The Diary of a Nobody
George & Weedon Grossmith
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. I
thought first of sending for a doctor; but I did not think it
necessary. When up, I felt faint, and went to Brownish's, the
chemist, who gave me a draught. So bad at the office, had to get
leave to come home. Went to another chemist in the City, and I got
a draught. Brownish's dose seems to have made me worse; have eaten
nothing all day. To make matters worse, Carrie, every time I spoke
to her, answered me sharply — that is, when she answered at all.
In the evening I felt very much worse again and said to her: "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 sat over an
hour waiting for her to return; but as she did not, I determined I
would go to bed. I discovered Carrie had gone to bed without even
saying "good-night"; leaving me to bar the scullery door and feed
the cat. I shall certainly speak to her about this in the morning.
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. More than vexed, because we had ordered a dozen
copies to send to our friends. 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
She replied, "Indeed! and I desire something more than a little
explanation of your conduct the night before."
I said, coolly: "Really, I don't understand you."
Carrie said sneeringly: "Probably not; you were scarcely in a
condition to understand anything."
I was astounded at this insinuation and simply ejaculated:
She said: "Don't be theatrical, it has no effect on me. Reserve
that tone for your new friend, Mister Farmerson, the ironmonger."
I was about to speak, when Carrie, in a temper such as I have never
seen her in before, told me to hold my tongue. She said: "Now I'm
going to say something! After professing to snub Mr. Farmerson,
you permit him to snub you, in my presence, and then accept his
invitation to take a glass of champagne with you, and you don't
limit yourself to one glass. You then offer this vulgar man, who
made a bungle of repairing our scraper, a seat in our cab on the
way home. I say nothing about his tearing my dress in getting in
the cab, nor of treading on Mrs. James's expensive fan, which you
knocked out of my hand, and for which he never even apologised; but
you smoked all the way home without having the decency to ask my
permission. That is not all! At the end of the journey, although
he did not offer you a farthing towards his share of the cab, you
asked him in. Fortunately, he was sober enough to detect, from my
manner, that his company was not desirable."
Goodness knows I felt humiliated enough at this; but, to make
matters worse, Gowing entered the room, without knocking, with two
hats on his head and holding the garden-rake in his hand, with
Carrie's fur tippet (which he had taken off the downstairs hall-peg)
round his neck, and announced himself in a loud, coarse voice:
"His Royal Highness, the Lord Mayor!" He marched twice round the
room like a buffoon, and finding we took no notice, said: "Hulloh!
what's up? Lovers' quarrel, eh?"
There was a silence for a moment, so I said quietly: "My dear
Gowing, I'm not very well, and not quite in the humour for joking;
especially when you enter the room without knocking, an act which I
fail to see the fun of."
Gowing said: "I'm very sorry, but I called for my stick, which I
thought you would have sent round." I handed him his stick, which
I remembered I had painted black with the enamel paint, thinking to
improve it. He looked at it for a minute with a dazed expression
and said: "Who did this?"
I said: "Eh, did what?"
He said: "Did what? Why, destroyed my stick! It belonged to my
poor uncle, and I value it more than anything I have in the world!
I'll know who did it."
I said: "I'm very sorry. I dare say it will come off. I did it
for the best."
Gowing said: "Then all I can say is, it's a confounded liberty;
and I would add, you're a bigger fool than you look, only that's
Got a single copy of the Blackfriars Bi-weekly News.
There was a short list of several names they had omitted; but the
stupid people had mentioned our names as "Mr. and Mrs. C. Porter."
Most annoying! Wrote again and I took particular care to write our
name in capital letters, POOTER, so that there should be no
possible mistake this time.
Absolutely disgusted on opening the Blackfriars Bi-weekly
News of today, 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.
The last week or ten days terribly dull, Carrie being away
at Mrs. James's, at Sutton. Cummings also away. Gowing, I
presume, is still offended with me for black enamelling his stick
without asking him.
Purchased a new stick mounted with silver, which cost
seven-and-sixpence (shall tell Carrie five shillings), and sent it
round with nice note to Gowing.
Received strange note from Gowing; he said: "Offended?
not a bit, my boy — I thought you were offended with me for losing
my temper. Besides, I found after all, it was not my poor old
uncle's stick you painted. It was only a shilling thing I bought
at a tobacconist's. However, I am much obliged to you for your
handsome present all same."
Carrie back. Hoorah! She looks wonderfully well, except
that the sun has caught her nose.
Carrie brought down some of my shirts and advised me to
take them to Trillip's round the corner. She said: "The fronts
and cuffs are much frayed." I said without a moment's hesitation:
"I'm 'frayed they are." Lor! how we roared. I thought we should
never stop laughing. As I happened to be sitting next the driver
going to town on the 'bus, I told him my joke about the "frayed"
shirts. I thought he would have rolled off his seat. They laughed
at the office a good bit too over it.
Left the shirts to be repaired at Trillip's. I said to
him: "I'm 'fraid they are frayed." He said, without a smile:
"They're bound to do that, sir." Some people seem to be quite
destitute of a sense of humour.
The last week has been like old times, Carrie being back,
and Gowing and Cummings calling every evening nearly. Twice we sat
out in the garden quite late. This evening we were like a pack of
children, and played "consequences." It is a good game.
"Consequences" again this evening. Not quite so
successful as last night; Gowing having several times overstepped
the limits of good taste.
In the evening Carrie and I went round to Mr. and Mrs.
Cummings' to spend a quiet evening with them. Gowing was there,
also Mr. Stillbrook. It was quiet but pleasant. Mrs. Cummings
sang five or six songs, 'No, Sir,' and 'The Garden of Sleep,' being
best in my humble judgment; but what pleased me most was the duet
she sang with Carrie — classical duet, too. I think it is called,
'I would that my love!' It was beautiful. If Carrie had been in
better voice, I don't think professionals could have sung it
better. After supper we made them sing it again. I never liked
Mr. Stillbrook since the walk that Sunday to the 'Cow and Hedge',
but I must say he sings comic-songs well. His song: 'We don't
Want the old men now', made us shriek with laughter, especially the
verse referring to Mr. Gladstone; but there was one verse I think
he might have omitted, and I said so, but Gowing thought it was the
best of the lot.
Trillip brought round the shirts and, to my disgust, his
charge for repairing was more than I gave for them when new. I
told him so, and he impertinently replied: "Well, they are better
now than when they were new." I paid him, and said it was a
robbery. He said: "If you wanted your shirt-fronts made out of
pauper-linen, such as is used for packing and bookbinding, why
didn't you say so?"
A dreadful annoyance. Met Mr. Franching, who lives at
Peckham, and who is a great swell in his way. I ventured to ask
him to come home to meat-tea, and take pot-luck. I did not think
he would accept such a humble invitation; but he did, saying, in a
most friendly way, he would rather "peck" with us than by himself.
I said: "We had better get into this blue 'bus." He replied: "No
blue-bussing for me. I have had enough of the blues lately. I
lost a cool 'thou' over the Copper Scare. Step in here."
We drove up home in style, in a hansom-cab, and I knocked three
times at the front door without getting an answer. I saw Carrie,
through the panels of ground-glass (with stars), rushing upstairs.
I told Mr. Franching to wait at the door while I went round to the
side. There I saw the grocer's boy actually picking off the paint
on the door, which had formed into blisters. No time to reprove
him; so went round and effected an entrance through the kitchen
window. I let in Mr. Franching, and showed him into the drawing-room.
I went upstairs to Carrie, who was changing her dress, and
told her I had persuaded Mr. Franching to come home. She replied:
"How can you do such a thing? You know it's Sarah's holiday, and
there's not a thing in the house, the cold mutton having turned
with the hot weather."
Eventually Carrie, like a good creature as she is, slipped down,
washed up the teacups, and laid the cloth, and I gave Franching our
views of Japan to look at while I ran round to the butcher's to get
The miserable cold weather is either upsetting me or
Carrie, or both. We seem to break out into an argument about
absolutely nothing, and this unpleasant state of things usually
occurs at meal-times.
This morning, for some unaccountable reason, we were talking about
balloons, and we were as merry as possible; but the conversation
drifted into family matters, during which Carrie, without the
slightest reason, referred in the most uncomplimentary manner to my
poor father's pecuniary trouble. I retorted by saying that 'Pa, at
all events, was a gentleman," whereupon Carrie burst out crying. I
positively could not eat any breakfast.
At the office I was sent for by Mr. Perkupp, who said he was very
sorry, but I should have to take my annual holidays from next
Saturday. Franching called at office and asked me to dine at his
club, 'The Constitutional.' Fearing disagreeables at home after
the 'tiff' this morning, I sent a telegram to Carrie, telling her I
was going out to dine and she was not to sit up. Bought a little
silver bangle for Carrie.
Carrie was very pleased with the bangle, which I left
with an affectionate note on her dressing-table last night before
going to bed. I told Carrie we should have to start for our
holiday next Saturday. She replied quite happily that she did not
mind, except that the weather was so bad, and she feared that Miss
Jibbons would not be able to get her a seaside dress in time. I
told Carrie that I thought the drab one with pink bows looked quite
good enough; and Carrie said she should not think of wearing it. I
was about to discuss the matter, when, remembering the argument
yesterday, resolved to hold my tongue.
I said to Carrie: "I don't think we can do better than 'Good old
Broadstairs.'" Carrie not only, to my astonishment, raised an
objection to Broadstairs, for the first time; but begged me not to
use the expression, "Good old," but to leave it to Mr. Stillbrook
and other gentlemen of his type. Hearing my 'bus pass the window,
I was obliged to rush out of the house without kissing Carrie as
usual; and I shouted to her: "I leave it to you to decide." On
returning in the evening, Carrie said she thought as the time was
so short she had decided on Broadstairs, and had written to Mrs.
Beck, Harbour View Terrace, for apartments.
Ordered a new pair of trousers at Edwards's, and told
them not to cut them so loose over the boot; the last pair being so
loose and also tight at the knee, looked like a sailor's, and I
heard Pitt, that objectionable youth at the office, call out
"Hornpipe" as I passed his desk. Carrie has ordered of Miss
Jibbons a pink Garibaldi and blue-serge skirt, which I always think
looks so pretty at the seaside. In the evening she trimmed herself
a little sailor-hat, while I read to her the Exchange and Mart. We
had a good laugh over my trying on the hat when she had finished
it; Carrie saying it looked so funny with my beard, and how the
people would have roared if I went on the stage like it.
Mrs. Beck wrote to say we could have our usual rooms at
Broadstairs. That's off our mind. Bought a coloured shirt and a
pair of tan-coloured boots, which I see many of the swell clerks
wearing in the City, and hear are all the "go."
A beautiful day. Looking forward to tomorrow. Carrie
bought a parasol about five feet long. I told her it was
ridiculous. She said: "Mrs. James, of Sutton, has one twice as
long so;" the matter dropped. I bought a capital hat for hot
weather at the seaside. I don't know what it is called, but it is
the shape of the helmet worn in India, only made of straw. Got
three new ties, two coloured handkerchiefs, and a pair of navy-blue
socks at Pope Brothers. Spent the evening packing. Carrie told me
not to forget to borrow Mr. Higgsworth's telescope, which he always
lends me, knowing I know how to take care of it. Sent Sarah out
for it. While everything was seeming so bright, the last post
brought us a letter from Mrs. Beck, saying: "I have just let all
my house to one party, and am sorry I must take back my words, and
am sorry you must find other apartments; but Mrs. Womming, next
door, will be pleased to accommodate you, but she cannot take you
before Monday, as her rooms are engaged Bank Holiday week."
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