We Still Need to Laugh

Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best: The Collected Blandings Short ...

Well, that last post snuffed out my little flicker of optimism. On to something different!

A good laugh helps us keep our sanity. Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best, by P.G. Wodehouse, is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Just thinking about it begins to raise my spirits.

It’s a collection of stories featuring the addled mind of Clarence, Lord Emsworth, and his batty neighbors and relations. The stories are full of gems like this:

“There was a sharp clicking noise in the darkness. It was caused by Angela’s upper front teeth meeting her lower front teeth; and was followed by a sort of wordless exhalation. It seemed only too plain that the love and respect which a niece should have for an uncle were in the present instance at a very low ebb.”

When the central character of the stories owns “an IQ some 30 points below that of an absent-minded jellyfish” (Wodehouse was being charitable), all sorts of odd things happen. The earl is aided and abetted in creating ridiculous situations by his domineering sister, Constance, and his scatterbrained wastrel of a son, Freddie.

As gorgeous and as loony as the humor in these stories is, it’s never mean, never nasty. That was the author’s gift: we love these goofy characters in spite of their incurable goofiness. It’s not a flattering picture of the English upper class, but it’s not exactly the Three Stooges throwing pies, either. It’s just unique.

See? I feel better now! And so will you, if you visit the earl at Blandings Castle.

Oh–and the BBC Blandings series, based on the books, is screamingly funny, too.

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