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The Diarists: This week in history


21 July 1970

Roy Strong, director of the V&A: "Kenneth Tynan's much-heralded Oh! Calcutta! at the Round House in Chalk Farm turned out to be an occasion notable for the boredom of it all. I have never been so aware how anti-erotic nudity could be, or, when it came to the nude pas de deux, of the accuracy of Fred Ashton's observation that there were some parts of the anatomy over whose movements the choreographer has no control ... Joe Orton's sketch on country-house perversions was the only jewel in this tarnished crown, but even that needed cutting."

22 July 1910

WNP Barbellion, naturalist: "How I hate the man who talks about the 'brute creation', with an ugly emphasis on brute. Only Christians are capable of it. As for me, I am proud of my close kinship with other animals. I take a jealous pride in my Simian ancestry, I like to think that I was once a magnificent hairy fellow living in the trees and that my frame has come down through geological times via sea jelly and worms and Amphioxus, Fish, Dinosaurs and Apes. Who would exchange these for the pallid couple in the Garden of Eden?"

22 July 1944

William L Shirer, American correspondent in Berlin:

"Hitler has given Mussolini a birthday present. It's an anti-aircraft armoured train."

24 July 1944

Norman Lewis, Allied Forces intelligence officer in Naples:

"Last week a nobleman in our street was lifted by servants from his deathbed, dressed in his evening clothes, then carried to be propped up at the head of the staircase over the courtyard of his palazzo. Here, with roses thrust into his arms, he stood for a moment to take leave of his friends in the courtyard below, before being carried back to receive the last rites."