Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Great Sermon Handicap

I am in a bit of a funk this week -- our LAPTOP moved on to the GREAT COMPUTER BAG IN THE SKY, or wherever it is that computers go when they die.
I cheered myself up yesterday by reading another fine and funny JEEVES & WOOSTER tale by P.G. WODEHOUSE, "THE GREAT SERMON HANDICAP."

Bertie Wooster finds himself included in a most unusual betting scheme. His cousins and mates are so bored studying for exams that they bet on the length of sermons given by the pastors of the various local parishes.

They carefully study the form of the entries, as noted by Bertie's cousin Eustace, speaking about the Rev. G. Hayward, a dark horse in the long-sermon race:

"He delivered an address of 26 minutes by Claude's stop-watch. At a village wedding, mark you! What'll he do when he really extends himself?"

This tale being a Jeeves & Wooster story, things don't go quite as planned, and Bertie misses out on the gambling windfall. His valet Jeeves does all right, though.

For an 89-year-old short story, "The Great Sermon Handicap" has a timeless quality. It seems like it could have been set anytime between now and 1922, and Wodehouse's depiction of human interaction is as apt today as it was back then.
It's also very funny, which fits the bill for me this week.


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