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by George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith
The original, squashed down to read in about 35 minutes
'The Diary of a Nobody' by the brothers George and Weedon Grossmith appeared as a serial in 'Punch 'magazine. Initial reception was muted, but the Diary is now seen as a classic, the forerunner of all those fictitious comic diaries.
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.
Charles Pooter, The Laurels, Brickfield Terrace, Holloway
My dear wife Carrie and I have just been a week in our new house, - a nice six-roomed residence, not counting basement, with a front breakfast-parlour. Cummings, Gowing, and our other intimate friends always come to the little side entrance, which saves the servant the trouble of going up to the front door, thereby taking her from her work. We have a nice little back garden which runs down to the railway. We were rather afraid of the noise of the trains at first, but the landlord said we should not notice them after a bit, and took 2 pounds off the rent. He was certainly right; and beyond the cracking of the garden wall at the bottom, we have suffered no inconvenience. Now for my diary:-
Original illustrations by Weedon Grosmith
April 3. - Tradesmen called for custom, and Carrie being out, I arranged to deal with Horwin, who seemed a civil butcher with a nice clean shop. Ordered a shoulder of mutton for to-morrow. In the evening, Cummings dropped in to show me a meerschaum pipe he had won in a raffle, and fell over the scraper as he went out. Must get the scraper removed, or else I shall get into a SCRAPE. I don't often make jokes.
April 5. - Two shoulders of mutton arrived, Carrie having arranged with another butcher without consulting me. Gowing called, and fell over scraper coming in.
April 10. - Farmerson came round to attend to the scraper. He seems a very civil fellow. He says he does not usually conduct such small jobs personally, but for me he would do so. I thanked him, and went to off to the office. It is disgraceful how late some of the young clerks are at arriving. I told three of them that if Mr. Perkupp, the principal, heard of it, they might be discharged.
April 11. - To-day was a day of annoyances. I missed the quarter-to-nine 'bus to the City, through having words with the grocer's boy, who had left the marks of his dirty boots on the fresh-cleaned door-steps. I asked why he did not ring the bell? He replied that he did pull the bell, but the handle came off in his hand. I was half-an-hour late at the office, a thing that has never happened to me before. As I passed by Pitt's desk, I heard him remark to his neighbour: "How disgracefully late some of the head clerks arrive!" I treated the observation with silence, simply giving him a look, which unfortunately had the effect of making both of the clerks laugh. While playing dominoes with Cummings in the parlour that evening, he said: "By-the-by, do you want any wine or spirits? My cousin Merton has just set up in the trade, and has a splendid whisky, four years in bottle, at thirty-eight shillings. It is worth your while laying down a few dozen of it." I told him my cellars, which were very small, were full up. To my horror, at that very moment, Sarah, our servant, entered the room, and putting a bottle of whisky, wrapped in a dirty piece of newspaper, on the table in front of us, said: "Please, sir, the grocer says he ain't got no more Kinahan, but you'll find this very good at two-and-six, with twopence returned on the bottle!"
April 25. - I bought two tins of red Pinkford's enamel paint, on my way home. I hastened through tea, went into the garden and painted some flower-pots. 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, Sarah, on seeing them, evinced no sign of pleasure, but merely said "she thought they looked very well as they was before."
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". I told her firmly that I knew a great deal better, I had got a chill, and decided to have a bath as hot as I could bear it. 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. My second thought was to ring the bell, but remembered there was no bell to ring. My third was, that there was nothing but 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.
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."
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.
May 7. - A big red-letter day; viz., the Lord Mayor's reception. We arrived at the Mansion House too early, which was rather fortunate, for I had an opportunity of speaking to his lordship, who graciously condescended to talk with me some minutes. I was a little annoyed with Carrie, who kept saying: "Isn't it a pity we don't know anybody?" Receiving a sharp slap on the shoulder, I turned, and, to my amazement, saw Farmerson, our ironmonger. I said coolly: "I never expected to see you here. You never sent to-day to re-paint the bath, as I requested." Farmerson said: "Pardon me, Mr. Pooter, no shop when we're in company, please." Before I could think of a reply, one of the sheriffs, in full Court costume, slapped Farmerson on the back and hailed him as an old friend. I was astonished. For full five minutes they stood roaring with laughter, and digging each other in the ribs. To think that a man who mends our scraper should know any member of our aristocracy! Finding the dancing after supper was less formal, and knowing how much Carrie used to admire my dancing in the days gone by, I put my arm round her waist and we commenced a waltz. I had scarcely started when, like lightning, my left foot slipped away and we came down with such violence that for a second or two I did not know what had happened. There was a roar of laughter, a gentleman assisted Carrie to a seat, and I expressed myself pretty strongly on the danger of having a plain polished floor with no carpet or drugget to prevent people slipping. Farmerson, with execrable taste, said: "Look here, old man, we are too old for this game. We must leave these capers to the youngsters. Come and have another glass, that is more in our line."
May 8. - I woke up with a most terrible head-ache. I could scarcely see, and the back of my neck was as if I had given it a crick. In the evening I felt very much worse again and said to Carrie: "I do believe I've been poisoned by the lobster mayonnaise at the Mansion House last night;" she simply replied, without taking her eyes from her sewing: "Champagne never did agree with you." I felt irritated, and said: "What nonsense you talk; I only had a glass and a half, and you know as well as I do - " Before I could complete the sentence she bounced out of the room. I shall certainly speak to her about this in the morning.
May 9. - Still a little shaky, with black specks. The Blackfriars Bi-weekly News contains a long list of the guests at the Mansion House Ball. Disappointed to find our names omitted, though Farmerson's is in plainly enough with M.L.L. after it, whatever that may mean. Wrote to the Blackfriars Bi-weekly News, pointing out their omission. Carrie had commenced her breakfast when I entered the parlour. I helped myself to a cup of tea, and I said, perfectly calmly and quietly: "Carrie, I wish a little explanation of your conduct last night." Carrie said sneeringly: "Really? And the night before you were scarcely in a condition to understand anything."
May 16. - Absolutely disgusted on opening the Blackfriars Bi-weekly News of to-day, to find the following paragraph: "We have received two letters from Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pewter, requesting us to announce the important fact that they were at the Mansion House Ball." I tore up the paper and threw it in the waste-paper basket. My time is far too valuable to bother about such trifles.
July 31. - I told Carrie we should have to start for our holiday next Saturday. Carrie said that as the time was so short she had decided on Broadstairs, and had written to Mrs. Beck, Harbour View Terrace, for apartments.
August 3. - I bought a capital hat for hot weather at the seaside, it is the shape of the helmet worn in India, only made of straw.
August 4. - To our utter amazement our dear son Willie turned up himself in the afternoon, having journeyed all the way from Oldham. He said he had got leave from the bank, and as Monday was a holiday he thought he would give us a little surprise. He said: "Oh, by-the-by, did I tell you I've cut my first name, 'William,' and taken the second name 'Lupin'? In fact, I'm only known at Oldham as 'Lupin Pooter.' I said: "We have not seen much of you, and you will have to return by the 5.30 train if you want to get back to the bank." Imagine my dismay when he replied with a loud guffaw: "It's no use. If you want the good old truth, I've got the chuck!"
August 11. - Although it is a serious matter having our boy Lupin on our hands, we can all start off on Monday to Broadstairs with a light heart. This will take my mind off the worry of the last few days, which have been wasted over a useless correspondence with the manager of the Bank at Oldham.
August 13. - Hurrah! at Broadstairs. Very nice apartments near the station. On the cliffs they would have been double the price. It was very wet in the evening, for which I was thankful, as it was a good excuse for going to bed early. Lupin said he would sit up and read a bit.
August 14. - I was a little annoyed to find Lupin, instead of reading last night, had gone to a common sort of entertainment, given at the Assembly Rooms. I expressed my opinion; but he replied: "Oh, thought I would go to see Polly Presswell, England's Particular Spark." I told him I was proud to say I had never heard of her.
August 16. - Lupin positively refused to walk down the Parade with me because I was wearing my new straw helmet. I don't know what the boy is coming to.
August 28. - Home again. Found a large brick in the middle bed of geraniums, evidently come from next door. Pattles and Pattles can't find a place for Lupin.
November 2. - I spent the evening quietly with Carrie, of whose company I never tire. We had a most pleasant chat about the letters on "Is Marriage a Failure?" It has been no failure in our case. In talking over our own happy experiences, we never noticed that it was past midnight. We were startled by hearing the door slam violently. Lupin had come in.
November 3. - Good news at last. In the evening I had up a special bottle of port, and we filled our glasses, and I said: "Lupin my boy, Mr. Perkupp has procured you an appointment!" Lupin said: "Good biz!" and we drained our glasses. Lupin then said: "Fill up the glasses again, for I have some good and unexpected news for you. I'M ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED!" He said the lady's name was Daisy Mutlar, and she was the nicest, prettiest, and most accomplished girl he ever met. I said I had no doubt we should like Miss Mutlar when we saw her, but Carrie said she loved her already. I thought this rather premature, but held my tongue.
November 12, Sunday. - Coming home from church Carrie and I met Lupin, Daisy Mutlar, and her brother. Daisy is a big young woman, and I should think at least eight years older than Lupin. I did not even think her good-looking. Carrie asked her if she could come in on Wednesday next with her brother to meet a few friends. She replied that she would only be too pleased.
November 15. - I got home early from the City. Lupin insisted on having a hired waiter, and stood a half-dozen of champagne. The first arrival was Gowing, followed by Mr. and Mrs. Cummings. Carrie and I were rather startled at Daisy's appearance. She had a bright-crimson dress on, cut very low in the neck. I do not think such a style modest.
November 16. Woke about twenty times during the night, with terrible thirst. Kept dreaming that last night's party was a failure, and that a lot of low people came without invitation, and kept chaffing and throwing things at Mr. Perkupp, till at last I was obliged to hide him in the box-room, with a bath-towel over him. It seems absurd now, but it was painfully real in the dream. I thought I may have eaten too heartily of the "side dishes," as the waiter called them. I said to Carrie: "I wish I had put those 'side dishes' ASIDE." I repeated this, but Carrie was busy, packing up the teaspoons.
November 19. Sunday. In the afternoon Lupin was off to spend the rest of the day with the Mutlars. He departed in the best of spirits. About nine o'clock, to our surprise. Lupin returned, with a wild, reckless look. Carrie said: "I hope Daisy is well?" Lupin, with a forced careless air replied: "Oh, Daisy? You mean Miss Mutlar. I don't know whether she is well or not, but please NEVER TO MENTION HER NAME AGAIN IN MY PRESENCE."
December 23. In the evening, I ventured to ask Lupin where he intended to spend his Christmas. He replied: "Oh, most likely at the Mutlars'." In wonderment, I said: "What! after your engagement has been broken off?" Lupin said: "Well, never mind what I said. IT IS ON AGAIN - THERE!"
December 24. I am a poor man, but I would gladly give ten shillings to find out who sent me the insulting Christmas card I received this morning.
December 28. Lupin, on coming down to breakfast, said to his mother: "I should like Daisy and Frank to join Gowing and Cummings this evening." I felt very pleased with the boy for this. We were rather jolly at supper, and Daisy made herself very agreeable, especially in the earlier part of the evening, when she sang. At supper, however, she said: "Can you make tee-to-tums with bread?" and she commenced rolling up pieces of bread, and twisting them round on the table. Presently Daisy and Lupin, to my disgust, began throwing bread-pills at each other. Frank followed suit, and so did Cummings and Gowing. I rose from the table, and insisted that a stop should be put to this foolery at once. Frank Mutlar shouted: "Time, gentlemen, please! time!" and turned out the gas, leaving us in absolute darkness, when I suddenly received a hard intentional punch at the back of my head.
December 29. - Last night I dreamt I heard Frank Mutlar telling his sister that he had not only sent me the insulting Christmas card, but that he was the one who punched my head last night in the dark. At breakfast, as fate would have it, Lupin was reading from a letter he had just received from Mr Mutlar. I examined the envelope and saw exactly the writing of the card. I showed them to Carrie, who began to laugh. She said the card was to "L. Pooter," not "C. Pooter." Lupin took a look, and exclaimed, with a laugh: "Oh yes, Guv., it's meant for me." I said: "Are you in the habit of receiving insulting Christmas cards?" He replied: "Oh yes, and of SENDING them, too."
January 4. - Lupin was riveted to the Financial News, as if he had been a born capitalist, and I said: "Pardon me a moment, Lupin, how is it you have not been to the Mutlars' any day this week?" Lupin answered: "I told you! I cannot stand old Mutlar." I said: "Mr. Mutlar has written to me to me to say pretty plainly that he cannot stand you!" Lupin said: "Well, I like his cheek in writing to YOU. I'll find out if his father is still alive, and I will write HIM a note complaining of HIS son, and I'll state pretty clearly that his son is a blithering idiot!
January 5. - I can scarcely write the news. Mr. Perkupp told me I am to be promoted and that my salary would be raised 100 pounds! I stood gaping for a moment unable to realise it. I sent Sarah quietly round to the grocer's for a bottle of champagne, the same as we had before, "Jackson Freres." It was opened at supper, and I said to Lupin: "This is to celebrate some good news I have received to-day." Lupin replied: "Hooray, Guv.! And I have some good news, also; a double event, eh? Having been in the firm of Job Cleanands, stock and share-brokers, a few weeks, and not having paid particular attention to the interests of my superiors in office, my Guv'nor, as a reward, allotted me 5 pounds worth of shares in a really good thing. The result is, to- day I have made 200 pounds." I said: "Lupin, you are joking." "No, Guv., it's the good old truth; Job Cleanands PUT ME ON TO CHLORATES."
January 24. - The new chimney-glass came 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.
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. Rather anxious, having invested 20 pounds in Parachikka Chlorates by Lupin's advice. However, Cummings has done the same.
February 12. - I asked Lupin if he had heard from Daisy. He replied: "No; she promised that old windbag of a father of hers that she would not communicate with me. I see Frank Mutlar, of course; in fact, he said he might call again this evening." Frank called, with a friend named Murray Posh, a tall, fat young man, of a very nervous disposition. Gowing arrived at the same time, and, with his usual want of tact, said: "Any relation to 'Posh's three-shilling hats'?" Mr. Posh replied: "Yes; but please understand I take no ACTIVE part in the business"
February 18. - In the evening Lupin arrived home early, a little agitated, and said: "You know those Parachikka Chlorates? Well, to the surprise of everybody, they have utterly collapsed. However, I received an early tip, and sold out yours immediately, and was fortunate to get 2 pounds for them. So you get something after all." I said: "Still, a profit of 2 pounds is a good percentage for such a short time." Lupin said, quite irritably: "You don't understand. I sold your 20 pounds shares for 2 pounds; you therefore lose 18 pounds on the transaction, whereby Cummings and Gowing will lose the whole of theirs." In the evening Lupin was just on the point of going out when Gowing entered the room, with his usual trick of saying, "May I come in?" Neither Lupin nor I broached the subject, but he said: "I say, those Parachikka Chlorates have gone an awful smash! I lose nothing, fortunately. I did not quite believe in them, so I persuaded Cummings to take my 15 pounds worth." Lupin burst out laughing, and, in the most unseemly manner, said: "Alas, poor Cummings." At that moment there was a ring at the bell. Lupin said: "I don't want to meet Cummings." Lupin opened the parlour window and got out. Gowing jumped up suddenly, and, before I could say a word, he followed Lupin out of the window.
February 20. - The first thing that caught my eye on opening the Standard was - "Great Failure of Stock and Share Dealers! Mr. Job Cleanands absconded!" Carrie said: "Oh! perhaps it's for Lupin's good. I never did think it a suitable situation for him." Lupin came down to breakfast looking painfully distressed, I said: "We know the news, my dear boy." Lupin said: "Oh I expected that, but I did not expect this." He then read a letter from Frank Mutlar, announcing that Daisy Mutlar is to be married next month to Mr. Murray Posh. We all ate our breakfast in dead silence. When Lupin rose to go I noticed a malicious smile creep over his face. He said "Oh! There is a little consolation. On MY advice, Mr. Murray Posh invested 600 pounds in Parachikka Chlorates!"
March 21. - To-day I shall conclude my diary, for it is one of the happiest days of my life. My great dream of many years has been realised. This morning came a letter from Mr. Perkupp, asking me to take Lupin down to the office with me. I found Lupin in the hall, in a fury, kicking and smashing a new tall hat. I said: "Lupin, my boy, what are you doing? How wicked of you! Some poor fellow would be glad to have it." When he had gone outside, I picked up the battered hat, and saw inside "Posh's Patent." Poor Lupin! I can forgive him.
April 15. - Burnt my tongue most awfully with the Worcester sauce, through that stupid girl Sarah shaking the bottle violently before putting it on the table.
April 17. - No water in our cistern again. Sent for Putley, who said he would soon remedy that.
April 18. - Water all right again in the cistern. Mrs. James, of Sutton, called in the afternoon. She and Carrie draped the mantelpiece in the drawing-room, and put little toy spiders, frogs and beetles all over it, as Mrs. James says it's quite the fashion, and of course Carrie always does what Mrs. James suggests. For my part, I preferred the mantelpiece as it was; but there, I'm a plain man, and don't pretend to be in the fashion.
April 19. - Our next-door neighbour, Mr. Griffin, called, and in a rather offensive tone accused me, or "someone," of boring a hole in his cistern and letting out his water to supply our cistern, which adjoined his. He said he should have his repaired, and send us in the bill.
April 27. - Chanced upon Teddy Finsworth, who was at the same school with me. I had not seen him for years and years, and wonder how old he now seems.
May 13. - A terrible misfortune has happened: Lupin is discharged from Mr. Perkupp's office; and I scarcely know how I am writing my diary. Our most valued customer, Mr. Crowbillon, went to the office in a rage, and withdrew his custom. My boy Lupin not only had the assurance to receive him, but recommended him the firm of Gylterson, Sons and Co. Limited. In my own humble judgement, and though I have to say it against my own son, this seems an act of treachery. At home, Lupin came into the parlour with a new hat on. He said: "I met a friend, an old friend, a jolly, good, all-round sort of fellow, and a very different from that inflated fool of a Perkupp." I stood a drink to cement the friendship, and he stood me a new hat - one of his own." I said rather wearily: "But you have not told me your old friend's name?" Lupin said, with affected carelessness: "Oh didn't I? Well, I will. It was MURRAY POSH."
May 16. - I told Mr. Perkupp that I would apologise by letter to Mr. Crowbillon, but Mr. Perkupp said: "Pray don't discuss the matter; it is at an end. Your son will bring his punishment upon himself." I went home in the evening, thinking of the hopeless future of Lupin, only to find him in most extravagant spirits and in evening dress. He threw a letter on the table for me to read. To my amazement, I read that Gylterson and Sons had absolutely engaged Lupin at a salary of 200 pounds a year. Lupin said: "What price Perkupp now? Perkupp's stagnant dummies have been standing still for years. I want to go on. In fact I must go OFF, as I am dining with the Murray Poshs to-night."
May 30. - When I came home in the evening I found Carrie buried in a book on Spiritualism, called THERE IS NO BIRTH, by Florence Singleyet. I need scarcely say the book was sent her by Mrs. James, of Sutton. As she had not a word to say outside her book, I spent the rest of the evening altering the stair-carpets, which are beginning to show signs of wear at the edges. Mrs. James arrived and, finding that she and Carrie were making some preparations for table-turning, I thought it time really to put my foot down. I have always had the greatest contempt for such nonsense. When Cummings showed up, I hoped fro some support only to find him saying that although he did not believe much in spiritism, he was willing to be convinced. I sat reluctantly at the table, and asked the spirit (who said her name was Lina) if she could tell me the name of an old aunt of whom I was thinking, and the table spelled out C A T. We could make nothing out of it, till I suddenly remembered that her second name was Catherine. I contend it was coincidence, but I do confess it was curious.
July 1. - To-day we lose Lupin, who has taken furnished apartments at Bayswater, near his friends, Mr. and Mrs. Murray Posh, at two guineas a week. I think this is most extravagant of him, as it is half his salary. Lupin says Brickfield Terrace is a bit "off." Whether he means it is "far off" I do not know.
July 3, Sunday. - Lupin said: "I want you both to come and dine with me next Wednesday, and see my new place. Mr. and Mrs. Murray Posh, Miss Posh (Murray's sister) are coming. Eight o'clock sharp. No one else."
July 4. - Lupin's rooms looked very nice; but the dinner was, I thought, a little too grand, especially as he commenced with champagne straight off. I also think Lupin might have told us that he and Mr. and Mrs. Murray Posh and Miss Posh were going to put on full evening dress. We were introduced to Miss Posh, whom Lupin called "Lillie Girl," as if he had known her all his life. She was very tall, rather plain, and I thought she was a little painted round the eyes. She looked about thirty. I did not like the way she kept giggling and giving Lupin smacks and pinching him. They all smoked cigarettes after dinner, including Miss Posh, who startled Carrie by saying: "Don't you smoke, dear?" Lupin said that Mr Posh had settled over 10,000 pounds on Daisy, and the same amount on 'Lillie Girl.' If at any time I wanted a little capital, he would put up a couple of 'thou' at a day's notice, and could buy up Perkupp's firm over his head at any moment with ready cash." On the way home in the carriage, for the first time in my life, I was inclined to indulge in the radical thought that money was NOT properly divided.
July 11. - I find my eyes filling with tears as I pen the note of my interview this morning with Mr. Perkupp. Addressing me, he said: "My faithful servant, I will not dwell on the important service you have done our firm. You can never be sufficiently thanked. Let us change the subject. Do you like your house, and are you happy where you are?" I replied: "Yes, sir; I love my house and I love the neighbourhood, and could not bear to leave it." Mr. Perkupp, to my surprise, said: "Mr. Pooter, I will purchase the freehold of that house, and present it to the most honest and most worthy man it has ever been my lot to meet. You need say nothing, Mr. Pooter," and left the office. I sent telegrams to Carrie, Gowing, and Cummings (a thing I have never done before), and asked the two latter to come round to supper. On arriving home I found Carrie crying with joy, and I sent Sarah round to the grocer's to get two bottles of "Jackson Freres." My two dear friends came in the evening, and the last post brought a letter from Lupin in reply to mine. I read it aloud to them all. It ran: "My dear old Guv., - Keep your hair on. I am engaged to be married to 'Lillie Girl.' I did not mention it last Thursday, as it was not definitely settled. We shall be married in August, and amongst our guests we hope to see your old friends Gowing and Cummings. With much love to all, from THE SAME OLD LUPIN."
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