And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

28 November

1935
Ivan Chistyakov,
soldier

‘It’s cold outside, it’s cold inside, and it’s cold and cheerless inside me. How can you do a job properly if you have no interest in it and no wish to do it? And why is that? Because you don’t have the bare necessities of life and culture. The top brass don’t even talk about these things. Today we are faced with the fact that there is no firewood. I have to order people about. I don’t need all this. Why does it always turn out this way?

My hands are stiff with cold. Why is no one looking after us commanders? What do all the brave words amount to? If we had even a hundredth of what Voroshilov promised here, on the railway, we would at least have a little hope. All the talk is of The Second Five-Year Plan, Maxim Gorky, Klim Voroshilov. The USSR has unparalleled aeroplanes, but here we don’t have even the bare minimum. Oh, hell! The only consolation is that it was even worse at the front. Some comfort! I sleep under two blankets, a leather coat and a sheepskin jacket.

I just can’t find my place here in the Baikal-Amur Mainline system, probably because it doesn’t exist. It’s different for peasants. They get something out of it, learn new tricks, find out things they didn’t know. All I’m going to learn here is how to be a slob, not give a damn, and not get caught.’

The general emptiness

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

1949
Andrew Russel (Drew) Pearson,
journalist

‘Parnell Thomas’s trial started this morning. Looking at him in the courtroom, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. I can’t relish helping to send a man to jail. Nevertheless, when I figure all the times Thomas has sent other people to jail and all the instances when he has kept men away from combat duty in return for money in his own pocket, to say nothing of salary kickbacks, perhaps I shouldn’t be too sorry.’

Salty and petulant

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1918
Alex Sabine,
writer

‘A sudden search of guests in one of the new socialist cafes produced an unexpected result. One customer had a large amount of small change that is so scarce nowadays; another had a large sum of money in Astrakhan and Samara local currencies.’

Jailed for making soap

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1952
Kenneth Williams,
actor and writer

‘Fred Treves came to tea and there was a furious argument - spiritual versus rational. Hell! Roman Catholicism from the foundation by Peter, Christ’s meeting with John the Baptist, Individual Revelations - Church Antipathy to, etc. etc., the end. I was angry about getting worked up as I always do when discussing organised religion. I hate the aggressiveness which automatically follows its assumption of power.’

Carry on carping

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

2005
Václav Havel,
politician

‘For the whole of September and October I never stopped. Yet what did I actually do? I visited several European countries, had a lot of meetings and visits and discussions, and made countless speeches - and all at a time of year when I’m usually under the weather. I’m quite surprised that I survived it all without any damage to my health. I’m at Hradecek once more, but there’s a lot of snow here now and the trees are beautifully cloaked in white. I’m really like a hermit here. (Hradecek is off by itself and my only neighbor is my friend Andrej Krob, who has a cottage nearby, but he’s not there now.) Yesterday I watched a thriller on television and then I realized that for the first time in my life I felt afraid here. The very thought that I might suddenly glimpse the movement of a human shadow gave me goose bumps and heart palpitations. I stopped getting the newspapers a while ago, and my news comes from television. I read the papers only when I happen across one. The last time that happened was several days ago on the plane from Budapest, when I discovered I was the subject of a scandal. The Czech media are up in arms because I have apparently supported our new prime minister. The whole thing obviously started a while ago, when he invited me for coffee, and as we were leaving we were waylaid by a journalist who asked me how I’d have gotten along with the current prime minister if I were still president. I said I thought we’d hit it off. By that I meant that I would not have been having constant public squabbles with the prime minister over how to interpret the constitution, as our current president does. I should have expressed myself more precisely or concretely, but still, why there should have been a controversy or even a scandal over this, I have no idea. But obviously I can’t understand everything.’

Václav Havel as diarist

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Notes and Cautions
In general, these diary extracts are quoted as given in the published (book or online) source referred to in the reference articles. Each extract may be all, a large part of, or a small part of the complete entry for that day. I have tried to indicate where text has been removed from within a quote by the use of trailing dots in square bracket.

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Any author, publisher or other copyright holder who takes the view that I am unacceptably breaching their copyright please let me know. I have tried to remain sensitive to copyright rules (using far fewer quotes, for example, when a book, by an author still alive, remains in print and popular), but it is not practical for me to seek authorisation for every quote and article, since I maintain these websites without any funding or advertis-ing. I take the view that publicity for the source books is a quid pro quo for my use of the extracts, but I am more than happy to remove the extracts if asked.

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The Diary Junction is one of those wonderful privately maintained public resources for which the Internet is justly celebrated: a database of information about celebrated and obscure diaries[over 500] from all historical periods, with referrals to the dates the diaries cover, where the originals are held and bibliographic information on published versions.’ Laura Miller, Salon

The Diary Review, hosted by Blogger, publishes magazine-style articles on diaries and diarists, usually several every week. The blog has been publishing for over five years, and is the secondary source for the diary extracts in this online anthology.