‘He felt like a man who, chasing rainbows, has had one of them suddenly turn and bite him in the leg.’
As a young buck, I was snooty about PG Wodehouse. Strictly light reading for convalescents, I thought. Why bother with the idiot antics of some over-privileged 1930s buffoons when you could nurture the noggin with Sartre or Shakespeare?
But, when I actually bothered to read some, I felt like that chap in the bath who said ‘Eureka!’. Wodehouse’s genius is his accessibility. Keeping it simple is often the hardest thing, but his prose manages to be deft, sharp and witty without being showy. You never notice how incredibly long some of his flowing sentences are, because they’re so immaculately constructed – like a scarf-flapping ride down a twisty country road in an open-topped car (driving goggles optional). There are hilarious Biblical and Shakespearean references, wonderfully tangential similes and turns of phrase, all finished off with a good dollop of the ridiculous.
He’s highly visual too, able to conjure surreal, comic situations in a trice. If you write for design, there’s no better role model. When I feel jaded or flummoxed, I always turn to PG Wodehouse’s world of country houses, maiden aunts and cow creamers. It works like a charm.
‘He was white and shaken, like a dry martini.’