14 MARCH 1998, Page 58


Spilling the old beans


IN COMPETITION NO. 2024 you were invited to supply an extract from the Memoirs of the Hon. Freddie Threepwood, Lord Emsworth's least favourite son.

Is my reference book at fault? It states quite clearly of Freddie: 'His Memoirs so scarce as to be unobtainable — are mentioned a number of times in the works of Wodehouse', then summarises his career, ending, of course, with his marriage to Niagara (`Aggie) Donaldson, daughter of the founder of Donaldson's Dog Biscuits Inc., Long Island, for whom he became a salesman. Now Mrs Shaw-Kennedy banjax- es me by writing to say that it wasn't Freddie who was engaged in memoir-writ- ing but his Uncle Galahad, a little man with a monocle known to his friends as `Gaily'. M'lud, I maintain that both were guilty of authorship and that I am there- fore innocent. Anyway, for this week's pur- poses, Freddie's our man. For those who love useless information, Wodehouse once lived in a house called Threepwood, close to Emsworth House, a prep school on the A27. The prizewinners, printed below, get £25 each, and the bottle of The Macallan The Malt Scotch whisky goes to Paul Griffin for his glimpse of the Hon. Freddie even far- ther out of his depth than usual.

Dashed if Unity's a name for a girl, but she was a decent enough egg, and took me off to stay with some German Big Cheese she knew. My presence in England was somewhat de trop in 1939. GBC had a topping house in the moun- tains: loads of menials, and a gang of secretaries hammering away at odd-looking typewriters in a sort of cavern. I took a fancy to these machines, and half-inched one for Baxter, my Pater's loath- some amanuensis, from whom I sought a favour. Stupid act, but it passed unnoticed in some flap or other. According to Baxter, the machine typed everything wrong. He got fed up, and passed it to a cousin who worked in some bleak Institution at Bletchley; for which, goodness knows why, they gave him a CBE. Yours truly, unsung, was by now staying with Catsmeat in Nairobi. (Paul Griffin) The greatest honour I achieved at Eton was to follow in the distinguished footsteps of Rupert Psmith. Not, I hasten to add, in his disgustingly well-polished boots or silk socks, just by way of the epistle to parent requesting rapid removal of son from hallowed portals. I no longer recollect Psmith's misdemeanour; mine was a tendency to carouse over-late in company with assorted fags, plus some medical difficulty with the French master's daughters, twins as I recall. The pater- nal reaction was unfavourable. Not that the old buffer says much, but the scarcity of noughts on subsequent allowance cheques spoke, as they say, tomes. This, as I tried to explain to Aunt Constance when the matter of some missing family silver came up, made first impressions at a new school deuced awkward to keep up, even allowing for the protection payments that I soon extorted from several wealthy but spineless sprogs. (Alanna Blake) Afterwards Uncle Gaily said I was a cloth-head- ed young imbecile they would roll out the red carpet for at Colney Hatch, but dash it all, I mean to say, we had reached a crisis in our affairs. It was absolutely of the essence to shift the Empress's quarters again. The governor's pigman had got her out of the bishop's bedroom all right, but now here she was, bursting at the gills with Buck-U-Uppo, galloping about in Beach's pantry. That crash I mentioned was an open bottle of the best Blanding's port, ordered up by the governor to calm the bish, falling into her bucket of swill. I opened the door. Out she shot, hiccuping rather, but going well as she turned into the straight. How was Ito know that the governor, the bish and a whole bally pack of aunts would be coming the other way?

(J.N. McEwan) Weighing in well below a pig in the Pater's affec- tions, especially when you're the runt of the lit- ter, pickles a chap's brain and inclines you to porkies. Eton never liked the way I hammed things up, and Oxford took against my taste for local crackling, which was why they asked me to take my trotters elsewhere. I admit I was never show material — too fond of getting my snout well and truly into the trough for that — but I have a rare gift for nosing out prize truffles, a talent praised in pigs if not in human offspring. I could write a book on the unaccommodating ways of pawnbrokers and their persistence in making a pig's ear out of every silk purse I've nudged their way. Still, turning over fallow ground — pockets, the odd piggy bank — can be remarkably rewarding, and one of the easier ways of bringing home the bacon. (D.A. Prince) `Honorary Frederick,' he said, 'you haf unique access to ze most reactionary imperialist circles.' I rather gathered he meant the governor. His name was Vaseline. He was starting an Oxford spy ring as a rival to one at Cambridge run by another Russian (Horace? Maurice?) who Vaseline thought was an utter pill. I'm usually under starter's orders for anything against Cam- bridge. Besides, he intimated that there would be an appreciable contribution to the revenue side of the straitened Threepwood budget. I signed on against a modest cash advance to cover out-of-pocket expenses. Apparently the Russians were done for unless they increased pork production by five per cent over the next two hundred years. Or was it the other way round? Anyhow, my first assignment was to find out what the governor fed the Empress on — the very thing the governor would just as soon keep