Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
22 May, 1868

WILLIAM ALLINGHAM,

diarist, records in

his journal:

"Passing through Leicester Square, I meet Alan Skinner, and walk with him in Covent Garden. Then we dine at Bertolini's pleasantly. I show him the local curiosity, old Mr Seymour, now 82, who has dined here every day for the last 43 years; he comes at 5, stays till 8, sits always in the box on the left-hand side of the fire-place as you go up the room, which is kept for him at this time of day; has the joint, college pudding, a gill of Marsala; puts his feet up and sleeps or snoozes for about 20 minutes, then reads the Daily News, fidgeting a good deal with the paper, for his hands tremble. Finally he puts on his hat, buttons his coat up to the throat, straightens his spine and walks down the middle of the room very stiff and wooden, driving off, the waiter says, to his house somewhere near the Regent's Park. Looks like a solitary old bachelor, lawyer or attorney, dried-up, penurious; the daily tavern dinner a sort of loophole glimpse of the outside world. Save a word or two to the waiters he never speaks to anyone at Bert's."

23 May, 1909

MAX BEERBOHM,

author, attends the memorial service for the novelist George Meredith at Westminster Abbey.

On leaving, a young girl mistakes him for JM Barrie and asks him to sign

her book. He records:

"A devil rose in me and I did not resist. I wrote. `Aye lassie, it's a sad day for us all the noo, JMB'"

26 May, 1871

MARY CLARKE MOHL,

an Englishwoman living in Paris, writes in her journal of the devastation of the city after the destruction of the Commune:

"The state of the town is indescribable. At every crossroads there have been barricades, of which the remnants fill the streets, the pavement is frequently covered with dried or drying blood, the houses battered and half-ruinous; at every corner a sentry who orders you to walk down the middle of the street, that you may not be able to throw petroleum on the houses. I did not understand what the first sentry told me, and crossed over to the opposite pavement; but he reiterated his orders and threatened to shoot me, which quickened my dull understanding. It would really be ignominious to have been shot as a suspected incendiary."

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