What Ho! Red Herring–an undisciplined ramble

by Rebecca Stuhr

Red Herring 
by Laurel Russwurm

Red Herring on white circle surrounded by blueUsed under a Creative Commons Attribution license

I don’t really want to write about Jeeves and Wooster but I did want to say What Ho! And I do enjoy reading P.G. Wodehouse. Bertie is so well meaning and clueless (and privileged) and Jeeves is so smooth and wiley (not dishonest but definitely an Odysseus type trickster. He would be a favorite of Athena). Oh, the foibles of the depleted upper classes and the highly intelligent servant class. Jeeves reads “improving books,” in his spare time while Bertie and his undisciplined friends read the popular fiction of the day and sing the latest tunes. At least Bertie can play piano! Jeeves is a gentleman’s gentleman, and is as smooth as silk. Wodehouse knows how to create and paint a character. I love the description of Jeeves “shimmering” into a room. You can really picture that can’t you? When Jeeves first takes Bertie on as his client, he establishes himself firmly in the Wooster household by mixing Bertie a restorative cocktail. Jeeves knows what Bertie wants before Bertie thinks to ask, and indeed, offers more guidance than Bertie might wish. I would feel awkward with a servant, but if there were such a person as glimmering and acute as Jeeves taking care of the complicated details of life before the knots became to tight to untie and then cheerfully made sure your collars were ironed before you knew they were wrinkled … not to mention concocting a stimulating beverage now and then … well, that would be something one could appreciate. Which reminds me of one of my favorite nursery rhymes: “If wishes were horses beggars would ride, if watches were radishes we all would tell time.”

That’s my favorite when I’m wishing otherwise it is “Boys and Girls Come out to Play/The moon doth shine as bright as day./Leave your supper and leave your sleep/And come with your playfellows into the street./Come with a whoop and come with a call/Come with a goodwill or not at all.” This nursery rhyme evokes such freedom and spontaneity, a little saturnalia, where the children are in charge and the adults are taken down a notch. My own children were much older before they were leaving their supper and leaving their sleep to go out into the night. And even then, I’d set my alarm for 11:00 or midnight so that I could make sure they were home. When they were little, I didn’t let them go out in the backyard without me. In my childhood, I spent a lot more time roaming and playing even growing up in a city. My mother had a general idea of where we were. My two children grew up in rural Iowa and I was a working mother. But, when I was home, they were rarely out of my site, and they didn’t wander. They are both studying overseas now.

Lear's drawing of the Owl and the Pussy-cat

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat. From the Owl and the Pussy-cat by Edwin Lear

What ho! What does all of that have to do with Thinking Digitally? It was more doing digitally. I verified my nursery rhymes on the Web, I wrote all my thoughts into this digital writing pad. I found the metaphorical image of my two children bravely heading out to sea on the Web. And now, in order to get on the other side of that image, I am typing on the code side hoping that I haven’t misplaced my image. And I haven’t!

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