Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Ukridge by P. G. Wodehouse

"Oh, I feel in my bones that something is bound to go wrong!"

Something is always going wrong in the ten closely-related stories about the get-rich schemes of Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge in Ukridge by P. G. Wodehouse. "Can't miss" horses miss. The boxer Wilberforce "Batting" Billson, on whom our hero has bets, feels sorry for his opponents and won't hit them hard, or he gets religion and swears off boxing. Creditors appear at unfortunate times, as do bobbies in blue helmets. Aunt Julia disowns the overweight young man when he could do with a little luck. "Upon my Sam, it's all a bit hard."

Of course, Ukridge never has any doubts that his fortune is around the corner. It is his friend Corky (Jimmy Corcoran) who states his doubts about the wisdom of kidnapping parrots and borrowing old schoolmates fancy cars. In the meantime, Ukridge borrows sixpence or a fiver to see him through, as well as a pair of socks and a clean shirt from Corky's wardrobe.

Wodehouse readers may recognize Ukridge from Love among the Chickens, 1906. The book Ukridge, 1924, collects stories that predate the fowl novel. In the stories Stanley is unmarried and trying to stay that way. When he is engaged, Corky is trying to get the prospective in-laws to break it off.

If you like silly British comedy, Ukridge is the stuff.

Wodehouse, P. G. Ukridge. Hampton, NH: BBC Audiobooks, 2005. 6 compact discs. ISBN 0792735013

Print versions are rather scarce. The book is also called He Rather Enjoyed It. The stories are also in collections.

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