Follow TV Tropes

Following

Context Literature / Ukridge

Go To

1[[quoteright:279:https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ukridge.jpg]] ˛Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge is a character created by Creator/PGWodehouse. His defining feature is his endless supply of dubious [[GetRichQuickScheme Get Rich Quick Schemes]], which he pursues with great energy, optimism, and creativity. He's not above bending the truth a bit, and he's rather free with other people's property, but he'd never think of himself as a con-man -- all he's asking is that people show a bit of broad-minded flexibility until he can pay them back.˛˛Ukridge's friends and relatives, on whose strained generosity Ukridge is typically reliant, end up participating in his schemes whether they like it or not. First among them is James "Corky" Corcoran, an old school friend who is more-or-less resigned to being Ukridge's favoured draftee. A struggling author, he narrates (or at least introduces) most of the Ukridge stories, even if Ukridge has most of the dialogue. Other recurring characters include the duo's classmate George Tupper, who has become successful in government service, Ukridge's rich Aunt Julia (an iron-willed authoress of some renown) and the boxer "Battling" Billson.˛˛Ukridge is actually Wodehouse's longest-lasting character -- he pre-dates the more famous Literature/JeevesAndWooster and Literature/BlandingsCastle stories, and continued to make occasional appearances as late as the 1960s. In total, there are twenty stories featuring him -- one novel (his first appearance) and nineteen short stories. The latter were originally published in magazines, but have all since been republished in books -- the first ten are collected in ''Ukridge'' and the others are mixed with non-Ukridge stories elsewhere. Each story is mostly self-contained, although some feature recurring characters and make references to past events. To the extent that they have an internal chronology, it differs from their publication order.˛˛The stories are:˛* ''Love Among the Chickens'' (1906; revised edition 1921) -- Ukridge tries to farm hens.˛* "Ukridge's Dog College" (1923) -- Ukridge tries to train dogs for the entertainment industry.˛* "Ukridge's Accident Syndicate" (1923) -- Ukridge tries insurance fraud by proxy.˛* "The Debut of Battling Billson" (1923) -- Ukridge tries to manage an inconveniently conscientious boxer.˛* "First Aid for Dora" (1923) -- Ukridge tries to make amends for getting his aunt's secretary fired.˛* "The Return of Battling Billson" (1923) -- Ukridge tries to get the boxer Billson to return to the ring.˛* "Ukridge Sees Her Through" (1923) -- Ukridge tries to raise money via his aunt's literary society.˛* "No Wedding Bells for Him" (1923) -- Ukridge tries to disengage from a family he has been sponging off.˛* "The Long Arm of Looney Coote" (1923) -- Ukridge tries to help a friend get elected to parliament.˛* "The Exit of Battling Billson" (1923) -- Ukridge tries to impersonate the boxer Billson in a fixed fight.˛* "Ukridge Rounds a Nasty Corner" (1924) -- Ukridge tries ingratiate himself with his girlfriend's aunt.˛* "Buttercup Day" (1925) -- Ukridge tries to collect for a fake charity.˛* "A Bit of Luck for Mabel" (1925) -- Ukridge tries to get hold of a top hat to impress a girl.˛* "The Level Business Head" (1926) -- Ukridge tries to prevent his aunt learning that he pawned her broach.˛* "Ukridge and the Old Stepper" (1928) -- Ukridge tries to impress a girl with money from an unreliable relative.˛* "Ukridge and the Home from Home" (1931) -- Ukridge tries to turn his absent aunt's house into a hotel.˛* "The Come-back of Battling Billson" (1935) -- Ukridge tries to get the boxer Billson back into shape.˛* "Success Story" (1947) -- Ukridge tries to be master of ceremonies at a boxing night.˛* "A Tithe for Charity" (1955) -- Ukridge tries to get a job as a private tutor.˛* "Ukridge Starts a Bank Account" (1966) -- Ukridge tries to sell inappropriately-sourced antiques.˛----˛!!Tropes:˛˛* ActuallyThatsMyAssistant: When Corky is brought into the presence of Ukridge's formidable Aunt Julia for the first time (under false pretenses), there are two women present: a tall hawked-nosed aristocrat and a small kitten-like woman. Julia turns out to be the second, casually telling her other visitor to keep quiet while she verbally rips poor Corky to shreds.˛* AlliterativeName: Battling Billson. Ukridge and Corky have a [[SeriousBusiness intense discussion]] about an appropriate moniker for the fighter when launching his career.˛* AuthorAvatar: Corky, whose life incorporates a few details of Wodehouse's own early career (like living in a boarding-house run by a retired butler).˛* BigEater: Billson is a trencherman of the first order; as discussed below, this actually [[RealityEnsues causes problems]] with his career at one point.˛* BoardingSchool: Ukridge, Corky, and a number of other characters attended a school called Wrykin. (Wrykin also featured in Wodehouse's early school stories, including those featuring Literature/{{Psmith}} -- as such, it's one of the few links between Ukridge and the rest of the Wodehouse canon.) We don't see Ukridge at school, but we hear how he got expelled from it, and "The Long Arm of Looney Coote" starts with Ukridge attending a reunion dinner for former students.˛* BrickJoke: The ''title'' of "A Bit of Luck For Mabel" ends up being one of these.˛* BrilliantButLazy: "Brilliant" might be overselling it, but Ukridge is certainly clever and charismatic, and would likely be able to obtain a decent income if he just ditched the [[GetRichQuickScheme Get Rich Quick Schemes]].˛* ConMan: Ukridge's detractors would call him a con-man, but he doesn't really ''intend'' to be -- he always plans to settle his debts eventually, once his latest enterprise pays off. When it inevitably ''doesn't'' pay off, he's genuinely astounded.˛* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: Ukridge's first appearance, ''Love Among the Chickens'', differs somewhat from the other Ukridge stories. One difference is the length -- it's the only novel featuring Ukridge. Another is the narrator, Jeremy Garnet -- unlike Corky in later stories, he has his own plotline (including love interest) in addition to Ukridge's antics. Another difference is that Ukridge has a wife. (Although one of the short stories does later show how they met and got engaged.)˛* ElectionDayEpisode: The story "The Long Arm of Looney Coote" has Ukridge trying to help the parliamentary election campaign of an old school friend. He does a reasonable job of it until he gets arrested -- on stage, at a crucial campaign event -- for stealing a car. (Ukridge had actually "borrowed" the car from another friend, the titular Coote, but in typical fashion hadn't left Coote an explanation.) Ukridge's arrest causes the meeting to descend into a riot, and Ukridge leaves town without waiting for the election result.˛* EveryoneHasStandards: Ukridge generally avoids targeting women with his schemes, and even tries to genuinely help a damsel in distress on a couple of occasions.˛* EvilDebtCollector: Ukridge is often obliged to dodge people who are after him for debts, which he sees as irrational, narrow-minded persecution. A more impartial observer would say that the people chasing Ukridge are just reasonable tradesmen and shopkeepers who understandably resent Ukridge's tendency to "delay" paying his bills until his latest GetRichQuickScheme pays off (which it seldom does).˛* ExtremeDoormat: Ukridge's faithful chronicler Corky lets himself be talked into just about anything, although at least as a writer he is able make a bit of money selling the resulting narratives.˛* FailureIsTheOnlyOption: Ukridge's schemes almost invariably blow up in his face. Even when they don't, he usually wastes the money on his ''next'' scheme.˛* FakedKidnapping: The story "Ukridge Rounds a Nasty Corner" begins with Ukridge stashing a parrot in Corky's apartment without explanation. Corky later learns that it was pinched by Ukridge so that, after a long and laborious "search", he can earn the gratitude of its owner by "finding" it.˛* TheFriendNobodyLikes: A downplayed example -- Ukridge is more like the friend who infuriates everyone on a regular basis, but somehow still manages to bounce back. People like Corky and George Tupper do seem to be genuinely fond of him, but that doesn't mean that their backlog of exasperation about him can't boil over from time to time.˛--> '''Ukridge:''' Did you explain to Tuppy?\˛'''Corky:''' I didn't get a chance. He was talking too hard.\˛'''Ukridge:''' About me?\˛'''Corky:''' Yes. He said everything I've always felt about you, only far, far better than I could ever have put it.˛* GentleGiant: Wilberforce Billson defaults to this. Ukridge sees Billson's potential as a boxer, and tries to make a bit of money by managing him in the ring, but in "The Debut of Battling Billson", Billson lets himself be defeated out of sympathy for his opponent's hard-life story, and in "The Exit of Battling Billson", Billson refuses to fight at all on religious grounds. If finally provoked to the point where he loses his temper, however, it's a different story -- in "The Return of Battling Billson", he demolishes his opponent (although this is no comfort to Ukridge, who had wanted him to [[ThrowingTheFight take a dive]] that time).˛* GetRichQuickScheme: Ukridge has a new one (or at least a new angle on an old one) each time he pops up. There's nearly always some vital role he needs one of his friends or relatives to play. ˛* GrandeDame: Ukridge's rich Aunt Julia (although as noted above, she doesn't physically look the part.) He's sometimes dependent on her for money and lodgings, but inevitably does something to get kicked out. This doesn't stop Ukridge from trying to leverage her property or reputation in some of his [[GetRichQuickScheme Get Rich Quick Schemes]], and the frequent revelation of these schemes undoes whatever steps he might have taken to get back in her good books. Corky (the narrator) feels intimidated by her:˛--> Whenever I meet Ukridge’s Aunt Julia I have the same curious illusion of having just committed some particularly unsavoury crime and—what is more—of having done it with swollen hands, enlarged feet, and trousers bagging at the knee on a morning when I had omitted to shave.˛* HaughtyHelp: The narrator (Corky) lives in an apartment building run by Bowles, a former butler to an earl. Bowles is always polite and respectful, but still manages to project an air of dignified superiority leaving Corky in no doubt that he isn't approved of. Also featured are some haughty servants of Ukridge's rich aunt Julia, who make it clear that they're only letting rabble like Corky into the house under protest.˛* IconicOutfit: Ukridge's habitual outfit is described as "distinctly individual":˛-->Over grey flannel trousers, a golf coat, and a brown sweater he wore like a royal robe a bright yellow mackintosh. His collar had broken free from its stud and showed a couple of inches of bare neck. His hair was disordered, and his masterful nose was topped by a pair of steel-rimmed pince-nez cunningly attached to his flapping ears with giner-beer wire.˛* InsuranceFraud: In "Ukridge's Accident Syndicate", Ukridge and a group of his friends take out multiple insurance policies on one person, who is then supposed to contrive a suitable "accident" and then share the payout. The designated victim gets cold feet, but immediately after declaring his intent not to go through with the plan, he has a ''real'' accident -- and displays (extremely convenient) symptoms of amnesia, meaning that he has no memory of agreeing to split the insurance money with the syndicate.˛* KnowWhenToFoldThem: Ukridge may launch all of his scheme with unbridled enthusiasm, but when things start to go cockeyed, he is able walk away with barely a backwards glance.˛* MyNaymeIs: Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge's middle name is pronounced "Fanshawe". It's a genuine, if unusual, English name. And yes, it is pronounced like that.˛* NeverLendToAFriend: Ukridge is always leaning on his friends for financial assistance, and they often oblige. If they remind him too frequently about what he owes, he's hurt that an old pal should display such a narrow-minded, grasping attitude, and claims that his latest GetRichQuickScheme will allow him to repay them tenfold if they just stop being so impatient. Corky is resigned to the fact that he'll never get any money back -- while still allowing himself to be talked into dispensing a little more. Other friends still haven't learned.˛-->'''Tupper:''' We ought to do something practical for him. After all, a loan of twenty pounds cannot relieve the situation permanently.\˛'''Corky:''' I think you're a bit optimistic if you're looking on it as a loan.˛* NeverMyFault: Ukridge's schemes usually fail, but he'll never admit that they were lousy ideas in the first place. The circumstances which caused their failure couldn't have been foreseen and were entirely outside his control. If everyone had just been more broad-minded and cooperative, and not hounded him over every little problem, he'd soon have been in a position to repay everyone. It's really their own fault that they're out of pocket, but instead of being grateful for what he tried to do for them, they subject him to relentless persecution. It's a bit hard, as Ukridge would say.˛* NiceHat: The story "A Bit of Luck for Mabel" is largely about Ukridge's attempts to procure a nice top hat, which he needs as part of his correct gentleman's attire while wooing the titular Mabel. After his own gets blown off and run over, he pinches a replacement from from one of his long-suffering friends, but this new hat then gets held to ransom by his landlady in order to make him pay his rent. Not to be discouraged, he pinches another -- without realizing that the man he's taking it from is Mabel's father, whose disapproval of Ukridge's courtship is now guaranteed.˛* OddballInTheSeries: "Ukridge and the Old Stepper" has Ukridge being at the receiving end of things for once, dealing with the antics of his sort of-Uncle Percy.˛* PerpetualPoverty: Ukridge is nearly always short of money, and when he isn't, he's on the verge of doing something which will return him to that state. However, he always manages to get by somehow -- typically by sponging off friends.˛* PintSizedPowerhouse: Maybe not physically, but Aunt Julia packs a whole lot of personality into a half-sized frame.˛* PlayingTheVictimCard: Ukridge basically lives by "borrowing" from acquaintances and by dodging his bills, but if anyone ever points out the problems his schemes cause, he claims that they're unjustly persecuting him. People should be grateful for the chance to be involved, but instead they just drag him down with petty complaints and unreasonable expectations. He was trying to do them a bit of good, and this is the thanks he gets?˛* PowderKegCrowd: The crowd attending Boko Lawlor's election campaign event in "The Long Arm of Looney Coote" is notably volatile. When Ukridge, who has been on Lawlor's campaign staff, gets arrested for automobile theft on stage, a riot breaks out. The arresting policeman was actually ''trying'' to provoke a strong reaction (delaying his appearance at the meeting to "give it time to warm up"), but probably wasn't intending it to go that far.˛* ProducePelting: A well-timed and expertly-hurled tomato gives Ukridge a measure of revenge against the ex-friend mentioned above under InsuranceFraud.˛* PrisonsAreGymnasiums: In "The Come-back of Battling Billson", Billson [[BigEater can't]] stay in shape for his upcoming bout.. until he gets tossed in prison for two weeks.˛* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: When Julia turns up to confront Ukridge at the end of "Ukridge's Dog College", Corky literally runs for it. (This comes back to bite him in the ass a bit in a later story, as he never actually sees what Julia looks like.)˛* SelfMadeMan: Ukridge isn't one, but always insists that he's on the verge of becoming one. He cites this ideal when asked why he's [[LibertyOverProsperity no longer living comfortably]] with his rich aunt -- although actually, she kicked him out.˛--> '''Corky:''' But what about your aunt?\˛'''Ukridge:''' Oh, I've left her. Life is stern and life is earnest, and if I mean to make a fortune I've got to bustle about and not stay cooped up in a place like Wimbledon.\˛'''Corky:''' Something in that.\˛'''Ukridge:''' Besides which, she told me that the very sight of me made her sick and she never wanted to see me again.˛* SharpDressedMan: As noted under IconicOutfit, Ukridge in his default state comes across as something of a mess.. but if he's able to get his hands on a proper suit (usually by pinching one from Corky) he always looks ''very'' good.˛* SpontaneousCrowdFormation: From "No Wedding Bells For Him"˛-->"And at the words, as if they been some magic spell, the street suddenly seemed to wake from slumber. It seethed with human life. Maids popped out of windows, areas disgorged landladies, the very stones seemed to belch forth excited spectators."˛* TurnTheOtherCheek: In "The Exit of Battling Billson", Bilson converts to Christianity and decides to apply this philosophy during a fight. As it turns out, he didn't fully understand the meaning of the phrase; after being hit on both cheeks, he thought he had done what was necessary and proceeded to beat his opponent easily.˛* VerbalTic: Ukridge often addresses people as "laddie" or "old horse" and says "Upon my Sam!" when he's upset.˛----

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report