Ukridge's Accident Syndicate

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"Ukridge's Accident Syndicate" is a short story by P. G. Wodehouse, which first appeared in the United States in the May 1923 issue of Cosmopolitan and in the United Kingdom in the June 1923 Strand, under the title "Ukridge, Teddy Weeks and the Tomato". It features the irrepressible Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, and was included in the collection Ukridge, published in 1924.

Main characters[edit]

  • Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, the irrepressible entrepreneur
  • Jimmy Corcoran, Ukridge's writer friend
  • Teddy Weeks, a syndicate member, later a movie star
  • Victor Beamish, a struggling artist, and syndicate member
  • Bertram Fox, a struggling writer of screenplays, and syndicate member
  • Robert Dunhill, an employee of the New Asiatic Bank, and syndicate member
  • Freddie Lunt, another toiler, a keen cyclist and syndicate member

Plot[edit]

The story is told in flashback as Ukridge and his friend James Corcoran stand outside the wedding of one Teddy Weeks, a successful movie star. The tale begins some years earlier, when Weeks was a struggling actor who believed all he needed to get his breakthrough role was a decent wardrobe. Ukridge, Corocoran, Weeks and others are dining at their regular haunt when one of their number reveals he has acquired accident insurance as a bonus for subscribing to a magazine, and has subsequently received five pounds after a minor cycling accident. Ukridge is inspired by this, and persuades his comrades to form a syndicate, subscribing to all magazines offering this free insurance, arranging an "accident" and splitting the insurance monies. Lots are drawn, and Weeks is selected as the one to be insured and to suffer the accident.

Time passes and Weeks shows no sign of taking any damage. Despite much cajoling, pointing out of appropriate taxi cabs and even the placing of dangerous dogs in his rooms, he remains unhurt. Finally, he agrees that he will do the honourable thing, on condition that he is first primed with a fine dinner and champagne. The syndicate scrape together the necessary funds, and watch glumly as Weeks dines and guzzles the pricey drink, abusing his friends roundly as he grows inebriated. After the feast, he laughs at his friends, tells them he had no intention of having his accident despite their generosity, and promptly slips in front of a passing truck.

Visiting Weeks in hospital, he claims to have no memory of events, stymieing any attempt to retrieve the funds. Instead he spends the cash on fine clothes, and kick-starts his career in the movies. Returning to the present, Ukridge bribes a passing vagrant (with a shilling borrowed from Corky) to throw a tomato at Weeks as he leaves the church to face the waiting throng of photographers; the good man's aim is true, and justice is restored.

See also[edit]