08 Jan 2008

Hillary From the Wodehousian Perspective

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Alex Massie debates whether Hillary is more like Honoria Glossop or more like Florence Cray.

Dipping into The Inimitable Jeeves last night, it struck me that, for a certain kind of chap, Hillary is the Honoria Glossop of the presidential campaign. It’s not just that Hillary’s now infamous “cackle” is dangerously reminiscent of Miss Glossop’s laugh “that sounded like a squadron of cavalry charging across a tin bridge.”

No, it’s more that Hillary too often gives the impression of sharing Honoria’s horrifying determination to mould a fellow. To wit, one can easily imagine Hillary addressing a chap, thus:

    “I think” she said “I shall be able to make something of you, Bertie. It is true yours has been a wasted life up to the present, but you are still young, and there is a lot of good in you…It simply wants bringing out.”

But what if you don’t want bringing out? Opting out ain’t an option with this sort of girl. And it gets worse. When Hillary isn’t being Honoria Glossop she’s reminding one of Florence Craye. Now it’s true that Bertie was briefly infatuated with Miss Craye. But that was until he engaged Jeeves and was persuaded that Miss Craye was a thoroughly unsuitable match (See Carry On, Jeeves for the details). As Bertie realised:

    “The root of the trouble was that she was one of those intellectual girls, steeped to the gills in serious purpose, who are unable to see a male soul without wanting to get behind it and shove.”

Some of us might prefer to remain un-shoved. Worse still, whenever a girl of Florence’s type engages one to stick one’s neck out for her – by, for instance, stealing a manuscript – she tries to persuade you that it’s really for your own advantage. She risks nothing, of course, whereas your allowance is endangered. But no, she will say:

    “I wonder you can’t appreciate the compliment I am paying you – trusting you like this”

Alas, I can just hear Hillary putting it like that. Can’t you?

Hat tip to Professor Bainbridge.

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