The Diarists: This week in history


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7 September 1940

Joan Wyndham wartime diarist, aged 18, in London: "Midnight. Well, here I sit in the air-raid shelter with screaming bombs falling right and left, and [the writer and literary editor] Sir John Squire roaring tight, sitting opposite me next to his Scotch Presbyterian cook. I can't see very well as there is only a storm lantern. Squire keeps on saying he wants to read PG Wodehouse's Uncle Fred in the Springtime once more before he dies.

"As the opposite of death is life, I think I shall get seduced by Rupert [Darrow, an artist] tomorrow. Rowena has promised to go to a chemist's with me and ask for Volpar Gels, just in case the thingummy isn't foolproof."

8 September 1976

Eleanor Coppola wife of Francis Ford Coppola, in the Philippines, on the set of 'Apocalypse Now': "Francis had asked Marlon [Brando] to re-read Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Now Marlon was saying how his character should be more like Kurtz in the book. Francis said, 'Yes, that's what I've been trying to tell you. Don't you remember, last spring, before you took the part, when you read Heart of Darkness and we talked?' Marlon said, 'I lied. I never read it.'"

11 September 1832

Benjamin Haydon, painter, on arranging his family's holiday: "Sick of pictures, town, nobility, Kings, Lords and Commons, I set off by a steamer to Broadstairs. Came in stewed by steam and broiled by sun. I fagged about till sick and got lodgings for my dears for a short breath of sea air. Slept at an inn… got up at half past five, took a delicious dip and swam exulting like a bull in June, ate a breakfast worthy of an elephant, put off and joined the Ramsgate steamer, and was in town again by half past four. Today I am fatigued and tomorrow I take all my dears down. It is six years since they have changed air, but for a day or two I hope it will do them all good."