Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Log 282: Bertie Wooster’s instincts confirmed by modern science: Jeeves’s brain was improved by eating fish

P.G. WodehouseCover of P.G. Wodehouse

An innocent news item I read the other day, that eating fish helps to stave off Alzheimer’s Disease, has reinforced the wisdom and prescience of one of my supreme literary heroes, Bertie Wooster, the employing side of the Wooster and Jeeves partnership immortalized in dozens of inimitable books by the ineffable P.G. Wodehouse.

Readers of the Wooster/Jeeves canon will know exactly what I am referring to, because if one thing is clear from the Jeeves books it is the faith that Bertie has in Jeeves’s amazing intellectual capacities. Bertie throughout the books, whenever he is up against some insoluble problem --- such as how to escape the clutches of the novelist Florence Craye, to whom he was once engaged, and once again finds himself squarely in her sights for another shot at matrimony --- and there is no way out of it by withdrawal or denial, as Bertie only too well knows because Florence is one of those dashed determined, jolly girls who, her mind made up, will not bother to ask her prospective partner, but will simply announce that the betrothal has taken place, and will brook no denial ---- from such predicaments Bertie has been rescued by Jeeves countless times.

And, as anyone knows who is familiar with the canon, Jeeves’s brain --- or grey matter, as Bertie describes it --- never functions better than after Jeeves has partaken of fish.

Thus, it can now be seen that generations ahead of modern science, Bertie Wooster --- working probably as much on instinct as actual knowledge --- unequivocally propagated the medicinal, restorative qualities of fish, to which he attributed most of Jeeves’s most spectacular brain waves.

That modern science has now confirmed Bertie’s findings in the most unequivocal terms certainly comes as no surprise to me or I am sure to many other of the thousands and tens of thousands who worship at the feet of the said Wooster. It is a triumph won in the face of skepticism expressed by most of Bertie’s acquaintances, for whenever he decided to take the bull by the horns, and himself propose some solution to some immense problem or other, his friends were never slow to denigrate his capacity, and therefore his brain power. It may be true that he always had, in the end, to call upon Jeeves’s grey matter for the actual solution, but one begins to wonder, in light of this new information, whether Bertie may not have been so absorbed by scientific inquiry as to give his friends the impression that he had a limited attention span, and not that much concentrated grey matter.

His repeated affirmations in the value of fish as a restorative to the brain surely will put all these doubters to flight, and future readers of the canon will be able to reinterpret the Wooster stories in a totally new light. Hopefully the last has been heard of the ridiculous idea that Bertie was a brainless twit, totally dependent on his manservant to chart his course through life.

Personally, I am revivified by this discovery, and given to reflect about the sometimes cruel verdict of history being at last corrected as Bertie takes his rightful place among the great visionaries of our time.

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