And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

23 February

1684
John Evelyn,
writer

‘I went to Sir John Chardin [. . .] Afterwards, I went with Sir Christopher Wren to Dr. Tenison, where we made the drawing and estimate of the expense of the library, to be begun this next spring near the Mews.’

Modesty, prudence, piety

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1826
Richard Hurrell Froude,
priest

‘I have had a long idle fit, partly caused by circumstances; but I shall not throw it off without recording an idle day. K. says I ought to attend to nothing but my essay, till I have finished it.’

I have been relapsing

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1940
Clifford Odets,
playwright

‘The biggest shock I have experienced since the auto crash in Mexico a year ago was the reviews of the play today. Perhaps it was the serious lack of sleep which kept me so calm and quiet. I wanted to send the Times man a wire telling him I thought his notice stupid and insulting, but I gave up that idea after a while. Equally distressing to me was the attitude at the office, an ugly passivity. They are quite inured there to the humdrum commercial aspect of doing a play this way - close if the notices are bad.

My feelings were and are very simple. I feel as if a lovely delicate child, tender and humorous, had been knocked down by a truck and lay dying. For this show has all the freshness of a child. It was Boris A. who called the turn. He said, “This show is very moving to me, a real artwork, but I don’t think they will get its quality - it is not commercial.”

In the morning I cashed fifteen thousand dollars worth of the baby bonds I hold. I thought to spend it on advertising, to keep the show open, etc., but by the time I finished at the office in the afternoon it was easy to see the foolishness of that; the show costs almost ten thousand a week to run.

So, friend, this is the American theatre, before, now, and in the future. This is where you live and this is what it is - this is the nature of the beast. Here is how the work and delight and pain of many months ends up in one single night. This is murder, to be exact, the murder of loveliness, of talent, of aspiration, of sincerity, the brutal imperception and indifference to one of the few projects which promise to keep the theatre alive. And it is murder in the first degree - with forethought (perhaps not malice, perhaps!), not second or third degree. Something will have to be done about these “critics”, these lean dry men who know little or nothing about the theatre despite their praise of the actors and production. How can it happen that this small handful of men can do such murderous mischief in a few hours? How can it be that we must all depend on them for our progress and growth, they who maybe drank a cocktail too much, quarreled with a wife, had indigestion or a painful toe before they came to see the play - they who are not critics, who are insensitive, who understand only the most literal realism, they who should be dealing in children’s ABC blocks? How can the audience be reached directly, without the middleman intervention of these fools?

I think now to write very inexpensive plays in the future, few actors, one set; perhaps hire a cheap theatre and play there. Good or bad, these “critics” must never be quoted, they must not opportunistically be used. A way must be found to beat them if people like myself are to stay in the theatre with any health and love. Only bitterness results this way, with no will or impulse for fresh work. The values must be sorted out and I must see my way clearly ahead, for I mean to work in the American theatre for many years to come.

I have such a strong feeling - a lovely child was murdered yesterday. Its life will drag on for another week or ten days, but the child is already stilled. A few friends will remember, that’s all.’

Night music struck down

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1985
John Lowe,
miner

‘Used the last of our coal today. We’ve been lucky right through, managing to get the odd bag given and burning it sparingly with logs; our good neighbour has helped out us and others and we owe him gratitude.

The kids on holiday in Belgium are due home this evening; another set are due to go to France shortly and at Easter yet another lot go to Amsterdam. We must never forget our brothers over the Channel.

The Board are offering an immediate advance of £100 to those returning now. How bloody corrupt are they prepared to be.’

How bloody corrupt

**************************************************************************************

1994
Roger Black,
athlete

‘I’ve moved on in leaps and bounds since October. My body still gives me problems but I can run with them. The left foot is much better due to the taping and the orthotics and the exercises.

My hip is still very sore but that’s life. In January I confronted the reality that my hip will never be 100 per cent and I have a choice. It can stop me running or I can run with it. Only the clock can tell me if I can get better.’

Worse by training

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