The Gold Bat and other school stories

P.G. Wodehouse Omnibus. In my opinion, there are few 3-word combinations that could give me as much joy. So I couldn’t help but leap with joy when I was gifted this one by a friend.

Add to that the fact that I loved reading school stories as a kid and there’s a combination hard to beat even today. 

Full of school boy capers and scrapes and tales of growing up in an English Public School, this one will make you laugh at the Wodehouse-ish humour as well as smile as you reminisce back to your own days as a student. And of course, cricket. What school kid in the Empire in the early 1900s didn’t know the joy of it. Or, as is true for a major part of the world, even in the 21st century.

The Gold Bat introduces us to various shades of an English Public School (in this instance, Wrykyn), two of them being called O’Hara and Moriarty, who for reasons best known to themselves decide it was a matter of Irish honour  to exact revenge on the statue of their local M.P. by painting it in tar and feathers in the dead of the night. And contrary to all odds, actually do pull it off, resulting in a very satisfying public outcry. Except, there’s a tiny glitch as a certain Gold Bat borrowed from the venerable captain of the cricket team goes missing. And O’Hara has a fair idea of where it could be. School honour is at stake and the award must be retrieved. However, the path of a Wodehouse character is never easy and much drama ensues (including the emergence of a dark and dangerous league) during the ever resourceful O’Hara’s pursuit of the Bat … before the Police find it and Trevor (the cricket captain) becomes a suspect!

The other stories include the Head of Kay’s where its newly appointed – albeit reluctant – Head Boy, Fenn tries to retrieve the honour of the House, seemingly much against the wishes of its unpopular master, Mr. Kay. While White Feather sees us return to Wrykyn where a young school boy Sheen has to defend the honour of his school in a boxing competition after he’s seen fleeing the side of his schoolmates when he finds them in a brawl against the boys of St. Jude’s, their sworn enemies. What will be the fate of Kay’s and Fenn and will Sheen be able to rescue his school from disgrace and make his way out of coventry?

Although, most of us won’t be familiar with school experiences like these, I loved the books, overrun as they were with their themes of team spirit and honour as well tea time, studies (as in, the rooms) and cricket and rugby. It makes one look back fondly at the days when people, presumably, valued such things. For me, it also reminded me of the healthy rivalry that existed between schools, especially when it came to sports.

This omnibus gets an easy 5, as much for the stories as for the trip down memory lane! 🙂

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