Tsang Heung Kan
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
I spent two afternoons over the weekend reading FORE!, an anthology of twelve humorous golf tales penned by P.G. Wodehouse. It is an out-of-print book that I purchased from a secondhand bookseller through Amazon.com some months ago.
The stories take place in the early 20th Century when hickory shafts were still prevalent and it was fashionable to wear plus-fours. As the book contains numerous golf slangs throughout, some of which quite archaic, a reader with only a cursory knowledge of golf vocabulary is bound to scratch their head at times.
The stories (except for the first one) are all narrated by a character known as the "Oldest Member", a nosy and lonely man of advanced age who loiters around the golf club all day every day. According to him, golf is the most noble pursuit. Whoever plays golf must be a decent citizen. And one must always be wary of anyone who does not play the game. At the golf club, the Oldest Member often encounters young members who are experiencing relationship problems, and he would gladly assume the role of an agony uncle and offer encouragement by telling them golf anecdotes whose protagonists had overcome similar problems.
Most of the characters in the stories seem to be well-educated and belong to the upper-middle class, as they converse in a highly cultivated manner. Many of them hold strong opinions about golf. Let me quote a few instances:
"The talking golfer is undeniably the most pronounced pest of our complex modern civilization and the most difficult to deal with. It is a melancholy thought that the noblest of games should have produced such a scourge."
"Most divorces, as you know, spring from the fact that the husband is too markedly superior to his wife at golf."
"There are three things in the world that he holds in the smallest esteem - slugs, poets, and caddies with hiccups."
Meanwhile, the non-opinionated and uncultivated characters are the anonymous Scotsmen who are occasionally mentioned throughout the stories. They are portrayed as uncouth, as speaking an unintelligible dialect, and as extremely talented at golf.
Wodehouse's humor is of a farcical kind. For instance, in one story a character works at a law firm called "Peabody, Peabody, Peabody, Peabody, Cootes, Toots, and Peabody." In another story, two American rivals, both nouveau riche, compete on the golf course in order to decide who gets to employ a highly sought-after model English butler, one who in many ways resembles Mr. Carson from the popular British television show Downton Abbey.
Although Wodehouse is heralded by many critics, most notably Stephen Fry, as the funniest writer of the last century, I only find his golf stories faintly amusing. They are innocent stories, too innocent for my taste. They are 'funny' only in an infantile sense. They are, to quote my literary hero George Orwell, "too genteel, too kindhearted and too consciously lowbrow." All in all, FORE! is an average collection of mildly humorous golf stories. It is good enough reading material for, say, passing time on a plane ride, or whiling away a lazy afternoon.