Comment: Days Like These

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21 August 1933

ROBERT BYRON,

traveller and author, in Venice

notes in his diary:

"After inspecting two palaces, the Labiena, containing Tiepolo's fresco of Cleopatra's Banquet, and the Pappadopoli, a stifling labyrinth of plush and royal photographs, we took sanctuary from culture in Harry's Bar. There was an ominous chatter, a quickfire of greetings; the English are arriving. In the evening we went back to Harry's Bar, where our host regaled us with a drink compounded of champagne and cherry brandy. `To have the right effect,' said Harry confidentially, `it must be the worst cherry brandy.' It was."

26 August 1969

KEITH VAUGHAN,

artist, records in his journal:

"Dinner with David Hockney. Good evening. The more I see of DH the more he impresses me. He has all the best qualities of his generation. Modest and self-confident, honest in speech, unconcerned with impressing yet considerate and well-mannered, impatient with all fraudulent or compromised behaviour, ardent, curious, warm-hearted, uncorrupted (and probably uncorruptible) by success - his generation have never known dire poverty, I suppose. I feel so much better after such an evening. What I like about David is that he does what he says he will. Months ago talking about special issues of stamps which I did not know about, he said `Oh, but they're marvellous, I'll send you some'. And two days later I get a postcard covered with about 8s 6d worth of special issue stamps."

21 August 1888

EDMOND DE GONCOURT,

writer, observes in his journal:

"My cousin Fedora, talking to me today about a branch of her family which is almost poor, said: `Just imagine, they are people who for five generations have married for love!'"

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