get outside sth (v.)

My old and tattered volumes - in urgent need of being replaced!

From when I was about eleven I was fascinated by Sherlock Holmes stories. Back in the GDR the books were not easy to come by so I spent a lot of time visiting the few used book shops in my town quite frequently in order not to miss the occasional copy. I must have just turned fifteen when I got my hands on a three volume Wordsworth Classics edition of Sherlock Holmes stories. The battered look of the volumes testifies to my having read them many a time since then.

Upon reading Stephen Fry’s autobiography Moab is My Washpot, I noticed that he was fascinated with Holmes stories much as I was. My reasoning was that other readings Fry showed himself enthusiastic about could prove just as entertaining to me. The result is that for the last couple of weeks I have been practically hooked on P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories. I am glad that there is ample supply of these. At the moment I have four volumes of approximately 600 pages each. But I believe there are a few more.

Bertie Wooster is the none too bright English Gentleman who constantly sees himself – or one of his chums – “in the soup”, as it were. Reginald Jeeves is Wooster’s valet. Intelligent, modest and thorroughly in control of his young master, time and again he gets him out of the most embarrassing situations. The plots in themselves are marvellous. But the humour, especially of the linguistic sort, is pure gold. As in this week’s word. Bertie describes the process of ingesting his breakfast using a peculiarly twisted perspective. He was not putting the food inside himself, oh no. Bertie relates from his point of view how one morning he read the newspaper while still in bed: “I received a nasty shock while getting outside my morning tea and toast.”

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