The Diary of a Nobody
George & Weedon Grossmith
As I open my scribbling diary I find the words
'Oxford Michaelmas Term ends'. Why this should induce me to
indulge in retrospective I don't know, but it does. The last few
weeks of my diary are of minimum interest. The breaking off of the
engagement between Lupin and Daisy Mutlar has made him a different
being, and Carrie a rather depressing companion. She was a little
dull last Saturday, and I thought to cheer her up by reading some
extracts from my diary; but she walked out of the room in the
middle of the reading, without a word. On her return, I said:
"Did my diary bore you, darling?"
She replied, to my surprise: "I really wasn't listening, dear. I
was obliged to leave to give instructions to the laundress. In
consequence of some stuff she puts in the water, two more of
Lupin's coloured shirts have run and he says he won't wear them."
I said: "Everything is Lupin. It's all Lupin, Lupin, Lupin.
There was not a single button on my shirt yesterday, but I made
Carrie simply replied: "You should do as all other men do, and
wear studs. In fact, I never saw anyone but you wear buttons on
I said: "I certainly wore none yesterday, for there were none on."
Another thought that strikes me is that Gowing seldom calls in the
evening, and Cummings never does. I fear they don't get on well
Yesterday I was in a retrospective vein — today it is
prospective. I see nothing but clouds, clouds, clouds. Lupin is
perfectly intolerable over the Daisy Mutlar business. He won't say
what is the cause of the breach. He is evidently condemning her
conduct, and yet, if we venture to agree with him, says he won't
hear a word against her. So what is one to do? Another thing
which is disappointing to me is, that Carrie and Lupin take no
interest whatever in my diary.
I broached the subject at the breakfast-table today. I said: "I
was in hopes that, if anything ever happened to me, the diary would
be an endless source of pleasure to you both; to say nothing of the
chance of the remuneration which may accrue from its being
Both Carrie and Lupin burst out laughing. Carrie was sorry for
this, I could see, for she said: "I did not mean to be rude, dear
Charlie; but truly I do not think your diary would sufficiently
interest the public to be taken up by a publisher."
I replied: "I am sure it would prove quite as interesting as some
of the ridiculous reminiscences that have been published lately.
Besides, it's the diary that makes the man. Where would Evelyn and
Pepys have been if it had not been for their diaries?"
Carrie said I was quite a philosopher; but Lupin, in a jeering
tone, said: "If it had been written on larger paper, Guv., we
might get a fair price from a butterman for it."
As I am in the prospective vein, I vow the end of this year will
see the end of my diary.
The annual invitation came to spend Christmas with
Carrie's mother — the usual family festive gathering to which we
always look forward. Lupin declined to go. I was astounded, and
expressed my surprise and disgust. Lupin then obliged us with the
following Radical speech: "I hate a family gathering at Christmas.
What does it mean? Why someone says: 'Ah! we miss poor Uncle
James, who was here last year,' and we all begin to snivel.
Someone else says: 'It's two years since poor Aunt Liz used to sit
in that corner.' Then we all begin to snivel again. Then another
gloomy relation says 'Ah! I wonder whose turn it will be next?'
Then we all snivel again, and proceed to eat and drink too much;
and they don't discover until I get up that we have been seated
thirteen at dinner."
Went to Smirksons', the drapers, in the Strand, who
this year have turned out everything in the shop and devoted the
whole place to the sale of Christmas cards. Shop crowded with
people, who seemed to take up the cards rather roughly, and, after
a hurried glance at them, throw them down again. I remarked to one
of the young persons serving, that carelessness appeared to be a
disease with some purchasers. The observation was scarcely out of
my mouth, when my thick coat-sleeve caught against a large pile of
expensive cards in boxes one on top of the other, and threw them
down. The manager came forward, looking very much annoyed, and
picking up several cards from the ground, said to one of the
assistants, with a palpable side-glance at me: "Put these amongst
the sixpenny goods; they can't be sold for a shilling now." The
result was, I felt it my duty to buy some of these damaged cards.
I had to buy more and pay more than intended. Unfortunately I did
not examine them all, and when I got home I discovered a vulgar
card with a picture of a fat nurse with two babies, one black and
the other white, and the words: 'We wish Pa a Merry Christmas'. I
tore up the card and threw it away. Carrie said the great
disadvantage of going out in Society and increasing the number of
our friends was, that we should have to send out nearly two dozen
cards this year.
To save the postman a miserable Christmas, we follow
the example of all unselfish people, and send out our cards early.
Most of the cards had finger-marks, which I did not notice at
night. I shall buy all future cards in the daytime. Lupin (who,
ever since he has had the appointment with a stock and share
broker, does not seem over-scrupulous in his dealings) told me
never to rub out the pencilled price on the backs of the cards. I
asked him why. Lupin said: "Suppose your card is marked 9d.
Well, all you have to do is to pencil a 3 — and a long down-stroke
after it — in front of the ninepence, and people will think you have
given five times the price for it."
In the evening Lupin was very low-spirited, and I reminded him that
behind the clouds the sun was shining. He said: "Ugh! it never
shines on me." I said: "Stop, Lupin, my boy; you are worried
about Daisy Mutlar. Don't think of her any more. You ought to
congratulate yourself on having got off a very bad bargain. Her
notions are far too grand for our simple tastes." He jumped up and
said: "I won't allow one word to be uttered against her. She's
worth the whole bunch of your friends put together, that inflated,
sloping-head of a Perkupp included." I left the room with silent
dignity, but caught my foot in the mat.
I exchanged no words with Lupin in the morning; but
as he seemed to be in exuberant spirits in the evening, I ventured
to ask him 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
Lupin said: "Who said it is off?"
I said: "You have given us both to understand—"
He interrupted me by saying: "Well, never mind what I said. It is
on again — there!"
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