The Diarists: The week in history


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The Independent Culture

23 September 1896

Queen Victoria monarch: "Today is the day on which I have reigned longer, by a day, than any English sovereign, and the people wished to make all sorts of demonstrations, which I asked them not to do until I had completed 60 years next June. But notwithstanding that this was made public in the papers, people of all kinds and ranks, from every part of the kingdom, sent congratulatory telegrams, and they kept coming in all day."

23 September 1773

James Boswell diarist, travelling in the Hebrides with Dr Johnson: "As we sailed along Dr Johnson got into one of his fits of railing at the Scots. He owned that they had been a very learned nation for 100 years, from about 1550 to 1650; but they afforded the only instance of a people among whom the arts of civil life did not advance in proportion with learning; that they had hardly any trade, any money, or any elegance, before the Union; that it was strange that, with all the advantages possessed by other nations, they had not any of those conveniences and embellishments which are the fruit of industry, till they came into contact with a civilized people. 'We have taught you… and we'll do the same in time to all barbarous nations – to the Cherokees – and at last to the Oran-Utangs' (laughing)."

27 September 1989

Alan Bennett playwright: "K has been auditioning extras for his films, including a woman who had put down among her special accomplishments 'Flirting with Japanese men'. It turns out to be true. She is irresistibly drawn to the Japanese and has learned the language in order to flirt more effectively. Passing Japanese in the street, she will sometimes murmur (in Japanese), 'I would like to cut your toenails in the warmth of my own home' – apparently a standard come-on in the Land of the Rising Sun. 'And does it work?' asks K. 'Oh yes. Quite often'."