I confess I have a soft spot for the romantic Bingo Little. When we first meet him in The Inimitable Jeeves, Bertie warns us about his habit of falling in love.
Ever since I have known him – and we were at school together – he has been perpetually falling in love with someone, generally in the spring, which seems to act on him like magic. At school he had the finest collection of actresses’ photographs of anyone of his time; and at Oxford his romantic nature was a byword.
The first of Bingo’s romances to be chronicled by Bertram Wooster involves a Mabel, a waitress in a tea-and-bun shop. Described by Bertie as ‘rather a pretty girl’, Mabel attracts the attention of both Bingo and Jeeves. At the end of the proceedings, she and Jeeves have ‘an understanding’.
We know very little about Mabel, except that she has dubious taste in gents neck wear, having given Bingo a crimson satin tie covered in horseshoes. This may explain why we hear no more about her as the potential Mrs Jeeves. But Mabel must have been more than a pretty face to have attracted Jeeves to the point of ‘an understanding’. What is her story, I wonder?
If you’ll permit me to speculate, I imagine Mabel as a country girl in former service at a large house, who has come to London in search of something better – work, romance, adventure? The dashing young Bingo appears to have impressed her, but Jeeves orchestrates an end to his rival’s hopes. How did her affair with Jeeves end? Did Jeeves later revise his opinion of Mabel as an suitable partner (as he seems to have done with her predecessor)? It is difficult to imagine him wedded to a woman with dubious taste in menswear. Jeeves could certainly have contrived circumstances so that Mabel would cancel the fixture, but it would hardly be to his credit to do so twice. Let us give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it is Mabel who ends the affair.
Why does Mabel cast Jeeves aside, then? Perhaps she is keen to travel – to establish herself on the New York stage, or ingratiate herself with a rich Australian Uncle? Or does the pretty waitress become embroiled in a new love triangle, in which Jeeves loses out to someone more dashing, less stuffy, or socially well-connected? It’s all very well for Bingo’s uncle and Rosie M. Banks, who are both rolling in the stuff, to cast aside outdated class snobbery in favour of marrying for love – but neither of them have had to support themselves in London on a waitress’s salary.
I’d like to think of Mabel as having intellectual qualities we didn’t see in her brief appearance in The Inimitable Jeeves, but there is little evidence to suggest this from our brief encounter with her:
‘Hallo, Mabel!’ he said, with a sort of gulp.
‘Hallo!’ said the girl.
‘Mabel,’ said Bingo, ‘this is Bertie Wooster, a pal of mine.’
‘Pleased to meet you,’ she said. ‘Nice morning.’
‘Fine,’ I said.
‘You see I’m wearing the tie,’ said Bingo.
‘It suits you beautiful,’ said the girl.
And this is it. Our brief encounter with Mabel, the waitress, is at an end.
We wish her well.
14 thoughts on “The Romances of Bingo Little: Mabel”
Now that wedding bells have rung out for Bertie, we might live to see a day when Jeeves would also be undertaking a saunter down the aisle!
A whooping post, as always!
I think Faulks marries Jeeves off as well.
Oh, so it is already a double whammy! Thanks for the update.
Reblogged this on Plumtopia and commented:
Each February our theme at Plumtopia is the Great Wodehouse Romances, to mark the anniversary of P.G. Wodehouse’s death on St Valentine’s Day, 1975. Here’s one I prepared earlier.
I was adopted, as it turned out, a bigger than average cocker spaniel 3 years ago. I did not know my name, but it almost certainly began with B.
(Richard Little) Bingo has been my name for 3 years now. I am very affectionate, but would need a better woman even than Rosie to tame me.
I prefer hitting the calculator button, but in cyber-space nobody knows you are a spaniel.
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Well, absolutely, Bingo young hound. Woof Woof!
Now I want to go and seek that out from my bookshelf, thanks, Honoria. xx
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You’re welcome Susan. It’s such a favourite of mine too.
Reblogged this on ashokbhatia and commented:
Waitresses and bar maids get a place of prominence in many of the Plum’s narratives. Here is Mabel who is one of the many who captivate the heart of Bingo Little for a brief period of time.
Honoria, you have raised an issue in re Mabel that has been lurking at the edge of consciousness for some time. Jeeves, I suspect, is a cad. We have seen him more than once, as you say, flitting around with the Mabels of this world and I have gained the impression over the years that he did not spend all his off hours at the Junior Ganymede or reading Spinoza. When he goes off to Herne Bay for the shrimping I now wonder whether the shrimps in question are the crawly crustaceans or the metaphorical kind, as in “the young shrimp”. No code of the Woosters for Jeeves.
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The mind is certainly boggling now, Noel. I had not considered Jeeves quite so much as a flitter and sipper as all that, but… I could seem him fascinating the shrimps.