And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

13 October

1777
Nicholas Cresswell,
tradesman and farmer

‘There is such a sameness in my life at present it is not worth while to keep a Journal.

I am afraid it is likely to continue longer than I could wish it, as no proposals have been yet made to me concerning my future way of life. I imagine my Father expects I shall stay at home in my present dependent situation. I cannot bear it. Though at present his behaviour is very kind and in some respects indulgent, but that moroseness he observes to some of the family is very disagreeable to me. I expect something of the same sort as soon as the first gust of paternal affection subsides, but I am determined to stay with seeming patience till April next, and behave in such a manner as not to give any just offence. I call this waiting the Chapter of Accidents, something fortunate may happen. (Mem. Never to have anything to do with my Relations, I know their dispositions only too well. Some of them begin to hint at my poverty already. I must be patient and if possible, Silent.)’ [Last entry in published journal]

Whores and rogues

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1915
Michael Macdonagh,
journalist

‘I was in the Reporter’s Gallery, House of Commons, at half past nine o’clock this evening when the debate on the second reading of the Finance Bill was interrupted by the noise of explosions which came in through the open windows of the Chamber. A low cry of “Zeppelins! Zeppelins!” passed round, and immediately there was a rush of Members and journalists out into New Palace Yard, where they were joined by several Peers from the House of Lords. [. . .] In a southerly direction, over the Thames, I could see a long, black object so high up that it seemed to be moving among the stars. For a few minutes the airship, crossing the Thames in a north-easterly course and passing almost directly over New Palace Yard, was then played upon by two search-lights, and in their radiance she looked a thing of silvery beauty sailing serenely through the night, indifferent to the big gun roaring at her from the Green Park, whose shells seem to burst just below her. In a minute she disappeared from our view behind the houses, and immediately there broke upon our ears a frightful grinding roar, followed by what sounded like a disruptive explosion. Then another, and another, and another, in quick succession. The thing of beauty had transformed herself into a hellish monster, and was pouring fire and death upon the crowded streets.’

The drama of London in WWI

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1936
Zorina Gray,
actress

‘Called London because I hadn’t heard a word from [my agent], which drove me to despair - but understood very little. Afternoon tea with Mrs. Frost, sister of Lord Grimstorp, who owns the Villa Cimbrone. She herself has a perilously situated villa, which is built against a cliff. When you stand on the balcony to admire the magnificent view, it is best to keep your eyes on the distance because below you is an absolute chasm!’

My knees felt like macaroni

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1939
Marielle Bennett,
actor

Went to “Music at Night”. The Westminster was fairly full. In the programme the management appealed for support and good attendances otherwise they will be “One of the war’s first casualties.” Excellent show, do not think they will have to worry. But getting home was awful, pouring with rain and so few buses. However it was worth it to me. I noticed a good many uniforms in the audiences, women as well as men. I do not know whether this is the type of play appreciated during war time, but it was certainly gratifying to know that all shows are not musicals or comedies YET.

The cost of stockings

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

1947
Nettie Palmer,
writer

‘Grey day. V. planning to begin on London and N. sat down to it after breakfast without doing a stint of housework first, and wrote two London pieces in the morning: on Shelley Wang and Christina Stead (and her husband). Tried to do Ogden too, but got wrecked on his learning.’

N. tinkering with diaries

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1999
Chris Mullin,
politician

‘With Michael Meacher to discuss the dreaded leylandii hedges. After two years of faffing, the Department has produced a leaflet advising on suitable hedging for suburban gardens. ‘Where,’ Michael asks the officials, ‘does it actually say it is not a good idea to plant leylandii?’

‘Ah well, Minister, it doesn’t quite put it as boldly as that. We have to be careful of upsetting the industry.’ Pure Yes, Minister. Later, Brian Hackland - an official from No10 - calls in. Amazingly, The Man has indeed given the matter his attention.’

Mullin and leylandii

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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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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

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