And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

12 April

1772
Count de Benyovszky,
soldier and explorer

‘On the 12th, we anchored at the Island of Madagascar, where I went on shore at Fort Dauphin. Some particulars of information I had received from the Governor of the isle of France, induced me to wish for more ample information, respecting this fine and extensive island; but unfortunately for this purpose, I could not prolong my stay.’

The king of Madagascar

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1852
Polly Lavinia Crandall Coon,
teacher

‘Our brother Ray left us this morning - It was with deep regret and tearful eyes we left him to plod on alone towards his home. We feel sad that we leave him behind but hope another year will bring him to Oregon. This after noon it is quite pleasant except the chilling winds which sweep furiously across the endless praries of the state of Iowa. All well and judging from the talking and laughing we hear from the adjoining tent all are in good spirits. The roads continue very bad otherwise we get along very finely.’

We hope for better times

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1886
William Daunt,
politician

‘On the 8th Gladstone made his speech, introducing the measure of Home Rule for Ireland; a speech of splendid eloquence. It occupied three hours and twenty-five minutes. He deserves gratitude for this attempt to solve the old international quarrel. . .’

The Irish Difficulty

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1911
Sydney Moseley,
journalist

‘(The Old Victoria Park) I should really be in bed but here I am! Been too busy to write these notes; it seems as if I have made a really good start on the Evening Times. Given a chance at last I am seizing it with both hands. Despite my column stories I am none too confident. I’ve already has some experience of the vagaries of journalism, thank you! It is very easy to slip. Have ordered suit, overcoat and writing desk. The Census job fairly unnerved me. Had to go into terribly poor quarters of the East End slums. St Peter’s Road in Mile End, where I lived, was a paradise in comparison - with trees and a church at one end, and the Charrington brewery at the other! What terrible lives some people endure! I thought I had seen enough! Dead people . . . dying people . . . starving people. There was a beautiful slut sitting beside a coffin. Beneath her rags and dirt was a queen. . . Wrote an article on my experiences which will be published - I hope!

Today I put 10s down as ‘extra’ expenses, and it’s going to Watney for his OK. Careful my lad, careful!’

Saw television!

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1917
Frances Stevenson,
secretary

‘D. made a magnificent speech at the American Luncheon Club. I heard the speeches tucked away behind a screen on the orchestra platform, with some of the wives of the American members. It was a great meeting, & they were most enthusiastic. I fear however that he will get another little note from the King on the undignified tone in which he spoke of “kings & their tricks!” After the speech D. & I drove down to Windsor as D. had to see H.M. about the Emperor of Austria’s letter. I had tea in the town while D. was at the Castle & then we drove back again together to Walton Heath. We were very happy. D. was in excellent spirits & very pleased with his speech.’

We had great fun

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1941
Wilhelm Reich,
doctor

‘Clarity of thought dwells in immense loneliness, in spaces like those separating the stars, billions of light-years wide, so that the bodies do not clash but simply revolve in solitude. Bodies are unhappy and cannot think clearly when they are crowded, where one foot treads upon another. Occasionally they feel impelled toward the crowd. in order to see whether it has changed and whether they still fit in But the members of the crowd have not changed. They continue to push and shove for a little space. They do not sense, cannot imagine the vast infinities, for they fancy themselves secure when they inhale a neighbor’s sweaty scent. Once in a while you find a person who looks as if he were able to imagine the infinities. You speak to him of loneliness and as he listens a glow brightens his face. He appears to understand even though he does not. Finally you discover that he is commonplace, extremely banal, narrow, lethargic, vain. He has sighted loneliness in the mirror - and he flees - or he accompanies you a part of the way, soars with you, only to crash back down into the crowd - wasted energy! Then you live in solitude once again where you can think and breathe freely.

It is good to dive into the crowd once in a while, to convince oneself that it is a mere shuffling, back and forth, with no purpose or goal, just shuffling, back and forth.

Then you return to breathing the pure, fresh air of the mountains, where it storms and worlds collide. Happy? No! But alive!’

The existence of orgonity

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1961
Yuri Gagarin,
astronaut

‘At 4:50 local time, I, Karpov and Nikitin, stood up as if on cue. At 5:30 we will raise the Jura and Herman. The night went very well, fell asleep about 22 hours. A little starts to dawn, the traffic increases on the road. We arrived from the tenth site, Karpov went to raise the youth.

At 6:00 a meeting of the commission. It was surprisingly simple and short. All the reports boiled down to one phrase: “There are no comments, everything is ready, no questions, you can start.” After the meeting, I signed a flight mission, went to the MIC and looked at how a medical examination and putting on spacesuits was going. Everything went right on schedule. At 8 o’clock I, together with the lead engineer of the ship, took the elevator to the top of the rocket and checked the cipher (145) of the logical lock. The logical lock worked fine. At 8:20 Marshal Moskalenko arrived at the start. We agreed with him about the procedure for landing Gagarin in the ship. The bus with the astronauts should arrive at the launch site at 8:50. All cosmonauts and [?] remain at the bus, before the Gagarin elevator, Korolyov, Rudnev, I and Moskalenko must see off.

It was possible to keep the planned order with difficulty. Coming out of the bus, Yura and his comrades were a little impatient and started hugging and kissing. Instead of wishing a happy journey, some would say goodbye and even cry - they had to force the cosmonaut out of the embraces of the [?] almost by force. At the elevator, I firmly shook Yury’s hand and said: “See you in the Kuybyshev area in a few hours.”

After 10 minutes the suit and connection were checked. At KP, I, Popovic and Korolev kept in touch with the board. For all the preparation for the start there was only one small hitch when closing the N1 hatch. The hatch was closed, but due to the lack of contact, it had to be re-opened and fixed a minor malfunction. All the radio was recorded on tape. Audibility was excellent, Gagarin’s answers are short, clear and clear. The cosmonaut’s well-being, judging by his reports, by his voice and telemetry, was good. A few seconds before the start on the message of the Queen - “Start”, Yura replied: “Let’s go!”

The start was great. Overloads on the launch site did not have a noticeable effect on the astronaut’s voice. The radio connection was good. The astronaut felt fine. At the 150th second of the flight, after resetting the fairing, Jura reported: “Light, see the Earth, clouds, visibility is excellent.” After a few seconds, he reported on the separation of the first stage of the carrier. In 13 minutes after the launch, we already knew that the world’s first manned flight in near-earth orbit began. At the moment of the transition from the start to Kolpashevo there were several unpleasant seconds: the astronaut did not hear us, and we did not hear him. I do not know how I looked at that moment, but Korolev, who was standing next to me, was very worried: when he took the microphone, his hands trembled, his voice broke, his face was twisted and changed beyond recognition. All breathed a sigh of relief when Kolpashevo and Moscow reported on the restoration of communication with the astronaut and the launch of the spacecraft into orbit.

20 minutes after the start, I went with a group of comrades to the airfield. The An-12 took off and headed for Stalingrad (the estimated landing point for this orbit was 110 kilometers south of Stalingrad). Already in the air, we heard the TASS report about the safe landing of an astronaut in the Saratov region, and a few minutes later we were informed by the Air Force’s command post: “Everything is in order, Major Gagarin flies to Kuibyshev.” After this joyful message, everyone (there were ten of us in the plane) began to kiss, dance, and Vasily Vasilyevich Parin took out the cherished bottle of brandy. I advised to drink it when meeting with Yura ...

At the factory airfield in Kuibyshev, we were met by Colonel Chechiyants from the Air Force General Staff and reported on the situation: “Gagarin landed safely 23 kilometers from Saratov and a few minutes later he called Moscow. Later, already from Engels, together with Agaltsov they spoke on “HF” with Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Vershinin and other leaders. ” By this time, a significant crowd had already gathered at the airfield. We arrived: the secretary of the Kuibyshev Regional Party Committee, the chairman of the regional executive committee, the district air force commander and other leaders. The arrival of the authorities strengthened the influx of workers at the airport from the factory. I had to order the commander of the IL-14, on which Gagarin and Agaltsov flew, to taxi to the farthest station. We did not have time to drive up to the aircraft in cars, as here a large crowd formed. The plane’s door opened, and Yura was the first to descend - he was wearing a winter flight helmet and a blue spacesuit. I was worried and worried about all the nine hours that had passed since it landed in a spacecraft prior to this meeting at the Kuibyshev airfield, as if it were my own son. We hugged and kissed. Cameras clicked from all sides, the crowd of people was growing. There was a danger of a big crush, and Yura, although he was smiling, looked very overworked. It was necessary to stop hugging and kissing. I asked Agaltsov and Yura to get into the car and immediately go to the regional committee dacha. Three hours later, Rudnev, Korolev, Keldysh, and other members of the commission flew in from Tura-Tama.

The cottage of the regional committee was located on the high bank of the Volga, from the balcony of the third floor there was a beautiful view of the river. At ten o’clock in the evening everyone gathered at the table. Present were six cosmonauts, members of the State Commission, and heads of the region. Rudnev, Gagarin, Korolev, Murysev, Mrykin made toasts, but drank very little - it was felt that everyone was very tired. At eleven o’clock we went to the bedrooms. So ended this anxious, joyful, victorious day. Humankind will never forget the day of April 12, 1961, and the name of Gagarin will forever fit into history and will be one of the most famous.’

The name of Gagarin

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1964
André Laurendeau,
politician

‘Woke up this morning in Halifax in a thick fog, amid the screaming of sirens. We arrived here last night on our way to Sydney.

I note some impressions I’ve had over the last few days. Essentially the Maritimer is a Canadian dissatisfied with Canada, who remembers the period before Confederation as a period of prosperity, and who feels a constant need for interventions, at least on the financial level - which means grants from Ottawa. It is not only a political attitude: it’s a profound part of his psychology. He considers himself mistreated almost as much as the Quebecois does, but since he feels weaker economically, and less different from a cultural point of view, his criticisms always lead to more requests for money rather than a demand for greater autonomy.’

What might have been

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1998
David Kim Hempleman-Adams,
explorer

‘It is Easter Sunday and once again for both of us it is a wrench being away from home. All our thoughts are with our families. It is at times like these - birthdays, anniversaries and family holidays - that the homesickness is most acute. I must strive to be at home for more of them next year. ‘My mama and papa will be out skiing on the fjord right now,’ Rune says. ‘I would like to be there, but I have something else to do.’

We are two and a third miles behind schedule and wake up an hour late. It is the first time we have overslept on the trip, and we cannot understand why. Outside it is a beautiful day, there is not a cloud in the sky, and we have high hopes of a good mileage today.

Almost immediately things go wrong. First the wind picks up and it becomes much colder, then the bindings on my skis, which were mounted in the wrong place, begin to work themselves loose. Whoever fitted the bindings to the skis did not use enough glue, or the glue resin is losing its adhesion in the cold. Every time I stop I have to take off the ski and tighten the screw. It is a tedious business.

We come to our first open lead after only half an hour and walk west until we find a crossing place. Unfortunately it is not a straightforward crossing. Instead of one simple route across we have to negotiate several stretches of open water and leap from one rubble island to another, using them like giant stepping-stones. I am about two thirds of the way across with another fifteen feet to go when Rune starts to drift away from me on an island of rubble that is only nine or ten square feet in area. The danger becomes more acute when the rubble island I am standing on starts to sink. I am very scared, even more than when I fell in the water as I am out of Rune’s reach and it will be very difficult for him to rescue me from his island of equally precarious ice. I make a jump for Rune’s floe and get my foot wet, but he pulls me to safety. We then cross some porridgy steel-ice to the far side of the lead. I am mightily relieved not to have fallen in.

Within half a mile we come to another lead, so this time we walk west to find a crossing-point. We cross the lead and head east, only to meet another lead after one mile. We then turn south, find a crossing and head northwards again, but within a couple of hundred metres there is yet another lead. These leads are sending us on a wild goose chase. There seems little hope of making any headway northwards. We are walking at sea level and cannot see more than about a quarter of a mile ahead, so it is very difficult to see where the leads lie. I reckon we must have crossed around 500 of them so far.

To make matters worse, we both feel ill. I am swallowing pain-killers like smarties to cope with my back pain and Rune’s navigation is off today. He does not know whether it is the compass that is playing up or his solar navigation, but we will have to sort it out tonight.

By the time we pitch camp we are two miles behind schedule and have managed only six miles to 87° 06' 40" North and 71° 00' 25" West. It is a shame as I had hoped we could do as well as yesterday, but luck was against us today. Maybe we shouldn’t have been walking on Easter Sunday. Rune agrees with me and rustles up a special Easter dinner of lobster pate, sent to us on the resupply by Thierry, and an Easter egg for pudding.

We have a radio schedule with John who tells us that the Girls on Top are having problems after they lost their tent in high winds, and they need to be rescued. All round a terribly depressing day.’

Walking on thin ice

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