The Diary of a Nobody
Charles Pooter

My dear wife Carrie and I have just been a week in our new house, “The Laurels,” Brickfield Terrace, Holloway—a nice six-roomed residence, not counting basement, with a front breakfast-parlour.  We have a little front garden; and there is a flight of ten steps up to the front door, which, by-the-by, we keep locked with the chain up.  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 off the rent.  He was certainly right; and beyond the cracking of the garden wall at the bottom, we have suffered no inconvenience.

After my work in the City, I like to be at home.  What’s the good of a home, if you are never in it?  “Home, Sweet Home,” that’s my motto.  I am always in of an evening.  Our old friend Gowing may drop in without ceremony; so may Cummings, who lives opposite.  My dear wife Caroline and I are pleased to see them, if they like to drop in on us.  But Carrie and I can manage to pass our evenings together without friends.  There is always something to be done: a tin-tack here, a Venetian blind to put straight, a fan to nail up, or part of a carpet to nail down—all of which I can do with my pipe in my mouth; while Carrie is not above putting a button on a shirt, mending a pillow-case, or practising the “Sylvia Gavotte” on our new cottage piano (on the three years’ system), manufactured by W. Bilkson (in small letters), from Collard and Collard (in very large letters).  It is also a great comfort to us to know that our boy Willie is getting on so well in the Bank at Oldham.  We should like to see more of him.  Now for my diary:-

April 3.—Tradesmen called for custom, and I promised Farmerson, the ironmonger, to give him a turn if I wanted any nails or tools.  By-the-by, that reminds me there is no key to our bedroom door, and the bells must be seen to.  The parlour bell is broken, and the front door rings up in the servant’s bedroom, which is ridiculous.  Dear friend Gowing dropped in, but wouldn’t stay, saying there was an infernal smell of paint.

Charles Pooter

April 7.—Being Saturday, I looked forward to being home early, and putting a few things straight; but two of our principals at the office were absent through illness, and I did not get home till seven.  Found Borset waiting.  He had been three times during the day to apologise for his conduct last night.  He said he was unable to take his Bank Holiday last Monday, and took it last night instead.  He begged me to accept his apology, and a pound of fresh butter.  He seems, after all, a decent sort of fellow; so I gave him an order for some fresh eggs, with a request that on this occasion they should be fresh.  I am afraid we shall have to get some new stair-carpets after all; our old ones are not quite wide enough to meet the paint on either side.  Carrie suggests that we might ourselves broaden the paint.  I will see if we can match the colour (dark chocolate) on Monday.

Charles Pooter

August 3.—A beautiful day.  Looking forward to to-morrow.  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.”

Charles Pooter

August 4.—The first post brought a nice letter from our dear son Willie, acknowledging a trifling present which Carrie sent him, the day before yesterday being his twentieth birthday.  To our utter amazement he 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.

Charles Pooter

August 5, Sunday.—We have not seen Willie since last Christmas, and are pleased to notice what a fine young man he has grown.  One would scarcely believe he was Carrie’s son.  He looks more like a younger brother.  I rather disapprove of his wearing a check suit on a Sunday, and I think he ought to have gone to church this morning; but he said he was tired after yesterday’s journey, so I refrained from any remark on the subject.  We had a bottle of port for dinner, and drank dear Willie’s health.

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.’  If you were to ‘Willie’ me there, they wouldn’t know what you meant.”

Of course, Lupin being a purely family name, Carrie was delighted, and began by giving a long history of the Lupins.  I ventured to say that I thought William a nice simple name, and reminded him he was christened after his Uncle William, who was much respected in the City.  Willie, in a manner which I did not much care for, said sneeringly: “Oh, I know all about that—Good old Bill!” and helped himself to a third glass of port.

Carrie objected strongly to my saying “Good old,” but she made no remark when Willie used the double adjective.  I said nothing, but looked at her, which meant more.  I said: “My dear Willie, I hope you are happy with your colleagues at the Bank.”  He replied: “Lupin, if you please; and with respect to the Bank, there’s not a clerk who is a gentleman, and the ‘boss’ is a cad.”  I felt so shocked, I could say nothing, and my instinct told me there was something wrong.

Charles Pooter

August 6, Bank Holiday.—As there was no sign of Lupin moving at nine o’clock, I knocked at his door, and said we usually breakfasted at half-past eight, and asked how long would he be?  Lupin replied that he had had a lively time of it, first with the train shaking the house all night, and then with the sun streaming in through the window in his eyes, and giving him a cracking headache.  Carrie came up and asked if he would like some breakfast sent up, and he said he could do with a cup of tea, and didn’t want anything to eat.

Lupin not having come down, I went up again at half-past one, and said we dined at two; he said he “would be there.”  He never came down till a quarter to three.  I said: “We have not seen much of you, and you will have to return by the 5.30 train; therefore you will have to leave in an hour, unless you go by the midnight mail.”  He said: “Look here, Guv’nor, it’s no use beating about the bush.  I’ve tendered my resignation at the Bank.”

For a moment I could not speak.  When my speech came again, I said: “How dare you, sir?  How dare you take such a serious step without consulting me?  Don’t answer me, sir!—you will sit down immediately, and write a note at my dictation, withdrawing your resignation and amply apologising for your thoughtlessness.”

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!”

Charles Pooter

August 11.—Although it is a serious matter having our boy Lupin on our hands, still it is satisfactory to know he was asked to resign from the Bank simply because “he took no interest in his work, and always arrived an hour (sometimes two hours) late.”  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.

Charles Pooter

August 15.—Cleared up a bit, so we all took the train to Margate, and the first person we met on the jetty was Gowing.  I said: “Hulloh!  I thought you had gone to Barmouth with your Birmingham friends?”  He said: “Yes, but young Peter Lawrence was so ill, they postponed their visit, so I came down here.  You know the Cummings’ are here too?”  Carrie said: “Oh, that will be delightful!  We must have some evenings together and have games.”

I introduced Lupin, saying: “You will be pleased to find we have our dear boy at home!”  Gowing said: “How’s that?  You don’t mean to say he’s left the Bank?”

I changed the subject quickly, and thereby avoided any of those awkward questions which Gowing always has a knack of asking.

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).