Dotty doings in distant Hampshire. His Uncle Fred (Lord Ickenham) wants
Pongo to marry American Sally Painter, a not very successful sculptor in
Chelsea. They had been engaged, but she had broken it off when Pongo
refused to smuggle jewellery into America for a friend of hers. Now he has
got engaged to Hermione Bostock, a bossy, bookish beauty whom Bill
Oakshott, just returned from Brazil, had hoped to marry. Bill is the real
owner of Ashenden Manor, but his uncle, Sir Aylmer Bostock, ex-Colonial
Governor, is a short-tempered cuckoo in the nest, proposing to stand for
Parliament. As a JP he sentences Pongo and Sally to thirty days jug without
the option, her only tort being pushing the local cop into a duck-pond.
Pongo is not a success with Hermione's parents. And Bill Oakshott,
disappointed lover, sees Pongo kissing the housemaid, who is engaged to the
local policeman, who is bossed by his sister. Wouldn't you know it - Potter
the policeman had arrested Pongo and Uncle Fred that day at the dog-races
and remembered them by sight and their false names.
Since Lady Ickenham is away, Lord Ickenham wades in gratefully to spread
sweetness and light. He had been at school with 'Mugsy' Bostock and had
given him six with a fives bat then for bullying. Blackmail, lying,
impersonation, knock-out drops, arrests: stealing, breaking and
substitution of busts, one of which contains jewellery for smuggling.
Preparations for the Ashenden fete, and a Bonny Baby Competition. The
curate gets measles, and spreads it around.
This is our first meeting with the eccentric Major Brabazon Plank, leader
of the Brazilian expedition of which Bill Oakshott was a member. (Here
Plank is a cricketer: in Stiff Upper Lip (1963) he is a rugger fanatic.
He had been at school with 'Barmy' (Uncle Fred) and 'Mugsy' and his name
had been 'Bimbo'. Barmy and Bimbo talk Mugsy into dazed humility and
repentance, and the right couples kiss and make up: policeman Potter and
housemaid Elsie Bean, Pongo and Sally, Bill and Hermione. Uncle Fred had
taught Bill the 'Ickenham Method' of wooing (polite violence and sex) and
when Bill sees a man kissing Hermione and goes into action, Hermione gives
the memorable yowl, 'Don't kill him, Bill. He's my publisher!'
A brilliantly sustained rattle of word-perfect dialogue and narrative
topping a very complicated and well-controlled plot.
Source: Richard Usborne. Plum Sauce. A P G Wodehouse Companion.