The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole of its day, The Diary Of A Nobody is perhaps less hilarious than it was back in 1892, but it’s no less readable and seems to evoke its age better than any of the supposedly naturalist contemporary fiction. By reading it I have learned that:
- Dull, respectable men in the late Victorian era could grow ZZ-Top style beards and wear hats “the shape of the helmet worn in India, only made of straw” and be though of as embarrassingly pedestrian in their tastes.
- Pub licensing laws meant that on Sundays you could only get a drink from 1pm or 2pm or 6pm to 9pm unless you were a “traveler” – i.e. someone claiming to be from at least a few miles away. I mean, we have laws as silly as this now, but it’s interesting to find out that our instinct for arbitrary, nonsensical rules is not a new thing.
- Middle-class people still act in fundamentally the same way they did 125 years ago, only with a few signifiers swapped around.
- If you tell a librarian in Cambridge Central Library that you can’t find The Diary Of A Nobody and he points out you’ve been looking under W for Weedon instead of G for Grossmith you will get the most contemptuous eye-roll you have ever received.
George and Weedon Grossmith – The Diary of a Nobody
George and Weedon Grossmith – The Diary of a Nobody (Free text at Project Gutenberg)
George and Weedon Grossmith – The Diary of a Nobody (Free audio at Librivox)