Paean to Pooter, London N7

Somewhere in Holloway, N7, lies Brickfield Terrace, a modest street of Victorian houses, off the Holloway Road I fancy, one of which (The Laurels) in 1888 was the wonderful newly-rented home of Charles Pooter and his slightly plain wife Carrie.  Only a mile or two further south at Upper Street, merely the Holloway Road by another name (also the road to Edinburgh, it may be noted), is the King’s Head, the last remaining pub-theatre in London, another fine Victorian building.  The two worlds are connected by more than the A1, as the tiny independent theatre is currently showing a very funny stage adaptation of Mr Pooter’s diary, The Diary of a Nobody. This modest journal was affectionately transposed into a series of illustrated Punch stories in the 1890s by George & Weedon Grossmith, and is surely the prototype for all personal blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook updates. It should haunt the imagination of everyone who attempts to write anything of their own circumstances in the first person in anything like a diary format. No matter how hard we may try, something of the Pooterish quality in all of us shines through all of our accounts of our daily doings, such was the Grossmiths’ comic insight.  As Pooter’s own introduction to his slim volume says “I have often seen the reminiscences of people I have never heard of, and I fail to see[  ] why my diary should not be interesting”. Amen to that!

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