The Diarists: This week in history


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The Independent Culture

28 June, 1919

Frances Stevenson, secretary and mistress of David Lloyd George:

"Went to Versailles for the signature of the Peace Treaty. It was very badly stage-managed by the French, the peace delegates (including David) having to push their way into the Salle des Glaces. Almost half the room was taken up with representatives of the press. The press is reducing everything that is noblest in modern life into terms of press photographs and interviews. One or two reporters would not be so bad. But they have to be dealt with by armies nowadays."

23 June, 1983

Alan Clark, under-secretary at the Department of Employment:

"It's not yet 8am and already I've been in my office half an hour. I like to get here before anyone else arrives, then I can scowl at them through the communicating doorway as they take their places around the outer office. I am still so ignorant of the basic material that this is one of the few ways I can start to assert an ascendancy... It is (naturally and heartbreakingly) a glorious summer morning, and I have drawn back to their maximum extent the sliding windows, thus – I trust – buggering the air-conditioning system. There is a tiny balcony, a gutter really. Certain death on the Victoria Street pavement eight floors below. Sometimes I get a wild urge to relieve my bladder over it, on the ant-like crowds. Would this get one the sack? Probably not. It would have to be hushed up."

25 June, 1923

Siegfried Sassoon, poet:

"Tonight Turner gave me a ticket for Tristan. I missed Act I (missing an act always increases one's enjoyment of Wagner) and left at Isolde's entrance in the last act. I found myself feeling violently antagonistic to the Wagnerian tradition of Love! The spectacle of that corpulent couple galumphing about in their ocean of melodious eroticism appeared grotesque. What a colossal joke Wagner played on cultured humanity!" 1