The Diary of a Nobody

With this posting, another landmark in my short career as a blogger has come and is soon to go – for this is my 400th blog posting, to what some regard (probably rightly so) as “the diary of a nobody”. According to Wikipedia, “The Diary of a Nobody is an English comic novel written by the brothers George and Weedon Grossmith, with illustrations by the latter. It originated as an intermittent serial in Punch magazine in 1888–89 and first appeared in book form, with extended text and added illustrations, in 1892. The Diary records the daily events in the lives of a London clerk, Charles Pooter, his wife Carrie, his son Lupin, and numerous friends and acquaintances over a period of 15 months.

It also happened to be one of the texts I studied at school as part of my English Literature ‘O-Level’ studies, which at the time was one I least favoured. I recoiled from having to study this book given there were (in my opinion) many other more interesting texts we could have studied. I felt the book was somewhat irritating in its content and the diary writer, Charles Pooter, revealed himself to be pompous and pretentious as he went into excruciating detail relating the petty and boring details of his rather sad day to day life, and I rather resented having to study it. My teacher acknowledged these were valid views, but pointed out it was also the point of the book and if I were to look more closely I would see in it satire, humour and profound insight into human nature, and come to appreciate some of the social commentary on the life and times of the diary writer. As for the satire and humour, all this was a bit too subtle for this fifteen year old. Many years on, I now find myself concurring with the wisdom my teacher sought to share with me at that time.

I mention this as it has often crossed my mind that my career as a blog writer, which began in 22nd of February 2014, may well be regarded by the few that are aware as a diary of a nobody, with the main difference being that my choice of subject matter is a wider, ranging from politics to cricket, religion to the middle east, homelessness to culture wars and, unlike with “The Diary of a Nobody”, provides a lot less by way of details of the daily grind I am involved in. I triumphantly reflected on my blogging career up to that time, when I posted my one hundredth entry, in my “100 not out” posting. My two hundredth posting had the title “200 not out”, which later got renamed to “Guide to John Barber’s blog”, for I decided to edit it from time to time in order to provided a complete, “click onable” table of contents to the titles to each post I posted.

Checking out again those two land mark blog postings, I find what I wrote then still applies and I see no reason for letting up now. I will take stock though from the example of the hapless Charles Pooter. I suspect I am a long way still from seeing swarms gravitate to my regular postings in order to hang onto every profound pearl of wisdom I might have penned. I like blogging, for I feel doing so suits me at this time, is therapeutic, is a good way to reflect on the issues of the day, communicate my ideas, exchange views and at least try to win over hearts and minds. This is something that as a gospel preaching, community activist I feel I am beholden to do, I recognize that being a good husband, father, neighbor, worker etc. ought to take precedence. I recognize it is easy to take on delusions of grandeur, succumb to proud narcissism or blog as a means of escapism, even though I believe I have something worth saying that people need to hear, I am mindful of the need to try and avoid these tendencies. I hope that, as with “The Diary of a Nobody”, posterity will come to read and be helped and encouraged by what I write or by what others take from these writings, not just because what I say matters and often is not being said elsewhere, but it is a commentary on what is happening in our times, and while the lesson of history is we don’t learn the lessons of history, we still need to learn.


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