I'm about fourteen years old again, and I'm in a bookshop, browsing through its extensive collection of Wodehouse titles. And I find a title I haven't seen before, have never even heard of. It has, of course, an Ionicus cover. It's a moment of immense rapture and excitement.
I look at the title, and I know it's a brilliant title, even though when I try to concentrate on it and memorise it, it turns into a jumble of nonsense. Just as, when I open the book and I try to make sense of the opening words (which I know are superb) they also dissolve and become random letters.
I don't think that in my dream I ever manage to get the book to the payment counter.
That moment of finding a new Wodehouse or a new Ionicus cover, which I really did experience often at that stage in my life, in the early to mid-1980s, has remained with me as a pure and genuine peak of my existence. I suppose that's an indictment of my eventless life; but so it goes.
That's another reason why I started this blog. Having found the "Life At Blandings" box set, I wanted to share it.
More recently, I found and acquired another box set, apparently dating from about 1973 to judge from the printing date of the books inside. It's called "The Immortal World of P.G. Wodehouse", but really it's a Jeeves and Bertie Wooster set....
This is the front illustration: Bertie caught en dishabille prior to his morning tea, and not in the best of moods. The picture on the spine shows him washed and brushed and almost ready to sally forth:
.... while the one on the back of the box shows him setting out, Jeeves having done all he can to ensure he is spruce and immaculate:
As you can see, the box set has had a rough time of it in the past forty years or so, and has become faded and blotchy. But I think and hope we can forgive it.
As I've mentioned before, Jeeves and Bertie change appearance radically throughout the Ionicus series. Here, Jeeves in particular is something of a disappointment: too nondescript, seemingly your standard non-speaking-role manservant. Still, this series of pictures has a real charm, I think, and gives a valuable peep into Bertie's behind the scenes existence, between the books as it were.
Oh, and which books are in the set, you ask? These: