J., the narrator and alter ego of the author. He is single and a resident of London. In this wry tale of a holiday on the River Thames, J., of no stated occupation, is representative of the English middle classes. J., who is something of a hypochondriac, commiserates with two friends, George and Harris, about their need for a restful holiday. They decide to embark on a two-week boating trip up the Thames from London to Oxford and back again. Because the adventure is told by J., it is his view of events that prevails, including numerous and amusing digressions from the past such as the time he carried a ripe cheese from Liverpool to London on a crowded railway. Always confident of his own abilities and sure of the rightness of his own motives, J. describes at length the foibles of his companions, with himself the well-meaning, generous, and wise counselor, always above the fray—unless he became a part of it. J. obviously is no better—and no worse—in his abilities and actions than George or Harris.
George, who also is single. He works—or, according to J., sleeps—in a bank in the City of London from ten to four o’clock on weekdays; on Saturdays, he is awakened and expelled at two. It is he who proposes the boating trip. The heavyset and always thirsty George knows every drinking spot in and around London and is thus considered to be a valuable resource for the holiday. Because...
(The entire section is 573 words.)