It would, of course, be a pleasure to hear Stephen Fry talking about anything at all; his voice is mellifluous and his vocabulary vast. But to hear him speak on a subject he knows and loves, and which I to a lesser extent know and love, in the intimate venue of the downstairs bar, was pure joy.
He opened by reading a very kind letter sent by the man himself to the teenage ‘Mr’ Fry in the early 1970s, which obviously had a profound effect, and continued with a brief summary of Wodehouse’s life, peppered with funny quotations. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the evening was hearing him read out a selection of choice passages and one-liners (“Why do dachshunds wear their ears inside-out?”), although the extract from an essay he had written on Wodehouse was as good as you would expect. Above all, his great respect and admiration, this coming from a man more than qualified to recognise genius when he sees it, shone out.
Fry described the great gift of Wodehouse as ‘to be benign, to be gentle, to be kind, and to be funny’. If such were the mark that I myself managed to impress upon the world, I would leave it with good grace.