Mark Steyn Writes Best Line of Campaign

Sometimes you read a line and slap the desk and say, “damn it, I should have written that!”

No one who has chortled as frequently as I over the misadventures of Bertie Wooster and Gussie Fink-Nottle (or, “Spink-Bottle” as Aunt Dahlia would have it) cannot love this line, but dammit, I should have written it:

Barely a month ago, Cain and 9-9-9 were riding high, an embarrassment of a different kind, and Gingrich was still a single-digit asterisk. But, like Gussie Fink-Nottle, we are all Newt-fanciers now.

It was, in fact, Aunt Dahlia who — apprised that Bertie was off to visit Totleigh-in-the-Wold in order to save the impending nuptials of Fink-Nottle to the “ghastly girl” Madeline Bassett and thus prevent his having to marry her, himself — who asked in a bemused voice, “how is the old newt-fancier?”

It was so obvious, and yet I missed it!

Steyn did not. He does admit to getting a thing wrong now and then in his excellent piece, the Gingrich Gestalt, which I recommend you read fully.

After you’ve digested it, though, if you have not availed yourself of the merriment that is Wodehouse in his fullest flowering, go to Amazon right now and order this small, inexpensive book as a post-Christmas gift-to-yourself. It will have you laughing out loud and your shoulders will be lowered for the first time in months.

And then read Right Ho, Jeeves. You could read that first, I suppose, in order to better understand exactly how Aunt Dahlia came to call Gussie “Spink-Bottle” and Bertie became threatened with marriage to The Bassett, but I really do recommend you begin with Code of the Woosters and then read back. Glorious, madcap humor from a bygone era — downright zany stuff, I say! Your life will be richer for having read it!

My day is brighter, just for the thinking of it all!

UPDATE: Hitchens on Wooster and Wodehouse (thanks to Dry Valleys).

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • dry valleys

    I haven’t read any of Wodehouse’s books. Yet I have observed one interesting thing, that the late Hitchens C was a massive fan of his work!

    http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2010/03/hitchens-201003

    (I’m rushing and this is the first thing that came up on Google- there are others but that’s enough I suppose!)

  • http://www.patheos.com Elizabeth McDonald

    I have no idea what you are talking about. Love Mark Steyn. Love your writing. Went to college. Got a couple degrees. Still no idea what you are talking about, and no time to buy and read a book in order to find out. Might you write a short translation?

    [I too have no time. Perhaps follow the links? :-) -admin]

  • A different Elizabeth McDonald

    These are references to the wonderful books by P.G. Wodehouse, which have also been adapted for TV. As Elizabeth said, madcap humor and a newt-fancying character (hence Mark Steyn’s reference).

    The links really do point out the source of the reference….

    A Wodehouse-loving Elizabeth McDonald

  • Nerina

    You can get Jeeves from the Project Gutenberg on-line library for free (to be read on the computer or on e-readers)! Wodehouse is incomparable. For those not acquainted with him or the great characters of Jeeves and Wooster, enjoy! Also, check out a very young Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry as the spoiled, idle rich “Bertie” and the dependable, common-sense and loyal “Jeeves” respectively.

  • Tina

    I borrowed a season of the Jeeves and Wooster TV series from our public library along with a couple of audiobooks of P.J. Wodehouse’s Jeeves stories.
    I ended up buying the complete set of the TV series (Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie) and several of the Jeeves books including “Right Ho, Jeeves.”
    They are hysterically funny.

  • John Weitekamp

    Elizabeth,
    Jeeves is one of my favorite series of books. Incidentally, there were several ITV episodes starring Hugh Laurie (Dr. Gregory House in the Fox TV series “House”) about 20 years ago. Brilliant production! Anyway, about 6am this morning, when I read that line about Gussie, I laughed so hard I awakened the rest of my household (no pun intended). I’m so pleased that someone else got the joke!

  • http://www.fountainsofhome.blogspot.com Christy

    There is nothing quite as awesome as finding a Bertie Wooster reference in modern parlance! Good humour lives forever. I love P.G. Wodehouse…and Mark Steyn!

  • Gail Finke

    I read a couple of dozen Wodehouse book when I was in high school long ago, and loved them all, but they have all run together in my mind and I’m afraid I only remember who Bertie and Jeeves were. i do remember learning in one of the books that “Worcester” and “Wooster” are both pronounced like the latter. Wonderful books, how fun of Mark Steyn (and you) to mention them!

  • Anne B.

    Does anyone else here find the whole idea of a “cow creamer” kind of gross? Never mind old silver versus Modern Dutch; it looks as though the cow is throwing up, and that would put me right off my coffee.

  • David_J_White

    Rod Dreher has been referring to Newt Gingrich as Gussie Fink-Nottle on his blog for the better part of a month now.

  • Wendy S.

    Dear Anchoress,

    Thank you so much for highlighting Mr. Steyn’s quote. By an uncanny coincidence, I am currently re-reading “The Code of the Woosters” to my husband and three eldest sons. (We’ve just gotten to the part where Madeline has saved Bertie from Sir Watkyn, Roderick Spode, and almost certain jail time.)

    Thanks again for the laugh, and have a blessed week.

  • Tina

    Considering how Wodehouse lampooned both the Communists and the Fascists in his books, what would he have done with the Occupy Wall Street types and the Tea Party if he were writing today?

  • Bennett

    Steyn is brilliant and words with him are truly a plaything. Glad he’s on our side.
    As for Wodehouse –
    Crime Wave at Blandings –
    Leave it to Psmith –

    Don’t read these while riding public transportation, your uncontrollable guffaws may disturb fellow passengers – ;-)

  • Ellen

    I have several of the Bertie and Jeeves books on CD – most of them read by Jonathan Cecil. They are hysterically funny. I too can only imagine what Wodehouse would have made of the Occupy movement. After readng his takedown of Sir Oswald Mosley in the character of Roderick Spode, I can never look at a blowhard political figure without laughing at him. Here is the quote:

    “The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you’re someone. You hear them shouting “Heil, Spode!” and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: “Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?”


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