Saturday, 13 October 2007

Dear Diary

Have just finished reading Diary of a Nobody by George & Weedon Grossmith 1892. It is a good as I’d heard and genuinely funny. The hero Charles Pooter is often portrayed in a poor light as a snob and a low brow but you learn to love him. His main crime is a lack of imagination and the odd misguided enthusiasm.
I’m not sure who is meant to feel superior to Pooter (probably only his wife!) as most groups in society are shown in a poor light, the very rich as cold and indifferent, the artistic self obsessed and vain, the poor are belligerent.

Context is everything in satire and I wasn’t entirely sure when the michael was being taken and when not. For instance Pooter by today’s standards drinks quiet a lot, cheap champagne (sorry sham-pagne in one case) port, whiskey etc I’m not sure if this was normal or part of the spoof. Also because it so well written it portrays the end of the Victoria era in detail, how Pooter goes to work on a horse drawn ‘bus, the post that arrives throughout the day, people sitting down to “meat-teas”.

The parallels with today are noticeable, Pooter obsessions with DIY, his adult son moves back in with him, the dream of home ownership, petty office politics etc
Let’s not forget its plain funny.

Lastly as a regular blogger I think Diary of Nobody is a cautionary tale against the excesses of the medium, the self obsession, the quick off the handle rants against the minutiae of life and the celebration of the personal over the great matters of the moment (no mention of the Ripper murders in Pooter’s diary)

It’s not surprising then that Pooter's ramblings are available as a blog although the penguin classic is easier to read on the ‘bus (diesel driven in my case).

I have an ongoing link to fictional diarist as I’m the same age as Adrian Mole, well almost we share a birthday (the same day in fact that Pooter’s diary starts) and as the diaries are published 1 year in arrears I was 13 3\4 when Adrian was (this isn’t making sense is it) anyway Mole is a bit Dorian Gray for me so I have drifted away from the books a little, particularly as they got a bit zietgeisty, although I did like the joke about Bridget Jones eating in his restaurant in a later volume.

As its breakfast time (as I right) can I share a pertinent and very true entry from the picky but occasionally right Mr Charles Potter Esq. of The Laurels, Brickfield Terrace, Holloway. I couldn’t post today’s entry as Punch (where the diaries were first published) cancelled the diaries for a few months and so Grossmith worked in a story of these weeks records being torn from diary with complicated and humorous consequences. This entry echos one of my small obsessions with quality pork....
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. Still anxious about the 20 pounds I invested last week by Lupin's advice. However, Cummings has done the same.


Planet Mondo said...

There's a great Audio (made for Radio 4)of D.O.A.N with Arthur Lowe playing Pooter - brilliant

Keith Waterhouse also did a alt.version - Mr's Pooter's Diary , well worth tracking down

BLTP said...

good tips, I enjoyed the bbc 4 adaption recently but the a,lowe sounds good