Keeping it from Harold
by P.G. Woodhouse
Full text explained in appropriate words ….
Para 1 … This is a scene in Bill Bramble’s house. The highly gifted son Harold sits at the table and addresses his mother Mrs. Bramble, “Ma!”. She is a nice little woman with a rather mediocre brain. She dotes on her academically brilliant son. For her, the world revolves around her husband, Mr. Bill Bramble and her son, Harold. Harold has a book kept open on the red table cloth of the table. He is somewhat lost in thought while reading the book.
Para 2 .. The mother lovingly answers, “Yes, dearie?’.
Para 3 … Harold asks, “Will you hear me?”
Para 4 … Mrs. Bramble took the book.
Para 5 .. She answers, “Yes, mother will hear you, precious.” Mrs. Bramble had developed the habit of answering her son in the third person, perhaps as a show of her excessive affection towards him.
Para 6. .. Harold is growing up. His mother’s mannerism makes him uncomfortable. He resents the way his mother addressed him in the third person, which implied that she still treated him as a toddler.
He frowns, being discomforted with her mother’s response.
Para 7 … Harold clears his throat and fixes his gaze on the cut-glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
Para 8 … Harold recites the first line of the poem, “Be good, sweet maid.” It was devoid of emotion.
Para 9 … Mrs. Bramble is worried at the hard work put in by Harold for his studies. Sympathizing with her studious son, she advises him to go for a half an hour saunter down the river side to refresh himself.
Para 10 …. Harold thought over his mother’s suggestion and decided to abide by her advice. He quietly stepped out of the front door.
Para 11 … Harold was an extraordinarily talented child. He was impeccable in his manners too. Mrs. Bramble often wondered how she could have given birth to such an adorable child, when neither her husband nor she had even a fraction of Harold’s intellectual caliber. But her elation was also shrouded by sadness. Harold’s father was in a profession that was not befitting for a boy like Harold. This mismatch between Harold’s all-round goodness was somewhat disconcerting to the parents. Deep in their hearts, the Brambles felt the profession that bread and butter and butter was lowly. With a sense of inferioroty and indignation, they decided to keep this fact away from Harold. However, Mrs. Bramble felt mean and distressed at her attempt to keep her son in dark about his father’s profession.
Para 12 … When Harold was a baby, this fact never bothered the parents. But, he grew up to a fine, well-behaved boy. His blossoming talent became evident when he won two prizes at the Sunday school. When the Bramble’s were in the midst of this dilemma, the curate of the local parish came into suggest that the nature of Bramble’s job must be hidden from Harold.
Despite the huge popularity of boxing among the people, it was perceived to be rather a boorish sport, not meant for the gentry.
Para 13 … The situation headed for the worse when Major Percy Stokes, brother of Mrs. Bramble, dropped in for a cup of tea. He was a man who was given to speaking boastfully and indiscreetly. During the chat, he spoke in a rather demeaning tone about Bramble’s profession. Percy took this opportunity to remind his sister to ensure Harold never got to know of his father’s profession.
Para 14 .. Mr. Bramble, an embodiment of civility and politeness, readily succumbed to the persuasiveness of Major Stokes. Bramble had always been like this. When Harold was born, he did not insist on giving the baby the name chosen prior to the birth. Instead he gave the name Harold to the baby boy, because his wife wanted so.
Para 15 .. When it became certain that his wife was in the family way, he chose the names ‘John’ after Mr. John. S. Sullivan (If it was to be a son) and ‘Marie’ after Miss Marie Lloyd (if it was to be a daughter). Finally, it was his wife whose choice prevailed and the boy got the name ‘Harold’ instead of ‘John’. On this matter Mr. Bramble gracefully ceded ground to his loving wife.
Para 16 … Bramble endeared him to one and all by his cool temperament and cheerful exterior.
Para 17 .. One thing that caused him much disquiet was his profession — he was a professional boxer. Boxing needs more brawn than brain.
Para 18 .. Before the arrival of Harold, Bramble had been proud of his profession as a boxer. In his profession, he was as much feared as he was respected. His redoubtable boxing acumen had earned him name, fame and money. He looked back at his exploits with satisfaction.
For the millions of boxing lovers in London and beyond, he was a legend. He was as formidable inside the ring as he was adorable outside, among his fans.
His trademark ‘left hook’ was acclaimed by sports writers.
Para 19 … With the coming of Harold, his flamboyance began to wane. He began to avoid publicity and media attention.
Para 20 … As Harold grew up, his talent blossomed. It brought much joy to his parents. But, the boy’s extra-ordinary talent affected the Brambles in a rather unintended way. Before their prodigious Harold, they felt small, and un-fit for the task of parenting such a hugely gifted child. This was a very awkward situation for the father and mother to be in. They applauded and, at times, sulked at the accomplishments of their gifted son.
Para 21 … Harold excelled in academics, much the same way his father Bill excelled in the ring. Harold had singing talent too. He sang at the choir.
Para 22 … The young boy studied in the local private school. He wore the school’s academic cap and behaved dignifiedly. He was ten then. He won prizes in spelling and dictation. Harold had been told by his father that he worked as a commercial traveler. For a boy of such caliber and refined taste, to be told that his father was the boxer ‘Young Perky’ — the embodiment of brawn, rage and brute force idolized by boisterous crowds — was too unfair and uncharitable.
Para 23 … Harold blossomed in his school with his multi-faceted genius, quite oblivious of the real profession of his father. Bill had a square jaw and a slightly distorted nose. Their brick-red house stood apart from other houses. Harold was too focused in his studies to bother about his father’s real profession. He had no time for this. Days went by.