The Diary Of A Nobody

CHAPTER I

We settle down in our new home, and I resolve to keep a diary. Tradesmen
trouble us a bit, so does the scraper. The Curate calls and pays me a
great compliment.

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.

APRIL 4. Tradesmen still calling; 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, to give him a trial. Carrie arranged
with Borset, the butterman, and ordered a pound of fresh butter, and a
pound and a half of salt ditto for kitchen, and a shilling’s worth of
eggs. In the evening, Cummings unexpectedly dropped in to show me a
meerschaum pipe he had won in a raffle in the City, and told me to handle
it carefully, as it would spoil the colouring if the hand was moist. He
said he wouldn’t stay, as he didn’t care much for the smell of the paint,
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. Must get that scraper removed.

APRIL 6. Eggs for breakfast simply shocking; sent them back to Borset
with my compliments, and he needn’t call any more for orders. Couldn’t
find umbrella, and though it was pouring with rain, had to go without it.
Sarah said Mr. Gowing must have took it by mistake last night, as there
was a stick in the ‘all that didn’t belong to nobody. In the evening,
hearing someone talking in a loud voice to the servant in the downstairs
hall, I went out to see who it was, and was surprised to find it was
Borset, the butterman, who was both drunk and offensive. Borset, on
seeing me, said he would be hanged if he would ever serve City clerks any
more—the game wasn’t worth the candle. I restrained my feelings, and
quietly remarked that I thought it was possible for a city clerk to be
a gentleman. He replied he was very glad to hear it, and wanted to
know whether I had ever come across one, for he hadn’t. He left the
house, slamming the door after him, which nearly broke the fanlight; and
I heard him fall over the scraper, which made me feel glad I hadn’t
removed it. When he had gone, I thought of a splendid answer I ought to
have given him. However, I will keep it for another occasion.

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.

APRIL 8, Sunday. After Church, the Curate came back with us. I sent
Carrie in to open front door, which we do not use except on special
occasions. She could not get it open, and after all my display, I had to
take the Curate (whose name, by-the-by, I did not catch,) round the side
entrance. He caught his foot in the scraper, and tore the bottom of his
trousers. Most annoying, as Carrie could not well offer to repair them
on a Sunday. After dinner, went to sleep. Took a walk round the garden,
and discovered a beautiful spot for sowing mustard-and-cress and
radishes. Went to Church again in the evening: walked back with the
Curate. Carrie noticed he had got on the same pair of trousers, only
repaired. He wants me to take round the plate, which I think a great
compliment.