Skip to main content

Wodehousian Indian Grotesque Politicians

'Cocktail Time' by P.G. Wodehouse, Illustration by EH Shepard(of Winnie the Pooh fame)about Partition of India
'Cocktail Time' by P.G. Wodehouse, Illustration by EH Shepard ( of Winnie the Pooh fame ) about Partition of India

“There may have been men in London”, writes P.G. Wodehouse about a character in his ‘Cocktail Time’, “who thought more highly of Sir Raymond Bastable than did Sir Raymond Bastable, but they would have been hard to find, and the sense of being someone set apart from and superior to the rest of the world inevitably breeds arrogance.”

More and more as one looks at the characters in the Indian political pantheon, one sees a resemblance to the dramatis personal of the world of Wodehouse. The only difference is that the real world of Indian politics, which is often ridiculous, sometimes to the point of being grotesque, is not harmlessly funny. It is deeply flawed in its moral seeting. Nevertheless, the ludicrousness of many of its leaders, their pomposity and pretentiousness, and the inflated sense of self importance of even some greenhorns makes them mimic the likes of Sir Raymond Bastable.

It iss a note from my cousin’s diary where the entry for the source of the note is scribbled out with pen.
Image: Cover of P.G. Wodehouse’s book Cocktail Time
About the other image:
It is from BBC: Indian Independence Pictures (nice vintage posters) which tells us:

As partition looms, illustrator EH Shepard (of Winnie the Pooh fame) depicts the mainly Hindu Congress organisation and the Muslim League as two elephants ignoring each other in a 1946 cartoon for Punch. Image courtesy of the British Library.
The note at the bottom of the illustration read:
“And now you can go on with it”
And we are still going on.


Found the image at a write up about Pakistan turing 60 by Bookstamper


In the book, Sir Raymond Bastable, sometimes known as 'Beefy', after having his hat knocked off by a well-aimed brazil nut from the Drones Club window, was inspired to write a book Cocktail Time about the young people of the day. However, he had to use a pseudonym, 'Richard Blunt', as he was hoping to stand for Parliament in Bottleton East as a Conservative candidate, and the book's sex motif would the cause the constituency committee to reject him as candidate.

Read more about the book at the Blandings


Popular posts from this blog

Famous Old Faces of Doordarshan

Some people recall the faces and some people recall the names. Here are images of some of the famous readers and presenters of Doordarshan down the years. If you recognize any of them, leave a comment.
[Update 1: Most of the faces now have names thanks to helpful comments by olio-gallimaufry]
[Update 2: Included image of one of the earliest presenters, Gopal Kaul. Send in generously from personal collection by son, Ashutosh Kaul. Sept, 2010.]
[Major Update 3: Got a tip-off about a documentary about the famous faces of Doordarshan from the makersof“The Golden Trail , DD@50 :Special feature on Golden Jubilee of Doordarshan” from which these caps were taken. I managed to catch the incredible documentary and am adding some more faces/name and part of the docu here. New ones can be found after the image of Narotam Puri. 30th Oct, 2010]

 Pratima Puri. Believed to be the first Doordarshan reader.

Indian Cigarette Vintage Ads

He put a cigarette in his mouth and, as a matter of silent routine, offered one to Gwyn, who said ‘No thanks.”Richard looked at him.”I packed it in.”"You what?”"I stopped. Three days ago. Cold. That’s it. You just make the life choice.”

Richard looked up and inhaled needfully. He gazed at his cigarette. He didn’t really want to smoke it. He wanted to eat it. Almost the only thing that he still liked about Gwyn was that he still smoked…Paradoxically, he no longer wanted to give up smoking: what he wanted to do was take up smoking. Not so much to fill the little gaps between cigarettes with cigarettes (there wouldn’t be time, anyway) or to smoke two cigarettes at once. It was more that he felt the desire to smoke a cigarette even when he was smoking a cigarette. The need was and wasn’t being met…

While it would always be true and fair to say that Richard felt like a cigarette, it would now be doubly true and fair to say it. He felt like a cigarette. And he felt like a cigaret…

Kishore Kumar, Yodel-ay-ee-oooo Songs, A List

*Updated with corrections pointed out by Bart Plantenga, author of some incredible book on Yodeling including Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World.


Kishore Kumar's brother Anoop Kumar, who we basically know for the line 'O manu tera toh hua ab mera kya hoga', used to own lots of Austrian music records. And from these records, Kishore Kumar picked up the art of Yodel singing, an art perfected in bathroom and then introduced by him to the world of Hindi film music. According to his biography 'Kishore Kumar: method in madness‎ ' by Derek Bose, "Kishore was a fan of the Swiss singer Tex Norton [* Tex Morton, an Australian cowboy born in New Zealand who sang  in the gene autry / Jimmie Rodgers style] and the Australian Jimmy Rogers [*Jimmie Rodgers, perhaps the most American and one of the most famous yodelers in the world, famous for his blue yodels] as well."

Although most of these songs by Kishore Kumar are thought to be '…