Experiments in Style: Wooster
A parodical version
If you’re new here then you can find out all about this project of mine here:
But in a nutshell it’s this: I’ve been taking a short and very bland story and rewriting it in different styles. This time I’ve chosen to do it as a parody in the style of Bertie Wooster.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Bertie Wooster, he was a character invented by P.G.Wodehouse. He’s an upper class Englishman, a bit lacking in the brains department, and so always getting into scrapes. Fortunately, his butler, Jeeves, always manages to rescue him. Wooster is also cowed into submission by the women in his life, especially Aunt Agatha. I always imagine her as a Lady Bracknell-type person, although apparently Wodehouse’s model for the character was one of his own aunts.
There’s a brilliantly-priced collection of Wodehouse’s fiction on Amazon. This Kindle book:
costs just 99p in the UK and 99p in the USA.
Today’s ‘experiment’ is a parody rather than a style, so in a way I’m not sure if this really counts! By ‘style’ I mean things like using a different tense, or using lots of metaphors and so on.
A new publishing schedule
One more thing before we get started. Last week I asked readers what they thought about changing the schedule of these posts to once every two weeks instead of once a week. The people who responded thought that sounded OK. It’s not just to give me a rest but my readers too! And with that in mind, I’ve drawn up a new publishing schedule based on a two-weekly cycle rather than a weekly one. There will be weeks where there are more than two or three posts, because of cross-posting of other people’s posts or the ones I’ve written for the Soaring Twenties Social Club. Here’s a snapshot of part of the new schedule. (In Tuesday’s post for paid subscribers I’ll explain how I constructed it.)
I know it still looks a bit full, but it would be even fuller if I’d kept to the original publishing schedule. And there are some weeks when there will be only two posts, so you will get a bit of a rest! I think it’s disappointing that Start the Week now becomes Start the Fortnight, beginning next week, but at least that’s something to look forward to!
But enough of this persiflage1. On with the article, starting, as always, with the original story in case you haven’t seen it yet.
A bang on the head (template)
In the middle of the night, I woke up (if you can call being semi-conscious being awake), walked purposefully towards the door to go to the bathroom — and almost knocked myself out.
The reason was that in the twin states of entire darkness and semi-somnambulance I was facing in a different direction from the one I thought I was facing. As a result, instead of walking through the door, I tried to walk through the wall.
The next few days brought nausea and headaches. After much prevarication I went to Accident and Emergency, where I waited petrified among people for whom “social distancing” means not quite touching you, and who wore their masks as a chin-warmer.
An hour and a half later I emerged into the twilight, secure in the knowledge that I had nothing more serious than mild concussion. I failed to do much writing, but I was pleased to have read a further 17% of my book.
A bang on the head in the style of Bertie Wooser
Life's a rum old thing. One minute everything's tickety-boo2, and the next Fate decides to tap you on the shoulder and say, “Sorry, old boy” and then let you have it with whatever’s nearest to hand. In my case, that was a wall. That’s why I didn't do any writing that day.
Look, this is all going to get terribly confusing so bear with me while I start from the beginning.
Last week I was very happily asleep -- or at least, I assume I was happy because I wasn't having any nightmares (ghastly things!) -- when the old bladder began squawking for attention. Dashed inconvenient if you ask me. A chap doesn't want to have to get up in the pitch black to answer the call of nature, or answer anything else come to that. I mean, imagine if there was a knock on the door or a telephone call in the early hours: a fellow would be not a little perturbed, what?
Where was I? Oh yes. So I clambered out of the four poster, but at altogether the wrong angle, so blowed if I didn't go careering straight into the wall. I tell you. I tried to ignore it and dragoon the well-known Freedman stiff upper lip into service, but the old noggin was having none of it. So after a few days of the deuced thing throbbing and thumping, thereby preventing the legendary Freedman grey matter from doing its stuff, and what with my feeling as if I was on a boat on a particularly rough sea, I gave in and hauled myself to the local infirmary.
I was tempted to sign in at the mortuary straight away to save some time. As it was, I was certain I was going to be shuffling off this mortal coil pretty sharpish because of all these chaps and chapesses, if that’s a word (and if it isn’t it jolly-well ought to be) not keeping away from each other and not wearing their masks properly.
By and by a fearsome-looking nurse called my name, and I suspected that she could probably frighten illnesses away just by glaring at them. Still, she knew her stuff, and after thumping my knees and waving a finger from side to side about an inch from my nose and asking me how many I could see, and pulling my elbows all over the place, she threw me out with the instruction to take it easy for a few days. I didn’t think it prudent to argue with her.
So that's how nothing came to be written, which goes against the natural order of things if you're a writer. Still, at least I read some of a book, so all's well that ends well and all that rot.
I hope you enjoyed that. I’d be delighted to learn what you think, so please leave a comment. And feel free to share this post and spread the love!
One more thing. So far I’ve written around 40 of these experiments, and I have a list of over 100 more to try. Some of them will be difficult, if not impossible. Frankly, I’m quite pleased that the next one isn’t due for two weeks because it’s proving rather challenging! You’ll find the complete list of these experiments here: Index.
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I was rather chuffed to see the word ‘persiflage in a Jeeves story a couple of days ago!
OED definition: In order, correct, satisfactory.