Why should I not publish my diary? I have often seen reminiscences of people I have never even heard of, and I fail to see -- because I do not happen to be a 'Somebody' -- why my diary should not be interesting. My only regret is that I did not commence it when I was a youth.

Who is the patron saint of bloggers? I nominate the Victorian bank clerk, Charles Pooter.

I love the gentle humour of The Diary of a Nobody, so it was a real pleasure to find that a fan has turned the text into a mock-weblog. (It hasn't been updated for a couple of days, by the look of it.) There's also a more conventional, reader-friendly version here. Some years ago, I wrote a Times feature on the centenary of the George & Weedon Grossmith classic, and was gratified to discover that film director Mike Leigh is a great fan of the book. (You can see the influence of Pooter and his long-suffering spouse, Carrie in "Abigail's Party.") Leigh told me that he and his then-wife, the actress Alison Steadman, shared a private catch-phrase on film sets whenever anything amusing or happened: "Carrie roared."

I never, ever get tired of re-reading the Diary. That said, it's incredibly difficult to pick out highlight, because the suburban satire unfolds at its own meandering pace. Pulling sentences out for display doesn't really work. But if I had to choose one favourite chapter it would be the dinner-party encounter with Hardfur Huttle, the American writer whose taste for grandiose, Mark Twain-style pronouncements causes embarrassment all round:

"Our party is well selected. We've no use for deaf old women, who cannot follow intellectual conversation."

All our eyes were turned to Mrs. Field, who fortunately, being deaf, did not hear his remarks; but continued smiling approval.

Ah, but humour is such a subjective thing, isn't it? I once gave a copy to a friend who was flying home to the States, and she told me later that she found it unbearably depressing. I suppose Pooter is a sad case, in a way, but the joy of the story is that he never realises how pompous he appears to the rest of the world. Which is why he is a sort of Everyman. We all have a trace of him in us. Besides, who could resist a man who gets such enjoyment from his own terrible jokes?

I never was so immensely tickled by anything I have ever said before. I actually woke up twice during the night, and laughed till the bed shook.

I've done that too. Haven't you?

|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2005/02/pooter-for-ever-why-should-i-not.html|||2/03/2005 12:55:00 am|||||||||