I have a US Pocket Book edition of Jeeves by P.G.Woodehouse. I am not sure what Jeeves it is, I am pretty sure there wasn’t a Woodehouse book just called Jeeves, but it is certainly Jeeves and Bertie in their inimitable fashion; the latter getting into scrapes – the former getting him out of it (research suggests it might indeed be the Inimitable Jeeves – which now makes that sentence look overly pretentious). Watching the first, really rather lame, episode of To the Manor Born yesterday it became apparent that this set-up is no longer a starter for comedy. (The number of gags in TTMB on Bowles not being English really left a dodgy taste in the craw).

Anyway this edition is pretty threadbare, and consists of eighteen short stories which have been tinkered with slightly to provide an overarching plot. What is great about the edition though is the cover. The ‘Send this book to a boy in the armed forces anywhere in the US’. There is near the front a huge, possibly self destructive, drive to get people to recycle their paper: ”every tank or plane is made of wrapped with paper’ – let’s hope not the former. This edition was printed in 1945, and it shows it with patriotic fervour – possibly neglecting Plum’s own ‘errors’ during this period. How can you argue with this paragraph, in an advert near the end – it is important for our boys to be reading (and possibly getting enemy bullets stuck in their copy of Emile Zola’s Nana* – thus saving their lives and giving them a taste for French literature for the rest of their lives).

‘Postal regulations have been changed so that you may now mail books to soldiers overseas, without authorization or a written request. The only conditions are that the book must be sent sealed by first class mail and must not weigh more than 8 oz, wrapped. The books in the list that follows, that are marked with an asterisk weigh less than 8 oz, and are mailable under this new ruling. But Americans most in need of reading matter are those now held prisoner by the Germans (no books can yet be sent to Americans held prisoners by the Japanese). Because there are many special restrictions and conditions, Pocket Books has established a Prisoner-Of-War service for the convenience of those who want to sent books to American prisoners”

* Nana is 104 in the list of Pocket Book titles. Madame Bovary by Flaubert comes in at 240 and is described as ‘The famous French classic – as famous as Nana.’ Neither weigh less than 8oz, unlike this copy of Jeeves(28), Our Town by Thorton Wilder (55) and The Pocket Book of Home Canning (217) – possibly not much use on the beaches at Normandy.