The Britt-understating, stiff-upper-lip, self-deprecating good-natured dig is truly timeless. “The Clicking of Cuthbert and other golf stories” were written, when Sir Wodehouse was, according to his confession, in throes of agony of carefully preserving the handicap at eighteen and not let it slip into the twenties, unlike his other works that were written with a perpetually cheery disposition. If this were the soul-pourings of a “very nearly desperate man”, one hopes that he were desperate more often.
The Penguin publication that I possess, is a collection of ten stories, not counting the dedication “to the immortal memory of John Henrie and Pat Rogie who at Edinburgh in the year AD 1593 were imprisoned for ‘Playing of the Gowff on the link of Leith every sabbath the time of the sermonses’ and also of Robert Robertson who got it in the neck AD 1604 for the same reason” and ‘fore’word , which themselves are vastly entertaining. In all but the last, the story is narrated by “The Oldest Member” of the golf club, who is well past his prime, most of which was, you perceive, spent golfing. Now he is an arm-chair golfer and a store house of tales that enthrall. He has one for every occasion – for souls seared by romance of the fairer kind, for friendships, family. My favorite is the last story – The Coming of Gowf, a hilarious fable of how the new religion, Gowf took a kingdom by storm.
Each story in the collection is wholesome, and gives the reader a feeling of positive glow, at a love story that ended well, a stroke improved. And while reading it, as with any Wodehouse, you feel not the need to guffaw, but smile constantly so that you reluctantly close the book for a small break to thaw your mandibular muscles. The exaggerated style makes the setting ridiculously funny. Although you were born way after Wodehouse, and do not know of life in England at the turn of the past century except from reading tedious prose in high school, you can relate to the emotions and a wave of nostalgia sweeps through, like the whiff of whatchamacallit that flits past when you remember your grandmother’s house in summer.
Book: The Clicking of Cuthbert and Other Golf Stories
Author: P.G. Wodehouse
First Published: 1922