- Roderick Spode
Roderick Spode, 7th Earl of Sidcup, often known as Spode or Lord Sidcup, is a recurring
fictional characterfrom the Jeevesnovels of British comic writer P. G. Wodehouse, being an "amateur Dictator" and the leader of a fictional fascistgroup in Londoncalled The Black Shorts . In the 1990s television series, he is portrayed by [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0876519/ John Turner] , and depicted as having a very Hitleresque appearance.
Spode is a large and intimidating figure, appearing "as if Nature had intended to make a
gorilla, and had changed its mind at the last moment". He is constantly in love with Madeline Bassett, and though he intended to remain a bachelor during his career as a dictator, he nevertheless attempted to protect her from men "playing fast and loose"; to this end, he threatened on several occasions to beat Bertie Woosterand Gussie Fink-Nottleto jelly. He marches his followers around London and the countryside, preaching loudly to the public on the dissoluteness of modern society until a heckler hits him in the eye with a potato. Spode's grotesquely lampooned character is possibly Wodehouse's surest defence against the absurd charges of Nazi sympathies.
The Black Shorts
Spode is modelled after Sir
Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, who were nicknamed the " blackshirts". The name was probably suggested by Mosley's family connection to the Potteries area in Staffordshire, where the famous Spodepottery is made. Spode was at first an 'amateur dictator' who led a farcical group of fascists called the Saviours of Britain, better known as the Black Shorts. Spode adopted black shorts as a uniform because, according to Gussie Fink-Nottle in " The Code of the Woosters", "By the time Spode formed his association, there were no shirts left." (alluding to Garibaldi's socialistred shirts, and various fascist groups -- the black shirtsof Mussolini, the brown shirtsof Hitler, the blue shirtsof Ireland, the green shirts of the National Corporate Partyand Social Credit and the silver shirtsof the United States). Bertie Woosterbelieves that wearing black shorts is an extreme social and sartorial faux pas (shorts being inappropriate for a grown man outside a sporting context) and uses it to make fun of Spode:
The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you're someone. You hear them shouting "Heil, Spode!" and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: "Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?"
P. G. Wodehouse (
Bertie Woosterspeaking to Spode)
The Code of the Woosters" (1938)
Before Spode inherited the title of
Earlof Sidcupfrom his uncle, he made a living as the "founder and proprietor of the emporium in Bond Street known as Eulalie Soeurs", a famed designer of ladies' lingerie. [This may allude to the fact that "The Lady" was owned by the Mitford family, and Mosley became Diana Mitford's second husband.] Out of embarrassment, Spode had long attempted to keep his ownership of the business a secret, though Jeevesdiscovered the fact in the Junior Ganymede Club's official Book, where one of Spode's former valets had inscribed it. In " The Code of the Woosters", this discovery allowed Bertie to threaten Spode with public embarrassment and prevent being coshed: as Bertie says, "You can't be a successful Dictator and design women's underclothing. One or the other. Not both." Indeed, whenever Bertie mentions the name "Eulalie" throughout the book, Spode instantly becomes meek and acquiescing. Bertie plans to use the same stratagem in " Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit" to prevent Spode – who is an expert on jewellery – from revealing that Aunt Dahlia's pearl necklace is in fact a fake (she pawned the real one to raise money for her magazine, " Milady's Boudoir"). Before he attempts the blackmail, however, Spode dashes his hopes by telling Bertie that he has sold Eulalie Soeurs. It is left up to Aunt Dahliato save the day by actually coshing Spode herself.
Spode is featured in:
The Code of the Woosters" (1938), in which the Eulalie Soeurs incident occurs
Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit" (1954), as Lord Sidcup
Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves" (1963), again as Lord Sidcup; he gets engaged to Madeline Bassett
Much Obliged, Jeeves" (1971)
* Cite book
author = Wodehouse, P. G.
origyear = 1938
year = 1975
The Code of the Woosters
New York, NY
pages = pages 221–222
id = ISBN 0-394-72028-8
* Cite book
author = Wodehouse, P. G.
origyear = 1954
year = 1999
Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit
id = ISBN 0-14-028120-7
* Cite book
author = Usborne, Richard
origyear = 2002
year = 2003
title = Plum Sauce: A P. G. Wodehouse Companion
The Overlook Press
pages = pages 137–207
id = ISBN 1-58567-441-9
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