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.
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February 11.—Feeling a little concerned about Lupin, I mustered up courage to speak to Mr. Perkupp about him. Mr. Perkupp has always been most kind to me, so I told him everything, including yesterday’s adventure. Mr. Perkupp kindly replied: “There is no necessity for you to be anxious, Mr. Pooter. It would be impossible for a son of such good parents to turn out erroneously. Remember he is young, and will soon get older. I wish we could find room for him in this firm.” The advice of this good man takes loads off my mind. In the evening Lupin came in.
After our little supper, he said: “My dear parents, I have some news, which I fear will affect you considerably.” I felt a qualm come over me, and said nothing. Lupin then said: “It may distress you—in fact, I’m sure it will—but this afternoon I have given up my pony and trap for ever.” It may seem absurd, but I was so pleased, I immediately opened a bottle of port. Gowing dropped in just in time, bringing with him a large sheet, with a print of a tailless donkey, which he fastened against the wall. He then produced several separate tails, and we spent the remainder of the evening trying blindfolded to pin a tail on in the proper place. My sides positively ached with laughter when I went to bed.
February 10, Sunday.—Contrary to my wishes, Carrie allowed Lupin to persuade her to take her for a drive in the afternoon in his trap. I quite disapprove of driving on a Sunday, but I did not like to trust Carrie alone with Lupin, so I offered to go too. Lupin said: “Now, that is nice of you, Guv., but you won’t mind sitting on the back-seat of the cart?”
Lupin proceeded to put on a bright-blue coat that seemed miles too large for him. Carrie said it wanted taking in considerably at the back. Lupin said: “Haven’t you seen a box-coat before? You can’t drive in anything else.”
He may wear what he likes in the future, for I shall never drive with him again. His conduct was shocking. When we passed Highgate Archway, he tried to pass everything and everybody. He shouted to respectable people who were walking quietly in the road to get out of the way; he flicked at the horse of an old man who was riding, causing it to rear; and, as I had to ride backwards, I was compelled to face a gang of roughs in a donkey-cart, whom Lupin had chaffed, and who turned and followed us for nearly a mile, bellowing, indulging in coarse jokes and laughter, to say nothing of occasionally pelting us with orange-peel.
Lupin’s excuse—that the Prince of Wales would have to put up with the same sort of thing if he drove to the Derby—was of little consolation to either Carrie or myself. Frank Mutlar called in the evening, and Lupin went out with him.
February 9.—Exactly a fortnight has passed, and I have neither seen nor heard from Gowing respecting his extraordinary conduct in asking us round to his house, and then being out. In the evening Carrie was engaged marking a half-dozen new collars I had purchased. I’ll back Carrie’s marking against anybody’s. While I was drying them at the fire, and Carrie was rebuking me for scorching them, Cummings came in.
He seemed quite well again, and chaffed us about marking the collars. I asked him if he had heard from Gowing, and he replied that he had not. I said I should not have believed that Gowing could have acted in such an ungentlemanly manner. Cummings said: “You are mild in your description of him; I think he has acted like a cad.”
The words were scarcely out of his mouth when the door opened, and Gowing, putting in his head, said: “May I come in?” I said: “Certainly.” Carrie said very pointedly: “Well, you are a stranger.” Gowing said: “Yes, I’ve been on and off to Croydon during the last fortnight.” I could see Cummings was boiling over, and eventually he tackled Gowing very strongly respecting his conduct last Saturday week. Gowing appeared surprised, and said: “Why, I posted a letter to you in the morning announcing that the party was ‘off, very much off.’” I said: “I never got it.” Gowing, turning to Carrie, said: “I suppose letters sometimes miscarry, don’t they, Mrs. Carrie?” Cummings sharply said: “This is not a time for joking. I had no notice of the party being put off.” Gowing replied: “I told Pooter in my note to tell you, as I was in a hurry. However, I’ll inquire at the post-office, and we must meet again at my place.” I added that I hoped he would be present at the next meeting. Carrie roared at this, and even Cummings could not help laughing.
February 8.—It does seem hard I cannot get good sausages for breakfast. They are either full of bread or spice, or are as red as beef. Still anxious about the £20 I invested last week by Lupin’s advice. However, Cummings has done the same.
January 26.—An extraordinary thing happened. Carrie and I went round to Gowing’s, as arranged, at half-past seven. We knocked and rang several times without getting an answer. At last the latch was drawn and the door opened a little way, the chain still being up. A man in shirt-sleeves put his head through and said: “Who is it? What do you want?” I said: “Mr. Gowing, he is expecting us.” The man said (as well as I could hear, owing to the yapping of a little dog): “I don’t think he is. Mr. Gowing is not at home.” I said: “He will be in directly.”
With that observation he slammed the door, leaving Carrie and me standing on the steps with a cutting wind blowing round the corner.
Carrie advised me to knock again. I did so, and then discovered for the first time that the knocker had been newly painted, and the paint had come off on my gloves—which were, in consequence, completely spoiled.
I knocked at the door with my stick two or three times.
The man opened the door, taking the chain off this time, and began abusing me. He said: “What do you mean by scratching the paint with your stick like that, spoiling the varnish? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
I said: “Pardon me, Mr. Gowing invited—”
He interrupted and said: “I don’t care for Mr. Gowing, or any of his friends. This is my door, not Mr. Gowing’s. There are people here besides Mr. Gowing.”
The impertinence of this man was nothing. I scarcely noticed it, it was so trivial in comparison with the scandalous conduct of Gowing.
At this moment Cummings and his wife arrived. Cummings was very lame and leaning on a stick; but got up the steps and asked what the matter was.
The man said: “Mr. Gowing said nothing about expecting anyone. All he said was he had just received an invitation to Croydon, and he should not be back till Monday evening. He took his bag with him.”
With that he slammed the door again. I was too indignant with Gowing’s conduct to say anything. Cummings looked white with rage, and as he descended the steps struck his stick violently on the ground and said: “Scoundrel!”
January 25.—We had just finished our tea, when who should come in but Cummings, who has not been here for over three weeks. I noticed that he looked anything but well, so I said: “Well, Cummings, how are you? You look a little blue.” He replied: “Yes! and I feel blue too.” I said: “Why, what’s the matter?” He said: “Oh, nothing, except that I have been on my back for a couple of weeks, that’s all. At one time my doctor nearly gave me up, yet not a soul has come near me. No one has even taken the trouble to inquire whether I was alive or dead.”
I said: “This is the first I have heard of it. I have passed your house several nights, and presumed you had company, as the rooms were so brilliantly lighted.”
Cummings replied: “No! The only company I have had was my wife, the doctor, and the landlady—the last-named having turned out a perfect trump. I wonder you did not see it in the paper. I know it was mentioned in the Bicycle News.”
I thought to cheer him up, and said: “Well, you are all right now?”
He replied: “That’s not the question. The question is whether an illness does not enable you to discover who are your true friends.”
I said such an observation was unworthy of him. To make matters worse, in came Gowing, who gave Cummings a violent slap on the back, and said: “Hulloh! Have you seen a ghost? You look scared to death, like Irving in Macbeth.” I said: “Gently, Gowing, the poor fellow has been very ill.” Gowing roared with laughter and said: “Yes, and you look it, too.” Cummings quietly said: “Yes, and I feel it too—not that I suppose you care.”
An awkward silence followed. Gowing said: “Never mind, Cummings, you and the missis come round to my place to-morrow, and it will cheer you up a bit; for we’ll open a bottle of wine.”
January 24.—The new chimney-glass came home for the back drawing-room. Carrie arranged some fans very prettily on the top and on each side. It is an immense improvement to the room.
January 23.—I asked Lupin to try and change the hard brushes, he recently made me a present of, for some softer ones, as my hair-dresser tells me I ought not to brush my hair too much just now.
January 22.—I don’t generally lose my temper with servants; but I had to speak to Sarah rather sharply about a careless habit she has recently contracted of shaking the table-cloth, after removing the breakfast things, in a manner which causes all the crumbs to fall on the carpet, eventually to be trodden in. Sarah answered very rudely: “Oh, you are always complaining.” I replied: “Indeed, I am not. I spoke to you last week about walking all over the drawing-room carpet with a piece of yellow soap on the heel of your boot.” She said: “And you’re always grumbling about your breakfast.” I said: “No, I am not; but I feel perfectly justified in complaining that I never can get a hard-boiled egg. The moment I crack the shell it spurts all over the plate, and I have spoken to you at least fifty times about it.” She began to cry and make a scene; but fortunately my ’bus came by, so I had a good excuse for leaving her. Gowing left a message in the evening, that we were not to forget next Saturday. Carrie amusingly said: As he has never asked any friends before, we are not likely to forget it.
January 21.—I am very much concerned at Lupin having started a pony-trap. I said: “Lupin, are you justified in this outrageous extravagance?” Lupin replied: “Well, one must get to the City somehow. I’ve only hired it, and can give it up any time I like.” I repeated my question: “Are you justified in this extravagance?” He replied: “Look here, Guv., excuse me saying so, but you’re a bit out of date. It does not pay nowadays, fiddling about over small things. I don’t mean anything personal, Guv’nor. My boss says if I take his tip, and stick to big things, I can make big money!” I said I thought the very idea of speculation most horrifying. Lupin said “It is not speculation, it’s a dead cert.” I advised him, at all events, not to continue the pony and cart; but he replied: “I made £200 in one day; now suppose I only make £200 in a month, or put it at £100 a month, which is ridiculously low—why, that is £1,250 a year. What’s a few pounds a week for a trap?”
I did not pursue the subject further, beyond saying that I should feel glad when the autumn came, and Lupin would be of age and responsible for his own debts. He answered: “My dear Guv., I promise you faithfully that I will never speculate with what I have not got. I shall only go on Job Cleanands’ tips, and as he is in the ‘know’ it is pretty safe sailing.” I felt somewhat relieved. Gowing called in the evening and, to my surprise, informed me that, as he had made £10 by one of Lupin’s tips, he intended asking us and the Cummings round next Saturday. Carrie and I said we should be delighted.