Love Field, Bobbie Wickham, and Blandings Castle
Okay, so you know I’m writing about our trip in August to the New England area. As of last time, I had just gotten to Love Field, the airport in Dallas. I also hinted (vaguely, yet with a certain coy charm) about something that was going to happen upon our return. But that’s a posting for the distant future.
Anyway, we got into the Terminal and, as Martha had foreseen, things were amazingly quiet. We could have been light years away from Austin, with its chaos and crowding.
There was a short wait at TSA, but, again, nothing like Austin. Then we were through and headed to the Gate. Thirty minutes after, we boarded, slipped the proverbial surly bonds of whatever, and were on way.
Honestly, I don’t remember much about the first leg of the flight, which was to D.C. where’d we change planes. I remember there was little bouncing, the cabin attendants were no more overworked and exasperated than they normally are, and we suffered no delays.
As per norm, has nothing to do with the story. But I thought it was funny. This is a photo of Martha clowning about with a “Real Housewives Of Georgetown” glass that I got her (as a joke, obviously) for her birthday one year. I mean...really? You know? I thought you did.
Martha and I sat behind our masks (yes, we’re still masking on planes) and napped or read. I had my Amazon Kindle (registered trademark™ duly if sullenly acknowledged. Note to Amazon, give it up. This is like Kleenex and Xerox. That ship has sailed long, long ago) and I pursued a little P.G. Wodehouse...specifically his book “Mr Mulliner Speaking,” and even more specifically, the short story “Something Squishy,” in which he introduces his character Roberta “Bobbie” Wickham, who is sort of the complete antithesis of his more famous Bertie Wooster.(1) Where Bertram is "mentally negligible" but goodhearted, Bobbie is cunning and has “a keen sense of humor.” It is a sense of humor that verges (in fact) a bit into sadism.
I don’t really like Bobbie. Her jokes and pranks, frequently on men who are stupid enough to have a crush on her, strike me as cruel. Once or twice, they result in her suiters facing serious injury, as when Dudley Finch actually gets shot in "The Awful Gladness of the Mater.” Fortunately, it is only a flesh wound, but between pain and embarrassment, he feels he can no longer remain in England and emigrates to Australia. We last see him headed for a sheep ranch somewhere far, far away. (2)
(BTW, there’s an embedded joke there. I think that Wodehouse is making a sly reference to Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Ernest.” In it, one character tells another he will “have to choose between this world, the next world, and Australia.” I suppose we should be glad that Finch picked Kangaroos and Wombats over firearms and sleeping pills. Though, really, if you’ve ever been snowed in after a freak DC-area storm at a hotel bar with a dozen drunk Oz-lander engineers who’ve got a Karaoke machine and an apparently inexhaustible supply of every Australian Country and Western song ever recorded ... you might reconsider. (3)
But, like I say, I don’t really like Bobbie as a character. She strikes me as a rich girl who has trouble understanding other people’s pain because she’s never felt much of it...pain, that is... herself. And, thus, she can hurt people around her without a backward glance.
On the other hand, maybe I am misjudging her, or misjudging what she could have become had she had more time. Wodehouse didn’t write about her much, I suspect because the demand for his other material (Bertie and Jeeves, the Blandings Castle stories) was so strong that he just never got around to her.
In fact, if good old Plum had had more time...had he lived into our current century, where there is a bit of a greater demand for “strong female leads,” I wonder if he might have found more pages for her--maybe as a more attractive figure, someone who could refuse the attentions of her unsuitable suiters without causing them actual damage...while at the same time using her malice and cunning to wreck vengeance on her genuine enemies (like her mother) in entertaining ways.
The film star Clara Bow, who Bobbie was said to closely resemble.
Alas, Wodehouse died in 1975, so, we’ll never know. But, still, I pass along the idea, in hopes that it will find a place in the quiet reflections of the Wodehouse Estate, on long winter evenings, before a cozy fire, when the subject of sequels comes to mind. After all, as Jeeves puts it, “I fancy it would be a simple matter, sir, to find some impecunious author who would be glad to do the actual composition of the volume for a small fee.”(4)
The hours ticked on, and soon we were making our descent into the Washington D.C. area. I looked out the window and saw Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport rising up to meet us.
So, first leg of the trip done...
But, I also knew that Martha and I were going to do something on the ground...something kinda disgusting...something biological...something which should have been done in complete privacy, but which we were going to have to do in the very middle of a vast...with who knows how many people watching...
It involved noses.
More to come.
About the photos: The first is a shot of silent film star Clara Bow, who Bobbie Wickham is said to closely resemble.
The second, as per norm, has nothing to do with the story. But I thought it was funny. This is a photo of Martha clowning about with a “Real Housewives Of Georgetown” glass that I got her (as a joke, obviously) for her birthday one year. I mean...really? You know? I thought you did.
1. Check out Bobbie Wickham on Wikipedia, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobbie_Wickham
2. You can see the full text of Mr. Mulliner Speaking, along with several Bobbie stories, for free on the Internet Archive here: https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.124896/2015.124896.Mr-Mulliner-Speaking_djvu.txt
3. Actually, nothing against the Australian version of Country and Western music. Some of it, I quite like. It is just that you can only hear someone trying, and failing, to sound like Slim Dusty so many times before wantin’ to jump in the Gawdamn Billabong yourself. See: https://youtu.be/FqtttbbYfSM
4. The line is from “The Artistic Career of Corky,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Artistic_Career_of_Corky.
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