10 APRIL 1936, Page 29

The Drones Club Book of the Month

'Young Men In Spats. By P. G. Wodehouse. (Jenkins. 7s. 6d. ) Iv is perfectly obvious why The Drones Club has selected Mr. P. G. Wodehouse's new collection of short stories as its Book of the Month. The mystery is how it ever came to choose a book at all. For, while its members have always made books on the slightest pretext, they have never been known to read them except by force majeure. As far as we know, the only record of one having found its way on to the club premises occurs in the present volume ; and in view of the peculiar and somewhat melancholy circumstances in which it arrived it would be rash to pretend that anything in the nature of a literary movement is on foot in Dover Street. On the contrary, it is reassuring to find that every- thing is much the same as it ever was and that there is just as much moaning at the bar as there was in the days of Psmith. Mr. Wodehouse introduces us to some new Drones, or rather Drones we do not remember to have met before ; otherwise the old hive tradition of laissez-rire is unchanged.

As the guardian of this tradition, Mr. Wodehouse has evidently wanted to show in his latest contribution to the Club's history that young men like Pongo Twistleton, Freddie Widgeon and Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps are just as capable of winning their spats as such old-stagers as Bertic Wooster, Tuppy Glossop and Ronnie Fish. Mr. Wodehouse's con- fidence in them is not misplaced. At least two of the stories he has to tell are worthy of the Drones who organised the Great Sermon Handicap and attempted to nobble Lord }a' usworth's champion sow.

The Drone of the moment is undoubtedly Frederick Widgeon. It was Freddie who unwisely offered to open Mrs. Silver's window and preferred to fly rather than explain to the Fifth Earl of Bodshani how she came to be sitting in his lap. It was Freddie again who misunderstood what the egregious gentleman in the old Bingletrinian tie meant by demanding a meal on the Cmisette at Cannes ; who mugged up 'The Lady of Shalott " and lost his trousers for his pains in a terrifying argle-bargle with a certain Captain Bradbury; and who filially had to escape by night from Matehant Scrittching,s after inadvertently bombarding his host with eats.

Widgeon's extravagant exploits in the good old cause of love, though latterly more frequent than those of' his fellow Drones, are no more absurd and well-intentioned than the adventures, which Mr. Wodehouse recalls, in which Archibald and Mordred Mulliner, Percy iVimbolt and Nelson Cork, Barmy and Pongo, and Adolphus Stiffham find themselves engaged. Laurel and Hardy would sympathise with Winibolt and Cork's baffled acceptance of The Amazing list Mystery:' Lord Emsworth, recollecting the horrors of the annual la'ano at Blandings, would stretch out a brotherly hand to Barmy who, lending one of his at the Maiden Eggesford School Treat, was seconded for duty with the Mothers and found himself in charge of a Thurber-like force of fearless bacchanals. Beach would appreciate the incident under Lord Wivels- combe's breakfast table when Gascoigne, the butler, earned a fiver for denying the existence of an embodied ghost. And the great Jeeves himself might smile discreetly at Archibald Mulliner's unreciprocated love for the proletariat or at the poet Mordred's fiery wooing of Miss Annabelle Sprockett- Sprockett at Lower Stnattering-on-the-Wissel. But when all is said and done, the highest award, perhaps,. should go to Pongo Twistleton for his courage, endurance and devotion on the occasion of his uncle Lord Ickenham's expedition to the site of one of his former seats in the suburbs. Mr. Wode- house as Official Recorder to The Drones, has seldom exercised his gifts with greater brilliance and virtuosity than in the description he gives of how Lord Ickeitham entered "The Cedars" in the role of a parrot-pruner, proceeded to interview a party of complete strangers, and handed over a hundred pounds to a love-sick eel-jellier. Joni,/ IlsywAno.