All's Well with Bingo
"All's Well with Bingo" is a short story by English comic writer P. G. Wodehouse. The story was published in the Saturday Evening Post in the US on 30 January 1937, and in The Strand Magazine in the UK in April 1937. It was included in the collection The Crime Wave at Blandings (1937), which was published in the US. The story was featured in the British edition of the 1940 short story collection Eggs, Beans and Crumpets.
|"All's Well with Bingo"|
|Author||P. G. Wodehouse|
|Publisher||Saturday Evening Post|
|Publication date||30 January 1937|
"All's Well with Bingo" is the first Drones Club story to star Bingo Little, who had previously appeared in ten Jeeves short stories. In the story, Bingo is sent by his wife Rosie to take notes for her next novel at Monte Carlo. After he becomes indebted to a threatening bookie for ten pounds, Bingo pawns his wife's brooch for five; his fate rests on his luck at roulette.
At the Drones Club, an Egg (a nondescript member of the club) complains to a Crumpet and a Bean about Bingo Little singing with joy. The Crumpet tells the following story, explaining that Bingo is happy because he narrowly escaped getting into trouble with his wife Rosie.
Rosie asks Bingo to go to Monte Carlo to take notes she can use in her next novel. Bingo wants to gamble there, but Rosie, the household breadwinner, does not want him to gamble. Instead of giving him money, she has his travel bills sent to her so he is not tempted. Disappointed, Bingo goes to Monte Carlo, and discovers that the wealthy Drone Oofy Prosser is nearby. He gives Oofy lunch, and Oofy is grateful, though he refuses to lend Bingo money. Instead, he gives Bingo a tip to bet on the horse Spotted Dog. Bingo bets ten pounds on credit. The horse loses, and Bingo now owes ten pounds to a bookmaker who threatens that a nasty accident will befall Bingo if he does not pay.
Rosie's friend Dora Spurgeon returns Rosie's brooch, a birthday gift from Bingo that Dora had borrowed, to Bingo. He pawns it for five pounds and bets it, intending to use his supposedly unbeatable system (doubling his bet when he wins), yet he loses repeatedly. Playing roulette, he puts his last one hundred francs on Black. Up comes Zero, and his money is swept away by the croupier. Dejected, Bingo is suddenly greeted by Rosie, who was able to come because her luncheon was postponed. She expects to get her brooch back soon, which worries Bingo.
Bingo notices a pile of chips on Black worth no less than three thousand, two hundred francs, or about forty pounds. He had forgotten that when Zero comes up, even-odds bets are put "in prison", or kept on to await the result of the next spin. Distracted by Rosie, he had not taken out his winnings after Black turned up, so it all stayed on Black. Black came up seven more times. Bingo cannot take out his winnings, or else Rosie will see he has been gambling. He tries to make a face at the croupier to signal that he wants his money pushed aside, but the croupier misinterprets him and lets it all ride (meaning Bingo's money will continue to be bet double-or-nothing on Black).
Though Bingo is nervous, Black keeps coming up. Some of his winnings are finally pushed aside when his stake reaches the limit for even-odds bets. Rosie leaves at last, and Bingo happily claims forty-eight thousand francs. He buys back Rosie's brooch and goes to her. Rosie confesses that she was tempted to gamble and lost two hundred pounds in ten minutes. She is concerned this will upset Bingo. Bingo assures her that he understands, though he claims not to experience such impulses himself.
Wodehouse explained the inspiration for this story in a letter written on 12 August 1947 to a fan asking about the inspiration for his writing. Wodehouse responded that when planning a story, he usually decided on which character to incorporate first and then determined the plot, but one exception to this rule was "All's Well with Bingo", a story based on an experience of his own. As Wodehouse wrote in his letter:
I was in the Casino at Le Touquet one night, wandering about and occasionally risking a small sum at one of the tables, and zero came up when I was backing Black, and at the same moment I happened to get into conversation with someone, and it was only some time later that I observed a pile of counters on Black and realized that they were mine. My gratification at scooping in the stuff was heightened by the immediate realization that I had got the core of a story.
Wodehouse also explained in the letter that he eventually chose Bingo Little and Mrs. Little for the story, and later incorporated the threatening bookmaker to make winning the money more important for Bingo.
The story was illustrated by Earl Blossom in the Saturday Evening Post, and by Gilbert Wilkinson in the Strand.
"All's Well with Bingo" was included in the American edition of The Week-End Wodehouse, published 1939. It was featured in the collection The Most of P. G. Wodehouse, which was published on 15 October 1960 to celebrate Wodehouse's seventy-ninth birthday. The story was included in the 1982 collection Tales from the Drones Club.
During World War II, while imprisoned in an internment camp in the town of Tost as a British civilian arrested in German-occupied France, Wodehouse contributed an abridged story based on "All's Well with Bingo" to the internee's newspaper, the Tost Times. As a light-hearted story, it was meant to make his fellow internees laugh. The story appeared in an edition of the Tost Times dated 1 June 1941.
- McIlvaine (1990), p. 73, A58a, and pp. 77-78, A62.
- Wodehouse (1981) , chapter 1, p. 24.
- Wodehouse (2013), pp. 409-410.
- McIlvaine (1990), p. 157, D59.87, and p. 186, D133.210.
- McIlvaine (1990), pp. 116-117, B6a.
- McIlvaine (1990), pp. 120-121, B12a.
- McIlvaine (1990), p. 126, B25a.
- Cawthorne, Nigel (2013). A Brief Guide to Jeeves and Wooster. London: Constable & Robinson. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-1-78033-824-8.
- Wodehouse (2013), p. 300.
- McIlvaine, Eileen; Sherby, Louise S.; Heineman, James H. (1990). P. G. Wodehouse: A Comprehensive Bibliography and Checklist. New York: James H. Heineman Inc. ISBN 978-0-87008-125-5.
- Wodehouse, P. G. (1981) . Eggs, Beans and Crumpets (Reprinted ed.). Middlesex: Penguin Books. ISBN 0140033513.
- Wodehouse, P. G. (2013). Ratcliffe, Sophie (ed.). P. G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters. London: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0786422883.
- The Russian Wodehouse Society's page, with numerous book covers and lists of characters