The Diary of a Nobody

The Diary of a Nobody

"Why should I not publish my diary? I have often seen reminiscences of people I have never even heard of, and I fail to see — because I do not happen to be a 'Somebody' — why my diary should not be interesting. My only regret is that I did not commence it when I was a youth."

This is a daily weblog version of The Diary of a Nobody, written by George Grossmith and originally serialised in Punch magazine in 1888 and 1889. Bringing Charles Pooter into the 21st century, his diary is now available as a selection of weblog-style RSS feeds which you can subscribe to, via a feed aggregator, or through certain browsers. The diary restarts on April 3 each year.

You can either:-

  • Subscribe to the 2016-as-1888 feed, which is running in real-time, delivering an entry on whichever days Pooter has written one, as if 2016 were 1888.
  • Subscribe to the daily feed, starting today. This will give you one entry per day, starting from the beginning, and irrespective of the gaps where Pooter is busy or has had his diary damaged. If you want to start at a different point, or join someone else who's reading it, just change the date in the URL.
Charles Pooter

May 3.—Carrie went to Mrs. James, at Sutton, to consult about her dress for next Monday.  While speaking incidentally to Spotch, one of our head clerks, about the Mansion House, he said: “Oh, I’m asked, but don’t think I shall go.”  When a vulgar man like Spotch is asked, I feel my invitation is considerably discounted.  In the evening, while I was out, the little tailor brought round my coat and trousers, and because Sarah had not a shilling to pay for the pressing, he took them away again.

Charles Pooter

May 2.—Sent my dress-coat and trousers to the little tailor’s round the corner, to have the creases taken out.  Told Gowing not to call next Monday, as we were going to the Mansion House.  Sent similar note to Cummings.

Charles Pooter

May 1.—Carrie said: “I should like to send mother the invitation to look at.”  I consented, as soon as I had answered it.  I told Mr. Perkupp, at the office, with a feeling of pride, that we had received an invitation to the Mansion House; and he said, to my astonishment, that he himself gave in my name to the Lord Mayor’s secretary.  I felt this rather discounted the value of the invitation, but I thanked him; and in reply to me, he described how I was to answer it.  I felt the reply was too simple; but of course Mr. Perkupp knows best.

Charles Pooter

April 30.—Perfectly astounded at receiving an invitation for Carrie and myself from the Lord and Lady Mayoress to the Mansion House, to “meet the Representatives of Trades and Commerce.”  My heart beat like that of a schoolboy’s.  Carrie and I read the invitation over two or three times.  I could scarcely eat my breakfast.  I said—and I felt it from the bottom of my heart,—“Carrie darling, I was a proud man when I led you down the aisle of the church on our wedding-day; that pride will be equalled, if not surpassed, when I lead my dear, pretty wife up to the Lord and Lady Mayoress at the Mansion House.”  I saw the tears in Carrie’s eyes, and she said: “Charlie dear, it is I who have to be proud of you.  And I am very, very proud of you.  You have called me pretty; and as long as I am pretty in your eyes, I am happy.  You, dear old Charlie, are not handsome, but you are good, which is far more noble.”  I gave her a kiss, and she said: “I wonder if there will be any dancing?  I have not danced with you for years.”

I cannot tell what induced me to do it, but I seized her round the waist, and we were silly enough to be executing a wild kind of polka when Sarah entered, grinning, and said: “There is a man, mum, at the door who wants to know if you want any good coals.”  Most annoyed at this.  Spent the evening in answering, and tearing up again, the reply to the Mansion House, having left word with Sarah if Gowing or Cummings called we were not at home.  Must consult Mr. Perkupp how to answer the Lord Mayor’s invitation.

Charles Pooter

April 29, Sunday.—Woke up with a fearful headache and strong symptoms of a cold.  Carrie, with a perversity which is just like her, said it was “painter’s colic,” and was the result of my having spent the last few days with my nose over a paint-pot.  I told her firmly that I knew a great deal better what was the matter with me than she did.  I had got a chill, and decided to have a bath as hot as I could bear it.  Bath ready—could scarcely bear it so hot.  I persevered, and got in; very hot, but very acceptable.  I lay still for some time.

On moving my hand above the surface of the water, I experienced the greatest fright I ever received in the whole course of my life; for imagine my horror on discovering my hand, as I thought, full of blood.  My first thought was that I had ruptured an artery, and was bleeding to death, and should be discovered, later on, looking like a second Marat, as I remember seeing him in Madame Tussaud’s.  My second thought was to ring the bell, but remembered there was no bell to ring.  My third was, that there was nothing but the enamel paint, which had dissolved with boiling water.  I stepped out of the bath, perfectly red all over, resembling the Red Indians I have seen depicted at an East-End theatre.  I determined not to say a word to Carrie, but to tell Farmerson to come on Monday and paint the bath white.

Charles Pooter

April 28.—At the office, the new and very young clerk Pitt, who was very impudent to me a week or so ago, was late again.  I told him it would be my duty to inform Mr. Perkupp, the principal.  To my surprise, Pitt apologised most humbly and in a most gentlemanly fashion.  I was unfeignedly pleased to notice this improvement in his manner towards me, and told him I would look over his unpunctuality.  Passing down the room an hour later.  I received a smart smack in the face from a rolled-up ball of hard foolscap.  I turned round sharply, but all the clerks were apparently riveted to their work.  I am not a rich man, but I would give half-a-sovereign to know whether that was thrown by accident or design.  Went home early and bought some more enamel paint—black this time—and spent the evening touching up the fender, picture-frames, and an old pair of boots, making them look as good as new.  Also painted Gowing’s walking-stick, which he left behind, and made it look like ebony.

Charles Pooter

April 27.—Painted the bath red, and was delighted with the result.  Sorry to say Carrie was not, in fact we had a few words about it.  She said I ought to have consulted her, and she had never heard of such a thing as a bath being painted red.  I replied: “It’s merely a matter of taste.”

Fortunately, further argument on the subject was stopped by a voice saying, “May I come in?”  It was only Cummings, who said, “Your maid opened the door, and asked me to excuse her showing me in, as she was wringing out some socks.”  I was delighted to see him, and suggested we should have a game of whist with a dummy, and by way of merriment said: “You can be the dummy.”  Cummings (I thought rather ill-naturedly) replied: “Funny as usual.”  He said he couldn’t stop, he only called to leave me the Bicycle News, as he had done with it.

Another ring at the bell; it was Gowing, who said he “must apologise for coming so often, and that one of these days we must come round to him.”  I said: “A very extraordinary thing has struck me.”  “Something funny, as usual,” said Cummings.  “Yes,” I replied; “I think even you will say so this time.  It’s concerning you both; for doesn’t it seem odd that Gowing’s always coming and Cummings’ always going?”  Carrie, who had evidently quite forgotten about the bath, went into fits of laughter, and as for myself, I fairly doubled up in my chair, till it cracked beneath me.  I think this was one of the best jokes I have ever made.

Then imagine my astonishment on perceiving both Cummings and Gowing perfectly silent, and without a smile on their faces.  After rather an unpleasant pause, Cummings, who had opened a cigar-case, closed it up again and said: “Yes—I think, after that, I shall be going, and I am sorry I fail to see the fun of your jokes.”  Gowing said he didn’t mind a joke when it wasn’t rude, but a pun on a name, to his thinking, was certainly a little wanting in good taste.  Cummings followed it up by saying, if it had been said by anyone else but myself, he shouldn’t have entered the house again.  This rather unpleasantly terminated what might have been a cheerful evening.  However, it was as well they went, for the charwoman had finished up the remains of the cold pork.

Charles Pooter

April 26.—Got some more red enamel paint (red, to my mind, being the best colour), and painted the coal-scuttle, and the backs of our Shakespeare, the binding of which had almost worn out.

Charles Pooter

April 25.—In consequence of Brickwell telling me his wife was working wonders with the new Pinkford’s enamel paint, I determined to try it.  I bought two tins of red on my way home.  I hastened through tea, went into the garden and painted some flower-pots.  I called out Carrie, who said: “You’ve always got some newfangled craze;” but she was obliged to admit that the flower-pots looked remarkably well.  Went upstairs into the servant’s bedroom and painted her washstand, towel-horse, and chest of drawers.  To my mind it was an extraordinary improvement, but as an example of the ignorance of the lower classes in the matter of taste, our servant, Sarah, on seeing them, evinced no sign of pleasure, but merely said “she thought they looked very well as they was before.”

Charles Pooter

April 24.—Could scarcely sleep a wink through thinking of having brought up Mr. and Mrs. James from the country to go to the theatre last night, and his having paid for a private box because our order was not honoured, and such a poor play too.  I wrote a very satirical letter to Merton, the wine merchant, who gave us the pass, and said, “Considering we had to pay for our seats, we did our best to appreciate the performance.”  I thought this line rather cutting, and I asked Carrie how many p’s there were in appreciate, and she said, “One.”  After I sent off the letter I looked at the dictionary and found there were two.  Awfully vexed at this.

Decided not to worry myself any more about the James’s; for, as Carrie wisely said, “We’ll make it all right with them by asking them up from Sutton one evening next week to play at Bézique.”

The Diary of a Nobody is the fictitious diary of Charles Pooter, written by George Grossmith and originally serialised in Punch magazine in 1888 and 1889.
The text of this version is taken from the Gutenberg etext, and the weblog format was engineered by Kevan Davis (initially a straight weblog in 2004, then rewritten as an auto RSS generator in April 2007).