Happy 130th birthday! Toasting Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster with a tour of his London watering holes


Happy 130th birthday! Toasting P. G. Wodehouse’s hilariously dim toff Bertie Wooster on his anniversary with a tour of his London watering holes

  • Bertie Wooster, the dimmest young toff in literary history, was born in 1892
  • To celebrate the anniversary Harry Mount went on a tour of Bertie’s Mayfair 
  • His exploration began at the spot where Wooster met his valet, Jeeves

The dimmest young toff in literary history — employer of the shimmering valet (never a butler), Jeeves — was born in 1892.

His creator, P. G. Wodehouse, never reveals his birthday. But he is 24 in Jeeves Takes Charge, published in November 1916. So Bertie came into the world 130 years ago.

To celebrate this landmark, I went on a ‘browsing and sluicing’ (eating and drinking) tour of Bertie Wooster’s Mayfair — the smartest part of London, as it was in Wodehouse’s day. The Georgian and Victorian houses and shops are much the same today.

And Jeeves and Wooster’s watering holes are still open for business.

Harry Mount goes to London's Mayfair (pictured) to follow in the footsteps of P. G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster, in honour of Bertie's 130th birthday

Harry Mount goes to London’s Mayfair (pictured) to follow in the footsteps of P. G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster, in honour of Bertie’s 130th birthday

I began outside Bertie’s flat, on the third floor of 15 Berkeley Street. This is the immortal location of the first meeting between Bertie and Jeeves. Jeeves makes him a fog-clearing hangover cure and Bertie realises he has a genius on his hands.

Wodehouse lived in the same flat. He based Bertie’s haunts on his favourite places in London, where he lived from 1919 to 1939.

There were a few dark clouds in Bertie’s carefree, work-free life. His neighbour, at 47 Charles Street, was Aunt Dahlia. Bertie said, ‘It isn’t often that Aunt Dahlia lets her angry passions rise but when she does, strong men climb trees and pull them up after them.’

I popped in on Heywood Hill, the Mayfair bookshop Bertie would have known well, even if he wasn’t that keen on reading.

I was ready for a drink, as Bertie was at all times of day. Opposite Aunt Dahlia’s is The Footman pub, original site of the Junior Ganymede, Jeeves’s club. I had a haggis Scotch egg (£8) — the sort of Edwardian food Bertie liked in his midday nosebag.

Harry pops into Heywood Hill, 'the Mayfair bookshop Bertie would have known well, even if he wasn’t that keen on reading'. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons

Harry pops into Heywood Hill, ‘the Mayfair bookshop Bertie would have known well, even if he wasn’t that keen on reading’. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons 

Harry went to the flat on 15 Berkeley Street where Wodehouse, pictured, lived. It also served as Wooster's apartment

Pictured are Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in the 1990s TV adaptation Jeeves and Wooster

Harry went to the flat on 15 Berkeley Street where Wodehouse, pictured left, lived. It also served as Wooster’s apartment. Pictured right are Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in the 1990s TV adaptation Jeeves and Wooster 

I toasted Bertie with his favourite drink, a £7.25 brandy and soda, and it’s a short stumble to Bertie Wooster’s club, Drones, home to the drunkest young men in the kingdom, including G. D’Arcy ‘Stilton’ Cheesewright. Drones was based on Buck’s Club — a handsome terrace house, still going strong at 18 Clifford Street, near the Bond Street shops.

The club was set up by Blues officer Captain Herbert Buckmaster — thus Buck’s.

Buckmaster installed an American cocktail bar and Buck’s Fizz was invented here by barman Mr McGarry — also the name of the Drones barman.

So raise a Buck’s Fizz to Bertie’s 130th birthday and his words: ‘It was my Uncle George who discovered that alcohol was a food well in advance of modern medical thought.’

Advertisement



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get free Amazon $100 gift cards