The Books of To-day and the Books of To-morrow, October 1907

Diabolo Day by Day.

(From next year’s Papers.)

INTRODUCED to the game on what was supposed to be his death-bed, an octogenarian of East Buddington, Salop, found his health so benefited by the exercise, that he completely recovered, and now plays outside left regularly for his local football club.

The rumour that a Mincing Lane rice-merchant had thrown and caught a diabolo no fewer than three times caused a panic in the City yesterday.

Saul Potter and James Brown, the East Wobsley diabolists, who showed such good form in the All England Championship, returned to their native town yesterday, and were met with a brass band, and presented with the Freedom of the City. The Mayor in his speech said that while Britain had her Potters and her Browns she could afford to fall behind in minor matters of Trade.   (Cheers.)

The M.C.C. Diabolo team for Australia started on Saturday. It is a pity that Bayward, the Surrey crack, and Dirst, of Yorkshire, are not of the party; especially as it is an open secret that they only demanded another £10,000 a-piece for the trip. This parsimony is ruining our National Game.

Father Bernard Vaughan’s series of sermons attacking the Diabolo-playing Smart Set began last Sunday. It seems that young girls are lured on to play in Country-houses, and lose huge sums.

Mr. A. W. Pinero’s problem play, ‘The Diabolists,’ was produced with success last night. Mr. George Alexander as the Bishop who neglects his see in order to gratify his passion for the game, and Miss Irene Vanbrugh as the wife who cures him of his craze at the expense of her sanity, are admirably suited.

Tuesday night will be the 700th performance of ‘The Diabolo Girl’ at the Gaiety.

Describing himself as Champion Diabolist of South Penge, Charles Garraway (18) was accused of murdering Edward Simpson. After hearing the defence that deceased had jolted prisoner’s elbow just as he was about to beat the record, the jury wished to dismiss the case: but the judge, saying that it must not be forgotten that after all human life was sacred, fined prisoner one-and-eightpence.

Mr. Byles will ask the Speaker to-morrow if the conduct of the Member for Lesser Plumpington, in playing Diabolo during Friday’s debate, was in order.

The Railway Strike has ended, the strikers’ demand to be allowed to play Diabolo during work hours being agreed to.



Printed unsigned; entered by Wodehouse in Money Received for Literary Work as “Diabolo.”


For more on the Diabolo craze (a sort of juggling toy) see “Diabolo” from the Daily Express of October 1, 1907, another of Wodehouse’s riffs on the fad, but with some real news items, more fictitious ones, and our notes on the topic.

Mincing Lane: a short one-way street in the City of London, traditionally the home of tea and spice merchants.
East Wobsley: a fictitious town created by Paul Rubens in his musical comedy Mr. Popple (of Ippleton). Wodehouse liked the place names and mentioned them several times (see notes to the linked item).
The M.C.C. is a prestigious cricket club, so its adoption of diabolo would be newsworthy. The item riffs on the names of cricketers Thomas Walter Hayward, of Surrey, and George Hirst, of Yorkshire.
Father Bernard Vaughan (1847–1922), a Roman Catholic clergyman, preached and published a series of sermons on “The Sins of Society” in 1906.
George Alexander and Irene Vanbrugh had starred in Arthur Wing Pinero’s problem play His House in Order the previous year, to great acclaim.
The Gaiety Theatre, under the management of George Edwardes, presented many successful musical comedies, a great number of which had “Girl” in their titles: A Gaiety Girl, The Shop Girl, A Runaway Girl, The Circus Girl, and many more.