Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
29 May, 1824

JOHN CONSTABLE,

painter, writes to his friend John Fisher from Brighton:

"Brighton is the receptacle of the fashion and off-scouring of London. The magnificence of the sea, and its, to use your expression, `everlasting voice', is drowned in the din and tumult of stage coaches, gigs, flys &c. and the beach is only Piccadilly or worse by the seaside.

Ladies dressed or undressed; gentlemen in morning-gowns and slippers, or without them or anything else, about knee-deep in the breakers; footmen, children, nursery-maids, dogs, boys, fishermen and Preventive Service men with hangers and pistols; rotten fish, and those hideous amphibious animals, the old bathing-women, whose language, both in oaths and voice, resembles men, all mixed together, in endless and indecent confusion.

The genteeler past, or Marine Parade, is still more unnatural, with its trimmed and neat appearance, and the dandy jetty or Chain Pier, with its long and elegant strides into the sea a full quarter of a mile. In short there is nothing here for a painter but the breakers and the sky, which have been lovely indeed and always varying."

31 May, 1942

NORMAN LEWIS,

the novelist and travel writer, then with the Allied Occupying Forces in Naples, records in his journal:

"The fragmentation of Italian politics in reaction to the long stagnant acquiescence under Fascism continues. There are now some sixty officially recognised political parties having memberships ranging from a hundred or so to nearly two million. Many of these offer bizarre recipes for national salvation, including a small band of fanatics in the Salerno area who claim to have discovered the solution to the problem of perpetual motion and to be ready to exploit this in the national interest.

In addition to the legally constituted parties there are clandestine Neo-Fascists and Separatists. To the latter group I believe we have given our secret support. The Separatists' latest plan for Italy's regeneration includes the immediate demolition of all factories, the abolition of the motor-car and the renaming of the months of the calendar after the Roman gods. This is the season and situation when insanity has become almost respectable."

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