The House Where Jeeves Lives

The most recent evidence of the complete hold Jeeves and Wooster have taken on our life is the long conversation we recently had about who we’d rather be: Jeeves or Wooster. Careful consideration was given to how smart Jeeves is, and how Bertie Wooster’s head is frequently referred to as a “lemon.” Still, it IS Bertie’s fabulous car, after all, and he does get to eat a lot of awfully good food when he’s at his Aunt Delia’s, and he doesn’t seem to ever have to work. Plus, Wooster appears to be kind of rich, although it is not at all clear how he got that way. Three votes for Wooster. I vote for Jeeves, because he has such an objective way of looking at the antics and silliness of Bertie Wooster and his friends. I would so like to be that objective.

But the truth is, we love them both. We love Jeeves because he does not say everything he thinks, but manages to express great truths with a raised eyebrow (if you are watching Stephen Fry in the great television adaptation) or in a “Very good, sir” (if you are reading the books). Bertie is our beloved because, although thick as a board, he is sweet, and generous, and never seems to get really put out when people tell him he’s an idiot. He knows who he is, except when he decides to solve a problem without Jeeves’s help. They are perfect together, these two.

And so, every night we eat our dinner in front of the really big television I bought at Christmas time. We all dance around to the introductory jazzy music. William has developed his own little hand waving, toe tapping expository dance thing to this wonderful music. The episodes are long — at least 45 minutes — and deeply, deeply satisfying. Things go wrong, and then things go right. Cue the jazzy music.

I didn’t actually look this up, so I’m not sure I’m right, but I’m going to guess that these stories, many of which were written after the Great War, offered solace and escape to people whose faith in an ordered world had collapsed. For us, in the week after the event at Virginia Tech, Jeeves and Wooster have done something similar. This is one of the things art does, I suppose. It delights us, offers us solace and order — and sometimes, under its influence, people will bring you a cup of tea in bed in the morning, and listen to you sympathetically when you’re having trouble with your aunt or the chorus girl you’ve falled in love with. We cannot hire Jeeves, having no evening clothes to speak of for him to care for, but we can BE him a little bit, I think, and Bertie too — kinder, more generous, in the case of Bertie, and more sensible and rational, in the case of Jeeves.

This morning, someone brought me a cup of tea in bed. They did not glide in noiselessly, and they slopped the tea around a little bit, but it nevertheless worked its magic on me. I’m up and about, and off to figure out how to finish my story. Maybe I’ll introduce a Jeeves-like character, and let him do the work. But in the end, what matters most is that in the house where Jeeves lives, kindness and cups of tea reign. I hope your house is like that this weekend.

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11 thoughts on “The House Where Jeeves Lives

  1. I would rather be Jeeves.

    Of course, I base this entirely on the City Lit Theater Company’s version of the Code of the Woosters (available at Audible).

    Oh, and whether the food is prepared by the staff at Aunt Agatha’s or at Aunt Delia’s (I believe that Delia’s chef’s name is Anatole), I suspect that the staff prepares food for both the principals and the staff. As I am not picky regarding whether I eat upstairs or downstairs at Chez Panisse, I do not expect that I would care much about the difference in food eaten by Bertie vs. food eaten by Jeeves.

    Yes, I like Bertie’s generosity and good heart, but I infer that Jeeves is his equal in both of those areas as well.

    I wish your house a good weekend as well.

  2. Hello Jerry– I wonder if this is an age thing. Those who voted for Wooster were under the age of 12. And you’re right, dash it — it’s Aunt Delia I was thinking of, she with Anatole on her staff.

  3. That reminds me of one of my Favorite Lines….

    “Aunt Delia, my good and deserving Aunt. Not to be confused with my Aunt Agatha who eats broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth.”

    Good fun on an overcast Saturday.

  4. LOL at “kills rats with her teeth.”

    I would eventually vote for Jeeves as well, but Wooster is so endearingly daft that I would give him more than a moment’s thought.

    A nice weekend to you as well, BL.

  5. Do you remember falling in love with the voice of Simon Callow? Well he has recorded a lot of Jeeves and Wooster books onto audio CD and very very good they are too. He is equally good at being both J and W. Personally I would go for J because he sorts everyone out and is hugely resourceful, but I would prefer not to have to read Spinoza, if that were ok.

  6. Hmmm, tricky. If it’s just the one person, I’d definitely rather be Jeeves. But if we’re talking about the whole context, being Wooster and having Jeeves around to take care of anything that might possibly go wrong wouldn’t be bad either. But then again, there’s the whole bunch of even dimmer friends. *Sigh* No, I’d be Jeeves. If only for his vocabulary.

  7. But if you are Wooster, then you get to have Jeeves look after you… I am also temporarily obsessed with this series, having been laid up with a cracked rib for a week and having watched the third and fourth series back to back. Think the fourth series lost the plot a little bit. I read the books when I was a teenager and loved them. Fry and Laurie are so perfect for the roles. Anyway.. maybe it was just because I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, but I found myself longing for Jeeves to tuck me into bed at night and glide deferentially out of the room, and then bring me a cup of tea on a silver tray in the morning. But then, if you are Jeeves you can be the puppet master and watch everybody dance… It’s a very very tricky one.

  8. Wodehouse himself was undoubtably Jeeves to the core – most tellingly in his bumbling into broadcasting for the Nazis in 1941 after his release from internment (convinced that nothing really was going on that would affect him, he’d headed off to his French summer home as usual in Sept 1940, according to Wiki). George Orwell’s defence is pretty comprehensive, though, and since he was eventually knighted one can assume he was forgiven.

  9. U-Dad — Thanks for that link. How interesting to know that about Wodehouse. It makes me want to know more about him.

    Hello doctor/woman — and welcome — sorry to hear about your first broken bone! I think the outcome of this poll will be: sometimes Jeeves, sometimes Wooster.

    Edwin, Indeed, it is the vocabulary and the way it’s put into service, that I envy.

    Boxo’books — Exactly. I wonder, though, what Jeeves does on the weekends? He seems to have some alliances, and is good at darts. No, I think you’re right. Lovely country house parties, good food, dallying around in the shrubbery. A bit of tennis. Wooster, for sure.

    My dear litlove, what a fabulous tip! Yes, I am in Simon Callow’s fan club, and love knowing there’s another reason for my devotion.

  10. Hey, have you checked out this great blog on WordPress? It’s called “The World is Quiet Here” (http://www.j128.wordpress.com) and it is a really good place to find reviews for books and movies. Lots of categories from “Jeeves and Wooster” and “Historical Fiction” and “Madeleine L’Engle”. Check it out! Also, gorgeous image of some library, might be Trinity…not sure, check “About the World Is Quiet Here” where j128 mentions the name of the image and other things about the blog.

    Oh, and as for who would I be, I think I’m a Joovster – a hybrid of Jeeves and Wooster.

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