This article has been transcribed from a copy of the Cardiff Times in the online collection of scanned Welsh newspapers 1804-1919 in the National Library of Wales, with grateful recognition of the free access accorded to all readers. Paragraph breaks have been introduced for easier reading. — David Skilton

No button on the back of my shirt – and not a pin to be found, of course.

AM not going to commence this article, sir, by expatiating on the difficulty of finding money (finding ‘brass’ it is generally called in these parts), or a friend to send one any, for the very good reason that, in regard to the first item. I never found it half so difficult to get money as to stick to it – ‘keep a good hod [hold] on it,’ as a much respected Yorkshireman I know puts it. As for finding the friend ready to advance any -- well, about the only thing he ever advances, as a general rule, is a plea of temporary inability. No, sir, the things we can never find are not usually of the weighty and solid order; they are mere trifling articles that seem only to have been called into existence to misplace themselves, to the irritation and laceration of human nerves and to the total upsetting of human tempers. There is no doubt whatever that trivial annoyances, when added together, make up the sum total of human misery as far as most people are concerned, and amongst these trivial annoyances I should prominently place the things that one can never find.

Luigi Somachacho, the Italian Gentleman who Is responsile for the frequent non-appearance of errand boys.

Take such a case as this. A man is in a desperate hurry to get down into the town to keep a most important appointment. He has just risen and scrambled into his clothes, nearly upsetting himself into the fireplace with endeavouring to jump into both legs of his unmentionables [trousers] at the same time. He must have a clean shirt; he hastily pulls out the drawer where such articles are kept. No shirt there, though he could swear he saw half-a-dozen only a few days before. No, there is no shirt -- clean shirts are things that a man can never find when he is in a hurry. Finally, after he has bawled and shouted awhile, and got very ‘shirty’ indeed, one or two such articles of wear are unearthed from a clothes basket, and then comes the collar-adjusting process. Good gracious, only five minutes in which to catch the tram, and, am I – no button on the back of the neck. Dear, dear, dear! No matter, a pin will do. With the back of his collar trying apparently to get up above the level of his ears and on to his scalp, be makes a grab at the pin-cushion. No pins there! No, you bet! Pins are things one can never find – when one wants them. After rummaging about on the dressing table, on the floor (in the hope that there may be a stray one lying about), on the mantelpiece, and in every available place that man begins to get mad, and be uses bad words and he utters that great and glorious truism, ‘One never can find a pin when he wants it.’ If you don't believe him, ask the lady who suddenly finds that something is coming unfastened or coming down or something or other. Ask the man who usually carries one in the lap[p]el of his waistcoat if it is ever there when he really stands in dire need of it; when, say, he finds that he has lost a collar stud, or has accidentally torn his nether garments. The question that is often propounded as to where all the millions of pins that are daily manufactured go to is a natural one enough in all conscience.

Mr. Editor; Sir, do you think the slight cast in my eyes amounts to a positive squint?

Clothes brushes are things that can never be found, and soap and towels, in an ill-regulated household, come under the same category. What can be a greater outrage to the feelings of an Englishman than to find, when he has fully washed himself and dipped his head in the washhand basin, that there is no vestige of a towel in the room? There he stands, dripping, raging, blasphemous, yet irresolute. Shall he rush out on the landing and howl for a towel, which will probably arrive when he is about dry or shall he wipe himself on the window curtains or the toilet covers, or shall be open the windows and hang himself out to dry on the window-sill ? Nasty situation, I can tell you -- yet some people's house towels are never to be found.

The average policeman can never be found –when he is wanted. Does this crawing supply the reason?

Bits of string are never to be found; sealing-wax, when you are in a hurry to catch the post, is very much the same; and so are errand boy, spare boot-laces, scissors — and, well, latchkeys. Some prominent club-men of the town would, I doubt not, fully bear me out in this last regard. Nothing so difficult for a "clubable" person to find at 2 a.m. as his latchkey — except the keyhole it ought to belong to. Oh, well, I ought to know. There are some articles, sir, that seem fore-doomed to go wrong. It is no lack of method on my part that causes me never to be able to find any of the articles I have enumerated -- they are universal “disappearers," and I'll bet odds that I am by no means alone in regard to them. If you don't believe me, ask the majority of your readers. Now, then, all you ladies and gentlemen who agree with me, hold up both hands.

Last modified 26 February 2022