My wife and I are rejoicing in the birth of our third grandchild – on 15 October, P.G. Wodehouse’s 135th birthday. His parents didn’t know that. They also know nothing about the 9th Earl of Emsworth, seigneur of Blandings Castle . . . but they named their new arrival, Clarence, his lordship’s given name.
I announced these amazing coincidences – oh, all right, omens – via Plumtopia, the repository of all things Wodehouse, written by/presided over by the lovely Honoria Plum. This inspired one of her followers (perhaps that should be Followers) Ashok Bhatia to produce a wonderful, touching and funny prayer. He addressed it to . . .
My Dear Clarence
Welcome to this wonderful world that you are born in,
Replete with natural beauty, heavens with stars twinkling;
Even though hatred, terror and dark forces too abound,
The innate goodness of human nature keeps us smiling.
You have chosen to be born on a very special day,
On which Plum, of whom your grandfather is an ardent fan, was born;
Many admirers of his continue to rejoice all over the world,
Many of his works do their bookshelves adorn.
You have brought great joy into the lives of your parents,
As you grow, you shall surely return their nurturing ways;
They plan to bring you up with lots of love and care,
Your innocent smiles and hugs shall brighten their days.
May Thos and Edwin never set the standards of your conduct,
May dousing fires with paraffin wax never come to your mind;
May you be humble, caring, never casting a supercilious gaze,
May thoughts of making butter slides you always leave behind.
May your intellect be always one up on that of Jeeves,
Your investigative skills as sharp as those of Baxter the efficient;
In culinary skills, may you surpass Anatole, in smartness, Psmith,
A heart that bleeds for its pals may also be sufficient.
May you never have an Aunt who forces her plans on you,
When settling down to a matrimonial bliss with a loving wife;
Candidature of a Florence or a Madeline you ought to avoid,
May you be the Little Bingo to the Rosie M Banks of your life.
May you acquire literary tastes early on in your life,
Start dishing out Plummy narratives without further delay;
Perhaps replacing telegrams with WhatsApp messages,
Since you may find it challenging to keep technology at bay.
On your slender shoulders you carry a mighty responsibility,
That of spreading cheer amongst the less fortunate ones;
Upholding the Code of the Woosters could be rather exciting,
The roses of your literary works may even silence the guns.
One wishes you a long and healthy life, full of laughter and love,
A sunny disposition to face the harsh slings and arrows of life;
A chin-up attitude, a song in the heart, a prayer on your lips,
Guardian Angels who fuss over you and protect you from many a strife.
– Ashok Bhatia, October 2016
The Wodehouse references will baffle, I suppose, most of my readers but, ladies and gentlemen, the meaning and the sentiment are clear, beautiful and uplifting. Suddenly the world is better place. Thank you, Ashok.