The Honorable Galahad Threepwood aka Gally reminds me of a friend of mine, a very close one at that. Being unsure if he would take kindly to this comparison of mine I am not taking the liberty of revealing his identity. For all I know he might on hearing it, decide to dunk me in a bucket of cold water for my crime (not that comparing him to Gally is in any way one, but one never knows with civil engineers who go ‘quack quack’) and later try and wriggle out of the potentially dangerous (to him) situation by innocently claiming that he was only trying with the utmost of noble intentions to shrink me to more reasonable proportions having heard me lament once too often about my ever expanding girth.
This of course follows directly from the pioneering spirit he displayed ages back when as a slip of a boy he tried to prove the efficacy of cold water in shrinking hens but was thwarted and thrashed by an ever vigilant father. Sigh. If only it were that easy to get into shape, I would have submerged myself in a (large enough) bucket of water at regular intervals without any prompting from anyone. But, worse luck, its not and involves lots of huffing, not to mention puffing besides involving forgoing of all those calories and sticking to what is so fondly called by the ever increasing health conscious ones as diet.
Anyway, since the topic of my post is Gally (and not my friend who already has one to his credit), let’s get back to the sprightly, rosy, dapper man with bright eyes and a jaunty posture (Wiki) who I came upon when I wandered into that lovely place Blandings Castle, with P. G. Wodehouse. Incidentally, some of my friends referred to Wodehouse (How dare MS Word suggest that I call him Warehouse! Like hell I will! Grrrr…. ) as ‘Shail’s Grandpa’ way back in college as they found me spending more time with him and less with the text books prescribed for study as an undergraduate. Besides I regularly could be heard chuckling to myself in his company just as any child listening to funny stories from Grandpa would. And what could be funnier than the tales Grandpa Wodehouse told me of Gally??
Everyone knows I love Psmith (Yeah, Grandpa Wodehouse introduced him to me too). How, you might ask, did this news become public knowledge?? Haven’t I been proclaiming it loud and clear and often enough?? Ahh Psmith, the non-stop chatterer which chatter makes you double over with laughter and who I ask in all sincerity cannot do with a laugh in this world?? Ahh Psmith with a solution to everything and who I ask in equal sincerity, does not need solutions in this world?? But that’s not the half of it. As an incurable romantic with her head in the clouds above (though with feet firmly planted on terra firma) I am crazy about Psmith and the way he falls for and woos Eve. Who can ever forget the chivalrous way Psmith procures an umbrella for Eve in Leave it to Psmith?? The exact second Psmith so gallantly presses the umbrella into Eve’s hands is when I fell like a ton of bricks for Psmith. Sigh.
WHY am I talking of Psmith in a post on Gally, the readers wonder. Simple, Gally I feel, is only an older version of Psmith. Of course Gally’s youth differs a great deal from that of Psmith. While Psmith found love and lived happily ever after with Eve, Gally didn’t have any such luck. Though Grandpa Wodehouse introduces us to Gally when he is almost at or past the half century mark, references to Gally’s past abound in the stories about him and it is from those references by Grandpa Wodehouse do we come to know about Gally’s past.
Gally met his true love Dolly Henderson, a lounge singer who wore pink tights who his family thought was not good enough a partner for someone of his social status. (Wiki). So as was the custom of the times, he was duly packed off to South Africa by the pater to prevent him tying the knot with Dolly. Do I hear a sympathetic chorus of awwww from the readers?? Yeah I know, pretty sad state of affairs when young hearts in love are rendered asunder by know-it-all parents in such an autocratic manner. And it does call for a sympathetic chorus of awwww…. And also some gnashing of teeth against those of the spoilsports who throw spanner into the works of true love. If I were to put the (mental) flower pots I have wanted to bung at tyrannical parents sundering loving young hearts in a row, they would without doubt reach from Kanya Kumari in the South to Kashmir in the North.
Coming back to Gally, from then on he is supposed to have spent his life drinking and getting up to mischief. And of course he never married again. That he has had a wild youth goes undisputed. But what seems to amaze those who know him is that despite the fact that he “apparently never went to bed until he was fifty“, he is still in remarkable shape. (Wiki) In fact when his cronies have turned into doddering old men with double and triple chins and paunches that jiggle when they walk, not to mention teeth and hair that seem to desert them similar in manner to rats a sinking ship and are badly in need of visits to the spa to rejuvenate themselves, Gally couldn’t have been in better health.
Grandpa Wodehouse brings Gally on in Summer Lightning, when we find him staying at Blandings Castle to work on his scandalous reminiscences all set to ruffle the feathers of quite a few whom he knew along life’s way. Fellow mischief makers who now hide behind the mask of social respectability dread that mask being ripped off by revelations in the book. His sister Constance and also his sisters Julia, Dora and others think Gally is a blot on the family escutcheon. But for the absent minded and fluffy headed Clarence, the 9th early of Emsworth, his younger brother Gally is someone to turn to whenever his cup of woes threatens to overflow and drown him, what with a pack of overbearing sisters ever ready to do the needful.
Gally is frequently involved in the intrigues and conspiracies that invariably surround Blandings Castle. When there are crooks to foil, imposters to introduce into the household, haughty sisters to be put in their place, Dukes to be befuddled, fat pigs to be saved, necklaces to be stolen, suspicious secretaries to be got out of the way…. Gally is the man for you. You will never find him flustered. His agile mind aided and abetted by port from Beach the butler’s pantry and a walk around the idyllic surroundings finds a solution ot the most baffling of problems.
What appeals to me the most is Gally’s role of level-headed and resourceful savior and the champion of youth and romance. (Wiki) Gally is the one to have on your side when you have a romance going and the world in the form of disapproving parents, aunts or guardians are all set to marry you off to money and social respectability whatever THAT means. Gally has ideas in bushels and each one better than the next. What pleases me as Punch is that he is ALWAYS successful in his mission of uniting loving hearts and setting them up for life with resources skillfully wangled out of those opposing the union. When Gally comes across Sue Brown, the daughter of his true love Dolly Henderson, he looks upon her as his honorary daughter. He tells Lady Constance (who thinks Sue is unworthy of Ronnie), that he will suppress his book if she agrees to sanction Sue and Ronnie’s marriage. That’s Gally for you.
Gally has a stock of interesting stories from his past that he is ever ready to narrate at the drop of the literal hat. A particularly interesting one from his past is how his dog Towser was fed with onions and steak by the wily Gregory Parsloe on the night of the race making Towser, a sure fire winner, too lethargic to participate. We also hear about how he managed to put a pig in Puffy’s room scaring the living daylights out of him when he returns. There are plenty more along those lines. But though we come across frequent references to the story of Gregory Parsloe and the prawns Grandpa Wodehouse never let Gally tell us readers just what it is about.
Well, I can go on and on about Gally. But right now I know the question that is begging to be asked is just how Gally reminds me of my friend. Had he been shipped off to South Africa in his youth?? Not that I know of. Did he spend his life drinking and getting up to mischief?? Hmm… I really don’t know though if you ask me, there is every possibility that the latter portion of the statement is true. Does he help unite loving hearts being forced to stay apart?? Hmm… I know that given a chance he would. Does he draw from his repertoire of experiences to hold his friends spellbound with his narration?? Errr… maybe, but not always. Then what the heck in Gally reminds you of your friend, the readers ask in exasperation and amazement. Well ummm… I really don’t know, but suffice to say he does….and that’s my story and I am sticking to it.