Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Guess I need to read Wodehouse . . .

Boris Johnson
Andrew Parsons / i-Images for Newsweek

Sunday evening, my daughter and I read a recent Newsweek article about the Tory party's politically ambitious loose cannon, Boris Johnson, by Greg Williams, "Why London Mayor Boris Johnson Worries Tory Leaders" (April 30, 2012), or rather, my daughter read the article, aloud, while I listened and corrected her articulation, along with fulfilling my role as offline dictionary and encyclopedia, until we reached this:
Most Londoners have never met anyone quite like the 47-year-old Johnson. He's practically a P.G. Wodehouse character, a bumbling, disorderly member of the upper class, except Johnson is genuinely erudite and fiercely ambitious -- and he rides the streets of London on a bicycle.

Sa-Rah stopped reading and asked:
"What's a 'Wodehouse' character?"

I couldn't answer that with Johnson's own erudition, but attempted to bull my way through by restating the passage itself:
"Wodehouse," I explained, "was a British writer who wrote humorous stories about eccentric upper-class characters, inept figures who were somewhat shambolic, like Johnson except they're not as well read as he is."

As you see, I strove for a polished response. Didn't help. Sa-Rah cottoned on that I was bluffing:
"Have you actually read Wodehouse, Daddy?"

"Uh . . . no, but I intend to . . ."

Soon, maybe. I have to stay a step ahead of my daughter -- who, by the way, was caught at school surreptitiously reading a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover! The study hall teacher confiscated the book.

Good! I've not yet read that novel . . .

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