DIARY OF A SOMEBODY. Hutchinson, 1978.
In a shared flat somewhere in west London, bachelor Simon Crisp has started work on a diary that strikingly resembles in wit and style the Grossmiths’ Diary of a Nobody, published 120 years ago.
An eligible young marketing executive from a minor public school, Crisp moves freely – but with increasing discomfort – at many levels of society. He samples the disappointments of weekend house parties and the London Season; flirts briefly with a band of well-known lefties; plunges recklessly into the demi-monde of massage parlours, sex shops and ‘adult revues’; and lives to regret the heady flavours of pea tea down on the farm.
Nothing for Crisp ever quite comes up to expectations – whether he is the victim of a PR man who involves him in expensive ‘free’ meals and trips to Venice where every single tourist site is somehow missed, or being offered jobs in television that mysteriously fall victim to budget cuts.
Friends use him shamelessly as budgie minder, babysitter and amorous poste-restante. Girl friends – like nouveau-leftist Victoria or ever plainer Jane – seem less than wild about his charms.
Yet, at last, coping with the humiliations of hurled apple cores, locked jaws and exploding plastic pants, he seems poised to achieve the dream of every young man of ambition: true love and promotion at a single stroke.
I place Christopher Matthew’s Somebody next to the Grossmiths’ Nobody in my abiding affection. Simon Crisp belongs with Pooter, the Provincial Lady, Samuel Pepys and Adrian Mole in the gallery of memorably funny English diarists. Keith Waterhouse, Daily Mail
Hilarious….the balance of daftness and topical comments is so spellbinding I read the diary in one sitting.
Myrna Blumberg, The Times
Ever since Christopher Matthew published his best-selling Diary of a Somebody, a growing army of readers has been delighted by the antics of his accident-prone character Simon Crisp, a bumbling bachelor forever standing on his dignity and falling flat on his face. Peter Grosvenor, Daily Express