The Diarists: This week in history


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The Independent Culture

21 April 1968

The Labour cabinet minister Barbara Castle: "Ted and I were sitting by the telly listening to the six o'clock news when there suddenly was Enoch Powell, white-faced and tight-lipped, delivering his Wolverhampton speech on immigration. As we listened to his relentless words – 'I see the Tiber running with blood' – intense depression gripped us. I knew he had taken the lid off Pandora's box and that race relations would never be the same again. This is certainly a historic turning point, but in which direction?"

24 April 1754

John Wesley on preaching outside Hull: "A huge multitude, rich and poor, horse and foot, with several coaches, were soon gathered together; to whom I cried with a loud voice and a composed spirit, 'What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.' Some thousands seriously attended, but many behaved as if possessed by Moloch. Clods and stones flew about on every side, but they neither touched nor disturbed me. When I had finished, I went to take coach; but the coachman had driven clear away. We were at a loss till a gentlewoman invited my wife and me to come into her coach. There were nine of us in the coach, three on each side, and three in the middle, but the mob closely attended us, throwing in at the windows whatever came next to hand. But a large gentlewoman who sat in my lap screened me, so that nothing came near."

24 April 1996

Alec Guinness: "I'm glad I'm not having to undergo any surgery just now. Today's press is full of photographs of the Princess of Wales, in operating-theatre gear and pale make-up, sitting in on a serious operation. We are told she is doing the rounds of several hospitals. 'Pardon me, Your Royal Highness, but this is my hernia, and I don't want anyone to stitch it up except the surgeon. Another whiff of gas, nurse, if you don't mind, and leave out the Calèche Parfum.'"