On the Keeping of a Stiff Upper Lip

By now you have suffered a lot of articles that I have had the temerity to pen down and lay at your feet; and in every one of them you might have noticed a sense of humour and insouciance (Ahem) that does not well become a modern day, hard headed (this is where you snort) 17 year old, struggling to keep up with the mental (alas, physical was never meant to be) pressure that parents usually plunk on their children when the Board Examinations loom eerily over the horizon. To clear up this issue, which may have left you scratching your heads, a lot of what I write is affected by my obsession with British humour, most of which is straight out of a P.G. Wodehouse novel (Shame on you if you do not recognize the name).

The minute you dive into one, it’s as if life, as we know it, ceases to exist and we’re transported to a galaxy far, far away (better get the reference) where the sun does not discriminate on whom to shine and is permanently fixed at noon; where the pigs resemble captive balloons with ears and a tail, and are as nearly circular as pigs can be without bursting; where gardeners are stolid Glaswegians who root their Earls to the spot with a stern grunt and a “mphm”; and where the Earls themselves are fluffy-minded, eccentric, doddering old fools, who are definitely fond of shooting their secretary when the said secretary is bending over to pick up a non-descript object.

The best quality about Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse is that he does not discriminate against the geographically undesirable (although you definitely cannot class Blandings Castle as ‘undesirable’ in any which way). You will get to read just as much about upper class London and its aunt, as about upper class Shropshire and its sister who “seems exactly what she is. Daughter of a hundred Earls.” He gently derides the foibles of the dapper young men about town and their complete inability to function without their personal gentlemen, the abject terror they are subject to in the face of their aunts who aren’t gentlemanly in the least, and their fondness for the Drones Club Annual Fat Uncle Contest, where the stakes are higher than at Las Vegas.

P.G. Wodehouse isn’t the only concrete example I give. Goodness Gracious Me, starring Sanjeev Bhaskar, a British Indian comedian, is another sterling example of why I adore British humour so much. Extremely funny (surprise surprise), extremely racist and incorrigibly sexist; so much so that in one episode Sanjeev Bhaskar (playing a father) looks at the Last Supper, painted by Leonardo Da Vinci and says to his son, “Twelve men sitting around the table for dinner… Where are the women? They’re in the kitchen!” He goes on to insult everyone in sight with the following diatribe about painters, “Reuben? Fat women, Indian. Botticelli? Fat kids, Indian. Michaelangelo? Aah, the painter of the Sistine Tandoori.” And this isn’t even the half of it. The show describes in great detail in an episode of how Christianity really is Indian. According to them, Jesus was a nice Indian boy, Moses an Indian pharmacist, Noah came from a land where it rained for forty days and forty nights so OBVIOUSLY he was Bengali. And what about Judas who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver? Well, business is business. The episode concludes with a discussion on how God is not Indian. He created the heaven and the Earth with everything upon it in six days and rested on the seventh. Well, what kind of Indian doesn’t work Sundays?!

The episodes range from discussions on how the royal family of the United Kingdom is Indian (Joint family? Indian. Family business? Indian. All have arranged marriages? Indian. All have sons, daughters no good? Indian.), how Santa is from Jalandhar, what vehicle is suitable for an average Indian family (“in the event of an accident, the glove compartment drops open and we all start praying”) and of course the famous “Kiss My Chuddies” song. (Uncle says “do your studies” we say, “Uncle, Kiss my chuddies.”)

After all this incoherent rambling, let us get down to brass tacks. What I’m trying to say is that the British are unparalleled when it comes to humour, despite most people thinking of this as an oxymoronic sentence. Shows like You Rang, M’Lord?, The IT Crowd, Blackadder and A Bit of Fry and Laurie (Oh how I would love to wax eloquent about this!) just exemplify their capabilities. Let me end with a joke that is so quintessentially British.

How many potatoes does it take to kill an Irishman?


(I stole this joke off the facebook wall of one of my friends. Oops.)

2 thoughts on “On the Keeping of a Stiff Upper Lip

  1. Hahaha thank you! The next one will have a historical basis coupled with travel, as I am currently, on the move. But thank you so much for following!
    P.S. I had to run that past google translate. Totally worth it. 😀

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