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The Diarists: This week in history


13 August 1977

James Lees-Milne architectural historian and writer, then aged 69: "In a London self-photographic box by the Passport Office I had two snaps taken. They were so gruesome – I looking like a sinister undertaker, only worse – that Alvide [his wife] insisted I have others taken in Bath… I went to Woolworths in Bath today and tried again. Result just as bad, although I am rendered smirking like a sinister footpad, instead of snarling like a confidence trickster. My God, how absolutely hideous I have become. Sad really, when you think of it. As long as I keep clean. I suppose all I can do is maintain that one standard."

13 August 1979

Peter Hall National Theatre director: "Returned to London… diverted to read on the plane, in the New York Herald Tribune, that Miss Piggy of the Muppets has been banned from Iranian television during Ramadan because 'Moslems do not eat pork and consider pigs unclean'."

16 August 1922

Virginia Woolf writer: "I should be reading Ulysses and fabricating my case for and against. I have read 200 pages so far – not a third, and have been amused, stimulated, charmed, interested, by the first two or three chapters… and then puzzled, bored, irritated and disillusioned by a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples. And Tom [T S Eliot]… thinks this on a par with War and Peace! An illiterate, underbred book it seems to me, the book of a self-taught working man, and we all know how distressing they are, how egotistic, insistent, raw… and ultimately nauseating. When one can have the cooked flesh, why have the raw? But I think if you are anaemic, as Tom is, there is a glory in blood. Being fairly normal myself I am soon ready for the classics again. I may revise this later. I do not compromise my critical sagacity. I plant a stick in the ground to mark page 200."