Seeing as I haven’t written a blog for AGES – not since June, if memory serves – I thought I would post this review I’ve just written for the PGW Society of the Sporting Stories before Bedtime event I went to see last Friday. I will be writing more blogposts again soon, but have rather lost the thread due to being bogged down with dissertation-writing – deadline is in two weeks! *gulp*
Anyway, here it is. I have also included a link to a pdf file of The Clicking of Cuthbert, which Stephen Fry read at the event, so those of you who don’t know the story already can read it now.
Last Friday, rather late in the evening, I tooled off to the Criterion Theatre at Piccadilly Circus to see Sporting Stories before Bedtime, a show that was part of the two-week Playing the Games season put on by the theatre during the Olympic Games. This particular event featured Brian Blessed, Eddie Izzard and Stephen Fry, who were all doing readings from various sport-themed pieces of literature. The reason for this review appearing in Wooster Sauce is that Stephen Fry had chosen to read one of Wodehouse’s golf stories. You might at this point be raising the perfectly reasonable point that golf is not in fact an Olympic sport, however, since Brian Blessed’s extract was about mountaineering – a sport that would be somewhat challenging to recreate in the East End of London – the sporting theme was clearly an all-embracing one. Having said this, golf will apparently be making a return to the Olympics in 2016, after a short hiatus of a hundred and twelve years.
You may well be tapping your foot and wondering when I intend to stop rambling and start reviewing, but believe me this is nothing to the world-class waffling Brian Blessed engaged in before commencing his reading! If waffling was an Olympic sport, I would bet on him for gold every time. His reading (when he did finally begin it!) was highly entertaining, however. He chose a piece from W E Bowman’s “The Ascent of Rum Doodle” and punctuated it with numerous asides, the content of which was based mainly on his own mountaineering experiences – he has attempted Everest three times.
Next up was Eddie Izzard, doing a piece from Tim Moore’s French Revolutions. His feat of running 41 marathons in 53 days for charity in 2009 with only five weeks previous training meant that he could probably relate better than most to the very funny story of a man setting off on the Tour de France route with little previous experience of cycling and a minimal amount of preparation beforehand.
But the highlight of the evening was of course Stephen Fry reading The Clicking of Cuthbert. It was wonderful to hear such an accomplished audiobook narrator (and patron of the PGW Society!) reading one of my own favourite Wodehouse stories, particularly when it came to such memorable lines as “I spit me of Nastikoff!” The introduction and conclusion involving the Oldest Member and a disgruntled golfer had been cut for brevity’s sake, but this certainly did not diminish the telling of the tale in any way. I had somehow forgotten how divinely funny this story is and Stephen’s reading reminded me all over again why I love Wodehouse’s work so much. A pure delight from start to finish – and you can say I said so!