to give you with your order of oysters. Felt like a tiger which has been offered a cheese straw. Met cook today and congratulated him on yesterday’s soup. He was grateful for my kind words, for his professional pride had been wounded by grumblers who criticised the quantity. He said he could have produced more soup by adding water, but that would have weakened it, and he refused to prostitute his art. I said he was quite right and that it was the same in my business. A short story is a short story. Try to pad it out into a novel and you lose the flavour.

“The German soldiers themselves are all right. … There is one particularly genial sergeant whose only fault is that he has got entirely the wrong angle on these damned parades. … ‘Try to make him understand … that it is pretty dashed creditable of us getting on parade at all. Tell him he has sized us up all wrong. We are elderly internees, most of us with corns and swollen joints, not Alpine climbers. If we are supposed to be youths who bear mid snow and ice a banner with the strange device ‘Excelsior’, there ought to be St Bernard dogs stationed here and there, dispensing free brandy. Ask him if he expects us to yodel.’

“…. more or less obsessed with the subject of food. Still no bread. We get nothing but biscuits now, thirty per man and only just visible to the naked eye. It seems to date from the day when we complained to the Kommandant that we were not getting enough bread. He took the statesmanlike course of giving us no bread at all.

“Tost is no beauty spot. … There is a flat dullness about the countryside which has led many a visitor to say, ‘If this is Upper Silensia, what must Lower Silensia be like?’ … All the windows at Tost were heavily barred, even those of the dining-room, though why the most unbalanced lunatic should want to get out of a dining-room by the window when the door was at his disposal, I cannot say. The gratifying result of this was to cause me take a step up in the animal kingdom. At Huy I had felt like a water beetle. At Tost my emotions were more those of one of the residents of a Monkey House at the Zoo. If I had had a perch to swing on and somebody outside pushing nuts through the bars, the illusion would have been perfect.”


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