01 March 2008

Ukridge and Edwin (of the daily acts of kindness) rise again

Great characters never die. They just reappear in different names — and once in a while, a character emerges who is two greats for the price of one (or in this case, for barter).
"After spending a night sleeping in a French toilet we arose full of spirit. The world was our oyster and we were ready to commit as many random acts of kindness as they could handle."
- Mark Boyle, quoted in this modern classic:
Pilgrim's trip to India ends at Calais as 'peace walk' is lost in translation by James McIntyre, The Independent, I March 2008

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
"Edwin was her young brother, who was spending his holidays at Easeby. He was a ferret-faced kid, whom I had disliked since birth . . . it was young blighted Edwin who, nine years before, had led his father to where I was smoking his cigar and caused all the unpleasantness. He was fourteen now and had just joined the Boy Scouts. He was one of those thorough kids, and took his responsibilities pretty seriously. He was always in a sort of fever because he was dropping behind schedule with his daily acts of kindness. However hard he tried, he'd fall behind; and then you would find him prowling about the house, setting such a clip to try and catch up with himself that Easeby was rapidly becoming a perfect hell for man and beast."
- Bertie Wooster, quoted in "Jeeves Takes Charge" by P.G. Wodehouse, The Saturday Evening Post, 28 November,1916
"Ukridge was the sort of man who asks you out to dinner, borrows the money from you to pay the bill, and winds up the evening by embroiling you in a fight with a cabman."
– Jeremy Garnet, describing a visitor he first tries to escape from before the inevitable happens. Ukridge embroils him in Love Among the Chickens, until, after magnificent failure, Garnet looks upon the great Ukridge gazing silently out over the waters and says to us: The dark moments of optimistic minds are sacred.
And wouldn't you know it. Only paragraphs later:
You cannot keep a good man down, and already Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge was himself again. His eyes sparkled buoyantly behind their pince-nez.

"Garny, old horse, I've been thinking, laddie! I've got an idea! The idea of a lifetime. The best ever, 'pon my Sam! I'm going to start a duck farm!"

"A duck farm?"

"A duck farm, laddie! And run it without water. My theory is, you see, that ducks get thin by taking exercise and swimming about all over the place, so that, if you kept them always on land, they'd get jolly fat in about half the time--and no trouble and expense. See? What? Not a flaw in it, old horse! I've thought the whole thing out." He took my arm affectionately.
"Not only," [says the smarting Mark Boyle] "did one not speak the language, they also see us as just a bunch freeloading backpackers, which is the complete opposite of what the pilgrimage is really about." . . . His original aim was to walk between 15 and 45 miles a day through France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, before ending the mammoth journey in Porbandar, the west coast Indian town.

But Mr Boyle has now modified his ambition. "I will leave Brighton, on the south coast of the UK ... on foot with the same passion I had the day I left Bristol," he wrote. "Whilst walking in the UK I intend to learn French and to hit the continent again."

No comments: