Alfred Jingle: Weaponized charm
Christmas has arrived, so Fearless Admin and I thought the time was right for a little party… a party crashed by Alfred Jingle, of course. He just seems to perfectly suit the festive season; no one else has fun like he does. And rather like Bugs Bunny, he’s always at his best when someone else pays for it.
In this scene from the very first episode of 1985’s “The Pickwick Papers“, Jingle has only just met the rest of the Pickwickians, who are touring coach inns outside of London. He has already saved them from an angry coachman, charmed their socks off in conversation, and drunk them under the table at their expense. With everyone else sleeping off the effects of a well-liquored, hearty meal, only self-proclaimed ladies’ man Tracy Tupman (Clive Swift) is awake (and sober) enough to join Jingle in crashing a dance at the inn… and coincidentally, is able to pay for the tickets. Partying and mayhem ensue!
Doing a bit of showing off
Since the only clothes Jingle owns are a rather threadbare, too-small dark green coat that’s seen better days and a shirt and trousers in indifferent repair, he borrows Mr. Nathaniel Winkle’s (Jeremy Nicholas) custom-tailored, one-of-a-kind blue suit for the occasion – without asking Mr. Winkle, of course. Mind you, of all the Pickwickians, only Mr. Winkle’s clothes have a hope of possibly fitting Jingle. But our hero obviously knows he looks great in his borrowed finery as he shows off a bit for Tuppy on their way into the dance.
Tuppy: You look splendid!
Jingle: Queer set-out. [Shows Tupman one of the suit’s gold buttons] Old fellow’s likeness and “P.C.”. What does “P.C.” stand for? “Peculiar coat”, eh?
Tuppy: Oh, no. It’s the proposed uniform of the Pickwick Club, of which I also have the honour of being a member.
Jingle [bored already]: Tickets?
Tuppy: Mm-hmm. [hands over two tickets]
RF: Winkle’s borrowed duds are probably the newest clothes Jingle has worn for a while, so one can’t really blame him for swanning about a bit; he does look good – and he knows it. I also like how the mercurial Jingle almost immediately becomes bored with Tuppy’s explanation about the button. He’s not that interested in the Pickwick Club, except in that its members are extremely susceptible to his charm, and will therefore pay for his drinks. By the way, the reason Tuppy ended up paying for the tickets was because he lost a coin toss with Jingle – who’da thunk it? 😉 So, I guess technically it’s not a party crash, but I’m sure Jingle crashes a lot of parties anyways.
Most obliging of Tuppy to pay for the tickets
Admin: I like the little flourish Jingle gives as he presents himself to Mr. Tupman. He cleans up well. 😉 His smile when he says ‘tickets’ seems rather snake-like. Indeed he couldn’t care less about their goofy club, but you know he took it all in and that it further reinforces in his steel-trap mind what he already knows: The Pickwickians are a group of boyish innocents with more money than sense.
RF: You’d think Tuppy might take a warning from seeing how easily Jingle works the room and charms the widow later, but he doesn’t. Besides, what fun would it be if he did?