Exhibit A, the last entry before the most recent one:
I think a little rain in the night. All day overcast, with sometimes fine mist almost amounting to rain, but not exactly cold. Mended the fence, which cannot be done completely as there are not enough stakes. Planted out 1 doz. largish lettuces got from T. (2d dozen). Uncovered the little ones. Let the tadpoles go, as not certain how many days I shall be away. Gave the grass a quick cut. Leeks are just showing. Some apple blossom showing in some gardens. Find it is held locally that there is always a frost at the full moon (ie. in May) & people sow their runners with reference to this.
Don't get me wrong: this is all interesting in many ways, and I can see why one might want to keep such information for posterity. And, indeed, it provides a fascinating insight into the more everyday interests of someone we tend to associate with mere Big Ideas.
And I feel a special sympathy for this kind of thing at a time when the world outside the pages of the diary in question are falling apart.
I have a very fond memory (and a video somewhere) of my mother reading through her own wartime diary for 6 June 1944 (at which time she was 17 years old and living in Newton Abbot, near Britain's south coast, an area that had until that day been swarming with American soldiers--among them the man who would later become her husband).
Her entry for that fateful day went, as I recall, something like this:
Washed hair. Bought a new dress. The invasion has begun.
In that order. I mean: priorities are, I suppose, priorities.
So I can see where Orwell was coming from with his tadpole, lettuce, leek and bean fixation.
So, it was a pleasure to find the most recent entry beginning to have a bit of action and an insight into history in the wider sense as it was lived (the spring of 1940 being one with, you know, rather a lot going on beyond the garden wall).
This is the first day on which newspaper posters are definitely discontinued… Half of the front page of the early Star devoted to news of the Belgian surrender, the other half to news to the effect that the Belgians are holding out and the King is with them. This is presumably due to paper shortage. Nevertheless of the early Star’s eight pages, six are devoted to racing.
People talk a little more of the war, but very little. As always hitherto, it is impossible to overhear any comments on it in the pubs, etc. Last night, E. and I went to the pub to hear the 9 o’c news. The barmaid was not going to have it on if we had not asked her, and to all appearances nobody listened.
Indeed. I tend to think that if D-Day happened tomorrow, the following day's edition of the Sun would still feature a topless page 3 girl being quoted as saying how exciting she finds a day at the beaches.
It's that kind of