Ludwig and Bertie

June 20, 2009

Over at Cosmic Variance, Julianne listed Twenty Insults from P.G.Wodehouse, and myself and his Colesness joined in.  I have to confess that I find P.G.Wodehouse inexplicably exhilarating. His books are complete and utter light hearted nonsense of no consequence whatsoever; but they are  just perfect. His writing is a perfect jewel. Its like Mozart in ink. The cares of the world drop away, your smile widens, and the world is a good place. Why it works is a mystery. The plots and the jokes are somehow always the same and yet ever fresh.

I always take a Wodehouse with me when I go on an observing run, and sometimes two so I can save one up for when too many long nights have made me depressed and stressed. It always works.

Years ago, I boarded a plane with a very distinguished professorial colleague on the way to La Palma. We got out our respective reading material. Mine was a Bertie and Jeeves. His was a biography of Wittgenstein. He didn’t say anything but looked askance and I knew that he was disappointed and a little shocked that I was reading something so trashy. He knew that I knew.

Forty minutes passed and suddenly he snorted. He turned to me smiling. “OK” he said, “I apologise. I have just discovered that Wittgenstein’s favourite author was P.G.Wodehouse”.

One day if you get me in the pub I will explain the plot of a play a friend of mine once wrote called “Ludwig and Bertie” which features Jeeves, Bertrand Russell, Bertie Wooster, Ludwig Wittgenstein, a library in Cambridge, and a rhinoceros.