Jerome Klapka Jerome - Three Men on the Bummel
This is the zenith, the summit, the highest peak reached by a certain kind of British humour I like.
Those who are keen of PG Wodehouse may object a couple of things to this remark and probably they have their point: the thing is that I never read anything by Wodehouse (by the way: from which book should I start?).
There are moments of this German bummel or escapade in which Jerome is simply impossible to stand any further. I daresay it's not legal, being that funny, sharp and witty. One could choke on a burst of laughter.
And it almost happened to me.
I simply couldn't help myself but laugh, laugh, laugh while reading about the scrupolous German dogs or the way to get rid of German cats when they don't let you sleep. And the way Jerome wrote: absolutely magnificent.
But it's not all about humour. There are also a lof of insightul observations on Germany and Germans that can now be put in perspective. When Jerome, Harris and George (without Montmorency at this time) traveled through Germany it was hard to picture the horror of Ypres in World War I and the whole dirty business of nazism, but still JKJ understood quite a lot.
The following lines may suffice:
"In Germany today one hears a good deal concerning Socialism, but it is a Socialism that would only be despotism under another name. Individualism makes no appeal to the German voter. He is willing, nay, anxious to be controlled and regulated in all things".
Now, when Jerome wrote this, Hitler was only eleven years old and I hardly doubt that he ever found any interest in having a bummel, although he later toyed with flânerie getting in and out of Munich beer halls.
This book was a divertissement, but it is also a brilliant testimony on how life went on in a serene Germany where everything was efficient but relaxed before someone decided to play the policeman of a whole nation.