Monday, December 22, 2008

Got gat?

A classic scene in Big Money by PG Wodehouse where an inebriated and well-armed Mr Hoke intrudes into Berry Conway's home and interrupts a conversation with Lord Hoddesdon who has just come in to discuss weighty matters with Berry.

'Do you want to see me about something?' he asked.
'Got gat,' said Mr Hoke pleasantly.
'Cat?' said Berry.
'Gat,' said Mr Hoke.
'What cat?' asked Berry, still unequal to the intellectual pressure of the conversation.
'Gat,' said Mr Hoke with an air of finality.
Berry tentatively approached the subject from another angle.
'Hat?' he said.
'Gat,' said Mr Hoke.
He frowned slightly, and his smile lost something of its effervescent bonhomie. This juggling with words was giving him a slight, but distinct headache.


Lord Hoddesdon rose.
'Where is my hat?' he said stiffly.
'Gat,' said Mr Hoke, his annoyance increasing. It seemed to him that these people were deliberately affecting to misunderstand plain English.


'You thinking of leaving?' asked Mr Hoke.


' answer to your question, I am thinking of leaving,' said Lord Hoddesdon.
Mr Hoke's momentary lapse into amiability was over. He was the strong man again, the man behind the gun.
'Oh, no!' he said.
'I beg your pardon?' said Lord Hoddesdon.
'Granted,' said Mr Hoke. He produced the gat, of which they had heard so much, and poised it in an unsteady but resolute grasp. 'Hands up!' he said.


'I had a mother once,' he said.
'You did?' said Berry.
'Yes, sir!' said Mr Hoke. 'That's just what I had. A mother.'
'The man's a dashed, drivelling, raving, raging lunatic,' said Lord Hoddesdon.
Mr Hoke started. Something in his lordship's words had caused a monstrous suspicion to form itself in his clouded mind. It seemed to him, if he had interpreted them rightly, that Lord Hoddesdon was casting doubts on his sanity. He resented this.

Wodehouse has been my favorite author since I was 16. Hardly a month goes by without me re-reading one or more of the 90-odd books authored by him. I may, from time to time, add a nugget or two from his timelessly laugh-out-loud funny books. Watch this space!

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