The Books of To-day and the Books of To-morrow, October 1904
THERE are, of course, people in London, in Belgrave Square and Park Lane, in possession of sufficiently large incomes to enable them to dispense with financial worries: people whose nightly bill for dinner mounts up to nearer a shilling than sixpence (exclusive of the halfpenny which public opinion insists shall be left under the plate at the smarter restaurants). People such as these can afford to be lavish. When your wine bill alone leaves little change out of the threepenny-bit, twopence seems an inconsiderable sum to spend on a day’s food. What the Great Public wants to know is how to live on nothing a day. It is quite possible. It only needs care and tact. I did it once for three weeks, at the end of which I won the South Tooting Spillikins Championship. A short account of my methods may be of interest and value.
I allowed myself four Meals a day and three Snacks, arranged in the following order:—9 a.m. Breakfast. My methods here were simple. It is the custom in our suburb to leave the milk-cans suspended from the area railings till a somewhat advanced hour. To abstract a pint from one of these cans before the house was stirring was a simple matter. Overnight I had taken the precaution to provide myself with bread. (The baker at the corner gives away stale half-loaves if you worry him.) A lump of cheese from the mouse-trap in the passage, and I had a breakfast fit for a king, which lasted till 11 a.m., when I took my first snack—half an inch of a wooden penholder which I had borrowed from my landlady. At one I lunched. Menu: Cocoa (from a sample packet sent free by an enterprising firm to whom I introduced myself as a large wholesale grocer), more bread (our baker is positively lavish), and another piece of cheese (that mouse-trap is my landlady’s pet hobby; she victuals it with the most commendable enthusiasm). At three I took another snack—a quarter of an ounce of new blotting-paper, most nutritious. My next meal was tea, consisting of muffins, brown and white bread and butter, two kinds of cake, and jam sandwiches. I took this at the house of a friend, on whom I chanced to call about the tea-hour. I stayed to dinner too, though I must confess that it was as much as I could manage, my hostess showing none of that fine spirit of hospitality which we like to see. Leaving at 10.30, I returned home, partook of another half-inch of penholder and a piece of cheese, washed down with pure spring water, and retired to bed, my food for the day not having cost me a single penny.
Printed unsigned; entered by Wodehouse in Money Received for Literary Work.