Ask anyone, and they’d tell you: Bertie Wooster is a young wastrel, a genial sort of blot on society, and the loveliest kind of idiot, short on the grey matter and long on the folding stuff. If I’m very lucky with who you’ve asked, they might tell you things I’d say of myself, given the chance: that old Bertie is charming, if a bit dim, and hopefully kind to his fellow man, a man of his word and his honor, who upholds the Wooster name as best he can. If I’ve not got lucky and you’ve asked a member of that terrific—which I use to indicate the terrifying, that which terrifies—sort of wonderful in the sense of the God of the Hebrews, you know—but I’ve lost the thread… ah yes, that terrific species Auntei woosterii, you’d sure as eggs bring down a deluge of the like not seen since said G. of the H. was rather miffed with everyone but that Noah chappie and set about making it a bit damp—and that deluge would consist, not of water as one might expect if one was up on one’s Scripture Knowledge to the same extent as your very humble, having once won a prize for the bally stuff, but of words, and every one of those words would be an asper…. aspiration? Exasperation perhaps…. Aspersion, that’s the fellow—cast mightily against the character of this poor Wooster like the stones he who is without sin ought cast the first of.
Young Bertie, they'd tell you. Such a terrible shame to the family. Such very high hopes we'd had for him once, and now see what has become of them. Shall have to chain him to a filly so to manage him, but he can't even keep one of them for more than an hour. The Woosters crossed with the Conqueror, stood for king and country at Crecy, and have been of the very best sort since that distant time, and now look, just look and what unworthy fruit has sprung from that most noble loin. Such would my aunts tell you.
What nobody will tell you, because I’ve made sure and certain of it by now, is the sad, whole truth. I record it here in this private diary for only one reason, which is I’m still trying to weasel out the stitch myself. See above, in re grey matter and the relative amount thereof. But to the best of my knowledge, this is what happened:
Once upon a time, a young fellow who his friends called Bertie took a double first in Literature from Oxford. He and his chums were basking yet in the golden summer of 1914 when certain things happened in that August which it’s probably better I don’t dredge up again. Needless to say, he and all his bosom mates—sixteen in all: Bingo, Barmy, Boko, Biffy, Tuppy, Wishy, Ribbon, and the rest of the Tiddly-Winking Leapfroggers, of course, Choco, the Badger, Bumfluff, Sticky, the Gubber, Titch, Mr Flighty, Drippy and Strangely Brown—took themselves off to the Oxford recruiting office. There he traded in his first for a second Lieutenant's commission, and a fine bonny thing he thought it was, too.
Two years later saw twelve of them gone, and our lad a Lieutenant at the Somme. He caught a bit of shrapnel in the leg, and lived, and lost his Captain, and was promoted. He met a cloud of the mustard at the third Ypres and survived that too. Eventually he took a bullet to the head, over the helmet, just before the ear on the left side. He rather lost the plot at that point. And two months later the war was over.
I’m just the bit that’s left, really.