R: Marvel Comics house ad appearing in 1980 (this was in Battlestar Galactica #20)
(Click picture to Shooter-size)
After the thing was over, when peril has ceased to loom and happy endings had been distributed in heaping handfuls and we were driving home with our hats on the side of our heads, having shaken the dust of Steeple Bumpleigh from our tyres, I confessed to Jeeves that there had been moments during the recent proceedings when Bertram Wooster, though no weakling, had come very near to despair.How can you not read on from there? In my book, that's one of the great literary teases of all time, and I frantically bury my ringéd nose into the book and dive in to the narrative proper in order to find out what truly happened to that amazing cast of characters and what happens next. Really, it's the most convincing argument to turn the page since "Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!"
'Within a toucher, Jeeves.'
'Unquestionably affairs had developed a certain menacing trend, sir.'
'I saw no ray of hope. It looked to me as if the blue bird had thrown in the towel and formally ceased to function. And yet here we are, all boomps-a-daisy. Makes one think a bit, that.'
'There's an expression to the tip of my tongue which seems to me to sum the whole thing up. Or rather, when I say any expression, I mean a saying. A wheeze. A gag. What, I believe, is called a saw. Something about Joy doing something.'
'Joy cometh in the morning, sir?'
'That's the baby. Not one of your things, is it?'
'Well, it's dashed good,' I said.
And I still think there can be no neater way of putting in a nutshell the outcome of the super-sticky affair of Nobby Hopwood, Stilton Cheesewright, Florence Craye, my Uncle Percy, J. Chichester Clam, Edwin the Boy Scout and old Boko Fittleworthor as my biographers will probably call it, the Steeple Bumpleigh Horror.
'Ah, Jeeves,' I said.Or, Bertie musing on his Uncle Percy:
'Good morning, sir,' he responded. 'A lovely day.'
'Lovely for some of us, perhaps, Jeeves,' I said coldly, 'but not for the Last of the Woosters, who, thanks to you, is faced by a binge beside which all former binges fade into insignificance.'
'It's no good saying 'Sir?' You know perfectly well what I mean. Entirely through your instrumentality, I shall shortly be telling Uncle Percy things about himself which will do something to his knotted and combined locked which at the moment has slipped my memory.'
'Make his knotted and combined locks to part and each particular hair to stand on end like quills upon the fretful porpentine, sir.'
'That can't be right.'
...And thought with advancing years our relations had naturally grown more formal, I had never been able to think of him without getting goose pimples. Given the choice between him and a hippogriff as a companion for a walking tour, I would have picked the hippogriff every time....whose impatience with Bertie leads to this semantic exchange in which Bertie tries to convince a tipsy Uncle Percy to let Boko marry Nobby:
'He could support Nobby in the style to which she is accustomed.'There's of course the wonderful sight of Jeeves reciting more animal poetry as Bertie parts from him for the nonce:
'No, he couldn't. Ask me why not.'
'Because I'm jolly well not going to let him.'
'But he loves, Uncle Percy.'
'Has he got an Uncle Percy?'
I saw that unless proper steps were taken, we should be getting muddled.
'When I say he loves, Uncle Percy," I explained, 'I don't mean he loves, verb transitive, Uncle Percy, accusative. I mean he loves, comma, Uncle Percy, exclamation mark.'
Even while uttering the words, I had a fear lest I might be making the thing a shade too complex for one in the relative's condition. And I was right.
'Bertie,' he said, gravely, 'I should have watched you more carefully. You're tighter than I am.'
'Then just go over that observation of yours again slowly. I would be the last man to dispute that my faculties are a little blurred, but'
'I only said that he loved, and shoved an "Uncle Percy" at the end of my remarks.'
'Addressing me, you mean?'
'In the vocative, as it were?'
'Now we've got it straight. And where does it get us? Just where we were before.'
'I shall miss you, Jeeves.'...but the capper is when Wodehouse makes a callback to an earlier reference that has baffled Bertie:
'Thank you, sir.'
'Who was the chap who was always beefing about losing gazelles?'
'The poet Moore, sir. He complained that he had never nursed a dear gazelle, to glad him with its soft black eye, but when it came to know him well and love him, it was sure to die.'
'It's the same with me. I am a gazelle short. You don't mind me alluding to you as a gazelle, Jeeves?'
'Not at all, sir.'
'...when I think of what will happen if Stilton cops me while I am draped in that uniform, it makes my knotted and combined locks...what was that gag of yours?'You've got to excuse me for quoting so much more than I even usually do from a Wodehouse bookthere are gems here on every page spread, and I could happily quote until the cows come home. Which reminds and brings me to another interesting observation: this Wodehouse masterpiece just happens to be missing two usual Wodehouse literary tricks and plot devices that usually drive the action: there is no Silver Cow Creamer or the like to be stolen back and forth, and there is no possession or fashion of Bertie's at which Jeeves expresses dislike and withholds the solution to the problem until it is disposed of. They're both wonderful devices, but I think Joy in the Morning surpasses so many of the other Wodehouse comic novels by not needing them. There's physical objects that move the plot along (a signed book, a lost brooch, a policeman's uniform, a burnt-down cottage), but the book is not centered on their existence: everything happens because of the actions and personalities of the characters. Wodehouse's physical prop comedy is wonderful, but here he shows what a transcendent novel he can produce without relying on them. It's sheer joyone of his most aptly-titled books.
'Part, sir, and each particular hair'
'Stand on end, wasn't it?'
'Yes, sir. Like quills upon the fretful porpentine.'
'That's right. And that brings me back to it. What the dickens is a porpentine?'
'A porcupine, sir.'
'Oh, a porcupine? Why didn't you say that at first? It's been worrying me all day.'